Reduce Stress: 8 Tips To Zen Your Workspace

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If your desk is cluttered with piles of papers, sticky notes, knick-knacks and office supplies, chances are, you’re wasting time, energy and suffering from mental overload. In fact, every distraction—from the stacks of papers on your desk to a ringing phone—can drain your productivity and create undue stress, which can have negative effects on your health.

The good news? Creating a Zen-like office environment is easier than you think. All it takes is some reorganization and creativity, and you’ll not only enjoy enhanced focus and a productivity boost, chances are you’ll be happier, too.

Here are eight great ways to get started:

  1. Get organized. The only papers on your desk should be those you’re currently working with. To get there, put together all those loose papers in your workspace and make the following decision with each: 1) take action 2) toss 3) file or 4) delegate. You shouldn’t have to touch a single sheet of paper more than once. Repeat the process at the end of each work day.
  2. De-clutter. Create an inbox for incoming documents, notes and phone messages—and empty it out once a day using the process outlined above. Then, clear your desk of paper, knick-knacks, post-its, even framed photographs (you can keep one favorite!). The only items on your desk should be those you need to perform your current tasks.
  3. Clear your computer. Streamlining is key, even in a virtual space. Create a simple folder system (by month or project, for example), so it’s easy to track down documents. Clear your computer’s desktop of applications and icons you don’t use or need. And disable distractions, including Facebook, Twitter, email and instant messaging notifications, except during two to three designated times daily. You’ll be better equipped to stay focused, on task and your computer will run more efficiently to boot.
  4. Take advantage of color. Select colors strategically. Blues and greens are soothing while yellows and oranges are stimulating. Just steer clear of pastels (which can be dull and uninspiring) and darker colors (which can be depressing). The best choices to keep you in the zone: vibrant blue, green and lavender hues to keep you calm but moving forward. If you’re in a neutral zone (latte, cream or muted green), bring in color with purposefully-placed art.
  5. Bring in live plants. Plants not only add color and beauty to an otherwise-drab room, they also bring in moisture and help clean indoor air. Another live plant perk: studies show plants help reduce stress. Need an energy boost? Choose plants that are vibrant and colorful (with or without flowers).
  6. Turn on the tunes. Science supports the benefits of music. Depending on the tune, music can be mentally stimulating, calming or even rejuvenating. Experiment to determine which types of music help you work best. Doing mindless filing? Choose a tune that picks you up. Focusing on a creative task? Choose lyric-free ballads. But remember: no matter what you choose, the tunes should make you feel good.
  7. Pay attention to light. Natural lighting helps boost health, happiness and productivity. While not everyone has the luxury of a large office window, most workers can swap out fluorescent lights for something soft and calming. Supplemental lighting—a desk lamp, computer clip light or even a floor lamp in the corner of the room—can help create a soothing environment that benefits your eyesight, mood and energy level.
  8. Keep it simple. In an office space, less is always more. Skip the bric-a-brac and focus instead on one or two pieces of art that are simple, meaningful and inspirational. Better yet, select a piece that serves as a visual cue to take a mindfulness break, where you stop, take a few deep breaths and observe what you’re feeling and thinking. Then get back on task.

Everyone has a different idea of what feels “Zen.” What matters most is what feels right to you. Don’t be afraid to experiment. The goal: to create a space that nurtures your soul, inspires creativity and sets the stage for success.


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Categories: FeelWell