working smart is also working healthy

it’s summer time! this used to be my down time at work (3 years ago maybe?), but for some reason, the work has piled up. that aside, right after commencement ends, i take some time to seek out potential professional development opportunities and sign up for classes. as soon as that’s out of the way, i look at the personal development side.

starting last year, i started taking a different approach to thinking about training. it’s not just about skill development, but it’s also about making yourself a better worker, co-worker and leader – we can only do that if we’re operating like well-functioning, healthy human beings. i take a deep breath, think about my stress level and my health.

stay healthy!

according to consumerist, they agree that yes, your job is making you fat. so exercise is definitely a part of the equation. i’m pretty good about attending a weekly yoga class, and i just added zumba to my weekly routine to keep my spirits high. are you keeping your blood pressure down with some regular cardio?

it’s also no joke that in an office we are constantly sitting. it’s not great for our bodies. although i’m in so many meetings that i don’t sit for hours at a time, i still think about how to incorporate movement into my routine.

  • i ride my bike to work.
  • i recently purchased a stability ball to interchange with my desk chair¬†obsessionally¬†– why not get some core work in?
  • instead of sending an e-mail, why not throw in a face-to-face meeting and walk over to chat with a co-worker? if dropping by is not so kosher, just schedule a 15 minute meeting? this still gets you out of your seat
  • check out this health@google talk by kelly starrett entitled, deskbound: a love letter to your body. it’s an hour, but is chock full of good tips to think about all the sitting we do. i know i have my 20% engaged!
  • protect your time. i constantly get scheduled into lunch meetings and i’m met with the excuse that it’s the only available time for the group to meet. stand up for that personal time and don’t skip exercise classes that keep you sane.
  • don’t allow eating at your desk to be a regular practice. lunching with a friend or getting out to read in the sun for some time mid-day cannot be underestimated in vastly improving your day.

there’s some other things that i don’t regularly do, but i think they are excellent ideas:

  • schedule a walking meeting. why not? lunch meetings can also be productive.
  • take a couple moments out each day to do some deep breathing for 5 minutes – it works!
  • wisebread has a great post on finding your best work hours. we all know there are times when we feel incredibly productive – why not plan our days around them?
  • skip out on office snacks that give you a sugar high and leave you feeling the blahs
  • stop complaining and/or focusing on what’s wrong and instead appreciate what you have in your life – this is straight from fred luskin‘s talk on stress today that i took. we spent a couple minutes visualizing someone we appreciate. a bit like how my friend kristine tom always has us dedicate our yoga practice that day to someone we feel gratitude towards, it’s an immensely positive idea.
  • sign up for some health classes in the community, or if you’re at stanford, take advantage of the MANY healthy living classes available. even if the class isn’t amazing, it forces you to focus on yourself, which can only be good practice.

why are we so stressed at work?

the wall street journal calls the reason stretch jobs, and had a great article on ‘superjobs’: why you work more, enjoy it less. it’s a reality that with cutbacks, people at work are doing more for eliminated jobs. let’s face it that management might say the work gets reduced, but it’s not always the reality. they offer some great tips that i agree with:

  • cap your hours when you can. i used to bring quite a bit home on the weekends and decided that’s really my time. i’d rather stay late a couple nights during the week than give up my 2 days.
  • manage up. i’ve gradually taken some of this advice, as my cup runneth over. part of it has included me looking at my job and thinking of projects that i can cross-train another person on or get off of my plate. your manager only knows you’re overwhelmed if you share
  • utilize student workers/interns whenever you can. they are smart and can get a lot done.

the takeaway

don’t take it so seriously. continuous 50-60 (or more!) hour weeks will only lead others around you to expect the same continuous output. it’s most important you take care of yourself. why spent the majority of our lives in an office if you don’t enjoy it?

get your work environment under control and your state of mind/body in a good place so that when you’re in the office, you can be energized, productive, focused, challenged and most of all – happy!

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