Adjusting to a 9-5 is tough, especially if you’re fresh out of college and acclimated to spending hours each day in the sun, skateboarding or walking to class, and having a flexible schedule. I know it took me a while to adjust to my first desk job. I attended college in Hawai’i, where I could surf between classes and skate across campus under the tropical sun throughout the day. After college I worked as a local sports writer, surfing San Onofre in the morning and attending games and interviewing athletes in the late afternoon and evenings. My first full time job in San Diego was my introduction to the desk jockey lifestyle. I drove to work and spent the next 8 hours sitting at my desk, working from two screens in my cube without natural lighting. No joke, the first few weeks I thought I was going to lose my mind. This is what people do for the rest of their lives? I’m really expected to sit in the same spot all day, five days a week?!? It’s been five years since I took that job and began the desk job lifestyle, and I’m happy to say that after discovering a few things that make my work environment a happy place, it’s going just swimmingly! Take these tips for surviving the desk job lifestyle.
1. Ditch the chair
Many of us have heard about the health risks associated with sitting for long periods each day. Researchers have even published studies determining that “sitting is the new smoking.” “Well, that’s just great” you may think, since many jobs require that you spend hours each day sitting at a desk. Chairs also cause back, shoulder, and leg pain. Maybe you’re like me, and enjoy yoga, or are just a squirmy worm and can’t sit like a “regular human being” in a chair. My advice: get yourself a stability ball to sit on. I picked up a medium sized stability ball at Target for under $20 and have been using it as a desk chair for almost four years. I have zero pain and a strong core. You think it might be too weird, but most visitors in the office often give me props for using the ball. I never swap it out for a chair, and I’ve only fallen off it once (but that’s another story.) Take a minute throughout the day to give your eyes a break from the screen and do some crunches or balancing exercises. It’s also super fun to bounce around when you’re listening to music. Which brings me to my next tip…
2. One good thing about music…
Headphones and a subscription to the online radio of your choice are a must! Sales calls, a bustling warehouse, noisy coworkers and breakroom banter can pull your focus away from the task at hand, lowering productivity and causing you irritation. While there are times when wearing head phones at work could be off-putting or downright rude, most work places will not mind if you plug in when you need to bunker down and get the job done. Streaming music stations with mellow, soothing music offer the perfect white noise to drown out the background sound – John Butler Trio, John Mayer, and Eddie Vedder are a few of my favorites. If you’re jamming along completing a design project, or something that doesn’t require reading or writing, an upbeat station will get ya going. Phoenix, The Killers, and The Kooks are my favorite when designing graphics.
3. Walk it out
Your employer is required to give you two 10 minute breaks, and a lunch break. Take your break AWAY from your desk. Do not sit at your desk scrolling through your Facebook news feed. Better yet, get outside and walk during those two 10 minute breaks. Every step counts, and you’ll be amazed at the energy and focus you bring back to your desk after breathing the fresh air and getting your blood flowing. It’s also a great opportunity to meet people around your building, or invite a coworker along. Not convinced? Get a FitBit, or download an app that tracks your steps to encourage you to add steps to your day – the American Heart Association recommends 10,000 steps each day. The results are encouraging, and you’ll never regret going for a walk.
4. Bring the outdoors in
Studies show that just looking at photos of nature can boost your brain power and decrease stress levels. Keeping plants at your desk also fight the gnarly emissions that your computer releases. Plants take in carbon dioxide, help filter the air, and remove some of the pollutants that your computer and other office electronics are producing. Researchers have found that glancing at the green leaves help boost your energy level, ability to concentrate, productivity, and feelings of overall well-being. Right on. I like bamboo because they’re low maintenance and have a lot of rad arrangements to choose from. Display a photo of your favorite mountain to snowboard, that waterfall from your last adventure, or a wave at your desk. These also help boost your energy, focus, and good memories are an instant pick-me-up.
I hope this helps you adjust to desk jockey lifestyle! Have a tip to share? Comment below!