I’m a big fan of multitasking. If I can accomplish more than one thing at once, this makes me very happy. Here are some ways to navigate office politics and prevent back, neck and shoulder pain at the same time.
1. Shoulder shrugs. Next time somebody asks you if you know why a meeting was cancelled, turn that shrug into a useful exercise to release stress and tension. Lift your shoulders, hold for a couple of seconds, then let them drop. Do this several times an hour.
2. Neck stretches. Very useful and important things, neck stretches, especially as tension in the neck can lead to nasty headaches. There are three main kinds: lowering your head forward and stretching it back, side to side, and rotation. (Click here for more detail.) Neck stretches can be used tactically during meetings to unnerve your opponents. Especially devastating in pitch presentations when people are desperately scanning your face for any signs of a response.
3. Hold your head up high. Holding your head at a funny angle for fixed periods of time will result in headaches. Look at people straight in the eye, hold your head up high and stand up straight and tall, and not only will you prevent neck strain, you’ll fool your colleagues into thinking you are self confident and successful.
4. Kick off your heels. When I’m feeling vulnerable, I wear corporate battle gear to cover up my insecurities: black suit, white shirt and heels. Shoes make us feel taller and sexier, but when we kick them off, we show how relaxed, cool and human we are. This is important, because nobody likes people who are perfect all the time. Kicking off your heels is the sartorial equivalent of letting your hair down, with the added bonus of giving your straining back muscles a break.
5. Move around. Management by walking around is not only a useful technique for letting your underlings know you’re keeping an eye on them and finding out about little problems before they become major ones, it will also prevent back, neck and shoulder pain. Sitting in a fixed position for long periods of time is a major cause of pain, so it’s a great excuse to get out there and check on what people are up to.
6. Take regular breaks from your desk. Use them to spend time around the office microwave, in the loos and on the smoker’s balcony, thus combining exercise with the chance to stretch, as well as picking up strategically useful skinner.
7. Type less, talk more. Next time you’re tempted to send that email or pick up the phone to someone in the same office, get up and go and talk to them instead. It’ll be good for relationship building and, again, an opportunity to loosen up your back, neck and shoulder muscles.