Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Butt Out of Your Chair

They say to be successful you only need to do one thing, "butt in chair and write." While that's good advice in theory, I don't think it's always the best advice.

I've been reading obsessively about how bad sitting is for us and I've been researching standing desks for exactly that reason. I've also been paying more attention to how often I get out of my chair during the day. I haven't started tracking it yet, but from what I can tell it's a lot. Close to, or even more than, once an hour. It's easy for me to take those breaks because I'm a huge water drinker so I'm constantly up and down to refill my glass or take a bathroom break. 

Putting your butt in your chair to write is the first step, but keeping it there for hours at a time might actually be detrimental to your goals. Every time I am forced to get up from my desk to refill my water, open a window or dig my dog's head out of Beth's garbage I find myself a tad more refreshed when I get back in. I also find that sometimes taking those trips and drifting around the office for a few extra seconds or minutes helps me think. Sometimes it is that little trip that helps me find the answers to the questions I was struggling with or the perfect fix for a manuscript I'm editing. 

So get your butt in that chair, but don't forget to take it out, at least once an hour. It will be good for your health and your creativity.



Susan at West of Mars said...

I have to laugh, Jessica. I bought a Versadesk in April, my birthday present to myself. In one month, my masseur was raving about how much better shape my spine was in. Now, at almost 2 months, I prefer standing to sitting -- and I stood through the recent Pennwriters Conference and at social events. I have more energy throughout the day, I snack less... oh, the list goes on. And the more I rave about my desk, the more I'm finding people who have either already made the switch or who know people who have. Best change I ever made. (although now I'm eyeing one of those treadmill desks, but that might mean wearing shoes more, and I'm not sure I'm up for that.)

Kate Douglas said...

Susan, I need to look into one of those. I work in a recliner with a laptop and do try to get up at least hourly, but the biggest change I've made this year (probably after reading some of the same articles as Jessica) is to get back into running. My husband gave me a Fitbit for Christmas and I'm addicted to the logging of stuff--calories, steps walked, the whole thing. The upside is that I've lost ten pounds and increased my stamina, the downside is that at my age, running is hard on the joints, (I'm old, shit happens) but I do find that I'm able to accomplish a lot more in less time writing, my mind feels fresher, and even the simple act of typing is easier because I've given my hands a break.

Just the fact that it gets me out of my office and into the natural light is important. I don't think I'm nearly as grumpy as I was...though I haven't asked my spouse to confirm that one. ;-)

Unknown said...

A treadmill desk? I think I'm jealous. I read on a treadmill, but if I could add writing? Hmm. Something to think about.

Hollie said...

Yay, something I know a little about. I have fibro with a badly damaged hip just to help it along, so standing is a no go for me, I'd fall over. But I do need to move and hourly is a minimum, if I don't my pain levels increase hugely. I then can't concentrate, and moving at all becomes more difficult and this can become a downwards spiral.

I haven't noticed if it helps with work because I've always done it, but you do come back from a break with an idea of where to go, even if its "I'll leave that chapter and move on to ...."

Elissa M said...

I have an elliptical trainer a few feet from my desk. It's for exercising a bum knee. I get up every hour to use it. I totally agree that getting up, doing something else, and then coming back to my desk refreshes the brain cells.

Because of knee, foot, and back injuries, I can't walk for exercise (and running is out of the question). I do get some alternate exercise caring for and riding my horse--but decades of horseback activities is where my injuries originated. The elliptical trainer has been a Godsend.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Butt in chair, gee you guys are lucky.

My 9 to 5 has me up and walking 3 to 4 miles a day and sometimes more. I not only walk, bend, lift and stretch I work up a sweat doing it. So once I get to plant butt in chair and write, I grab a bowl of ice cream and write the Rocky Road calories off and swear that tomorrow I'll retire.

Yeh Kate, old sucks. But it beats dead, sometimes :)

John Frain said...

Love this idea. Do any of you know a good place on the web (yes, I'll search but I was looking for a hint) that describes how to convert a traditional desk into a standup desk?

I would so love a treadmill desk, didn't even know such an animal existed, but can you actually walk, chew gum, and write at the same time? That'd be my query close if I mastered such a thing!

AJ Blythe said...

When I write I set the time for 45 minutes. At the end of my time I spend 15 minutes doing anything but sit at my desk - make a cuppa, peg out washing etc. I was worried I would lose my train of thought with my ms, but I find just because my fingers have stopped my brain hasn't and when I get back to my desk I'm raring to get into my next 45 mins of writing.