Simple Ways to Create Calm in Your Workspace

Hey friends! This week’s post is a guest blog from Johanna Cider of Musings of Johanna

calm workspace 1

Image Source: Pexels

Is your workspace causing you stress? Your physical environment at work can affect your mood, focus and productivity. If your workspace is elevating your stress levels, it’s important to make some changes.

Taking time to create calm in your work environment will have numerous benefits. Ultimately, you’ll feel happier, more relaxed and motivated to get tasks done. Here are a few simple ways to promote calm in your workspace.

Bring in Nature

Exposure to nature has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Most of us spend so much time inside the office that we don’t get enough time in nature. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring nature indoors. Consider adding a couple of potted plants to your workspace. This will create a calming environment, improve the air quality and liven up the look of your space.

Declutter

Is your desk area surrounded by clutter? Keeping organised is the best way to promote calm and order at work. Taking some time to de-clutter will make a huge difference to your daily productivity. Go through all your documents, papers and items, storing away what you don’t need. Create an efficient system so that you know where everything is kept. Get rid of anything that could be a distraction during your day-to-day work tasks. Prioritise tidying your desk regularly. A clear, organised workspace will result in a clearer mind.

Invest in a Comfortable Office Chair

When you spend all day sitting at your desk, it’s important to be comfortable. Investing in a high-quality chair will do wonders to improve your mood. You will immediately feel more motivated if you feel comfortable throughout the day. You’ll spend less time fidgeting in your chair and more time focused on your tasks. Another option is to get a relaxing chair to sit in during your breaks. Look for a cosy chair in your favourite colour. Having your own relaxation chair at work is a great way to manage your stress.

calm workspace 2

Image Source: Unsplash

Add a Personal Touch

Creating a workspace that you enjoy being in helps encourage calm and relaxation. Plus, an uninspired environment does no good for your creativity or productivity. Try to add little touches of your personality here and there (as long as it’s not overly distracting). For example, you could bring in a couple items that remind you of home, like family photos or artwork. These homey reminders will help you feel at peace during periods of stress.

Adjust the Lighting

Big windows with natural lighting are ideal in a working environment, as the sun is a natural mood booster. If you don’t have big windows, it’s crucial to get the right balance of artificial light. Fluorescent lighting can be harsh on the eyes, making it difficult to focus. Instead, go for soft ambient lighting to create a more relaxing feel.

calm workspace 3

Image Source: Pxhere

Bring in Relaxing Scents

The smells around you can affect your mood. Some smells, like lavender, are known to have calming properties. Why not bring some relaxing smells into your office space? Scented candles, flowers or essential oils can help to create a soothing atmosphere. Focus on the scents that make you feel happy and calm.

Keep Water at Your Desk

Many of us forget to stay hydrated throughout the busy workday. This can affect our overall energy and ability to focus. Keeping a large bottle of water at your desk will remind you to stay refreshed. The more refreshed you are, the easier it will be to stay calm in stressful situations.

Author Bio:

Johanna is passionate about home and design and is currently addicted to TV shows about house flipping and home renovation. However, on most days, she is busy crafting articles for blogs and local sites such as Hercules Gazebo. She resides in the laid-back city of Wellington, New Zealand. You can find the best excerpts of her written work on her blog, Musings of Johanna.

 

21 New Years Resolutions for Minimalists

Happy New Year!

dreams

At a time when most of us are plotting the course to become a Totally New Me, I’d like to remind you all that you are doing great already. You’re enough, just as you are, and you don’t need to lose 50 pounds or get a boyfriend or achieve a certain level of income to be loved or worthy or enough. That said, New Years Resolutions don’t have to be about absolute life changes. You might find that if you focus on small lifestyle focus areas, you’ll reap large-scale rewards. I’ve put together a list of minimalist resolutions to help you simplify your life and focus on what matters most to you.

