For many of us, the disarray of working from home over the last couple of months while we juggle kids, home schooling and myriad distractions have likely resulted in the formation of some poor habits that negatively impact our productivity.
Disruptions and uncertainty with work routines can make it hard to be productive.
Whether you are continuing to work from home or returning to the office, making positive changes to your personal habits and environment can help you achieve peak productivity and concentration, but it needs to start by identifying the bad habits and making changes to fix them.
Here’s how to break 6 productivity-killing habits:
Poor habit 1: Eating at your desk.
Having lunch while working may give the illusion of productivity under the guise of multitasking, but the brain cannot fully concentrate on more than one task at a time. Research shows that the more tasks you try to juggle, the higher the chances of inaccuracies.
Eating at your desk will not only slow you down workwise, but will also distract you from recognising your appetite cues that tell you when you’re full, potentially leading to overeating.
Breaking the habit: Even if you’re short on time, stepping away from your desk even for 10-15 minutes to eat and be void of work distractions, is better than eating at your desk and working, simultaneously. This will allow you to return to work with full focus and ultimately be more productive.
Poor habit 2: Sitting in front of a screen for extended periods.
While this habit is commonly seen in the office, it’s likely that many workers have continued with it at home – particularly if workload hasn’t been reduced during the shutdown.
Safe Work Australia explains that sitting for more than half an hour at a time without taking a mini-break to stretch can cause a range of health issues, including musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
Sedentary behaviour not only has a physical impact, but it also takes a toll on our mental health if we are cooped up inside all day.
Breaking the habit: Aim to do a quick ‘deskercise’ every 30 minutes and focus on stretching the neck and shoulders, in particular. Pain in these sections of the body are most common in sedentary jobs, so even a couple of seconds stretching each part can be beneficial.
Additionally, get on your feet during your lunch break, try a workout video or go for a brisk walk. Getting the blood flowing is great for invigorating the mind and body to help focus once you’re back at the desk.
Poor habit 3: Resisting cravings every time.
During isolation, many have found themselves eating and drinking a little too much and may have gained a few extra pounds in the process. To compensate, some have tried to curb their cravings completely by going without. We often try to resist the urge or even feel guilty for indulging.
While going overboard with treats should be avoided in a balanced diet, it is important to be kind to yourself during these stressful times. Having small amounts of your favourite ‘pleasure food’ can satisfy a craving, enabling you to get back to work with a little endorphin kick!
Breaking the habit: Whether you’re snacking in the office or at home, a helpful way to stick to a small portion is to have only mini or snack sizes of your favourite food.
Poor habit 4: Over analysing or stressing excessively.
Many of us are experiencing increased stress levels due to the impacts of the combined health and financial risks on our lives.
New ABS research on the impacts of COVID-19 on Aussies, between mid-March to mid-April, reveals nearly twice as many adults experienced feelings associated with nervousness or restlessness at least some of the time during this period, compared with when they were surveyed in 2017-2018 for a National Health Survey.
Stress and anxiety can disrupt sleep and make it difficult to concentrate during the day, leaving you feeling tired and unmotivated.
Breaking the habit: To help combat this, try upping your Omega-3 fatty acid intake by eating fish, nuts and seeds for boosting mood, as research shows that low Omega-3 intake may make someone more susceptible to anxiety and depression.
There are also a number of helpful natural supplements on the market which can reduce the effects of stress and anxiety, with ingredients such as red and black maca used to improve mood.
Poor habit 5: Cat napping while on the clock.
To beat the midday slump in energy, some of us might have turned to a lunch-time snooze to wake up feeling refreshed. While power naps of 15-30 minutes can improve alertness and concentration, it is a habit that we can’t take back into the office.
Breaking the habit: Adults are recommended to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night, but it’s quality over quantity that you should be striving for. It’s important that people prioritise sleep; otherwise, energy levels, mood, and concentration can be affected throughout the day.
You may also consider incorporating an energy-boosting supplement, with the key active ingredient of Nicotinamide, into your daily diet for extra support to reduce your feelings of lethargy.
Poor habit 6: Ordering food delivery.
There has been a demand in food delivery during the shutdowns, due to dining in restaurants no longer being an option. Takeaway meals can often be high in fats and sodium and low in essential nutrients, which can leave you feeling drained and lethargic.
Breaking the habit: For those who are time-poor or find they lack inspiration to cook at home, consider signing up to food box subscription services that deliver fresh ingredients and provide simple nutritious recipes right to your front door.
All the ingredients you need are pre-portioned, with step-by-step guides on how to prepare your meal. If you choose a plan that feeds one extra person than the number in your household, you could enjoy it as leftovers for a healthy lunch.
Teri Lichtenstein is Consulting Dietitian at Entity Health, a line of Australian-made nutraceuticals developed to improve specific health and skin conditions at a cellular level. Its supplements – containing ingredients from food sources or naturally occurring in the body – help to manage lifestyle-based conditions, delay the onset of age-related conditions, and improve wellbeing. Since it was launched in 2017 by its Singaporean publicly listed parent company, iX Biopharma, Entity Health sells 11 nutraceutical products across 5 countries. Entity Health products are designed, developed and manufactured under Good Manufacturing Practices in Australia. For more information, visit here. Entity Health’s RestoriX is a nicotinamide supplement which helps to increase vitality, maintain energy levels and decrease free radical damage to body cells. RevitaliX is Entity Health’s natural mood-enhancing supplement, which contains the active ingredients of red and black maca.