Work Productivity/Energy Hacks

I started a new corporate full-time position almost a year ago. Coming fresh off getting my MBA, I thought I was ready to take on the world. In a sense I was. However, I underestimated the stamina it takes to sit at a desk for hours at a time. For those of you without a desk job, I know it sounds a little funny since we don’t exactly think of sitting down as strenuous. But for those of you who have a desk job, you know what I’m talking about.

To add to this problem, I played sports my whole youth life and was grateful enough to play basketball for my university. So pretty much throughout my whole life my body was used to being utilized in some way or fashion. The best metaphor I can provide you with is like when a race horse is kept in a stable for too long. A race horse who knows just about 3 things (eat, sleep, & race) would get a little restless and even worn down not racing after a while. That’s me. The good news however, I’ve tried and tested a few hacks that have worked for me that keep me up and at ‘em at work. I’ve seen improvements with my mental stamina along with getting rid of feeling tired or sleep at my desk. Here are my simple hacks:

  1. DO NOT DRINK COFFEE – Yes that’s right. My experience with coffee is a love/hate relationship. Coffee to me is like a conductor in a band. This conductor sits in the bowels of my gut and one at a time cues in various bodily functions almost immediately after consuming just one cup. First the conductor will bring in the shakes. Then perhaps a little bit of sweat to make things interesting. And just when you think the show is over, the conductor turnes to the bladder, signaling that he’s up. Then almost right after that, the conductor points to your bowels. And BOOM! The whole band is firing on all cylinders. And as a cheeky encore, the conductor will often point again to your bowels just as you thought the show was over. When the show is actually over, the conductor sends everyone home and decides he wants to take a nap suddenly. So in conclusion, NO COFFEE. Coffee is good for short bursts but in the long haul, it will only tired you out sending you to the breakroom for another cup and another concert. The biggest effect coffee has is that it will dehydrate you. Which brings me to my next hack…
  2. DRINK A LOT OF WATER – This is pretty obvious, so I won’t go overboard on this one. But, water keeps everything in your body moving. It will flush out any toxins and as a result, it will keep you going. Staying hydrated is also important for brain function. Be advised, you will go to the bathroom a lot. But that’s ok because in this case it means that your engine is churning. I drink about a gallon of water a day.
  3. DRINK TEA – Specifically Green Tea. If you really are in need of a caffeinated pick-me-up, go with a cup of tea. Think of coffee as a short burst of energy. Tea, on the other hand, will give you more of a gradual energy boost without dehydrating you like coffee does. In addition, you won’t have trouble sleeping with tea. I say “specifically Green Tea” because of its low caffeine content in addition to all the health benefits from Green Tea. Black teas have higher caffeine contents and will give you more of a coffee experience, just not as intense. For all my South American readers who are familiar with mate (pronounce mah-tay), I’m confident that they will back me up on this by saying mate is a fantastic energy boost. The experience is similar to green tea, but I would say mate gives you a little more kick and for a longer time period. You will need to buy the required tools. However, this investment is definitely worth it. Plus, you’ll have a great conversation starter by having the cool cup and straw on your desk. Drinking mate is culturally meant to be a social experience so feel free to invite others for a drink. Just a warning, if you consider yourself to be a bit of a germaphobe you most will most likely not like mate since its customary to share a straw with whoever you’re drinking it with.
  4. DARK CHOCOLATE – This may be my most creative and unique hack in my arsenal. Snacking on dark chocolate with a cocoa level of 80% and above will give you a great burst of energy. There is a healthy level of caffeine in the chocolate itself along with other health benefits that I plan on writing about later in another blog. Just a heads up, it is very bitter if you aren’t used to it, but I promise you will get used to it. So, if you’re not a big fan of sweets then this may be a great option for you. I nibble on 90% cocoa and I have come to like the taste. Dark chocolate also pairs well with almonds and brazil nuts (I get into several other health benefits of brazil nuts in a later blog).
  5. LISTENING TO MUSIC – This is a pretty basic suggestion, but I get a lot out of it. As long as it’s a low volume so it’s hard to submerge yourself in it. Plus, it’d be better if you could hear people around you in case they call your name. I’ve found listening to music not only lifts my mood, but it also blocks out a lot of distractions around the office and allows you to focus on your tasks. When I get stuck with the occasional mundane tasks that I can’t avoid, throwing on some ear buds and listening to music makes it easy for me to lock in and get it done with ease. Just make sure it’s acceptable to listen to music in your office.
  6. SLEEP MORE – This is the most obvious one of the group. Who would’ve thought that getting enough sleep would help you be energized during the day? Next.
  7. EXERCISE – I’m not saying to do a hardcore workout, but even going on a walk and getting your steps in is a great way to avoid having tired eyes. I myself, like to get a small 30-minute workout in during my lunch when I can. It’s not much, but it is like a halftime where I can stop thinking about work and regroup. Also, you’ll sleep better…duh.
  8. EAT CLEAN – another basic suggestion but it’s obvious. I won’t go overboard on this one, but I’ll leave it at this…Eat lots of plants and cut out bread and greasy meats.

There you have it. Pretty simple and straight forward. Some are obvious reminders, but some may be new to you. This is the very simple approach I use on a day to day basis to stay alert, energized, and boost my productivity at work. Hope this helps.

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