YOU SPEND NEARLY A THIRD OF YOUR LIFE ON THE CLOCK. (WE’LL LET YOU TAKE A 15-MINUTE BREAK TO PROCESS THAT).
ARE YOU GETTING THE MOST FROM THOSE HOURS? SEE IF YOUR OFFICE SMARTS NEED AN UPGRADE.
AN EMAIL JUST CAME IN. YOU SHOULD . . .
A. Ignore it for now
B. Ignore it forever
C. Jump on it
Answer: A Interruptions force you to pick up the pace to get back on track, which increases your sense of pressure and stress, per UC Irvine research. Check email at preset intervals rather than replying to every message as it comes in.
IF YOUR JOB KEEPS YOU ON YOUR FEET, YOU DON’T NEED THE GYM.
Answer: B A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that men who are highly physically active at work are less healthy (as in 18 percent more likely to die earlier than their peers). So in your off-hours, augment with the right stuff: If you lift heavy objects at work, fit in a Sunday sprint session; if you’re standing all day, build weight training into your downtime.
TO HOT-DESK OR NOT TO HOT-DESK?
Answer: B The freedom to sit anywhere you choose—aka hot-desking—sounds like a perk (no getting stuck next to the loud eater). But researchers at the University of Wolverhampton in England say that having your own desk makes you feel more in control, which means less stress and more motivation. No choice? Try this: Focus on what you can change, such as the background on your screen or the design of the coffee mug you bring.
YOU WORK BEST LISTENING TO . . .
A. Your new playlist. Loud.
B. The sound of silence
C. “The Sound of Silence” (It holds up!)
D. The noise from the kitchenette
Answer: D Silence isn’t your smartest soundtrack, and your playlist isn’t so helpful, either. According to research from the University of British Columbia, a moderate level of ambient noise, such as running water or soft chatter, stimulates creative problem solving more than working where there’s a lot of noise or nearly none at all.
WHICH OFFICE HAZARD WRECKS YOUR HEALTH MORE?
A. Your screen
B. Your chair
C. The little gap between the restroom stalls. Stressful!
Answer: B Cornell University scientists say that sitting puts up to 90 percent more pressure on your back than standing. Give it a break: Place your chair’s lumbar support at the curve of your back and sit so your hips and knees are bent at right angles.
WHICH OF THESE COULD HELP LAND YOU A JOB INTERVIEW?
C. Facial hair
D. Your impeccable reputation
Answer: D, obviously. But also C. Believe it or not, your stubble could swing you a new job. In one study, job seekers who sported a beard in their LinkedIn profile photo were perceived as having more experience than their clean-cut competitors.
YOU’LL BE MORE PRODUCTIVE IF YOUR DESK IS . . .
B. Tastefully done up
C. Personal and lived in. “And over here’s the breakfast nook . . .”
Answer: C Sparse offices don’t help you get more done. Studies at the University of Exeter found that people in spaces decorated with plants and pictures were 17 percent more productive than those in pristine ones. But those who cluttered their offices as they liked—sticky notes, team gear—were the most productive (32 percent more than sparse-space workers).
THE BEST WAY TO HANDLE A HOSTILE BOSS IS . . .
A. Push back
B. Don’t engage
Answer: A An Ohio State University study found that people who push back against combative bosses are likely to have higher job satisfaction, more commitment to their employer, and possibly an easier time getting respect from their colleagues.
THE BEST WAY TO STOP STRESS EATING IS TO . . .
A. Pound extra water
B. Sleep more
C. Stop going to work
Answer: B Job stress wears down your mood and your self-control, as everyone who’s come home and torn right into a bag of chips before dinner (and maybe after, too) can attest. But research in the Journal of Applied Psychology suggests that when stress is everywhere (as in too much work, too many frustrating people), a good night’s sleep leaves you more resilient and less at the mercy of Doritos.
WHEN YOU’RE FACING A BIG DEADLINE, HIT THE GYM . . .
A. Early in the morning
B. On your lunch break
C. When all the work is done
Answer: B You’re not going AWOL; you’re getting stuff done. Swedish researchers found that exercising during your workday makes you more productive when you clock back in. Even a short, brisk walk can help you reduce anxiety, dial up your energy, and make that project history.
PEOPLE WHO PUSH BACK AGAINST COMBATIVE BOSSES ARE LIKELY TO HAVE HIGHER JOB SATISFACTION
HOW MANY DID YOU GET RIGHT?
0 TO 3: OUT OF OFFICE
Maybe you’re just distracted. Embrace your inner Luddite and silence technology. A Stanford study found that tuning in to several streams of electronic information at once messes with your ability to concentrate and to remember things.
4 TO 7: WORKING ON IT
You’ve got the basics; now master your mental game. University of Washington researchers found that meditation training not only helped people stay focused on their work; it helped them feel less stressed when they were required to multitask.
8 TO 10: EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH
You’re killing it, so don’t be afraid to take a time-out. A study in Human Performance discovered that for younger workers, short breaks of Internet browsing (not multitasking, but a true break) can improve your ability to sustain focus when you go back and do actual work.