Yes sitting is the new smoking and I do have a desk that can move from standing to sitting. I do alternate my posture at my desk regularly to help ensure that I am comfortable. I even get up and take a tour of the house every hour to make sure that even if I am standing, I’m moving.

Yes I measure my steps with a Fitbit, and don’t invite me to some weekly step challenge because I’m training to run 50km. I get lots of steps in every week. It’s likely that I’ll win, and probably by at least 30k steps.

The real problem with inviting me to a step challenge on Fitbit is not that I’ll win by more than some people’s weekly step count, it’s that it’s a poor measure for your health.

What do you need before activity?

I get why people aim for steps in the day. Many of us sit at a desk all day typing away. We get little movement so a challenge to move more means we are engaging in more activity and more activity is good.

The thing that a weekly step challenge misses is how much rest did you get? Did you sleep 5 hours a night? If so, then getting your step goal every day still means you’re ruining your body.

You’re just ruining it in a way that easy to ignore in a way that smoking drugs and alcohol aren’t easy to ignore. You’re ruining it in a way that so many view as virtuous because “you’re working so hard.”

One of the best formulas I’ve seen for getting great sleep is called the 10-3-2-1-0 Sleep Formula. Here it is in a nut shell.

  • 10 hours before bed – no caffeine
  • 3 hours before bed – no food or alcohol
  • 2 hours before bed – no more work
  • 1 hour before bed – no more screen time (TV, phones, computers, kindle…)
  • 0 the number of times you hit snooze in the morning

The biggest thing I track with my Fitbit is my sleep. Did I get over 7 hours of sleep in a night? If the answer is yes then I’m on the right track. If the answer is no, I’ve impaired my judgement for the day.

I’m shortchanging my clients and my work by not bringing my best self to the table. You can’t be productive if you’re not rested properly. It doesn’t matter what hacks you have or what systems and software you use.

You’re getting less quality work done if you haven’t had a good night’s sleep.

Rest Means Good Thinking

According to the National Sleep Foundation there are four main areas that lack of sleep harms.

  1. it’s harder to focus and pay attention
  2. slows your reaction time
  3. reduces high-level creativity
  4. can cause you to become more forgetful

Seeing as the only freelance skill that will stay in demand is good decision making, you’re harming the most valuable thing you can bring to clients.

Is your work designed to allow for Rejuvenation in the day?

Good work goes past a decent night’s sleep though. The design of your whole day contributes to how much quality work you get done.

I’ve designed my work around what I call The Mullet Method of deep work. I work for 3 – 4 hours in the morning. Take a 2 – 3 hour break then get back to work for 2 – 3 hours.

Sometimes my break is a nap. Sometimes it’s playing with kids. Sometimes it’s a run in the farmland around us, or up a mountain.

It’s always away from my computer and work though.

The point to a break in your day is to refresh your brain so that you can make better decisions later in the day instead of being mentally exhausted. It’s to recharge your decision making muscle and you can only do that by resting it.

In When, Daniel Pink, shows us that we all are best when we get up. Morning person or night owl, you’re at your most creative when you start the day.

Then you have trough of productivity after 2 – 4 hours at work and start to peak again after the 2 – 3 hour trough. The nap specifically can help you come back to work at 100% capacity.

Done right, naps can be a shrewd response to the trough and a valuable break. Naps, research shows, confer two key benefits: They improve cognitive performance and they boost mental and physical health. – When

In my book (out today) The Art of Focus I explore what it means to get control of your time. Controlling your time starts by getting proper rest. It’s only with rest that you can provide any creative value to your work.

How have you set up your day to make sure that you have the maximum number of hours being a productive creative? How are you going to change your current setup to increase the rest you have so that you can be creative?

Photo by: barneymoss