5 Healthy Ways to Increase Your Productivity as a Writer

Make sure you get plenty of quality rest — I’m a big believer of sleeping 8 to 10 hours a night. I learned to sleep longer when I read about the benefits of sleep in cancer patients. In 1997, I was diagnosed with melanoma. I basically changed my lifestyle. Sleep was part of that lifestyle change. So, when I recently read about a study posted in The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine about sleep and productivity, I wanted to share it. This study found that groups with at-risk sleep patterns, insomnia and insufficient sleep syndrome had significantly poor productivity, performance, and safety outcomes. It also goes on to state that: “Fatigue-related productivity losses were estimated to cost $1,967/employee annually.” And the study’s conclusions stated that sleep disturbances contribute to decreased employee productivity which in turn creates a high cost per employee to employers.

Exercise is shown to increase productivity — This isn’t new information but I like the results from this study. The latest research shows that a regular exercise routine can make you happier, smarter, and more energetic. An article in the Huffington Post states that you don’t need to overdo to get your brain working better. In fact, it showed that the low-intensity exercise group was less fatigued than the higher-intensity group. But both benefited from brain cell stimulation equally. As writers, we can sit for hours without blinking but when you do, you will become sedentary and I’m not just talking about our rear-ends here, I’m talking about mentally sedentary. It behooves a writer to bolster their creative juices through a daily routine of exercise–whether that is a walk around the block or a set of controlled calisthenics. You don’t need to over exert to maintain healthy brain activity through exercise. Just make it regular.

Play, produce or both? — As parents we see kids benefiting from controlled mind-stimulating play. We just had our grandsons over and they brought with them a game called Snap Circuits by Alenco. You snap all of these pieces together where the pieces have sensors that you arrange in a circuit that connects everything together. The outcome when you finally flip the on switch is anything from a whirligig spinning, to a siren, and to flashing lights. This is organized play. Much like Legos is but with whistles and bells. The kids end up building something. Well, adults have these sorts of games too. Such as Wii products, Luminosity and Brain Age. These “games” train our brains to problem solve and by doing so help us with memory and retention, even creativity. Aha! Writers can use that, right? So, think about pulling out a game (I don’t mean throwing dice at a wall and yelling “Sevens!”) and working through it. Give yourself a mentally-stimulating challenge.

Eat more whole foods that help spur on brain activityWebMD lists these foods as “brain” foods: blueberries, wild salmon, nuts and seeds, avocados, whole grains, beans, pomegranate juice, freshly brewed tea, and (wait for it…), DARK CHOCOLATE! Yay! To me, this list of foods sounds like an awesome meal all on its own and with dessert, no less. The article goes on to state why and how these foods work well for brain function. Such as with blueberries, “researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.” Here is another excellent article from HealthAmbition.com about brain function: https://www.healthambition.com/3-healthy-ways-to-improve-brain-function-without-coffee-2-is-something-new/

Read books — I’m shaking my finger while I write this so that you know how important it is to read other author’s works. Stephen King reads something like 2 books per week. It’s part of our job as writers to learn from the classics and to understand what is driving contemporary readers to contemporary authors. Reading books should be a no-brainer but, I guess one might assume that your lack of exercise, play, sleep and proper food makes you not want to read as much as you should. Joking, of course, but you get what I’m saying. To know your business is to know other people working in your business and to know their product. I’ve been reading two books this week, Amy Hatvany’s Heart Like Mine and Frank Peretti’s The Oath. Hatvany’s is what I would classify as women’s fiction. Peretti’s is Christian thriller. Both are subjects I enjoy reading and enjoy writing. Plus, they’re both awesome storytellers so this part of my job is one of my favorites.

I hope this list has helped motivate you to eat better, play well, exercise more often, to sleep longer and to read. If it has then my work here is done.

I write books. ~Susan.

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