Fine-tune Your Productivity With The Right Desktop Wallpaper and Concentrate

What if you could sharpen your focus or boost your creativity just by changing your desktop wallpaper?

Maybe you can: A 2009 study conducted at the University of British Columbia 1 suggests that colors in the environment improve cognitive functions: red increases focus on linear, detail oriented tasks like clerical work while blue encourages creativity and exploration. Researcher’s suppose that the effect of color on our mood is due to learned associations, such as the peaceful calm of clear blue skies and the red warnings of stop lights.


There is no evidence that color impairs functions in any way – there’s zero downside to using color to affect your state of mind. Thankfully you don’t have to redecorate your office to benefit from the effect – though that can certainly help. Since the computer screen is the single-most dominant feature in the average office environment just changing your desktop wallpaper is all the splash of color you might need.

However, if you’re serious about optimizing your productivity then choosing the proverbial red or blue pill isn’t good enough: you want both.

My set up has a “no distractions” neutral or black wallpaper and then I use the Mac app Concentrate 2 to change the display background depending on how I want to tweak my focus. Concentrate does this handily and can use images either in the “Desktops” image folder or anywhere else on your Mac.

But Concentrate (go grab version 1.0 which is free to use at the time of this writing) can do much more than swap wallpapers: it can block certain websites and restrict certain applications to insulate you from time thieves and productivity assassins. It can also launch apps, run scripts and of course set the mood with the wallpaper of your choice — all to automatically set up a work environment tailored to you.

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To wrap things up I want to direct you to a great artist if you’re looking for wallpapers. I heartily recommend Louie Mantia for wallpapers and he has some nice Lego-inspired walls in blue and red that will work perfectly for color-optimizing your workspace.

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