Housekeepers and being physically​ active at work



Alica Crum


We spend a third of our time at work.  For most of us, that time is spent either sitting down at a desk or in meetings. This post will feature tips on how to stay physically healthy in the workplace.



Being Mindful of your Movements

Before reading the tips below, it’s good to think and note down the physical activities that you’re already engaged in while in the office.  Walking to the kitchen, to your next meeting, or outside to get some a coffee; all of these counts as being physically active.


Just being more mindful of your physical activity can have a positive impact on your health.  I’ll circle back to this point later in the article.



Increasing physical activity at work

For now, here are some additional changes that you can adopt to increase your level of physical activity at work.


  1. Active Melbourne City Sports

There are a number of sports being organised around the city on a weekly basis: Soccer, Basketball, Dodgeball, Running, Netball and Cricket just to name a few.  Check out the Active Melbourne City Sports and to see how you can get started.



  1. Stairs

Instead of using the elevator try take the stairs.  This can be done when attending meetings or you even use the bathrooms that are on a different level.  Making a trip up and down the stairs burns a little over 5 calories.



  1. Chat services are great, but…

Chat services are great when you need a quick and short response to question or to broadcast a message to a team; but if a conversation is taking longer than 2-3 minutes, then having a face to face conversation may be more appropriate.  Face to face conversations requires you to move away from your desk and take a short walk across the office.



  1. Nice kicks

If you are fortunate enough to work in an office with a relaxed dress code; wearing comfortable clothes and shoes encourages you to be more active.  It’s a lot easier to get up a flight of stair in flats, than in high heels (I assume).



The Mindful Housekeepers

A study was conducted to test if one’s mindset along with exercise could have an effect on health variables such as weight, blood pressure, body fat and BMI. 84 housekeepers from 7 different hotels were split into two groups and were measured on the previous health variables mentioned above.


The first group was informed that the work they engage in daily (i.e. cleaning hotel rooms) is a good form of exercise and attributes to an active and healthy lifestyle.  The common work tasks that they performed were shown as examples of exercise.


The second group of housekeepers kept in the dark.


After four weeks, the same health variable was measured again for both groups.  The informed group showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat and BMI as compared to the control group.


The research conducted by Alia Crum and Ellen Langer shows that changing one’s perception of the of physical activities at work can be enough to affect your health in a positive way.


Combining a change in mindset along with increasing physical activity at work would be even better 🙂






No Days off


Mahatma Gandhi

Time to Read: 2 mins

What a busy weekend! On Saturday I played with my 5-year son, finished Firewatch (great game) and watched Dough (an entertaining movie). On Sunday we went to visit a few winery’s, went to the strawberry farm and then stopped by my parent’s house for dinner.

I have committed to completing 5 daily activities to help improve my emotional, mental and spiritual state.

But over that weekend I managed to complete 1 out of the 5 daily activities that I usually commit to every day. Outside of having a fabulous weekend, what did I learn from skipping over these activities?

I learned that taking days off kills your momentum. We all need time off now and again to break away from our normal day to day activities. But when we’re trying to build habits, the truth is that days off hurt. This is especially true in the early stages of habit formation.

No days off
Committing to daily practice reminded me of the statement: ‘No days off’. And so, I wanted to explore what types of feelings and beliefs we have around this statement. Who is it typically used by, if it’s the approach towards excellence and whether it is even achievable.

Having a quick search around the web, you will find that the ‘no days off’ line is typically associated with either, gym junkies or in rap music. The other instance where it is commonly used is in sports. For the most part and statement comes off and very cliche.

It infers that an individual is exerting so much will power to make sure that they arrive at a destination or goal first. It’s hard, it’s competitive and that only means that you simply can’t afford to take a day off.

For someone to take on this view and approach is impressive. But how long can you last?

If you find a task difficult and unenjoyable, how long can you possibly keep at it? If the only thing that keeps you going is motivation, I have some bad news. Motivation (like our ability to focus) is finite. But some people have been able to keep it going.

Choose your Habit’s wisely
No days off simply means that you have established a habit. A habit that is so ingrained that it’s no longer a chore, motivation is no longer required, you don’t even think about it, it just happens, and is a part of who you are. So choose your habits wisely.

Daily habit is all about mastery, but before you get there somewhere along the way you decided that it was important. It was important enough that you decided to come back to it day after day.

Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.

– Mahatma Gandhi

How to use Buffers

Time to Read: 3 mins

Sakichi Toyoda was the founder of Toyota and is considered to be the father of industrial revolution in Japan. The industrial revolution moved us away from hand made goods, to mass manufacturing of goods by machines.

In manufacturing, buffers are used to keep the assembly line running with any interruption; It’s described as having enough supply to keep the assembly running and helps to compensate for any variations in the production process.

We also use buffers in certain aspects of our lives. We add them to our budgets, when we need to travel to an important destination and can visible in all of the ‘stuff’ that we accumulate.


Why buffers make sense
In the context of running an assembly line, buffers make sense. If you find one part that is faulty, if can be quickly discarded (because you have a buffer of spare parts) the spare part is used and the assembly line keeps on moving.

At a surface level, it seems that buffers are a smart safe guard, which clearly has its merits. But a valuable exercise to try is to operate life without any buffers.


A life with our buffers
Living life without buffers can uncover problems that are difficult to identify. When our buffers are always being used and depleted; it indicates that a real problem exists that isn’t just an anomaly.

Sakichi Toyoda knew that buffers were a necessity to compensate for small anomalies, but he also knew that without regular examination, buffers would only be covering up bigger problems.

Using the assembly line as an example; If a large number of parts are being discarded (because they are faulty), then it may be time to speak to the supplier about the quality controls they have in place.


Digging a little deeper
Taking the time to dig deeper can help us to discover why buffers exist in the first place, as opposed to just accept the status quo.

The Toyota assembly line is renounced for the hundreds of small improvements it makes to its assembly line each year. All of those tiny improvements results in a reduction in cost and time to process.

Those who take the time to dip deeper and find the reasons could be called perfectionists and have a somewhat obsessive nature with what they do.


The right approach
Admittedly some problems feel like they are easily dealt with the use of buffers, they give us a certain feeling of safety and readiness.

But we can get closer to a better process by removing the buffers and examining how something work, looking at a cause and effect relationships.

Once the process is improved, we can then put the buffers back in place, because ideally they shouldn’t be part of the process or be used to hide a bigger problem; but should only act as a safe guard for events we can’t control.

Seeing both sides, with Empathy

img_0187Time to read: 3 mins

A while ago (a long time ago) I watched an episode of Comedian in Cars Getting Coffee.  As the title suggests, the show is about comedians in cars getting coffee with the host Jerry Seinfeld.  It’s a good combination of cars, comedy and coffee.

I watched an episode where the guest was Chris Rock.  Jerry picked him up in a 1969 Lamborghini 400s Miura. The dialogue and comedy were great.  Then there were some remarks about arguing both sided that got my attention.

A dialogue with Chris Rock
Chris: The ability to talk to a lot of people is freakish
Chris: Anyplace where there is a microphone people want me to speak, a funeral and book signing someone’s birthday. It doesn’t matter where I am.

Jerry: There is no subject that you can’t handle, you (as a comedian) have given some thought to almost everything.

Chris: We are professional arguers.  Not only can we argue, but we argue either sides.
Chris: If you walked into a school and saw your kid talking to 500 kids you think your kid was possessed.

A Freakish Ability
For Chris, the ability to speak to a lot of people and successfully holds their attention comes down to being able to see both sides.  He demonstrated this when hosting the 2016 Oscar Awards.

Despite the protests for the lack of diversity of the Nominees, he was able to entertain the majority of actors while still acknowledging the issues that lead to other actors boycotting the event.  It was a difficult situation; to talk in front of your peers about a very sensitive topic, where anyone could have been easily offended.

Seeing both sides
When solving a problem that involves negotiating or mediation.  We usually don’t spend enough time on the other side of the fence.  We may be able to see things from another person’s perspective but only for a short period of time.

By only briefly acknowledging someone else point of view; we can only briefly break out of our own biases before we return to own arguments and points of views that we are comfortable and familiar with.

Less time on the other side
Some of the reasons why we avoid ‘the other side’ is due to our inbuilt biases.  A point of view different from our own may cause some discomfort or may contradict our own beliefs.  This is known as Selective Perception (i.e. the tendency not to notice and more quickly forget stimuli that cause emotional discomfort and contradict our prior beliefs)

We also have a tendency to tune out when listening because we assume we know how others feel. This bias is known as the Illusion of Transparency (i.e. The tendency to overestimate how well we understand the personal mental states of others)

More time on the other side
By spending more time on the other side we can move from sympathy (a glib acknowledgment) to empathy (a personal understanding).