A look back

Take a moment to reflect on the year behind you. I can say for certain that when I was approaching 2018, I could not have predicted anything that was about to change for me. In 2018, I realized I was living half a life in an abusive marriage, so I left. In 2018, I lost my stepdad. In 2018, I cut contact with loved ones who damaged my mental health. In 2018, I socialized and made new friends and developed two healthy and loving romantic relationships. In 2018, I discovered a new favorite restaurant. In 2018, I accepted a book deal and wrote a book. It was a BIG. YEAR.

Related: MarketWatch – What to do when your best year at work is your worst year at home

Self reflection and goal setting

To help you reflect on your year in review and find the areas you want to work on for the next year, I recommend finding a few minutes to focus and reflect. This guide can help you out with guided questions and printable sheets to brainstorm.

First, reflect:

  • Did you achieve your resolutions and goals in 2018?
  • Do you have unfinished 2018 projects? Why?
  • Did you take time in 2018 to make a plan for your goals? Did you give yourself the time and resources needed to accomplish your goals?

Then, prepare:

  • Set clear, definable goals with measurable progress and success
  • Think about how you’ll react if you don’t achieve your goals
  • Decide how you’ll motivate yourself to reach your goals

Decide on the areas you want to improve, and then focus your goals on those key areas. The smallest consistent actions can create big improvements.

On to the resolutions

Depending on your areas of focus, here are some resolutions you may be able to adjust to your needs for 2019!

Career

  • Get in early. Resolve to arrive at your desk 15 minutes early this year. Having a few minutes to slowly get your mind into work-mode will leave you feeling more productive and less rushed. This doesn’t mean spend an extra 15 minutes working! Spend this time to close your eyes, set an intention for your work day, and get ready to work.
  • Update your resume. The simple act of updating your resume and polishing your personal brand can help remind you of your skills and make you feel more confident. You don’t even have to look for a new job if you don’t want to – just looking at your credentials and experience on paper is a great reminder of how you’re doing in your career.
  • Learn more. Resolve to read a book or take a webinar or workshop related to your career on a regular basis this year. Check out resources like Lynda, which may be available for free through your local library. Lynda has courses about almost everything.

Physical Health

  • Go to bed. You need more sleep than you are getting, if you’re like most Americans. More rest means better health, regardless of how much you’re hitting the gym. Working out while your body is exhausted can set you up for injury and burnout, so prioritize getting your ZZZs. Try to keep a consistent bedtime and wake time to teach your body your new habits and rhythms.
  • Stretch daily. Rather than commit to a year-long weight loss goal that so few people achieve without a heap of negative self-talk, choose a simpler resolution. Wake five minutes earlier so that you can stretch before you start your morning routine, and perhaps you’ll see that just a small amount of movement can help naturally inspire more.
  • Hydrate. Resolve to drink enough water on a daily basis – this will have a huge and lasting impact on your health. You’ll have healthier digestion when your body is properly hydrated, and you’ll also notice healthier skin.

Mental Health

  • Go to therapy. If your medical insurance covers therapy, find a therapist! Even if you don’t feel like you need one. It can be extremely helpful to have someone to talk to who isn’t knee deep in your personal life. They’re a neutral third party and can help you find other areas of your life to work on.
  • Try mindfulness. Many apps are available to help guide a quick meditation during your day, or you could try keeping a daily journal to jot down some affirmations, intentions, and gratitude.
  • Add plants. Houseplants are one way to improve your mood and mental health. While they’re obviously no replacement for therapy or medication, being around plants and natural microbes found in soil can help boost the immune system as well as inspire joy and decrease symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Social Life

  • Say no. Minimalism is about what to exclude from your life moreso than it’s about what to include, including your schedule. Learn to say no to some social plans so that you can say yes to the ones you really want to attend, without burning yourself out or overscheduling.
  • Try a new place. If you’re a homebody who wants to try going out more, set yourself an easy goal like trying one new place or route per month.This could be going to a new cafe to read a book, visiting a different branch of your local library system, or even taking a different route on an afternoon walk. Just try something different.
  • Give compliments. I used to be pretty quiet in public places, always staying in the shadows while my sister rained rainbow sparkles of joy on everyone she crossed paths with. “Love your earrings!” “That dress looks great,” “Your hair is awesome,” etc. etc. etc. After I went on medication for depression and anxiety, I was less scared of being seen as weird in public by engaging with people I didn’t know. Now I love to tell a server that I love their eyeliner, or give props to a coworker for a job well done in our weekly meeting. Resolve to say something nice every day. It will change your whole outlook on life.

