While many people claim that they thrive in high-stress environments, others work best in some place that is relaxing and tranquil. Changing your job might not be an option if it is a high-stress position by nature, but you can still optimize your workspace to make it a more relaxing place to spend your time and do your work, in turn reducing your stress levels and increasing your productivity. The biggest key to creating a relaxing workspace is styling it in a way that makes you happy. If it feels right to you, then you’re on the right path. Keeping that in mind, here are my seven tips for creating a more relaxing workspace:
Get rid of the clutter. All those stacks of paper strewn about your desk make you look not only disorganized, but also stressed out and perhaps even overwhlemed. While they don’t have to go into the trash can, but they should be sorted and organized into file folders inside your desk, or somewhere else hidden from view. The only papers on your desk should really just be those that are directly related to your current task. If you do nothing else, do this. Many people will notice a dramatic improvement in their productivity once the clutter is gone.
Invest in a quality, comfortable chair. If you are going to be chained to your desk, you’ll want to be comfortable. If you’re constantly fidgeting because you can’t get comfortable in your seat, you’re going to be distracted and less attentive. Try petitioning to your supervisor to get you a good once, but if you can’t pull that off you might want to consider getting one yourself. Head out to an office supply store and actually try out all the chairs to find one that you like. Don’t just pick whatever’s on sale or what looks like it might be comfortable. Try it before you buy it!
Get a small fan. Office buildings with recirculated air can get stuffy and stale. Combat that with a small fan on your desk that will help keep air circulating in your workspace. It’ll also come in handy when things get warm and the air temperature isn’t quite to your liking. I know I have a hard time concentrating when I’m breathing in stale or warm air and it affects my work. A fan really helps!
Go green. By this I don’t mean you need to invest in biodegradable or recycled materials. I mean add a little green to your workspace in the form of plants. Fake plants will not fit the bill, so don’t even bother with them. Instead, pick up only real, live, oxygen-generating plants. It’ll help with the stale air issue, but will also help liven things up and make it a more inviting space.
Tweak your lighting. Is it too bright or not bright enough? Adding more light to your work area is easily accomplished by adding a desk lamp. Making it darker can be trickier if you don’t have your own office or aren’t working from home, but if either of these situations apply to you, if you feel more comfortable in the dark, by all means, go for it and turn out the lights. If you work in a cubicle, you’ll likely have to suck it up and deal with the lighting you’ve got.
Add some noise. Working in a completely silent area can be quite distracting for some people, so adding in a little noise can help. The kind of “noise” you will want to add depends entirely on your tastes. Some people could benefit from music, while others might enjoy the simplicity of a desktop water fountain and the relaxing sound of flowing water. You may need to experiment with the type of music you listen to before you find one that fits. Some music might be too distracting, so keep trying until you find something that helps relax you without distracting you.
Personalize your space. Looking at your work area, would a stranger be able to learn anything about you? Is it devoid of a personality? If so, you might need to spruce it up a bit to make you feel more at home. Family photos are a big personal item you’ll find on a lot of people’s desktops, but there are many other ways you can make your space your own. Trade that boring desk calendar for one with a little more flair, get yourself some colorful paperclips and a fun mousepad, or tack up your favorite comic strip on the wall.7
Considerations for those who work from home:
Creating a more relaxing work environment can be a little bit different if you work from home. In this case, you’ll want to make sure your work area is relaxing, but not too relaxing, and located somewhere you won’t be constantly interrupted. You might not need the family photos since they’re just down the hall, but they’re still a nice touch. Otherwise, the tips above can be applied to your home office as well.