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5 Simple Ways to Liven Up your Work Space

5 Simple Ways to Liven Up your Work Space

An inspiring work space goes a long way in keeping you motivated and productive. Given that we all spend at least 7-8 hours at our work spaces, it is important to have one which gives you good vibes. And if you don’t have a very inspiring work space, you can make one. Here are five simple ways how.

  1. Appropriate Lighting

    Often, lighting is limited to only about 15 inches of your work space. This means you squeeze yourself into those 15 inches of light to be able to focus properly. Ideally, the lighting should be directly over your work space – at the center, so as to equally light up your entire work station. This enables you to focus effortlessly, and also maintains proper ambient light which is crucial for making you feel relaxed and calm.

  2. Green it up!

    From little cacti, succulents to the larger varieties of Areca palm – a little green at your work space goes a long way in helping you feel happy, calm and centered. They also come with the obvious benefits of natural air purification. There are plenty of low maintenance plants you can choose from, the ones stated above being just a few amongst them. Feeling confused about which plant to adopt? Have a look at this catalogue!

  3. Add frames

    Not too many, just a few depending on how big your work station is. Go with images that reflect positive vibes, and put a smile on your face when you see them. Ideally, you should go for frames which are simple, and not cluttered with too much happening in them. The purpose of what you put around you should be to help you focus, and not aid your distractions. Therefore, going with a mountain scenery should be preferable to putting up a busy market scene where there’s too much happening, and every time you see it you notice (or want to notice) something new.

  4. The magic of a cork board

    The old school charm of a cork board can never go out of fashion. Whether to use it as a vision board, for to-do lists, inspirational love notes to self or just to pin some art up, a cork board is an indispensable item when trying to claim a space as yours. Given that this is to be used for your work space, make sure you are careful about what you put up – unless you work at home. The key is once again to put things up that help focus and motivate, and aren’t distracting.

  5. Personalize

    Personalization goes beyond what’s is visible to the naked eye. Going to your work space should feel like the integral experience it is. Stock up on your favorite tea or coffee. Keep a go-to (but healthy) snack ready. Spend time creating those two playlists – one for deep work, one for regular work. Choose a fragrance that helps you breathe better – it could be in the form of incense or potpourri or even a scented candle.

    The idea is to create a space that feels like you! A space you look forward to getting to, a space that motivates you and inspires you to do, and to do more. And this can be done with a little bit of time, almost no money and lots of soul. So if you have these ingredients, step up and take on this therapeutic project of reclaiming your work space and making it truly yours!

Making it (to) Work when you’re not Feeling 100%

Making it (to) Work when you’re not Feeling 100%

While ideally the private and the professional life need to be kept distinct from each other, in reality it is a very thin, and porous line dividing the two. The line is especially blurred and porous when your mental health is suffering, and you are not at a great place in your life. You could be dealing with the insurmountable loss of a parent, an extremely bad break up, a lack of stability in your personal life, coping with being friendless in a new city, or sometimes even feeling anxious and depressed for no reason at all. On days like these, when you are going through hell, how do you get yourself to work? How do you clock it from 9 to 5, without letting the battle you are fighting within, take over?

Half the job is done when you decide to show up

Yes, at times, it is enough to just be able to summon the will power to show up. Set backs can be extremely difficult to deal with. Respect the fact that you are after all a human being who is not immune to hurt and heart break. Your will to perform and be productive at work is not independent of your mental health status. More than anything else, your mental health status is not a switch which can be turned on at 9 am and turned off at 5 pm. On days like these, getting out of bed, getting dressed, having breakfast and just making it to your desk on time is enough. It is progress, and it is something you should be proud of being able to do. Because on days like these, just showing up can be the most difficult thing to do. Just show up – that’s all you need to do until you’re feeling better.

