Article by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins
On average, we spend more than a third of our waking hours at work and as many as 25 per cent of us put in up to sixty hours a week, making the British the hardest workers in Europe. Our desks become more than just a place to do work; they are used for eating, drinking and even sleeping. So take time out to brighten your day and make your office work for you.
Here are seven tips to put some ‘life’ back into your working day.
De-clutter your desk
A recent survey revealed that workers are falling victim to ‘Irritable Desk Syndrome’, with 40 per cent of office staff admitting that their desks were normally piled high with files, dirty mugs and scraps of paper, but most couldn’t be bothered to do anything about it.
Put aside some time in the morning to clear up your desk, organise your files and papers and give your computer screen and keyboard a wipe.
Be honest and ruthless with your re-organisation. As you pick up each item consider whether it really is useful to you. If not, then bin it. You will feel much more clearheaded and less distracted. Remember, everything has its place.
According to the ancient Chinese science of feng shui, it is good to have something on your desk that reminds you of a non-work related part of your life such as a favourite picture of your children on holiday or Fido running after next door’s cat – anything that makes you smile and offers some light relief during stressful times at work.
Feng shui suggests that family pictures should be placed in the middle and top-right hand corners of your desk and other images, such as holiday’s snaps, need to be positioned on the left.
The British Chiropractic Association recommends getting up from your desk every forty minutes to prevent joint pain, muscular tension and eye strain. Exercise in the middle of the day enables you to focus on something other than work and can leave you feeling re-energised and more productive for the rest of the day.
Allow time to get out of the office and go out for lunch or coffee instead of sitting at the desk where you spend so much of your day. Turn off your phone, Blackberry and laptop and take some ‘me-time’ away form work. These may seem like frivolous acts but you will return to work feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Take time out for yourself. If you are staying at your desk turn on your iPod or mp3 player and drown out the office noise with sounds you enjoy listening to. Better still, find a quiet part of the office, put your feet up, read a book or magazine, call a friend or take a different route to work.
Getting lost in an activity completely removed from your day to day duties is a great de-stressor and when you return to work you will be refreshed enough to take on the rest of the day.
…and give life to your desk by buying a plant. Research by the University of Surrey revealed that plants can decrease stress while enhancing productivity by 12%.
And, another study by Oxford Brookes University showed that indoor plants offer a guarantee of positively enhancing perception and contributing to the well being of office workers. Plants have even been proven to reduce the effects of office noise, too.
Avoid negativity and office politics
Staying out of office politics, avoiding backbiting colleagues and gossips can, given time, have a negative effect on you.
Using positive language creates an image in our minds that the subconscious soaks up. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania interviewed 350,000 executives and discovered that the top 10% performers held a higher sense of optimism.
Counteract negativity by focusing on the positives aspects of your work – the ‘neg-heads’ will soon realise that you won’t entertain their bemoaning. Where office politics are concerned, there are only losers and no winners.
It makes a huge difference to your working day if there is someone in your office that you have a personal connection with – not too personal, mind you, office affairs can end in tears and end careers. Someone you can go out for lunch with or have a drink with after work.
Workdays can be hectic and stressful, and without good people around you, the days can be difficult to get through. Sure, a company can create an atmosphere and work environment. But, when it comes down to it, if you don’t get along with your colleagues, you probably won’t enjoy your job. Plus, having friends at work helps your morale, and consequently the business.
ThE DeaTh aNd ThE StRaWBeRRy