Friday, March 26, 2010

Healthy spine, better productivity

Playing three high school sports, working office jobs sitting in front of a computer, and years of less-than-perfect posture have made my back and neck susceptible to misalignment.  Now that I work from home in my cozy home-office I started to evaluate what my ergonomics situation is like.  (My chiropractor would be so proud!)

Employing good office-place ergonomics results in improved productivity and better health.  Physicians at believe you can avoid pain at your desk by evaluating the following:
  • Your seated posture.  Do you sit at the front of your chair hunched over?   The better seated posture is to sit back in the office chair and utilize the chair’s lumbar support to keep the head and neck erect.
  • Time spent at your desk. If you are at your desk for prolonged periods of time, do you stretch and/or take walking breaks?  Runs to the coffee-maker are a good thing!
  • Your workstation. How do your desk, computer and chair relate to one another? Spine professionals give the following guidelines to ensure proper relation of these three key items:
1.   Choose the surface height for the desk (standing, sitting or semi-seated) best for the task to be performed. Architects and draftsman may want a higher surface for drawing while computer entry work could be seated or standing, depending on the need to use other tools or references. The specific height of the work surface will also need to vary based on the height of the individual worker.
2.   Adjust the seat of the office chair so that the work surface is “elbow high.” A fist should be able to pass easily behind the calf and in front of the seat edge to keep the back of the legs from being pressed too hard and the feet from swelling. Two fingers should slip easily under each thigh. If not, use a couple of telephone books or a footrest to raise the knees level with the hips. The backrest of the office chair should push the low back forward slightly. If these adjustments cannot be adequately made with the existing office chair, a different make or type of chair may be considered.
3.   Fit the height of the computer screen. Sit comfortably in the newly adjusted office chair. Close both eyes and relax. Then, slowly reopen them. Where the gaze initially focuses should be when the eyes open is the place to put the center of the computer screen. The screen can be raised using books or a stand if needed.

After evaluating my own office space I’m realizing that although I’ve been fighting the urge to cross my legs (a no-no while sitting at your computer!), I still haven’t found the proper alignment with my legs and my chair. I plan to give a few other chairs in this house a try or consider purchasing a foot rest that will get my knees level with my hips.

I hope your spine is happy today!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Picaboo- I see you!

Hello faithful readers. I wanted to share with you a fabulous service that I recently used-Picaboo.

I don’t come from a highly religious family, so when my grandmother passed a few months ago we started planning a memorial luncheon.  After seeing a similar project created by my SIL (thank you Danielle!), I decided to create a keepsake that we could give to everyone who was traveling from all over the country to attend the event.

The result? A memorial photo book showcasing my Nana as a teenager in Scotland all the way through to great-grandmother at age 88.  My family is going to love this!

Picaboo specializes in creating high-quality photo books.  The service is fantastically simple. After a quick software download you select photos from your computer, upload and begin the creative process.  What I love more than the attractive book cover and page styles, is the attractive pricing- you won’t find this quality for this price on Kodak, Snapfish, or Shutterfly. 

But there is also a great sale ending March 31st that you should be aware of- BOGO photo books. That is right, buy one get one free with code BGFMAR at checkout.  I made out like a bandit for my family project!

For my job-hunting readers, are you looking for a unique way for your resume to stand out?  Or how about my entrepreneurs?  Are you looking for a new way to market your business? Creating a professional portfolio book to share with prospective employers or clients is also an effective way to utilize Picaboo.   Can you imagine how well your portfolio would stand out in this dog-eat-dog world? Lots more great ideas to check out on their site. Enjoy!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Detox your Career in 5 days

Ever feel like your career is eating you alive? That the stress you bring home after a day of work carries over into your personal life and may even be affecting your health?  Then you may need the 5 Day Career Detox.

