After a long and sometimes tedious day at work, there is nothing better than getting into your pj’s, climbing into bed, eating a convenience meal, and watching Netflix. It can be the thing of dreams and what gets you through your work day.
Whilst this may seem like the ideal thing to do after a long and hard day at work, it may not be the most productive and beneficial use of your time.
Habits can be beneficial or detrimental to your life, studies have proven that there are certain habits that we practice or can learn to practice that will help us to work a better and more fulfilling work day.
What is a habit?
A habit is a behaviour that is repeated regularly and can range from simply making your bed, pouring yourself a cup of coffee in the morning, exercising, or even filing your work.
If practised regularly they all have the potential to become something that is part of your subconscious. This can be beneficial if the behaviour supports your health or work or it can be pretty darn frustrating if it is negatively affecting your life and you are trying to break the habit.
If you are looking at increasing your productivity, focus, and decision-making skills at work, it is useful to start looking at what habits you have after work. These habits can directly impact your work life. Without further ado, let us take a look at some habits that can help us work a better day.
Habit # 1: Exercise
Exercise has many beneficial effects such as improving your health, and reducing stress, and can directly impact your work.
In your body cells, you have something called mitochondria, a funny word but a component of your body with an important function. Mitochondria are also known as your cell’s powerhouse, meaning it produces energy.
Exercising be it low or moderate-intensity exercise helps to increase the development of new mitochondria within your body. This in turn increases the amount of energy your body can produce, increasing your energy levels.
This increase in energy level not only provides you with energy for physical activity but also provides more energy to your brain, improving your mental output thus increasing work productivity.
Exercise can also help regulate the stress hormones produced in your body and increase the production of endorphins, the ‘happy’ hormones. This regulation in hormones helps to reduce and manage stress throughout the day.
Habit #2: Sleep
It is tempting to spend the night catching up with Netflix or even work but sleep is important and like it or not, sleep even lack sleep is a habit.
For optimal function, it’s recommended that an adult gets an average of 7-9 hours of sleep a night. If you are a night owl, this may seem like a lot of sleep but why is it important?
Sleep like exercise helps to regulate stress hormones and helps to create and maintain pathways that are important for memory and decision making. Sleep also helps your body repair and strengthen tissue and enhances your immune system.
Not only will it help increase your productivity at work but it will reduce the chances of you falling ill and getting behind on work.
If you do struggle to sleep during the night or find yourself struggling to keep awake during the day a power nap can be beneficial. A power nap can help boost your mental alertness, enhance your memory and enhance your decision-making. Before you start having these power naps, they should be between 10-20 minutes. Longer naps may disrupt your sleep cycles at night.
Habit #3: Fuel your body
After a long and hard day at work, a convenience or takeout meal sounds pretty tempting. Nutrition can be a hack after work but it is a habit that can have multiple benefits.
Optimal nutrition means getting the macro and micronutrients in adequate amounts. This helps your body with crucial cellular processes such as energy production, stress management, and immune support and can help enhance your memory and concentration.
An easy trick to ensure that you get the macronutrients in is when you have a plate of food, half of the plate should be fruits and vegetables including salad, a quarter starch, and a quarter protein. Having a variety of fruits and vegetables will help ensure that your body receives a number of different vitamins and minerals as different fruits and vegetables will contain different vitamins and minerals.
If you are concerned that your nutrition is not optimal, taking a supplemental vitamin pack can help your body receive the essential micronutrients in the recommended amounts.
Habit #4: Meditate
Meditation is a great way to relax and calm your mind as well as increase creativity, improving personal and work relationships, mood, focus and productivity.
Meditation doesn’t have to be done for an extended period of time, research has found that a meditation session as short as five minutes can start to provide benefits and is a great starting point for beginners.
How do I start changing my habits?
Learning about habits is great but changing habits can be an entirely different ball game. Habits roughly take 21 days to learn; however, it is individualized and it can take anywhere from 21- 250 days to change a habit depending on the habit and how long it’s been practised.
If you are trying to change a habit, start by replacing it with a more positive habit for example if you are trying to stop eating takeout food try replacing it with a new habit of cooking yourself a nutritious meal.
To help change your habits, it’s important to beware of your triggers and the environment around you. You may need to change your environment to better support the new habit. Rewarding yourself as you learn a new habit, can also help to implement it.
Rewards can be in the form of buying yourself a new book or piece of clothing that you really wanted or it can be in the form of going to an event you wanted to go to. Try to choose a reward that won’t support any negative habits eg: rewarding yourself with a slice of cake when you are trying to reduce sweet treats.
Accountability and holding yourself accountable can also help you start to change your habits. Journaling or having an accountability partner can help keep you accountable and help you on your journey.
Take Away Message
Habits form our lives and positive habits can have multiple benefits. Habits are a learned behaviour and if there is a habit you would like to change, whilst it might not take overnight, it can be changed and has the power to transform your life.