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Category: Career

Did you know that cubicles were considered liberating when they were first designed in the 1960s? True story—workers were actually thankful for the invention because the moveable walls allowed them to create and customize their own personal workspaces.

Though times have changed, and it can feel like you’re working out of a cardboard box sometimes, the cubicle still has the chance to become your own special office.

So give it some flair! We’ve compiled 17 awesome items, from posters to break time toys, that will turn your cubicle into a space that liberates you.

(And for those of you who work out in the open, don’t worry—there’s plenty here for you, too.)

1. “Cubicle Sweet Cubicle” Sign

First things first, if you’ve got a cubicle, you might as well flaunt it! Make it seem a bit like home with this cute sign.

2. Reuben the Swan

If Reuben the Swan can always be on the cutting edge of white-collar swan society, you can too (seriously, click on the link above—Reuben has quite the backstory). Replace that old motivational poster with one of these charming and inspiring animal scenes.

3. Wooden Block Calendar

Everyday calendars are a bore, so swap one of your two-dimensional calendars with these fun wooden blocks—every day can stack up just right.

4. Mustache Pushpins

Hang your assignments up (or give your friends mustaches in any photos you have on the wall) with some cool-shaped pushpins.

5. Weekly Desk Pad

This vibrant pad makes it easy to keep track of your work all week and fits perfectly in front of your keyboard so you don’t have to go reaching for a notepad when inspiration hits.

6. World’s Smallest Vacuum

Cleaning your desk was never this much fun! (Just, you know, make sure you don’t suck up anything important.)

7. Otter Tape Dispenser

What’s better than having the cutest animal on the planet dispense you tape? Let me answer that for you—nothing. End of story.

8. Terrarium Garden

It’s the plant you can’t possibly kill! These terrariums require barely any attention or soil, so decorate them how you’d like and add some natural décor to your indoor space.

9. Batman Signal

For all the times you need to call Batman to save you from an overbearing boss or workload.

10. Interactive Volcano

Be mesmerized watching this volcano spew “lava.” Just a quick warning: It is unlikely that you will get work done ever again.

11. Tassel Garland

Add a bit of texture and color to an otherwise bland, grey wall!

12. Starlet Lamp

Bask under the glow of your desk lamp like a star every day.

13. Mini Soda Fridge

No more warm drinks (or stolen drinks) for you with this single beverage refrigerator, which works simply by plugging into your computer!

14. Marblesque Desk Collection

Class-up your cubicle just a little bit with this sleek desk set.

15. Llama Desk Duster

Cute to look at and handy to have.

16. Power Up Arcade Desk Organizer

Store your supplies in this organizer, and get ready to play.

17. Ouija Mousepad

Test your fates every time you scroll. Wait—did I actually move the mouse, or was it a ghost?

You know that thing where you come into work, planning to power through your mile-long to-do list, only to look up at the clock at 6 PM and realize you got through, um, half of it? Yeah, I know the feeling.

And it’s why I started trying to find ways to get my schedule under control. This is what I quickly learned: Thanks to all the distractions surrounding me every day, I couldn’t do it on my own.

But, I could download a few apps that would take on all the hard work of managing the time for me. After some trial and error, I discovered the best options out there. Download the right one for you and you might actually finish your work early today.

Check them out below.

1. If You’re Always Saying, “Where Did Today Go?”

Just like a food diary helps you cut calories, having data about where you spend your time can help you cut out time-wasting activities. And, if you spend most of your working day in front of a computer, a tracker like RescueTime can be a real eye-opener. Five minutes on this site, and another five minutes on that one can really add up fast.

As soon as you install RescueTime on your computer, it goes to work documenting how much time you spend using each program, or probably more scary, each site you visit. The free “lite” version lets you set goals and see weekly reports about how you while away your day. And, for a small monthly or annual fee, you can dig deeper with daily reports, get alerts when you go over limits you set, and follow your offline activities.

2. If You Always Underestimate How Long a Task Will Take

If you prefer to do the recording yourself, an app like Toggl lets you keep track of the time you spend on each task with just a few clicks. And, by reviewing that data, you’ll get a better picture of your days, weeks, and months so you can set more realistic goals for the future and try to better balance your workload.

You can organize the info you get from Toggl with tags or color coding and create easy-to-read, customized reports. Plus, you can connect to services like Gmail or Google Drive to find out exactly how many minutes you’re spending on specific tasks. The app is compatible with all operating systems and both iPhones and Android phones, and all the main features are available with a free account.

3. If Your To-Do List Never Matches Your Availability

Once you know where you should and shouldn’t be spending your time, you can put together a daily schedule that works for you. The key is to account for everything—both events from your calendar and all those tasks from your to do list.

Believe it or not, most to-do list apps don’t include calendars, and most calendars don’t include to-do lists. But apps like Accomplish for Android or Fantastical for iPhone bring your task list and schedule together. So, no matter how many meetings you have to attend or errands you have to run, you can see them at a glance. Plus you can re-arrange anything when surprises pop up.

4. If You Can’t Stop Multitasking

If, despite all your scheduling efforts, you still feel that your time is spiraling out of control, give yourself some tough love. (Your mother would be proud!) One popular trick for sticking to your plan is to set time limits with the Pomodoro Technique.

Named for a tomato-shaped kitchen timer, Pomodoro increases your focus by encouraging you to work in 25-minute bursts with five-minute breaks after each session. And apps like Focus Time for iPhone ($4.99) give you a handy way to remind yourself of these repeating cycles so that you stay on task.

5. If You Need a Distraction Intervention

OK, you tried your best—and somehow, distractions are still breaking through all the apps. It’s time for the unthinkable: locking yourself out of the internet. Sounds a bit dramatic, I know. But sometimes it’s the only way to force yourself to get to work when time isn’t on your side.

