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7 Ways to Create a More Tranquil Workspace

7 Ways to Create a More Tranquil Workspace

    While many people claim that they thrive in high-stress environments, others work best in some place that is relaxing and tranquil.  Changing your job might not be an option if it is a high-stress position by nature, but you can still optimize your workspace to make it a more relaxing place to spend your time and do your work, in turn reducing your stress levels and increasing your productivity.  The biggest key to creating a relaxing workspace is styling it in a way that makes you happy.  If it feels right to you, then you’re on the right path.  Keeping that in mind, here are my seven tips for creating a more relaxing workspace:

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    1. Get rid of the clutter. All those stacks of paper strewn about your desk make you look not only disorganized, but also stressed out and perhaps even overwhlemed.  While they don’t have to go into the trash can, but they should be sorted and organized into file folders inside your desk, or somewhere else hidden from view.  The only papers on your desk should really just be those that are directly related to your current task. If you do nothing else, do this.  Many people will notice a dramatic improvement in their productivity once the clutter is gone.
    2. Invest in a quality, comfortable chair. If you are going to be chained to your desk, you’ll want to be comfortable.  If you’re constantly fidgeting because you can’t get comfortable in your seat, you’re going to be distracted and less attentive.  Try petitioning to your supervisor to get you a good once, but if you can’t pull that off you might want to consider getting one yourself.  Head out to an office supply store and actually try out all the chairs to find one that you like.  Don’t just pick whatever’s on sale or what looks like it might be comfortable. Try it before you buy it!
    3. Get a small fan. Office buildings with recirculated air can get stuffy and stale.  Combat that with a small fan on your desk that will help keep air circulating in your workspace.  It’ll also come in handy when things get warm and the air temperature isn’t quite to your liking.  I know I have a hard time concentrating when I’m breathing in stale or warm air and it affects my work. A fan really helps!
    4. Go green. By this I don’t mean you need to invest in biodegradable or recycled materials.  I mean add a little green to your workspace in the form of plants.  Fake plants will not fit the bill, so don’t even bother with them.  Instead, pick up only real, live, oxygen-generating plants.  It’ll help with the stale air issue, but will also help liven things up and make it a more inviting space.
    5. Tweak your lighting. Is it too bright or not bright enough?  Adding more light to your work area is easily accomplished by adding a desk lamp.  Making it darker can be trickier if you don’t have your own office or aren’t working from home, but if either of these situations apply to you, if you feel more comfortable in the dark, by all means, go for it and turn out the lights.  If you work in a cubicle, you’ll likely have to suck it up and deal with the lighting you’ve got.
    6. Add some noise. Working in a completely silent area can be quite distracting for some people, so adding in a little noise can help.  The kind of “noise” you will want to add depends entirely on your tastes.  Some people could benefit from music, while others might enjoy the simplicity of a desktop water fountain and the relaxing sound of flowing water.  You may need to experiment with the type of music you listen to before you find one that fits.  Some music might be too distracting, so keep trying until you find something that helps relax you without distracting you.
    7. Personalize your space. Looking at your work area, would a stranger be able to learn anything about you?  Is it devoid of a personality?  If  so, you might need to spruce it up a bit to make you feel more at home.  Family photos are a big personal item you’ll find on a lot of people’s desktops, but there are many other ways you can make your space your own.  Trade that boring desk calendar for one with a little more flair, get yourself some colorful paperclips and a fun mousepad, or tack up your favorite comic strip on the wall.7

    Considerations for those who work from home:

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    Creating a more relaxing work environment can be a little bit different if you work from home.  In this case, you’ll want to make sure your work area is relaxing, but not too relaxing, and located somewhere you won’t be constantly interrupted.  You might not need the family photos since they’re just down the hall, but they’re still a nice touch. Otherwise, the tips above can be applied to your home office as well.

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    Julie McCormick

    Julie McCormick is a writer, and co-owner of The Cleveland Leader, a Technorati Top 1000 site.

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brain Power How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide) How to Continue Reading the New York Times Online For Free How to Get Around Facebook’s New Photo Viewer 7 Ways to Create a More Tranquil Workspace

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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

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