Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Living Primally in a Cubicle

Ever wonder how you can make your dreary cubicle existance more primal?  Here are six tips off the top of my head.

#1 - Ergonomics
Organizations today practice terrible habits with regards to ergonomic assessments.  It's highly likely that you won't get proper equipment installed in your tiny space until you evidently suffer from severe neck strain, carpel tunnel, and a bad back.  On option (as a preventative measure!) is to ask your doctor for an ergonomic assessment requisition to provide to your employer.  Also, I've heard a lot of good things about replacing your desk chair with a large yoga ball for posture (plus, you get to bounce around your office... fun!), and standing desks are also becoming a popular option for the ergo-aware.

#2 - Move
Take the stairs.  Stretch.  Do a couple laps of your floor.  All you need is a couple minutes to move your body, to come back to your desk a little more refreshed to help with your focus and productivity.  If you can hack it, leveraging your lunch hours to go on a walk or light jog is a great option.  A few years ago, I added an hour to my workday so that I could take a two-hour lunch to go to a nearby gym.  It was a great option that my employer was happy to satisfy.

#3 - Decorate and Cleanup
This one I've learned from my boss.  As opposed to the organizational charts, diagrams, contact lists and series of post-its all over the wall, hang up some pictures that actually mean something to you, like some palm trees and ocean waves from that last trip you took, or some kind of digital art that makes you feel calm.  If you work in a stressful environment, why remind yourself of everything stressful by having is lurk in ever corner of your 8x8 box.  Take some time every week to light a match and burn the piles of paper on your desk (or just file it in the right place if fire is a safety issue).  If you like your working space and is free of clutter, I'm willing to bet that this will have a positive impact on how you feel and how you work in your cube.

#4 - Stock-up
If you spend 40 hours per week at work, you might as well practice the same primal habits that you would at home.  Right now, I have a couple cans of wild Pacific salmon in my drawer for emergergency hunger pangs, a bag of natural almonds, a box of mini 85% chocolate bars, several boxes of tea.  A pair of running shoes and extra clothes might be a good idea, too.

#5 - Lighting
Office lighting sucks, and it's even worse if you don't have have window.  However, many stores sell lamps that mimic natural outdoor light, not only for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.  You might not be getting a full dose of Vitamin D, but it'll help.

#6 - Eat When You're Hungry
Ya, I'm bad for this.  I'll admit that I don't think I could ever do my (current) job from home.  Too many distractions, and you know exactly where to find them.  In my office, I have noticed that at times I'll look for a distraction by looking for something to eat.  Not because I'm hungry, and not because I don't want to do my work, but rather my brain is looking for a break from staring at my screen.  If you're not hungry, but looking for some food, go back to #2 and move your butt.