Generosity

  • Leave bigger tips. If you normally tip 20%, resolve to tip 25% at minimum in 2019. This is a great way to be generous and make a big impact with a small change to your current habits.
  • Support marginalized artists on Patreon. Find someone on Patreon who is marginalized in an area of life where you have privilege. Donate to them monthly for the entire year. (For example, if you’re a cisgender white person, donate to a transgender person of color).
  • Declutter for a cause. When you’re decluttering and minimizing in 2019, donate linens, business casual wear, formal dresses, unopened toiletries, non-perishable foods, etc. to local agencies, women’s shelters, and other charities that help people. Even stained or torn towels and linens can be donated to most animal shelters to be used as bedding or cleaning rags.

Finances

  • Minimize your budget. Go over your past few months of bank statements and see what you’re spending money on that you forgot about, don’t really use, or are not seeing a good return on. For me, this meant finally canceling my Beachbody Coach account. I kept it active long after I stopped selling workouts and shakes, because I got an occasional commission and felt like “passive income” was a good reason to keep it up. But I hated the clutter of my monthly budget, so I canceled it and freed up a whole segment of my budget that I no longer had to think about.
  • Go “No Spend.” Resolve to have a no-spend week or month a few times a year. During this time, use up items in your freezer and pantry, learn to do without online shopping for the period in question, and give homemade or pre-owned gifts to people if an occasion falls during your no-spend challenge.
  • Live on half. If at all possible, challenge yourself to live on half of what you make in order to achieve your savings or debt payoff goals as fast as possible. If you can’t live on half of what you make, challenge yourself to spend half as much as usual on something in your budget for a month.

Physical Environment

  • Donate once a month. Make a resolution to take (at least) one full box to the local donation center each month. This is a low-stress way to declutter and minimize all year long.
  • Try Project 333. This capsule wardrobe project challenges you to go three months with only 33 pieces of clothing and jewelry (undies and workout clothes excluded). This experiment can help inspire a closet makeover in your home and help reduce future spending on clothes, once you realize you don’t even wear most of what you have.
  • Commit to one area. Resolve to keep one small part of your home as minimal and simple as possible. Your minimalist save point. It could be a whole room, or it could be as simple as your desk or one nightstand in your bedroom. Just find one spot that you’ll keep to your minimalist standards on a daily basis all year. The joy of seeing it so nice will likely inspire a similar commitment to other areas of the home.

What’s your New Year’s Resolution?

Welcome to my home!

I recently declared “I want to do a photo tour of my apartment, once I clean it and purge everything I haven’t used in the last six months.”

Guess what?

Yep. Cleaning marathon.

I spent about eight hours cleaning my apartment, assembling all my to-purge items in a big “organized” pile, rearranging my living room, cutting a LOT of clutter stress, and making everything pretty enough to show the world on my blog.

Here is is!

First, some minor background information: My apartment has two doors – one into the living room, and one into the kitchen.  The kitchen door is there so that when people got food deliveries back in the 1920s when the building was first used, the deliveryman could come right into the kitchen and not through the whole house. I call the living room door the “front door” and the kitchen door the “back door.”

