As a virtual workforce, the Actionable Team doesn’t get together as a group very often. With the exception of a few days in November at our staff retreat, we work remotely from our home offices, coworking spaces, preferred coffee shops, local libraries, and favorite restaurants (the ones with great food and free wi-fi).

Despite our remote working arrangements, I have the pleasure of working with a highly connected, collaborative team. Far more connected, in fact, than any other place I’ve worked (all of which had physical office space). To pull this off, we use Slack for our “water cooler” conversations and Zoom for video calls.

Of course, we talk a lot about what’s going on with projects, plans, and day-to-day tasks. But we also talk about what’s going on in our personal lives, share memes and pictures of puppies, and joke around throughout the day.

We recently started an #actionablehealth channel on Slack, as a place to talk about our health and fitness goals. We had a great conversation about this article on the value of increasing the amount of movement we work into our days. I recently joined a gym in my neighborhood, and was feeling pretty good about getting back into a regular exercise routine—until I read this article, which made me realize I still have a long way to go.

The discussion that followed online let me know that I’m not alone with this problem, and many of us have made commitments to incorporate more regular exercise throughout the day.

As a result of the discussion on this Slack channel, I also reached out to a team member with similar health and fitness goals to be my accountability buddy (thanks Alysha!). We have shared our goals, set weekly milestones, and started to check in with each other from time to time to celebrate successes, and gently sass each other when we don’t hit our targets. We’ve only been at it for a few weeks, but knowing that I don’t want to let her down is highly motivating.

We also had an extensive discussion about the value of getting good quality sleep—another area I struggle with that can have a big impact on health. I often wake up in the middle of the night, and spend an hour or two tossing and turning, before I drift off again (usually about an hour before my alarm goes off), leaving me a bit groggy by the time the afternoon rolls around. In the course of our discussion, Chris shared his top tips for getting better sleep (and he’s one of the busiest/most productive people I know, a feat I doubt could be achieved on just a few hours of sleep a night). While I haven’t been as disciplined as I’d like about implementing these tips, they provide an excellent framework to work toward. His tips are:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night.
  • No screen time within 90 minutes of bedtime (Chris makes an exception for reading on his iPad, but has swapped the aesthetic to white text on a black screen, which reduces eye strain).
  • No food within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Try to maintain similar sleep schedules on the weekend, offset by 60 minutes.

I will be working on implementing these tactics in the new year, with hopes of improving the quality of my sleep—which will directly impact my ability to do my job to the best of my ability.

Of course, I am a work in progress, and have a lot to improve, but I feel great about the year ahead. 2016 was tough for me for a lot of reasons, but joining the Actionable team was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself. I am excited to see what we can accomplish together.

Is better health a priority for you in 2017? Share your plans for a healthy new year with us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.