Top 10 Tricks for a Healthier, High-Energy Workday

Originally posted by Whitson Gordon on

Working at an office can be surprisingly unhealthy. Between sitting all day, eating poorly, and enduring never-ending stress, your office can take a few years off your life. Here's how to stay healthy and energetic at the office (and make the day go by faster).

10. Eat Healthy, All Day Long

Ever have those days at work where you just feel exhausted and can't get anything done? There are a lot of ways to solve that problem, but the #1 fix is healthy eating (starting with breakfast). You should eat your most hearty meal in the morning, when you need the most energy, and continue eating healthily throughout the day to avoid crashes during your productive time. Eating lunch away from your desk can help, too. 

9. Set Up a More Ergonomic Workspace

It may not seem like it, but sitting at your desk all day can wreak havoc with your wrists, back, neck, and other body parts if done improperly. Thankfully, it's really easy to set up an ergonomic workspace, without spending a ton of money. Most of it is practicing good posture and positioning your keyboard and mouse properly, though a good office chair is a good investment.

8. Get Up and Move

Having an ergonomic workspace isn't enough, though—all that sitting is still killing you. So, to keep yourself healthy and really avoid RSI injury, it's important to take frequent breaks. All you need is five minutes every once in awhile—in fact, we've created a schedule template that'll make sure you get enough time away from your workspace. If you really want to get out of that chair, a standing desk can be a really great solution too—many people, including Lifehacker's own founding editor Gina Trapani, swear by it.

7. Avoid Eyestrain at Your Computer

Ever get eye pain or headaches at the end of the day, but aren't really sure why? It's probably from staring at that computer all day. The aforementioned breaks can help combat eyestrain quite a bit, but a few of us at Lifehacker have also found that computer-oriented glasses likeGunnars can make a big difference, too.

6. Be Friends with Your Coworkers

Coworkers can be distracting and annoying, but being friends with them can actually make work a lot less stressful. In fact, one study even found that people who were friendly with their coworkers actually lived longer. Even if we're just talking productivity, knowing which coworkers will help you in a bind is incredibly useful, and easy to do with a single email. As long as you keep yourself from getting distracted, office friends can actually be good for your productivity and health.

5. Fit More Exercise Into Your Schedule

Getting regular exercise is one of the best ways to stay healthy and keep your energy level up, but getting regular exercise with a demanding job is tough. This 20-minute exercise plan is a good starting point, though you can also work small bouts of exercise into your day without a full "workout." Working out at work is possiblebut tough, so it's up to you to try things out and see what works.

4. Cultivate Personal Rituals that Keep You Sane

It may seem silly, but little personal rituals during the day—whether it's a relaxing afternoon cup of tea or kicking back with the funnies—can really improve your mental and physical health. So don't neglect them! You should already be taking a few breaks during the day (see tip #8), so use them to your advantage. Having a good daily routine can go a long way. .

3. Get Better Sleep (or Sneak In a Nap)

You already know lack of sleep is bad for your work and health, but few of us actually do something about it. Well, it's time. Try sneaking in a nap at work if you can't force yourself to get enough sleep at night. Even a short power nap can keep you productive and creative. Justmake sure your nap isn't too short (or too long) and you'll be on your way to a more productive workday.

2. Work Smarter, Not Harder

Working yourself to the bone can create stress and really weigh on your health. If you're a regular reader of Lifehacker, you know our main philosophy is to work smart, not hard: that means using your time efficientlydoing your most important work during your body's high-energy hours, and avoiding the "cult of busy." The smarter you work, the less time you have to spend stressing out over everything you have to do.

1. Go Home

Building off the above: more hours does not equal more work. Ask yourself: how many hours do you work a week? Most research shows that if it's over 40 hours, you're hurting your productivity, your health, and your income (since you're working fewer hours for the same pay). The key? Stop working and go home at night. It's more challenging than it sounds, but it's well worth it.


How Ergonomics Can Save You Money

By Chris Kilbourne

More companies are beginning to view ergonomics as an overall business tool. And they’re saving money.

According to veteran ergonomics consultant Dan MacLeod, the value of ergonomics is often underrated—especially when budget time rolls around. Macleod, however, has catalogued many ways ergonomics can save money.

  • Dramatic reduction in workers' compensation costs. Good ergonomics programs cut comp costs an average of 60 percent and up to 90 percent in some cases.
  • Improved productivity. According to MacLeod, ergonomic improvements commonly raise productivity by 10 to 15 percent.
  • Fewer mistakes and less scrap. People working in awkward and uncomfortable postures commonly make mistakes. At one business, a $400 mechanical device eliminated a $6,000 annual loss in scrap caused by employees who had been unable to consistently perform a demanding physical task. The return on investment was 1500 percent!
  • Improved efficiency. Ergonomics improves efficiency due to improved working posture, less exertion, fewer motions, and better heights and reaches.
  • Less fatigue. Fatigue has long been known to result in lost productivity. Ergonomics specialists seek the causes of excessive fatigue and ways to reduce or eliminate them.
  • Reduced maintenance downtime. For example, providing clearance, reducing exertion, and reducing motions can speed up the time in which operations can be brought back online.
  • Protecting human resources. Loss of key personnel due to ergonomics injuries can be a costly problem, especially in smaller organizations.
  • Identifying waste. By evaluating elements such as motion and exertion, it is possible to identify and eliminate wasted activity.
  • Offsetting the limitations of an aging workforce. Making ergonomic adaptations can help older workers be as productive as younger ones, if not more so.
  • Reduced turnover. Employees working in uncomfortable environments that cause them pain are more likely to seek other employment and leave.
  • Reduced absenteeism. Absenteeism can be an indicator of the early stages of a musculoskeletal disorder. "Work that hurts doesn’t exactly encourage people to come in every day," says MacLeod.
  • Improved morale. Frustration, aches, and pains caused by ergonomic problems are likely to affect morale—and not in a good way!
  • More engaged employees. Ergonomic improvements directly benefit employees, and this serves as a positive reinforcement for participation.
  • Improved labor relations. Ergonomic issues can be a source of positive labor/management problem solving. This collaboration can extend to other aspects of the work environment.
  • Resurgence of "methods engineering." Methods engineering is an old business efficiency technique that seeks to reduce costs and optimize reliability by analyzing task performance. Ergonomics brings these ideas back in a valuable "new and improved" format, says MacLeod.
  • Linking to LEAN. Ergonomics, with its emphasis on waste reduction, can help businesses advance their LEAN programs.
  • Keep regulators at bay. OSHA has issued some historically high fines for ergonomics violations.

MacLeod adds that humans have been "doing ergonomics" for thousands of years. It's a proven practice. He points to examples such as the stone ax and the wheel.

In addition, ergonomics can provide valuable insights that can lead to other improvements. Any new perspective in the workplace helps leaders identify ways to improve and motivates them to make improvements that result in higher profits.