Before COVID hit, you may have had moments at your workplace when you could only dream of working from home.
Now that you’re actually doing it, though, well… You’re finding that work is still work.
And it’s still kind of a drag.
Even worse, you’re finding that the collision of your living space and work space is making you stir-crazy.
Whether your work area is in a completely different room or simply a desk squeezed into your bedroom, it’s hard to feel like there’s any joy to your work area. You thought that working from home would be a dream come true, but it’s still just a place to do work.
Luckily, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to add joy to your workspace.
Whether you’re still working from home or back in the office, here are some ways that you can make your workspace feel… Well. A little more personable and home.
Add Some Plants
Looking to be a plant parent but haven’t found the right place to put a brand new sprout?
Here’s your chance to put one on or near your desk!
Not only will plants add color (and literally life) to your workspace, they also come with plenty of healthy mental benefits. A study has shown that having some vibrant greenery around can increase concentration and attention span as much as 20% - leading you to be potentially more productive in your work.
Having a creative block in your work? It can also spark creativity as much as 15%!
Of course, productivity aside, plants add to your general happiness and can significantly decrease stress levels. In 2015, scientists hypothesized that the reasoning for this was because caring for something like a plant suppresses the sympathetic nervous system... In other words: the system responsible for responding to stressful or dangerous situations. If you suppress the sympathetic nervous system, you will naturally have stronger feelings of ease or relaxation.
Wanting to take the leap in buying your first succulent, but nervous about taking the plunge? Read our blog post about getting excited to become a plant parent!
Brighten Your Desk Color Scheme
Feeling like your desk area is a little drab?
Even if you can’t paint your desk, there’s no reason you can’t brighten up the color scheme of all its accessories.
You’ve probably already heard about how color affects mood, so it should be no surprise that you can bring in lively colors to bring more joy to your work area. Blue and other colors on the cool spectrum, for instance, brings out feelings of calm. Meanwhile, yellow or green can be energizing in doses - but can lead to a crash if they strain the eyes too long.
Of course, you shouldn’t just pick a color based on what science tells you it’s going to do for you…
We’re focusing on joy here, and what’s more joyful than colors and art you love?
Whether it’s a pastel pink stapler, a gold desk lamp, or a gorgeous piece of art that just speaks to you - put it in the space! If it gives you a moment of happiness just looking at it, think about how much more it will give being there in the long run.
And if you’ve got the room to move around your desk, think about maybe putting it near a window with plenty of light. It’s no secret that artificial lighting can elevate your body’s stress levels, while natural lighting can both boost your vitamin D levels and even improve your sleep at night.
Plus… Who doesn’t love a little bit of sunlight streaming through to say hello while you work?
On the topic of visual objects that spark joy when you look at them…
Let’s talk about vision boards.
If you ask different people what their vision boards consist of, chances are they’ll all look completely different. That’s because vision boards are what you make of them: they can consist of quotes that inspire you, places you want to go, or anything that can possibly represent the life you’d like to be living.
For most, the reason for putting up a vision board in their work space follows a similar thread: it motivates them to do better, to put in the work to achieve those goals.
“Think of the places you’ll go,” indeed.
The concept of why vision boards may help with goal setting sounds straightforward enough (look at inspiring images enough and you will be… Well, inspired), but it’s been noticed to have the same benefits of art therapy to help with depression and anxiety.
Wanting to design a vision board but having trouble figuring out what to put there? No worries: you can find plenty of design ideas on the internet like this one!
Put On Some Tunes
Now, you might not want to be rocking out to Pink Floyd in the middle of a Zoom meeting with your coworkers.
And actually: this suggestion works best with music without lyrics!.
While there are certainly studies to show that lyrical music can distract you from your tasks… It sort of goes without saying too, doesn’t it? When you’re jamming to your favorite band’s latest album on Spotify while trying to type up a report, chances are: you’ll be focused more on the words on the song than the ones on your computer.
But lyric-less music, on the other hand, is shown to boost productivity and brain activity.
One study found that students performed better on exams when listening to classical music - possibly because the classics have a calming effect on our brains. Mozart and Beethoven not only mastered their craft: they mastered tunes to soothe us too!
Of course, if the classics aren’t really your favorite genre that still leaves plenty of other music you can listen to. One genre that’s been making a buzz for college students and workforce employees alike is hip-hop inspired Lo-Fi beats.
If you’re not much of a music fan but love a good spa vibe, you can even listen to nature sounds to get the same effect.
Better Workspace = Better Life
Listen. It’s 2021. We’re beyond the boring, grey cubicle life that generations before us lived with. In this day and age, we can do almost anything with our workspace!
… Well. Emphasis on “almost.” Obviously you don’t want to turn it into sensory overload, or put in anything that might take away from your focus on work - but your place of work should be a place of joy.
You deserve a space that sparks creativity and drives you to be your very best. Yes, all of these suggestions have benefits that factor in well with work performance; but your happiness is the most important here.
So go on: put up the vision board. Put up some cute office decor. Inspire yourself.