How To Get More Desk Breaks At The Office



by Herndon Hasty (Digital Performance Manager)

Science has have had a lot to say recently about sitting too much – it’s bad, apparently, even though sitting all day Saturday and Sunday between now and Christmas is practically compulsory. With more Americans in office jobs, sitting in front of a keyboard, monitor and discretely tucked-away browser windows with pleasure reading (where, doubtlessly, they’re shopping for high-quality leather) and obesity a continuing issue, it’s a fitting thing to be concerned about.

This has led to innovations like standing desks (these are actually pretty awesome), and Fitbits and watch apps that remind you to get up and move around every once in awhile.

We at Saddleback don’t disagree. Getting up and moving in all its forms is to be commended, though we prefer to it by getting out, and not just up. It’s not just the exercise – you see a lot more away from a desk or cubicle, have more conversations, and build up a bigger stable of stories. More dreams, too, and having something to work towards – in and out of work – makes everything personal and workwise easier and more worthwhile.

Still, the challenge is how to build it into your day. Standing desks are expensive, and leaving it to alarms detaches you from the process – makes it a burden instead of a good habit.

I only recently joined Saddleback after a long, deep obsession with the brand. Before that, I was part of a big international digital agency, chained to a desk even though, as office environments go, it was tops. What was a growing boy to do to break the chain and stretch his legs regularly?

Water. That’s what.

Starting the day with a full 32 oz cup from Dickeys of ice water, refills every time I got close to done, and at least two planned walking tours of the office a day to take care of a conversation or two in-person instead of over email (and to pet the office dogs on the way) gave me a 60% boost in daily steps.

Especially in a coffee and soda-drenched office environment, the next healthiest thing behind motion that your body misses at a desk job is water. And it gives you a couple good built-in reasons to get up and move.

First,  I found it goes down way easier than coffees and cokes. Practically drinks itself. Which means that, unlike caffeine delivery beverages, I was able to drink a lot of it without even really noticing. This created a lot of refill breaks, and opened up more spontaneous conversations and meetings just by being a little more visible. Drinking a lot of water can also help keep you feeling full throughout the day, and can help keep you sane on a tough diet.

Secondly, drinking a lot of water causes you to need to get up for…well, let’s call it constitutional reasons. Especially ice water. Didn’t add as many side trips (constitution’s gonna constitution), but that built in another few breaks and steps I wouldn’t have otherwise taken.

For those reasons, even when I made the move to Saddleback and a home office, the first thing added to my desk on day 1 was not my laptop, but my giant Dickeys cup full of water.

So, with the holiday season coming up, if part of what you want a Fitbit or smart watch for is to remind you to move, ask Santa for a nice, big water bottle or Dickeys gift certificate (and something else awesome to cover the difference) instead.