Walk and talk: Why walking meetings make business sense

Walk and talk: Why walking meetings make business sense

They’re not only good for your health but can bring better ideas, solutions and conversations. Here’s why walking meetings are the choice of a growing number of leaders…

In 2013, Harvard Business Review published an article titled “Sitting is the smoking of our generation”. The author was Nilofer Merchant, a chief executive and strategist who had previously worked for a host of tech giants including Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Symantec and Nokia.

Life after caffeine: Top 10 Survival tips

You’ve pledged to consume less caffeine, but life without lattes might seem bleak.

Never fear, you’ll learn to love the new you and soon see the benefits.  It’s often hard to tell whether a product contains caffeine and how much. Small amounts are unlikely to be listed on food labels so look for ingredients like coffee beans, cacao, or green tea.

Many teas, chocolates and sweets, as well as over-the-counter medicines, contain caffeine and even decaf coffee contains small amounts (about the same as you’d find in a hot chocolate).

Here are 10 tips from Mark Winwood, director of psychological services at AXA PPP healthcare, on coping without caffeine:

1. Drink lots of water - You may be surprised by how much fluid you take in with cups of tea during the day. Make sure you replace your usual caffeinated drinks with an alternative. If you’re feeling tired and headachy, it could be because you’re dehydrated.

2. Get outside - Sitting at a desk, reading computer screens and office air conditioning can take their toll. A 15- minute walk outside will invigorate you with oxygen and daylight… even on a grey day.

3. Give your brain a workout - Stimulate your mind with a crossword or Sudoku.

4. Sweet treats - You don’t need chocolate to pick you up in the afternoon, reach for piece of fruit, like an apple or a clementine, instead and feel the rush of natural sugars.

5. The big chill - Try drinking ice-cold water. You can also run your wrists under a cold tap and splash some on your face, or suck on an ice cube.

6. Scents and sensibility - Essential oils like citrus, peppermint, or jasmine can be invigorating. Rub a few drops between your palms, cup your hands together and inhale.

7. Winter warmers - Giving up your caffeine fix can leave you craving a warm drink during cold months – try a cup of soup (miso is quick and easy) or a zingy peppermint herbal tea instead.

8. Cheating doesn’t pay - Don’t be tempted to substitute sugary drinks and foods to get the boost you got from your caffeinated ones… you’ll find the immediate pay-off is short-lived and followed by a slump.

9. Meditate - Not just for the Zen, meditation has gone mainstream. If you’re a novice, there are numerous apps and books to guide you.

10. Sleep - It seems obvious, but perhaps you’re feeling sluggish because you are, quite simply, tired. Rather than fight it, why not recharge with a power nap?

NICE updates guidance on older workers and back pain

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has updated workplace guidance about the health and wellbeing of older employees and the treatment of back pain.

In its guidance on older employees, or those aged over 50, NICE has made a number of new recommendations, including the need for employers to:

  • Treat employees on an individual basis, avoiding stereotypes, such as the assumption that an older employee may find learning new tasks difficult or a younger employee is less dependable.
  • Offer and encourage older employees to undertake training if their job role changes, or if they may have received education and training some years ago.
  • Help older employees to access health and screening services, such as cervical screening and eye tests, as well as allowing them time off to attend appointments.
  • Address key life stages or events that may affect an older employee, such as offering carer’s leave or flexible working to care for grandchildren or parents.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “The number of older people in employment is set to increase – people are living longer and will be working well into their 60s and 70s. Protecting their health and wellbeing is essential if we are to maintain a healthy and diversified workforce. Our new recommendations will support older employees and help keep them in employment for longer by providing clarity on their needs.”

When it comes to back pain, NICE has updated its 2009 guidance on the early management of low back pain and has published draft recommendations for public consultation.

The draft guidelines recommend that exercise in all its forms (for example, stretching, strengthening, aerobic or yoga) should be the first step in managing low back pain.

Massage and manipulation by a therapist should only be used alongside exercise because there is not enough evidence to show they are of benefit when used alone, it has argued. People should also be encouraged to continue with normal activities as far as possible.

