Scott D. Parker
This week at the day job, I was tasked with creating a safety moment for the regular staff meeting. Usually the safety moments are related to the subject of the day job – – oil and gas – – but we in the office have our own specific safety moments. You would think office workers need to focus on safety, but we do. It's a nice cultural mindset that keeps everybody looking out for each other. What I ended up choosing was how to maintain healthy practices while working a nine-hour day in front of the comptuer.
Now no matter how each one of us gets words strung together to make sentences and paragraphs, we are all looking at our work up close. A large majority of us, I think, are probably working on our computers. Eyestrain is a very real and big problem. It can cause dryness, headaches, and after a while, your eyes begin to lose their muscular ability to focus. Which is why it is important to give your eyes a rest every now and then.
One of the more recent discoveries in the scientific community is something called the 20 – 20 – 20 rule. In short it goes something like this: every 20 minutes or so, look at something that is at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds. What this does is relax the eye-focusing muscles when they look at something in the distance. Whenever we look at something up close, the muscles used in her eyes to focus work harder and longer.
I've mentioned before that at my day job, I take regular, hourly breaks. During these breaks, I walk the interior atrium circuit as fast as possible. I am now wearing a Fitbit Flex so I am able to track my steps each day. These "laps," as some of my co-workers call them, allow me to reach my 10,000 step goals every day. Why I bring this up is that when I'm not looking at my iPod touch and writing on my current work in progress (yes, I really do that), I am relaxing my eyes by looking down the four stories inside the atrium at the plants or a passing person. Additionally, I step outside at least once a day and gaze off in the distance as far as possible to rest my eyes.
It goes without saying that whether you are a professional writer or an office professional with a day job where yoyu work in front of the computer, another thing that everyone has to do is get up and move. It's too easy to sit in front of our computers and type all day long without a break. For someone with a day job like mine, breaks are ways to realign and refocus on the task at hand. Same is true for full-time writers. Now I know from experience that when something exciting is happening in the my story, I go with the flow and see the scene to the end. But as soon as that exciting scene is finished, I get up and walk around. It's not enough really to just stand. You actually have to stand and move and stretch while you walk. Walk a brisk five minute "lap" or do some other physical activity that will get your blood flowing. I can attest from experience that a short five minute break with fast walking makes me more focused, and more attuned to the task at hand whether that be my day job or the work in progress when I'm writing at home at 5 o'clock in the morning.
The last thing that I do at my day job is that I make sure that I eat snacks regularly throughout the day to maintain a consistent energy level. And I make sure that those snacks are healthy snacks. I've gone from a work–from–home experience to a day job in which I work nine hours a day. As you can imagine, that's a long day, even when I do get every other Friday off. The second week on the job, and I was not eating as healthy as I needed to eat, including having a Dr Pepper in the middle of the afternoon, and boy did I crash hard. I ended up keeping a record of all the food and liquid that I consumed during the day to see what was best for me. My usual regimen of green tea throughout the day is still the best along with nuts and dried fruit. Dark chocolate is my little treat after lunch, I always drink ice water with lime, and around 3 o'clock or so, I down a can of unsweetened coconut juice. That keeps me alert and focused on the task at hand.
What are the things that you do to keep you fully focused and energized throughout the day?