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9 Reasons Cooking Advice Belongs on a Productivity Blog

9 Reasons Cooking Advice Belongs on a Productivity Blog
Chef

    There are plenty of obvious topics for a blog focused on making your life easier: time management tips, career advice and even a little personal finance information. But cooking advice doesn’t immediately come to mind. Considering how much time we each spend daily on eating — let alone eating healthily and cheaply — I think a little cooking advice could be very productive, and I’ve got nine good reasons why.

    1. Good nutrition makes for a productive mind. When we’re busy, we eat poorly: vending machines, fast food, etc. But we often wind up more tired with each bite. Learning a bit about cooking and nutrition can steer us towards food that can help us think better, as well as takes minimal effort to prepare. While nutritional information doesn’t show up on many productivity blogs, even a few tips on the meals that can help us get through the work day are relevant.
    2. Cooking saves money. Eating at restaurants or picking up prepared food costs money — significantly more than you would pay for ingredients, and often more than the cost of labor can explain. Cooking (especially from scratch) allows you to not only cut out the cost of labor, but to plan meals around inexpensive ingredients. Other costs factor in as well: travel to and from the restaurant, drinks (I’ve seen places charging $2 for essentially a can of soda, not to mention the cost of alcohol), and the tip for the server.
    3. Making a meal can actually be faster than ordering one. If I order a pizza, it can take 30 minutes for that meal to make it to my door. If I actually have to leave my office or home to pick up food, it can take significantly longer. But I can name off hundreds of meals that I can make in under 10 minutes as long as I have the ingredients in my kitchen (omelet, pasta, sandwich, salad and many more). I can even bake cookies in less than 20 minutes if I need a sweet snack.
    4. Being able to cook makes for a relatively inexpensive hobby. While there are a few cooks who need each brand new gadget, cooking, as a rule, is still cheaper than many hobbies. After all, you will still need to buy food whether or not you cook it yourself. And hobbies are good for the brain — being able to step away from work and do something you enjoy can be the best way to make sure that you return to work refreshed and relaxed.
    5. Meal planning makes planning the rest of your schedule easier. You’ll know when to go grocery shopping, when to start dinner and get a better grip on your schedule in general. Everybody has to eat at some point during the day, and there’s no reason to let yourself get out of sorts because you forgot to eat, or ate too much. Furthermore, meal planning can help you keep food expenses down as well as stay on track to eat nutritionally. Personally, it’s also cut the time I spend at the grocery store, trying to decide what to buy, in half. I can get in, get out and get on with far more interesting things on my task list.
    6. Cooking can help you become more environmentally friendly. Say you pick up a bunch of individually prepared meals — Hot Pockets, microwavable burritos, whatever. At minimum, there will be some sort of plastic wrap, but you may also have a box or a plastic bag — a lot of wrappings that go straight in the trash. On the other hand, if you cook, you can use reusable containers and dishes. There are tons of ways to use your kitchen to make your life greener.
    7. Eating right can keep you healthy. All of us who spend a lot of time at the computer worry about staying fit. While it isn’t enough to replacing exercising, eating well can reduce the need to exercise. The difference between working off a burger from McDonalds and a homemade salad is worth a little effort in the kitchen, I think. But we all need a starting point — knowing that eating a few more vegetables isn’t enough to balance most of our diets.
    8. Eating at home saves on gas money. I’d much rather pay for the gas to go to the grocery store once a week than have to worry about filling up to go out to a whole list of restaurants. While I don’t begrudge the gas to go a nice restaurant, the damage to both my wallet and the environment doesn’t seem to be as justified for a trip through the drive-thru, especially if I have to go out several days running. I can also plan my errands and pretty much all of my travel time better if I know where meals fall on my schedule and what I need for each one.
    9. You can cement a relationship with a good meal. There’s a reason that offering to cook for your significant other can make for a special date. Eating is a fairly intimate act — and you can make it more so by cooking the meal. Romantic relationships aren’t the only ones you can help along with a good meal. Cooking for friends or even business contacts can make a lasting impression. I don’t cook for many of my business contacts — but ones that I want to deepen our relationship to friendship beyond the office are often invited to a meal.

    There are so many ways in which a little time spent in the kitchen can help us lead more productive lives. I think cooking has — excuse the pun — earned a spot at the table.

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    Last Updated on September 28, 2020

    The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

    The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

    At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

    Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

    One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

    When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

    So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

    Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

    This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

    Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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    When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

    Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

    One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

    Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

    An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

    When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

    Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

    Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

    We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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    By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

    Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

    While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

    I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

    You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

    Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

    When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

    Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

    Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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    Con #2: Less Human Interaction

    One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

    Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

    Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

    This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

    While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

    Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

    Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

    This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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    For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

    Con #4: Unique Distractions

    Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

    For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

    To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

    Final Thoughts

    Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

    We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

    More About Working From Home

    Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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