Leah Monica

Director of Marketing

10 Ways to Stay Healthy and Fit at the Office

A group of Matrix Group staff get together to do yoga at lunch every now and then.

A group of Matrix Group staff get together to do yoga at lunch every now and then.

Aiming to be a healthier, happier you this year? If so, you’ve probably evaluated your exercise and eating habits, and have put a solid game plan in place for the New Year. But have you considered how your habits at work could make or break your ability to meet your goals?

Here are our top 10 tips for staying healthy and fit throughout the workday:

  1. Keep healthy snacks within reach. I’d venture to say that office temptations might be the #1 diet saboteur. If you’re office is anything like ours, it’s all: doughnuts and cakes and candy bowls (oh my!) I’ve found that when I have healthy snacks ready and waiting — fruit, nuts, light granola bars — I’m less tempted to seek out the junk food lying around the office.
  2. Ask for a standing desk. I converted my desk to a standing desk about 6 months ago, and I can’t stop singing its praises. I’ve found that I’m more alert and more energized during the workday, plus I move around a lot more now that I’m always on my feet. While I realize this option may not be possible or ideal in some work environments, it never hurts to ask. If your company can’t (or won’t) spring for a new standing desk for you at the moment, you can always make a poor-man’s standing desk.
  3. Take the stairs! Sometimes taking the stairs isn’t always feasible — you work on the 20th floor, the stairway access is locked when entering the staircase (pro-tip: means of egress can never be locked – take the stairs DOWN!) or you’re nursing an ailment – but if you can, try to take the stairs to add some extra cardio exercise into your day.
  4. Grab a larger glass. Larger glass = more liquid. Consuming more liquid = more trips to the restroom. More trips to the restroom = more movement. Win, win, win.
  5. Take the scenic route. Need to meet with someone down the hall? Take the long loop around the office to get some extra steps in. Need to use the restroom? Go to the one that is the furthest away, or even go to one on a different floor (taking the stairs, of course!).
  6. Head to the gym at lunch. Studies show that working out in the middle of the day boosts productivity (how can your boss argue with that?), and is a great option if you are not a morning person or tend to have packed evenings. If there isn’t a gym close to your office, aim to take a walk every day at lunch time.
  7. Stand up and stretch. Many sources say that to stay healthy, you shouldn’t sit for more than an hour at a time. Make sure you give yourself at least 5 minutes of movement for every hour you are sitting. If necessary, set an alarm/reminder to stand up and stretch every hour on the hour, or invest in a fitness tracker that will alert you if you are sedentary for too long.
  8. Take your meeting on a walk. If you have a one-on-one internal meeting scheduled, suggest taking it on a walk. Sometimes the fresh air will even help to spark inspiration! Just make sure one of you has some kind of note taking device on hand to record action items or new ideas.
  9. Find a workout buddy. Find someone in your office that has similar goals and fitness interests, and hold each other accountable. It’s much easier (and more fun) to make yourself go for a walk or head to the gym when you have someone to do it with. Plus, you’ll probably think twice about grabbing that second doughnut when your buddy is around.
  10. Invite others to participate in small wellness “brain breaks” throughout the day. At Matrix, a group of us will gather for 5-10 minutes almost every day to do a few jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, and light stretching. If I were to do those things on my own at my work area, I’m sure my colleagues would think of me as a manic. But when we do those things as a group, it feels much more acceptable and is a LOT of fun. We also have a “stair club” that takes the elevator down to the bottom of the building, and then climbs the 12 flights of stairs back up to the office together. Start something fun at your office. Everyone will love you for it. Promise.

What are your secrets to staying healthy and fit in the workplace?

Kevin Tomko

Associate Director

Making Life Easier with Extensions

Extensions and plugins can make life so much easier. Those of us who use Chrome now have more options when it comes to Gmail.

This article in PC World Magazine explores several nifty extensions, including KeyRocket, Markdown Here, Right Inbox for GmailChecker Plus, and Gmail Offline. keys on a computer keyboard

They all look pretty exciting to me. They make things easier for the user and are free. What more could you ask?

Have you used these extensions? Are there others you prefer?

Chip Boyd

Brewmaster

Mailstrom – Finally Getting a Handle on Your Inbox

Inbox

Image source :http://www.sxc.hu

Dealing with your inbox is pretty awful. It only gets worse as we advance in our careers, and as more Luddites give in and join us here in the 21st Century. In the end, every one of us needs some kind of inbox solution.

Mailstrom is a web application that helps you move towards “Inbox Zero,” when you have no more unattended-to emails in your inbox, cluttering your life. It scans your Gmail account and breaks things down by sender, subject, topic, etc., and allows you to archive or delete them. It also tracks your progress.

Gotta tell you, I’m a fan so far. I used it to get rid of a lot of junk that I had in my Gmail account, and am now operating with a much cleaner inbox.

Have you found a great email tool?

Maria Lima

Manager of Special Projects

Excel to Wiki Converter: great online tool

At Matrix Group, one of my tasks is to help keep up our internal documentation in our staff wiki. We use MediaWiki, which is a great tool, however, after more than a decade of hand-coding HTML, some of the wiki coding made me crazy.

MediaWiki has some great help pages, but when I had to transfer a huge spreadsheet from Excel into the wiki, I nearly tore my hair out. The wiki coding is a bit clunky and doing it by hand would have taken me days.Excel-to-Wiki screenshot 2

Thanks be to Google! I found a great online converter tool that is both simple and free: excel2wiki.

It’s dead easy – just copy your cells from Excel, paste into the text box and submit.

Voila! The result displays on the screen and all you have to do is cut and paste into your wiki page. Simple, right?Excel-to-Wiki screenshot 2

This has saved me hours of coding!

What nifty time-saving tools have you found recently?

Kevin Tomko

Associate Director

Productivity – The Power of Real Time

A long time ago, I would go to a meeting and bring a notepad to take notes. Then I graduated to those cool blank journal books.

Over the past few years I’ve stepped it up and now take my MacBook Air (thanks, Joanna) to meetings. It feels so good to take notes during a meeting, spend 10 minutes cleaning them up and then send them out to everyone. I no longer have to fumble around keyboardwith papers and lose time trying to interpret my handwriting. Its also nice to pull up all the websites we’re referring to while we’re in the meetings.

There are so many great tools out there that help with real time productivity. There’s Google Docs, Evernote and even using our company Instant Messenger.

I now find myself creating my daily checklist in TextEdit or a Word doc. All of those stickies on my desk are miraculously gone! What I do is keep my checklist open all the time and refer to it throughout the day. I leave it up on my desktop at the end of the day so when I login in the morning, voila! I know what needs to be done.

This real time productivity has crossed over into my life. I always have my iPad next to me when I watch TV – I look up things mentioned on the news, I get reminded to “check out” when I see those Fab.com commercials that fly by when fast forwarding my DVR, and I’ll even pull up the long trailer of that movie they’re talking about.

Then there’s smartphones. It would be so 2009 to go on about smartphone productivity, so I will spare you.

To date myself, I grew up actually using fax machines, typewriters, pagers, car phones, 5″x5″ actual floppy disks and phone booths. By the way, what’s Superman using now??……guess that’s why a meteor hit Russia :-)

I love technology and the real time productivity it provides. Some people prefer kicking it old school. Whatever your pleasure, I’m sure 20 years from now the pen and pad will become hip again.

What’s your favorite productivity tool?