Five Simple Ways to Design a Fitter Workday
The holidays are already feeling distant – the tree’s in the compost, the thank-you notes are in the mail, the champagne bottles are empty, the 2013 commitments have been made (or at least deliberated)…and alas, the inbox is filling up again. We’re quickly and abruptly moving into the time when the resolution rubber meets the road…when we begin to test whether the ideas that made sense during holiday relaxation and celebration are realistic during busier times of the year.
The most obvious (and in my mind, ideal) way to stay on track is to design a life where work + life gracefully intersect and overlap…where the weekends and the weekdays bring equal joy and fulfillment…where you feel and behave like the same person when you’re “working” and when you’re not. This is also the toughest path – one that takes effort and intention to craft over years, decades, and maybe even a lifetime. So assuming we’re not all there yet, how can we move closer to integrating our personal goals (and specifically, our well-being related behaviors) into our workday?
Movement is the integration that is most important to me because I know that the more I’m physically moving during the day, the better thinker, writer, consultant, friend, partner and mom I am. Here are five easy (and realistic) ways I incorporate fitness into my workdays:
- Walking Meetings: It’s easy to have many work conversations on foot rather than sitting in a conference room, and it’s been my experience that walking meetings are actually more productive and energizing. This isn’t a new idea (Silicon Valley venture capitalists have been known to “meet” on their bikes for years, and media salespeople in NYC entertain their clients at boot camp classes), but for some reason, it doesn’t seem to happen as often as it could. Let’s make 2013 the year walking meetings take off.
- Treadmill/Bike Desks: More and more offices have treadmill or bike workstations now, and similar to walking meetings, they’re unnecessarily underutilized. Facebook is one of my consulting clients, and I work at one of their treadmill workstations whenever I can. Surprisingly, walking at a slow pace (like 20-30 minute miles) isn’t at all distracting (you can even type)! If your employer doesn’t offer this, it never hurts to ask!
- Lunchtime Workouts: They’re not ideal (it usually means two showers in one day), but lunchtime workouts are a great way to break up the workday and maybe even get to know a colleague better. I often did lunchtime runs with someone on my team a few years ago, and our working relationship was definitely stronger because of it.
- Stretch Breaks: Admittedly, I usually do this in a conference room with the door closed (stretching looks awkward), but a few minutes of stretching during the day can work wonders. Stretch breaks are also a great way to nurture any injuries you have (i.e., my nagging Achilles issue) during the workday – plus there’s no need to change clothes or break a sweat!
- Working from Home: Days spent working from home tend to include fewer meetings than those in the office, making it way easier to take small breaks or get a workout in at an odd hour. I used to feel guilty about taking these breaks, but I’m now entirely confident that they dramatically improve my productivity…and my happiness!
All of these ideas may seem easier said than done if you work in an environment where it doesn’t feel like well-being is encouraged. But, it’s still worth giving it a shot (your boss might surprise you). For example, my first job was at a PR agency where my boss never took a lunch break (and we didn’t need to, because food was catered in). I felt weird about going outside during lunch when no one else did, but I knew that I would totally crack if I didn’t get some sunshine and fresh air during the workday, so I made a joke of it and put a post-it on my computer screen that said “away: hour of zen.” It was never ever an issue, and before I knew it, my boss was taking an hour of zen herself once in a while.
Beyond the will to adjust your workday and the support from the people around you, you may also benefit from some formal structure. If this is the case, you might want to try a new platform that gives you ideas and reminders during your workday: http://www.fitbolt.com. I can’t yet vouch for it yet, but I’m definitely going to give it a try.
How do you stay well at work? I’d love to hear about what ideas you have and tools you use to stay fit all day, every day!