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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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                      Published on January 16, 2019

                      How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                      How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                      We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

                      You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

                      You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

                      That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

                      Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

                      1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

                      Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

                      We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

                      To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

                      At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

                      The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

                      2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

                      Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

                      The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

                      In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

                      It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

                      It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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                      So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

                      • Are you a great strategist?
                      • Are you an effective planner?
                      • Is Project Management your strength?
                      • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
                      • Are you the ideas person?
                      • Is Implementation your strength?

                      Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

                      3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

                      One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

                      Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

                      Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

                      Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

                      4. Take Time for Planning

                      “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

                      One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

                      You can take the time to think about:

                      • What’s the purpose of the project?
                      • How Important is it?
                      • When does it need to be delivered by?
                      • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
                      • What are the KPIs?
                      • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
                      • Who is working on this project?
                      • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
                      • What tolerances can I add in?
                      • What are the review stages?
                      • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

                      Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

                      5. Focus on Priorities

                      Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

                      Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

                      One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

                      1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
                      2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
                      3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
                      4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

                      James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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                        The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

                        If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

                        If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

                        6. Take Time Out

                        To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

                        If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

                        Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

                        In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

                        Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

                        7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

                        Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

                        I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

                        Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

                        If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

                        8. Stop Multitasking

                        Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

                        So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

                        When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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                        If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

                        9. Work in Blocks of Time

                        To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

                        I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

                        Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

                        Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

                        Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

                        Then take another 10-minute break.

                        Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

                        By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

                        10. Get Rid of Distractions

                        Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

                        “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

                        Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

                        If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

                        11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

                        You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

                        Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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                        Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

                        12. Take a Time Audit

                        Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

                        Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

                        You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

                        Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

                        Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

                        At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

                        If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

                        13. Protect Your Confidence

                        It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

                        When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

                        Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

                        When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

                        Final Words

                        A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

                        The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

                        If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

                        Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

                        Reference

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