I know it’s so hard to step away from your desk when the words are flowing out of you, and you can see your book, blog, or article coming to life. You are checking off deadlines and running on coffee and your third bagel because that’s the easiest thing to grab. As writers, it’s important to take care of ourselves so we can bring our best selves out through the pen (or keyboard). Practicing healthy habits will help you be more productive – and your body and mind will thank you!
Here are 5 healthy habits that will help you stay productive:
1. Posture & Positioning
It is extremely important to be in a good, ergonomic position when you’re spending long periods of time at your desk. Your monitors should be eye level, so you are not looking down for long periods of time. Your keyboard needs to be aligned with the bend of your elbow.
When I first started my writing company, I had a hand-me-down desk and an old oak chair from my kitchen table. After a couple months of writing on that hard chair, I decided I was going to make myself comfortable in my rocking chair after I had taken on the most clients I had ever had, right before Christmas. My back, hips, neck, and shoulder blades hurt so bad I struggled to finish my deadlines, pain blocking my focus. Moral of the story – buy the good chair and get into position. Trust me, your body WILL thank you.
2. Reduce the Time Spent Sitting Down
Grab a stopwatch or set a time frame dedicated to work. Keep it simple. If you have committed to writing for one hour today, set your timer for 30 minutes and do nothing else but work on the task in front of you. Take five minutes to take a break, drink some water, stretch and then work for another uninterrupted 30 minutes. Human bodies are adversely affected by sitting for hours upon hours. Use your timer, stay focused and then break to move your body.
It is also highly recommended to get a standing or convertible desk, if your budget allows. A standing desk improves blood flow to your brain, which is an added plus for writing! The Burning Soul Press Growth & Strategy Director, Allison, spends a minimum of two hours standing at her convertible desk each day (and swears by it!).
3. Smart Foods
Do you work all night long to hit your deadlines? If this sounds familiar, it is time to form a new habit.
Optimal nutrition has the power to increase your energy, productivity, and immunity. A nutrient dense diet is crucial for the writer with a busy, stressful schedule. Take some time to prepare healthy snacks and meals.
Heart-healthy fats and complex carbs will provide higher energy and help you to be feel full longer. Here are examples of high energy “superfoods”:
- Whole wheat bread, cereal, pasta
- Peanut Butter
In addition, you need “brain food” to stay focused and alert during crunch time. Look for omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and plenty of antioxidants. Here are some examples of nutrient-rich brain foods that can combat anxiety, depression, and fatigue:
- Sweet Potato
Also, don’t forget to hydrate! Water, water, water!
4. Avoid Eye Strain
We are in front of screens more than ever before, and we find ourselves forgetting how to do life without them. Try these tips to avoid eye strain:
- Practice the 20-20-20 rule by working on the screen for 20 minutes and then staring at something across the room 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Use bigger fonts.
- Reduce the brightness of your screen.
- Use eye wear with reflective lenses or blue-light filtering lenses.
By protecting your eyes, you are less likely to develop eye strain, protecting your health and boosting your performance as a writer.
5. Get the Sleep You Need
I know a lot of writers and entrepreneurs boast about not sleeping, but it’s not “cool” to inadequately care for yourself. Create a healthy sleep habit. It is broadly recommended to get seven hours of sleep per night (seven and a half if you are a R.E.M. cycle tracker – another tip from Allison). Feeling – and truly being – rested when you wake up will help your body and mind achieve optimal productivity.
Sleep helps our brains and bodies heal and increases our moods and performance.
Lastly, working around the clock to complete deadlines comes at a cost. You can take care of yourself, improve your health, and become a more efficient writer by making a few adjustments in your lifestyle. You can complete the deadline without feeling like you need a hip replacement. Don’t be afraid to say no or take a break. Shut your screens off – sometimes the best thing we can do is unplug so we can plug back in with a full charge. Practicing healthy habits will help you be a more productive writer – and your body and mind will thank you!