Having the ability to focus and concentrate is crucial for work, study, and many other aspects of life. While there are many factors that can impact focus and concentration, like getting enough sleep and regular exercise, one simple thing that can make a difference is color. The colors in your environment can significantly affect your ability to focus and pay attention. So what is the best color to surround yourself with when you really need to hunker down and concentrate? Let’s take a look at how different colors impact focus and concentration.
How Color Impacts Focus and Concentration
Research has shown that color has the power to influence our mood, emotions, and behaviors. This is because different colors and hues are processed by the brain in different ways. Cooler colors like blues, greens, and purples are generally more calming, while warmer colors like reds, oranges, and yellows are more energizing. Here’s a quick overview of how some key colors tend to impact focus and concentration:
Blue is a cool, calming color that has been found to reduce anxiety and lower heart rate and blood pressure. Studies show that people are more productive and focused when working in blue rooms compared to red rooms. The relaxing nature of blue makes it easier to concentrate without feeling stressed or distracted.
Like blue, green is considered a cool, calming color. Green is believed to relieve anxiety and improve focus. One study found that completing a cognitive test while exposed to the color green resulted in higher scores compared to completing the test in red or gray environments. The relaxing green hue puts the mind at ease, making it simpler to concentrate.
Bright, warm yellow is often considered an optimistic, uplifting color. However, research suggests that prolonged exposure to bright yellow can overstimulate the nervous system and make concentration more difficult. Yellow rooms have been linked with higher stress levels.
Red is an intense, stimulating color. While it can boost mood and motivation, red is also associated with anxiety and loss of focus. Red environments tend to increase heart rate and blood pressure, which can make deep concentration challenging. Red pulls attention and can be overstimulating.
Clean, neutral white is generally considered an optimal color for concentration. White rooms and spaces feel open, airy, and uncomplicated. Too many colors, patterns, or decorations can be distracting stimuli, while plain white minimizes visual distraction. Studies confirm that cognitive performance tends to be higher in white work environments.
The Best Colors for Focus
Based on existing research, the colors that seem most likely to enhance concentration and avoid distraction are blues, greens, and neutrals like white, black, gray, and beige. Here’s a closer look at the top colors for optimal focus.
Of all the colors studied, blue consistently comes out on top as the best color for concentration. The many positive effects of blue include:
- Lowers anxiety
- Slows heart rate
- Reduces blood pressure
- Boosts productivity
- Improves focus
- Reduces distraction
Darker blues like navy or royal blue are thought to have the most focusing, calming impact. Lighter blues can also be relaxing without feeling too somber or dreary. Just take care to avoid bright, electric shades like turquoise or aqua as they may be overstimulating.
Green has very similar effects to blue when it comes to promoting concentration. Looking at or being surrounded by green can:
- Alleviate anxiety
- Improve mood
- Enhance cognitive performance
- Boost productivity
- Increase focus
Green is thought to strike the perfect balance between being a cool, calming color and having some gentle energizing qualities. Go for deep greens like emerald and hunter green over very bright, lime shades for maximum concentration benefits.
Clean, neutral white helps minimize visual distractions in work and study spaces. Here are some of white’s key advantages:
- Feels open and airy
- Minimizes clutter and distractions
- Allows focus to be directed
- Enhances mental clarity
- Improves productivity
White is recommended for walls, furniture, desk accessories, and decor items. Don’t be afraid to combine white with some pops of blue or green for added concentration power.
Colors to Avoid for Focus
On the flip side, some colors are believed to impair concentration and heighten distraction. Colors to limit when focus is key include:
Buttery yellows and bright citrus shades tend to energize and stimulate the nervous system. While this can boost mood, too much yellow can lead to:
- Heightened stress
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Feelings of agitation
- Difficulty concentrating
If you want to incorporate some energizing yellow, opt for soft, muted shades like gold, cream, or lemon. Avoid bright, neon yellow.
Red is the most stimulating color, which can make it hard to focus in red spaces. Too much red is linked to:
- Intensified heart rate and blood pressure
- Excitement and agitation
- Anger and confrontation
- Decreased ability to concentrate
Red should be used sparingly in work and study areas. Red accents are fine, just avoid large red focal walls or overwhelmingly red decor.
There are mixed findings when it comes to purple. Some shades of purple like lilac or lavender may have a gently calming effect. But brighter, bolder purples can feel overstimulating and make concentration challenging by:
- Increasing agitation
- Heightening anxiety and frustration
- Feeling visually overwhelming
Aim for soft purples if using this color, and follow the 20-60-20 rule: up to 20% intense colors, 60% neutral colors, and at least 20% calming colors.
How to Use Color to Improve Concentration
Make the most of the power of color to enhance your ability to think clearly, avoid distractions, and maximize productivity in the following key spaces:
Pay attention to wall colors, furniture, carpeting, and accessories in offices and cubicles. Blue or green walls are ideal, while white cabinets, desks, and shelving minimize clutter. Add plants for extra green boosts.
Support learning and memory retention by painting home study spaces blue for calm focus. Keep desktops and supplies storage white, and accent with greenery. Utilize blue or green lamp shades.
Blue or green classroom walls with whiteboards, white ceilings, and plenty of white natural light optimize student concentration. Minimize red accents and bright primary colors.
Using Color Schemes to Enhance Focus
Some effective color schemes to try in spaces where you want to concentrate include:
Different Shades of Blue
Combine navy, royal, sky, and baby blue walls, decor items, and textiles for a soothing blue palette. Add in some white furnishings and decorations to prevent too somber a feel.
Blue and White
Crisp white contrasted with rich blues makes for a clean, peaceful color scheme. Try royal blue walls with bright white shelving, desks, tables, and chairs.
Blue and Green
Bring together the concentration powers of blue and green for the ultimate focus-enhancing color duo. Consider emerald green walls with navy blue desk and chairs.
Green and White
Feel refreshed by sage green walls paired with lots of bright white used in furniture, storage, cabinets, and lighting. Add in leafy green plants.
Stick to all neutral colors like white walls and furniture paired with gray, beige, cream, and black accents for a clutter-free look. Incorporate textured materials and patterns for visual interest.
Color can significantly impact people’s ability to concentrate and avoid distractions in work, study, and other environments. While no single color is universally perfect for everyone, the research strongly indicates that cooler blues, greens, and neutral whites are most supportive of focus. Meanwhile, warm reds, oranges, yellows, and intense purples often impair concentration.
Aim for blue, green, or neutrally colored walls in rooms where concentration is key. Add white furniture and storage solutions to minimize clutter. Then carefully include energizing accent colors like yellow very sparingly. Adopting these color combinations can help you foster the calm, focused mindset needed to excel at work, do well in school, and stay on-task with any project.