If you’ve been running your business for a while – whether it’s a writing business or something else – you’re probably looking after the business end. That means doing things like:
- thinking about, creating and implementing business plans and marketing plans
- looking after your finances
- taking a professional approach to your creative endeavors.
But in getting your business off the ground, you may often neglect its biggest asset – yourself. And that’s a big mistake, especially if without you there IS no business.
I know what I’m talking about because I’ve found that there are three areas I need to look after to keep myself healthy, so my business can also be healthy: my overall health, my creative brain and my hands.
Looking After the Body
At various times, running my writing business has meant sitting in front of my computer for most of the day, writing and responding to emails. But that’s simply not healthy. Aside from the blogger’s butt and overall weight gain, putting additional stress on joints and internal organs, it’s not that good for creativity either. But I’ll get back to that in a moment.
Exercise keeps everything in your body ticking over and releases endorphins so you feel happy and more energized – that’s better for business. Over the years, I’ve experimented with different healthy approaches: low fat eating, food combining (that one didn’t last long), and the slow carb diet (a stellar success in which I dropped 35 pounds). But I love food and I’ve settled on a plan I could best describe as “slow carb most of the time”. It features plenty of fish, veggies and lentils – all of which I love, but is not derailed by the occasional cookie or slice of cake.
But in order to make that work, I need to exercise. It isn’t something I love; it’s something I must do. In my most successful business year, I splashed out on a personal trainer, then I joined a gym. Eventually I got bored with that and moved on to my current exercise regime – mowing. I’ve divided the yard into three sections, which take 45 minutes to an hour each, and I mow those in rotation, weekly, using a push (manual) mower.
My new routine is goes one of two ways, depending on what’s on the daily agenda. Most of the time I work for a couple of hours, then mow, then go back to work for an hour, then have lunch, then work again – that allows me to write at my most creative time and prevent the mid-morning slump – I just mow right through it, literally! But on a morning where I haven’t got much to do – or I wake up feeling blah – getting the mowing done first is a way to banish the blahs!
And since it’s a job that has to be done, even if I get tired of it, I’ll keep on doing it. It’s not quite motivation, but it passes for it. Once I add a couple of regular weights sessions into the mix, I’ll be happy with that regime.
Looking After the Brain
Exercise also helps me look after another major business asset – my brain. I’m not claiming to be a genius, but as a writer, I have to keep coming up with ideas and think of creative ways to convey information. But overwork leads to burnout. While there are days when I feel creatively exhausted, here are some ways I try to avoid it:
- Exercise (as I mentioned before)
- Getting up from the computer at intervals – and at least every couple of hours (the health recommendation is something like 5 minutes every hour)
- Going out – sometimes I meet up with other writers or friends (or both) over coffee and talk about things unrelated to the day to day preoccupations.
In my experience when you escape the everyday, ideas start to flow, so in the long run, that’s good for business too.
Caring for Hands and Wrists
And then there’s the third business asset: my hands. Anyone who uses the computer regularly can find themselves suffering from tendonitis and sometimes that can become chronic carpal tunnel damage. I’ve had wrist problems before, along with some painful treatments – and I don’t plan to go down that road again. So I listen to what my hands tell me. That means that sometimes, instead of typing, I dictate my work with Dragon Naturally Speaking to cut down on the amount of typing I do. At other times, I use my favorite wrist straps to keep my wrists supported. And very occasionally, I give my hands a rest altogether and do something else. So far, this seems to be working.
So that’s my health regime. Since I’m not perfect, I have off days (and sometimes off weeks) but I am committed to doing a certain amount of exercise each week and eating healthily most of time – I think that’s good enough for now.
Are you looking after your health so your business will be healthy too? What’s working for you?
This post is part of the Word Carnival, a collection of posts on business topics by an awesome group of bloggers. In case, you hadn’t guessed, this month’s topic is Healthy Body, Healthy Business. You can see how the other bloggers approached it here.
Image: Jeanette Goodrich