We’re all so busy these days and under pressure to produce at work and at home. It’s easy to get caught up in conflicting demands and neglect the basics—not taking care of ourselves and not eating or sleeping adequately. However, your energy level affects not only your outlook and attitude but also your productivity. A happier and more energetic you will get more done!
Here are some simple tips that can help keep your battery charged at work. They have the added benefit of leaving you happier and less drained when you go home.
1. Start at home. Set yourself up to have a good day. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than you actually need to wake up, so you can rise gradually and mentally prepare for the day ahead. If you can, sleep with your blinds open so that when the sun flows in, your brain slows its melatonin production and starts generating adrenaline. You'll be half-awake by the time your alarm goes off. Try working out in the morning to get the blood flowing. Use the time on your commute home to let go of the day—listen to music or think about something you will enjoy when you get home. At night before bedtime, avoid bright screens—computers, smartphones, and TV. Have a warm bath and keep water nearby so you stay hydrated.
2. Take a few minutes to get organized first thing. Before you launch your email, take ten minutes to collect yourself, your schedule and your papers. One trick to staying focused is to do all of this while standing. HINT: It’s also a good idea to take the last ten minutes of every day to organize your to do list for the next day!
3. Be mindful of the “fuel” you use. We need to stop grabbing whatever is around and easy for lunch! For energy, focus on protein at breakfast and lunch and even for snacks. Some ideas: egg salad on rye crisps, green salads with chickpeas and a bit of feta, or grilled chicken and leftover roasted vegetables… beef jerky and cucumber; a cheese stick, nuts and an apple. Plus eating can wake you up. Unless you are really hungry, you can skip a mid-morning snack. You know this, but we’ll say it anyway: Avoid heavy carbs and sugar—those things we reach for when we stress eat. If you are a coffee drinker, consider when and how much. If you don’t over do it early in the AM, 10:00 in the morning is a good time for a cup. Why waste the coffee buzz before your workday is even started?
4. Practice positivity and good mental hygiene. You wouldn’t neglect your physical hygiene, so don’t neglect your attitude, either. Negativity is a destructive indulgence; it drains your energy, and it is contagious. If you notice you are spending more than 5% of your time talking about how bad things are or complaining about other people, take yourself down a more constructive path such as figuring out how to make things better. Avoid complainers and negative people. There are some people who make our lives harder, and some who make it easier and better. Spend as much time as possible with the latter.
5. Change the scenery. Florescent lights, computer screens, and “canned” air take a toll. Spend 15-20 minutes walking around outside every day. Particularly following lunch, a walk boosts your levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, all of which will give you more energy when you return to work.
6. Refresh your peepers. Your eyes get tired, too. Stand up and take water breaks throughout the day to stay refreshed. Do eye calisthenics. With your eyes closed, roll your eyes right to left ten times; then up and down ten times. TIP: If you spend long periods on the computer, look at something 20 feet away from your monitor for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
7. Move it; move it! Elevating your heartbeat and pumping more oxygen through your body goes right to your brain. Try jogging in place, jumping jacks or running up and down the stairs. Movement and stretching in general can also help you focus. Reposition your chair or stand up while you work. There are several easy stretches you can do quickly at your desk, most of which can be done without leaving your chair. Try a chair twist every time you send an email: Sit up straight, lengthen your spine, twist to the left and hold on to the back of your chair (or as close as you can get) for 10 seconds before switching sides.
8. Take a breath. It helps you relax, refocus and refresh, if you call “time out” in the midst of stress. Stop what you're doing, roll your shoulders back, sit or stand up straight, open your chest and take six deep, slow breaths. Focus totally on your breathing and empty your mind.
9. Shhhhh. Dare we even say it? (Nap) It sounds a little crazy and depends on your boss and work environment but “power naps” really do work. And they don’t have to take much longer than a bathroom break or brewing a new pot of coffee; they may actually save you time as they sharpen your focus. A mere 10-20 minute rest at mid afternoon will boost your energy for the rest of the day. It's worth trying if you have a private spot available to you— you can try your car if there isn't vacancy in the office. You may want to set the alarm on your phone to be sure you wake up!
10. Be grateful. It’s hard to believe, but one of the most powerful ways to re-energize yourself on an awful day is to remind yourself of something in your life that is wonderful or that gives you pleasure. Friends, family, a hobby, a beautiful day, nature, puppies, that new piece of furniture you bought—they can all qualify. Research shows that conscious gratitude has all kinds of health benefits, including stress reduction.
11. Reward yourself. Five minutes of pure fun or joy in the midst of a grind can be astonishingly rejuvenating. One piece of dark chocolate, thoroughly savored, at 3pm on a grueling day; a full-on belly laugh half-way through a long, tough meeting; looking out the window at a beautiful spring tree and just breathing for a minute, right after getting off a particularly harrowing phone call – these can feel life-saving.
12. Take a funny bone break. Laughter releases endorphins that can be as good for you as a workout. Laughter is a natural energizer. Cruise youtube for funny videos; have a funny book on hand to read during lunch or a break. Even Pinterest and Facebook can be sources for comedy. Share the wealth with your colleagues too by keeping a light touch and light heart in your interactions. You may want to clue your boss in to the fact that you aren’t slacking off or shirking your work but actually participating in a productivity enhancement activity. LOL
13. Pay it forward and do something nice. The act of giving creates a natural “high.” Even thinking about things you can do for people will perk you up. Try going out of your way to do one thing every day for a week and see how it feels.
14. Call a friend or relative for 10 minutes. Whether you want to catch up quickly or vent about your frustrations, the support and connection will recharge your batteries.
15. Think mint. Whether it’s a stick of gum, a piece of candy, a lotion or an essential oil or some tea, the scent is provides an instant boost. If you aren’t a mint fan, try a strong citrus scent. Rub a lotion or oil on your hands/wrists and temple.