Get Your Fika On

Coffee breaks in North America tend to be more about coffee than a break. In Scandinavia they focus on the break. In fact, they even have a special word for it: fika. They also add baked goods to the mix.

The reason the fika concept is important is that Sweden has the happiest workers around the world. There is no doubt that their fika practice contributes to their happiness at the workplace. So for a good day at work take breaks.

“It is the moment that you take a break, often with a cup of coffee, but alternatively with tea, and find a baked good to pair with it.” explains Anna Brones who co-wrote the book Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break (2015). “In our own [US] culture, where coffee has come to be more about grabbing a 16-ounce-grande-whatever, in a paper cup to go, coffee is more about fueling up and going fast. In Sweden, coffee is something to look forward to, a moment where everything else stops and you savor the moment,” she writes on Apartment Therapy. “In today’s modern world we crave a little bit of that; we want an excuse to slow down.”

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Working Hard Isn’t All There Is

We are often told that the key to success is all in working hard, but that isn’t the case according to new studies. Hard work may get only so far. So instead of sweating bullets at your work, try to find what your good at and apply yourself there. It turns out that people who hire favour those who are perceived to be “naturals” instead of those who just work hard.

Why is this good news? Well, just relax a little and focus more on your own time instead of giving all of your limited time on this Earth to the company you work at.

“We may risk overlooking highly qualified candidates who possess various valued achievements, in favor of apparent ‘naturals’ who may actually be weaker,” Tsay tells Co.Design. “By recognizing our implicit preference for naturals, we can become better equipped to identify and hire the people who actually possess the achievements we value and who are more likely to help us attain greater success in the long run.”

Whether or not the naturalness bias holds true outside the lab, and just how it might vary based on an evaluator’s own distinct personality traits, is unclear. And of course its potential employment impact breaks both ways. Knowing that experienced professionals tend to side with innate talent, for instance, suggests it might be advantageous to flash some natural skills during investor pitches or job interviews, instead of focusing on dedication.

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Look at Nature and be More Productive

Go ahead and let your gaze look out that window while you work. If you get caught, tell your boss that you’re just getting ready to be more productive!

The challenge: Can looking at nature—even just a scenic screen saver—really improve your focus? How much can 40 seconds of staring at grass actually help? Ms. Lee, defend your research.

Lee: We implicitly sense that nature is good for us, and there has been a lot of research into its extensive social, health, and mental benefits and the mechanisms through which they occur. Our findings suggest that engaging in these green microbreaks—taking time to look at nature through the window, on a walk outside, or even on a screen saver—can be really helpful for improving attention and performance in the workplace.

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Focus Less on Work to Improve Everything – Even Your Job

Stressed about not getting enough done at work? Don’t be. It turns out that you can improve how much you get things done at the office by not thinking about it. Turn your attention elsewhere and focus on things that do matter instead.

But, how can performance at work improve with less attention paid to it? There are several reasons:

  • Clearer focus on results that really matter to the people around you.
  • Less wasted effort on activities that aren’t that important.
  • Reduced psychological interference across domains as a result of being less distracted, because you’re taking care of critical needs in those other parts.
  • A virtuous cycle of benefits from one part of your life spilling over to other parts; for example, greater confidence, less crankiness, and a stronger sense of control.

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A Green Office is a Productive Office

Workplaces aren’t associated with fun, but there are certain designs of places that can make places more enjoyable. It turns out that buildings designed with sustainability in mind tend to be a better, more productive place to work. You should convince your boss that you should move to a green building.

Until that happens here’s a solution that you can put into action rather quickly:

3. A PLANT OR A VIEW OF NATURE WILL IMPROVE YOUR WORK

Windows also help by providing views–something that’s especially helpful if you’re looking at nature. Looking at trees or a park is proven to make employees less frustrated, more patient, healthier, and more focused on work. Indoor plants, too, help make people more efficient and better able to concentrate. If you don’t have a view or a plant, even pictures of nature can help.

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