Let’s face it: working all day is hard. In college, we had classes for most of the day, but it was totally normal to take a nap or go to the gym in the middle of the day to recharge. Now, however, we sit at our desks for 8+ hours a day, come home, collapse, and get ready for the next day. Sometimes, I wake up on Monday and think “I can’t wait for Friday.” Not because I have big plans, but so I can come home and simply be all weekend. The first few weeks I was working, I was so surprised at how burned out I’d feel when Friday finally hit, but over the last 4.5 months in the working world, I’ve come up with a few tips to actually enjoy my weekday instead of just looking forward to Friday all week.
1. Get moving.
I became a morning workout person in college and it’s a habit I can’t seem to shake. Nothing wakes me up like a little cardio; my morning workout routine usually consists of watching Gilmore Girls or Game of Thrones on my phone while I’m on the elliptical and some abs and arms, and I walk out of the gym feeling ready to start my day. Endorphins are my coffee. I start work at 7:45 so that means I’m dragging myself out of bed at 5:30 which isn’t always fun (especially when it’s pitch-black and 4 degrees outside), but I know that it’ll be worth it when I’m sitting at my desk, knowing that I’ve already gotten a workout in. Try scheduling in some exercise in the morning, whether it’s a run, a spin class, yoga, or exercising on your own, and you’ll feel energized all day long.
2. Hack your commute.
You’ve woken up your body by getting exercise in the morning, so why not wake up your brain too? I love listening to podcasts as I’m driving to work, and I have a weekly schedule worked out of my favorite podcasts: Monday is This American Life, Tuesday is The Sporkful, on Wednesday comes The West Wing Weekly, Thursday is Freakonomics, and Friday is catching up on those last few minutes of the shows I’ve listened to throughout the week plus maybe a Planet Money episode if it looks interesting. These podcasts are interesting and a little educational without being too heavy, so I feel engaged and like I’ve already given my brain a bit of a workout when I walk in the door in the morning. I also love audiobooks; you can borrow them for free from your library, or you can try a subscription to Audible. Maybe the angelic voice of Jim Dale as he narrates Harry Potter, Amy Poehler narrating Yes, Please, or Clare Corbett narrating The Girl on the Train is your cup of tea!
3. Plan ahead.
Setting concrete goals is the key to being your most productive. Every night before I go to sleep, I plan out my day with different projects I’m working on and meetings I have so I have a visual representation of what my day looks like. I usually make a to-do list for the week and add them to my day throughout the week so that when I leave the office on Friday, I can look back and see what I’ve accomplished. What I’ve started doing recently, however, is giving myself concrete goals throughout the day. I’ll set a goal to email 15 students by 10:00, get to a certain stopping point in this project by 12:30 or so, have lunch at this time, etc. I highly recommend planning out your day like this because crossing concrete tasks off of your to-do list is oh so satisfying and makes your day feel like it isn’t dragging on forever.
4. Stay moving.
I’m one of those people who starts getting really antsy when they’re sitting for too long. It helps that I work out in the morning, but I definitely need to move often. (You should see me on long flights…) Anyone else feel like this? Now that we’re not walking to class every 2 hours or so, it can be easy to do nothing but sit all day, and that can sometimes have detrimental effects on our metabolism and circulation. Take any opportunity to get up and move, even if it’s just for a minute. Refill your water, wash your coffee mug, file something, anything that works for you. Another way to stay moving is to look into a standing desk. My company provided me with a desk that raises to standing level and it is a game-changer. I usually need to stand around mid-morning and right after lunch and it has done wonders for my focus. Even if a standing desk isn’t an option, at least take frequent walks to get your blood moving and stretch out and you will be amazed at the effects.
5. Hydrate and nourish.
How can we expect our bodies to function all day if we aren’t feeding it the right fuel? Hydration is essential. I keep my giant Nalgene on my desk all day so I can track how much water I’ve had, and I can definitely feel a difference when I haven’t had enough; I’ll start to feel foggy and sluggish, but with a quick shot of hydration, I feel much more alert. Try using a water bottle, a tracker on your phone, or whatever methods that work for you to get plenty of water throughout the day. Another essential of mine is tea. I start every morning with a big mug of green tea mixed with this Throat Coat tea that I’ve loved for years. Green tea has caffeine to wake you up, just like coffee, but you won’t get a caffeine crash a few hours later. Plus, it’s amazing for your metabolism and has tons of antioxidents. Brew a mug while you’re getting dressed in the morning, and get ready to feel like a rockstar. Staying nourished is also key. I eat breakfast when I get to work, but I also pack all-natural granola bars, apple slices with peanut butter, and cut up cucumbers and carrots to nosh on throughout the day. I’m definitely one of those people who gets hangry, so a little snack is usually what I need. Try mixed nuts, fruit slices, cut-up veggies, and granola bars for a healthy, yet satisfying boost.
Ready to start the week? We are, too.