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10 Most Zen-Friendly Websites to Keep You Calm and Productive at Work

10 Most Zen-Friendly Websites to Keep You Calm and Productive at Work

Do you feel like you can no longer cope with the stress of meeting your deadlines? Does the lack of concentration stop you from focusing on your goals? Are you stuck or stressed out? Then put your headphones on. Try using some of the most Zen-friendly websites on offer that really work wonders for keeping your cool in the workplace.

There are so many more sites like this out there, but — for the purposes of this article — I have included 10 of them that I use myself.

1. Do Nothing For 2 Minutes

Yes, that’s exactly what you should do for the next two minutes. Nothing. Just sit comfortably, watch the screen and listen to the sound of waves. Will you be able to sit still without touching the mouse or keyboard? See for yourself. I know I failed the first time I tried it.

donothingfor2min

    2. Calm

    Calm.com also challenges you to sit still and quiet your mind. Apart from that, you can benefit from a selection of guided meditations that can last from two minutes to 20, depending on how long you’d like to take a break from your hectic surroundings.

    You can choose from the many calming atmospheres that are available — gentle waves, fields, waterfalls. And what’s even better about it is that you can take Calm with you. The iPhone app can be downloaded for free, and there are three options for paid subscriptions if you want to go for Pro Access. Who wouldn’t feel calmer meditating with a view like the one below?

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    calm2

      3. SimplyNoise

      SimplyNoise uses white, pink and brown noise. You just need to pick a color, slide the knob to the level that’s comfortable for you and enjoy the sound. I’d recommend white and pink noise while you’re at work to keep you alert, focused and productive. White noise uses sound across all frequencies and blocks distractions, making it great for studying and writing. Pink noise uses a mix of high and low frequencies, which is great for reducing your stress while keeping you energized.

      simplynoise2

        4. SimplyRain

        SimplyRain belongs to the SimplyNoise website and it simply plays the rain sounds for you. You slide the blue orb to adjust the rain intensity and adjust the volume by sliding the metal knob. Change the storm ambiance by toggling the thunder orb. Based on different algorithms, SimplyRain generates a randomized procedural storm each time you tune in. Both SimplyNoise and SimplyRain apps are also available on iTunes for $0.99 each.

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        simplyrain

          5. Rainy Mood

          This one’s my favorite and the one I use most often when I write. On top of the rain, thunder and bird sounds, there’s no audio limit and it plays a YouTube video every day that fits perfectly with the sound of rain. I learned about it when I read how online marketing expert and Overit’s VP of Strategy Lisa Barone writes.

          rainymood

            6. Coffitivity

            You can’t afford spending every morning at Starbucks? No probs. Bring the coffee shop vibe into your own home, on your own desktop, to get your much needed creativity boost. Coffitivity has a neat and beautiful interface and blends calm and commotion in such a way that makes your creative juices flow. They also link to a super comprehensive study about “Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition.”

            coffitivity

              7. naturesoundsfor.me

              With naturesoundsfor.me you can mix four different sounds, but you have a wide range to choose from: tribal drums, animals, fireworks, heart beat, you name it. The one I created to my own liking is a combo of beach sounds, seagulls, pink noise and kids laughter.

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              It’s so soothing, yet lively, to listen to the sounds of the ocean’s waves gently crashing on the shore while children giggle in the background. Start creating yours! You can also save it on your computer so you can play it when you’re offline too.

              naturesoundsforme

                8. [email protected]

                [email protected] is fantastic! It uses phase-sequenced instrumental music that increases your attention span up to 400 percent when reading, writing, or studying. Apart from that, it extends the standard 20- to 30-minute productivity cycle to approximately 100 minutes.

                The music stream (Alpha Chill works for me) engages your background attention to such an extent that it doesn’t interfere with your conscious focal attention on the task you work on. As for the costs, you can choose from three different account types: Guest, Personal and Pro.

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                focusatwill

                  9. Get Work Done Music

                  Get Work Done Music simply plays upbeat, instrumental tunes from Soundcloud. It’s pretty straightforward to use with very few controls — just the play/pause button, Fast and Faster, and “gimme the next one cap’n” to switch to the next song.

                  getworkdonemusic

                    10. Teamviz

                    Last, but not least, Teamviz is the icing on the cake among the tools that help you stay on schedule as you prioritize your tasks and approach them one by one. There’s no music, but this is probably one of the best productivity tools out there.

                    Formerly known as PomodoroApp, this free downloadable app, which is basically a timer, allows you to break your working routine in 30-minute chunks. You work for 25 minutes then take a 5-minute break. What you choose to do during that break is important. Stay away from email and social media. I for one meditate. That’s when Calm.com or donothingfor2minutes.com, for instance, come in handy.

                    teamviz2

                      As I worked on this post I used Coffitivity and [email protected] simultaneously. The music volume was set just above the ambient noise level of Coffitivity.

                      Try to have as much variation as possible and notice what puts you best in the zone. Measure the effects and share what worked for you with your friends — and in the comments below.

                      More by this author

                      Anca Dumitru

                      Freelance Writer & Content Strategist

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                      Last Updated on March 15, 2019

                      How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

                      How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

                      When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

                      Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

                      In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

                      What Makes a Leader Fail?

                      A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

                      If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

                      And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

                      What Is Effective Leadership?

                      Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

                      Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

                      Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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                      “… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

                      How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

                      To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

                      1. Courage

                      The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

                      “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

                      Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

                      For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

                      In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

                      It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

                      Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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                      2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

                      If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

                      The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

                      To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

                      3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

                      Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

                      Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

                      4. Likability

                      Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

                      When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

                      Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

                      So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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                      5. Vulnerability

                      Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

                      When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

                      6. Authenticity

                      Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

                      Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

                      7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

                      Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

                      Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

                      Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

                      Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

                      As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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                      “A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

                      8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

                      Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

                      This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

                      9. A Passion for Continual Learning

                      Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

                      These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

                      Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

                      The Bottom Line

                      No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

                      Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

                      More Resources About Effective Leadership

                      Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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