Well how do we apply that to your work situation?
  • Day 1 Evaluate Your Current Circumstances. Determine what is toxic.  A team mate? A project? Your boss?  The entire company that employs you? This may be a time for little changes such as angling to partner with a new group of team mates, or it may be as drastic as coming to the realization that you are miserable in your current industry.  Have an honest conversation with yourself.  Ask yourself: Is this project/job/company going to help me reach my ultimate goals?   What is making me miserable? Then vow to change it. 
  • Day 2 Purge Negativity.  Instead, choose happiness, choose contentment.  Attitude is key. Don’t let the little things get you down. One trick is to sit down every day and write down at least three things that you are thankful for. Start small: your morning cup of joe.  Aim for bigger: I’m thankful for my mentor.
  • Day 3 Be Selfish. No one else is looking out for you.  Be assured, your boss is looking out for him/herself. You make great things happen in your career.  Always be on the lookout for the next big career move.  It could mean changing departments, or changing career direction entirely.  Don’t have a mentor yet? Find one.
  • Day 4 Nourish Your Soul.  Surround yourself with positive people. Take a long hard look at your faithful lunch mate. Does he/she bring you up? Or do they suck your energy? If it’s the latter, begin the process of surrounding yourself with a new healthy group of people.  Forgo PEOPLE magazine and ask friends to recommend uplifting books that they have currently read.  Have you been skipping the gym? Ease yourself back in with a nice long walk blaring your favorite tunes on your iPod.  A good friend brings positivity to her harried work day with a simple purchase: Tulips for her desk when she is feeling down.
  • Day 5 Reflect. Starting to feel the cloud lift?  You’re almost there.  Day 5 is all about the previous 4 days journey. Ask yourself: What have I learned?  This new awareness of what toxins affect you will change the rules of engagement when presented with choices in the future.  
Choose health.

Friday, March 5, 2010

When the Planning Advocate advises against PLANNING

I am a planner. There isn’t any way around it. I like to know what, where, when and how - and preferably 2 weeks in advance. Planning leads to better organization, which simplifies your personal and/or your professional life.

So is there any time Ms. SleeveShirt advises against planning?

I recently read this inspirational article where Oprah interviews the Zen Buddhist master Nhat Hanh. The 83-year old native of Vietnam joined a monastery at age 16 and has been sharing his philosophies with the world ever since. He’s everything you would expect from a Buddhist monk. He lives simply, chooses his words carefully and has always been wise beyond his years.

What struck me most was his challenge against the environment most of us find ourselves in- just trying to get through the next thing. Hanh says, “But with a practice, we can always remain alive in the present moment... It is possible to live happily in the here and the now.”

We’re all guilty of it. Too often we rush through all that life has to offer because we’re already thinking of what’s next on our to-do list. Hanh provides a simple example of how to achieve contentment of the present moment.

“Suppose you are drinking a cup of tea. When you hold your cup, you may like to breathe in, to bring your mind back to your body, and you become fully present. And when you are truly there, something else is also there- life, represented by the cup of tea. In that moment you are real, and the cup of tea is real. You are not lost in the past, in the future, in your projects, in your worries. You are free from all these afflictions. And in that state of being free, you enjoy your tea. That is the moment of happiness, and of peace.”

I’m going to go turn the kettle on. I hope you will join me for a spot of tea.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Help for the technologically challenged

I’m working at my kitchen island today. I get much better light in here than I do in my home office (we’re working on that though… electrician’s numbers have been procured). From the kitchen I can hear the happy hum of my copier: Makin’ copies.

My issue? I have no idea how to scan or fax from the machine. I specifically purchased this model because it can do all these things: Fax, Print, Copy, Scan. I think it can even file my taxes (wouldn’t that be nice?)

Instead of opening the manual I’ve been patiently waiting for my husband to teach me. I’m not a complete techno-idiot. After a few lessons I was able to juggle the three remotes we have for the TV/DVD/Stereo. Just don’t ask me how to turn on the Wii or hook up our web cam. (Sorry Gma and PopPop, you’ll only see us when Kevin is home to Skype!)

Why do I refuse to read the manual? I don’t usually give up easily on things. If I were single I most certainly wouldn’t be spending $10 at FedEx/Kinkos every time I needed to fax a document.

I guess it has to do with defining roles within a relationship. I iron. He mows. I wash the clothes, he washes the car. It’s good when you have a partner who you can share responsibility with- I just don’t want to be one of those women who wakes up one day and has no idea how to balance the check book. I was after all, the one who taught my husband how to perform this function when we met in college. But, I gave up that household responsibility 10 years ago.

I’m gonna go stare down the machine for a few minutes this afternoon. I’ll let you know who comes out on top.