Want Freelance Success? Watch Your Health

At the beginning of June, I started ghostwriting an ebook with a very aggressive timeline. I didn’t take on many other projects during that time, aside from a blog post here and there, and some copyediting work. I also didn’t take breaks for lunch. I stopped going on my afternoon walks. My topless living room yoga sessions became far less regular. And I ate a lot of takeout Chinese.

Finishing that project (the last of the edits were completed in mid-August) was like coming up for air. It was freeing, but I also felt burnt out and unmotivated. I lost all momentum. For weeks, I did the bare minimum, telling myself I’d get back in the saddle after “that trip” or “that holiday weekend.” But I never did.

Then I started making yoga a bigger part of my life* and, suddenly, I was able to jump into new coaching work, start singing funerals again, and write a book proposal. Magic? Not quite.

Yesterday, I had a free wellness coaching session with Linda Formichelli. I had previously only known Linda as a freelance guru and writing coach, but I was intrigued when she announced the launch of HappyFit Coaching. To me, it made sense to see her expand her business to include health and wellness. Why? Because incorporating exercise and other positive health practices into your work day is about much more than achieving optimal work/life balance.

In chatting with Linda about my love affair with yoga, I admitted to her that, aside from making me feel stronger, more balanced, and more toned (you should check out my ass), yoga has also:

  • helped me wake up in the morning, making the transition from sleep to work a lot less excruciating.
  • given me a much-needed break in the middle of the day, allowing me to come back to the computer screen feeling refreshed and ready to kick some ass.
  • stretched me out, which is great when you experience chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain from being hunched over your computer for the majority of your existence.
  • quieted my mind, which is nice when you’re stressing the eff out over late-paying clients, scope creep, deadlines, and life in general.
  • helped me get to sleep at night, which was previously impossible due to my inability to turn my brain off.

In short, being healthier made me a lot more productive.

Wouldn’t you like some of that?

Your own healthy habits don’t have to include yoga, but they should include activities that invigorate you, stretch you out, and give you an endorphin high. You should also eat nutritious meals (the pre-cooked chicken wings at the supermarket don’t count), so that you feel less horrifically sluggish, and you should make sleep a bigger priority. No more all-nighters, yo!

I’m not a health professional (which would be obvious if you ever secretly observed me), but I can point you toward some of the things that have inspired me to lead a healthier life. French Women Don’t Get Fat, for example, taught me a lot about mindful eating. And The Flex Diet – which isn’t actually a diet — provided me with lots of suggestions for eating healthier and enjoying my workouts.

And if you can’t afford a gym or studio membership, no worries. I rent belly dancing, hoop dancing, and yoga DVDs from Netflix all the damn time. Oh. And walking is free. (Don’t ask me to run, though. I don’t go above a power walk.)

Have you been giving your health short shrift? Do you think it may be negatively impacting your work? What one health-related change can you make to your day in order to boost productivity?

*Why yes, I AM obnoxiously obsessed with yoga lately. I”m sorry. You’re gong to have to deal with it. I’l try to mix up the yoga mentions with photos of my cats.

Related: How to Work from Home Without Losing Your Mind, Better Than Xanax