Having empathy builds trust between two parties and helps to build an environment that is collaborative, supportive, inclusive and sustainable. Having empathy also makes you feel good!

The only question is, which side is smart enough to go first?

Simple Truths

Hellen Keller
Time to read: 3 min

Over the last few days, while taking the train home from work, I have pleasantly read through Hellen Keller autobiography. Hellen Keller… What an amazing woman. I wish that she were still alive today. I wonder if she would talk as beautifully as she writes?


Hellen Keller
A short time after Hellen was born, she went both blind and deaf. Yet throughout her life, she was able to experience the world so vividly, even more vividly than all of us who have all of our senses. She lived until the age of 87. Somehow she was able to describe all things, of nature, people, her feelings and thoughts with a level of clarity and detail that we don’t often see.

After reading her autobiography one of the bigger gems of wisdom that I found was about truth. I found that keeping a ‘simple truth’ is more real to us. And adding an excess amount of detail is exactly that, its just details.


A description of a flower
“It is possible to know a flower, root and stem and all, and all the processes of growth, and yet to have no appreciation of the flower fresh bathed in heaven’s dew.” – Hellen Keller

When imagining a flower in her mind, Helen describes it as ‘A fresh flower bathed in heaven’s dew’. Take a moment to create that image in your mind…

The former (roots, stems and process of growth) is just the detail, the latter is a simple truth. And a simple truth is what stays with us, it’s what we remember and what we immediately understand.


A simple truth
Simple truths have a far wider reach, for both experts and novices alike. The ah hah moments happen when someone is able to strip away all of the complexity and get to the crux of an issue and describe a problem or a goal. Being able to articulate a simple truth works for yourself and in the context of a larger group or business. It’s how businesses state their values, marketing campaigns, and a mission statement. Here is an example:

Before Microsoft began to dominate the software space their mission statement was posed as a question:
‘How do we become the intelligence that drives all computers?”

After which Microsoft owned 90% of the PC market. Being able to communicate a big idea, complex functionality or an ambitious goal into a simple truth is a skill that can have a colossal effect.


What is it really?
A simple truth doesn’t necessarily mean less detail, shortening or making something more compact; it about making something as real and tangible as possible.

Children do this so easily, there words and actions are so in sync with their emotions. When they are sad, they burst out crying, when they don’t get their way they sulk, ask them to describe a tiger and they won’t tell you through words but through their actions.

While crying, sulking and roaring like a lion is not advisable in the workplace. Finding the simple truth about what we see, what we do and the problems we are trying solve has its merit.


Simple truths reach a wider segment of people. They get to the crux of all things, whether they be goals or a problem you are trying to solve and finally they make things tangible enough so other can easily grasp what you are communicating.

