Sitting all day and constantly feeling tense definitely won’t help to improve your health or make for a pleasant workday, but the following tips can help you solve these problems and other office issues. Follow these steps to increase your productivity, energy, and mood and ultimately improve the healthiness and happiness of every workday.
“Do not be a prisoner of your electronics,” says Melissa Heisler, a stress reduction expert and author of From Type A to Type Me: How to Stop "Doing" Life and Start Living It. “Control how you use them versus reacting to them in the moment.” She suggests turning off notifications for your email, texts, and social media in order to avoid switching back and forth between different tasks, which she says is a time-waster. “Instead carve out time slots during the day to check communications,” she said. “To help others manage their expectations of your reaction time, you can add an automated response to your email such as ‘I will get to your email in 24 hours.’”
Similar to managing your electronics, Heisler also suggests that you make the best use of your time by also carving out a specific timeslot to manage and organize emails. “When you do open your email, open it only once and act upon it in that moment,” she said. “Choose to do, delegate, delay, or delete.” Do means you will respond to the email or complete the request right away, delegate means you can hand off the task to someone else, delay means that you can come back to request at a later time, and delete means that there’s nothing to address. “If you find you are constantly deleting emails from certain sources, you may want to unsubscribe from the list or remove yourself from the project,” Heisler said.
“When I was working my 9 to 5 job, I would wake up in the morning and immediately go through my to-do list and what I had planned for the day,” Heisler shared. “The result was feeling behind the eight-ball before I even left bed.” Before getting out of bed each day, she suggests stating the following simple phrase. “I have more than enough time today to accomplish everything that I need to do.” She said this will help to “release time’s hold on you” and improve your outlook for the day. To take this exercise a step further, Barb Schmidt, a spiritual teacher with over thirty years devoted to spiritual development and author of The Practice, suggests starting your day with a morning meditation. “Starting your day in stillness and peace is setting the tone for your whole day,” said Schmidt. “In a five minute meditation you are training your mind by placing your attention on your breath, not engaging the thoughts, practicing being patient, and spending time with yourself, connecting with that deep place of calmness and strength.”
“Often our stress comes from creating unrealistic expectations,” Heisler said. “Manage what you expect to accomplish by having a list of absolute must-dos for the day—not more than three per day.” When making your list of tasks be sure that you’ll have enough time to accomplish everything. “I determine what I am going to focus on for the day by having a realistic list of projects I want to accomplish for the week,” Heisler added. “Remember to focus only on your daily to-dos. If you focus on the week's goals it can be overwhelming.”
Lauren Imparato, founder and CEO of I.AM. YOU., a wellness lifestyle brand based on yoga, nourishment, mindset and music, says that it’s easy to instantly improve your workday by planning to meet with a colleague for a snack, coffee, or lunch. “Plan an afternoon coffee with a colleague that makes you laugh, a walk to pick up lunch with a friend in the company, or a dinner out with a friend or loved one,” she said. “Having something social to look forward to will make the day easier.”
Not only is staying hydrated all day healthy for your body, but an increase in your use of the restroom will probably also help you add more movement to your day. “Also, you may find that drinking a glass of water before running for the 3 p.m. sugar snack quells the cravings,” Imparato said. Alan Kohll, founder and president of TotalWellness, a national corporate health and wellness services provider, added that drinking water can also help to improve your focus. “If you start to get tired or groggy while sitting for long periods of time, head over to the break room for a nice cool glass of water to refresh you and give you the burst of energy you've been missing,” he said.
“Sweating daily, whether in the gym, at the studio, or at home will keep the endorphins, aka mood-enhancers, flowing,” said Imparato. However, as many recent studies have shown, exercising before or after work only is probably not enough. In addition to your daily workout, it’s important to make sure that you continue to stay active throughout the day. Break up the amount of time spent sitting at your desk by standing up to answer phone calls, taking trips to grab a drink of water, and going for a walk during your lunch break, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Kohll also suggested doing a few exercises at your desk. “You can also throw in any kind of stretching to create a slower workout while still getting your limbs moving,” he said.
“Take breaks when you need to, leave work at the office, and use your vacation days,” Kohll said. “It's important to maintain your productivity at work, and relax in the time you spend elsewhere.”
Kohll said that for those of us who unfortunately have to spend a large part of our day seated, it’s especially important to maintain a healthy posture. “Sit straight up with your feet flat on the floor, and try to avoid slouching or arching your back,” he said. “If it's possible, opt for a standing, or sit/stand desk.”
No, this tip doesn’t have anything to do with text message emojis. Kohll points out that an important part of a happy workspace includes sending out positive vibes towards your coworkers. “Positive people are obviously happier, but optimism can also improve physical health,” he said. “It's been shown that positive people are more resilient when it comes to health issues. They bounce back faster, handle stress better and are overall more productive throughout their days.”