Do the mundane, and the everyday – a routine can work wonders

When you are depressed and still getting over what has happened, you might find yourself craving anything but the ordinary, the mundane. Doing the everyday things scare us the most. Because given our frame of mind at that point, it is easier to distract ourselves, than to focus on doing things that need to be done. It is easier to stress eat, than to follow an established exercise routine. When you feel like you are being swept away by feelings of commotion within you, don’t run to distractions, let it pass and turn to the regular chore that demands your focus. Remember that it is only when you start doing the everyday things, when you start following a routine and discipline yourself will you truly be able to come back.

So show up at work, and do what you would have done on an ordinary day. Even if it is boring. Even if it feels like the most difficult thing to do in the world is to sit at your desk and draft an email to your client. Do it, and give yourself a pat for having achieved what you thought was the most difficult thing ever. And then keep doing enough of these tasks till you start feeling like you’ve got this.

Accept help – it is okay to not be okay

When someone has a broken leg in a cast at work, there are so many people who notice that he might need some extra help. Unfortunately, not many people are good at reading the subtle, and not-so-subtle signs of when someone is suffering from bad mental health. Wish there was some kind of cast for that, but there isn’t-yet. It is important to accept the help that is offered to you when you are dealing with mental health issues. It is important not just because it will help you, but also because it is an exercise in sensitizing other people around you who need to be more sensitive in identifying people who are not feeling a 100%, and offering to help. It is equally important for people who are not feeling okay, to know that they can reach out for help, and accept the help that is offered.

Be gentle with yourself, accept everything you’re feeling

Some days you will succeed in showing up, some days you won’t. And that’s okay. Some days you’ll feel inspired to be disciplined and follow a routine, some days you just want to eat cake all day. And that’s okay. Some days you’ll reach out for help and accept it when it’s given to you, on other days, you just want to be left alone. That’s okay too! Remember that more than anything else, you need to be gentle and patient with yourself. The road to emotional recovery is not linear. You might stick to a routine for a week, and then find yourself in a slump for the next five days. Don’t feel disheartened. Don’t feel like you’re back to square one. Because emotional healing is not linear, it is a constant journey. A journey inward where you discover something new about yourself every day.

If today is feeling especially rough, take courage and know that it will get better. Know that it’s always the darkest before the dawn. And know that above all, you are not alone.

AI vs Humans: The Way Forward

AI vs Humans: The Way Forward

In the last two weeks, we have taken a deep dive into Artificial Intelligence (AI) backed technology, and its role in the world of work. Having spoken about the role of AI in recruitment, the reasons why it can never really replace human recruiters, and how AI can be used to eliminate HR and recruitment bias, we sum up the series with this post which advocates a nuanced approach towards Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the human world. While AI is here to stay and that is for sure, AI can never replace the humane qualities of politeness, empathy, compassion and humour.

With the advent of AI in almost every conceivable sphere our lives, the fact that AI will change our lives like never before can be said to have safely crossed the threshold of just speculation. Technology, and its innumerable by products – such as AI are important, but they can never wholly be independent of the indispensable human touch. Especially in fields such as recruitment which are based entirely on human resources, one cannot replace value of real human interaction to gauge and hone human talent, with mechanics of technology. While technology is an aide to help simplify the job of recruitment, and help perform tasks efficiently and effectively, it cannot replace the human connect.

Anupama Raju in her article “Beyond AI”, takes a witty stand on the tussle between AI and the human touch. Quoting from her article,

Every day, debates continue to rage between two schools — one that sees AI as some kind of evil force that will annihilate the human race, take away jobs and another that sees its wondrous possibilities. Amidst all this, one clear pattern is the machine’s or computer’s ability to advance till the day technological singularity will occur — when AI will reach human levels of intelligence. According to futurist Ray Kurzweil, this could happen in the next 30 years. We see AI around us every day as we rely, like hapless babies, on our smart phones, as the algorithms complete words and sentences for us in our WhatsApp messages, as we hang on to Google for every little piece of information, as we tumble dry our clothes in intelligent washing machines, visit a smart store or proudly display our Alexas. Henry Thoreau once said men have become the tools of their tools. Now more than ever!