Consciousness & Self Examination

Anthony Hopkins

Time to read: 3 mins

Last night I finished watching season one of WestWorld.  WestWorld is a theme park set in the wild west, which is inhabited by android hosts (robots that look and act humans).  Although the setting sounds less than exciting; It’s the themes that are explored which has kept audiences intrigued.
For the android host the story line is driven around the ideas of consciousness and choice.  For the guests of the park (the humans) it is all about finding and following your deepest desires without consequences.
Some characters follow their desires which are brutal and perverted.  And others follow their desires to be noble and heroic.
As I sat in bed in a dark room.  The only source of light came from the iPad on my lap.  The light illuminated my face.  As I watched the final episode with my headphones on.  I wondered how the pursuit of consciousness by the android host related back to us humans in any way.   The closest equivalent I could come up with was self-examination.  After some thinking I concluded that consciousness and self-examination are closely related.
Three elements…
There are three elements of self-examination. The first element is the way that we view ourselves. The second is our ideal view, or what we want to be.  The third and final element is the comparison we make between ourselves and our ideals.
A view of our selves
We think of ourselves differently depending on the roles we are in.  And in life we have different roles that we play.  We are parents, professional, best friends and maybe even a mentor to others.
I view myself as a great Business Analyst… and a kinda ok husband.  The way that we view ourselves can (and actually does) determine our behaviour.  With that being said, it’s important that we don’t delude ourselves and hold a view that is fairly accurate with reality.
Our ideal
This is the ’should be’ point of view.  It’s an ideal that we are setting out to achieve.  We can get ideals from different sources.  But in most scenarios ideals come from observing others.  Another source of ideals come from standards and precedence that have already been set. But again, these standards have usually been set by another individual.
Going back to my previous example, I can judge my Analyst skills on a standard that a more senior Business Analyst has obtained.  It could be a qualification like a CBAP certification or looking at the years of experience across different industries.
Whatever our ideal is, it’s advisable to have something that is ambitious but still within reach.
The comparison.
Making a comparison is what we are most familiar with doing.   Comparing ourselves with our an ideal is very similar for performing a gap analysis.  When performing a gap analysis, we identify what needs to be done for us to move from one state to another.
Final thoughts…
Remember to:
  1. Have an honest view of ourselves, too often we see ourselves as less then.
  2. Choose your ideals carefully, make sure that you select an ideal that is realistic.
Without these two points, you’ll end up with a comparison that is unfair on yourself. Self-examination is a process that is used to improve yourself, so make sure you use it in a positive and constructive manner.

How we get to ‘Simple’

Albert Einstein
Time to read: 3 mins
We all know when we have experienced something that is simple.  Being a fan of video games, the best example that best resonates with me is that of the Nintendo Wii.
Remember the Nintendo Wii?
I have fond memories of the Nintendo Wii.  The way the sensor bar balanced on top of my parents old CRT TV.  The two plastic surfaces seemed to continually slip and never stay still.  It reminded me of when I was learning to skate for the first time.  With no grip underneath my feet, I thought “If I just stop moving, maybe I would stop sliding across the ice ever so slowly”
I also remember the Wii remote.  I held it comfortably with one hand.  Looking at the D-pad it gave an assurance that this was still a game controller. The A button was big and pronounced. It was just begging to be pressed.
Even though it was a new way to play, the Wii mote felt familiar.  You could point the controller at the tv just like a TV remote.  If you were playing tennis, boxing or bowling you would just mimic the same movements with  the controller.  It was a device that was easy to use and understand.
It was simple.
The Nintendo Wii went on to sell over 101 million units.
Faux Simplicity
When something is simple it gives you a sense of confidence, comfort and familiarity because we understand what we are experiencing.
Too often we see companies marketing their products/services as ‘simple’ only to find out that the complexity still exists after we have made a commitment.  Exception, caveats and clauses are hidden within the fine print which is difficult to read and understand. By the time we decide that it’s all too complicated, it is often too late and we are bound by an agreement that we don’t quiet understand.
Faux Simplicity is the term that is used to describe the above scenario.  It’s a common bait and hook strategy.   When it goes bad it leads to distrust and a level of pessimism from our users.  I recently had someone try to sell me with the opening line of: “It’s so easy”.  As a astute customer I immediately looked for the exception, caveats and clauses that I mentioned earlier.
Why Complexity exists
Complexity exists for many reason.  A lawyer will say that it is a necessity to protect themselves from a legal standpoint.  Some say to give total transparency we must provide ‘all’ of the details.  And so lengthy documents are created.  Words and terms that are used in specific domains perniciously leaks into public conversation.
Implementing ‘Simple’ requires a significant amount effort but there is a process that we all can follow to get us there.
Empathy describes our ability to put ourselves in the users / customer’s shoes.  In particular, it’s important to think about the emotional states, circumstances and needs of the customer.
After you clearly understand a users circumstances and needs we can move onto the next step.
Distilling involves customising, curating and editing your product or service to meet your customers expectation.  Distilling more often that not means saying ‘no’ to additions features and reducing options and choices in order to not overwhelm the customer.
At the end of the distilling process, you will have what the user needs.  The final step is to clarify your offering.
Clarity is the process of making your offering easier to understand use and consume.  In a time of information overload the way we organise, emphasise and design information is key for customer to be able to comprehend and ultimately consume what your are offering.
Striving for simple 
The formula for simple is simple:  Empathy + Distill + Clarity = Simple
And a quote from Albert Einstien…
Everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler
The concepts here can be found in Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn book titled Simple – Conquering the crisis of complexity.