Multi-task Your Way to a Healthier Body and a Healthier Career

Today marks the start of our new Freelance Fitness series here on All Freelance Writing. This is where I'll be sharing some of my own workout-related updates to show you that you're not alone in trying to beat the bad health habits freelancing can sometimes lead to. Once per month we'll talk about workouts tailored to freelance writers, and once per month we'll share recipes for things like healthy snacks you can keep around your desk all day.

Multi-tasking can be a dirty word. Trying to do too much can definitely be bad for you. It's a surefire way to eventually burn out. But sometimes multi-tasking can be really useful and actually result in your having more time to kick back and relax later. Combining a fitness routine with your freelance writing work might just be an example of that. I plan to find out this month.

Tools of the Trade

I've been looking at digital voice recorders for months. I just found one at Target the other day with a deal I couldn't pass up. It's a 1 GB Sony digital voice recorder with a USB connection so I can easily transfer things to my laptop for editing.

I wanted the recorder originally so that I could take notes in my car. I always seem to come up with ideas when I'm on the road, but I forget them later. Having a recorder next to me that I can quickly switch on before I start babbling to myself seemed like a natural fit.

Now I think it might be a better "fit" than that even!

Working on the Road

Now I can work "on the road" in more ways than one. Not only will I always be able to capture my drive-inspired ideas, but I can take this with me on workouts. I try to get up early enough to squeeze in time on the exercise bike before work each morning. I skip it far more than I should these days. When I do get on it though, I use that time to listen to NPR, so I can get a dose of morning news in me (not as important as a dose of coffee, but definitely worth it). When I can't work out in the morning (meaning I stayed up late and therefore slept in a little late), I try to get on the bike later in the evening. Then I also multi-task -- I workout while I'm watching a movie or something.

One of the reasons I don't workout as religiously as I used to (used to walk, jog, or hike 4-8 miles nearly every day just about two years ago) is that I feel like it's cutting into what should be my "free time" to enjoy myself a bit. I have so many other commitments that sometimes I feel like there's nothing left for me. Yes, I know workouts technically qualify as being "for me," but you know that's not what I mean.

Here's what I'm thinking though: why not take the recorder with me on "working walks" in the early or mid-mornings? I can squeeze in the workouts during my work day and still be as productive as ever. For example, that might be a part of the time I allot to working on my book each day. Or I might use it when working on Freelance Theater shows when I need to brainstorm dialog. You could use one when working on client projects too -- especially if you use something like Dragon Naturally Speaking so you don't have to manually transcribe your "writing" from scratch.

I don't expect to do this every day (I'll still do my bike workouts when I can). But when it's a nice day and I want to go out but feel like I can't because of work, well, now I have less of an excuse. Work can come with me! As I mentioned in the series' opening post, I'm aiming to lose a whopping 50 lbs before the end of 2010. When it's time for next month's check-in, I'll let you know how much this little potential productivity booster helped in getting me there.

Do you use a voice recorder or similar tools to let you workout while working? If so, tell us how they've worked for you in the comments!

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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3 thoughts on “Multi-task Your Way to a Healthier Body and a Healthier Career”

  1. No voice recorders for me over here, but plenty of multitasking!

    I’ll join you on your goal to lose 50 pounds before Dec. 31. I actually have a head start and have lost 14 so far since Jan. 1, 2010. So far I’ve just stopped eating sugar 99% of the time. This cut out the late night snacking for me since that was the snack food of choice – cookies, candy, ice cream, etc…

    As far as exercise is concerned, I’d love to just take a walk or hop on the bike, but such things elude me still with my crew. What I have started doing more of in the last couple of months is yard work. I have a terrible mess in my backyard left over from previous owners and the boys and I head out during the day to build raised gardens, shovel mulch out of the back of my truck, dig out stumps and move endless amounts of landscaping bricks, rocks and other debris buried under years of grass. I find it actually burns quite a bit of stress and hopefully plenty of calories. Plenty of painting and landscaping to do this summer! I’ll be a skinny mini just like you!

  2. I’m glad to see that you are going to post about this, Jenn, because over my first year of freelancing…I don’t know what happened but the conclusion is that I need to start getting active and hitting the fridge a bit less frequently. If I read about other people’s efforts, this may encourage me to do something from time to time (e.g. slap the bagel away from my mouth).

    I don’t have any gadget stuff to report (with the exception of listening to info on an ipod), but I’m just going to throw out an idea about this comment that you make: “One of the reasons I don’t workout as religiously as I used to (used to walk, jog, or hike 4-8 miles nearly every day just about two years ago) is that I feel like it’s cutting into what should be my “free time” to enjoy myself a bit.”

    Instead of making this about work or making it into something that you don’t enjoy, is there a way to combine this with something that you do enjoy? For example (now that spring is finally here), biking is a social and exploratory activity for me; I can spend half the day on the bike if I am with a friend and going to see an interesting destination at the end (or even a giant lunch). Anyway, with the social component, it makes it more enjoyable and something that I make a point of scheduling rather than avoiding. In addition, for some of the things that I don’t enjoy as much (e.g. jogging), I schedule it with another goal buddy; we chat and egg one another onwards. Although I will have to admit that I haven’t done any jogging for the past year, but it will have to be added to my list of activities, too.

  3. @Rebecca – Playing with the kids probably lends itself to decent calorie burn. So if your boys are active, you might not have a choice but to get moreso as they get older. 🙂

    @Wolfster – The entire point is to make it about work. 🙂 I already have plenty of workout options I enjoy — salsa, getting on the bike while I listen to my morning news, kick boxing, and hiking. But some days there just isn’t time to ‘do it all.’ So this is about finding ways to squeeze workouts into my actual working hours so I have more “me time” later (which means I still have to be doing work while I work out). There’s absolutely nothing wrong with “fun” workouts, and we’ll talk about that stuff too. Just not with this particular post. 🙂


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