You don’t like spending hours working in front of the computer all day, every day. Do you?
In fact, part of the reason I set out to start my own business was so that I didn’t have to spend all my time behind a desk.
My early experience of working in an office full time was pretty miserable. Sitting and staring at a screen all day left me feeling lethargic. In the evenings though I would feel wired and struggle to fall asleep, then in the mornings, I would be so tired that getting out of bed was a mission!
Now in my own business, when I’m not launching a new product or in sprint mode on a project, I try to limit my computer time to just 2-3 hours a day.
You might wonder how I get anything done in a very short time.
I’ve found that being restricted to that 2-3 hours-a-day routine makes my productivity skyrocketing. Plus, I use a little secret weapon called the Pomodoro Technique to keep my energy and activity high.
25 minutes of work, 5 minutes of rest
Fitness first! When working out with the aim of getting fitter and stronger, the resting part of exercising is just as important as the exercise part. It’s during that rest that the body recovers enough to give its full effort towards something again. Longer rests, like the days between workouts, are when the body rebuilds itself stronger than before.
The Pomodoro Technique works in a similar way. How does it work?
You spend 25 minutes of work with no distractions. Keep your email closed, social media off and your phone on Do Not Disturb or Flight Mode. If there is anything you think of that you need to check or look up, just make a note of it quickly and then get back to what you were doing.
After 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break where you do not work. Just rest. Check your socials, do some online shopping or best yet, get up and move around. Repeat this routine for 3-4 more times before taking a longer break.
This ‘anytime fitness’ technique has put my work efficiency through the roof. Having what is essentially a 25-minute countdown timer really motivates you to get things done and shipped. Knowing that you’ve got a 5-minute break, too, makes it easier to stay focused.
5 minutes of freedom
What you do during that 5 minutes can make a big difference to your next 25-minute burst. If you just switch from work to reading and answering emails for 5 minutes, you probably won’t get the rest you need.
What I’ve found best is to actually get up out of your chair for 2-3 minutes and move.
Here are 5 workout moves that you can do right next to your desk (with a couple of options if you’re worried about looking like a weirdo doing exercises next to your desk):
1. Take Up Space
If you’re not too keen on getting up and moving around, just try this one.
Amy Cuddy has a great TED Talk about the power of taking up space. Feeling like we’re taking up space has been shown to lower cortisol (the stress hormone) and boost testosterone.
How to do this properly:
- For this one, all you’re going to do is recline your chair a bit, spread your legs wide under your desk, lean back and put your hands behind your head. Take up as much space as possible.
- Just chill there, in that position, for a good 1-2 minutes.
2. Pop A Squat
Here’s one you can do subtly. Push your chair back and get down into a squat.
If you sit all day, you spend all day with your hips at the same 90-degree angle. Using a standing desk to straighten the hips will help but the hips are also designed to bend past 90 degrees.
Holding a squat will help stretch your hips, knees and ankles.
How to do this properly:
- With your toes pointing relatively forward (doesn’t need to be strict) and your feet a little wider than should width, squat down until you are resting at the bottom. Your hips should be lower than your knees.
- From here, you can increase the stretch by lifting your chest and/or placing your elbows on your knees and gently pushing outwards on your knees.
- If your ankles are too tight (you keep falling backwards), hold onto the edge of your desk in front of you or elevate your heels on something.
At first, you may only be able to stay in this position for 10 seconds. Work your way up to holding this position for 2 minutes.
3. Broom Handle Pec Stretch
One thing that gets tight while sitting at your desk is your chest.
This exercise uses a broom handle to help open up your chest and only takes 30 seconds. If you feel embarrassed doing this, just remember you’re the office ‘badass’ that looks after themselves and gets things done more than anyone else.
How to do this properly:
- Take a long stance. Cup one hand over one of the ends of the broomstick. Hold stick with your other hand about two-thirds down.
- Use that hand and the broomstick to push the cupped hand and arm back at about 45 degrees at the shoulder. Repeat 10 times then swap sides.
4. Quick walk
For 5 minutes at a brisk pace, you could walk around an athletic track so 5 minutes is plenty of time to get a quick walk in. Jump up and go for a lap in your building or if you work from home, up the street and back. Got stairs? Go up and down a few flights.
Not only will this help in moving your body it will also create a change of environment which I find awesome for my mental health and creativity.
If I’m stuck on something when the 25-minute timer ends, usually by the time I get back to my desk, I’ve had a breakthrough and am raring to go once more.
5. Go make a cup of tea
If you don’t want to do weird stuff next to your desk, it’s still good to get up and move around during your break. So, go make a cup of tea (or coffee or get a glass of water) and make sure you stand while you wait for it to steep.
Multiply your workload without extending your working hours, give the Pomodoro Technique a go today. See how much more you can accomplish or how many hours less you could be working.
Stay healthy, enjoy fitness anytime – even when you’re at your desk!
About the author
Kyle Wood is a fitness enthusiast, workout guru, boot camp instructor and entrepreneur. He lives in Melbourne and created Bootcamp Ideas as a weblog that provides weekly training ideas and tips to use at boot camps. He organises regular face-to-face meetups with other fitness trainers to exchange workout ideas and share business tips.