8 daily habits that can improve your health and boost your career
Despite all the hoopla about work-life balance, 9 and 10-hour workdays are still a given in every field. On an average, most people spend about 25-30 years of their life in the office. The long hours spent at work can have serious repercussions for your physical and mental health – in the UAE alone, almost 42% of employees describe their offices as stressful, according to a report. Eventually, work pressure will end up impacting your productivity as well.
But as the popular saying goes, if you can’t change your circumstances, change yourself. While talent, skills and position do have a bearing on your success, habits and routines can also affect your frame of mind, happiness and productivity.
So make these habits a way of life to improve your overall health and set you up for success at work:
Get your priorities right
Start your day right by figuring out the top three things on your work to-do list. This lets you focus on the things that you just have to get done. Josh Davis, author of Two Awesome Hours: Science-Based Strategies to Harness Your Best Time and Get Your Most Important Work Done, writes that having “a small number of things also makes it easier [to accomplish the tasks]”. Stress stays at bay, too.
Work to your strengths
What works for your colleague may not work for you. S/he may be able to multitask easily, switching from project to project over the day, but attempting to manage too many things at the same time isn’t for everyone. A 2013 study shows that increasing the cognitive load, by adding tasks, severely impairs performance, especially when accurate and complex judgments are needed. So if you work best by focusing on one task at a time, do just that.
Focus on your forte
In our bid to be perfect, we often spend hours on weaknesses, things that we don’t naturally have an aptitude for. Studies have found that focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses at the workplace reduces stress levels, makes people happier and healthier, increases confidence and leads to faster growth and development. Not everyone's cut from the same cloth, and leaders who focus on strengths of their team members benefit from lower staff turnover, higher levels of productivity and greater profitability. Try and put to use your true skill sets as often as you can.
Adjust your attitude
Your mood at the workplace affects not just you, your day and your performance, but also of those around you. Taking control of your mental attitude – choosing to be positive and optimistic or pessimistic and critical – is important. According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking and a “good attitude help better your psychological well being and help you cope better under stressful situations at work”. Being positive will always keep you motivated and on track.
Disconnect from social media
Technology may be a catalyst for change, but too much of it can hamper your productivity. It may be inviting to check that email, like a Facebook update or retweet something, but go off grid to stay focused. Give yourself designated social media breaks during the workday — may be two or three lasting 15 minutes. This downtime can give your mind a break and let you pursue your work the rest of the time.
Lend a helping hand
A well-known Chinese saying goes that if you “want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody”. A 2012 study by Wall Street Journal (Europe) and iOpener Institute for People and Performance showed that happier workers tend to help their colleagues 33% more than their least happy colleagues. So go ahead and take on some tasks from your harried co-worker or get her a cup of coffee while you’re getting one. Giving back to your team will keep you happier and healthier.
Your brain won’t function at peak capacity without the fuel it needs. Consume plenty of good fats such as nuts, seeds, nut butters, whole eggs and fish, and try combinations that keep you satiated but not full. Eating an excess of carbohydrates and dense foods may drain you of energy, as will endless cups of tea and coffee. Switch to green tea instead; it’s a calming beverage that wakes you up. Make it a habit to drink enough water to stay hydrated.
Establish workday rituals
A dedicated morning and evening ritual helps you get in and out of work mode quickly. Planning for a "power hour" -- an hour that lets you take a deep dive into the most challenging thing on your list for that day -- will take most of the workday's pressure away. Before leaving the office, review three things that went well for you at the workplace. This will help end the day on a positive note and steer your brain towards positive thinking. Informally planning your next workday makes it easier to get started.
With a foundation of good habits, you’ll set yourself up for a healthy, productive and successful life.