Looking at Cute Things Increases Productivity

CC Image courtesy of Hege Hovde on Flickr

Are you looking for a way to make your employees more productive? Have you ever thought about sharing some cute kitten pics around the office? While that idea may sound counter-productive, a recent study, the “Power of Kawaii” conducted by a Japanese research team at the Hiroshima University, found that looking at pictures of cute animals could increase concentration and productivity.

This might be surprising for employers as well as those who are self-employed and trying to fight the urge to view something they feel would not be conducive to doing a good job. The idea is that you should ONLY work on things that are highly related to “getting the job done”.

The study consisted of three separate experiments using about 132 students from the university. The students were divided into groups and each group was given a different task to perform and photos to view. None of the students in the groups knew that looking at the photos was part of the test so it did not influence the outcome.

CC Image courtesy of King Kong 911 on Flickr

During the first experiment, the students were asked to perform a task very similar to playing the game “Operation”. They had to remove small objects from inside a hole without touching the sides. In the second experiment, the students had to find a specific number hidden in a random sequence of numbers and they had to complete the task within a certain time limit.

It’s speculated that cute baby animals portray a sense of vulnerability and the need to be taken care of. As a result, it subconsciously made the viewers perform this test with more caution. This study showed that viewing something considered “cute” helped the students perform detail-oriented tasks as well as tasks that require using fine motor skills better.

The results of the “Power of Kawaii” study are amazing. Who would have thought that seeing something cute and cuddly would make you concentrate and perform better? So now let’s explore some ways to integrate this and other tips into your workday to help you be more productive.

Use This Knowledge to Motivate Yourself or Your Staff

There are a number of options for increasing productivity by doing things that might be considered “goofing off.” Can you think of a few? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

If your job calls for creativity, you probably know that trying to force it is about the worst thing you can do to come up with something amazing – often it’s in those odd moments when you’re doing something completely non-work related that the best ideas arise. When I get stuck, I like to jump rope. Studies have also shown that exercise (even very brief sessions) can clear the mind, reduce stress and increase creativity and motivation.

CC Image courtesy of Patrick – Adwriter on Flickr

Stretching and walking around the office, or your house, every 30-60 minutes gets the blood flowing and increases oxygen to the brain, in addition to providing a burst of energy. You might take this farther by incorporating the “cute” image idea with a brief walk.

If you’re at home, perhaps you might throw a ball to your dog or dangle string in front of your cat. If you work in an office, chatting with a colleague who has a good sense of humor can be helpful in stirring creativity and increasing productivity. Laughter in the workplace can also promote a healthy work environment and more productive workers, according to Assistant Professor Chris Robert of the University of Missouri-Columbia. Robert states, “…humor is one of the things associated with a positive effect, which increases productivity …”

There’s an old saying about “all work and no play” and it seems there is some truth to it. While there is a time to work and a time to play, sometimes we need to inject a little fun into our workday in order to meet deadlines and work efficiently.

By encouraging employees (or yourself if you’re self-employed) to take occasional breaks doing something positive, goes a long way in a happier, more focused and more productive worker. What ideas might you implement into your workday or staff schedule after reading this?


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