Achieving Work Life Balance So I Don't Turn Into Wall-E

by Anne Reuss

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The online business and our digital world has a tendency to throw things out of balance.

Achieving work life balance is not the easiest thing, but I’m continually experimenting and pleased with the progress. It’s been at least a year since I’ve gone somewhat ‘primal’ as a health initiative to address the psychological challenges of the cascade of technology and working on computers constantly. And yes I’m talking about adopting some of the traits that kept our cave ancestors (Grok) alive and well!

But how does one go primal in today’s world?

I can confidently say I wouldn’t have found my productivity, balance and passion without our work culture. Trust and “Recognize We’re Human!” are two fundamental elements that make our culture code powerful and special. As a result, it has encouraged our team to pursue things that make them happy and organize their day that is the most productive and satisfying.

trust work culture

It’s made it very easy to agree with research claiming engaged employees are two times more productive and happier about work!

Achieving Work Life Balance Primal/Digital Style

What the heck do I mean?  Personally, it means intentionally avoiding some “socializing” online,  so I can nurture my psychological well being with movement and exertion supplemented with a robust primal diet. When I take that time away from media, I find myself less antsy and more focused when I’m back online. I move more frequently and make my fitness a priority. In fact, I’ve invested in a trainer for the past six months and I look forward to it everyday!

I chow down protein four to five times a day and normally get moving midday. With this new balance of attention, I’ve seen spikes in my creativity, idea production and energy. Maybe the practice is self-indulgent, but I think such habits promote good health and work productivity. I believe banter, organic conversation, and social media are stimulating, and I thrive on them. But since I’ve struck my “primal” balance, I find myself more alert with stimulating psychological vitality, and happier.

You don’t have to turn into a “professional athlete,” as a post “What Happens to Our Brains when We Exercise and How it Makes us Happier” on the Buffer blog says. They also point out:

A recent study from Penn State university shed some light on the matter and the results are more than surprising. They found that to be more productive and happier on a given work day, it doesn’t matter so much, if you work-out regularly, if you haven’t worked out on that particular day.” 

Humans Are Instinctively Mobile

If your body is immobile, your mind probably misses out on some extra exercise. Our ancestors survived on the move, hunting for meat and gathering plants, fruits, indigenous nuts, and seeds. When we take in more protein, we are able to consistently burn fat for energy. Take in more carbs, and you spike your insulin and end up feeling sluggish or randomly crashing during the day.

In the time of the caveman, physical movement was common throughout the day at low levels – but at times physical exertion was high intensity (chasing animals, lifting, etc) and they soaked up vital Vitamin D from the outdoor activity, only sleeping when necessary.

Tough to do these Grok practices if we need to be at the computer. I wonder if it was our primal instinct that lead to the creation of tablets and smartphones? Maybe it’s because people NEED to be mobile. It’s become more common that the newest technology being developed today – like Google Glass – enable users to be on the go.

We DO want and need to be in tribes so I appreciate technology empowering us to share and be social but it’s not impossible to unplug for a bit and move in person with others.

The mind and body should be in sync. Move your body, move your mind.

Making Strides in Our Digital World (True Story!)

Back in the old college days (ok, ok it’s only been four years!) I highly valued sleeping in. So much so, I refused to take a class that started earlier than 9:30 a.m. But even with an abnormal intake of carbs (if you catch my drift), and an unstable diet and irregular physical activity affecting my morning energy, I managed to fly through.

HOWEVER. When I started working from home after college and had more freedom, this became a real issue. I would get tired sporadically throughout the day or struggle with waking up. I didn’t expect to get so intimate with my Mac and I thought whole grain cereal would give me lasting energy. I worked on projects at 1:30 AM. My own bodyweight workouts stopped being challenging. Plus, they were only done if I was watching the videos on my COMPUTER. I couldn’t get a break.

Productivity was unpredictable.

Until I adopted Grok practices and was given the opportunity to pursue my passion for fitness with the support of our work culture.

Adopt Grok Practices – Let’s Not Turn into Wall-E

I believe, for the sake of well-being and achieving work life balance, we should gratify ourselves with some Grok practices. One of my favorite business books of 2013 – Red Thread Thinking – Weaving Together Connections for Brilliant Ideas & Profitable Innovation – points out research that shows exercise results in elevated cognitive performance.

A study published in the Creativity Research Journal by Blanchette and Ramocki examined creativity immediately following moderate aerobic exercise and again two hours later. Result? There was a creativity surge in the participants. The two hour lag time did not decrease the creative levels either. I’ll often find myself on on fire few hours AFTER exercise!

Combine that with more protein and vegetables/plant based foods – however form you like it – I try to not say Paleo too strongly because we are not eating antelope or all the same plants as our ancestors did, but I believe the idea is worth keeping in mind. I don’t think humans were meant to evolve into a version of Wall-e.

Commit to Balance, Take Lead and Promote Healthy Practices

We can mimic our ancestors’ behaviors in the context of our digital world and become more creative, alert, and productive. But it takes leadership and the appropriate work culture to support it. With the support of my team, and an iPad to increase mobility, I’m happy to say I’m on much better terms with myself – and my Mac. If you’re looking for some structure, this is an excellent post on what to NOT do: Six Common Mistakes Employers Make With Their Wellness Programs.

Oh and if you’d like to learn more about how we work in a virtual company, you’ll dig Jeannie’s post on what it means and our culture code Slideshare!

How do you strike that balance and harness that brainpower of yours?

This post was written for, and a version originally appeared on Spin Sucks.

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