If you work a routine based office job, there's a point in the day, an hour or two after lunch, when you always catch yourself dreaming about ways you might stretch out on the nearest couch without anyone noticing, and just go to sleep. Your screen gets blurry and your concentration fades. Whatever few ideas you have keep bumping into each other until you have a complete mental jam.
To make matters worse, the fallout from this '3 o'clock fatigue' often goes beyond the obvious drop in your productivity. Many then leave the office with mild headaches and a cranky feeling only to arrive at home still feeling tired and sick.
What is the impact of fatigue?
Fatigue is a workplace hazard because it affects your ability to think clearly and act appropriately. Fatigued workers are less alert, don't perform well, less productive and more likely to have accidents and injuries. People who are fatigued are not good at recognizing their own level of impairment, and can be unaware that they are not functioning at their best. In a worst case scenario, they can drop off to sleep in the middle of a task that can have terrible consequences.
The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take throughout the day to avoid this type of depletion. Most of them involve simply standing up and stepping away for a minute, but that can be challenging when you have deadlines looming. Assuming you are willing to experiment with some tools and exercises, and are open to being a bit more active and social, you really can make it to the end of the day with some energy to spare—and you'll probably get more and better work done too.
Here are a few methods you should try to incorporate in your day-to-day office life, to prevent fatigue.
1) Make sure that the weight of your arms is supported at all times. If your arms are not supported, the muscles of your neck and shoulders will be aching by the end of the day.
2) Watch your head position, and try to keep the weight of your head directly above its base of support (neck). Don't "crane" your head and neck forward.
3) Don't slouch! Slouching puts more pressure on the discs and vertebrae of your back. Use the lumbar support of your chair and avoid sitting in a way that places body weight more on one than on the other. Move your chair as close to your work as possible to avoid leaning and reaching. Make sure to "scoot" your chair in every time you sit down.
4) The monitor should be placed directly in front of you with the top no higher than eye level. The keyboard should be directly in front of the monitor so you don't have to frequently turn your head and neck.
5) Talking on the phone with the phone receiver jammed between the neck and ear is really bad practice. You know that's true, so don't do it!
6) The keyboard and the mouse should close enough to prevent excessive reaching which strains the shoulders and arms.
7) Avoid eye strain by making sure that your monitor is not too close, it should be at least an arm's length away.
8) The feet should not be dangling when you are seated. If your feet don't comfortably reach the floor or there is pressure on the backs of your legs, use a footrest or lower the keyboard and chair.
These few simple ways will not just prevent fatigue at office, but improve your overall lifestyle too, so ensure you don't ignore them.