It pays to get smart with your work life. Try these top techniques to get more out of your workday while protecting your body from injury.
Nowadays most of us spend up to 40 hours sitting in one position in front of a computer every week. This can have serious long term effects on our physical health, especially if we’re not optimizing our workspace to support good posture. UCLA’s ergonomics department advises that your computer monitor should be positioned approximately one arm’s length from your face and should be at such a height that the top of the screen lines up with your eyes. Additionally, your arms should be able to form a relaxed 90 degree angle with your forearms parallel to the floor. Our chair should ideally feature arm rests and lower back support.
While all of this is good and well-established practice in order to minimize the risk of strain on your body when working, there is no substitute to regular movement. Our bodies are not supposed to stay in one place for extended periods of time. Even when we are asleep we change positions in bed up to 36 times a night. Looking for ways to increase movement, such as taking regular breaks, is a great support to your body and also stimulates your mind by giving you space away from your focused task.
Another choice that has grown in popularity in recent years is opting for a standing desk. These come in both fixed and adjustable varieties that enable you to transition between sitting and standing. These have the benefit of increasing your focus and productivity by priming and encouraging your body to adopt many slight changes in position as you work, moving from leaning on different areas of your body and alternating your weight between your feet.
As more of us are sitting for longer periods of time, it pays to get smart with our physical care routines. One sporting arena that has to consider the impact of sitting for long periods of time is the world of competitive poker. Old stereotypes about poker players as unhealthy and uninterested in their well-being are a thing of the past and now these athletes are increasingly recognizing the role good nutrition and fitness has on their ability to play at peak performance.
Many of their insights are valuable and applicable to the office worker; try out this five minute filler yoga routine developed for poker professionals by Lauren Gasser, a London-based Yoga instructor, whenever you’re feeling a bit stiff between periods of concentrated work. Yoga is a particularly effective method of resetting our body in between concentrated periods of sedentary work due to the fact it encourages us to adopt postures and stretch areas of our body we often neglect.
Looming over modern productivity culture is the outmoded importance of will-power and a stern work ethic. It was once believed that the best way to work is to summon up a bundle of will-power and launch into a task, hoping to power through to completion in a single burst of heroic concentration. While most people know it’s rarely that simple, the belief still lingers among many that this is the ideal way to work. In truth, we now know that our ability to concentrate comes and goes in cycles and there are techniques and methods one can employ to synchronize with these patterns and, in so doing, get more out of a work session with less energy wasted.
Most famous among these methods was one developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s that has come to be known as the Pomodoro technique. Using a timekeeping device like your phone or a kitchen timer, you track out sequences of alternating work and rest. 25 minutes of work followed by a 5 minute break. After four rounds of this, you take a longer 15 to 20 minute break. This works out at giving you 50 minutes concentration to 10 minutes rest per hour which harmonizes with our brain’s natural concentration cycles, enabling you to work smarter and longer with less wasted energy.