How long can you sit and work with full efficiency?
Personally, I can’t stay in my seat without feeling restless for more than an hour.
Research (plus many people’s experience) has observed that people are the most effective at whatever they’re doing, from hitting home runs to writing computer code, when we access a special state of deep concentration.
This phenomenon is often called the “zone.” It’s like being in a flow where you stay focused without any effort, everything comes easy and there’s a special energy in everything you do. You’re engaged and enthusiastic about the task you have at hand.
This is the state where we’re the most productive and have the best ideas.
However, more often than not we’re not in the zone. We find ourselves wondering off, restlessly trying to get things done and struggling to stay focused. If this is your work experience, it doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to a life of constant effort and inefficiency.
You can find solutions both inside and out. With some simple ancient techniques from yoga, plus some clever new apps, you can significantly improve your energy level, concentration and productivity.
Long-term and short-term productivity
Another issue to consider is the difference between long-term and short-term efficiency.
You might succeed in keeping your concentration when you are highly motivated. Remember being in college and writing a 15-page essay the night it was due? A tight deadline or finals season are typical cases. Usually this type of high concentration takes drinking 20 cups of coffee, staying up all night and stressing out like crazy.
This method might seem useful in some cases, and it can definitely yield short-term results. However, making a habit out of this will only leave you with fatigue, burn-out and an overall drop in efficiency.
Success, if you ask me, is not about getting promoted at work while jeopardizing your health and mental balance.
True wellness comes from knowing how to balance work, health and happiness, and still be productive and successful.
It’s a common misconception in high-pressure work culture that success and happiness are an “either/or.” You have to choose whether to be healthy and personally fulfilled, or to push hard and get ahead in your career.
Actually, these two aren’t contradictory at all. They go hand in hand.
The ideas in this article will help you regenerate your body and clear your mind, even in a chaotic office environment and a fast-paced city life.
You think your office chair was designed to give you neck and back pain? Well, it might have been. These chairs generally put you in a position that’s hard on your spine, and this affects both your health and productivity.
You can shell out a few hundred bucks for your own ergonomic chair. Or, you can transform your normal office chair into your own personal yoga studio.
One of the easy ways to refresh and recharge while sitting on your chair is by slowly flexing and rotating your joints.
All you need to do is take a five-minute break and work through all your joints.
Joints are meant to go regularly through their full range of motion. They’re very vulnerable to long static periods of sitting. Just moving them consciously enhances blood flow and boosts energy, and prevents long-term issues of stiffness, pain, and arthritis.
I usually start from down and go upward :
- Toes – move the toes up and down about 5 times, then relax.
- Ankles – rotate inward and then outward. Repeat 3 times.
- Knees – rotate the knees inward, then outward, then move the knees up and down. Repeat 3 times.
- Hips – open and close the legs.
- Spine –bend inward, rounding your back with the head toward your knees, then arch upward like a stretching cat. Repeat 3 times.
- Shoulders – rotate the shoulders inward and then outward. Repeat 3 times.
- Elbows – open and close the elbows 3 times.
- Wrist – move the hands up and down, then rotate the wrist clockwise and then counter-clockwise.
- Fingers – open and close the hand, stretching the fingers.
- Neck – nod the head up and down. Rotate the head laterally, clockwise and counter-clockwise.
You can also refresh yourself with deep relaxation while you sit in your office chair.
Relaxing the muscles will help your body to regenerate. Some yoga teachers claim that five minutes of deep relaxation is equal to an hour of sleep.
If you are worried that looking like you’re about to fall asleep at your desk might get you fired, you can attempt it in the bathroom, the kitchen chair or outside during lunch break.
Relaxing is actually a natural response to contraction. Yoga practitioners noticed this fact ages ago. They understood that when you tense your muscle long enough and strong enough, they will respond by going into deep relaxation when you stop.
So all you need to do is to contract your feet and let them drop naturally into ease. Then continue contracting and releasing the calves, thighs, buttocks, belly, chest, lower back, upper back, arms, shoulders, neck and face muscles.
Give special attention to the shoulders. A lot of stress tends to accumulate there.
Yoga theory connects different body parts with different emotions and thought patterns.
Modern psychological research, such as Wilhelm Reich’s work on the “armor body,” supports this theory.
Shoulder tension in particular has to do with responsibility and fight-or-flight reactions.
Holding tension in the shoulders might have been useful in prehistoric times when stress was related to escaping a tiger or hunting a mammoth. But today, this extra physical energy has no useful purpose, unless you consider hunting your boss a valid way to get a promotion.
You can tense and relax the shoulders three times to achieve deeper relaxation before you move on the other body parts.
Yoga asanas at work
If you have the space and open-minded coworkers for it, you can reboot your body with some yoga poses during your
lunch break, or even just for ten minutes while your coworkers go for coffee. It will give you much more energy than a caffeine fix!
These are a few of my favorite workplace asanas :
- Half pigeon pose (eka pada rajakapotasana): Starting from hands and knees, slide the left knee forward and bring your foot across the mat, so the shin is on the ground. Try to keep your knee at a 90-degree angle. Slide the right leg back so it is flat on the ground. From here you can stretch up and arch your back, or bend forward over your left leg. Repeat on the other side. This pose can feel intense at first but it’s one of the best ways to open your hips, improve circulation and relieve sciatica. Just be careful not to put stress on your knees.
- Downward dog (adho mukha svanasana): This pose stretches your whole body. It’s extremely energizing and relieves tension in the hips, back and shoulders. From a push-up position, bring your hips up so your body is in an inverted “V” shape. Press into your hands, keep pulling your hips back and stretch your heels towards the floor.
- Standing forward fold (padahastasana): Simply bend forward and touch your toes. (Don’t worry if you can’t reach, just let your body hang loose and relaxed.) Stretch up through your hips and feel that your upper body is melting towards the floor. This releases the hips and lower back, and it’s great for your spine health in general.
- Cobra (bhujangasana): Start by lying face down with the palms of your hands flat on the mat underneath your shoulders. Gradually stretch up and back by straightening your arms. Cobra pose is a classic back-bend that opens the chest and shoulders. It reverses the effects of hours spent hunched over at a computer. If you’re feeling more ambitious, you might try the wheel pose (chakrasana) for a more intense backbend. Or if cobra is too much, stay in sphinx pose with your forearms flat on the ground.
Relaxing the mind
Good relaxation is not just about the muscles.
For real rest, the worrying mind needs to come down as well. One of the best methods for mental relaxation is by creative imagination and visualization.
To do this, simply close your eyes and imagine yourself in a beautiful place, surrounded by peaceful things.
If it’s hard for you to imagine things vividly, you can look at a beautiful picture, memorize it and then try to recapture it with closed eyes.
The Limestone personalized dashboard chrome extension is a very useful aid for this purpose.
I often chose beautiful dynamic wallpaper with it and look at the image until I feel I can remember it.
Then I close my eyes and visualize the image. The more senses you use the more powerful an effect it will have on your mind.
See the image as vividly as possible. Hear the sounds, smell and touch.
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It can keep you calm and improve productivity. more about energizing your body and mind with chrome newtab can be found here
This technique is very simple yet very effective.
Rub your palms against each other until you feel warmth.
Then place your palms gently cupped over your eyes and allow your eyes to relax.
This technique can relax and heal your eyes.
I feel very refreshed after I do this. It’s sometimes like waking up fresh in the morning.
Having a 9-to-5 office job doesn’t have to be a recipe for poor health and exhaustion.
The techniques in this article can help you keep your energy and focus and improve your long-term productivity.