<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=424649934352787&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Productivity Hacks: Action vs. Motion—Be Productive Rather Than Busy

GettyImages-534040654How many times have you looked back at a day and thought, “Man, I wish I would’ve been more productive,” while your to-do list seems to grow and grow. Or maybe you feel like you were crossing a lot of things off the list, but no meaningful work was actually accomplished? In my experience, it’s almost a weekly occurrence. I feel like I’m flying around at work, checking off boxes. But then I get to the end of my day, scan back through, and realize that I didn’t actually work on any of the big jobs that I had originally intended. Its days like these that made me want to begin a blog series that attacks the idea of productivity: what it actually is, where our pitfalls lie, and how we can improve on it to get more out of each day.

So What Is Productivity?

In the words of the eloquent Julie Andrews, let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. What the heck is productivity? We throw around the term all the time. But what it actually entails is the efficiency a person has when it comes to completing a task. It actually has nothing to do with how many tasks you get done in a day. And I think that’s where many of us miss the boat a little bit. We get so caught up in the trap of being in motion and thinking that we’re being productive as a result. Being busy is not being productive. If anything, sometimes it detracts from it. And I get it; sometimes our jobs require little tasks like answering emails, structuring your schedule, and other daily logistical to-do’s. But they shouldn’t be the things taking up the bulk of your working hours.

Taking Action: Process Goals

This leads into the concept of taking action versus just being in motion. Taking action is the direct line to achieving a result. Sometimes in the biz, we can even describe this as a process goal. It’s a physical step you’re taking toward accomplishing a task or goal. For example, if you need to write a report for work (or in my case, write this post), an action would be to physically sit down and start hammering out the intro—put pen to paper. With that same example, being in motion would look more like reading various articles, doing excessive research because you feel you’re not ready to start, or maybe even doing something completely unrelated like immediately checking emails when you sit down in your office.

This same concept of action versus motion can be seen outside of work in goal setting, too. Let’s say you want to make weightlifting part of your exercise routine. You want to get stronger and healthier, and maybe even train for a powerlifting meet! Being in motion would be to start reading books about training, reading articles written by coaches, or setting up a physical meeting with a coach to talk about where to start. Now, some of these are steps that can absolutely be taken along the way to being productive in the form of starting a resistance training plan. But that’s the thing; they shouldn’t be the only thing you’re doing. Sooner or later, you’ll need to jump in, take action, and start lifting. Getting too preoccupied in the planning stages, waiting until you feel ready, often stalls you to the point of not actually starting in the first place. Sometimes you’ll never truly feel ready. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start. Don’t delay; choose action over motion when push comes to shove.

How You Can Take Action Now

Here are some tips for getting started.

  • The smaller the task, the sooner the start. Don’t get caught in the storm of overplanning prior to starting.
  • If it’s a big project, set up meetings and set some deadlines. Yes, planning will absolutely be a part in larger tasks. Break it up piecemeal style and have the action take the form of you accomplishing a critical branch of the project. You should also have a clear-cut vision of what your next step entails.
  • When in doubt, just get started. Get started even if it’s not perfect—in fact, especially if it’s not perfect.

So whether it’s a task on the docket at work, or a personal goal you have set for yourself, you can start to become aware of when you’re stuck in the endless loop of motion. For some projects, especially bigger ones, there will be necessary checkpoints and planning along the way that would be considered motion. But don’t let that take over and be the only thing that’s happening. Take action. Get started. And in the words of legendary basketball coach John Wooden, “Never mistake activity for achievement.”

Be on the lookout for the next installment of the productivity series where I’ll tackle the topic of the Ivy Lee Method: how to set yourself up for success the following day!

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Lauren Zakrajsek, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer, and Internship Coordinator. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: productivity goals wellness take action be productive hacks Productivity Hacks

Wood Chipper: How to Be More Efficient, Productive, and Successful

GettyImages-455422071I was recently chatting with my brother Tim about work stuff in a conversation filled with multiple shop-talk topics. You see, he is an assistant chief of a pretty large fire department, and we share common goals and challenges when it comes to managing a crew. Needless to say, our conversations can get quite lively and the ideas are always abundant.

Enter the Wood Chipper: Getting Things Done Fast

During this particular conversation he used a phrase that I absolutely loved (and actually told him I will be stealing): he referred to someone he works with as a “Wood Chipper.” If you are like me, you immediately imagine a large piece of wood being thrown into a box filled with super sharp blades and being spit out the other end in a different form—in this case, a million pieces of shredded wood.

