Since March 2020, many of us have had to adjust to working from home. In theory, working from home is like living the dream - and maybe for you it is!
For most, though, it's a weird mix of good and bad. Sure, you get to stay in your sweats all day and take cuddle breaks with your fur-child. But you're also more likely to be distracted, disorganized and stressed from the bizarre clash of work and home life.
If you're looking to be more productive, more relaxed and happier in your home office this year, then here are some thoughts to help you on your zen journey!
Just Add Plants!
It's official. Plants are the little green doctors we all need in our lives.
Improved Immune Function
Plants emit a type of hormone which contributes to improved immune function. These chemicals are called phytoncides, and they're emitted by the plant to protect itself from pests and disease.
It's not just forests or trees that have this wonderful hormone either. Indoor plants emit phytoncides which support our natural killer cells (NK cells) which fight cancer cells in the body.
General health, too, is positively affected.
A study by the Agricultural University of Norway in the 1990s found that:
The introduction of plants to one office was linked to a 25% decrease in symptoms of ill health, including fatigue, concentration problems, dry skin and irritation of the nose and eyes.
A 2010 study by the new University of Technology, Sydney, found that plants introduced to office spaces were responsible for:
A 37% fall in reported tension and anxiety; a 58% drop in depression or dejection; a 44% decrease in anger and hostility; and a 38% reduction in fatigue.
That's good news for people working in close proximity to noisy kids (or partners). No one wants to work with a Grumpy Gus - much less live with one!
Having plants in the office can actually positively impact productivity. Plants are living things that keep you "psychologically engaged" throughout the day (Dr. Chris Knight).
Offices with live plants reported 15% greater productivity than "lean" offices without plants.
Do you have asthma, allergies or sinus problems? Or do you perhaps just enjoy clean, healthful air? No kidding. Us too.
Plants consume carbon dioxide along with sunlight and water to produce energy - AKA photosynthesis. Even indoors, plants can still absorb whatever CO2 is in the air.
A study done by Plants and Indoor Environmental Quality Research Group found that in buildings with air conditioning, plants can reduce CO2 by 10%. In buildings without AC, that number jumps to 25%!
A medium-sized plant (anything above 20cm) in a room will make considerable reductions in airborne benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde.
Image: Tristyn Donovan, Modern Sustain
Start An Indoor Garden!
Source: Psychology Today
This may seem counterintuitive to the whole "stay focused" thing, but some of the most successful companies in the world invite their employees to have creative outlets during the workday. Think: Google.
One of the most therapeutic, cathartic hobbies easily available to everyone, is gardening. Raising live organisms from a tiny seed, touching real soil, feeding and watering the growing sprout - what could be better than that?
Gardening has multiple mental health benefits which suit the modern professional to a tee. Gardening is far from a perfect science: mishaps are far more common than successes. By embracing mistakes rather than fearing them, you can adopt a growth mindset.
"I love making mistakes because I look at them as a chance to learn something new. Through those mishaps, you can understand what happened and why, and you can be empowered to relate that learning to new things."
- Joe Lamp'l (Professional Gardener)
Something which characterizes truly productive companies (and people) is their willingness to learn and take risks. Perfectionism is not conducive to success. Rather, it's perfectionism's opposite that makes you more likely to capitalize on new opportunities: a fearless willingness to do something imperfectly.
Simple Zen Garden Ideas:
Remember that when you're looking to start a successful indoor garden, soil health is the most important thing to get right!
"Soil is life. When you focus on that, good things happen. Avoid synthetic chemicals and start feeding the soil with organic material."
- Joe Lamp'l (Professional Gardener)
Set your zen office space plants up for success with nutrient-rich homemade fertilizer!
Go Green... Literally
Source: Very Well Mind
“Paint is the first line of defense.”
Color psychology claims that green has a calming effect. While colour psychology hasn't really faced scientific rigour, it is sort of one of those "popular sciences" that still affect people's decisions.
Green, which is Nature's colour, is restful, soothing, cheerful, and health-giving.
- Paul Brunton
Even if you can't commit to a full paint job, here are some ideas to introduce those positive green vibes into your space:
Get Creative, Get Inspired!
"I really feel inspired by those generic inspirational quotes corporate offices put up on the walls," said no one ever.
The main question is: what inspires YOU?
Create an art-board or collage of things that make you go "YES! Today I want to WORK!" and then use this as the basis for what you integrate into your office space.
A good rule of thumb for creating your ideal zen home office is to design the way you'd like your brain to work: clean lines, pops of colour, categorized and compartmentalized, orderly and without clutter, with enough space to try new things.
Don't Work for Your Space - Make It Work for You
Efficient processes make the world go 'round.
The more "in-between" time you can cut out between steps in a process, the smoother your workday will go. What do we mean by this?
Well, if you like to snack in front of your computer during the day, why not keep a FoodCycler Bucket & Lid on your desk, or within easy reach of your desk? That way, you can snack on pistachios, bananas, apples, etc and just toss your shells/cores throughout the day, without having to leave your desk (or end up with a nasty pile of refuse at the end of the day).
Make your space a representation of your routine. Set it up as a physical process, so that your daily routine is intuitive, and doesn't make you want to pull out your hair!