It’s only human to want to personalize a drab desk space and maybe spruce it up a bit with a little desk plant. It cleans your air, and it’s nice to look at. Also, apparently, it makes you more efficient at work. According to Fast Company, two different studies  showed that when you put flowers and plants at people’s desks, they do better at cognitive tasks.

It turns out that our brains really aren’t so down with focusing on work all day. FastCoDesign:

Our brains expend a lot of energy on tasks that require direct attention. This mental fatigue can only be restored when we give our direct attention a break. Sleep can do the job, but when we’re awake, we can also refresh direct attention by shifting our minds to an indirect, or effortless form of engagement. Nature offers just this type of absorbing, restorative distraction. …

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[T]he “micro-restorative” impact of desk plants in the recent studies was especially impressive if you consider the brevity of each participant’s interaction with nature. After all, test participants only had two short breaks between the reading tasks.

Restoring your brain sounds nice, but are the plants on your side? Or are they just slavedrivers? “Office plants may be a simple, cost-effective way to keep workers satisfied and focused,” writes FastCoDesign. And although I support being satisfied, it does seem a little bit manipulative to say, “Here, have a plant, now you’re happy with your mind-numbing job.” The researchers also failed to look at what happens if you’re bad at keeping plants alive and you end up sharing close quarters with another living thing that, like you, just wishes it could be outside, instead of in a dark, airless office.

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