11 Tips To Make Your Office Calming (My Zen Workspace)

The office can be a stressful environment. I think we can all agree that no matter how much you love your job, your colleagues, maybe even the office itself – sometimes walls still feel like they’re caving in on you, the deadlines seem unrealistic, goals unachievable, and you feel the impostor syndrome setting in. 

What is in your power though, is to at least somewhat control the stress level at your work. Not completely escape it (that’s not likely, at least), but to optimize your workspace in a way, to create positive and calm vibes that will at least help you not get stressed farther, if not de-stress you.

How can that be done?

By creating a zen office work space. And here are some of our favorite tips on how to do just that.

  1. De-clutter your desk
  2. De-clutter your computer
  3. Organize your workspace
  4. Respect the power of natural lighting
  5. Choose soothing warm colors for your decor
  6. …but add a splash of stimulating color as an accent
  7. Tune into calming beats
  8. Add mementos that evoke positive feelings
  9. Adopt some houseplants
  10. Use scents to trigger calming sensations
  11. Add a motivational element

The best ways to create a zen office workspace

The first tip is to remember that we’re all individuals with different needs, and that means what soothes us is also very individual.

The tips on this list are some of the most popular ways of creating a positive atmosphere and reducing the stress that many people have said work – but that doesn’t mean all of them will work for you.

The second tip is to adapt. There’s no need to incorporate all of these design or productivity in your workspace.

In fact, that may even be a bad idea for some. Find whatever sounds good to you – and then combine these elements with each other. Just like not every way may work for you, not every combo may work for you either. Some of the elements may sound nice on their own, but you may discover they don’t work with each other all that well – at least not for you.

And tip number three: invest time and don’t get discouraged if you don’t achieve a calming vibe on your first arrangement. 

Again, finding what works for you may not be so easy – figuring out your specific needs and requirements may turn out to be a bit more troublesome than you expected. So what? Experiment.

Try different combos. Don’t give up if you don’t find out what it is exactly that works for you on your first try. Achieving zen is a process that may take some time – but the results are definitely worth it.

Now, without any farther ado:

1. De-clutter your desk

This one shouldn’t be a surprise. If you’ve ever googled any guides about becoming more productive and increasing work satisfaction, then this one would’ve come up a lot.

What many such guides don’t mention though is that clutter on the desk can actually be a stress stimulant. It can’t usually induce stress, not exactly, but if you already are stressed – chances are the clutter on your desk will act as a stimulant and make it worse.

Now, de-cluttering your desk isn’t the equivalent of reducing it to Spartan tidiness at all times – just make sure to get rid of stuff you don’t need and should have thrown out a long time ago while making sure you know where everything you need is placed.

2. De-clutter your computer

The clutter on your computer can have a pretty similar effect to your cluttered desk. After all, nowadays computers are our primary workspace tools – it’s where most if not all the important information and documents are.

Which is why the clutter on your desktop can be stressful.

Take a time to de-clutter and organize your computer the same way you would your desk: get rid of the files you should’ve gotten rid of a while ago (or, better yet, create a separate folder so when something turns up, they can be easily found – what seems like trash now, may be useful for future projects), organize what you need neatly to find it easily when in hurry.

3. Organize your workspace

Probably the most overlooked element when it comes to “zenifying” the workspace when people attempt it – they forget that it’s a workspace. When optimized you should first and foremost think about what would make it a zen environment to work in – everything else comes second.

Your workspace isn’t just your desk and your computer. Are any work-specific elements (we’ll get to leisurely elements later) that could be added and would make your working process easier?

It can be something as small as a pencil holder, or as large as a sit-stand desk – if you have an easier time organizing your workflow then its worth considering.

Don’t be tempted into regenerating the clutter that you worked hard to clear. Be disciplined and only pick up new items if they are guaranteed to make your working day less stressful.

Image by eclipse_images on Canva Pro

4. Respect the power of natural lighting

Light color can greatly affect your the production of melatonin in your brain, and artificial light can knock this circadian rhythm out sync fairly easily.

You’ll quickly loose any zen energy if your eyes are based in cool artificial light well into the wee hours.

Use natural light to illuminate your workspace at every opportunity, and where that isn’t possible use an app to regulate the light color emitted by devices and lamps to mimic that of the natural daylight in your region.

5. Choose soothing warm colors for your decor

It’s a pretty well-known fact that colors stimulate our brain in different ways.

For example, blues, greens, and lavender are thought to be soothing, while red, yellow, and orange are stimulating. Pastels can be dull, and dark colors – no matter how much you like them – can have a negative effect.

Office spaces usually stick to neutral colors – whites, browns, grays – which aren’t exactly stimulating but don’t have much of a soothing effect either. Add some blues and greens (warmer shades of them) to your workspace for the soothing effect.

6…but add a splash of stimulating color as an accent

Again, it’s a work space. While the main idea of a zen workspace is the soothing effect that reduces your stress levels, it doesn’t mean your productivity should be sacrificed. In fact, the effect of zen work space in the end should influence your productivity positively, not the other way around.

So adding some colors that will stimulate you to be more energetic isn’t a bad idea. You just shouldn’t overdo it.

Image by rafafernandezphotos on Canva Pro

7. Tune into calming beats

Many find soothing ambient music in the background to have a positive effect, with particular types of ‘brain music‘ promoting concentration and productivity – which then leads onto feeling more accomplished and less stressed.

We created 6 pomodoro length playlists specifically tailored to specific periods through the working day, but have found nothing to be more effective at promoting zen energy than Brain FM’s ‘Focus’ catalogue. 

8. Add mementos that evoke positive feelings

Anything and everything that makes you think about good times can go here.

It can be a photograph of your dog, or a magnet from that trip you really enjoyed, or a trinket you got as a gift.

Personal touches are known to positively influence our minds in work environments – take advantage of it.

Photo by Katka Pavlickova on Unsplash

9. Adopt some houseplants

Houseplants are known to add multiple benefits to workspaces, so much so that they have become an essential add into any office looking to create a calm environment. 

Don’t just opt for one or two plants if you have the space to host more as biophilic design adds real positives to both home working and shared office spaces.

10. Use scents to trigger calming sensations

Scents are probably even more important than lighting and noise – which makes this a bit of a problematic tip.

While some smells can definitely reduce the level of your stress, getting them into the the environment: Scented candles? Room spray? Using scents can be especially hard if you work in an open work space, because the scent that may be helpful to you, may be stressful for other people.

But if you have the luxury of using scented things without bothering anyone else – definitely go for it.

11. Add a motivational element

Sometimes we all need a reminder of why we’re here in the first place. Use anything and everything that you think will work for you: funny memes, a pretty motivational print from Etsy, a straight-up vision board.

Motivation is often our biggest source of strength – it’s power shouldn’t be ignored.

Does a calming office make you work better? 

As mentioned above – the ways of creating a zen office work space can be very individual. What works for one person doesn’t often work – and may even stimulate stress – in others. 

The main idea is to find what it is that helps ease your troubles and soothes you when you’re stuck doing something stressful. But finding what it is exactly that works for you, personally, is… well… your job.

We can only give some pointers – but in the end, you’ll have to invest some time to figure out if lighting at your work influences you positively or negatively, if the colors of your office have a daunting effect on you, or if the ambient music in the background helps you – or renders you less productive.

But unless you try, you’ll never know if any of these tips could have made your office work life just  that little bit easier.

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