How to bring your A-Game to the Office
We’re here to help you secure your dream job, but we don’t want our relationship to end when the job hunt does. This is why we’re dedicated to bringing you our industry tricks and inside tips that go beyond the job search.
Upon starting a new role, it is usually stated in your contract that you will be working a probation period. This is a set length of time, be it a couple of weeks or even a month, where your employer will observe your performance and potentially has the right to terminate your contract will no or little notice. This is a situation that we all want to avoid – finding a job can be stressful enough as it is. When faced with this probation period, we would, naturally, encourage you to work to your full potential.
Here’s the struggle, though: working a 9-5 job can be exhausting, and no matter how much caffeine we force into our systems, it’s more than normal to let fatigue get the better of us. In addition to this, it’s very rare you will find someone who enjoys every single aspect of their job (if you do, you’re one of the lucky ones). Boredom in the workplace is not unheard of, and if you’re prone to a daydream or a bit of social media procrastination here or there, know that you are not alone. In fact, this is more common than you’d think, and a lot more common than we thought!
Research has recently found that the average person is only productive for three hours of the day. Yes, three. On a 9 am to a 5am job – an eight-hour working day – if we are only productive for three hours that leaves a whole five hours of what, exactly? Chatting, snacking and scrolling (you name it, we’ve all done it). Lucky for us, and all of you new or old employees, there have been tips laid out for us on how to up our productivity and bring our A-Game. These tips come in the form of a 24-hour productivity guide. Interested? Read on.
Don’t hit the snooze button!
Hitting that snooze button before work is one of life’s greatest temptations. Don’t do it! It’s hardly breaking news that snoozing in in the morning before work is a guilty pleasure, especially during the colder months when it’s still dark outside, but we should all try to avoid this. A classic example of this is when people set multiple alarms throughout the morning; one at 6:00 am, the next at 6:30 am and then again at 7:00 am.
When you fall asleep, your body goes through sleep cycles, taking you in and out of REM sleep (rapid-eye-movement sleep where your dreams occur) down to NREM (non-rapid eye movement sleep where you are in your deepest sleep and your body goes into a state of paralysis). This is a natural cycle that when disrupted, can have negative effects on your body. When we wake up naturally, we will always come out of our sleep on the REM cycle, meaning you’ll feel refreshed and wide awake. When you set an alarm, or have a nap, there’s more of a chance of you waking whilst on the NREM cycle. This explains that groggy, sluggish feeling that sometimes occurs. Setting multiple alarms in the morning tricks your body into going back through the sleeping cycle, which disrupts your sleeping pattern and creates a higher chance of waking up on a bad note.
Keeping hydrated advances your brainpower.
You’re not alone if your first thought after waking in the morning is ‘coffee’. However, experts have actually advised against necking the freshly ground as soon as you wake up. Contrary to popular belief, coffee and tea don’t dehydrate you – this is a myth. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it causes us need the toilet more. This is where the common misconception comes from. Nonetheless, tea and coffee certainly aren’t the most hydrating of beverages either, and to be sure that you start the day fresh, you should drink water before you have any caffeine at all. This water intake, as we’re sure you all know, should be ongoing throughout the day with levels of 1.2 Litres (6-8 glasses) being consumed.
The first meal of the day.
The old saying really does ring true: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Whether you’re starting a new job, or you’ve been working your position for a while, being on point in the morning is a must. We’re all bound to be tired, but it’s not a good look to be sat at our desks or at our Monday meetings yawning. When we sleep, our metabolism slows right down, resulting in a slower digestion of food (and fat) during the day. Having a good breakfast is the best way to kick-start our metabolism back into action to prepare us for the day’s food. The best kinds of breakfasts have whole grains or are dairy or fruit. These are all easy options to eat on the go or at your desk, boosting your energy to increase performance. Sugary breakfasts should be avoided as much as possible when working as they increase blood sugar levels and then promptly drop them, resulting in that ‘sugar crash’ mood, and in fact, making you feel even hungrier (easier said than done, we know).
Try to push through the morning to support your workload and your working morale.
The morning is the best time to push through fatigue and get as much work done as possible. Not only does it make your morning more productive, it also encourages your working morale knowing that you’ve already accomplished plenty. Coming back to a high workload in the afternoon, having not done much in the morning, naturally won’t fill you with much willing.
Whenever you feel like your morning concentration may be slipping, get up from your seat and have a walk around. The best way to do this is to pop outside for some fresh air, but if your boss has suspecting eagle eyes, make a trip to the toilet or the kitchen (and grab a glass of water – from the kitchen – while you’re at it).
Back away from the snacks.
