May 29, 2019

How I stay healthy & productive working by the computer 8 hours per day

Oleg Galkin @OlegGalkin

I work in 30-minute intervals with 7-minute breaks between them, which helps me to stay healthy and more focused. I've even developed a small program that forces me to work like that: http://blackscreen1.com

How do you stay healthy & productive working long hours by the computer?

  1. 2

    I have the peloton tread(mill)

    I have an aftermarket iPad holder and I will do calls or zooms while I'm walking on it.

    Also, I will take walks and dictate into my android or iPhone my notes/plans, which is a great way to get time away from the screen.

    basically.... walking!

    1. 1

      I sometimes too dictate into my android my plans and random thoughts (which actually helps bringing them to order).

      Walking is definitely a great way to refresh yourself!

      For me personally, it is difficult to "unpin" myself from the screen, stand up, and start walking. I tend to stick to the screen to later find out that I am completely tired and unproductive.

      That's why having such a tool that makes your screen black every 30+ minutes really helps me to stay in shape and temporarily switch to other activities like walking.

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        get the Fitbit watch.... set it to prompt you to do 250 steps an hour. it will work

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          Great idea! I'll give it a try. :-)

    2. 1

      Thanks for sharing, Jason!

  2. 2

    I usually use the Pomodoro technique which breaks down your work into intervals and follows it by frequent short breaks and then a long break. You can use this time to walk around or stretch or have a walk outside to freshen up. I sometimes even splash cold water on my face and it sort of restarts my brain.

    But you need to find what works for you best, you can even separate your big tasks into smaller tasks and have a break after you complete a set amount of tasks to feel more progress and motivation to rest & continue with even more determination.

    Things like that usually motivate me (since I have a lot of trouble to avoid procrastination). I also use apps that don't let me visit Facebook, Twitter and other social media even though I really want to from time to time.

    Your program looks cool by the way :D I might even use that too!

    1. 1

      Thank you, Annie! :-) Great post.

      I often get stuck on Facebook and YouTube. That's why I thought I need a way to reset my brain without going to such attention-hooking websites as those two. This is the reason why I added the random photo feature into the Black Screen program.

      I've noticed that working in intervals has another benefit. It allows planning work in intervals (I call them "takes"). For example, that task requires two "takes" (work intervals), this task requires one "take" interval, etc. One take is the minimum for every task.

      It works pretty well because working in intervals makes it easier for me to plan my day. I know that I have, for example, 8 available takes today. Then I decide how many takes each of my tasks requires and decide how many tasks I can do today with available takes.

  3. 2

    Interesting concept, I'd like to develop better habits around that. 30 minutes feels short, is that based on study/guidelines?

    1. 1

      Hi, Rosie! No, I just intuitively came up to the conclusion that 30 minutes is an optimal interval for me. Every 30 minutes I stand up, walk around, maybe exercise a little. If I work in longer intervals then at the end of the day I feel tired and constrained (mainly because of sitting).

  4. 1

    For me it's a matter of trying to get into the zone. If I do get into the zone, it usually lasts several hours at a time, maybe up to 6 hours. Then I work in these spurts of high productivity vs low productivity on a daily basis.

    I see the app is configurable so it can accommodate different length work periods. I'm just having difficulties imagining why to force yourself quit working if you are right in the middle of a productive session? For me, I need a while to get back 'into it'. I'm sure this is a preference thing though. It is interesting to hear about how other people work.

    1. 1

      Are you not getting tired sitting hours by the computer? Without making breaks, at the end of the day I feel like "Daaaaamn.... "

    2. 1

      This is so me. Would be great to hear what you do to help get into the zone. For me it helps if I'm under pressure (just before a deadline) or by starting on tiny tasks.

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        Deadlines, yes! I'm a horrible procrastinator LOL.

        I don't really have any specific thing that works. It is more about a combination of factors that have to occur at the same time. For example I need to be well rested or fresh off of energy drinks/coffee, and it must be an interesting problem, something I really care about or find challenging. Even better if it is something I think about when I'm away from the computer. Also I need to be in the right state of mind. If I'm feeling lazy it's probably not going to happen.

        Wish I could just turn it on and off but no... :p

    3. 1

      Aside from getting tired of too much continuous sitting, I often feel kind of "sucked into the screen" if I don't make such regular breaks. I feel like I am losing control of my attention. That results in getting stuck to doing unimportant things while I know deep inside that I need to switch to the other task. Taking breaks helps me to get my brain back into normal condition. I think it does something like eye blinking does for the brain - resets attention so it can be (re)directed. Well, for me personally 7-minute break doesn't break a productive session. Anyway, the app that I mentioned can be set up for any interval with any break duration.

  5. 1

    Ah the classic pomodoro. Unfortunately 25-30 minutes is just too short for me. I prefer working long (1.5-4 hours), then take a big rest (nap, play guitar, talk with friends, have a meal).

    Is the 30-7 interval working great for you? Have you tried another variation?

    1. 1

      Hi, Vinliao! Yes, it is working great for me personally. I tried 40 minutes and 45 minutes but it appeared to be too long. It felt OK at the beginning of the workday but towards the end of the day, I felt more and more tired and constrained, mainly because of too much continuous sitting. I feel much better when I stand up ever 30 minutes and walk around a little. Well, it's my approach. The app that I mentioned can be set up for any interval.

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