Health and productivity are intimately linked concepts. I wish more people realise this basic fact: You can’t be more productive than you are healthy. That may sound very cliché to you. But my experience has shown that many live as if this statement were not true. They simply ignore their health status and take it for granted that nothing can happen to them. They work day-in-day-out with no thought or care for their health and wellbeing.
Health has been defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “… a dynamic state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and social wellbeing and not just the absence of disease or infirmity.” From this definition, it becomes obvious that because someone does not have syphilis in spite of all his escapades does not mean he is “HEALTHY”. He may need help to overcome his addiction. Health is all about a state of COMPLETE WELLNESS. It can be achieved and maintained. I look forward to helping you achieve that.
I like to describe productivity as the delivery of a given product/service per unit time. This rate of delivery is dependent on the potentials and ability of the individual or entity in question. In ideal circumstances, potential and productivity should be equal. But you and I know that is not the case. A number of factors are responsible for this discrepancy. Health is one such factor. With no “Health” at all, productivity becomes ZERO! With varying degrees of health, varying levels of productivity are attained with “presenteeism” (coming to work, but performing sub-optimally) becoming inevitable. Smart organizations and individuals seek to boost and keep their “health” at optimal levels. You simply cannot be more productive than you are healthy.
So, in the quest for optimal productivity, let’s briefly (for now) examine 4 things that are critical for your health:
Wash Your hands
Before you snicker and hiss, yes, I am talking about your hands. Again, yes! Handwashing. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), handwashing is the single most important thing to bring down the rate of infectious diseases worldwide.
One such is the Common Cold. Annually, for the United States of America alone, the economic burden of the common cold flu is $20 billion! Another such disease is the flu. It causes over $80 billion in economic toll. Together, these diseases cost over $100 billion!!! Nobody in the world is worth $100 billion. Please, now imagine these costs on a global scale. And, that’s just two diseases.
Handwashing, significantly reduces the rates of transmission and development of this diseases which are major enemies of productivity.
Okay! You agree you should wash your hands. So after doing “the major job”, you get a bowl of water stationed in your toilet, dip your hands into it and then smile to yourself. Good? No, wrong! In order to benefit from hand washings you must do it properly. Good hand-washing techniques include washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Please practice handwashing and teach others to do so. We will look at this great habit in detail some other time.
Somewhere along the line, a perception took hold in many people’s minds that the less you sleep the better for you; that sleep was for lazy people. In fact, I heard someone boast he sleeps less than 4 hours every day! According to him, people that sleep more than that were lazy and incompetent. So I had people trying to beat that record and sleep even less than 4 hours daily. All that is balderdash! YOU NEED SLEEP!
How much sleep? On the average, adults need 6-8 hours every day for optimal health. If you sleep less than 6 hours daily as an adult, you are at risk of reduced productivity. And if you also sleep more than 8 hours daily as an adult, aside the health risks (e.g. obesity) you face, you may not be gainfully employed for long.
Sleep is a powerful and important part of life. We now know that sleep is important for problem solving and memory. It may be a costly mistake to go for an exam or crucial engagement without getting adequate sleep. Getting even an hour less than the sound slumber you need each night can leave you drowsy and unable to manage your daily routine.
Strike A Good Work-Life Balance!
A colleague told me the story of one young man he saw a while back. They were friends in the university and had endured different hard times together in the bid to obtain a degree. They had lost contact after graduation and while my colleague was still trying to get his feet in medical practice, his friend (who did a four year course) had progressed fast on the corporate ladder and was now a big boy in a big company. On this their chance meeting, the big boy decided to check his blood pressure and lo and behold, my colleague was shocked at the value and insisted that he must admit him immediately. His friend however saw no rational for this, since in his own words, “…he felt fine”. No pleading could change his mind. So reluctantly, the doctor let him go with a warning that he should get to see a doctor A.S.A.P! But all that was not to be, the corporate executive, had a stroke on his drive back. He became paralyzed on one side of his body. His productivity dropped to ZERO!
His corporate exploits and neglect of his health had come with a huge price. If only he had listened.
Work is very important. Without work, no money; without money, no food (and many other things); without food, death is sure after 40 days. So work sits on top of a very important pyramid for life. However work can also sit on top of a pyramid of death and disease if not properly managed.
Work in itself is a meaningless exercise. It is a tool to be used to achieve a greater ideal. As Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs shows, we all have higher needs we want to achieve. For most of us, work is a tool to achieve this. When work by itself becomes the centre of a person’s life, there is bound to be a displacement and distortion in other areas of life. Work alone cannot successfully constitute a successful life. Create time for your family, friends, community, and yourself. Herein lies true success
Go for regular Medical Check-ups
Let me ask you a question. Supposing you ran into an old friend of yours driving a car with all the four tires flat, windscreen broken, and the engine making sounds like a brass band and he offered to give you a ride. Would you accept the offer? I don’t think so. You would probably conclude he had gone “mental”. “How can someone be driving a car in that condition”, would be the question on your mind.
Well, if you don’t go for medical check-ups regularly as you should, you are no different. You are just like your friend who you think is “mental”.
Most people don’t die suddenly, they die slowly but surely over time. Visit you doctor regularly. Even if you are not “sick”, schedule at least an annual visit with your doctor to ascertain your health status.
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