Start the New Year with One Healthy Work Habit

With the new year just around the corner, we start to think about making changes in our lives. One of the most common New Year's Resolutions is to "Be Healthier." But what does that even mean?

Perhaps you'd like to exercise more or eat healthier, but forcing yourself to go to the gym or forcing down vegetables isn't always easy. Taking care of your body takes a full-time commitment and active dedication. So instead of trying to change everything at once, take baby steps to shift your existing habits to habits that are just a little bit more balanced.


Start Small

If you'd like to be more productive at work, pick ONE of the following habits to try to improve. Choosing just one can make a huge difference and is much easier than trying to turn your entire life around. Encourage your staff to adopt healthier habits and ask each person to choose their own habit to start. Before you know it, you'll have a team of fresh, motivated, go-getters to tackle the new year.


Get More Sleep


If you want to change a habit with the highest level of returns, choose sleep. Almost half of Americans don't get adequate sleep. Experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you don't get enough sleep before you go to work, you won't be able to perform at your best. Lack of sleep can impair your memory, increase your chances of getting sick and even reduce your income

If you feel like there's just not enough time to sleep, consider this: Sleep deprivation impairs your mental energy. If you don't get enough sleep, it will take twice as long to get things done. If you get a full night's sleep, you'll have the mental capacity to work faster and more efficiently. If you get enough sleep, you'll actually find that you can get more done than you thought was possible. 

Make sure to encourage your employees to get more sleep too. Allow your team members to take quick 10 minute naps in the afternoon if they start to lose energy. Just make sure they set an alarm!

Take Breaks

Working yourself to death will also drain your mental capacity. Stretching your work endurance to the brink will only lead to burnout and resentment. You should feel motivated to approach your responsibilities and have the freedom to pace yourself. If your office culture rewards those who work non-stop, 24/7, then you probably work in a toxic environment. 

The human body does not function properly if it's stuck in the same position for hours on end. The human brain does not function properly in intense focus-mode for extended periods. If you push yourself to exhaustion, your work will suffer. You'll be more likely to make mistakes and then it becomes counter-productive to keep going. Taking breaks actually refreshes your brain activity and allows you to return to work at peak performance.

window break

Try the 90-Minute Solution to block out your work schedule. Set a timer for 90 minutes and then begin working. Once the alarm goes off, stop what you're doing. Don't allow yourself one minute more "to just get to a stopping point." Drop everything and get up for at least 10 minutes. Stretch, look out the window, eat a snack, etc. Allow your body to move and your mind to calm down. The 90-Minute cycle actually aligns with your body's instinctive rhythms. You'll find that once you start the timer again, you have new ideas and a fresh perspective. 

Also enforce mandatory breaks for your employees. Make it office policy that everyone must take at least a 30 minute lunch break. If not, morale, productivity and performance will suffer.

Make a Meal Plan

At the end of the day, you might find yourself ravenous and desperate for energy. You scarf down a bag of chips and inhale an energy drink, because those are the only snacks available in the break room. Not only are these choices poor for the moment, but they affect other habits for the rest of the day. Energy drinks in the evening will affect your sleep cycle. Simple carbs can make you sluggish.


Instead of scrounging for energy, plan ahead at the beginning of the day. Bring healthy foods with you to work and place them within easy reach. When you're feeling tired, eat fruit such as an apple, instead of filling up another cup of coffee. The natural source of sugar is a healthier energy booster. When you're hungry at 10 am, eat lean proteins like nuts or yogurt. 

Stock your break room with healthy snacks like fruit juice, hummus, guacamole, veggies, jerky etc. Encourage your team members to bring in proteins or complex carbs. Honor the employees who avoid energy drinks and candy. 

Set Boundaries

If you find yourself feeling like work is consuming all of your time, establish boundaries to keep your work life and your home life separate. When you get home, turn off your email notifications. Don't allow yourself to be tempted to check in if you're not in the office. If there's an emergency, they'll call you, otherwise, it can wait.

If you feel like you can't get any work done when you're actually at the office, start prioritizing. As we explored in How to Balance Accessibility and Productivity, if you communicate your priorities to your team, they'll be more inclined to respect your time. If your employees frequently stop by your office just to chat, shut the door. Don't allow yourself to be distracted by your phone going off every 10 minutes. When you're focused, put it on silent. 

Encourage your employees to communicate when they feel overwhelmed or need some space. Open, honest communication will create a more productive and efficient environment. 

Remember, just choose one of these habits to tackle. If you're able to easily adapt, add one more habit and keep building. Starting out small makes for a much easier transition. With a little patience and persistence, you can make 2017 your healthiest year yet!



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