On the heels of my post about position, posture, and being a writer, here are some tips on how to reduce writer’s fatigue:
Set yourself up
Get a good, ergonomic chair. Make sure that when you sit down, your chair is at the proper height. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your keyboard in easy reach. You should only have to lift your hands to place them properly. Don’t lean forward, either.
Your hands should be almost at a 90-degree angle from your elbows. Your mouse should be in easy reach too, and you shouldn’t have to do more than shift your hand to the right (or left, for you southpaws) to reach it. If you experience tingling or numbness in your fingers, hands, wrists, or arm at any time while working, STOP WORKING. Your position isn’t right and your body is telling you you’re causing nerve damage. Adjust your position.
Have a seat, Sir
Sit square on your chair with your feet on the floor. Keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Don’t hunch them, and don’t tense up. Keep your chin up too; you shouldn’t have to stoop or lower your chin to keep your eyes on the screen. If you are, set something underneath your monitor to raise it to eye level.
Take frequent breaks. The optimal break is about 15 minutes for every hour of work. Get up, stretch, walk around, and keep moving. Don’t go sit somewhere else. Your body and mind need a break from working and from the position. Writing takes a lot of mental effort. Think you can’t afford the time to take a break? Well, can you afford slowing down because you didn’t have a break that leaves you feeling refreshed and ready for round two?
Smile every so often. When people focus and concentrate, they tend to tighten their face muscles slightly. That can cause headaches, neck tension, and a face that feels carved from stone. Smiling uses different muscles and stretches tense ones, and it also eases stress, leaving you in a better mood.
It’ll feel strange to carry out these tips at first, but force yourself to do them for a week. Make a point of smiling, taking breaks, stretching, and sitting properly. Set an alarm or a series of email reminders if you have to. It’s likely that your habits and concentration cause you to forget your new work methods. After a week, though, you should already be seeing an improvement in how you feel.