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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. Focus@Will

                Focus@Will 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 Focus@Will 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 July 17, 2019

                      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                      What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                      Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                      Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                      According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                      Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                      Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                      Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                      The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                      Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                      So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                      Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                      One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                      Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                      Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                      The Neurology of Ownership

                      Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                      In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                      But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                      This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                      Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                      The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                      So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                      On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                      It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                      On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                      But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                      More About Goals Setting

                      Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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