Over time, bad body habits can negatively affect your freelancing productivity. Bad habits may also cause other health issues.
And remember, your productivity is directly tied to your freelancing income.
Being aware of how your body works best can actually help you to get more done.
In this post, I share four things you must know about your body to be a more productive freelancer.
(Note: This post contains general information only. If you are feeling sick or need more specific help, you should visit a doctor.)
#1. When Am I Most Effective?
When do you do your best work? You need to know the answer to this question.
Some articles, including this one titled Why You’re Not a Morning Person (and How to Become One) from Laura Schwecherl published on LifeHacker, seem to indicate that morning is the best time to get work done. The post even provides tips on how to become a morning person.
I’m not sure whether I agree that morning is the most productive time for everyone, but I do know that it’s important to understand your body and know when you feel most alert. As a freelancer, you need to schedule your hardest projects for the time of the day when you will be most alert and use your less alert periods for routine office tasks.
What if you’re not sure when you do your best work?
Try keeping a diary every day for a week. For each day, record how alert you feel at various times of the day. Try recording your alertness at the following times:
- About an hour after you wake up
A week should be long enough for you to notice a pattern in when you feel alert. (This diary will be most effective if you keep your sleep times consistent with your normal habits during the week.)
If you do see a pattern, try changing your work hours (as freelancers we can do that) to make better use of your alert times.
#2. Do I Need a Nap?
A few years ago, I was introduced to the concept of power napping during the day.
For some people, there are some definite advantages to taking a short nap during the day. The post How naps affect your brain and why you should have one every day from Belle Beth Cooper on the Buffer blog outlines some of the benefits a nap can give you.
Personally, I tried the power nap for a while, but realized that it left me groggy when I woke up. However, just because daytime power napping isn’t for me doesn’t mean you wouldn’t benefit from trying it.
If you do decide to take a daytime nap, here are some tips:
- Limit the nap time. Most articles I read recommend a daytime nap of no more than 15 to 20 minutes.
- Don’t take your nap too late in the day. Early afternoon (right after lunch) is a good time because many people are sleepy then anyway.
- Make sure that you have a comfortable space. Don’t try to nap in a noisy environment. Turn off the ringer on the phone.
The people who benefit from daytime naps report feeling more refreshed and better able to handle the rest of their day. Nappers often feel more optimistic. Some studies show that napping can improve your mood.
#3. Am I Eating Too Much Sugar?
What do you grab when you’re stressed? Is it a chocolate bar, a piece of cake, or some other type of sweet?
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, it could be affecting the way you work and damaging your health in other ways as well. Yes, sugar tastes good when you eat it and you may feel better for a short time afterwards, but in the long-term consuming sugar does more harm than good. It’s better to find another way to reduce stress.
Deane Alban explains some of the dangers of sugar in her post, Stop Giving Your Brain the “Sugar Blues” on Pick The Brain. Processed sugar is particularly bad for you.
Some of the dangers of consuming too much of the wrong type of sugar include the following:
- Memory problems
- Attention span problems
- Increased anxiety
- Mood swings
And that’s just a partial list…
#4. Am I Getting Enough Exercise?
I accidentally discovered the productivity benefits of exercise early in my career, even before I became a freelancer. I was trying to solve a particular problem and I was stuck. I decided to take a walk around the building. After about 15 minutes of walking, the solution came to me.
Since then, I’ve learned that exercise can help in the following ways:
- Reduces stress
- Helps us think more clearly
- Causes us to feel more alert
- Improves confidence and self-esteem
There are also physical benefits to exercise. It can help fight obesity and many weight-related conditions. If you’re not currently exercising (and your doctor says it’s okay) try adding 15 to 30 minutes of exercise to your daily routine.
Is the way you treat your body affecting your freelancing productivity?
I’d love to hear how you overcame bad body habits to become more productive. Share your experiences in the comments.