There are so many wonderful things about a writer’s life, but one not-so-nice thing is the constant sitting. Almost every phase of my process (research, writing, editing) requires me to sit (usually in front of a computer). When I worked in hospitality, I walked or stood more than I sat. While I was tired at the end of the day, I wasn’t lethargic. These days I can sit all day and have less energy than in the evening than when I was active all day.
It’s not just that my butt goes numb after a while either; it’s actually not healthy to sit for long periods of uninterrupted time (this is just one article (with links to others), but you can find many more online). That’s why I’ve rearranged my days/weeks to help get me out of my seat and onto my feet. Here are six things you I do at home throughout the work day/week to keep me moving:
- Use smaller glasses. If you’re like me, you drink while you work. It’s tempting to grab a big coffee mug or giant water bottle, but when I do that, I don’t have to move for hours. Instead, I go for the little cup and take my time filling up.
- Schedule chores. I’m sure I’ll hear it from people on this one – you don’t want to interrupt your work day with household chores. That’s true, if you’re using the chores as an excuse to keep yourself away from work. But I’ve learned to use chores as an excuse to move. If I’ve been sitting for an hour or two, I’ll pick up the dog’s toys and vacuum the house (I have a small house – maybe you’ll just vacuum a few rooms). Or I’ll do 1-2 loads of laundry throughout the day. Whatever it is, I leave my desk, finish my chore, then get right back to work.
- Eat standing up. The one chore I don’t do during the work day is cook (it takes up too much time). I cook one or two nights a week, then eat leftovers for lunch. Instead of bringing lunch back to my desk, I warm it up and eat it while I stand in the kitchen. If it’s a quick lunch, I’ll sometimes clean any dirty dishes or load/unload the dishwasher. Nothing that takes too much time (5-15 minutes tops), but enough to get me up and moving.
- Play with the pets. I have two cats and a dog. If you’re lucky enough to have pets, make time to play with them. I don’t have a fenced in yard, so I have to walk my dog. I often grumble about it, but 2-3 short walks each day are good for both of us. And even though I don’t take the cats outside, they like to play (or just get some petting) too.
- Stand while you talk. I have a nice, high ledge in my kitchen. It’s a bit of a catch-all, but it’s the perfect height for me to stand at while talking on the phone and taking notes. My clients don’t need to know that I’m standing next to my water filter, as long as I’m getting their work done.
- Get a standing desk. A nice standing desk can cost several hundred dollars, but you can buy desktop platforms for much less. These platforms let you raise your keyboard and monitor, so you can keep your current desk while getting the benefits of a standing desk. Plus, the platforms fold up, so you can use them for part of the day, then put them away.
I am by no means a medical professional, I just know that I feel better when I move throughout the day, and studies show that it’s good for your health too. Not everyone will be able to use all of these suggestions (#2 takes a lot of discipline, and you obviously need pets for #4), but these are some things that have worked for me.
What about you? How do you keep moving throughout the day?