AI is already becoming an area of billion-dollar investments for many companies globally. Departments that traditionally relied on human intelligence could all be augmented or perhaps replaced by an AI or a super intelligence. We will see more workplaces where AI will create superlative experiences for employees.

…At the same time, I’m not sure about the effectiveness of the algorithms of politeness, empathy, compassion or humour that could be fed into the machines. These are some factors that make life in the workplace and home worth living.

“There are some factors that make life in the workplace and home worth living.” And these factors are precisely the ones that separate humans as sensitive, rational, thinking beings from automated machines. In our hopes and efforts to shrink the world through technology so that every aspect can be capitalized, with efficiency and with speed, let’s remember to pause and look back every now and then.

Being happy in the now, being mindful in the now, being kind and present and human –  supersedes everything else. In the larger scheme of things, it is with the human qualities such as these do we create the moments we cherish for life. AI, and everything else is just a by-product of human intelligence, which cannot and should not replace the latter.

Keeping Healthy at Work – A Necessity

Keeping Healthy at Work – A Necessity

Recently, a newspaper reported that every year around new years time, there is a record increase in gym memberships. It attributed the possible causes for this to people wanting to make a positive difference to their lives, look and feel better, before stepping out of an old year, or while stepping into a new year. But, what it did not report is the sudden drop in attendance as the months roll by. Well, we do not need to read this in a paper to realize this, we are already aware of this.

Why do we feel that it is only around the special milestones that we need to move towards making a healthier difference to our lifestyles? While that question is for a psychologist to address, we are only going to advocate why being healthy all year round is really the way to go. We need not sign up for membership at a gym, or try out unsuccessful but expensive detox diets every now and then. Incorporating small, yet sustainable methods of staying healthy is possible. Even when you have a full-time, mind-numbingly demanding job (this being an extreme, of course). And here is how.

  1. Keeping Healthy at Work: Get Moving

    Depending on how active or sedentary your lifestyle is, incorporate at least 30 to 60 minutes of conscious activity into your schedule. For example, if you have a typical 9 to 5 job, chances are the scope for you to find time specifically for working out is difficult. And if you do find the time, you find it hard to maintain it. There are a number of ways you can substitute for it at work. The first thing you can do is focusing on stretching every hour for 5 minutes. This also ensures you don’t keep sitting at your desk for prolonged periods and saves you all that stiffness and cramps. Another way you can focus on being fit while at work is using the lunch break well. Get a step counter on your phone (you don’t even need a fitbit!) and set your target. And cracking. Just walking can help you burn enough calories, and is a start in the direction of staying fit.

  2. Keeping Healthy at Work: Hydrate

    Most, or many of us, especially millenials are very guilty of the atrocious habit of never drinking enough water. The side effects of this are long-term, and in all probability irreversible when one reaches the tipping point. Adequate quantities of water in your system is essential to help you feel active, and stay fit. On an average an adult would be required to consume at least 2 liters of water (it varies according to your Body Mass Index (BMI), you can check how much water you need to consume, here). Cut down on caffeine, aerated and sweetened drinks and make a conscious effort to consume enough water. One method that could help you is keeping track – if you need to consume 2 liters, fill up two 1 liter bottles and make sure you finish them by the end of the day!

  3. Keeping Healthy at Work: Sugar fix? You can stay away

    Every time you find yourself reaching out for a candy bar or a cookie, because you feel “stressed”, or feel like it will help you function better, know that is Lucifer speaking to you. And what do you do when the devil is trying to advise you? You stay away. Cravings are only psychological manifestations. It is not your body that needs these sugar fixes, it is simply in your mind. While this might sound fairly unpalatable, a wise alternative to a sugar fix is fruit.

