Cube Life

Feel Like You Work in a Fish Bowl? 3 Tips for Getting Some Air

Fish Bowl (small) Let’s face it – life in a cubicle or an office has its challenges. Excessive talking, limited space, and less-than-thrilling co-worker habits can swell within the already crowded space you spend eight hours a day inhabiting. It’s like adding more fish to an already swarming bowl. 

Some employees even share their workspace with several other people, which can cause sometimes create even more stress. Even if you have a cubicle all to yourself or you have your own office, working long hours in a small space can trigger stress.

To help combat the feelings of working in a fish bowl with no chance of escape, try these tips below to breathe again!

Stretch your fins. When you start to feel boxed in, get up and leave your work area for a few moments. Most companies allow a 10 – 15 minute break in the morning and the afternoon for employees to use the restroom, get a drink, or regroup. Take advantage of this time. You will come back to your desk feeling a little less cramped and ready to focus on the task at hand.

Swim upstream. If you’re tired of working in the same physical space day-in and day-out, move to a different location for a few hours, if your job allows, and do your work from there. Working in a different environment can reinvigorate your state of mind and break up the monotony of your day.

Make a splash. Chances are, if you’re feeling the effects of a cramped work environment, it’s time to take a vacation. Make a splash in your routine by taking the family – or yourself – on a nice, relaxing getaway, even if it’s just for a few days. An escape from your routine can refresh your attitude.
Cubicle life doesn’t have to make you feel like you’re drowning. By trying one – or all –of these helpful tips, you might just be able to jump back in the bowl with a new way of thinking to get you through the days!

Come On Get Happy: Use Music to Produce Positive Thinking

Good Mood Music Monday morning blues were tough enough before the recession, but in our economic situation, facing the work week with the energy, enthusiasm, and motivation you need can be difficult.

Moods are contagious. According to a recent study, people who work together share their moods – within two hours of being around each other. So, why not make sure the mood you share is a positive one? This will improve workplace relationships, enhance your work environment, and boost productivity. Plus, chances are your employer will notice your upbeat attitude and its impact – so why not strive for a great mood every day?

If you’re having trouble starting the day off right, take your cue from history and motivate yourself through music. A Los Angeles Times article, How Song, Dance and Movies Bailed Us Out of the Depression, discusses the impact the arts, like swing, jazz, and big bands, had on the depression. “The engine of the arts in the ‘30s was not escapism, as we sometime imagine, but speed, energy, and movement at a time of economic stagnation and social malaise.”

Now, studies show that music impacts reasoning skills, the cardiovascular system, and moods. So, tap in to the power of positive music and create a play list that motivates you. Listen to it at work, in your car, or at home, and you’ll improve your mood and the moods of those around you.

Not sure what songs to add to your play list? Here are 10 recommendations to boost your mood no matter what your musical taste is.

1. Powder Your Face With Sunshine – Dean Martin
2. Pennies from Heaven – Louis Prima
3. Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
4. Get Happy – Rufus Wainwright
5. I Feel Good – James Brown
6. Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves
7. I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash
8. Brighter than Sunshine – Aqualung
9. Beautiful Day – U2
10. Feels Like Today – Rascal Flatts

As Dean Martin sings in Powder Your Face with Sunshine, “The future’s brighter when hearts are lighter.” So, whether you want to listen to Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger or Queen’s We Will Rock You every day this week, you can improve your mood with music and impact your team – and your company – with the power of positive thinking!

Have a song that improves your mood? Add it to our comments section below.

Paint Your Destiny: How Colors Can Inspire Your Work

Imagine living in a world that is black and white – without blue skies, green grass, or an assortment of colorful flowers to inspire you and fill you with wonder. Living without color can make the world a pretty dull place, so why would you work in an environment that isn’t alive with color?

Research shows that colors can have an impact on our emotions and productivity in the workplace. Which colors should you surround yourself with while at work to motivate, inspire, and increase your productivity? Below are descriptions of how a few popular workplace colors can impact your work life.

Blue – This is a universal and natural color – from the blue skies to the blue oceans. Blue gives off a cool, calming effect and can make time appear to pass quickly. The color blue also portrays confidence and importance. Adding blue to your workspace will give the air of assurance and significance while helping you relax. But, be careful not to have too much blue. An overwhelming blue environment tends to emote sadness and depression. Try putting up blue picture frames or wall hangings to add just the right amount.

