Productivity Boost – Get Moving

You’ve heard the mantras:

Writers, write.

Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard. Go!

Free weightsStill, humans weren’t really built to sit still for long periods of time and yet, that is what so many of us do every day. We sit, at a desk, for 8+ hours poking our keyboards and staring at our monitors. More and more we are hearing that the path to productivity, is NOT more hours, it is higher QUALITY hours. A fellow writer Nancy Mirtle, shared this article by Rachelle Gardener about interval training for writers. Based on the work of Tony Schwartz Gardener suggests setting a timer for 90 minutes and focusing on writing without interruption. On the days I can make this work with my schedule, it’s gold, pure productivity gold. There is however a catch for me and, I suspect, other writers.

If the diagnosis ADHD had been around 30 years ago, it would have been applied to me. I just can’t sit still for 90 minutes straight. In addition to that I have repetitive stress injuries in my shoulder and hip that I’m trying desperately to avoid re-injuring and I’ve accumulated  *ahem* a few extra pounds.  90 minutes of focused work might be in my best interest productivity wise, but it isn’t in the best interest of my physical health.

What’s a writer aching to be productive AND healthy to do?


When my mind inevitably starts to wander and I hear the siren call of Facebook, I get up and move. Sometimes, I just walk around the second floor. Lately, I’ve been integrating my PT exercises with my focused task time. I’ll get up and do 10 reps of a hip flexor exercise or some wall push-ups to strengthen my shoulder. I recently dusted off my free weights and relocated them to my office. I’ve started doing weighted squats and arm curls.

It’s too soon to have any concrete results, with regards to building muscles, but I can say I’ve seen an improvement in my focus. My ADHD brain gets a little break, but I don’t go off into the worm hole that is social media or email.

Think adding some movement to your writing routine would help your productivity? Here are some links to potential exercises.

I am not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV. For the love of all that is good and healthy, PLEASE check with your physician before undertaking any strenuous or new-to-you exercises.

What about you? What are you doing to increase productivity and stay healthy?

22 thoughts on “Productivity Boost – Get Moving

  1. Thank you for posting this article! I’d love to try doing the 90 minute interval, and these work outs as well. I play sports twice a week for my exercise, or go running. I was actually just thinking about starting to do simple push ups or crunches in my room in between work. I think I’ll try what you said about moving around instead of getting distracted by social media. I honestly can’t stand how long I spend on Facebook, without ever post anything. I’m going to try this…starting today actually. It’s only 7 am.

      • I actually really enjoyed it! It helped me stay on task too instead of getting distracted by Facebook and twitter etc. I liked the boxing one the best actually from the 29 Exercises You Can Do At or Near Your Desk. I found that the relaxing your hands and wrists exercise great. I’ve been doing those a lot today actually. I think I’m going to stick with it, and keep doing them for the rest of this week. Oh, the stairs was also a great one. I’ve been doing that between my meals. I feel so much better too. It’s relieving the stress I’ve had for editing, and writers block. 🙂

  2. I’m lucky. I’m a reference librarian. I’ll sit at the service desk for 10 minutes, then be up walking around with a patron for 5. Then 7 more minutes at the desk and 10 minute up and about with another patron. It’s hard to get any work done that requires time and concentration, but the up and down keeps my healthy!

  3. I’m lucky also as I am retired. Now I have the time to exercise. I put in 60 minutes in the gym (It took me a long time to commit to this as I thought I could do the same exercises at home which is not true…too many distractions) 3 to four days a week and the other days I try and put in a 3 to 4 mile walk. Getting slower. I don’t “run” but it’s more of a fast walk. My dad used to call it “Foxtrotting”. After that I am able to carve up 1 hour chunks of time either working on my blog or reading others for ideas (Yours are great!), or doing some photography work. I just bough a new Canon DSLR camera and love it. Take care!

  4. A great post. I think I would benefit from having a stretch and moving away from the keyboard. I do find I get tired and sluggish if I sit here for long stretches of time. It’s easier in the day job because I have people around me to chatter to and I do also get up and walk around, so I’m not sure why I don’t do it more when I’m at home writing. A great reminder. Thank you.

  5. Thank you. I try to run five or six days a week for a total between twenty and thirty miles. I run on a paved trail through a (mostly) wooded area. The scenery calms and refreshes me. I return to my writing with renewed concentration.

  6. I love writing….but the only problem I have is that I don’t. I think I am more of a mental writer! I write things in my head….and never put them on paper. Now…if I can just sell tickets to people to view my brain…I would be a millionaire!

  7. Thanks for this…i found my neck and shoulders were starting to ache and i was getting headaches and eyestrain. I’m on a holiday of sorts now, so am on a laptop on the sofa. No headaches, no pain in the neck, but will start some physical activities soon to keep me focused.

  8. Hi Lee, I often find if I walk while I’m thinking about my story, I get a better result. Also as a former sp ed teacher I used to write motor breaks into my students’ IEPs. I might have been a walk to the office to pick up the teacher’s mail, deliver a message, check out the weather outside for recess, check on the temperature, get the lunch menus etc. So yes, motor breaks are needed to help lots of us.

    Also did you see the story about the overweight woman who couldn’t afford a gym? She figured out how to incorporate the same exercises into his house work. She lost tons of weight and showed off her routine on TV,. Exhausting.

  9. Hi Lee,
    I, too, love writing in 90 minute bursts and I must confess I do write until my little timer goes. Over the summer, I’m trying to do three sessions a day. I’ve been walking every day and when I stop my sessions, for the next 30 minutes or so, I don’t let myself stop moving – whether it’s gathering laundry, cleaning the kitchen, whatever…as long as I’m busy doing and not making phonecalls or doing other sedentary tasks.
    I’d like to build in a little exercise session at the end of each writing burst – great idea!

  10. Great post! Total confirmation to something I was thinking about yesterday while I was walking because I was tired of sitting. I decided to set my IPhone timer for every 2 hours to get up and move about. It is working thankfully!

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