Web working seems to blur the lines separating our professional and family lives. If you work from home, it’s common to find yourself switching back and forth from work to household tasks throughout the day. This isn’t an issue if your only problem with work-home balance is a growing pile of dirty laundry. But if you’re not eating well, your work tends to suffer. When that happens, you might be forced to exert some extra effort at work, which gives you less time to cook — turning into a vicious cycle.
The good news is that there are ways to break that cycle.
There seems to be many common challenges that we web workers face when it comes to food preparation. These include the following:
- Skipped or delayed meals. It’s common for web workers to have broken body clocks, which leads to skipped meals. I confess that there are many days where I can’t tell when I’m supposed to have lunch. This gets more difficult during hectic days, when my only indication of mealtime is the sudden pain in my stomach.
- Poor food choices. Since we’re busy juggling work and home tasks, it’s easy to resort to convenience foods when we don’t have the time to prepare healthy and nutritious meals.
- Lack of exercise. If we’re not careful, web working can lead to a sedentary lifestyle. Combined with the factors above, this can be detrimental to our health. Apart from keeping our bodies healthy, exercise also reduces stress while increasing productivity and creativity.
Given these challenges, there are some things we do to maintain productivity at work while feeding ourselves and our families right. Here are some tasks we can start with:
Cook in batches. If you’re a fan of batch processing your emails, it helps to apply the same principle with food. Batch cooking allows you to cook all your meals once or twice a week, freeze them, and reheat them when needed. In my experience, this saves a lot of time and stress — especially if you’re cooking for a family. To learn more about batch cooking, you can visit these resources:
- Organized Home’s freezer cooking guide
- Recipe quantity calculator for multiplying recipe ingredients for use in larger batches
- Wisebread also has two useful posts, “Assembly Cooking for Newbies” and “The Five Day Freeze: Batch Cooking for the Rest of Us”
Have a designated space in your home office for nutritious food. I realized how important this was when I emptied out my office trash can and saw a collage of my sins. During long periods of work, I often made a quick trip to the kitchen, which led me to grab chips, sweets and other unhealthy snacks. We can avoid this by storing healthy snacks in the home office, such as oatmeal packets, nuts and fruits.
Apart from nutritious snacks, keep a jug of water nearby. It’s easy to forget proper hydration when you’re nearing a project deadline.
Don’t skip breakfast. One of my more recent unhealthy habits was discarding the “Never check email in the morning” rule. For several mornings in a row, checking my email was the first thing I did. Only an hour later would I eat breakfast. This usually happens when I’m expecting something urgent or dealing with a needy client. Regardless of how important our work is, it should not be more important than a good breakfast. Several studies claim that having breakfast improves concentration and cognitive performance. Also, it prevents you from feeling tired during the morning.
Take advantage of online tools. There are many sites and apps that can help you plan your meals more efficiently. SuperCook is a handy reference if you have a few odd ingredients but don’t know what to do with them. If you need to organize and manage your recipes, our friends at OStatic have compiled a list of open-source apps that do just that. For those who like to count calories and track exercise, you might want to try DailyBurn or SparkPeople.
We don’t have to put up with a diet of instant microwaved meals just because we don’t have access to an office cafeteria or a strip of restaurants. All it takes is some initial effort in planning our meals in advance and learning a few efficient cooking techniques. It may sound like a lot of work at first, but the payoff — quick and healthy home-cooked meals — is worth it.
Do you have enough time to prepare home cooked meals throughout the day? What do you do to make this easier on your teleworking schedule?