Long Office Hours: How to Thrive

It was not so long ago that the world marveled at the work ethic of the Japanese. It was common for the Japanese to work an excruciating number of hours per week in dedication to advancing their company, their department and their position. Sometime in the past two decades, American companies began demanding more from their workers. Those who own businesses and are self-employed had to step-up their hours to stay competitive. Americans are now officially the hardest-working people of any nation. The days of a weekday 9 to 5 job are long gone. People that take such jobs find themselves falling behind friends and neighbors who are not restricted by such hours. This can prompt them to get second or third jobs, thus increasing their hours.

All of these work hours can be very stressful on a person. This situation can affect your health and dull the senses. However, it is possible to follow a few basic tips that will allow you to thrive while continuing to work long hours:

1. Take Breaks

It is very unhealthy to work continuously all day without taking a break. The surest way to burnout at a job is to never take a break, yet hundreds of thousands people work non-stop every day, eating while working or skipping meals altogether. A good rule of thumb is to take several breaks equal to 5 minutes per hour of work. Those who take breaks of this length show an immediate improvement in productivity. If you find it hard to keep track of how many breaks you have taken, you can use a timer or scheduling system to make sure you are getting the breaks you need.

2. Eat Regular Meals

This tip works in conjunction with the first tip. It is important to eat regular meals. However, it is not enough to simply eat. You have to take a break from working and dedicate a block of time to the meal and perhaps some light conversation unrelated to work. Experts recommend that a meal or snack be eaten every four hours at work.

3. Get Plenty of Exercise

One of the biggest killers of the American worker today is heart disease. Heart disease can manifest due to long periods of inactivity, such as sitting. Sitting jobs also cause obesity, which then leads to heart disease and other health complications. Getting regular exercise at work is essential to keeping your body in shape and your energy levels up. Most people take a break by simply sitting in a different chair. Some breaks should be dedicated to exercising. If you cannot leave the building, just take a walk through the halls where it won’t disturb anyone. Most people have enough work space to do exercises near their desk. Whenever possible, it is recommended to walk around your space while working. Some people even work while sitting on an exercise bike or walking a treadmill.

4. Check Ergonomics

Whenever you do anything for long periods of time, it is important to do it ergonomically. That means your body should be in as natural a position as possible. Make sure you have an ergonomic chair or you adjust your chair to the most ergonomic position possible. Your keyboard and mouse pad should also include ergonomic features if you spend long hours at your computer. Your computer monitor should be at eye level and directly in front of you. It is also recommended to always sit properly and hold correct posture.

5. Create a Nurturing Environment

As much as is permitted, you should decorate and adjust your workspace not only in the most efficient manner possible but in the most pleasant manner according to your individual tastes. Have a few pictures you like to look at or a desk piece that you can fiddle around with if stress levels get too high. You should also see to it that there is enough light in the space to work without inducing eyestrain. Bright colors can help spark creativity, but if they are too bright, colors can also cause headaches. Also, if it is possible to adjust the temperature, keep it comfortable. Some light music can also edge up your productivity and keep your mind from getting locked up into one particular thought.