The Best Scents For Productivity and Performance – Poised Aroma

The Best Scents For Productivity and Performance

Increasing productivity with scents requires a little bit of understanding of how different scents help in different scenarios. For simplicity, I have provided a graph below to give a rough understanding of how scents enhance different working scenarios. 

Task Complexity and Aromas

Note: This graph is for conceptual understanding and should not be taken as a sole guide to enhancing productivity. For a better understanding of how to use fragrances to enhance productivity please continue to read.

For example, peppermint is perfect for non-complex repetitive tasks because it stimulates the nervous system.[1] A study evaluating the effects of fragrances on working productivity reported that stimulating aromas promote productivity in monotonous tasks, and sedative aromas promote productivity in complex tasks. [2]

Sedative aromas enhance productivity during complex tasks because complex tasks require excessive cognitive function. High-demand cognitive tasks require mental stability and low distractibility. Sedative aromas help to calm the mind and narrow attention on the task at hand by getting rid of those pesky anxious and distracting thoughts.

Monotonous tasks have lower cognitive demand, but can be difficult to slog through if one is tired. Stimulating aromas help to wake you up and keep you working efficiently when a task is repetitive or boring

Particular fragrances have effects for enhancing productivity beyond simply stimulation and sedation. We have separated the sedative and stimulant aromas into two lists. The lists below feature the best scents for enhancing productivity beyond mere stimulation or sedation:


1. Peppermint. Peppermint is very good at enhancing physical performance [1][2][4]. The combined effects of peppermint's stimulation and oxidization can be particularly useful for those with labour intensive work. A great way to use peppermint to enhance physical productivity is to periodically apply a tiny dab of essential oil under your lip through the day. You will instantly notice the oxidizing effects and ease of physical labour. Peppermint has also been shown to improve memory. [3]

2. Rosemary. A study measured the effects of people's math skills before and after exposure to rosemary. The study reported the "rosemary group... showed increased alertness... reported feeling more relaxed and alert... and performed faster at completing math computations after aromatherapy session." [5]. Rosemary has been confirmed to increase clarity-of-thought and lower levels of anxiety via relaxation, thus increasing cognitive processing speed. Another study found direct correlations between rosemary and improved cognitive function: "Rosemary aroma... improved performance at higher concentrations." [6] The study also reported Rosemary has significantly improved quality of memory. [6] 

3. JasmineA study examined twenty healthy volunteers with an EEG scan (used for measuring brainwaves in different areas of the brain), pre and post inhalation of jasmine oil. The EEG showed significant increases in beta wave power (beta waves are associated with alertness, problem-solving, decision making and focused mental activity) and volunteers reported "positive emotions including the feeling of well-being, alertness, freshness and romantic arousal all being increased by the jasmine oil" [12]


1. Bergamot. Bergamot was tested in real-life scenarios with teachers of various ages and workloads. Exposure to bergamot "relieved work-related stress of teachers with various workloads" [7]. Bergamot not only works as a sedative but also doubles as an anxiolytic. The anti-anxiety effect of bergamot increases mental stability beyond mere sedation by helping fend off annoying anxious thoughts. This synergistic effect makes bergamot an ideal scent for complex problem-solving.

2. Chamomile. Chamomile was tested to see if it had cognition-enhancing effects using the Cognitive Drug Research assessment battery. After exposure to chamomile, participants exhibited "a significant increase in overall quality of memory, long-term memory and accuracy of attention." [8] 

3. Eucalyptus. A study reported, "The combination of peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil and ethanol increased cognitive performance and had a muscle-relaxing and mentally relaxing effect." [11] Eucalyptus is useful for mitigating the percieved workload at hand. If you are feeling overwhelmed, Eucalyptus can help stabilize your mind and focus on the task at hand.

4. Lemon. A study reported, "Self-report and unobtrusive mood measures provided robust evidence that lemon oil reliably enhances positive mood." [10] Lemon is a sedative that increases awareness and mood. Lemon combines positivity with calm-focus, helping you maintain quality work for longer, and you'll feel good about it too!

Scents to Avoid

1. Ylang Ylang. Ylang Ylang was found to decrease memory function and lengthen processing speed. [3] The scent has shown impressive results for relaxation, although you may want to avoid it if you are trying to improve productivity.

2. Lavender. Lavender has also been shown to decrease working memory performance. [9] Working memory is a key component for cognitive function, as it allows you to manipulate objects in your current field of consciousness. Decreases in working memory can lead to worse performance on cognitive tasks and repetitive tasks, as lavender is also a powerful sedative aroma. [9]


We recommend combining our confidence and productivity scents for maximizing your work experience.


[1] Raudenbush B., Corley N., Eppich W. Enhancing athletic performance through administration of peppermint odor. J. Sport Exerc. Psychol. 2001

[2] “A Study of ‘Fragrance’ on Working Environment Characteristics in VDT Work Activities.” International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, 4 May 1999


[4] Meamarbashi, Abbas. “Instant effects of peppermint essential oil on the physiological parameters and exercise performance.” Avicenna journal of phytomedicine vol. 4,1 (2014): 72-8.

[5] Diego MA, Jones NA, Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C, McAdam V, Galamaga R, Galamaga M Aromatherapy positively affects mood, EEG patterns of alertness and math computations. Int J Neurosci. 1998

[6] Moss, M., & Oliver, L. (2012). Plasma 1,8-cineole correlates with cognitive performance following exposure to rosemary essential oil aroma. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology

[7] Shing-Hong Liu, Tzu-Hsin Lin, and Kang-Ming Chang, “The Physical Effects of Aromatherapy in Alleviating Work-Related Stress on Elementary School Teachers in Taiwan,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013

[8] Moss, M., et al. “Expectancy and the Aroma of Roman Chamomile Influence Mood and Cognition in Healthy Volunteers.” International Journal of Aromatherapy, No Longer Published by Elsevier, 21 July 2006.


[10] Kiecolt-Glaser, Janice K et al. “Olfactory influences on mood and autonomic, endocrine, and immune function.” Psychoneuroendocrinology vol. 33,3 (2008).

[11] Göbel, H, et al. “Effect of Peppermint and Eucalyptus Oil Preparations on Neurophysiological and Experimental Algesimetric Headache Parameters.” Cephalalgia : an International Journal of Headache, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 1994.

[12] Sayowan, W., Siripornpanich, V., Hongratanaworakit, T., Kotchabhakdi, N., & Ruangrungsi, N. (1). The Effects of Jasmine Oil Inhalation on Brain Wave Activies and Emotions. Journal of Health Research