If your office is anything like ours, unhealthy snacks are ready and waiting in every kitchen. Try to avoid grabbing a handful of unhealthy snacks every time you feel a hunger pang or you experience a stroke of boredom hunger. Equally, a cup of coffee or black tea won’t actually fill you up (another myth). Too much caffeine causes a quick pick-me-up but gives a negative sluggish effect later on in the day. Instead of unhealthy, sugary foods, opt for healthy snacks such as nuts or fruits, and go for a mug of green tea to fill you with antioxidants. These will balance and expand your mind enabling you to perform your best.
Make a lunch escape.
Eight hours is a long time to be sitting in the same space, especially if your office is stuffy and has a lot of technology buzzing away. You shouldn’t need a reason to get out of the office for lunch, but if you do, here’s a few.
- Fresh air never does your body any harm. Venturing out at lunch will wake you up and help you feel more refreshed for your return.
- If you’re lucky, you’ll get on perfectly well with your co-workers. Taking lunch with them will improve your relationship, be it in a professional or a personal manner. Being on good terms with colleagues makes the day generally more pleasant and the environment a little more enjoyable.
- On the other hand, if avoiding colleagues is your lunchtime goal, or you simply feel you need some space – which is perfectly natural – lunch presents the perfect opportunity to get away.
- Even 10 minutes of walking during a lunchtime period is a healthy dose of daytime activity. You’ll even be doing your body good by choosing to take the stairs rather than the lift.
You don’t need us to tell you that your lunches should be healthy and nutritious. Healthy foods are packed with all the nutrients and vitamins you need to be able to push through your afternoon at your best ability. With this being said, you know yourself better than anyone. If you’ve been craving that burger or a fish and chips for days, do it. Healthy eating may be better for your body physically, but if the clean eating is having negative effects on your mood, allow yourself a treat. You know your body better than anyone – put you first.
Watching the clock won’t make the afternoon go any quicker.
We wish it did, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. By the rules of this guide, the morning is the best time of day to crack down and get as much done as possible. Lightening your workload will make the idea of the afternoon seem a lot less stressful. Knowing you have already accomplished a lot is more likely to encourage you to get more done. Also, if you work towards a deadline, rushing will only induce stress. Carry on working hard and allow yourself to get up and stretch, have some light snacks and a green tea. One coffee (or black tea) in the afternoon will help get things going.
This guide isn’t supposed to isolate you through your hard work, so if you feel your mind needs a brief rest, have a friendly chat to a co-worker for 5 minutes – it won’t do any harm to have a laugh.
Hit the gym or go for a run to clear your mind.
Not what you want to hear? Exercise is often hard work (no pain, no gain), but it has so many benefits that make a mere 30-minute workout worth it. 30 minutes is the recommended exercise time you should aim for each day, however, it’s important to fit it in around your own schedule. A lot of people prefer to do their workout in the morning before work, but completing it after work is generally a more accessible time. It doesn’t matter whether you work on your cardio or weights, as long as you get your heart rate up, it’s worth it.
Exercising benefits you physically and cognitively. In order to bring your A-Game to the office, you need to have a healthy body and mind. In addition to this, exercise is the best way to relieve tension and stress. Unless your job role states so, you should never bring work home with you. Allow your mind to untangle to prepare yourself for the following day.
After completing an evening workout, your metabolism will be at its best – try to eat a well-rounded dinner within an hour post-exercise and resist the temptation to grab the bottle of wine.
Allow yourself to unwind. Balance is key.
It’s surprising how many people forget to look after themselves during a working week. Working a full-time job is no walk in the park, so we all deserve to sit back and put our feet up once in awhile. Experts actually suggest we try to do this every evening. Some good ideas to relax our bodies include having a hot bath which helps muscle tension; adding some bath oils will help your mind relax too. Staying away from stimulants such as TV and phones will help your brain switch off, making it easier to fall asleep. We should at least try to stay off of these an hour before we hit the sheets. Speaking of hitting the sheets, some quality partner ‘time’ has been found to be a great way of relieving stress and tension, win-win.
Having a relaxed mind and body sets us up for a more productive day ahead. If we struggle to do this, the day’s’ stresses will build up and can take full effects on our moods.
Sleep, sleep, sleep.
Everyone’s favourite part of the day is climbing into bed. It’s the moment we think about from the second our alarms go off. Sleep is so important for allowing your brain to develop and your body to heal – without it, we would go crazy. Ensuring our sleeping patterns are regulated will help us fall asleep quicker. If you struggle to fall asleep, consider taking a magnesium supplement. These help to relax muscles and relieve stress symptoms.
We should all try to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and remember, only set one alarm, ready to do it all over again (oh, the joys of working life).
Putting this into practice won’t be easy – it’s a lifestyle modification that you need to tailor to your day and your happiness. In the long term, being able to bring your A-Game to the office every day and therefore produce more work is beneficial. More work equals more praise; more praise offers more self-confidence; more self-confidence is better for our mental health; a better mental health means a better physical health. You get the idea.