In a significant change, the draft guidelines no longer recommend acupuncture for treating low back pain.

Paracetamol on its own should no longer be the first option for managing lower back pain. The guidance recommends non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin should be tried first. Weak opioids, such as codeine, are now only recommended for acute back pain when NSAIDs have not worked or are not suitable, it added.

Combined physical and psychological treatments (talking therapies) are recommended for people who have not seen an improvement in their pain on previous treatments, or who have significant psychological and social barriers to recovery.

The draft guidance has been expanded to include people with sciatica. And, unlike the previous guidelines, which only covered the management of low back pain that had lasted between six weeks and 12 months, the updated guidance covers people with low back pain or sciatica irrespective of how long they have had the condition.

Professor Mark Baker, clinical practice director for NICE, said: “Regrettably, there is a lack of convincing evidence of effectiveness for some widely used treatments. For example, acupuncture is no longer recommended for managing low back pain with or without sciatica. This is because there is not enough evidence to show that it is more effective than sham treatment.”

The final guideline on this area is due to be published in September.

What Super Productive People Have in Common

Why is it that some people seem to achieve more in a day than the rest of us do in a week? Are they just that much more dedicated or focused? Or are they somehow superhuman? 

It turns out, there are several habits that productive people have in common — and like any habit, they’re ones anyone can learn to adopt.

If you want to squeeze some more productivity into your day, try cultivating these habits:

  1. Avoid Multitasking
    OK, admit it: How many tabs do you have open in your browser right now? If it’s more than one or two, you may be guilty of multitasking. And who among us isn’t? But research shows that we actually lose focus and productivity every time we switch between tasks. Rather than getting things done faster, it actually decreases our productivity. 
    Try this: Try setting a timer for 15, 20, or 50 minutes and focus on a SINGLE task for that time period. When your time is up, take a break, look at social media, and then attack your next task for a similar time period.
  2. Do your most challenging work when you’re at your best.
    The most productive people understand their own body rhythms and understand that we each have a block of time during the day during which we feel the most “on.” By scheduling the most challenging or creative work during that time, you’re more likely to get into flow and produce better work more efficiently. Save checking email and returning phone calls for your afternoon slump.
    Try this: Try a method called time blocking to block out hours of your day for different tasks, blocking your most productive hours for your most challenging work.
  3. Understand what’s important.
    Productive people understand that some work is deep work, while other is surface work. Things that seem urgent, but aren’t actually that important, can take up huge chunks of time in the average person’s day. But the very productive person understands which tasks are actually important, and works accordingly.
    Try this: Use Stephen Covey’s Important/Urgent time management matrixto help prioritize your work.
  4. Delegate and ask for help.
    Productive people aren’t superhuman. They often simply know when and how to delegate and ask for help. I recently chatted with an entrepreneur who is also a mom, and she had outsourced her laundry to a service and ordered groceries online. By delegating these chores to others, she freed up more time in her day for tasks only she could do.
    Try this: Make a list of tasks that you could delegate or outsource and try asking for help on just one of them.
  5. Take care of yourself.
    While it seems like productive people must be always working, they actually are more likely to take breaks, exercise, have good sleep habits, and priorities self-care. That’s because they understand that they are their most important asset — and taking care of that asset is a top priority.
    Try this: What have you been letting slide in terms of taking care of yourself? Can you commit to leave work at a certain time, go to bed earlier, or work out every day? Make a commitment to your own well being.
  6. Make a plan.
    Many of the most productive people take the time to plan out their days either first thing in the morning, or the night before. That way, they avoid wasting time during the day trying to decide what needs to happen next.
    Try this: Get in the habit of checking your calendar and to-do list right before you leave work for the day, and make a plan for what you need to accomplish tomorrow.

If you can adopt even a baby-steps version of one of these habits, you too can easily become a more productive person and have people asking, “How does s/he do it all?”

By Bernard Marr (Author, Keynote Speaker and Leading Business and Data Expert)