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Nature’s Way—The Perfect Reset Button

Nature’s Way—The Perfect Reset Button

The first five minutes were always the worst: mentally exhausted, my body just wanted to crash down into the sofa, and my hand to reach out for the TV-controls and a cold beer to start the lovely process of switching off.

A typical work day for me repeatedly consisted of a 2-hour-plus commute, and site meetings with poor coffee followed by hours of drawing production in front of a computer screen. Certainly taxing in what it demanded of me, but nothing extraordinary compared to many jobs out there today. My point is this: we´re all pretty done-for as we head to unlock our front doors after a busy day at work, and though spending the next 5 to 10 minutes getting out of your smarts and into your training outfit may not be among the first things you want to do after hanging up your work bag, the payback can be amazing!

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Me, I like to run. It is something I picked up in High School and I guess, even though I’ve tried a lot of different sports, I’ve always reverted back to it by choice when I felt my body was going through a lengthy period without any form of training.

Now, I must say I’m pretty lucky. You see, I live in close proximity to large areas of forest and country gravel roads, so getting into an area where I’m more or less on my own is really easy. I wouldn´t say this is crucial to gain the most from a run, but I once took a jog around the city centre of Buenos Aires whilst there on a business trip, and I must say I found it hard to get into the training “zone” that enables us to reset our energy levels. To give you a feel for what I mean with the chosen word “reset” in the headline, I want to give you a short commentary from one of my favourite running routes.

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Starting out is as always hard—it takes the body some time to get warmed up for the task you’re demanding of it, and this time interval is different from person to person. For me, this is typically the first kilometre of tarmac road leading through our neighbourhood and down towards the path leading to the forest. One or two kilometres into the run, and I start feeling that my breathing is coming down, and the rhythm feels steady. Most importantly, I always start out easy to give my ligaments, tendons and joints a decent time period to warm up—especially if I´m running during the winter season.

I mentioned the training “zone”. This, to me, is a state of mind where I no longer think too much about the technique of running; avoiding rocks, cars, people out walking their dogs and so on. It’s as if I’ve gone into auto-drive mode. My mind then starts thinking more freely and meditatively. I’ve had the wildest ideas originate from these running sessions for sure, and it’s not unusual that I also sometimes lose my way if I’ve drifted into unfamiliar territory.

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So this “zone” constitutes nature’s way of allowing us to switch off momentarily and reset our energy levels. Could I compare it to what sleep does to us at night? Sure—I guess it shares some of the same benefits, but while we sleep, the body receives no exercise. I thoroughly believe it´s the combination of physical strain and allowing the mind to drift that leaves you with such a feeling of massive benefit and payoff. Not everyone reading this article knows this, but one of the reasons why we feel so good when we run, or do any other physical exercise for that matter, is the fact that the body produces its own anaesthetic called endorphins. This is our body´s way of smoothing over the discomfort and pain we might be feeling doing the physical work we impose upon it, and like the effects of a mild morphine, it makes you feel good.

A doctor I once knew told me that the body needs a good “revving”, as he would call it, once a day. What he meant was that the body needed to be physically challenged and brought up to peak performance ever so often. All the organs, including the brain, need a quick flow of blood to keep them working optimally and regenerating cells and tissue. He would indeed challenge me to make a point of running hard to catch the train in the morning, or push myself up a hill and keep my pace going over the top.

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Now, I mentioned payoff—As everyone´s experience to physical exercise seems to be different, there´s no way I could sum up an overall feeling for pushing your body up and out of the sofa, but I can say this: my monthly budget for sports-related gear constantly seems to be growing…

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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