The statistics speak. Most people spend more time at work than in any other activity; more than hours with their family, eating, sleeping, or interacting with friends. That said, wouldn’t it seem logical that we would spend an hour and some effort making our workspace as conducive to the job at hand and our temperament and personality? But no, we have the biggest and the best TVs, golf clubs, cars, whatever, while our office furniture, cubicle, office vehicle is less than pristine, barely functional, and probably downright ugly.

Here are a few things you might want to think about as you look around your workspace.

70% of us sit for most of the day. Anthropologists make a big deal pinpointing when humans began to stand. Little did we realize in less than a century most of us would be sitting, most of the time. I’m suggesting you become a bit more active. Try and stand during phone calls, stand during public transportation commutes, and attempt to take a walk ever day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. Sit too long and your hips will let you know it; your back gets lazy, and your feet might even tingle a bit. Stand up for what your body needs and rise to the occasion. A plus — standup meetings are shorter and people pay better attention, call for one.

If you must sit, campaign for a good chair. First try to get a signed requisition for a new one. If not, search offices and see if you can find one needing a new home. When I worked for a not-for-profit, I bought my own, figuring it was cheaper than a chiropractor. If all else fails, accessorize you current seat with whatever it takes to make it more ergonomically fit and comfortable — pillows, cushions, bolsters, blocks. Just like you alter your seat position when you drive, try to get the gismos under the chair working in your favor. According to the guy at my bike shop, 75% of people never take their bike out of one gear. I bet the percentage is even higher for how long most people suffer before adjusting their desk chair.

70% of us have jobs that require excellent mid-range eye sight. There was a time, not too long ago, when you had your eyes examined because you could no longer read street signs or the board at school, or the fine print, now there is an important other level — mid level. This is what you need to read your monitor. And since more than half of us spend most of our time in front of one, it’s essential to take care of the issue.

30% of us have no interaction with another human being during the workday. That is rather astounding since monasteries are not exactly the rage. Even introverts need human connection and extroverts, well, they shouldn’t even think about taking this type of job. Contact need not be long, in-person, or particularly involved. A simple chat at the bathroom sink, e-mail to someone about anything but work or worry, or watching a clip can nourish. This is not to say deep, enriching, and meaningful relationships are to be ignored. It’s just they are not always possible or necessary, as often as short connects might be.

Most work requires less physical strength and more stress tolerance. Dug a ditch lately? Walked to the next town to pick up a week’s supplies? Few of us could do it or even want to. But, just because we are not working to physical exhaustion does not mean we are not fatigued. The secret to stamina is taking care of you between tasks and pacing yourself while in the race. I’ve coached a number of Broadway performers, most of them dancers. They are in fabulous shape. Even they need breaks. Intermission is not just to sell trinkets, it’s to rest the cast for the second act. If your work is constantly on tight deadlines, the atmosphere intense, the demands endless, or any other scenario that might push you to your limit, then the only solution is pace and breaks. Scientists tell us 90 minutes of intense concentration is about our limit. The brain cuts out and the body starts craving food. The rejuvenation is minutes and maybe a snack away, but it is a necessity.

Nurture your aesthetic self. I am flabbergasted with how barren most people’s work areas are. Many look like the person just arrived or quit. There is nothing of beauty to feed their souls, nothing of another world to drift to, and little that says, “This is my space.” I have a pair of scissors on my desk. Note I rarely need or use scissors. I have them there because they are beautifully designed and feel good in the hand. I rotate my office art to appreciate it more. It doesn’t take much time but it does require intention; intention that says, “If I’m going to spend x number of hours among these walls, I want them enhanced with things I love.” I do appreciate that not everyone has the amount of space I am blessed with. There is a miniature version of this approach available to each of us in the form of screen savers, an online photo gallery, and/or a functional object that is also an object of beauty. Be selective, love what you bring in, and make it yours.

Here is a brief list of things you could do, this week, to make your work place better.

  1. Make that eye exam appointment. Schedule it before the end of the year, before your flexible spending plan finishes or your new deductible starts.
  2. Adjust your chair -- up or down, leaning back or forward. Learn to use those levers under the seat.
  3. Find an object of interest or beauty, and bring it to the office. I guarantee you have something at home. Take it down, dust it off, and place it where you will enjoy it.
  4. Set a 90 minute alarm the next time you are working on a piece or project that is long and arduous.
  5. Purchase snacks and keep them at your desk. Power bars, nuts, fruit, water, whatever gives you the boost you need mid-morning and mid-afternoon and maybe into the night.
  6. Connect with someone at least once a day. It’s good networking (personal and professional) and others have a way of bringing out another side of you. Keep a calendar or tally. Make it a game.
  7. Stand up. Stand whenever you can. Offer to walk to someone’s office. Take the long route to the bathroom or just stand at your desk. Okay, people will think something is up but they’ll get use to it, or they won’t.

To honor yourself and the work you do, it is essential you take care of yourself. The best place to start is at work.

(c) Jane Cranston.

Author's Bio: 

Jane Cranston is an executive career coach. She works with success-driven executives, managers and leaders to reach their potential, better manage their boss and staff, as well as develop a career strategy to reach goals and aspirations. Jane is the author of Great Job in Tough Times a step-by-step job search system. Click here to subscribe to her twice monthly Competitive Edge Report.