The job market is bleak if you’re looking for one, but a competitive existence if you’ve found a place in it. You want to perform your best and get ahead, but even from job to job within your industry the ways to best do that can differ vastly, to say nothing of the differences within industries. But we all need to be healthy in order to perform to the best of our abilities at work; here are three healthy things you can do for yourself that also improve performance at work.
How to Improve Performance at Work
Not on the job and not at your desk—in your bed (or on your futon, or wherever) at night, for 8 hours every night. A recent study conducted at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research found that even an hour less will, over time, wear down cognitive function and focus. You need to feel alert and focused to improve performance at work. And be honest: how cranky and unpleasant are you to be around when you’re tired?
In addition, sleep is your brain’s time to file all the information you’ve taken in during the day. Why do you think college students are advised against all-nighters immediately preceding final exams? If you want to utilize the endless stream of information thrown at you in office meetings and reports, you have to properly sleep on it.
So do everything you can to get as much sleep as you can each night—eight hours is good, nine hours is better. And make sure it’s good-quality sleep, too; develop a sleep routine to tell your body that it’s time to sleep, and as part of that don’t do anything electronic an hour before your head hits the pillow. Turn off your phone and put it away from your head, close that laptop, and put your tablet on the charger. Spend time relaxing to ease yourself into sleep. Find what’s comfortable for you. Set your alarm, and catch the zzzz’s.
When you do wake up, it’s been more than 10 hours since you last ate (probably, especially if you got those necessary 8 hours). So, whether you have an appetite or not, you need to eat something when you wake up in the morning.
Eating a healthy breakfast in the morning—one that is a healthy balance of nutrient-dense carbohydrates and lean protein—will not only improve your concentration and memory but keep you full throughout your morning. Normal blood sugar levels, the kind you maintain when you eat a healthy breakfast, allow your brain to work properly so you can improve performance at work, not to mention that vitamins B and C (common in most breakfast foods) have been linked to proper functioning of the neurotransmitters in your brain. Studies have shown that you remember better if you eat a regular, healthy breakfast.
You may think you don’t have time in the morning, but the real secret to a good breakfast is twofold: prepare the night before, and think outside the box.
Cut up fruit for yogurt or oatmeal, or veggies for an omelet, the night before; having everything assembled and in its place long before the cooking is started is actually a technique used by real chefs called mise-en-place (say it with me: meez-ahn-PLASS).
Think outside the four walls of your own kitchen. Take advantage of what you have waiting at your office: electric teakettles and microwaves can be used to prepare hot cereal after your hectic commute. And if “breakfast food” really isn’t your thing (some people just don’t like cereal or eggs), then don’t feel like you have to stick to conventional morning fare to nourish yourself once you wake up. Avocado, tuna, last night’s Mexican food—whatever will nourish you in the morning works!
Become the Office Renaissance Person
Even freight brokers or caterers, or other people who reap the benefits of working from home, will have to interact with other people in their organization at some point to strategize for the future of the business—nobody is an island, especially when it comes to your career. At that point, it behooves you to have all knowledge you can—inside and outside of the industry, with as broad a scope as possible.
“Renaissance Men” like Leonardo Da Vinci were so named because they pursued every type of new learning available at the time, became experts in diverse fields. While you don’t need to know how to write backwards or diagram war machines, it would be useful to expand your knowledge beyond your own job.
Learn about other careers; how a crane works to lift heavy loads, the physics of pastry, or how to flip a house. This knowledge can especially improve your business as it relates to other businesses; for example, you can learn the exact intricacies of why it costs so much extra to ship the 50-lb tub of Nutella they need to your bakery, or why your client is so persnickety about how her catering equipment will be packed into the back of the truck—you may find you have more in common than you imagined; both things are easily ruined and very expensive.
About the Author
Georgiah Cook has a passion for finance and accounting, as well as education. This passion has driven her to become a prolific writer on subjects like personal growth and higher education.