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How to Overcome RSI While Building Your Dream Writing Career

How to Overcome RSI While Building Your Dream Writing Career

RSI. Repetitive Strain Injuries.

The worst nightmare of anyone who uses a computer for longer than four hours every day without taking proper breaks.

Writers are no different. If it’s not their dry eyes or stiff neck, then it’s illnesses with sexy names: tenosynovitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve entrapment syndromes, and so on. These are only a few of the many chronic health issues writers face while making a living and delivering on their promises to clients.

The pain and discomfort that come along are anything but sexy. RSI can be extremely debilitating. It can reach the point where voice-to-text software is the only way to help them do their job. Physical therapy is needed to treat the effects and avoid a roaring relapse.

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Unless you pay attention to your work habits, RSI won’t spare you. Your body will respond, even though not immediately, and you’ve got to listen to it.

Use an Ergonomic Mouse

We all know we have to take breaks when we use the computer and yet we get all caught up in our work, thinking, planning, talking on the phone while we keep holding on to the mouse. We forget we have to simply let go of it and rest the arm and hand. Keeping the hand passively on the mouse puts nearly the same amount of strain on your muscles as in the active state, slowly damaging them.

An ergonomic mouse with a vibrating sensor will detect when you’re passively holding the mouse for longer than 10 seconds. It then vibrates gently, prompting you to take your hand off and rest your arm and shoulder. When you need it again, you simply pick it up and continue to use it. You’ll take a lot of micro breaks and after a while, it just becomes a habit.

Sit in a Correct Posture

Sitting in a bad posture is also a major contributor to RSI. Make sure you sit up straight even if you’re tempted to slouch or lean forward. An ergonomic desk accompanied by an equally ergonomic chair will help you sit and work comfortably. Pay attention also to your work environment. A fresh air flow that’s neither too cold nor too warm, as well as proper lighting that doesn’t shine on your computer screen, are highly recommended.

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Take Breaks

Proper breaks can be used in so many constructive ways. Do take advantage of them!

Set a timer to keep you focused and to force you to take breaks.

Run in place, do push-ups or sit-ups. Move around and have a glass of water.

If you prefer to still sit at your desk, do some simple mobility exercises for your hands and wrists.

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If using EyeDefender, by default you can rest your eyes for two minutes after working non-stop for 45 minutes. You also have the option to customize the interval between breaks as well as the break duration.

You can also meditate sitting or lying down. Better yet, try walking meditation.

It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you regularly keep yourself in motion or simply relax.

Don’t Ignore the Power of Sun

Whenever you get the chance, expose your body to the sun, at least for short periods of time. To be on the safe side, use sunscreen with high SPF. If you live in a humid and cold climate where you’re mostly used to rain, which only aggravates your symptoms, you know what I mean by craving sunshine. The sun’s warmth on your skin will feel like balm for the soul. Apart from that, sun bathing also helps you build your immune system and treat vitamin D deficiency.

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Give your muscles time to rest and heal. Listen to what your body tells you.

Avoid putting pressure on yourself and you’ll be the healthiest, most prolific and inspired writer that you want to be.

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Anca Dumitru

Freelance Writer & Content Strategist

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

More Time Management Techniques

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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