Do you ever feel like your life is dominated by work? It’s boring, you do the same thing everyday, and if it keeps up like this you’re going to quit. This feeling is kryptonite for companies. Appnovation, a company that is growing rapidly, puts it like this: “The ‘revolving door’ syndrome of people in and people out sends shivers down our collective corporate spine. It’s an ‘avoid at all costs’ situation, which erodes the quality of the company.” If the company you work for is worth it, and you have a chance of going somewhere with them, try these ten hacks to help you rise above a boring routine. You’ll be more happy, less depressed, and more ready to make the big changes that will take your life to new and better places.
1. Start the day with exercise
Regular exercise is good for your brain. It improves your memory and overall thinking skills by increasing the size of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the region of the brain responsible for verbal memory and learning. Particularly, aerobic exercise does the trick, the kind of exercise that really gets your heart pumping and blood flowing. You’ll find yourself remembering little details at work, especially the conversational details. Improved social skills will improve your overall work performance, too.
2. Take a different route to and from work
Your brain’s positioning system, your internal GPS, does more than help you find your way around. It also plays a role in memory, providing the abstract, higher-intellect input that helps shape the hippocampus. Taking a different route to work is just one quick way to exercise your brain’s memory-building skill. Try a route you’ve never taken before, one that forces you to find your way through a different part of town. Try it on the way home, too. As you build new landmarks in your brain, your memory and problem-solving skills will improve.
3. Hack your desk
Yes it would be nice to take an ax to your desk and hack it into firewood. Talk about a way to release anger! But since you can’t exactly do that, there are some things you can do to optimize the use you get out of your desk. Try these simple, awesome desk hacks:
- Add storage–Create a new desk out of bookshelves and a door, then store essentials on the shelves
- L-evate–Add a table or other desk to what you’ve got and create an L-shaped station for more workspace
- Stand it–Studies show excessive sitting is the new smoking; place your monitor on top of a sturdy stack of books or a low stool for a DIY standing desk
- Personalize–Get creative with knick-knacks and little touches that showcase your personality
- Get ergonomic–Check out this workspace planning tool to help make your desk more ergonomically friendly
Nothing is too small when it comes to productive changes. Changing how your desk is set up may just be the difference between good work and awesome work.
4. Adjust your station’s lighting and colors
There is definitely something to be said for the way light and color affect your psyche. Among the many effects light has on you, blue light makes you more alert and productive. Green light, on the other hand, makes you more relaxed, even sleepy. The color blue is also associated with logic, rationality, and alertness. That’s because midday sun with a clear sky lets the most blue through. Evolutionarily speaking, we’re used to getting things done while the sun is high. See what adding a little blue can do for you.
5. Talk to someone you’ve never talked to
Of course, this one depends on where you work and how introverted you are. But even if your place of work is small and you’ve talked to everyone, there will still be a point during your workday when you’ll have the chance to talk to someone different. Seize it. Here’s why: being uncertain about your social ranking is bad for your health. It’s not that having a low social ranking is bad. It’s uncertainty that’s unhealthy. Even if you get rejected in your attempt to make conversation, at least you tried, and at least you’re certain of where you stand. The more you try, the more your social horizons will expand.
6. Eat something different
Dr. Taylor Krick has a very interesting podcast on how variation in diet is the key to long-term health. If you’re eating the same thing at work everyday, you won’t be healthy in the long-term, especially if you’re eating processed foods. Make a point of going out of your way for variety. Yes this is more expensive. But what better thing to motivate you to make more money than a little extra kick in your diet and a healthier life to boot?
7. Try a pleasant scent
Your olfactory sense–your sense of smell–is connected to emotions and memory. This sense has direct access to the amygdala section of the brain, which processes emotions, and the hippocampus, that good ol’ memory center. Trying a pleasant scent out at work, in the form of a candle, balm, plant, or other agent, basically means creating a new, pleasant work-related memory. Just make sure the scent isn’t one your coworkers hate!
8. Learn a new word
To learn new vocabulary words, you have to use parts of the brain responsible for movement and hearing. So, if you make an effort to learn a new word, that means you exercised these parts of the brain. You wouldn’t normally exercise these parts by just staring at a computer screen. Involve a coworker. Look up a new word and then use it in conversation with them while you’re going to lunch or taking a walk on your break. You’ll be smarter when you get back.
9. Take a walk
Here again, walking is a great way to promote brain health–especially walking in nature. When researchers studied people who walked for 40 minutes, three times a week, the results were similar to aerobic exercise. It’s tough to get out and run while you’re at work. But if you can get out and walk, your hippocampus will be healthier, and your circulation will thank you too.
10. Learn an instrument when you get home
This one is huge. Instead of watching TV or surfing the internet after work, pick up a musical instrument. Musical training helps your memory, spatial reasoning, and language skills. It’s better than brain-training apps, and there’s practical use for it, too. Once you know an instrument there’s a whole new social nexus of musicians waiting for you. There’s also a whole new understanding of music when you listen. You can’t think about work when you’re busy plucking an instrument. You’ll return to work refreshed after a night of playing music.
Featured photo credit: Froken Fokus via pexels.com