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10 tips for being healthier and more productive at work

Sharon Florentine | Aug. 18, 2016
Taking care of your health and well-being can improve engagement and performance, but you need to kick these 10 bad habits first.

5. Piles and piles of paper

Those piles of paper on a desk are likely full of dust and dust mites, especially if they've been sitting there a while. For many people, these can trigger serious allergies and asthma. Interestingly, in a 2009 study, Xerox found that as many as two out of every five pages printed in an office for "daily use" - email, web pages and reference materials - have been printed for a single use. So, before you print, think: do you really need all that paper in your workspace?

Instead, file paperwork and put a removal and storage system in place to get rid of excess paper and documents that you don't need access to on a regular basis. Part of that system should include a digital filing and scanning system and/or a system that's entirely digital from start to finish, Stringer says.

"You'll get rid of dust mites, and a cleaner desk can improve air quality. Also, removing paper can give the appearance of having more space. Big piles of paper, not to mention all the furniture that stores it, eats into the physical workspace and makes it more crowded. This feeling of being crowded in increases stress and decreases our satisfaction with our work area," she says.

6. Late-night messaging

You might think it's urgent and important, but late-night chatter only serves to increase stress, shortens sleep and impacts long-term productivity, Stringer says. It's not only detrimental to you; if you're someone's client, report or supervisor, you're also directly impacting their stress levels and sleep every time they're cc'ed on an email, String says. A survey put out by Good Technology found that some 80 percent of the 1,000 Americans polled said they spend seven extra hours a week or 30 extra hours a month checking emails and answering phone calls after hours.

Instead, wait until normal business hours to send emails, or if you must write something, don't send it until the next morning, or Monday morning if you're working on the weekend, don't, Stringer says. You also should consider using project management and/or communication tools that allow your team members to choose when they want to work on something, and remove them from a situation where they are pushed information and in reaction mode all the time, she says.

7. Not taking vacation time

A survey for the career website Glassdoor found that U.S. employees use only 51 percent of their eligible paid vacation time and paid time off, according to a recent survey of 2,300 workers who receive paid vacation. Even more frightening, 61 percent of Americans work while they are on vacation, despite complaints from family members. Twenty five percent reported being contacted by a colleague about a work-related matter while taking time off, while one in five have been contacted by their boss.


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