Focusing on Your Work Health

Focusing on Your Work Health

01/14/22 Laura Gibbons

Our work health is important to performing and being productive at work. Taking proactive steps to keep focused and rejuvenated are important to meeting daily work goals. Let’s take a look at how to be more intentional based on what you may experience during the workday.

Do you get easily distracted during the workday? Someone walks by you or you hear voices or activities happening around you. You are exposed to multiple streams of information and notifications like emails, texts, phone calls, instant messages, news alerts, and social media. You find yourself daydreaming or unable to reconnect with your task or to regain your thoughts. Living in a highly connected world can challenge our ability to filter out what is important to a task at hand.

To do: First, make sure your work area is comfortable and is as free of distractions as possible. Use better tools and settings to filter information throughout the day by being proactive about how you consume media and using techniques to time block your tasks or projects, batch emails to check only at certain times during day, turn off notifications, and setting your phone out of arm’s reach to eliminate checking it too often or scrolling social media. To prevent brain overload, take time to unplug and step away for 5 minutes at least 5 times day to increase your brain’s efficiency.

Do you feel overwhelmed? Your to-do list is piling up and you don’t know where to start. You are being asked to do more with less and don’t know how to organize your resources. With increased demands, it can feel overwhelming because everything seems important.

To do: Take time each morning to plan your day. Prioritize your two most critical tasks and allocate prime brain time to them in your schedule.

Do you sit too much during the workday? Maybe you experience muscle tension, neck and back aches, or your legs or arms fall asleep from sitting too long. Many jobs require sitting in front of a computer and as we keep working away, we don’t move around or stretch to give our bodies a break. Our bodies are not designed to be inactive and researchers have indicated that sitting too much is as bad as smoking to your health.

To do: Some experts recommend the 20-8-2 rule: for every 20 minutes of sitting, you should stand for 8 minutes and move for 2 minutes. You could set a reminder to get up every hour to walk around or stretch. Track your steps to make sure you are moving throughout the day – 10k steps is a great target. Make excuses to take the long route – walk over to your colleague instead of sending an email or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Consider walking meetings or using a tread desk. Remember: physical activity is not only good for your body but also good for your brain.

Do your eyes feel strained? Staring at a computer screen all day can make eyes feel dry, red, itchy, blurred, or cause headaches. Being situated too close to the computer screen, glare and lighting effects on the screen, strained eyes from reading across a screen, and often blinking less when working on a computer can cause discomfort to the eyes.

To do: Use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away from your computer at an object about 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eyes a chance to reset their focus. Adjust lighting and reduce glare by checking common sources that are above you and behind you, including fluorescent lighting and sunlight. Stay at least 20 inches from computer, but not too far from the screen. Adjust your text size and brightness/contrast in your computer settings or look into accessories that are designed to help reduce eye strain. Also, remember to blink more to naturally lubricate your eyes.

Do you feel unproductive? You are unsure where the day went and you have incomplete tasks. Maybe you find yourself jumping around from task to task thinking you are multi-tasking but really not getting much accomplished. Research shows that the brain’s capacity for processing more than one task simultaneously is sharply limited and the brain needs to attend to one task at a time. Although, we might think that we are multi-tasking, our brain is rapidly switching its attention resources back and forth from one task to the next.

To do: Focus on sequential tasking by giving your full attention to one task at a time. Start in 15 minute intervals. Some studies suggest it takes the brain up to 50 percent more time to do two or more tasks at once because it splits our attention and slows our processing speed. So take it one task at a time.

These are just a few things to start looking at during your workday, but work health can also include improving communication with colleagues, resolving conflict, being flexible with change, and career growth. Your EAP can help.

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