  4. Keeping Healthy at Work: Speaking of fruit…

    Make it a habit to have at least one helping of fruit a day. Most fruits commonly available are power packed with antioxidants and natural goodness (we are trying to not think about the chemicals injected). Not just fruit, be more attentive to what you see on your plate. Are consuming more carbs and less protein? Moving towards a protein rich diet helps you build energy and muscle, while getting rid of the fat in your body. You can stock the pantry up at your workplace at the beginning of every week, in a way that you know what you are going to consume for the rest of the week. By doing this, you can also stay away from giving into sudden impulses to have fast or junk food.

  5. Encourage your co-workers to hop on

    It is always more fun to do something in a group. And more so when the benefits are remarkable. Form your own buddy/ support group at your workplace. That way you will have each others backs whenever you find yourself deviating from caring for your health, or falling into bad habits again. A great way to keep this group alive would be to meet once a week and share highs and lows of the week, pertaining to your respective health routines. No time to meet up? No worries – technology to your rescue – a group on WhatsApp would be just as good!

Have pro tips about how you can keep healthy at work? We are all ears!

Beginning 2018 Strong with a Simple Exercise

Beginning 2018 Strong with a Simple Exercise

And just like that, in the blink of an eye, another year has come to an end, and a new year has begun. For many of us the past year may not have fulfilled all the hopes we started it with. For many it may have been the ‘fantastic’ year our well wishers wished us to have. And for some it may have been bittersweet – a little bit of the good and a little bit of the not-so-good. But it has been only a few days since this new year has begun and each of us must try to   begin it strong. Maybe you couldn’t achieve all the goals you had in mind for 2017. By Beginning 2018 Strong, you can set yourself   up for a great start to the year!

Wherever you are right now, you can do this simple exercise which will not take you more than fifteen minutes to complete. At the end of this exercise, believe us, you will feel a lot lighter. You will also feel at peace with yourself and with the year that has passed and find yourself looking forward to the new year with renewed enthusiasm. To get started, find yourself a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, and a pen and a paper. You can also use your phone if you don’t have a pen or a paper.

Here are the ten things that you should proceed to put down –

  1. The goals/ thoughts/ objectives you had in mind when you started 2017
  2. Your achievements for the year/ the best thing that happened to you in 2017
  3. What you wanted to, but couldn’t accomplish for the year
  4. On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy you are with your profession/ professional life (10 being the highest)
  5. On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy you are with your work – life balance (10 being the highest)
  6. Things that you wish hadn’t happened
  7. Things that you wish had happened differently
  8. The single most important thing for 2018
  9. The most important people in your life
  10. Everything   you are grateful for

What now?

When you have put down all of these, you will notice that a lot of the worries or concerns that you had have evaporated. What changed? Nothing. You just took time out to communicate with yourself, to check on yourself. You just indulged in a small act of immense self-love. When you put all of this down, you will have in writing everything that you loved and did not like about the year. You will also find answers to a lot of questions that you may have had for yourself. Notice that these answers did not come from reading a blog post on the internet or from a trusted friend, but from yourself.

Feeling the power of gratitude, of knowing that there are things and people you are grateful for, is in itself an answer to many problems we may have faced. Knowing who the most important people are in our lives, and making them priorities is not something all of us do at a conscious level. Making these small changes in your life lend you immense strength. Asking yourself how happy you are with your professional and your personal life are both questions all of us mostly evade, when we know we aren’t too happy. However, it is only acknowledgement of how we feel that will lead us to change our circumstances for the better.

New years   and birthdays are milestones in time. These two occasions are typically the times when we tend to look back and retrospect. Accepting how you feel, affirming your sense of self, and feeling strong from within about what’s coming up is the only way that one should focus on treating these milestones. True, not everything, or maybe hardly anything may have gone as you planned. When that’s how its been, remember that true strength and power lies in resilience. In getting up with rejuvenated passion, no matter what.

Here is wishing you a very happy and peaceful new year!

P.S. – Let kindness be your motto!