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