Five tips for young professionals to keep their new careers on track

Written by Gabriel Smith on 7 August 2017 in Features
Features

Sleep, diet, work-life balance...here's how young people can perform to their best at work. 

It’s easy to think that your job performance and career potential only have to do with what you do while you’re at work. Do a great job, network with people, be accountable, and at five or six o’clock, when you head home, you’re done for the day.

What you do while on the job is tremendously important, but what you do when you’re off the clock can be just as important. How you treat your body and your mind outside of the workplace directly influences your performance within it.

Take, for example, how well you sleep. Research from the National Institutes of Health shows that insomnia costs workers the equivalent of 11.3 days’ worth of productivity each year - so getting sufficient sleep can mean the difference between impressing the bosses and barely hanging on to your job.

Staying fit and eating right outside of the office can also have a positive effect on your career potential, improving your energy and immune system so that you can be as productive as possible and spend fewer days out sick.

How you treat your body and your mind outside of the workplace directly influences your performance within it.

There are many things to consider as a young professional making your way in the working world. Here are five helpful tips that you can do outside of the workplace to help you keep your performance high and your career on track.

Get at least 7 hours of sleep

According to Sleep Health: Journal of the National Sleep Foundation, young adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep for healthy living. Sleep experts recommend a number of behaviours referred to as sleep hygiene in order to get sufficient sleep.

These include going to bed at the same time each night and waking at the same time each morning, avoiding caffeine and alcohol within two hours of bedtime, and steering clear of foods that may cause indigestion. In addition, sleeping in a cool bed and bedroom allows you to fall asleep faster, stay asleep throughout the night, and decrease your risk for diseases like diabetes by getting your body ready to burn calories.

Take time off from screens

Because of our 24/7 access to technology, with countless entertainment options constantly at our fingertips, we spend a lot of time with our eyes fixed on screens, both inside and outside of work. In fact, according to a TED Talk by Susan Pinker of The Wall Street Journal, we spend even more time looking at screens than we do sleeping.

Constant screen use is bad for your eyes, bad for your sleep, and bad for your physical fitness. Take an hour off from screens after work to get outside, read a book, or talk to people, and it’ll work wonders.

Walk when you can

When you’re a busy young professional, it can be hard to work regular exercise into your schedule. There are ways to get around that, though, by taking walks when you can, throughout the day or after work.

If you live close enough to your workplace to do so, walking to and from work gives you much-needed exercise while energising you for the day and allowing you time to wind down in the evening. If that won’t work, use your lunch break as a time to walk for 30-45 minutes, or, when you’re not at work, take care of nearby errands on foot - that way you’re getting things done and getting the exercise you need to stay healthy.

Walking burns calories and significantly lessens your risk for heart problems, and it easily fits in your busy day.

Eat your breakfast

In your hurry to get out the door and to the office in the morning, skipping breakfast seems a fine way to shave time off the morning routine, but it also slows down your metabolism, giving you less energy for the first part of the workday.

Instead of hitting the ground running when you get into the office, it takes you longer to get going, and losing those productive hours can mean the difference between promotion and demotion. Eating breakfast, on the other hand, improves perception and cognitive function.

Drink lots of water

This is one you can do both in and out of the office—stay hydrated! Get yourself a half-litre or litre water bottle and keep it filled throughout the day. Don’t just drink when you’re battling thirst, but make sure you’re getting about three litres a day.

The benefits to your overall health are immeasurable, but when it comes to your value as an employee, it boosts your immune system (making you less likely to miss time sick), increases your energy, and relieves fatigue, so you’ll perform better while you’re on the job.

When you’re living a healthy life outside of work, it’s much easier to be present, accountable, and valuable while you’re at the office. Following these tips will improve your job performance—and you’ll feel better, too.

 

About the author

Gabriel Smith is a health and wellness expert with a resume in college athletics.

 

Read more about wellbeing here

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