Perfect days may only exist in fairy tales, it’s true. But almost-perfect days can be your reality. The secret is to focus on hour-by-hour tricks that will help you perform at your very best from morning to late afternoon. Repeat them daily and those tricks will soon become habits that keep you in a positive, happy groove. Follow our lead and you can be ready to handle anything work throws your way!
You’ve heard it before, but breakfast is important. People who eat a morning meal high in fiber and protein feel fuller longer and snack less later. They’re also likely to feel more energized throughout the day. If you’re not a breakfast person, start with just grabbing a piece of fruit on your way out the door to get your metabolism going. You will be more focused on work instead of preoccupied by your next snack.
About once an hour, Paul Wilson takes a quick break from his desk in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to walk up and down the five flights of stairs in his building. Wilson, 32, was so inspired by his stair intervals that he now has a standing desk. “We are not designed to sit and stare at a computer screen eight hours a day,” he says. “I think better on my feet.” Research has supported Wilson’s experience. Sitting for long periods has been linked to a host of chronic health issues, which made people more likely to miss work and have lower productivity.
Charlie Yon, 23, used to buy a soda with lunch every day. Now, he’s swapped out soda for no-calorie seltzer or ice water all day long. According to research, staying hydrated is key to keeping your energy levels up and staving off bad moods, both of which help you focus on work. Slashing liquid calories can have another benefit if it leads to weight loss: A study from Sweden found that people who shed pounds improved their memory.
After lunch, 31-year-old Attiya Mahmood takes a 10-minute break to stretch and refocus to get through the rest of the day. “It keeps me energized for my commute home,” says Mahmood, who works outside of Washington, D.C. Yoga, in particular, which incorporates stretching exercises and controlled breathing, has been found to lower stress, anger, and fatigue. Try doing a few downward-facing dogs by your desk to give you the mindfulness to take on whatever the afternoon may bring.
The afternoon slump comes in many forms, but most often rears its head in the form of hunger. Karina Hamalainen, 32, was succumbing to whatever sweets hung around her Manhattan office, so she decided to plan ahead. She now keeps roasted almonds in her desk for a quick snack and brings a week’s supply of clementines for a sweet snack as the day wears on. By focusing on treats packed with vitamins and minerals instead of sugar and refined carbs, Hamalainen is more likely to stay sharp through the afternoon. Another bonus? Citrus scents have been proven to help reduce stress.
In our connected world, it can seem as though work is never done. But just as you don’t brush off the morning all-hands meeting to send e-mails, workouts should be scheduled the same way. Despite the fact that Michelle Fox’s Brooklyn animation studio often operates late into the night, she encourages employees to stick to their evening exercise classes or chosen workout routines. Making a date with the gym has benefits beyond just the calorie burn. A recent study found that people who exercised regularly had lower levels of stress at work and were better able to balance the demands of home life.
Fox’s office has taken the commitment for exercise one step further by requiring the employee who hasn’t done a minimum of exercise hours in one week to buy everyone else lunch the following week. It’s more stick than carrot, but it certainly keeps everyone moving! Find what motivates you to keep moving and schedule it in the way you would a meeting with your boss: nonnegotiable.
How do you make your work day great? Share your tips with the Mindful community in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.