We’d all like to start the workday bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to take on the world. And yet, some days find us fighting to keep our eyes open and a fire lit under our very sluggish tails. We find our willpower has been crushed under the pile of “to-dos” quickly taking over our workspace. If this sounds familiar, take heart, you are far from alone! And the good news is that being healthy and productive at work doesn’t have to be more work. Even small, fun changes can add up to a better day.
Whether you work in a corner office on Wall Street or a booth in your local cafe, here are 6 tips to help you tackle those to-dos and feel better, healthier and less stressed throughout your week.
First things first, figure out your morning flow
Starting your morning on a high note sets the tone for the rest of your day. Instead of reaching for your phone first thing, take the first 30 minutes of your day to wake up in the present moment. Reserve this precious time for the morning rituals that bring you joy, like meditation, journaling, rebounding or a barefoot morning walk in the sun to get your circadian rhythm kick-started and a healthy dose of Vitamin “G”.
Don’t have 30 minutes? That’s okay! Pick one activity that already exists in your morning routine and commit to being fully present for it. Whether it’s sitting down for breakfast with the kids or just savoring your cup of coffee elixir, really think about the one or two things that brighten your morning and commit to them every day. Carving out small moments of joy in your morning set the tone for the rest of the day and send you into work with a clear mindset.
Take a break
Let’s be honest, not many of us can stay focused for eight hours straight. It may seem counterintuitive, but if you feel stuck at work, taking a break could be your best bet, thanks to a phenomenon called decision fatigue.
A famous study from Princeton University found that judges were more likely to grant paroles to prisoners after their daily breaks than after they had been working for an extended period of time. As decision fatigue set in, the rate of granting paroles gradually dropped to near 0% because judges resorted to the easiest and safest option—just saying no.
The takeaway? Your brain needs a break. But how to make it count? Stretch it out, refill your water bottle with filtered water or take a walk around the office.
Moving your body and stimulating blood flow can increase your concentration, even doing a “Health Bounce” on a rebounder for one to five minutes can really make a difference. Sometimes it’s hard to flip the off switch when it feels like there is so much to do, but pushing through can lead to simplistic decision making and procrastination, which ultimately leads to more work for you.
“Burn” the to-do list
Alright, you’ve had a mindful morning, you’ve done your productive poses and you’re filled with more water than a cactus — it’s time to get that work done, but you have no idea where to start.
Jake Knapp, a design partner at Google Ventures and author of The New York Times bestseller Sprint, recommends making a “Burner List.” Comprised of a front burner, back burner, kitchen sink, and counter space, Knapp’s recipe for productivity is all about learning what to prioritize and when to just let things go. Knapp admits, “It won’t keep track of every detail, or help you juggle a million projects.” But that’s exactly the point. “The Burner List is intentionally limited—and therefore focused.”
Lose the laptop
Laptops seem like the perfect solution for people on the go, but the reality is they are far from ideal. Ergonomically, their keyboards are a mess and will wreak havoc on your hands and wrists faster than you can say Carpal Tunnel.
Their screens are also too small. Sure, you could mortgage your home and splurge on a 17-inch MacBook, but this still isn’t the same as a properly adjusted desktop monitor set to the ideal viewing height and distance.
More than that, your laptops could be zapping your energy — literally. Over the past few years, a startling string of studies has named laptops as a prime source of harmful electromagnetic radiation (or EMF) emissions. Unsurprisingly, experts have revealed that the health risks associated with using laptops and notebooks are highest when the devices are used in close proximity to the body. So give yourself some space, and your neck, eyes, and hands a break by investing in a wireless mouse, separate keyboard and desktop monitor.
While we’re on the subject…
Remember when our mothers used to warn us not to sit too close to the television because it’s bad for our eyes? Well, here’s the thing: like most things in life, mom was right.
The blue light emitted by our everyday array of screens can be damaging to your eyes, both in the long and short term. Additionally, it can lead to poor sleep by disrupting the circadian rhythm of your sleep cycle and hormone production cycles.
Felix Gray has developed a line of fashionable glasses with lenses that increase magnification, reduce glare, and filter out blue light to keep your eyes comfortable. We also suggest switching from your day blue blockers to night once the sun sets. You can read more about getting better sleep in our blog post here.
And finally, steer clear of junk food
The candy bars, sodas, cookies, and chips always seem to call during the afternoon lull, but you won’t hear them thanks to your secret weapon – your secret stash. Designate a small drawer or basket for your stash and place your favorite natural and healthy snacks inside.
You could also take a more grassroots approach – band together with like-minded co-workers and ask for healthier foods at the office, such as a weekly fresh fruit delivery.
Now it’s important to remember that not every day will be perfectly productive. But don’t beat yourself up. Instead, take a deep breath, be kind to yourself and refocus your energy on these tips and tricks. Once you find the rhythm that works for you, you’ll be amazed at just how healthy and happy you can be at work.
Now please excuse me while I take a break. You probably should too!