Sometimes, work can be fun. It can also be inspirational, educational and motivating. But sometimes, it's just not — and that's when you need to bust out some office hacks. Whether you're improving your workspace, your headspace or just reaping the small satisfaction of having hit the day's health goals (hey some days challenge even that basic achievement, so take your kudos where you can), the following ideas will, hopefully, help.
1. Use your phone's timer to remind you to take health and sanity breaks. You are more likely to remain focused and get your work done if you take regular breaks throughout the day. If you work at a computer, it's also important to give your eyes breaks from the screen at least every hour. If you have other goals — taking vitamins, drinking enough water or stretching your back, you can schedule those into your breaks or set other timers for them. (Be sure to keep your timer ring low or use the vibrate feature so you don't annoy your co-workers).
2. Use a tray when you eat/drink/snack at your desk to prevent food from getting all over your desk. You can use the tray to carry dishes back to the sink, and wash it off when needed. It can also provide a pop of color or pattern when you aren't using it. Find unique vintage trays on Etsy.
Photo: Brian Croxall/flickr
3. Organize messy cords with binder clips. (This works for a home office too.) Attach the binder clip to your desk edge in a spot where you will have easy access to your cords.
4. Keep USB cables and headphones untangled and accessible by hanging them from push pins. Simply push pins into a handy but unused area of your office area, then drape up to two cables or sets of headphones over them so they are hanging loosely and are easy to grab. No need to wrap or wrangle the cords and they are ready to use when you need them.
5. Create a cheap DIY brainstorming space. If your office manager won't buy you a whiteboard for personal use no matter how many times you've asked, do it yourself by simply taking some of the already-printed-on paper from the recycle bin, and creating a 2x2, 4x4 or larger square on the wall of your cubicle or office (use blank sides of the paper, obviously). Jot ideas down, add Post-Its, draw and more on the blank space. When it's time for a fresh slate, just pin new paper over the old so you'll have a record of previous ideas if you want to go back to them.
6. Add distinctive tape to your power cords to prevent them from getting stolen. You can use colorful electrical tape, or just DIY (make a pattern on regular sticky tape by using a ballpoint pen to draw a design on the sticky side), then attach to phone chargers, cords, scissors or anything that's yours.
Photo: galichstudio /Shutterstock
7. Make iced coffee with the coffee-machine java. Save money and time.
1. Simply pour warm coffee into a heat-safe mug or glass. (This works best with a Mason jar or other glass that can take heat and is tall enough so you can add other ingredients later.)
2. Add your preferred type and quantity of sweetener, stir well and put in the fridge.
3. Wait about 30 minutes for coffee to cool down; it doesn't have to be cold, just lukewarm. Pour into a larger glass if you used a mug in step 1, and add ice.
4. Add favorite milk to taste. Stir and enjoy.
8. Stand — and move — at your desk without making modifications to your office equipment. If you don't have the know-how or the funds to build a full-on standing desk, simply take standing work breaks by standing to read reports, take phone calls or do other work that doesn't require you to be sitting in front of your monitor. Have a laptop for work? Simply stack a pile of books to use your laptop while standing, and put the books away when you're done. If you are reading through emails or doing other work that is more scrolling than typing, do calf-stretches; or stand on one leg, then another; do quad stretches; and practice wall-sits or crouch gently to get your thighs working while your brain is doing other stuff.
9. Use the Ambiance app to maintain aural focus. Whether you prefer nature sounds or those of European train stations, the Ambiance app offers hundreds (and hundreds) of choices so you can block annoying chatter, ringing phones, street noise or any other distracting sounds. (I'm partial to the thunderstorms and rainstorms.)
10. No time or space for a regular iron in the office? Use a hair straightener. Sure, this is a little bit different than the ideas above, but if you had to get out of the house quickly, it's a timesaver. The straightening spray will work wonders on cuffs and collars, and you can keep a spray-on wrinkle remover around for the rest of the shirt or skirt.
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- 4 ways to encourage creativity in the office