How to Improve the 'Zen' of Your Work Space

When we’re at work, we sometimes need an entire case of stress balls at our disposal.

The American Institute of Stress (AIS) released a report in 2006 that found at least 40 percent of Americans have reported high levels of stress. Workers had cited issues with colleagues, heavy workloads, juggling work-life balances and a paucity of job security as reasons for their stress.

Has anything improved since then? No. Has anything changed since then? Yes, the number of stressed out people. Everest College’s Work Stress Survey found that 8 in 10 United States workers are stressed out from their jobs. Although the labor market has somewhat improved in recent years, it’s still not getting any better for millions of workers who have been trekking along since the Great Recession.

“More companies are hiring, but workers are still weary and stressed out from years of a troubled economy that has brought about longer hours, layoffs and budget cuts," said survey spokesman John Swartz, regional director of career services at Everest College, in a statement. "Americans have plenty of reasons to be optimistic, but anxiety among employees is rooted into our working lives, and it is important to understand new and better ways of coping with the pressure.”

One of the best ways to diminish the level of stress that you make experience is to transform your haunting, ominous or terrifying workspace into an arena of tranquility, a fortress of solitude and a workstation of zen. Yes, that’s right: zen. There’s no reason to spend eight hours a day with pent up aggression. It’s like what Henry David Thoreau wrote, "Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify."

Here are five ways to improve the Zen in your workspace today:

1. Neat, Tidy & Decluttered

Indeed, there are many reasons as to why a person may have a desk engulfed in paper, candy wrappers and a three-week-old sandwich. Horrific management skills, deplorable organizational habits and an indifference to the office space being but a few. However, in order to eviscerate the stress that has consumed your working life, your workspace needs to be neat, tidy and decluttered. Otherwise, you’ll continue to be stressed. Here are a few tips to creating a fantastic workspace:

  • Clear and organize papers: papers should be filed in five different ways: file immediately, do it now, trash, delegate or put on a to-do list. 
  • Maintain an empty wall: toss out outdated calendars, dartboards and old papers and in their place put up a piece of art. 
  • Set aside the clutter: throw out the soda pop cans, put away your digital camera, file away papers and insert your folders in the desk. 
  • Have an inbox folder (not just email).

2. A Comfortable & Ergonomic Workspace

Muscle injuries, back pain and weight gain are just some of the symptoms of an unhealthy workspace. From an inadequate chair to insufficient lighting, there’s a wide variety of questionable workspace incidents that employees suffer from, particularly if they’ve been confined to a cubicle for many, many years. Here are a few tips to make your office area ergonomic-friendly: 

  • An armchair that is aligned with your keyboard and places your feet firmly on the ground. 
  • Adjust the brightness level of your monitor so that it’s not too bright or too dim.  
  • If possible, have a standing workstation that allows you to complete work while standing. 
  • Sit on a chair that allows you to maintain a proper posture.

3. Classical Music

What better way to spend eight hours then by listening to the sounds of Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig von Beethoven, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Frederic Chopin or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart? You may enjoy just listening to rap or rock, but they don’t provide that same level of comfort, or Zen, as classical music does. Put on your noise-cancelling headphones and listen to "Vocalise," "Moonlight Sonata" or "Gnossienne No. 3" and you’ll be in your nirvana.

4. Hone in on the Present

The trick to maintaining a fantastic Zen is to always concentrate on the now, this very moment, the present. If you have an assignment to get done, just apply all of your mental energy on that deadline now instead of wondering about dinner, the weekend or Christmas.

5. Toss Multitasking into the Trash Bin

It may befuddle some, but many do believe that multitasking is the key to a high level of productivity. However, it’s quite the opposite: performing several tasks at once will only slow you down because the quality may not be up to par, and then you’ll have to go back and make revisions. It’s simple: hone in on one assignment at a time.

It may seem an impossible endeavor, but employees can implement a feeling of Zen in any situation. Yes, even in an office where you cringe every time you think of your colleagues, managers and desk. By incorporating some of these tips into your daily routine, you’ll achieve your very own corporate fortress of solitude.

Do you have your own methods for reaching a state of Zen while at work? Please share them with us below... 

American Institute of Stress