Wherein Elizabeth discovers that updating her work environment has exponential benefits.
I’m having major trouble lately with motivating myself to go to the gym. Before I quit my job, I had these grand plans that working from home would allow me to have enough time to work out.
I’ve begun to realize that not having time was a red herring and the real issue here is a lack of motivation. I can get myself on track in spurts, but whatever progress I make is always beset by a month or two of doing absolutely nothing.
In times like these I like to remind myself that I’ve stuck with things before…I quit smoking on April 25, 2012 and have not had a single drag of a cigarette since that day. The magic bullet in that instance was a combination of starting a new job where I couldn’t take smoke breaks, avoiding alcohol for the first month of being a non-smoker and, that thing I just can’t put my finger on -
Since then, I’ve run a ten-mile race, reduced the use of my asthma inhaler to a scant few times a year, stopped smelling like an ash tray (except the week after I inherited my grandmother’s mattress…her apartment was a perpetual cloud of Virginia Slims smoke), but most importantly I proved to myself that I can stick to things. I do have willpower as much as I always say I don’t.
I feel like I’m on a quest to find that elusive magic combination of circumstances once more with the exercise thing. I find myself researching fitness trackers, buying yoga mats and poring over weightlifting routines with the hope that something will click. I’ve always wanted to be the type of person who follows a strict routine, but I now know that it’s a huge waste of time to try and cram myself into a mold that just doesn’t fit. I guess it’s better to identify what I am good at and reverse engineer a solution rather than pining after personality traits that just don’t exist for me.
[honestly, it feels really weird to be writing a blog purporting to help people live happier lives since I have a whole crapload of my own issues, but helping others is a strength of mine that usually has the unintended result of helping me better myself.]
I realized after a few weeks of working on it that this blog is my coping mechanism to combat this perpetual inability to see things through to completion. Disappointing myself is not a big enough motivating factor. Having a blogging partner and an audience lay witness to my feeble attempts at living life (or working out) is just scary enough to (maybe) work.
But, I still don’t want to work out. I’m not ready yet, and as evidenced by my 20+ attempts to quit smoking before 4/25/12, being ready is a huge and intangible part of the equation. Nevertheless, I keep telling myself that baby steps count for something.
In that spirit I’ve been searching for a drafting table that I could use as a standing desk/command center for my batcave. Let’s just say that laying in bed all day writing posts on my phone’s keyboard would’ve been better than the “desk” I had going on.
I really wish I had taken a photo of how I used to work, but imagine along with me here (or refer to the horribly photoshopped pic below) -
A large monitor resting precariously on a stuffy bentwood chair’s cushion; a laptop on an abnormally low coffee table connected to monitor by no less than 57 cords; keyboard and mouse attached to laptop by another 32 cords, resting awkwardly on a massive masonite drawing board; me – wearing boxers and a size XL threadbare undershirt – on an awesomely mod (read: laughably bad for posture) Ikea couch, attempting to balance said massive drawing board on my knees while simultaneously trying to keep the now 781 (and counting) computer cords from setting off a rube-goldberg chain of hilariously destructive events because I literally can’t not jiggle my damn leg constantly.
After 20 minutes of sitting like that I’d basically devolve into a Jabba the Hutt-esque ergonomic nightmare.
After WEEKS of scouring the internet, I finally acquired my best craigslist purchase to date – an old light table. It’s a thing of beauty. For a mere $25, this baby fits my picky size requirements, and also LIGHTS UP so I can TRACE THINGS and LOOK AT NEGATIVES on it and most importantly – it is the exact antithesis of my previous crappy setup.
NOW, imagine me at my shiny new (old) desk in boxers, a size XL threadbare undershirt, and sneakers (because I’m standing!), with a not insignificant amount of awkward dancing and bouncing around (because I’m standing!). Standing while working has helped me get way more work done. I just have more energy and feel more motivated when I’m not a puddle of slouch – imagine that!
A few takeaways:
- Standing desks are the bomb.com, and sitting all day will slowly kill you; if you’re ADD like me, there’s a huge mental advantage to standing over sitting as well. Seriously, for most of the day I stand here and jiggle my leg or wiggle around or sway back and forth like a weeble wobble and when I’m doing those things, it’s 1000x easier for me to focus on writing. I can’t really do much of that when I’ve been sitting still at a desk for 17 hours straight.
- Baby steps eventually compound into adult steps which eventually snowball into big giant leaps forward. When faced with a crossroads, I like to envision how positive choices will specifically benefit my goal, and conversely how the negative choices can hurt my progress as sort of a daydreamed pro/con list.
- Next time you’re having an, “I literally have negative willpower” moment, try to suss out your feelings on the matter by taking a good hard look at yourself and why you’re not doing whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. E.g. – is it really about a lack of time, or are you just not in the mood? Once you’re honest with yourself it becomes easier to silence the “I’m too [tired, busy, hungry]” voice in your head that prevents you from making the right choices.
So, baby steps. Because of my new awesome light table, I now stand for most of the day and bop around the house when my music gets wild and maybe occasionally wander into the hallway to do some curls with a laughably light dumbbell in front of a full length mirror.
Hey, at least I’m no longer Huttin’ it up on my couchdesk for 10 hours a day.