The free Chrome extension StayFocusd lets you set the amount of time you’ll allow yourself to spend on certain sites or types of content (read: hilarious cat videos). Or, if you’re truly desperate, you can even stop yourself from accessing the entire internet (a.k.a., the nuclear option). Once your time’s up, StayFocusd locks you out for the rest of the day so your only option is to actually do your work!

Whether you need to take drastic measures or just want a more even pace to your day, these timers and tips put the power of time in your hands so you can get the most out of every day.

If you’re at all familiar with the messaging service, Slack, then you already know how amazing it is for chatting with different members of your team.

But, have you ever taken notice of that one team member who’s alwaysonline, just hanging out at the top of the left column of your Slack window? The one named “Slackbot” with the adorable teal heart next to it?

If not, please allow me to introduce you to your new best friend.

Chances are, you’ve probably met Slackbot at least once before. When you first signed up for the platform, he (yes, somewhere along the way I decided that my friendly robot was a “he”) likely helped you set up your profile and get familiar with the different features. However, if you proceeded to immediately ignore him following that exchange (poor guy!), you’re definitely missing out.

There are many helpful, handy things that it can help you with—like reminding you of things that would otherwise completely fall out of your brain. In fact, I use the feature on a daily basis for all sorts of little things I need to remember.

How exactly does this work? Well, you simply click on the name, which will bring you to a window that looks like any other direct message. Then, you type a note telling him what he needs to remind you of and exactly when he should send you that reminder.

Now, keep in mind that Slackbot isn’t a real person, so you’re going to have to format things a special way so that he can understand what you’re saying. Any commands you give need to begin with a forward slash (/) and then a particular keyword command—which, as you would expect, is the word “remind” for reminders.

So, if you wanted to use the bot to set a reminder to start an article (or, if you’re not a writer like me, any other task or project) on a certain day and time, your message would look like this:

Press “send” and you’ll get a confirmation (with a friendly thumbs-up, no less). On that day and time, you’ll receive a message from Slackbot with the note you wrote to yourself. And, if you have your email preferences set this way, you’ll also receive notice of a direct message in your inbox.

I know that this language might seem a little strange at first. But, it’s easy to get used to, and I can almost guarantee you’ll be using it non-stop! I utilize this to keep track of everything from emails I need to follow up on to random tasks I need to complete—without my desk being covered in a constant blanket of Post-it notes.

What else can Slackbot help you with? Well, you can ask him any questions you have about how to use the platform, and he’ll get back to you right away with an answer. Speaking of answers, you can also program it to spit back an answer to a question your other team members are always asking—which is perfect if you spend half your day answering, “What’s the WiFi password, again?” (Slack has a helpful page you can reference to learn how to use these different Slackbot features.)

The fun doesn’t end there—there are numerous other commands you can use with this handy bot. Head to your direct messages with Slackbot, type the forward slash, and you’ll see an entire list pop up.

“Hey, I know we agreed to meet at 6 PM tonight, but I had something come up—could you do next Thursday?”

A prized networking contact was rescheduling our coffee meeting—for the fourth time. To say I’d had enough was an understatement. In fact, I was ready to call it quits with this person.

But in my experience, managing this situation is easier said than done—especially if you’ve been going back and forth for a few weeks. It can be especially tricky if you think the person is important for your career and you still really would like to meet up.

I’ve dealt with my fair share of “networking flip-floppers” over the years. In addition to becoming skilled in dealing with frustration (deep breath in), I’ve also learned how to handle the people themselves.

1. Don’t Rearrange Your Schedule

Read my lips: No one is worth completely upending your calendar for. I’ve seen situations where people rescheduled several other appointments just to fit in a meeting with the flip-flopper—only to have him or her change the day and time once again.

Unless you’re meeting with your ultimate career idol, there’s no need to move other appointments or meetings to fit someone else in. Since he or she isn’t making your time a priority, you shouldn’t be expected to put that person at the top of your list, either.

2. Don’t Be Passive-Aggressive

It’s tempting to add a little sass when someone isn’t being respectful of your time. Sure, of course we can reschedule for the seventh time.

However, as in many other career situations, being passive-aggressive can come back to bite you. The old saying goes that you should treat others the way you want to be treated, and while you most likely wouldn’t be rude enough to constantly reschedule a meeting, you’d like people to be understanding if you did. Not to mention that being rude makes it less likely than ever that this meetup will happen. Even if you think it could be read as a joke, you don’t want to take the risk.

On that note, if you find your blood boiling when receiving yet another “can we reschedule pls?” email, step away from your inbox for at least a couple of minutes. You don’t want to send anything you’ll regret later.

3. Offer the Person an Out

Whether the person’s intentionally trying to dodge you, really disorganized, or truly busy—after a certain point—sometimes it’s better to give the other person a pass on the meeting until a later date (or even indefinitely) than it is to spend your time going back and forth.

I gave an “out” to the person I mentioned earlier, as it seemed like we were never going to meet up for coffee that month anyway. Here’s the email I sent:

Hey [name],

No problem! Since we both seem to be pretty busy right now, why don’t we try getting together next month when both of our schedules are a little less nuts? Send me an email when you’re ready to meet up. Good luck with the huge marketing campaign! I’m sure it’ll be great.



If you emailed first, offer to be the one to follow up and ask when would be best for you to reach back out. Either way, this strategy puts the onus on the other person to either follow up with you or let you know when you can contact him or her for a definite answer.

Unless you’re meeting up with Beyoncé (in which case, can I have her number?), there’s no need to wait (and wait, and wait) on anyone. There are plenty of other fish in the networking sea—so focus on those who will actually value your time.


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