The (sweet) prize of working from home

Oops – I did it again. I count that during my workday, I have eaten five (or perhaps six?) Jaffa biscuits, some dark chocolate, some very nice small carelian pies, mints, and all butter cheese straws – all in addition to breakfast and lunch. Neither my dentist nor my physician will be happy – nor am I. What on earth has happened?

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There are several underlying reasons for why snacking becomes so frequent whilst working at home – not just by me but also several colleagues I have spoken with. First reason is simply availability: Having goodies lying around makes it far too easy to resist them. I for example have a secret dash where I keep my emergency chocolates. Trust me, there are a lot more emergencies on a typical work day at home than one would imagine. Like one’s feet getting numb at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m., shoulders need a break. At noon, there certainly should be a lunch break.  At 2 p.m., eyes are getting tired. At 3, kids are coming home hungry and need some snacks. Noticing that the clock is close to 4 p.m., I try to boost one last hour of work even if I am completely exhausted (possibly related to the previously mentioned homecoming of my dear children, who despite their many admirable qualities do not usually contribute to a peaceful work environment).

The second main reason is the day of the week – Monday. I find Monday to be the least suitable distance work day for me, because it is difficult to get the mindset to work without going physically to work. Furthermore, I am simply knackered on Mondays, having enjoyed longer sleep-ins during the weekend as well as going to bed later than usual. The third reason is that sitting and thinking seems to boost snacking – the brain loves sugar (at least according to some research), and the more I sit, the more difficult it seems to be to get out and about (surely, instead of going to the fridge I could take a short walk outdoors, if only it did not feel so difficult to leave the house).

Finally, the fourth reason for snacking while working at home, is the type of work I have on the agenda today. I simply despise today’s task (I will not tell what it is to avoid offending anybody 😉 ) which makes me more likely to feel I “deserve” some extra breaks and consolation for having to do things that offer me little pleasure.

So, what can I and my fellow workers based at home learn from these observations?

  1. Do not store goodies at home if you have no intention of eating them yourself.
  2. Consider when to work from home – psychologically, certain week days may work better or worse.
  3. Plan short walks and breaks during the day to avoid snacking.
  4. Combine less attractive tasks with more attractive ones – instead of snacking, consider moving to a more interesting task as a reward.

 

Johanna Gummerus

Associate Professor

 

Photo: Pixabay