Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Ryan McRae.
Hygge is a Danish word (HOOG-AH) that is a bit difficult to translate; it means comfortable or cozy, safe and warm. Hygge is it’s raining outside and you are with your friends, watching a movie or playing a game. You are drinking cocoa and quilts abound.
You’d think that productivity, getting stuff done, and Hygge would be incompatible, a veritable oil and water.
How can you be comfortable and get stuff done? (Tweet this.)
How can you feel warm and cozy when you have to finish this massive coding project?
There is a way to combine these concepts, to find some peace in the task.
1. Lighting the Way
Hygge is about natural light, candlelight, fireplaces, or beautiful warm lamps, not the harsh fluorescent lights we are accustomed to. When you are going to work on a project (something important to you, something you’ve had to put heart into) — like practicing the guitar after a 5 year hiatus or finally drafting that book of poetry — light a candle before you start. Imagine that the work you are doing, even though it might be “ordinary” actually brings light into the world. You are doing something brave, sharing something that needs to be said.
2. Clean and Tidy
A Hygge world is very minimal. There isn’t a lot of clutter around. Before I get to work, I tend to take out the trash and put away the dishes and laundry if need be. (I make sure I don’t spend a lot of time on this. I can easily sink into a procrastination mode by doing all the laundry.) I make sure things are put away and out of sight before I get started on my project. A clean workplace brings me a lot of peace.
3. Working with Others
Hygge is usually experienced together with friends. Consider working with friends around you who are working on similar projects. When I’m working on a big writing project, I will invite writing buddies to join me in the same space. We avoid the chit chat unless we are on a break, but it’s comforting to look across the table and see my friend getting words on a page. Also to be able to ask for a quick piece of advice about what I’m trying to convey reminds me that I’m not alone, that I have a team to support me in my work.
4. Comfort Food
Hygge is all about carbs; cakes and pies, warm soups and stews. But that kind of food isn’t really conducive to a productive mindset. You tend to start to slow down as your pancreas says, “Bro, what is going on?!” When I’m on a writing binge, trying to hit my word count, I know that when I’m done I’m going to be famished. I use my slow-cooker and have a meal prepared for me when I’m done. I love beef stew, but anything warm and comforting can be a perfect reward since you’ve been pounding the cold, cold keyboard.
5. Closing It Out
When I’m done with my task and the goal has been met or the time has run out, I don’t immediately push back from the desk. I take a minute and write down what I accomplished and what I need to do next so when I’m back at it, I know exactly where I need to go. I also take a look at the candle I lit, take a second to be grateful that I get to do this work, and I blow out the candle.
Try to experience this Hygge for yourself, and remember that the work you do need not be painful or a “grind.” By adding some Hygge into your work, you can find more joy in what you’re doing.
How have you used Hygge to bring more joy into your work? We’d love to see some recommendations!
Man, I want to Hygge with you! Thank you for the inspiration.
By the way, is it always a proper noun?