Mind you, Tim was using “wood chipper” as a compliment about this person’s ability to get things done, and quickly. The analogy of taking on a task (feeding the wood chipper) and spitting out a completed product quickly, and to the specs that you are given, is a great strategy in being successful in anything that you do. Working at a task with the voracity of a well-oiled wood chipper means that you don’t delay and you take the necessary steps to complete the task using the resources (blades) you have available to you.

5 Strategies to Help Earn the Nickname “The Wood Chipper”

Do you want to be known for speed and efficiency in your life? Here are five strategies for tearing through tasks like a machine.

  • Focus on the most important thing and the most important time: Not all tasks are created equal, and some carry more weight than others. The best first step is focusing on the most important thing that will lead to success in all other steps, or even eliminate them as unnecessary. This prioritization takes some skill to harness, but just like any skill you can train it by making it a habit. Start by asking yourself often “what is the most important thing I can do right now?” Laser focus on the most important thing and the most important time!
  • Tackle the big stuff first: The stuff that scares you should be done first. Don’t get bogged down by the small, tedious tasks that make you feel busy. Being busy is not the same as being productive. Put most of your energy into the big-ticket items right away and you might find that many of those smaller tasks get completed as well, or don’t even matter.
  • Say “No” more: In their best-selling book and popular website, The One Thing, authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan discuss the power of the ability to say no and how it leads to greater success. Do you say “yes” to not feel bad? Does saying “yes” take away from family and friends, personal wellness, and rest? We must break the habit of saying “yes” to everything and only saying “yes” to the most important thing. Trust me, it’s okay. Because the bottom line is that not creating boundaries will only lead to more obstacles.
  • Stop trying to multitask: If you agree with the first of these five strategies (not all things are created equal), the idea of multitasking should seem goofy. I believe the old saying goes, “A man who chases two rabbits (it could be bunnies) catches neither.” Simply put, if you attempt to put in equal amounts of effort for all of your “things” at the same time, the result will be equally insufficient. Give all your focus to one thing at a time, complete it, then move on. This is science, people. Research has shown that humans can’t focus on more than one thing at a time, and those who multitask are shown to be less productive. What is the most important thing? Focus on that one thing, and then move on.
  • Get some sleep: This seems a bit out of place considering the other four strategies listed here, but it plays, I think, just as big a role. Create a habit of getting at least 7 to 8 hours a night so that you are fresh to make that decision about what is the most important thing to be focusing on. We have covered the importance of sleep in previous posts, so simply put, IT’S SUPER IMPORTANT! Sleep can effect so many functions we rely on, so create the habit of getting more sleep. Here is one strategy to help create a successful sleep habit: turn off the electronics early and go lie down!

Put a few of these strategies into place and start “wood chipping” your way to success. Focus on one thing, the most important thing, at one time and see how productive you become.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: sleep productivity goals prioritization

Eat Better, Work Better? Three Nutrition Tips for Productivity

GettyImages-171693421.jpgWe’ve all heard the phrase that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but who knew that eating a balanced diet would also make you more productive at work? That’s what was found in a study conducted by Brigham Young University on 19,000 employees from three large companies (published in the Population Health Management journal). It was discovered that employees with unhealthy diets were 66% less productive than those who ate whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

So how can you be a more productive employee? Try these three simple ways to eat more balanced meals and then get ready to impress your boss.

Whole-grain Goodness

Swap out your old rice, pasta, bread, and cereal for grains that are higher in fiber and are less processed. Brown and wild rice are excellent alternatives to white rice. Whole-wheat pasta, couscous, quinoa, millet, and oats are more high-fiber options to incorporate into your diet.

When it comes to breads and cereal, check the label. Choose options that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Check out the Whole Grains Council website for more information.

Fabulous Fruits

Most people need three pieces of fruit per day to meet their individual requirements. This can easily be done by incorporating a fruit in your morning cereal or oatmeal, grabbing an apple or banana for a quick and portable snack, or having a bowl of sweet berries after dinner for dessert. The vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber in fruit are all great reasons to include them in your diet.

Varied Veggies

One of the most challenging food groups to get into your diet, but also one of the best for you, is vegetables. It can be difficult to meet that 4–5 recommended servings per day, so how can you get these in to help balance your diet?

One way is to make sure that you are spreading them out throughout the day by including a vegetable serving at lunch and/or snack time. At lunch, grab portable veggies such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, mini bell peppers, and sugar-snap peas to add some variety and crunch along with your typical sandwich. Or nibble on veggies with a hummus dip for an afternoon snack. Make it a goal to try one new/different vegetable each week.

