Most American workers live a fast-paced life that can feel hectic at times. In this new economy, many companies require employees to do more with less. To be effective and to work healthy, you must learn to properly manage your time and stress levels.
On average 39.2% of American workers reported work weeks in excess of 50 hours. Does this mean that American workers are more dedicated to their jobs than others? Does it mean that they are more fearful of losing their jobs? Are their bosses more demanding of their time? Or does it mean that American workers are just very inefficient at what they do? All of these items should be considered when looking at this problem.
I personally believe that the economic crash of 2008/2009 had a huge impact on most families, and workers are now doing everything that they can to prove their commitment to the company. I also believe that some people just really love their jobs and don’t see it as work. My husband is so passionate about what he does that he will frequently work on tasks in the evenings and weekends because he believes in the company’s vision, and loves the challenge that he faces!
Given the ridiculous number of hours that employees are currently spending at the office, we are going to look at some ways in which you can boost your health, and consequently your productivity.
Time management – ask any for-profit business owner and they will tell you that the output is more important than the input. Being at work for 60 hours per week, and completing the same amount of work that it takes someone else to complete in half the time is extremely inefficient. High quality time management strategies can help you to complete more work in less time! Creating to-do lists, prioritizing tasks, delegating, and collaborating are all ways in which you can work more effectively and efficiently. This creates more time for you to exercise, relax, and spend time with loved ones.
Taking advantage of breaks – all workers are legally entitled to breaks throughout the day and you should take advantage of these. It’s important to get up out of your chair, stretch your legs out, get the oxygen flowing, and give your eyes a break from staring at the screen or papers in front of you.
Diet – the extra time spent at work, and the associated time spent travelling means that personal time is being squeezed out of the common American worker. Lunch breaks are shorter or non-existent, employees are bouncing from meeting to meeting, and they are having to make phone calls in the car or check email on the train in an attempt to stay afloat. With this hectic lifestyle and constant rushing, many people do not take the time to eat a healthy diet through the day. It’s often an energy drink out of the vending machine when they arrive at work in the morning, fast food for lunch, and frequently a drive thru on the way home. On the surface, these practices appear to be freeing up more time for work, but does this behavior actually lead to the productivity levels required in today’s world? Check out these tips on how you can eat healthier during the workday.
Getting fresh air and sunshine – It has been shown that sunshine can lead to improved mood, stronger bones, reduced chances of depression, and improved skin conditions. Getting outside for 15 minutes in the morning, and 15 minutes in the afternoon can have a tremendously beneficial impact on your overall health. Find a colleague or two and complete this daily activity collectively.
Staying hydrated – America runs on coffee, but unfortunately this drink’s popularity, or intake, isn’t matched by that of water. Everyone manages to find time to grab their morning cup of joe, but many people will then go the entire day without drinking anything else because they do not leave their desk. Have bottled water in a drawer at your desk, use the water fountain every time you visit the bathroom, or take a water bottle with you each day and make sure that you drink it all over the course of your time at work.
Make a healthy change – most of us are guilty of one unhealthy behavior or another. Maybe you have a weakness for soda, or are a smoker. You could have a box of candy hidden in your desk drawer at all times, or get all your meals from the vending machine. All of these things will negatively effect your work performance. Dedicate yourself to making a change in your unhealthy behaviors and you will definitely notice a difference in your everyday life!
Participating in group fitness activities – we all know the benefits of exercise on individual health. A great way to promote healthy living in your place of work is to have your entire workforce participate in physical activities. This could be a 5k run/walk, completing a marathon as part of a relay team, a sponsored bike ride, or even adopting the local highway and being responsible for the upkeep of the adjacent areas. All of these activities allow people to exercise with their colleagues around them, which provides the added bonus of team building!
Choosing insurance policies where a healthy lifestyle is promoted AND rewarded – many policies now have options where holders are rewarded for participating in certain activities that positively impact their health. Our current policy rewards you for the number of steps you take, annual medical screenings, dental check ups, and participating in fitness activities such as 5k’s or other sporting events. If your policy doesn’t have these benefits, provide your HR department with the following example of Humana and their accompanying well-being program, Go365.
Making the most of vacation time and PTO – We are all given vacation time and personal time for a reason. The thing that you need to remember to do, is to take advantage of it! Many people in the current economic climate want to show their bosses and owners that they are committed to their job and pass on vacation time. In the long run this tends to have a negative impact as the employee gets burnt out and their performance starts to drop. Take advantage of the days that you have at your disposal. Take that time off to go and help at your child’s field day, use a day to accompany your daughter on her college visit, and take those few days to go and visit loved ones. If you relax properly, you can recharge your batteries, and be even more productive upon your return.
Getting up and about and moving – Being sat in the same spot for more than an hour at a time is not healthy. Try to get up to use the bathroom, get a drink, go to the copier, or even just to walk around the office to get your blood flowing again! You might also want to speak to your HR department about the possibilities of incorporating group stretching activities into your daily routines.
We spend over a third of our day at work, so it is imperative that we are taking great care of ourselves during these hours. Hopefully the above suggestions will help give you a nudge in the right direction towards a healthier lifestyle. Make sure to take care of yourself first and foremost, and maintain a healthy balance. Next week we will take a look at what you can do to stay healthy at home! Until then, stay healthy, and expect the exceptional in everything that you do.