Before I worked from home, I sat in a cubicle for 15 years in an open-floor-plan office. It was hard to live la dolce vita, the sweet life, when you have no privacy and and you’re in a room full of noisy people. But I persevered. Living the sweet life at the office is possible.
Open floor plans are great for collaborations at the office, for impromptu meetings, for helping co-workers or getting help in return, but they can be very distracting when you are trying to concentrate. Everyone can see and hear what you do all day, whether they want to or not.
Without a private office, I missed being able to close my door to make a phone call or a doctor’s appointment. I missed being able to put on some music to help me concentrate.
The other downside of working in an office is that you spend a lot of hours outside your home. And you spend additional time commuting. When I was in L.A. commuting to and from work added hours to my day.
But I did find ways to make it work, to live my best life. Here are some ideas for living the sweet life at the office:
Pack a Mediterranean-inspired lunch. It can be difficult to eat healthy at the office. If you’re busy and you don’t have a lot of time, it is very easy to grab a sandwich or fast food. Sometimes you don’t have a choice. You may have to attend a lunch meeting, or go out to a working lunch. But if you can, take control and bring healthy foods from home.
Do some meal prep to make sure you can make a healthy satisfying dinner when you get home. If you have already chopped your vegetables, let something marinate, or pre-made something that you can pop in the oven, you will be sure to have a healthy meal when you get home without having to spend a lot of time.
Make time for a coffee or tea break. Buy yourself a fabulous mug or a cup and saucer that you can keep at the office. Have a special tea that you keep in your desk, or buy a fancy coffee drink at a local shop. Coffee and tea breaks make the day easier and more enjoyable.
Get some fresh air. Take a 15-minute walk during the day. If the weather is not cooperating, take a stroll around the office. Sitting all day can be detrimental to our health. Studies have shown that you should stand for 8 minutes out of every hour, and for 2 of those minutes we should do some form of exercise. Perhaps you can get a convertible desk that goes from sitting to standing. Or you can get up and walk around.
Take eye breaks. I used to go to the kitchen area of our office and stare out the window while I waited for my coffee or tea to brew. I focused on an object in the distance to give my computer eyes a break.
Wear a fabulous scarf. Even if your office is super casual like mine was, I still wore some type of statement piece. It could be a necklace, a hat, a scarf, whatever makes you feel special. I had a knit caplet I used to wear to keep me warm in our chilly office. It was fun and comfortable.
Decorate your desk. Don’t overdo it, but put some personal items on your desk that make it feel more yours. I had an adorable art calendar and I used to look forward to the new picture each month. I kept some tiny Star Wars figures on my desk. I worked in the car industry so I had some matchbox cars. Make it your own.
Listen to music. Bring an iPod or put some music on your phone and listen with headphones. Don’t crank the music up too loud or you’ll end up hurting your ears longterm. Listening to relaxing music or white noise like ocean waves can help you feel refreshed and help you concentrate on your work. Click here to download my 15- Minute Ocean Waves Refresh audio file.
Maximize your car time. I spent hours — and I mean hours — in the car when I lived in Los Angeles. I drove every day from my home in the South Bay to Santa Monica. It was 20 miles and sometimes it took me 45 minutes, sometimes it took me more than 2 hours. I made it tolerable by listening to my favorite music, catching up on podcasts, or listening to audiobooks. Having a comfortable car helps too.
Keep body care products in your desk, like a scented hand cream, a lip balm, or even a facial spritz. When you work with a lot of people and share a bathroom, it’s important to wash your hands often. It’s nice to be able to moisturize when you get back to your desk. Office air tends to be dry. It helps to have a lip balm and something for your face. I used to keep a bottle of facial mist in my desk that I made myself. It was a combination of aloe vera and rose water. It was very refreshing and moisturizing.
I hope these tips help you know that living the sweet life at the office is possible. It just takes a little effort and pre-planning.
Do you have any tips to share? Let me know in the comments below.