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. 

Countdown to Compassion and Self-Care

In February, we hosted a #LeaderShapeChat with the theme “to lead, live compassionately.” Members of the LeaderShape community shared some insightful thoughts about what it means to listen compassionately, how to foster compassion in others, and some tools, behaviours, and resources that act as reminders to be compassionate.

Let’s continue this conversation.

Now more than ever, if we want to create a just, caring and thriving world, we need to practice empathy, active listening, and kindness. Effective leadership takes place in the context of community…and perhaps the same thing can be said about compassion. Compassion creates a community that is stronger than anything – conflict, fear, hate – that tries to divide it.

Let’s reflect on what it means to serve through a compassionate lens. Many struggle with balancing servant leadership with self-compassion. But the truth is, the two concepts are not mutually exclusive. One of the ways we serve ourselves is through self-care – and there is nothing selfish about it.

To lead, look after your physical and mental well-being. To lead, remind your friends, family, colleagues, and teammates to make self-care a priority. To lead, listen. To lead, have the courage to be vulnerable and open up when you may be struggling and need support. As Simon Sinek said, “A leader, first and foremost, is human. Only when we have the strength to show our vulnerability can we truly lead.”

Ready to lead and live compassionately? Below, we have a “countdown” list to kick-start your commitment! This list features some bookmark-worthy articles, videos, and lessons from LeaderShapers!

Kick-start Your Commitment To Compassion and Self-Care

FIVE –  5 Self Care Tips for Activists 

“So if you’re the activist, organizer, or community member who tends to do social justice work all day, every day, but is also exhausted all the time (and potentially unhealthy), this one’s for you.”

FOUR – 4 LeaderShapers share some lessons they have learned about compassion:

“Despite the risks involved, I still hold that employing compassion is central to high-quality leadership. “Lofty” endeavors can be realized when people sense genuine compassion from leaders and facilitators.” – Suzie Day

“One of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned is that you must care for yourself before you can help others. Self-care takes effort, it’s hard to put yourself first. However, I find that I am a much stronger leader when I am taking care of myself. Helping others is the icing on the cake for me. I know that when I help others, I am making a positive change in the world.” – Erica Henkin

“I’ve learned that as leaders, we tend to care for others before ourselves. It seems like the right thing to do as leaders. But, when we practice self-care we enable ourselves to do more for others. We feel refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to care for others. It’s critical to practice self-care and to display that self-care for other people in our lives. Leaders lead busy lives and though it is tough at times, we must take care of ourselves to better serve others.” – Blake Shepheard

“I used to find ways to escape life as I thought that was “self care.” It wasn’t until I began taking care of myself from inside out that I began to truly understand that taking care of myself isn’t about escaping life, but to embrace and celebrate all that is part of my life. Similarly, taking care of others in my life is a choice I make every day. I decide to what extent and whose measures (mine).” – Saba Rafiq

THREE –  3 Things You Should Know About Intersectionality and Self-Care

“It’s a great gift that balance, healthy lifestyles, and stress management are becoming common imperatives, rather than written off as selfish, unnecessary, or unproductive. But, does everyone have equal access to the tenets and practices of self-care? And, is the way we define self-care inclusive of all people — those with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and identities?

TWO – Two TEDx Talks

  1. “The balancing act of compassion” – Jackie Tabnick

“You have to, of course, be aware of the needs of others, but you have to be aware in such a way that you can carry on with your life and be of help to people. So part of compassion has to be an understanding of what makes people tick. And, of course, you can’t do that unless you understand yourself a bit more.”

2. “A self-care revolution” – Megan McCormick (a LeaderShaper!)

“If you’ve ever been on a plane this is in your seatback pocket and it’s a woman using oxygen mask before she goes the child next to her. When I was younger, I saw this picture and I said “Why isn’t she helping the child first? He’s in need.” As I got older, I realized that the oxygen mask is a lot like self-care – we all have parents, friends, family members that we want to be empathetic towards. But if we don’t take care of ourselves, if we don’t put on the oxygen mask first, we don’t have the capacity to help those people that we care so much about.”

ONE – One quote to leave with you…

Lanterns float upwards into a dark sky

An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows it to shine vibrantly, lighting the way for others.” –Project Happiness

If you’re ready to be a more compassionate leader, let us know an act of self care that you will commit to practicing in the comments below!

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