How a Simple Lighting Adjustment Can Boost Your Productivity When Traveling

When traveling, use the right kind of light to get the results you want.

Stever Robbins
2-minute read

How a Simple Lighting Adjustment Can Boost Your Productivity When TravelingThe past few weeks, I've been traveling at a series of conferences. Fortunately, they were all in the same hotel. A few days after arriving, I noticed that my room, which was my refuge at the end of the day, just didn't feel warm and inviting. In fact, it felt downright unpleasant. Then I identified the problem: it was the lighting. The room was lit with daylight-spectrum energy-efficient lights. Daylight sounds great, right? But it isn't—not for relaxing and unwinding after a long day.

Daylight is very bluish. It's a color spectrum that tells your body to wake up and be alert. That's because once upon a time, daylight was when dinosaurs roamed the land, looking for people to eat. We had to be alert so we didn't get eaten. Meanwhile, warmer, yellower light was the light of fire, which kept us warm at night, and safe from predators.

(I'm making this up, of course. By the time humans appeared on the scene, dinos were long gone, and fire was as dangerous as it was comforting. But it sounds pretty logical, right?)

When you're traveling, use this knowledge of how light affects us to help you adjust to your surroundings in order to optimize your rest and focus time. Daylight wakes us up and helps reset our internal clock. Warm light helps us relax and calm down. Several studies (yes, some funded by lightbulb manufacturers) have shown the link between office lighting and productivity, but this idea can also be applied to working while traveling. My preferred combination is to leave the hotel window curtains open at night, so when it's time to wake up, there's daylight-spectrum light coming from...the daylight. But I skip down to the nearest drug store and buy a package of "Warm white" energy efficient bulbs for my room. I replace all the bulbs, so at night when I return to the room, the light is warm, inviting, and sleep-provoking. This way, I'm well rested at night and prepared to be productive the next day from the get-go.  

After my visit, I wrote the hotel manager and confessed that I'd replaced all the light bulbs in my room. Then I asked him to hold the bulbs for my return next year. Because hey, I want the light to be warm and inviting then, too.

Interior of modern hotel room image courtesy of Shutterstock  

About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT. 

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