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6 Personal Must-Haves Items That You Need At Work

6 Personal Must-Haves Items That You Need At Work

We spend many of our waking hours at the office. Given that reality, it makes sense to have a few items at work that help you to stay productive and happy.

The following items will greatly improve your quality of (work) life. Do you have them?

1. An Office Sweater

Sweater

    Have you ever worked in an office with powerful AC? When you first walk into the building, it is refreshing and puts a smile on your face. But you can have too much of a good thing. For those days when your office AC hits you like a January day, an office sweater will come in handy. Instead of complaining about the cold, simply put on your sweater and immediately become more comfortable.

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    Tip: Bring a sweater that is simple and professional. Avoid slogans or anything else that you may need to explain to your boss or customers.

    2. A Small Personal Grooming Kit

    Hair Brush

      Whether you’re facing wind, rain or shine, it is important to look your best at the office. That’s why many professionals have a small grooming kit at the office. For men, you may be able to manage with little more than a comb and a small shoe cleaning brush. For women, you may need more items.

      As you prepare a grooming kit, keep in mind the limited storage space you have at your workstation.

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      3. A Few Snacks

      Almonds

        Bringing your own snacks to the office is a smart move for a few reasons. First, you will be less likely to indulge in expensive, high sugar candy. Second, you will be able to eat immediately – no waiting in lines!

        There are many different options to consider in the area of office snacks. You could buy a package of protein bars and put it in your drawer. Or you could you pack almonds, a durable super food that provides protein. As a general rule of thumb, high protein snacks are best to give you significant energy.

        Tip: Read this list of super foods for more ideas for snacks to bring to the office.

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        4. A Dress Up Item!

        Bow Tie

          Yikes! The CEO suddenly decided to visit your office on casual Friday. Your chances to make a good first impression are at risk.

          If you plan ahead, you can address this problem. You may want to bring a tie and sports jacket to the office and keep them there for surprises. A neck tie is a great personal item to sharpen your image because they are small, easy to store and signal a higher dress code.

          5. A Good Book

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          Business Book

            From time to time, there are slow periods at the office. For times like those, I suggest keeping a good professional book at the office. To get started, try 15 Inspiring Books Every Leader Should Not Miss or 10 Books To Become A Better Project Manager. For those stressful days at the office, having a good book to read for a few minutes is a great way to take your mind away from the stress of the daily grind.

            Tip: Is there a classic book about your company (or a biography of your founder or CEO)? If so, consider adding that back to your cubicle desk. It is a great way to signal your commitment to your company.

            6. A Phone Charger

            Phone Charger White

              A dead cell phone is deeply frustrating! All of your contacts, emails, games and other useful materials are locked into a useless device. Spending $25 or $50 on a spare cell phone charger is a great way to avoid this problem. With an office charger in place, you will be able to leave the office each day with a full charge.

              Tip: Some phones will let you charge by connecting to your office PC, but that may not always be an option. Make sure that your “office phone charger” will work with an AC outlet.

              Featured photo credit: Office/tpsdave via pixabay.com

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              Bruce Harpham

              Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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              Last Updated on April 19, 2021

              The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

              The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

              Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

              The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

              Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

              In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

              When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

              Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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              1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

              When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

              As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

              That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

              The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

              What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

              Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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              There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

              So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

              2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

              When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

              No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

              3. Move Your Body

              A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

              It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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              So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

              4. Connect With Another Person

              Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

              One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

              Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

              5. Use Your Imagination

              When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

              That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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              And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

              Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

              Final Thoughts

              Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

              Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

              More on the Importance of Taking a Break

              Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

              Reference

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