Depending on your routine, if you work in an office, whether on your own, or part of a shared one, the space should be healthy. Why would you want to spend time in a toxic place with toxic people? It is one thing to keep your home healthy and eco-friendly, but what about your workspace? You spend so much time there, and every change at work not only affects you, but your colleagues, your clients and beyond.
When people ask, “does what I do really make a difference?” the answer is yes! Everything we buy, everything we share, matters – for us, for our work and for our greater world. It doesn’t matter where you start, every little thing you do to be kinder to yourself and your workspace matters. Make small changes as you go about your everyday routines and tasks (they add up and eventually make a big difference!).
Be as mindful as you can, as generous as you can, and speak up and make your voice heard when something should be different – from toilet paper to the way a colleague treats you. When you run out of something, come back to this list and consider if there is a better, healthier way to go about what you are doing. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming, all-or-nothing approach, and you don’t need to pay for a consultant or course. The resources below are free, and updated as we make changes or share changes we make here. If you have specific questions, tweet or message – we will answer you!
We’ve tried to not repeat the 30 tips and resources we’ve suggested to clean up your home but certainly all is transferrable.
We all deserve a healthy workspace in every way, and we should all be part of ensuring it’s the best it can be. Here are (just some of) our suggestions:
1/ Sit down and Stand up. Have you heard the saying that “sitting is the new smoking”? Most of us are guilty of sitting for way too long. Just placing your feet on the floor and straightening your legs helps. Go outside, take a walk, or do some light stretching by your desk. Invest in a healthy workspace (that means ergonomic furniture)! The CoreChair is definitely a life/body saver.
2/ Invest in eco-friendly supplies. It’s great that we are moving towards a mostly digital world and being paper-free might just be possible. For the times we need to put pen to paper, choose something made close to home from post-consumer waste or recycled paper, that’s PVC-free, and if printed, uses vegetable inks. We love using our Canadian designed and made Ecojot notebooks around here. As for pens, whether we need to scribble a reminder, sign a contract, or hand write a thank you note, we love these eye catching pens made with recycled kraft paper and printed with eco-friendly inks – and they are a Toronto-based company!
3/ Designate your workspace a Scent-Free Zone. We have a sign hanging in our office that identifies the space as a “Scent-Free Zone.” Scented products contain chemicals which are harmful to us all and can aggravate health problems and cause immediate reactions in many, including those with allergies, asthma and environmental illness. Although you may believe that wearing scented products makes you smell and feel good, getting them out of your body and life makes the best sense.
4/ Stash good stuff. We suggest stashing lots of good snacks, and although we always advocate for fresh and unpackaged food for both health and environmental reasons, snacks in packages that are well labeled and full of good, healthy ingredients can ensure everyone’s safety and health, are easy to pack, and taste great, too. You’ll always find good chocolate on our desks and often a variety of these nut-free snacks, plus a lip balm, sometimes vitamins and instant drinks. All of this helps us help ourselves!
5/ Get stuff done. I find that clients can often be so hard on themselves when they feel like they aren’t accomplishing enough, or getting anything done in a specific area. It’s inevitable to feel this way sometimes. We just need to pause and start small – check any small task off of your to-do list (it can be as little as following up on an email). Change happens when you keep practicing. Your best strategic plan will always be called “Doing Things.”
6/ Ask for help. Whether you feel most supported speaking to your peers or to a professional, know that anything that makes you feel stuck is worth talking about. Virtually or in person, build your community. Exchange ideas. Connect others. Refer each other. Asking for help is a sign of strength, and nurtures development.
7/ Decorate with Plants. The best decor (in my opinion) is also living and functional. We grow lemongrass year-round in our office, and serve it as tea!
8/ Print As Little As Possible. Our printer doesn’t get used very often, but when we do need it, we print on FSC certified, eco-friendly paper.
9/ Protect from EMFs. Do radiation blockers really work? Based on this information, and this, and considering the cost, we choose to just do it. We’re connected to our phones, monitors, and other electronic devices for much of the day, so we try to stay safe as much as we can with these products. It also helps to ground yourself. If you’re working indoors, the Earthing Mat is one of the easiest ways to connect to the Earth’s natural energy for great health benefits. This mat can be used on your desk under the keyboard and mouse, or on the floor with bare feet contact. We have them under our keyboards.
10/ Treat yourself well. Take an organic matcha break, share a laugh with a colleague, or take a time out and get a little reflexology. Did you know that according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, our feet have specific reflex areas that correspond to the body’s organs? If this interests you but you want to stay at your desk, I keep a Spoonk acupressure mat under my feet at my desk – it helps my whole body, or at least eases tension, and helps me focus and improve energy levels.
11/ Eat Well. Whether that means packing your own lunch in your impressive collection of reusable containers, or going out (or ordering in) from a spot that offers organic eats! These are the Food Rules that I love to share.
12/ Drink well. When it comes to the water, tea, coffee or juice you are drinking and serving, consider everything that’s in the cup. Warning: not all teas or teabags are created equal, and not all juice is created equal either. But, there are so many great options (here’s a list of our favourite instant drinks!) and staying well hydrated matters. Sipping fresh, clean water throughout the work day is essential and helps us stay healthy, focused, and alert. Bonus points for NOT using plastic straws – for many reasons, but most of all because #PlasticSucks! These glass straws are not only handmade by a kind family in Michigan, they also look fabulous, come with a lifetime guarantee, and will keep you from putting toxic plastic in your mouth and drinks.
13/ Clean with Water. And a few other things. Same as what applies for cleaning your home. If you employ a cleaning service, ask for more responsible and healthful products to be used. Not only will your workspace benefit, but so will the workers and possibly the other contracts they have!
14/ Make your bathroom healthy. Get tree-free toilet paper (ours is made with 100% bamboo and sugarcane). It is biodegradable, whitened without chemicals, fragrance free, BPA free, and non GMO. It’s not as plush as some others, but it gets the job done. Wash your hands often, especially before you eat, even if you choose to hug or fist bump over shaking hands – our hands carry so many germs and spread to everything and everyone we touch. As for the soap, choose a really clean one. We use Green Beaver’s Foaming hand soap.
15/ Read good business books. There are hundreds of books, dozens of podcasts, and millions of articles that can benefit you and your business. In addition to The Borden Workbook (our small business workbook!) these books are some of our favourites to read and recommend, whether you are a solopreneur or part of a big team.
16/ Be generous. You can be generous on your own, or come up with a group effort with your company. Your time is your most valuable commodity and nothing will remind you of how valuable your time truly is more than giving it to those who could really use it. Give, and then give some more. It feels good, makes the world go round, and what you put out there, comes back to you. But really, imagine if we all shared just a little bit of our talent or experience with one another every day.
17/ Practice yoga. There are an incredible number of parallels between entrepreneurship and practicing yoga, the mental strength we gain and the speed we lose on our mats is fuel for business success. Take it up before work, after work, or even at work at your desk for a few minutes. Practicing yoga on your own is wonderful, but also consider scheduling yourself into a class first thing in the morning or before you go home to your “other job” – it might be more effective in forcing you to get up from your desk (personal experience). You will come out of each practice feeling refreshed, more grounded and ready to work with new connection and clarity.
18/ Know that you are making a difference. One way or another, you are tipping the scales. The proverb that we live and work by is, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.” Measure your success constantly, and base your success on YOUR progress. Period.
We are likely doing much better than we think. It’s not about making it through every day, it’s about making the most of every day – not just for our work life, but for our greater life, which includes our work. We are all different, so add your own questions (and answers) to help make the day work for you, as much as you work for the day.
Here’s to days that are as healthy and as effective as possible.