I’m sitting here surrounded by chocolate.
No, honestly, I am.
All the chocolate left over from Christmas seems to have found its way to me. It’s like one of those slow motion videos where tiny iron filings gently creep towards a magnet until they form a great seething mass. I am the magnet and the chocolate leftovers are the great seething mass.
Oh, and it’s not only chocolate … there is a suspicious amount of cheesy corn balls amassed from Tesco during the festive period. And let’s not even mention the Doritos, Pringles and Twiglets stashed away in the kitchen dresser. What’s left of them.
Since returning to work after the holiday season I have had to seriously look at my working arrangements. Coffee on tap and the chocolate monster have done nothing for my waistline, even if it has made freelance life more enjoyable. Combine this with sitting all day in front of the computer and at the moment I’m probably as about unhealthy as I have ever been.
Now I’m not on a health kick, and I haven’t made a resolution to start exercising like a mad thing, but I’ve decided to be more conscious about how I’m working.
And here’s how I’m doing it:
- I’ve moved my laptop onto a different desk, and have decided to work standing up for some of the time. A lot of my colleagues over the past six months or so seem to have made this move and find it ok. Now, I don’t have one of those fancy schmancy standing desks for a couple of reasons: I’m nowhere near a furniture shop to try one out and from what I’ve seen most of these desks are much larger than the one I have, so I probably wouldn’t have room for it (I did fall in love with one in IKEA last summer but I couldn’t fit it in my car, or my office space, so that was that). I also refuse to pay a huge amount for a table that may end up being yet another surface on which to pile books.
What I have done is take one of my computer desks, you know, the bog-standard ones you get with a slidey-out shelf for your keyboard, and add something to get my laptop up to the correct height for standing. Do not mock – it’s an old, very sturdy, laptop box that is creating the height. Hey, it’s working, so until I get something more permanent it’s a very cheap, straightforward way of trying out this working while standing up malarkey.
Don’t get me wrong though … there are as many studies to say that standing up while working makes no difference or can actually give you muscle problems, as there are studies that tell you it’s good for you. I alternate standing with sitting, but it’s all about getting me moving. Believe me, sitting down for hours on end while you work is not good for you.
- I’ve been conscious of the amount of coffee I’m drinking, and have started to cut down. I’m certainly not as bad as I was a few years ago when I was taking about eight, double-strength big mugs of coffee a day – minimum – but I’m still drinking too much.
Instead of automatically reaching for the coffee I’ve been getting back into tea. Yes, I know there’s caffeine in tea, but for some reason I don’t tend to drink as much of it. I’ve also been trying to drink those caffeine-free herbal concoctions. Why oh why do they put hibiscus in everything? I have found some nice Tea Piglets or whatever they are, but honestly, coffee is my thing.
- I chop up my work into manageable chunks and take longer breaks. Believe it or not I’m finding this actually keeps my brain alert and makes me more productive. There’s less coffee (or tea … tea … urgh ) while I’m working, and the change of focus is beneficial. This is especially good if what I’m working on requires a lot of brainwork. For example I’ll work through one chapter or X many pages, then take a break or move onto something else before going back to the next chapter. I’m also taking a full hour for lunch – I’m finally catching up on Pretty Little Liars.
So you can see, I’m not going mad with the whole health thing, just making three small changes to my working day.
And how has it worked so far?
I’m enjoying standing at my desk, but haven’t been doing it long enough to see if it has any benefits. Or if I’ll get bored with the novelty of it all. However it makes a nice change from being sat down all day.
Changing my working habits seems to be keeping me more alert, whether it’s the longer breaks or the change of focus is yet to be seen.
Cutting down on coffee … pure torture.