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10 Websites and Apps to Recharge Yourself at Work in 5 Minutes

10 Websites and Apps to Recharge Yourself at Work in 5 Minutes

Taking regular and meaningful breaks from your work is important to staying alert and not burning out. However, a common excuse for not taking a break is that there’s simply no time in a busy schedule to take a truly refreshing breather. This causes you more stress and the cycle continues, making you less focused and less productive but feeling like you just can’t allow yourself a break.

The solution is to find simple and easy to access resources to give yourself quick but effective sessions to de-stress, whether at the office or wherever you do your work.

These are some of the best websites and mobile apps for doing just that, all of them free or very affordable. So, no more excuses. Start giving yourself healthy breaks to recharge and stop hitting a wall with your daily grind.

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    Calm.com (website)

    The name of this website says it all. Upon landing on its homepage, you’ll be asked to choose a length of time, whether you want music, and if you’d prefer a soothing voice-over to guide you on your journey to relaxation. Whether you have two minutes or 10, this site will help you find inner peace in no time.

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      Rainy Mood (website, iPhone, Android)

      There’s something uniquely soothing about the sound of rain. As someone from a rainy city who is currently in southern California most of the year, I really enjoy having the ability to hear the pure sound of rain falling no matter where I am. If you also feel comforted by rain, bookmark this site and use it to have a little moment of rainy zen at work when you need one.

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        Sound Drown (website)

        For the most variety in experience customization, Soundrown definitely wins. This site has many sounds to choose from and, perhaps best of all, the ability to overlap them. So if you want to listen to birds chirping by a fountain, you can. If, for whatever reason, the sound of a train running through a crackling fire is your cup of tea, you can do that too. I especially like that you can change the volume of individual sounds, so that if the bird chirping is too prominent against that trickling fountain, you can soften it without turning down the entire soundscape’s volume. I have this one bookmarked as well. It’s a nice escape from your routine if you find some background noise relaxing.

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          Do Nothing For 2 Minutes

          This is the relaxation site for the non-stop fidgeters out there. Do Nothing for 2 Minutes gives you a serene background, a simple screen, and the serene sound of ocean waves along with text stating the same instructions as the site’s name. If you move your cursor before the 2 minute countdown is up, you “fail” and must start over again. This will force you to actually sit calmly and relax instead of drifting over to your email, or that one online shopping site you can’t stop looking at. I admittedly found it a bit challenging at first, but the challenge only creates more incentive to actually make the most out of those 2 minutes and truly relax.

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            Silk

            Silk is “interactive generative art,” which means you get to make pretty glowy art with squiggles. Your mouse is your digital paintbrush and you have several settings to customize the color of your strokes (you can see in this screenshot I took that I have green and blue mixed together). Oh, and every line or blob you make is mirrored, and you have a few options for patterns from the simple two-fold all the way up to six symmetrical folds. It’s incredibly relaxing to move your cursor around and watch as brightly-colored waves and ribbons spill out into pretty patterns. It doesn’t require a lot of set up, so you can fit in a zen “drawing” break when you need to.

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              Breathing Zone (iPhone and Android app), $3.99

              This app costs a couple of bucks, but that’s because its techniques are backed by research. Breathing Zone uses a “clinically proven therapeutic breathing exercise” shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure. It’s so legit that it has been featured on several news outlets and, at least according to the site, even has legit doctors recommending it to patients. If you work in an environment that’s high-stress or you’ve got the co-worker from hell in the next cubicle, this app is probably worth the money.

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                Earthlapse (iPhone/iPad app), Free for limited time, reg. $0.99

                Space is something else I find very peaceful, and, if you do too, Earthlapse is an amazing app to relieve stress. The app plays relaxing new age music while real time-lapse photography taken by NASA over the Earth rolls across your screen. The screenshot above is just one view; there are unobstructed views as well, and you have the choice of whether you want a clock and other info on the screen or nothing. When you’re having an especially nasty day at work, just look down on the Earth from miles above and revel in the insignificance of your troubles, if only for a moment.

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                  Daily Yoga (iPhone/iPad and Android app), Free

                  Doing exercise and stretching is proven to help reduce stress by increasing endorphins, so a bit of light yoga is an excellent break from work and stress-reliever. If, like myself, you don’t know any yoga poses except Downward Facing Dog, Daily Yoga has instructions on how to do the poses, including proper breathing and video demonstrations. No need to attempt to twist yourself into a pretzel; just take a break from work to do some simple poses that will calm and recharge you. Easy peasy.

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                    Fluid Monkey (iPhone/iPad and Android app), Free

                    Similar to Silk, Fluid Monkey involves making colorful, interactive images with your finger (rather than a mouse). You touch the screen to generate little particles of varying colors that swim around a simple and tranquil background, which you can then move around and play with. What I like about this app in particular is the level of customization to make the perfect soothing simulation for you. You get to customize color, thickness of the “fluid” that the particles move in, and particle friction. It’s sort of like having a very customizable lava lamp, or an incredibly abstract fish tank–two things you probably aren’t allowed to have on your physical work desk.

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                      Dead Trigger 2 (available on iPhone, Android, and Facebook), Free

                      Like to relax less conventional ways? Me too. Due to my roommates having a TV with three game consoles set up, one of the ways I used to relax after stressful days at class last year was playing Left 4 Dead 2. There’s just something magical about unwinding by mowing down hoards of zombies with a virtual semi-automatic. The “2” similarity here is just a coincidence–the first Dead Trigger is still available and also awesome, but it makes more sense to list the most recent version first. Take out that stress and frustration with a jolly round of zombie killin’.

                      Featured photo credit: my new job at the call center/Domenico via flic.kr

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                      Last Updated on September 24, 2020

                      17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

                      17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

                      In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

                      The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

                      Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

                      1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

                      Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

                      For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

                      2. Use the Pareto Principle

                      Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

                      Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

                      3. Make Stakes

                      Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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                      However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

                      4. Record Yourself

                      Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

                      5. Join a Group

                      There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

                      6. Time Travel

                      Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

                      Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

                      7. Be a Chameleon

                      When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

                      Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

                      “Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

                      Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

                      8. Focus

                      Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

                      Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

                      9. Visualize

                      The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

                      Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

                      Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

                      10. Find a Mentor

                      Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

                      Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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                      If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

                      11. Sleep on It

                      Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

                      Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

                      12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

                      Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

                      His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

                      Check out his video to find out more:

                      13. Learn by Doing

                      It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

                      Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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                      14. Complete Short Sprints

                      Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

                      One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

                      15. Ditch the Distractions

                      Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

                      Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

                      16. Use Nootropics

                      Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

                      Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

                      Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

                      17. Celebrate

                      For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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                      The Bottom Line

                      Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

                      More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

                      Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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