Right after I graduated from college, everybody wanted to ask the same question. “What’s the plan?” I didn’t have a plan, and I wasn’t afraid to own that. I did, however, have very strong ideas about what I didn’t want to do. “I don’t want to sit at a desk eight hours a day. That’s not me.” Three years later, I sit at a desk eight hours a day. It doesn’t suck. I love my job. But I’d be lying if I said there aren’t things I have to do to stay sane. When you’re a nine-to-fiver, you’ve got to structure some activities throughout your day that make your work feel less like work. Here are a few ideas.
1. Start holding walking meetings.
This was a great piece of advice I learned from a co-worker. If you have a one-on-one chat scheduled and the weather’s not terrible, throw out the suggestion that you turn your meeting into a walking meeting. Take a stroll around the block and maybe stop for a coffee. It’s still work, but it’ll be a welcome change of pace. You’ll get fresh air, a bit of exercise, and in all probability, a very productive meeting. When you’re away from the distractions of your lap top (re: email), you can focus entirely on the conversation at hand and have a more efficient conversation.
2. Don’t eat lunch at your desk.
This can be a challenge depending on the work culture of your company, but as someone who used to eat at her desk every day and now tries never to, I can testify that it 100% makes a huge difference. Pulling yourself away from your screen and desk to eat (even if it’s only for 15 minutes) helps you 1. Actually enjoy your meal and 2. Get a short mental break that’ll prepare you for the rest of your day. Also, if you don’t believe in the power of meal enjoyment and mental tranquility, keep in mind that eating at your desk can be distracting to people around you. Nobody likes an office chip cruncher.
3. Get your music on.
Back in college, I would have rolled my eyes at paying for a music streaming service. BUT LET ME TELL YOU. That $9.99 I pay a month for an ad-free Spotify is a game changer. Whether your need ambient meditation music to get you through a stressful morning or some 90s jams to get you pumped up for the Friday homestretch, having some tunes to keep you company is a must. (Spotify and Pandora also have great free services if you don’t mind occasional ads. RIP Grooveshark.)
4. Stay social.
Desk-sitting can be lonely. Lucky for you, there are a lot of great services out there that make inter-office communication efficient and fun. I like Slack because you can make ongoing group chats for your various teams in addition to one-on-one conversations. It’s a really fun (and useful!) addition to my workday, as I can get a hold of people fast and then send them lots of cat gifs. There’s a built-in gif generator, meaning chatting with your co-workers will never be the same.
5. Drink all the water.
Make your desk the hydration station. Keeping your body super hydrated can really help you avoid the 2 PM headaches that plague computer workers. Right when you get into the office, fill up your water bottle or glass and keep it coming for the rest of the day. It’ll keep you energized, healthy, and give you a reason to get up and stretch those legs on the walk to the bathroom. Nobody likes sitting at a desk all day. But hopefully, with these tips, you can keep your body and mind happy. Good luck out there fellow nine-to-fivers!