Red – This vibrant color is considered very passionate and radiates a sense of power, hence the red power tie or red carpet for events typically reserved for very important people. Adding a splash of red at your desk will grab others’ attention and keep you from fading into the background. It can also promote happiness. A little red goes a long way, so be sure to use just a little to be more effective. Try adding a splash of red with some carnations or other flowers.

Green – Green is the largest color spectrum visible to the human eye. It indicates growth and prosperity. Put shades of green around your desk to exude feelings of endurance, sturdiness, and reliability. These traits are valuable to the work environment and can give you, and your boss, a sense of loyalty and dependability. Bring in some plants from home to help tie in some green with your everyday work life.

Surrounding yourself with certain colors can help increase your productivity and enhance your mood. So, if these colors don’t inspire you, think of a place you feel most productive and take note of those colors. Then, incorporate them into your workspace to maximize your productivity and happiness.

What colors inspire you? Do you work in a space that drains your inspiration? Leave your comments in the section below.

One Small Change: Instant Workplace Happiness

Research shows that happiness boosts workplace productivity and improves health, so companies have a vested interest in the happiness of their employees. But, because Americans spend most of their time at work – an average of 2,080 hours a year – every employee has a vested interest in their own happiness.

Factors like leadership, salary, benefits, and sense of purpose can improve happiness in the workplace, but they can not produce happiness, and are not factors completely within your control.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” So when you feel unhappy at work, take control and decide to find the silver lining in your current circumstances. Make the choice to have a positive outlook, no matter what. Chances are, you will instantly feel happier.

Having trouble looking on the bright side?  Try these five techniques the next time your outlook’s gloomy:

1. Make a list of three positive things in your life and post it at your workstation. Refer to it when you need a pick-me-up.

2. Make someone else happy. Mark Twain wrote, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer somebody else up.” Do something to make someone’s day, and it just might make yours.

3. Take a walk in the sunshine to change your scenery. A change of scenery can help change your perception.

4. Change your stance. Hold your head up high in every circumstance and you will see more clearly.

5. Focus on something that brings you joy. Read a book, play a sport, or volunteer in your community to refocus your outlook on something positive.

Tell us how you improve your outlook in our comments section below.

Healthy Ways to Blow off Steam at Work (Without Losing Control)

It’s one of those days, or maybe one of those weeks, months, or even years, when everything seems to be going wrong. Economic concerns and reports of job loss bombard the news and your thoughts; your workload literally towers above your head, threatening to topple and crush you under its weight. And to top it all off, your cube-mate makes Dwight Schrute seem the embodiment of normality.

The pressures of work and home can be overwhelming, but before you detonate from built-up stress, use these five tips for healthy ways to blow off steam at work.

Take a break. Release pent-up frustration by taking a break from the task at hand. Find a quiet place to unwind when you feel provoked or annoyed by a boss or co-worker, before you snap under the pressure. If the weather allows, spend a few minutes outside to enjoy the air, or take a short walk to help release tension.

Escape at lunch. Spend time away from the office during your lunch break instead of working through lunch or not even taking your much needed break. Take a drive, wander through a park or a local bookstore, or take a nap so that you can return to work with a renewed focus. Utilizing your lunch will help you feel refreshed and better prepared for the challenges of the day.

Clean your desk. Take time to organize your workspace. This is a productive way to physically alleviate aggravation and expend extra energy. Cleaning the area you work in will help you feel less overwhelmed and will leave you ready to tackle your next task.

Listen to music. Listen to music to take your mind off stressful situations and soothe your emotions when you’re upset. Music releases endorphins in your brain that can help you relax, so if your job or company allows you to use an mp3 player at work, release your frustrations to the beat of a song. But be sure to use headphones so you don’t add to your co-workers stress levels.

Laugh a little. Charlie Chaplin once said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” When you or a co-worker feel overwhelmed or stressed at work, use humor to lighten the mood. Play a team-building exercise or tell a joke or story to a co-worker who is feeling frustrated. Laughter in the workplace promotes creativity and understanding, strengthens relationships, and can be the “best medicine” when you’re feeling stressed.

