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THE INC. LIFE

How to Get the Most Out of Life–Even While Working Long Hours

It’s amazing just how much higher you can keep your productivity and energy levels when you don’t eat as many empty calories.

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BY John Boitnott - 19 Dec 2017

How to Get the Most Out of Life--Even While Working Long Hours

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Whether you're an entrepreneur getting a new business up and running or you have a job that seasonally requires working long hours for weeks on end, there are times when work-life balance must lean towards the work side of the scale.

This doesn't have to mean that your life becomes unbalanced. Finding ways to use those precious few hours devoted to 'life' can make the difference between productivity and burnout.

Read on to learn some keys to maintaining a life during these periods, including sleep, diet, physical activity, and prioritizing time for certain people.

Sleep Intentionally

The first thing you must plan is sleep. Don't short yourself rest, thinking you'll sleep when you finish the work.

Most people require seven to nine hours of sleep, with compounding negative effects arising the more sleep they sacrifice. Unhappiness sets in as the exhausted person eats badly to compensate for mood and fatigue. Productivity plummets. Hormonal levels trigger fat storing and muscle breakdown.

Be intentional about your sleep. Make use of a smart alarm clock or app that can help you wake up during a light phase of sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene with bedtime routines, light reduction, limited technology use within an hour of bedtime, and herbal teas or other sleep aids.

Set some time to calm your mind through meditation or prayer. If you must work a lot of the time, sticking to the same sleep schedule every night helps train your body to sleep at that time.

Eat Correctly

What you eat has a huge effect on how productive you are. Research has long shown that empty calories, such as juices, sodas, breads, pastas, and alcohol give you quick bursts of energy. However, you then experience a steep energy drop-off, which negatively affects productivity throughout your day.

Doctors recommend eating more nutrient-dense foods instead (complex carbs like beans, brown rice, and vegetables), because they take longer for the body to digest, and thus give you a more steady flow of energy, which can help wth productivity.

Additionally, make sure you're drinking enough water. Doctors say you should have around one gallon daily (3-4 liters). You may want to talk to your physician about the amount that's best for you.

Other tricks that can boost your productivity include: Precook meals once a week, eat the same meals over and over, and fast occasionally.

Work Out Smartly

One area many people sacrifice when confronted with heavy workloads is exercise. This isn't a good idea since exercise is so important in keeping you productive. It's linked to lower stress, greater creativity, sharper memory, improved concentration and more.

The key lies in being smart about scheduling your exercise, not cutting it out. Here are some tips to keep your exercise routine consistent even in the midst of a busy work life.

  • Make it short, so that you can squeeze it into a hectic day.
  • Work out someplace easy to get to.
  • If your workplace offers a gym, use it.
  • Use one of several apps that allow you to tailor short workouts that fit your allotted time.
  • Try to work out at the same time every day and keep your routines as unobtrusive as possible.
  • Set out your workout clothes in advance and keep them organized.
  • If you can't do a gym, make use of your home to get your workout in. Many exercise programs require little to no equipment.

Another option is to turn your entire day into an exercise routine. A standing desk, mentioned above, forces your core to constantly fire to keep you upright. If you like to switch between sitting and standing, wear supportive shoes and mind your posture.

While you work, take moments to do sets of exercises: stretches, running in place, using the stairs instead of an elevator, pushups, crunches, dips, or pullups if you have a bar. Bring a yoga ball if standing isn't an option. Turn the process of sitting down and standing into a squat exercise.

Make Time for Family and Friends

Last but not least, do not sacrifice the important relationships in life for your job. Determine who you need to prioritize and schedule time with each of them. Some you can do together, like friends or children. Whatever you do, make sure you don't give this up.

Keep in mind, the people who are important to you have to benefit from all your hard work in the first place. You don't want to come home to complete strangers or find all your friends have moved on. In the long run, these relationships matter more than work, no matter how much money you make.

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