ONE, TWO, THREE AND STREEEEEETCH! WE’VE STARTED STRETCHING AT MSA!

I don’t know if you have the same issue in your offices, but our Wellness Warrior noticed that as the day progresses staff gradually start slouching at their desks. So we started an afternoon stretch session to break this slouching rut. At 3:30 our Outlook calendar buzzes at us to stop for 5 min and stretch as a team! It’s great fun and re-energising. Everyone returns to his    or her work refreshed and buzzing.

The stretches we do aren’t complicated. Here is a list of some of them:

  • Rotate the wrists to the right and left 10x each side
  • Stretch the right arm to the left across your chest for 20 counts
  • Stretch the left arm to the right across your chest for 20 counts
  • Stretch calf muscle (20 counts for each leg)
  • A set of 10 – 20 star jumps
  • Lunges on both legs for 10-20 counts

What do you do at work as a team or on your own to beat the afternoon slouch? I’d love to hear your experiences and practices.

NO EXCUSES. Workout Anywhere, Any-time in 20 Minutes

If you look at evolution, you’ll find that we didn’t evolve by carrying around dumbbells and barbells. We evolved by using our own body weight to strengthen and condition our mind, body and spirit. I personally believe that you don’t have to go to the gym to get a complete body workout. I do three exercises, that’s it, only three! They work up a sweat and get the heart rate pumping, and can be done anywhere, anytime.

1. Squats – Keep your feet shoulder width apart and not 100% parallel. When squatting, make sure you bend down to make a 90 degree angle between your back and the floor. Keep your head up and your shoulders back. When you bend back up make sure you don’t lock your knees, keep them relaxed.

Do 5 sets of 15 squats. Squats are excellent for women, they work out thighs and gluteus maximums (butt muscles). If you feel a strong burning sensation in the thigh, well done! You’ve done them right.

2. Push-Ups – Push-Ups are one of the best all-round strength building exercises. They work both your upper and lower body and can be done anywhere, using different variations to get the most out of the workout. Even though the best way to do push-ups is on your toes, ladies might want to do them on their knees to give their body an equilibrium to push from. Remember to keep you back straight, your head up and your bottom as parallel to the floor as possible.

Do 5 sets of 10 and if you feel like being challenged, try the international 3 minute push-up challenge. Set a timer for 3 minutes and see how many you can do in that time. You can pause and have as many breaks as you wish. Let this amount be your bench-mark for improvement. Athletes average about 100 + push-ups in 3 minutes. See how you go! Keep us posted with your achievements, we would love to hear how you go.

3. Plank Challenge – Holding the plank is a fantastic and very easy way to build your core strength. Turn on a timer and see how long you can hold the position for. Aim for at least a minute.

You can do these three simple exercises anywhere, anytime and still get the workout your body needs. If you feel like you’ve reached your peak with these three exercises, there are variations you can try, for example squat jumps, spider-man push-ups, or holding the plank with extended arms.

I personally love this video of a guy who does 44 body-weight exercises, www.youtube.com/watch?v=POdzasJklxw&feature=youtu.be. Check it out!

15 Ways to Slow Down At Work

We live in a culture that is addicted to speed. We eat fast, talk fast, work fast as we try to cram more and more in the day. And this is having dire consequences on our lives at home and at work.

I realised that I myself had a problem when my children started noticing that I was speed-reading bedtime stories to them. Thankfully I came across a book that made me realise that work wasn’t the cause of my stress but rather it was the speed in which I was working. The book is called In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore and I tell you it changed my life. As I read it, I was having “Aha!” moments where I was nodding continuously. The author is now a friend of mine and I would like to share with you one of his interviews where he explains what slow means in the work place.

Watch Carl Honore’s video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=631Y-AwFLks

Why have we in the corporate world, caught this disease called ‘speed’. Why are we doing everything faster in the name of customer service? And why have we peddled the idea that speed of service is the performance criteria by which customers should judge us. Has anyone stopped to ask, “Do customers really want fast service? Or do they want good, attentive, thorough service?”

If your business is running on speed, let me tell you it is not sustainable. In the short term you will get results, but over the medium to long term, the bubble will burst. Staff will get stressed, tired, and so absenteeism will rise. And that’s when you start seeing productivity drop AND, worse still, you will start to lose good staff.

Here are some of the business consequences of speed:

  • Hurried consultations
  • High error rates
  • Irate customers
  • Lower long term productivity

More importantly here are some health consequences for the Individual:

  • Increased stress levels and absenteeism.
  • Shorter lunch, eating at your desk, indigestion
  • Poor concentration
  • Reduced creativity
  • Poor quality time with children and/or partner
  • Alcohol Abuse
  • Insomnia
  • General executive burn out

So how do you work slower throughout the day? Try adopting some of the following strategies:

  • Don’t schedule in more than two meetings per day. And meetings should not last more than an hour
  • Don’t schedule any meetings after 3pm. It is the most unproductive time of day and also the time of day where most misunderstandings and therefore conflicts occur
  • Don’t pick up your second line (or call waiting) when you are already on a phone call
  • Don’t rush your meetings or phone calls. Take your time and ensure that you understand the objectives and outcome of a discussion
  • Don’t rush your meetings or phone calls
  • Turn notifications off
  • Taking renewal breaks throughout the day to stretch and breath
  • Listen more and listen actively. Absorb what the other person is saying
  • Don’t take on too much work. Learn to say ‘no’
  • Don’t rush your individual tasks. Enjoy doing them to the best of your ability knowing and reminding yourself that the service you give affects the customer. Visualise them praising you for the good work you will do
  • Don’t accept any last minute deadlines imposed on you. Last-minute deadlines usually arise from somebody else’s inefficiency. It is somebody else problem. Don’t make it yours unless it is truly an exception requiring you to go beyond the call of duty
  • Take a walk at lunch – preferably where there is a park or trees. Go alone
  • Take at least 45 minutes for lunch, eat outside and get some Vitamin D
  • Take a packed lunch to work for at least three days in the week. You will get more nutrition and you will save money
  • Keep a photo on your desk and look at it throughout the day. It could be a photo of your partner, your children or a picture of your next holiday destination

If you’re interested in reading Carl Honore’s books, here are the links to the two books that changed my life:

In Praise of Slow: http://www.bookdepository.com/Praise-Slow-Carl-Honore/9780752864143

The Slow Fix: www.bookdepository.com/Slow-Fix-Carl-Honore/9780061128820