Using a Timer Can Improve Your Health

As writers, we are good at what we do because we can drift away into an imaginary world for hours. That’s probably a good thing for the stories we’re writing, but it might not be a good thing for us. So for my healthy writer post today, let’s chat about how using a timer can improve our health.

Many new studies are out there, showing that prolonged sitting damages our health. Staring at a computer screen for too long is hard on our eyes, typing for too long is hard on our hands, and apparently the sitting position is very hard on many other parts our our body as well. The scariest studies show that sitting for too long can even take away years from our lifespan. Yikes! I don’t think any of us want that!

If you search the internet, you can find many articles about the perils of sitting. Here are a few:

The Today Show:
The Washington Post:

One way to address this disturbing news about sitting is to purchase or create a stand-up desk, which I’ll chat about in another Healthy Writer post. And another way is to use a timer.

Using a timer gives us a set time to write, and then reminds us to take a break. I generally set my timer for twenty minutes. Then, when it goes off, I get out of my chair and move. Sometimes I do some yoga, pushups or stretching, other times I do a few dishes or another quick chore. If I’m sleepy, I blast a song and do a little dancing. The important thing is to get up and get moving.

I usually take about a 5 minute break, sometimes a bit more. Then it’s back in the chair and back to writing.

Oops, hang on, my timer went off. Must go move! I’m using this break to tickle Chauncey’s tummy.

Okay, I’m back. As you can see, Chauncey is looking even scruffier than usual. Maybe I’ll use the next break to brush him!

At first I worried that taking such frequent breaks would have a negative effect on my stories. I was sure that I did my best writing when I worked for longer stretches of time. But the truth is, we can get used to just about anything if we commit to it, and nowadays I find that I can pick up where I left off quite easily. And far more comfortably, thanks to my stretch break.

Also, with a time limit on how long I’ll be writing, I find that I push myself harder during those twenty minutes, and get more accomplished, than I do if I have unlimited time.

I also use my timer to keep myself from falling down the social media rabbit hole. If I’m going to post something on social media, I set my timer for however many minutes I feel I can spare. It keeps me from getting distracted and losing time.

Most of us have a timer on our phones, but for me, close proximity to my phone is distracting. And I wonder about all the weird radiation it emits! So I use a good old fashioned kitchen timer. It’s cheap, I can bring it with me anywhere, and it’s pink, which always makes me happy.

Give a timer a try if you haven’t already, and let me know what you think. It’s a simple step toward a healthier body and mind.

Here’s to our health!

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