Office outbursts often have a trickle-down effect that can impact your work relationships, company, and even your career, so before you get irritated at work, practice these tips to blow off steam without losing control.

Recession-Proof Your Job: Start with Common Courtesy

Today’s hurried culture has changed the expectations of social behavior. In an effort to keep pace with the deadlines and demands of every day, it has become increasingly difficult to see beyond ourselves, a problem only compounded by current economic concerns. Consequently, courtesies once considered common are becoming a rarity.

Lack of common courtesy in our culture impacts workplace productivity, profits, and relationships. Demonstrating a sincere attitude of courtesy and consideration for others certainly won’t hurt your job security and could even help it. Make your mark in business by making courtesy an everyday habit, and you’ll stand out to employers and co-workers. Here are three easy ways to get started.

Acknowledge Others

Whether it’s simply opening the door for a co-worker, asking about someone’s day, or giving praise for a job well done, recognize the presence and accomplishments of those around you to strengthen relationships and promote a team-centered outlook. Courtesy is contagious, so changing your habits will encourage others to follow your example, creating a positive work environment everyone will appreciate.   

Be Prompt

Arriving early to meetings and responding to emails, phone messages, and requests as promptly as possible displays professionalism, efficiency, and respect for the schedules of others. You probably don’t appreciate when others delay you or your projects, so treat them with the respect you want and be consistently prompt.

Be Thankful

Co-workers feel appreciated and valued when you express genuine gratitude for their contributions. Taking time to simply say “thank you” can help build company community and morale, and shows your co-workers how you truly feel.

Making courtesy a habit will enable you to positively impact your workplace relationships and your career. Take time to demonstrate your professionalism and respect, and you will stand out to your employer the next time you’re in line for a raise, a promotion, or a positive recognition.

5 Ways to Say Happy Birthday at Work (Without Breaking Your Budget)

Birthdays at WorkIf you’ve ever felt that one day blends into another at work, then you know that any excuse to shake things up and break from the norm is a great way to lift spirits and help your team bond. While each workplace differs on the reasons why and how they celebrate, a popular trend is
celebrating employee birthdays. Though some people dislike the attention and others choose not to celebrate for religious reasons, most people in the workplace enjoy a small birthday party.

But in times like these, budgets are tight for businesses and employees alike. So, here are five ways to celebrate birthdays at work without going broke.

1. Sign a group birthday card. Depending on the size of your workplace or team, a card signed by your group can be a simple way to help everyone save a few bucks. Another idea is to create an electronic group greeting card that everyone can customize. makes it easy to make sure everyone has a chance to sign an electronic card and will schedule the delivery date for you.

2. Bake, don’t order cake. Having a monthly cake to celebrate employee birthdays is a time-honored tradition in many workplaces, but the costs can add up fast. Employers may be looking to cut budgets on items like these, but that doesn’t mean birthdays can’t be sweet anymore. One idea is to have team members bake cupcakes, cookies, or other sweets to bring to celebrate co-worker birthdays.

3. Have a potluck picnic. Instead of catering in or going out for a restaurant meal to celebrate a co-worker’s birthday, a budget-friendly alternative is to have a potluck picnic or lunch. Having everyone bring a themed dish is a great way to build camaraderie within your team and celebrate while keeping budgets in check.

4. Throw a re-gift party. If your team has a tradition of buying gifts for each other but can’t afford to this year, try a unique spin on the popular “Dirty Santa” holiday gift exchange. Have a re-gift party in honor of your team member’s birthday and ask all team members to bring a white elephant gift to exchange (just make sure they don’t bring a gift they received from a co-worker!). Other variations of this idea include having a themed gift swap. Simply select a theme, like funny things under $1, your favorite candy, or a secret recipe. Then, use the gift exchange game rules to provide an inexpensive but fun party game that gets everyone involved and preserves the gift-giving spirit.

5. Host a tournament or game lunch. Another way to celebrate birthdays at work is to schedule a game hour or tournament. Playing cards, board games, or word games can be a fun way for your team to celebrate while not spending a lot of money.

To keep team morale high, especially in times like these, it’s important to make sure we don’t cut celebrating from the workplace when budgets get cut. So, try using some of these ideas to celebrate birthdays in your workplace, or suggest these ideas to your team the next time you’re looking for a much-needed morale boost on the job.