***

Now that you know the impact of nutrition on employee health and productivity, you can follow these three tips for healthy meals and snacks.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition snacks lunch employee health productivity fiber vegetables whole grains fruit

Are You Getting Enough Sleep? Simple Solutions for Beating Insomnia

GettyImages-469577750.jpgMatthew Walker, the director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley, has made it his career goal to reinforce the fact that 20 large-scale epidemiological studies have all reported the same relationship: the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. Today, one in three Americans can be categorized as sleep deprived.


The Effects of Sleep Deprivation

As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sleep deprivation is a condition that occurs if you don't get enough sleep. Not only does a shortage of sleep affect your productivity, but on less than seven hours of sleep, your body's natural killer cells work less effectively. Walker notes that between 1950 and 2017, the US obesity rate has risen from 13% to the likes of 35%.

“Sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body.”
—Dr. Matthew Walker, U.C., Berkeley

As obesity in America has steadily risen, the amount of sleep individuals are accumulating per night has decreased—almost two and a half hours, to be exact. Not only is sleep deprivation being glorified as an accomplishment in today’s society, extensive research has concluded that sleep deprivation puts unnecessary stress on the human body, including weight gain. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) outlines that both young adults (ages 18–25) and adults (ages 26–64) should aim for 7–9 hours per night consistently. Sounds easy, right? With the prevalence of social media alongside TV and cell phone usage at night, however, most Americans fall short.

Five Tips for Overcoming Insomnia

Here are some tips from the NSF to help you capture the ZZZs and start sawing logs in no time.

  • Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wakeup time, even on the weekends. This helps regulate your body clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress, or anxiety, which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep, or remain asleep.
  • Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.
  • Evaluate your room. Your bedroom should be cool—between 60 and 67 degrees. Check your room for noises or other distractions. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, earplugs, “white-noise" machines, humidifiers, fans, and other devices.
  • If you can't sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired. It is best to take work materials, computers, and televisions out of the sleeping environment. If you associate a particular activity or item with anxiety about sleeping, omit it from your bedtime routine.

If you’re still having trouble sleeping after following the above tips, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor or to find a sleep professional in your area. Check out the following resources for more information.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Ellyn Grant, Healthy Lifestyle Coordinator. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: disease prevention sleep productivity heart disease obesity insomnia sleep deprivation

Short Sleeps, Big Benefits: What a Power Nap Can Do for You

ThinkstockPhotos-530249969.jpgCan you remember preschool when the teacher would turn down the lights and break out the cots? Nap time! You might not have had that exact experience, but as humans we are prone to napping. In our go-go-go life, time is money. To society, sleeping during the day is seen as a luxury that we cannot provide ourselves, and is usually thought of as a sign of laziness.

Unfortunately, napping doesn’t pay the bills. Even so, many physicians as well as wellness-oriented CEOs have championed the idea that a little afternoon snooze is actually beneficial, and can not only provide enough rest to fight off fatigue, but improves your alertness, improves motor learning skills, boosts memory, and enhances creativity (Soong, 2010). Can napping actually make you a better employee at work, give you better results in the gym, or enable you to have a better social life with your family and friends? Yes, in fact, it can! Here is a closer look at napping and its benefits.

What Is the Optimal Nap Length?

First, I’d like to break down naps into two parts. The duration of nap that you are taking will be specific to you, but there is information that gives a good indication that for optimal power naps, 10 to 20 minutes of sleep will provide the best results. Longer naps can make you groggy; this is known as sleep inertia (Dvorsky, 2013). The longer naps, such as a 60- to 90-minute siesta, can put you in a state of REM (otherwise known as our dream state). There are some links to cognitive function associated with longer naps, but the time frame doesn’t always work with our hectic schedules.

When Is the Best Time to Nap?

The second part deals with necessity. Our naps can be planned, in which you know you are going to need extra rest for a long night, so you take a nap. Another would be an emergency nap, where you take a nap because you otherwise would have put yourself in a dangerous situation (think about getting sleepy behind the wheel and then deciding it’s best to pull over at a rest stop for a nap). Then there is the always popular appetitive napping—in other words, taking a nap for the sheer enjoyment of it (Dvorsky, 2013).

What Are the Benefits?

Your health and wellness can benefit from a simple, short nap. At the right length, your nap can provide much-needed alertness, mental capacity, creativity, energy, reduced stress (in turn reducing the risks of heart disease), and more effective learning abilities for children. With all these positives attached to something that can be done quite simply, it’s hard to understand why anyone would not take more naps. For businesses, your employees would be better workers with higher productivity; for teachers, your students would have a better chance of learning; and for you, your overall well-being would be improved. Don’t wait; take a nap TODAY!

