Do as I say, not as I do, right? The irony of being sat in a chair, chatting about the physical and mental merits of cardiovascular exercise and time outdoors is not lost on me. In fact, there’s little opportunity to move more than a few metres during the working day (although I have wheels on my chair so can easily access all corners of the room with just one small whoosh (more about that soon in my article on ‘professionalism in the workplace’)!
“But surely you can move about a bit in the time allocated between appointments?”, suggested a friend recently. Stemming the tide of coffee I was about to spit out in laughter, I then explained the concept of ‘housekeeping’ (thank you Roger Neighbour; best consultation model ever!), where typing up notes, tying up loose ends, and mentally preparing for the next patient is actually incorporated into the end of every appointment; there is no spare moment or scheduled time afterwards. Sure it’s a skill to ensure patients get the time and space they need, not run late *gazes wistfully*, and get some time to move about, but it’s certainly something we try to do and encourage our trainees to explore.
Why does moving about during the working day even matter? Well, you only need to phone the wrong person, mispronounce a name, get a personal pronoun or title wrong, or log into a meeting late (no comment) to learn the embarrassingly hard way that it pays to be prepared. You have to completely close the book on the previous task or person, no matter how lovely or rewarding or harrowing or perplexing their story was. And the small act of getting up out of your chair, maybe walking down the corridor or over to the window, getting a drink or visiting the facilities, can be really helpful here. It's also a chance to release endorphins and get some adrenaline going, which will help with concentration and motivation. Nobody wants to fall asleep mid-convo. Ahem.
Now, since all my appointments take place in the same room, I’ve tried to zhuzh up the working day by utilising any opportunity to leave my room, as well as...drumroll please...the rising desk. Yes friends, press a button on the side of the table and, like a phoenix from the ashes, it smoothly moves heavenward taking all my equipment and my elbows with it. And I’ve totally mastered the frantic loosening of cables and removal of coffee and other precariously balanced foodstuffs from the edges to avoid spillage and irreparable tech damage. Not my first rodeo.
Of course all of this applies to anyone working in an office or from home. If you're taking calls or doing meetings at a desk, can you also find a way to move about as well, during or afterwards? Try an office workout, or maybe look into a work-station stand that sits on top of your desk, to raise your computer? This is a much cheaper alternative to a bells-and-whistles rising desk. Avoid working on the sofa or a bed, as this isn't good for your back long-term. And to all of my amazing creative friends out there busy running your arms into the ground conducting ensembles, digging, sawing, or painting, give your shoulder girdle some TLC with these simple moves. Also good if you have a large dog that likes to tempt full-on shoulder dislocation by straining on its lead.
Maybe your own team does outdoor meetings or team-building days? Maybe you and your colleagues regularly exercise together, like at a local Park Run or gym? Share your ideas here and with the rest of your team to inspire more people to get active, reduce driving where possible, and encourage your patients/clients to do the same.
So friends, in the words of the inimitable James Brown, “Get up, get on up, stay on the scene, get on up”.
(Sex machine optional)