Are you too busy at work?
If you have a full working day, with lots of tasks, meetings and a very long to do list, the idea of taking time out for exercise, meditation or relaxation can seem almost laughable. I know how you feel – I am looking at a fairly overwhelming list today – on the list is walking the dog at some point, but not sure when I will do that.
We know that extended periods of sitting are bad for health. Some research has linked too much sitting to many common, life reducing health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. Some experts recommend that you take a break from sitting every 30 minutes, even if it is just for a minute or two.
In addition to the illness prevention benefits you get from exercise, taking regular breaks and moving your body will likely improve your productivity and focus, and keep stress at bay. Your brain is a magnificent machine, but it does need moments of downtime if it is to function at its best
There are many ways you can ensure that you get this minimum amount of exercise including
- Walk to talk to colleagues rather than email (this will give the added boost of much needed social interaction as well
- Get up and fill your water glass every 30 minutes (this will help to make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day as well
- Monitor your steps and aim to walk a minimum of 200 steps every half hour (that really isn’t far)
- Use stairs and walk whenever it is possible – avoid lifts and escalators when you can
- Take a lunch break and go for a walk
Using the Pomodoro technique to promote movement at work
The Pomodoro technique is a powerful time management tool that helps to create focus and rest throughout the day. The idea is that you spend a set amount of time working on one task, 25 minutes is the standard Pomodoro amount, then you take a short break. You work through a few cycles of this, then take a longer break of around 30 minutes.
You can use the breaks for any purpose you like as long as it isn’t work. Go to the toilet, make a cup of tea, walk around the office, dance to a song, do some yoga, spend 5 minutes meditating…the list is endless and can suit your purposes. For maximum efficiency, try to avoid using the breaks to sit at the computer looking at Facebook – you will get much more benefit from it if you use the breaks to step away from your technology and move your body
There are a range of apps and browser extensions you can use to keep track of your time. This Zapier post lists several that they have reviewed. I love the ‘Block and Focus’ Chrome extension. I can set the timings to suit my day and the tasks I have (for example, if I am working on a long piece of writing, I would rather work for 45 minutes and take 10 minute breaks). The extension also blocks me from accessing websites I set, those that I turn to in moments of stress and procrastination. When I use this extension, I get so much done!
During my break times, I might go for a short walk, sit quietly with my breath, do a few rounds of Surya Namaskar, put on some music and dance, do some Jattis or a few standing postures. My extended break means an extended practice and a light lunch.