Friday, November 27, 2015

How to Stay Fresh with an 8-5 Office Job

As the old cliche goes, holding an office job can be a grind. I'm lucky enough to work on the west coast, which tends to have a more relaxed culture than an office job in say NYC. My commute really isn't bad, I don't work crazy amounts of hours, and my company is supportive of work life balance. All of these things combined really do a wonder for me, but there is still the monotony of working the same hours every work day for years and years. However, there are some things that can help keep that repetitive feeling at bay and can give you a little extra something to get you through the day.

Here are just a few ideas that can help make an office job a little less monotonous.

1. Work out during the day- I know this isn't really an option for some people, but I find even taking a 10 minute walk outside can allow for a nice break to recharge my brain. The company I work for is very supportive of taking time during the day to get a work out (which is awesome!). I purposely come in a little earlier to offset the time that I spend on my work out. After a good workout I usually feel more energized, positive, and motivated.

2. Meet your cube neighbor- It is always nice to have a few friendly faces around during the work day. I find that chatting a bit with people around you and getting to know them helps create a nice environment to work in. It gives me a little extra motivation to come into work and see how my coworkers are doing. Plus it can help keep you up to date on what is happening in other functions of the business.

3. Drink lots of water- I'm guilty of not drinking enough water most days. I have to constantly remind myself to take breaks and drink water, or I will end up cranky and dehydrated. I like to have a couple different water bottles and mugs stashed at my desk for that specific purpose. Being hydrated helps keep me energized, as well as forces me to get up every couple of hours to run to the bathroom or grab more water from the break room.


4. Snack time- there is nothing worse than being hungry during an office job. Make sure you have some (relatively) healthy snacks stashed at your desk for those times when your stomach is talking to you but you don't have time to run to the cafeteria for some food.

5. Get away for lunch- since I normally work out during my lunch hour, I usually eat my lunch in front of my computer working. However, I notice that the days I don't leave my desk to work out during lunch I end up super tired by the end of the day. Obviously there will be days when you don't have time to take a break, but make that an exception to the norm. It is important to give yourself a break in the middle of the day to give your brain a break and recharge your body.

6.  Make your work space comfortable- make sure your desk is a good height for you, as well as your chair and your screen. If you are going to be sitting in that position for hours a day, make sure that it is an ergonomically correct one or you might start to get back or neck pain.


7. Music- When I have hit my caffeine limit for the day and I am lagging in energy, I will put on my headphones and listen to some upbeat music. It really helps re-energize me and give me that little extra push I need. Podcasts work just as well. If I am working on something particularly hard, I will use a white noise website (Simply Rain is my favorite) to help drown out the office chatter without distracting me with lyrics.

8. Stretch- Again, this seems obvious but it is something that is easy to skip out on during a busy work day. Every couple of hours stand out, stretch out your arms and legs (or any other part of your body that holds tension- usually it is the shoulders for me). Stretching will help get your blood moving, which is exactly what you need after being stationary for hours on end.

9. Plans for the week night/weekend- having fun plans during the upcoming weekend or after work (happy hour!) does help me stay motivated throughout the week. It gives me a light at the end of the tunnel and reminds me that my life isn't only about working in an office.

10. Actually take your PTO (paid time off)- This is really only an "American" problem. A lot of people won't use their PTO, or if they do they end up working through the day anyways. It's important to take those extra days to recharge your battery (especially if you are sick), get personal things done, or go on a vacation. It helps bring you a new perspective on things, and the rest is good both physically and mentally. I think work life balance is extremely important and that everyone should use their PTO to help contribute to this balance. If that doesn't convince you to use your PTO, at least use them when you are sick. Don't be that guy who comes into work sick just enough times to get all of your coworkers sick. You won't be making any friends, trust me.

11. Take a break and breath- there are times when I simply need to close my eyes and breath for a minute or two. It's completely fine- let yourself do that. This mini break helps bring self awareness to your body and gives you a moment to refocus your attention.

12. Record and reflect on your progress- when the monotony really gets me down, I will take some time to reflect on the progress I have made in my job so far. Writing all of this down will help you remember that you are progressing in your career, with the bonus of having it ready for your mid-year and year-end review with your manager.

13. Get enough sleep the night before- pretty self explanatory. It won't happen every night, but it is a good thing to strive for so you aren't forcing your eyes open during an 8am meeting (unless you are an overbearing manager...).


14. Touch base with someone about their job- similar to chatting with your neighbors, I find it invigorating and fun to talk to someone outside of my function to learn about their job works and how it fits into the organization. Not only will it make the work day a bit more interesting, but you may find a new position you'd like to pursue.

While all of these things sound pretty simple it is easy to let some of these standards slip when you have a deadline breathing down your neck. Sometimes intentionally taking a moment to breath and collect yourself can really help out, even if you are super busy. The same goes for when you find you have some extra time. Take that time to reflect about your job and how your recent habits have been. Hopefully this will help serve as a good reminder for those of you office workers out there!

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