If you can't sneak it in, lock it in

Does your job sometimes feel like 1% “work” and 99% “fighting distractions?” Combating the forces of social media and a desk littered with vibrating, beeping devices often feels like a losing battle. Turn the tables on technology by having it work for you, rather than the other way around.

Give yourself a boost with organizational programs and tech tools that make adding brief breaks of exercise a breeze.

Use these tech tools to get away from your desk and get active with just the swipe of a finger.

To paraphrase the late, great comedian Mitch Hedberg: starting an exercise program can be as difficult as quitting is for smokers. As with kicking any bad habit, starting a new one presents just as many challenges, few more daunting than the breaking of long held routines. Breaking habits to make room for exercise or activity might feel like a steep uphill climb. Cue the technology!

With our time and attention dragged in so many directions, any tool that helps shepherd our flock of wandering thoughts has value. The simpler the tool is to learn, the easier to integrate into your every day routine. By this measure, the Pomodoro Technique is a clear-cut winner.

This popular productivity technique is a simple timer: 25 minutes of focused work and then a five-minute break. After four “pomodoros”, a longer break of 15 minutes is recommended. It’s that simple. Any clock does the trick but there are more advanced tools that work with your internet browser, blocking sites that are often associated with distraction.

Goodbye, third-cousin’s baby photos, hello productivity and activity!  

Since the prescribed five-minute break period frees you to refresh and recharge, why not take a physical break? Walk to the end of the hall, up a flight of stairs, or stretch by your desk. Or use your 15-minute break period to get outside for a brisk stroll around the building/block?

There are other systems built upon similar foundations. The Fokasu system uses a different timing schedule based on data from a productivity app called DeskTime. Fokasu prescribes 52 minutes of work followed by a 17-minute break period. Sounds like the perfect amount of time for some quick stretches, lunges, or a mind-clearing walk to the corner, doesn’t it?

If discipline is not a strong suit, enlist colleagues, friends, or family to form a virtual pomodoro group. Take turns leading simple exercises or convene with neighbours at an agreeable spot. Keep yourselves honest with a group video chat, where the unblinking eye of your webcam ensures no corners are cut.

If overprogramming is a familiar feeling, take control with Google Calendar’s newest feature, Goals. The smart calendar takes your requirement – run three times a week is the example used on their site – and squeezes it into your existing calendar.

If apps and push alerts to your mobile device keep you to your schedule, why not combine a gentle workout reminder with an in-device workout like one of the popular Seven Minute workout solutions?

The app (available for iPhone and Android, as well as on multiple websites) counts down and prescribes workouts that you can complete in as little as seven minutes! Repeated use offers rewards that, in some apps, unlock new exercise programs and different activities.

Today’s world of constant connectivity works both frees us and binds us to our devices. The myriad distractions at our fingertips make working difficult enough - trying to get organized and integrate activity seems impossible. Make the best use available tools you can to achieve attainable results by harnessing the power of technology.

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