Friday 5: Things In My Office That Make My Day Better

We spend a lot of time in our offices! Even when you factor in meetings and errands, you’re probably in your office or cubicle about 5 hours a day. How often do you eat lunch at your desk? Ever spilled a cup of coffee on your keyboard? Yeah, me neither.

Because we spend so much time there, it’s nice to have a few items in our work spaces that inspire us, help us be productive, bring us some comfort, and motivate us. There are times when we need those items, right? Sometimes just a small memento can remind us of how far we’ve come, challenge us to push through some tough times, and bring some relief in the times when we think we just can’t keep going.

I keep a few things in my office that help me in those areas.

1. Focus Keeper app – I’m a little competitive. Not with other people; just with myself. This time keeping tool helps me compete with myself in a way that increases my productivity … win-win! The app includes a timer for productivity, and a shorter timer for a break. The goal is to see how many “rounds” of these timers you can complete in a work day. It’s helpful to have small, manageable time goals throughout the day to stay on track.

2. Gym bag and shoes – I try to go to the gym every day over my lunch hour. Keeping a gym bag packed with workout clothes and running shoes in my office certainly helps me stick to that plan. I find that having that time outside the office to sweat helps me come back to the afternoon refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day. Even if I don’t have time to get to the gym during the day, I will sometimes put those shoes on a take a short walk to clear my head.

3. Pictures of my nephews – My nephews are super important to me. They are a IMG_0021huge part of why I’m grateful for the work we are doing at LeaderShape. I want the world to be much more just, caring, and thriving by the time they’re old enough to attend the Institute. Seeing their pictures throughout the day certainly reminds me of that. They are such kind, funny, smart, and creative boys! Just seeing their smiles can make me smile and refocus my mind onto what’s truly important.

4. Music – This is high on the list of things I value. I often listen to the Productive Morning and Instrumental Study playlists on Spotify. It’s nice to have some quiet background noise that is unfamiliar so I don’t start whistling along On days when I have lots of conference calls and tasks to manage, I start the day with “Eye of the Tiger” … obviously. I think music is so critical in creating a tone, in pumping us up and creating a sense of calm.

5. Inspiring quote – I have some lyrics from a Dave Matthews song framed on my desk which reads, “Take what you can from your dreams, make them as real as anything.” My mother gave this to me a few years ago. Those lyrics are so inspiring to me because sometimes I need reminding to keep pressing on.

What do you keep in your office to help with productivity?
What do you keep in that space that inspires you?

Abby Prince is the Director of Program Quality and Management at LeaderShape. She spent 13+ years in the corporate world as a communicator and analyst before taking the leap into the world of not-for-profit. She hasn’t wanted or needed to look back. Outside of her career, she enjoys creating memories with her nephews, reading big books, rescuing dogs, and spending time in the kitchen. 

2017 National Sessions of the Institute


As everyone quickly moves through their daily lives, it is difficult to make time for conversations. Many interactions happen with a quick text or message via Snap Chat. At the Institute, we intentionally slow down to allow participants to create a community in which they can engage in meaningful conversations about values, integrity, and their passions. The week is focused on asking participants to connect with their values and then put them into action by developing a vision for something they care about.

In 2017, we will continue to provide the Institute experience to participants giving them an opportunity to explore their values and develop a vision for something they care about.

We will host 5 sessions in two locations. The dates and locations of the two general sessions are May 14-19 in Boston, MA and July 23-28 in Champaign, IL.

For the past two years we have hosted a national session for a specific demographic. We have done this to help participants explore the concepts of the Institute in a community of individuals who share parts of their identity. These sessions with African American men have been profoundly impactful so we are expanding to other areas of interest in 2017. Here are the dates and specifications for the three special interest sessions, all to be held in Champaign, IL:

May 21-26: Institute for Residence Hall Leaders
July 30- August 4: Institute for Latinx Students
August 6-11: Institute for African American Men

If you are interested in learning how you can attend or how you can send students from your college/university or organization to a session, please email us at

Want to learn more about the Institute?
You can visit our website and check out these posts about our program.
Institute FAQs
A Nerd’s Reflection on the Institute
The Heart of National Sessions of the Institute


Friday Five: Staying in the moment

As leaders, we spend a lot of time thinking about the future, don’t we? Whether we are going through the visioning process or striving to meet personal or professional goals, leaders typically have a futuristic mindset. We get excited about the future (as we should) and we love to let our minds wander about all the possibilities that exist within the days, months, and years to come. We enjoy wondering what’s next – in our career, with our family, and with other things that are important to us. For many, the future can provide a sense of motivation and purpose because we are goal oriented.

But because of the many unknowns and all the different variables, thinking about the future can take a lot of time. And sometimes, it can remove us from the present. From the now. It can distract us from our daily interactions with others, from the beauty of our daily lives, from our relationships, and from our daily thoughts.


What would happen if we could pause for a moment each day to embrace the present moment? Would we be able to relax a bit more and stress a bit less? Would we be able to accomplish more and increase our productivity? Would our relationships flourish? Would our momentum continue building?

Staying in the moment is tough and it typically doesn’t come naturally. We are constantly surrounded by so many distractions and disruptions in our lives. We have short attention spans and busy schedules and the “present moment” flies by so quickly.

Here are my 5 tips for staying in the moment:

Being intentional in your daily routine can be the first step to staying in the moment. Pausing allows you to recognize that you want to shift your mindset to that very moment. It helps you to actively think about what you are doing and to escape the chaos surrounding you in that moment.

Taking the time to reflect allows you to embrace the present moment. It can help you to recognize everything that is happening and develop an increased appreciation for the beauty of that moment. Reflect upon the stillness surrounding you. Reflect upon the sights and sounds that you are immersed in.

Though breathing is such a natural process, intentional breathing can provide you with so much control in the moment. Breathing allows you to de-stress, relax and be fully present in the moment.

Writing is a powerful practice. Pausing in the moment and capturing your thoughts, feelings, and environments will help to solidify the value of staying in the moment. Writing in the moment allows you to focus your attention and energy while capturing a glimpse of the most still moments of your life.

Repeating this process will make it more natural. Before you know it, you will find yourself enjoying the little things in life more and making the most of every moment. You will be more engaged in conversations and more present with your family, friends, and colleagues.

Will you make it a priority to intentionally stay in the moment? Will you embrace the beauty of everyday life? Will you pause, reflect, breathe, and write a little bit more today
Let’s do it together.

Blake is a marketing and community engagement intern at LeaderShape and a graduating senior at Missouri State University studying public relations. Blake enjoys unplugging and recharging by kayaking, hiking, and reading a good book.