Do you want to succeed in your career?
Well, the consensus is that there are two ways of doing this…
- You get lucky (includes seducing your boss)
- You work hard
So… “Do you feel lucky? Well, do you punk?”
If not, well, I’m afraid a solid career is built on hard work.
But is it?
Why work hard when you can work smart?
There are only 24 hours in a day, so the aim is to utilise those 24 hours as best possible.
Although it seems counter-intuitive to rest and relax when deadlines are looming, the aim is, as Steven R. Covey put it, to “sharpen the saw.”
Have you ever found yourself struggling to think during the day, falling asleep at your desk or staring into space?
If you manage your time and rest appropriately during the day you will avoid these troughs in energy and become more efficient than a German engine powering a Kenyan marathon runner!
There are 3 key reasons why rest and relaxation are important in the workplace.
1. Improves productivity
If there is one thing I want you to take away from this article, it is that you must work smart, not hard!
Check out Parkinson’s Law which explains how people create work to fill the time available.
Emails are the most common form of time wasting. They become a Packman-like time predator, striving to eat up as many hours of your day as possible.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. I assure you, it is possible to achieve the same results in a 40 hour week than you can in a 60 hour week by being smart with time management, outsourcing, automating and eliminating.
This allows you to rest for longer periods, which in turn makes you a more efficient machine when your mind and body have recharged.
The ultimate resource for outsourcing, automating and eliminating is The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss.
2. Improves health
When powering through a 60 hour week, people often get through the day in zombie-like states.
Tempers easily rise and the general mood of the office can be depressing.
Mental health is a key component of a conducive work environment.
Happiness boosts creativity and overall productivity!
3. Improves quality of work
Stepping away from your work and focusing on something new can help clear your mind and prepare it for the work at hand.
Once you return to your desk you might have found a new way to tackle the problem or a quicker way to achieve your goal.
It’s important not to get bogged down in the monotony of daily work life, otherwise your work will lack creativity!
5 tips on how best to rest and re-energise in the workplace:
1. Get some fresh air
Sometimes you’ve just got to get out of the stuffy office and breathe some life into your body!
Research shows that spending time in nature will improve short-term memory, increase your energy, reduce stress, improve your concentration and sharpen your thinking and creativity.
Oxygen makes up 65% of our bodies (by mass) and is key for burning fuel (sugars and fatty acids) in our cells to produce energy.
More oxygen equals more energy, meaning you will naturally think better outdoors than inside a stuffy office.
So why not have your next meeting outside?
Just 10 minutes away from your computer can do wonders!
If your day slips away and it’s suddenly lunchtime, grab a co-worker and spend your break outside (preferably not in the smoking area).
The fresh air and physical activity will boost your brainpower.
If you can’t leave your desk at all, not even for a quick stroll around the building, then you should try a bit of meditation to get your body and brain relaxed and re-energised.
For many people, meditation sounds a bit new-age and ‘out there’ but you can meditate at your desk, without rolling out the yoga mat!
A few simple breathing exercises can do the trick and no one will even notice, trust me!
Bringing attention to your body will automatically quiet your mind, take a few deep breaths, extending each new breath.
Try counting to 4 as you inhale and then count to 6 on the exhale. Then extend to a 5 second inhale and so forth.
This will slow your heart rate and let your body relax.
For an extra boost to your brain, try alternating which nostril you breathe through.
This will harmonize both hemispheres of the brain and bring balance to your body. Perfect for when you are stuck in meetings all day!
You can also help your sore muscles out by tightening and then releasing them at 5 second intervals. Not only will this help relax your body, it will help clear your mind.
Do any of these exercises for 5-10 minutes whenever you feel stress or tension building:
3. Be social
After a few solid hours of staring at your computer screen, it’s a good time to get up and have a chat with some of your co-workers.
Having some fun with those around you can break up the day and change the office atmosphere for the better.
If, like many others, you work in a small office environment without much opportunity for social interaction, perhaps find a local café to visit for a 20-minute break.
Studio 7.5, a small Berlin-based design firm, gathers employees for a home-cooked lunch at a communal table every day of the week – think how much closer you would be if everyone in your company came together like a family every day.
Alternatively, do you have a friend who works from home? Perfect! Invite them to meet you for lunch.
Catching up with a friend during the week will help remind you that your life is more than the four walls of your office.
These three articles are perfect for team building exercises, creating lasting relationships at work and how to be a great team leader:
4. Power nap
You should never feel guilty for getting some quality shut-eye while you’re ‘on the clock’.
The benefits of a power nap will quickly be reflected in the work you do.
Studies show that just 10-20 minutes will boost your performance.
After a power nap, you’ll notice that your concentration, memory recall, stamina and motor skills have all improved and that your stress levels are much lower.
Of course, not everyone can have a mid-day nap while everyone else is furiously typing away, but you can catch some judgement-free z’s on your break.
5. Be mindful of what you put in your body
A big contributor to revitalising your energy is your diet.
Many of us tend to snack at our desks and overload on coffee to give us that extra boost when we are lagging behind but we know that caffeine leads to an energy crash as it starts to wear off (see our article Eating Well To Reduce Illness).
Although no one should get in between you and your morning coffee, why not try the occasional cup of green tea and mint instead?
Maybe swap that chocolate bar for an apple and of course, drink plenty of water!
Although these changes might not seem like an obvious strategy for relaxation, good hydration will keep the headaches at bay, leaving your mind calm enough to tackle the afternoon rush.
Overall, to be more productive at work you need to focus on your own happiness.
A healthy and happy mind, body and soul will ultimately lead to a better life.
So much of your life time is spent at work, so you can’t live day to day stressed out and exhausted.
What’s the point of that?