11 Ways To Make A Zen Office Workspace (Positive Work Space)

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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. 

This is – unfortunately – normal. Most of us just aren’t privileged enough to constantly control the work environment around us, choose what it is exactly we want to do, and control every aspect of it in a way that is specifically optimized to benefit our needs.

For those of us, who are stuck as single loops in long chains of supply and demand, and have to adapt according to the chain’s needs, stress is a familiar thing. It doesn’t matter just how important of a loop you are – no one is safe from stressing about their jobs at least from time to time, whatever the benefits of that job are. This is just an ugly truth of life.

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.


Ways to create a zen office workspace

The first tip is to remember that we’re all individuals with different needs. 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 in your workspace. In fact, that may even be a bit too much 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. 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:

11 of our favorite ways to create a positive work space:

  • De-clutter your desk
  • De-clutter your computer
  • Figure out how to organize your workspace
  • Figure out the lighting
  • Choose soothing warm colors
  • …but add a touch of stimulating splashes
  • Turn on ambient music
  • Add mementos that evoke positive feelings
  • Bring in plants
  • Use scented things
  • Add a motivational element

How do I incorporate zen thinking into my office work space?

As you can see, the absolute majority of ways to create a zen workspace are pretty easily incorporated and, as an added bonus, either free or pretty budget-friendly. 

But if you need any further pointers about how to use them either separately or combined with each other – here’s a (more or less) brief guide.

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.

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.

Figure out how to organize your workspace

Your workspace isn’t just your desk and your computer. What it is you need for it to become more comfortable? 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 document trays, or even a planner – if you have an easier time organizing things when you write them down by hand instead of using note apps.

This is 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.

Figure out the lighting

This is absolutely a personal thing – many people aren’t even that influenced by office lighting. But it’s worth checking if you’re one of those people that work better if the lights are a little dim. Or, the other way around – when everything is bright and sunny.

Choose soothing warm colors

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.

…but add a touch of stimulating splashes

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.

Turn on ambient music

This is just as personal an element as lighting. Some people aren’t influenced by it, some people can’t work at all unless everything is quiet – in which case this is off the books for you – but many find soothing ambient music in the background to have a positive effect. We created 6 playlists specifically for you to boost your productivity whilst working – try them out here.

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.

Bring in plants

A great way to add some of that soothing green? Get a plant. A living one is considered to be a better choice, but if you can’t be bothered to take care of it – add a fake one. It will still add to the atmosphere.

Use scented things

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, it can be hard to figure out just which smells those are – and how to incorporate them in the work space: 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.

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.

Do these things even work?

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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