Like most entrepreneurs, you probably spend a significant part of your day in a chair staring at a computer screen.
As you’re reading this, I bet you’re hunched over your desk, where you’ll likely spend the next several hours.
But did you know that a lack of productivity is linked to inactivity? Yep, all those symptoms - foggy brain, inability to focus, creative slump - stem from sedentary work life. But I get it. You’re a busy entrepreneur. Every moment of your computer time is spent capturing mentions, monitoring conversations, and creating opportunities. And sure, you’ve got to keep up, but at what cost? According to recent studies, sitting is at an all-time high and quite literally killing us as a society.
With health hazards ranging from heart disease to cancer, it's time to get proactive and reduce the risks. The good news? There is a productivity secret that might be the antidote. Below, I break down what that one thing is, plus ways to instantly improve your mindset, daily workflow, activity level, and productivity.
Increasing your productivity at work
I’m sure you’ve heard the advice, “Work smarter, not harder.” But oftentimes, as entrepreneurs, time management can be a huge challenge. After all, when your office is in your home (after you’re done celebrating), the reality that your office is in your home begins to set in.
It's that moment when you realize that a 40-hour work week has turned into a 24/7 job of monitoring email, surfing social for mentions, wrangling clients, and in the wee hours of the morning, focusing on executing your own marketing and sales strategy.
And that's where the difficulty in staying active while productive comes in. We sit all day at a desk only to hop onto a couch and binge Netflix. It's a never-ending cycle of sitting! But what if you could sit and increase productivity? Believe it or not, it can be done!
So, let's start with the facts and then move into the solution. Because if you want to increase your productivity, you're going to have to combat the ONE thing holding you back - a sedentary entrepreneurial lifestyle.
How sitting all day affects your body
1. Heart damage linked to high blood pressure
Studies have shown that those with sedentary lifestyles (aka entrepreneurs) are at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular diseases than those with more active ones. What’s more, the former is prone to elevated levels of cholesterol, which constricts blood flow in the vessels, thereby increasing blood pressure and consequently straining the heart.
2. Your pancreas is crying out for help
The pancreas is tasked with providing insulin, the hormone that delivers energy to the muscles. When insulin isn’t used up, as is the case with idle muscles, then its levels increase to dangerous thresholds. This over-concentration in the blood leads to the onset of diseases such as diabetes.
3. You can’t escape upper body and back problems
How many times per day do you rub your neck or stretch your back and listen as it creaks and cracks? Neck strains and herniated lumbar discs are also consequences of too much sitting, which puts a lot of weight on the cervical vertebrae.
4. Cancer might loom in your future
“Risks of death among those who reported the most leisure time sitting were higher from cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, suicide, lung disease, liver disease, peptic ulcer, and other digestive diseases, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, nervous disorders, and musculoskeletal disorders.”
Experts believe inactivity reduces the number of natural oxidants in your body, which keep these diseases at bay.
5. Lower body problems are a real problem
Too much sitting also leads to swelling and/or blood clots in the ankles and legs as the circulation of blood slows down in the lower limbs. The absence of weight-bearing activities on these bones causes them to grow thinner and more fragile. Yikes! I don’t need anything speeding up the natural process of growing older.
Productivity and ergonomics: Get more done, more comfortably
With all of that said, there are ways to improve your posture, comfort level, and productivity through increased activity, better habits, and a few updates to your work environment.
- Set up your chair the right way
Your spinal curves should be at one with your chair i.e. it should support them seamlessly against the backrest without strain or discomfort. Also, tweak your chair’s height such that your feet rest flat at the base and until the floor and your thighs are parallel to each other. Do the same for armrests so as to alleviate adding pressure on your shoulders when you rest your arms.
- Common office items
Your stapler, coffee mug, mobile phone, and any other necessary items should be kept at arm’s length to alleviate the strain that comes with reaching for them. For anything outside that perimeter, it’s ideal that you stand.
Your monitor should also be at arm’s length from you and, as a general rule of thumb, your eye level should coincide with the screen’s top. Your mouse and keyboard should be on the same surface and it's better to use keyboard shortcuts whenever possible so as to reduce mouse usage that places considerable strain on the wrist and fingers.
Leave sufficient clearance under your desk for your leg and feet to maneuver. Further, make arrangements to store items such as regularly used files on the table so as to avoid constantly straining your back by reaching for them in lower compartments. Aside from observing those ergonomic tweaks, here's what else you should do.
