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Laura Johnson: How to Maximize Your Productivity Without Sacrificing Your Wellness

By Laura Johnson / TNJ | 3/16/2017, midnight

It seems like every other day we learn another celebrity has transitioned into the corporate wellness space. Recently, singer-songwriter and multi-platinum artist, Jewel, launched a website dedicated to inspiring emotional fitness, with her primary focus on culture within large companies. Along similar lines, Arianna Huffington announced her new venture, Thrive Global, developed around the promotion of physical and emotional wellbeing in the workplace.

Even venture capitalists (VCs) are highlighting the importance of giving your mind a break. I recently had the opportunity to watch Santa Barbara VC John Greathouse interview the legendary Brad Feld. Both entrepreneurs-turned-VCs underscored the importance of doing things that bring you joy -- reading, specifically -- as a means to improve your emotional health, wellbeing and creativity.

But how can entrepreneurs and small teams make space for emotional wellness when there is so much to do and only so many hours in a day? Here are five ways that our team at Salty Girl Seafood creates space for emotional wellbeing:

  1. Don't do work on all seven days of the week. When Friday rolls around, plan to allocate either Saturday or Sunday as your day of freedom. This is the day where you just do you. Don't answer emails (I know this one's hard). When we head into a weekend, we give our team a heads up as to what day we'll be checking email. That way, everyone's on the same page. Your brain needs a full day to relax and focus on other things. Do whatever it is you love to do on this day, and you'll find that you're more creative, refreshed and prepared to hit your workweek running come Monday.

  2. Have a physical outlet every day (or as much as possible). Studies show that time spent exercising does wonders for the brain and body. I do my best to get a run in every day, setting my course to get at least a glimpse of the ocean when I'm on the coast. This way I'm getting exercise and a bit of "blue mind" all at once.

  3. Shape your day around your optimum hours. Also easier said than done. There's tons of research out there exploring what hours are best for us to do X, Y and Z, but the key here is to figure out what works best for you. Different parts of your brain fire at different parts of the day depending on who you are. Along those lines, focus on productivity and accomplishing tasks -- not hours worked in a day.

  4. Change your location. Don't feel tied to your desk. If you're feeling stale, stressed or overwhelmed, get up. Stretch your legs. It's good to introduce change into your day-to-day. Standing desks are a great way to disrupt the usual eight hours on your backside, or find an outdoor cafe or a quiet nook in your building to change up the scenery.

  5. Make space in your day to enjoy your colleagues. It doesn't have to be an hour lunch break and they don't have to be your office "bestie," but taking time to grab a cup of coffee, take a walk, and get some fresh air with a teammate gives you the opportunity to learn a bit more about the people you're working hard alongside every day. At my company, we love to grab a chai on a chilly day (and we're especially partial to taking a break to share a pastry)!