Why Your Desk Should Be A “No Food Zone”

Believe me, I’m not getting all self-righteous here. I’ve eaten at my desk on countless occasions. That’s precisely why I feel qualified to write this post.No-food-allowed

 

Call it a New Year’s resolution or whatever, but I’ve recently adopted the rule of no food (coffee and water are still fair game) at my desk. I’m always looking for ways to work smarter and maximize my productivity. The “no food zone” strategy will (hopefully) help me optimize my time in front of my Macbook.

Are you an at-your-desk diner?

Here are five very good reasons not to eat at your desk:

You deserve—and need—a break.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the Pomodoro Technique or similar approaches to working. They advocate breaking the time you work into a series of short intervals intermixed with short rest periods. That M.O. has been proven to improve mental acuity and help you stay more fully focused on your tasks.

When you’re eating at your desk, you can call it “working through” all you want, but chances are you’re not focused on your work enough to accomplish much of anything. Instead, schedule work sessions and break periods for yourself. Then work during your work sessions and eat (away from your desk) during break periods.

It can make you sick.

I found several articles (including this one by Huffington Post and this one by the Advisory Board Company) that reference research indicating your desk may harbor 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat. Gross, right? You wouldn’t eat on your toilet (I sure hope not anyway), so don’t make your desk your dinner table either.

It can expand your waistline.

According to the Daily News, a British survey revealed that one-third of people who ate at their desks consumed more than 1,200 calories during a typical workday. My understanding is that included lunch and snacks; add breakfast and dinner to the equation and the calories really escalate. And eating at your desk can make you less attentive to the nutritional value of the foods you’re eating. You might be more inclined to grab a bag of chips rather than veggies and a good protein source.

It can feed the procrastination monster.

Eating at your desk diverts your attention from what you should be concentrating on when working. It can become an enabler to procrastination, a way to steer clear of the task at hand when you don’t really feel like tackling it. Oh, but that task won’t magically disappear like that bag of microwave popcorn you chowed down on at 2:15 p.m. You’ll be stuck sitting at your desk longer because you didn’t stay focused. Eating at your desk is essentially multitasking. And, according to a Stanford University study, multitasking makes people less—not more—productive.

It’s messy.

Crumbs. Dripping condiments. Sticky fingers. Ick. Need I say more?

 

Final Thoughts

I’m not suggesting that you don’t eat during your workday. Goodness no! But why not eat somewhere else? Your kitchen or dining room (if you’re a work-at-home type like me), your office’s lunchroom, a picnic table, a friend’s house, or a restaurant are viable options. By taking your dining activities away from your desk, you just might find yourself more productive—and you might enjoy your food a good bit more, too.

 

By Dawn Mentzer

Another Insatiable Solopreneur Post

 

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Image courtesy of  Iamnee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

How To Avoid Administrative Angst & Procrastination Pileup

They appear innocent enough.

Those seemingly non-urgent pain in the @*# tasks you figure you’ll get to sometime. Maybe on a slow day or some other time when you find yourself Piles-of-workmotivated to tackle them.

So you put them on the back burner.

You’ve got more important things to do, right? There’s no sense in letting them take you away from your “real work.”

But the problem with ignoring small—yet eventually necessary—tasks when you’re self-employed is the longer you put them off, they bigger they become. They pile up. And then, instead of demanding just a few minutes of your time, they transform into mammoth undertakings that could require hours on end to get them under control.

Sound familiar?

Avoid Unnecessary Stress: Take a few minutes; Save a few hours.

 Working as a freelance writer these past five years, I’ve learned that procrastination nearly never has a positive outcome. It’s true when approaching work for clients—and when taking care of the administrative details that come with running a business solo. Here’s my short list of tasks that can go from “manageable” to “mayhem” if you save them for later rather than nipping them in the bud.

Generating invoices – Depending how many clients you have, you could find yourself spending hours producing invoices and sending them if you wait to do all of them at the same time. For project work, consider billing customers after you’ve completed the work instead of waiting until the end of the month. If you’ve got multiple recurring monthly assignments requiring invoices dated the first of the month, set a schedule to create them ahead of time so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.

Logging your accounts receivables and deposits – Matching up invoices with checks and logging deposit dates can get harrowing if you’ve got a pile of them awaiting your attention. Save yourself the headache by tracking them in your accounting system as they arrive.

Filing paper copies – As much as I do business electronically, I do still keep some paper records on file. I know many other solopreneurs and small business owners who do, too. Again, putting them where they belong nearly as soon as they cross your desk can save you the hassle of shuffling through mass quantities.

Balancing your checkbook and reconciling your bank statement – If you like nightmares, let two or three or more months pass by before you pay attention to these tasks. While reviewing and matching up your checkbook’s records with those on your bank statement and in Quickbooks (or Freshbooks or Excel or whatever accounting tool you’re using) may never be a dream come true for you, it will go so much easier if you take care of it promptly each and every month. Plus, if there’s any discrepancy between what you’ve recorded and what your bank’s reporting, you’ll want to address it with them ASAP.

Logging your business mileage – That 56 cents per mile deduction can add up—and so can the time you’ll need to spend if you wait too long before logging the miles you’ve put on your car going to business meetings and events. I regrettably procrastinate on this one every quarter and then find myself muttering choice words under my breath as I scour my Google Calendar for the appointments I attended over the prior three months.

 With all of the above, I’ve learned that a few minutes now can save many minutes (sometimes hours) later. While you may feel tempted to put off those little to dos until tomorrow…or the next day…or the one after that, don’t procrastinate! It’s a mean, spiteful practice that will come back to bite you.

What administrative tasks have piled up on you lately?

By Dawn Mentzer (Struggling with writing fresh content for your blog? Drop me a note!)
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

 

Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net