When you walk in the front door, you see this:

liv room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The couch is a Salvation Army store find, covered in a white blanket because I didn’t like the floral print it had.  The rug is three kitchen rugs that I stitched together with embroidery thread.  The coffee table is a footlocker/trunk that I spray-painted white.  My desk area is comprised of an end table that my mom and I painted white this summer, and a storage ottoman I am using as a stool until I procure a desk chair I like.  And there are a couple of my record paintings on the wall and a print of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, my favorite painting.  It used to be hanging in the center of the front wall, but I can’t put nails in the wall so it was up with 3M velcro strips and it proved too heavy.  Sad day.  I’ll paint something for the wall eventually.

liv room 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the corner by my door, featuring a bookshelf – those are all the books I own, a far cry from my initial library — and easel.  The pretty box on the floor holds some records for painting projects.  The wall has various photos and another record painting.

I left out the closet.  It’s not that exciting.  Mostly storage, and my fancy purple pea coat.  To the left of the door is my hallway, and our next stop is:

bedroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My bedroom, which is finally clean.  I have two end tables (you can sort of see one in the background) which are finally clear of ALL CLUTTER.  My end table only has a book and my phone charger on it.

One way I save space in my bedroom is with my lovely accessory storage system:

bedroom 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hats, necklaces, and earrings are displayed on the wall.  I haven’t worn a lot of the jewelry lately, so some of it will likely end up in The Great Purge of 2013.

Next up is the kitchen!

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Stove – clean.  Sink – clean. Counters – clean. Satellite bowl full of oranges – awesome. Breakfast nook – lovely, and clean! Sign stating, “It’s official – I’ve become my mother” – hilarious, and true.

Some space saving tips for the kitchen:

kitchen 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magnetic knife rack under the cabinet.

kitchen 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wall-mounted hooks (love those 3M strips) for cutting board and colander.

kitchen 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shoe organizer on the fridge to hold utensils.  One day soon I will get rid of those awful plastic utensils.  Also, that’s Zoe!

Lastly, the bathroom:

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All sparkling clean! And ZERO clutter, since everything fits in the vanity or medicine cabinet. Very soon that soap will be all used up and replaced with a natural alternative! Also, note my cat’s fancy top-entry litter box, full of eco-friendly and cat-friendly paper litter.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tour!

 

Furniture limits

I have a little buyer’s remorse over the purchase of two end tables at a yard sale over the past weekend.  However, I have talked myself around to them for a few reasons:

  1. They are more functional for my needs as a bedside table than the storage ottomans I had been using, which were not totally flat and did not have adequate space for a book, my glasses, and my phone/charger without precarious balancing acts
  2. They were only $10 for the pair, a relatively painless amount of money
  3. Since I am so unattached, I can easily re-sell or donate when I move again, if I so desire

So now I have end tables.  I’ll continue using the storage ottomans to store things (like fuzzy winter socks!), or if I find another way to store my fuzzy winter socks, I’ll give the ottomans back to my mother or my sister for college.

In addition to end tables, I have procured a desk.  I didn’t initially want one, because I was confident in my ability to handle any and all computer tasks at my coffee table, but I caved and decided to get an actual work surface for tax deduction purposes.  I can claim a home office (for my freelance writing income) if I have a designated work space for my “home business.”

My new rule for furniture (besides my couch and my bed) is this: If I can’t get it up the stairs and into my flat by myself, I’m not buying it.  With this limit in mind, I re-purposed an end table with a drawer as my desk and then realized I would need a chair. Rats! Another piece of furniture.

I have to take furniture into account as I plan for my fantasy-self-future, where everything I own fits into my car.  I find myself looking at desk chairs and thinking, “There’s no way that would fit in my car and leave any room for other things,” so I rule it out.  I am currently coveting the Ikea Jules swivel chair, in white.  It’s small but functional, and would probably fit in my car with plenty of room for other things.  I’m also considering folding chairs, to save even more space.  When I have made a final decision about how to outfit my new minimalist workspace, another post with photos will surely follow, with my own personal tips and tricks for making the most of what I have.

How do you limit yourself when it comes to furniture?  What’s in your minimalist office?