Friday Professional Group

FRIDAY staff

This is Your Brain on Lunch

Shabana, our social media expert, passed along some interesting articles to me last week as I was writing about finishing up my Meals Challenge and starting to look at other ways food impacts workers and the workplace – so today, referring to Brain Food: The Ultimate Lunch for a Productivity Boost by Abigail Tracy and Seven Foods That Reduce Stress & Seven Foods That Boost Your Brainpower, both by Barbara Mendez, let’s talk about clear heads and workplace productivity!

In last week’s blog, I talked about  how eating breakfast and lunch on a more regular basis had helped me feel happier and more focused throughout the day – and this week, where I’m regrettably back on the two-cups-of-coffee-and-no-protein-for-breakfast bandwagon, it’s interesting to read these thoughts about why that is.

I am a big egg fan and relied on them near-exclusively to complete my Meals Challenge breakfasts – eggs, it turns out, provide a ‘necessary building block’ to one of the neurotransmitters in the brain which allows for increased concentration and better recall of information. Even when we’re going off the admittedly limited evidentiary proof of my Meals Challenge – especially when compared to today, as I’m having more trouble staying completely focused on just writing this piece – I would feel confident in saying that breakfast in general and eggs in particular helped me keep sharp and focused last week without near as much of the caffeine that’s been a mainstay for this one. I did grab a gluten-free oatmeal cereal for Tuesday, which is said to contain elements which aid in boosting serotonin production and calming anxiety, but I hadn’t had a lot of sleep Monday night and didn’t notice much help brain-wise. I don’t feel like my work has suffered by not eating breakfast, or that eating breakfast made me Super-Employee, but the level of mental effort I am expending helped along by caffeine is definitely higher this week. (I will be getting back on the eggs as of tomorrow, with a firm dedication to the Egg Cause).

One thing I have remained on top of this week has been bringing a lunch for every day except Monday! Even with skipping breakfast, having a well-balanced lunch has made a noticeable difference in my brain in the afternoons. I’ve been bringing leftovers from dinner the night before, which means lean meat, vegetables, and fruit; and I find it really nice to get through an afternoon without being hungry or feeling unsatisfied or greasy (like one can feel after, say, Mexi-Fries and a small Jugo Juice…) That being said, I like the ‘seven’ lists above for reducing stress and increasing brainpower – turkey in a dark-green salad with chickpeas, blueberries and orange segments? That sounds delicious, and easy to throw together the night before so that I can grab it as ‘leftovers’ in the morning and go. I said in my blog last week that I was hoping to spend some time putting together lunches that were easy to grab in the morning, and I am still holding to that – I think salads are really the perfect idea for this if there aren’t leftovers ready to grab. I have a great little Tupperware container that is the perfect size for holding a lunch-size salad’s worth of dressing and fits perfectly in my lunchbox, too!

I feel like the best part about all the pieces we’ve looked at today is that they give you solid reasons to make these healthy choices and tell you why they work. There is no ‘superfood’ to help reduce stress or improve brainpower, but there are lots of little 'great foods' you can eat to give your brain what it needs. I like all the suggestions on both lists of foods to help with brainpower/reduce stress, and I find the idea of the 10-minute lunch to boost productivity intriguing even though I don’t care for green tea. (Our service team, however, drinks it like it’s going out of style – maybe that’s how they’re so amazing!)

Check out this delicious-looking (and adorable!) turkey and orange salad recipe from the BBC if you, too, are planning to bring some brain food for lunch next week; and as always, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter if you’d like to chat about recipes, food or anything else!

-Rae, First Impressions Coordinator 

Photo: Sara Asnaghi, "What have you got in your head?"

Rae Organizes Her Desk

I’m the person with probably the messiest desk at our office – which maybe makes me the most qualified to look for desk organization tips! I’ve been trying to find new ways that work for my sometimes-scattered brain (does it count as chaos if I know where everything is?) to keep my things tidier and hopefully easier for other people to understand if they need to step into my zone!

My organizational problems tend to come from having a lot of paper and feeling like I don’t have a lot of places to put them (this is because I’m a big note-taker), so I started looking for cute, compact and functional ideas to hold my papers and pens and make my space a little neater.

I started out thinking I could use some of the ideas on Martha Stewart’s website, like her framed bulletin board or covered clipboards – but I don’t have the wall space where I could hang something like that up, since I sit at the very front of our office. Plus, I get the feeling that someone with some crafty skills would make things that looked a little nicer! As much as I loved the neat ideas like paint-can-canisters for holding mail, what turned out to be more important for my desk was tips like “get rid of pens and pencils you don’t need.” I took one look at my pen holder on my desk and realized this was me! Mark Shead’s 12 Tips For an Organized Desk was my lifeline here. I latched onto the idea of “organization by proximity” – keeping the things I need most often closest to me, like my favourite pen, my bright-blue Post-its, and my rack of everybody’s business cards that I put into interview folders – and putting away things I don’t use much. This meant finding a home for things like the building’s fire warden manual, which I think everyone else in the office has forgotten even exists! I also designated a scratch pad for notes and tidied up all the random paperclips strewn about my desktop, cleaned out my file holder, and even took a stab at the pen caddy. (I am not a kindergarten teacher and do not need three pairs of scissors at my desk).

So has any of this helped yet? Well, we’ll see – but I think I’ve made a pretty good start at no longer being the office slob. I did, at the very least, clean up things that should have never found a home on my desk to start with, since I am not the fire warden - this should make the whole ‘organize-as-you-go’ process run a little more smoothly.  And I did get to keep some cute and fun things on my desk, like the mirror Shabana bought me and a paperweight our summer student, Emily, brought me from Vegas. Even in the short time since I started to tidy up my desk, I’ve noticed it helps me think more clearly and feel more focused. Hopefully organizing-as-I-go and keeping the most important things near to me can be the key to happier, tidier working! (Then I'll just need to get started on my desk at home!) 


-Rae, First Impressions Coordinator

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