- Take regular breaks
Take regular breaks in between work, preferably every 30 - 60 minutes. Get up, do some light stretching, walk around your desk or office. For me, this practice started 7 years ago when I realized how much time I was spending on the computer. I began to set a reminder for every 60 minutes and walk my dogs around my Los Angeles neighborhood. I was amazed at how much better I felt when I got out for even a few minutes and the renewed energy it gave me. Not to mention the health benefits for my dogs!
- Have talk-and-walk meetings/conferences
Walking while talking and working is a great way to get important business done. Apart from getting your daily share of physical activity, it also helps rid stress and ensure your mind is firing on all cylinders.
- Don’t take the bus/car to work, take the bike
Now just because you’re an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you work from home. With co-working spaces changing the landscape of our remote work environment, it’s important to take advantage of that commute. Instead of taking the car, bus, or subway to work, get a commuter bike.
Better yet, if your office is just a stone’s throw away, you could walk to work. I took up cycling a few years ago and it’s changed my life in almost every way. How I work out, how I start my day, how I feel throughout my day… ev - uh - ry - thing!
- Get a desk and stationary bike
Another excellent alternative to incorporating some form of physical activity into your daily routine is a desk or stationary bike. The pick of the bunch in this category being the Flexispot desk and bike.
Full disclosure, I started using this about 1 month ago when meetings got too heavy and I wasn’t able to get away from my desk as often. They didn’t pay me to post my review, all thoughts are my own and only given after I'd spent adequate time with the bike and desk. And one thing to also note, I was very skeptical about pulling outdoor cycling out of my morning routine.
But wow, has the indoor bike done the trick on the days I can’t get outside (and then some). In fact, I loved it so much, I now have two! One for my home and one for the office. (both include that pup right there) 😍
Active work lifestyles increase entrepreneur productivity
1. It gets you (and the creative juices) moving
Sitting leads to physical inactivity which could be what's grinding your creative gears to a halt. Regular movement, on the other hand, gets the heart pumping, the blood flowing and consequently delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the brain and muscles. As a result, you’ll experience improved cognitive function as well as an increased energy reserve and reduced fatigue. (Hooray!)
2. It improves productivity via Good Health
Moreover, if you get a sedentary disease, you’re certainly not going to be as effective as you were before. A desk bike ensures sufficient exercise and physical well-being to wade off such illnesses that will undoubtedly impact your effectiveness. As a result, you won’t miss fruitful days due to being stuck sick in bed. You’ll clock more hours in at the office and your returns will be higher.
3. Get work done while burning calories
The tight schedule of a busy entrepreneur can be unforgiving and you often find that there is hardly enough time left for yourself, let alone hitting the gym or taking a walk/run around the neighborhood. If you're among those with absolutely no time to spare, a desk bike offers a nice way to exercise in the background while attaining your goals for the day. You hit two birds with one extremely convenient and comfortable stone.
4. You’ll actually follow through with exercise
How many times have we proposed to hit the gym regularly only for an “I’ll do it tomorrow” to turn into a week, then a month, and so on? With a desk bike, though, procrastination won’t be an option as you’ll be seated in your very own gym where you can exercise at will.
5. No one will tell you to be quiet
As silent as a mouse, this desk bike will not distract you or anyone else nearby, thanks to its noiseless flywheel.
6. Keep moving without the sweating
Not in the mood for strenuous leg work? Then just set the resistance to the lowest number. If you feel you can do more, then up the resistance to increase the challenge.
There's so many ways you can get moving and improve your life and productivity at work. Creating space for regular physical activity - on your schedule - is beneficial to your health and work. Aside from steering clear of chronic illnesses, constant exercising through regular movement will clear the fog off your mental windshield. And who doesn't need that?!
It'll also increase your energy levels to take on anything that comes your way. No more mid-day entrepreneur glaze. Instead, you'll be blazing through your objectives like a cheetah chasing down prey in the Serengeti. 👍
About Rebekah Radice
Rebekah Radice, co-founder of BRIL.LA, has traded narcissism for purpose. When not driving growth, you'll find her tricking family into thinking she's Emeril Lagasse - likely covered in marinara. The spotlight was fun, but impact is better. These days she's using 20+ years of brand brilliance for good.