If you work at a computer all day, you know you probably sit too much – all the health experts tell you so. But how do you get your work done without sitting all day?
In an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, New York Times Phys Ed columnist Gretchen Reynolds, speaking of her book The First 20 Minutes, suggests simply this: “Stand up for two minutes for every 20 minutes you sit.” That’s a mere six minutes an hour.
Since I work from home, I began to think of all the things I could get done around the house in 2 (or 5) minutes, with this criterion – it must be done without sitting down. (If you make the 5-minute choice, maybe you should wait 30 or 40 minutes before taking a break.)
Here are some activities I thought of:
- Make your bed.
- Walk up and down the stairs, if available.
- Call the do-not-call registry (888-382-1222) to prevent unwanted phone calls.
- Go outdoors and breathe some fresh air.
- Stand up and do a nice cat-stretch, from your head to your toes.
- Make a cup of tea.
- Empty the dishwasher.
- Spend two minutes clearing the dining room table or other “hot spot.”
- Sweep the bathroom floor.
- Scour the kitchen sink.
- Wipe out the microwave.
- Slowly massage lotion into your hands; close your eyes and feel the comfort.
- Pet your dog (or the cat, who’s probably hovering around your printer, anyway).
- Give a full two or five minutes of undistracted attention to your child.
- Start a note to encourage a friend. (Reynolds recommends buying a music stand so you can stand up doing some tasks.)
- Finish the note of encouragement.
- Get the meat out of the freezer for supper.
- Start a grocery list.
- Begin clearing the pile of papers from your desk – standing up, of course.
- Shred the latest credit card offers.
- Empty the trash.
- Pick a flower.
- Water your houseplants.
- Grab your camera and take a photo of something – inside or outside.
- Go outside and walk around the perimeter of your house.
- Smell a rose.
- Put some books away.
- Fold the towels.
- Put away the towels.
Besides the health benefit of preventing (more) middle-age spread, you may discover a side benefit: Stepping away will give you a fresh perspective on the project you are working on – it lets your subconscious do its thing. Taking longer than two minutes won’t be a problem – you’ll be anxious to put your new perspective down on paper.
It may also make you work faster, knowing you have only a few minutes left to get your latest thoughts on the screen before the 20 minutes is up.
What other productive – or not – two-minute activities can you think of?