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. To read more about the other NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: stress Thomas' Corner employee health sleep productivity heart disease wellness naps memory

Healthy Kids: Exercise May Help Improve Grades in School


Remember bringing your report card home, nervously wondering how your parents were going to punish you for the slacking grades? Parents, remember opening that report card and trying to figure out how to help your child realize the importance of doing well in school and punishing them for their low grade? One idea I never heard from my parents was, “Hey let’s give exercise a try and see if it helps to improve their grades!” But it might be just the thing that helps.

91696708

The Evidence Is In: Active Kids Are Better Learners

For years, parents have been struggling to find ways to get their children focused and driven to work hard in the classroom. Being a former coach, I have seen many kids who were motivated to work hard in their sport; but when it came to their studies the motivation seemed to be lacking. Practice would be filled with endless complaints about teachers, too much homework, or the test they had the next day. But there is a lot of research coming out saying that with just 20 minutes a day of physical activity, your child can improve their grades in school.

In a recent study, after just 20 minutes of walking around the playground, kids tested higher on a reading test than the other students who just sat inside and watched TV. Due to the development of brain cells in aerobic exercise, improvements are made in attention, concentration, focus, problem solving, behavior, and memory. So why not help kids do better in school by simply spending just 20 minutes with them doing some sort of physical activity?

Ways to Get Kids Moving

Here are some quick ideas that I came up with to challenge your kids to get out of their pajamas and into action:

Yard games: Have your kids play tag with the other neighborhood children, or maybe a quick round of catch with the football or baseball. If someone has a trampoline, spending 20 minutes jumping on that could be both fun and beneficial. You could also challenge them to a jump-rope contest or send them out to climb around on the swing set.

  • Sports games: Go out and shoot some hoops or challenge them to a little one-on-one. You could grab a soccer ball and kick it around the yard, or maybe go for a light jog together. And who doesn’t like a bike ride around the neighborhood?
  • Inside activities: Try setting up an obstacle course in the basement that makes them climb, run, jump, crawl, etc. If you have a Wii, the Wii Sports program is both fun and challenging, or you can also exercise through dance.
  • Other ideas: Some other things that I thought of would be to walk the dog around the block, rollerblade to school, create a fun circuit that they could go through, take your kids to swim at the local pool, and even try letting them invite a friend along!

Next time you're at NIFS, bring the kids along to take advantage of some of our active family services. With a short, fun workout, you may see your kids’ grades improve! Be creative and find ways that allow you both to get your bodies moving and get your heart rate up. Give it a try with your kids and see how they do!

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

 

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

Topics: staying active education productivity kids

Eat Better, Work Better? Nutrition and Productivity

grainsWe have all heard the phrase that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but who knew that eating a balanced diet would also make you more productive at work? That is what a recent study, conducted by Brigham Young University and published in Population Health Management Journal, found. The study included 19,000 employees from three large companies and showed that employees with unhealthy diets were 66 percent less productive than those who ate whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

So, how can you be a more productive employee? Try these three simple ways to eat a more balanced diet. Then get ready to impress your boss!

Whole-Grain Goodness

Swap out your old rice, pasta, bread, and cereal for grains that are higher in fiber and are less processed. Brown and wild rice are excellent alternatives to white rice. Whole-wheat pasta, couscous, quinoa, millet, and oats are more whole-grain options to incorporate into your diet. When it comes to breads and cereal, check the label. Choose options that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Check out the Whole Grains Council website for more information.

Fabulous Fruits

Most people need three pieces of fruit per day to meet their individual requirements. This can easily be done by incorporating a fruit into your morning cereal or oatmeal, grabbing a piece of fruit for a quick and portable snack, or having a bowl of sweet fruit after dinner for dessert. The vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber in fruit are all great reasons to include them in your diet.

Vary Your Veggiesveggies

One of the most challenging food groups to get into your diet, but also one of the best ones for you, is vegetables. It can be difficult to meet that 4 to 5 recommended servings per day, so how can you get these in to help balance your diet? One thing is to make sure that you are spreading them out throughout the day by including a vegetable serving at lunch and snack time. At lunch, grab portable veggies such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, mini bell peppers, and sugar-snap peas to add some variety and crunch along with your typical sandwich. Or nibble on veggies with a hummus dip for an afternoon snack. Make it a goal to try one new and different vegetable each week!

Kale has become a popular vegetable choice these days, primarily because of its health benefits. It is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K -- and sulphur-containing phytonutrients. Here are some recipes for enjoying it.

If you are interested in having your questions answered during a personal nutrition consultation, please contact me at ascheetz@nifs.org or 317-274-3432, ext 239. Learn more about Nutrition and Wellness services at NIFS.

This blog was written by Angie Sheetz, NIFS Registered Dietitian. Read more about the NIFS bloggers.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

Topics: nutrition healthy eating employee health workplace wellness productivity