The fragrances proven to boost your work productivity, and where to get them



Fragrances for better function.

What does work smell like to you? If you’d asked me this six years ago, I would’ve said pepperoni and cheap red wine (pizza restaurant), or Impulse body spray and freesia-scented disinfectant (a fast fashion retail store).

Now that I’m splitting my days between working from home and a shared office, my Monday to Friday has a more subtle fragrance – Nag Champa incense, Melbourne city air or whatever’s defrosting in the microwave (some scents are better than others).

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While we’ve curated our desk spaces and splashed out on laptop stands, it’s been easy to forget the importance of the non-physical elements. The general ambience of it all. And as it turns out, those smells that waft up to our nostrils during the nine-to-five can actually impact the course of our days.

Aside from improving general odour and tickling the nice parts of our brain (that is scientific language), the right scent can also play a psychological role in boosting productivity, increasing alertness and improving cognitive function.

According to psychologist Mark Moss, certain aromas can “potentially improve memory by being absorbed into the blood when we inhale… then being passed to the brain where they enhance the activity of a neurotransmitter (brain cell messenger) that is involved in memory”.

Personally, I’m down for any productivity helper that requires little to no effort (I’m a walking paradox, sweetie). Here are the best mood-boosting home scents for calm and concentration.

Diptyque Orange Ambre candle


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Vetiver is a plant favoured for its medicinal properties (nerve and circulation problems, stomach pain) and its warm, earthy, woody scent. Proven to contain components that increase oxygenation of brain cells, vetiver is ideal for focus, concentration and general calm. With notes of amber, patchouli and – most importantly – vetiver, this Diptyque candle will keep you zen during the workday.

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Le Labo Verveine 32 candle

Alongside its antibacterial properties, citrus can also help reduce stress levels, wake you up and bring a little clarity on brain fog-heavy days. A Japanese study even found that typing errors were reduced by more than 50 per cent in citrus-smelling workplaces, and if I can reduce my mistakes with Le Labo, that’s exactly what I’ll do. This candle smells like eucalyptus, kaffir lime and violet.

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Maison Balzac Le Matin essential oil


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According to Mark Moss, rosemary is not only delish in cooking but great in helping with memory retention. A great excuse to purchase one of its glossy oil burners, this Maison Balzac Le Matin essential oil contains two of the proven calming ingredients: lemon and rosemary.

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D.S. and Durga Breakfast Leipzig candle


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While the smell of coffee is synonymous with an early morning, did you know it can actually help you wake up? That’s right – there’s a reason you love the aroma of freshly-ground beans. The right coffee scent can help to enhance analytical reasoning and promote attentiveness – like this breakfast candle from D.S. and Durga.

Get it here.

Urban Apothecary Green Lavender Candle

It simply wouldn’t be right to leave out the most well-known of the soothing scents – lavender. According to Moss, “research suggests that lavender can improve relaxation, and so work performance later is improved as the rest period is more effective”. Calm yourself by burning this herbal, green lavender candle.

Get it here.

Maison Balzac La Terra incense


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Cinnamon and spice are good for several uses – freshly baked pastries, festive seasonal drinks and increasing your attention span. A surprisingly powerful stimulant, cinnamon works to increase your motor responses and heighten your senses. Similar warm spices can also help you tick off your to-do list. This Maison Balzac incense (rested in a cute Pebble holder) is an elegant, low-maintenance energy booster.

Get it here.

For more productivity-promoting scents, head here.

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