WELLBEING KNOWHOW How to have a happy working day

Has lockdown left you in a creative funk? Jo E. Verrill ponders how to have a happy and creative working day, with help from physio and wellbeing consultant Antony Hylton.

Well, it's been nearly four months of working from home for many of us – and while it undeniably has its benefits (said no waistline ever), let's face it, at times it can feel like wading through a distraction-infested, goal-less swamp.

I consulted physio and wellbeing consultant Antony Hylton to work out the secret to a brilliant, creative day.

1. Plan it

It’s a pretty simple thing, but taking a moment to plan your day can make a massive difference to your work satisfaction. 

“Consider at what time you are most productive," Antony says. ‘For example, when kids are watching a movie or TV – and allocate the deep work, that requires the most focus, to those times.”

That sounds sage to me. And remember, if you put Netflix on for your kids, it gives you up to 1.5 hours of peace. If you teach your kids to use Netflix, now that’s a lifetime of peace…

2. Plump for Pomodoro 

Here’s how the Pomodoro technique works on a very basic level: you set a timer for 25 minutes and work hard on your allocated task until it goes off. You stop and take a break. That’s it. 

This is brilliant in so many ways. Firstly, you’ll be absolutely gobsmacked at how much you can get done in 25 minutes. Secondly, on the flip side, 25 minutes seems so doable to a resistant brain it will likely agree to concentrate for that long without freaking out too much.

And maybe try mixing writing (or drawing) with learning. I’ve been endlessly inspired by taking 25 minutes to watch these SCBWI digital workshops.

3.  Work in a smiley space

Last month’s Wellbeing article focused on how to sit comfortably at your desk. You should also check out Caroline Deacon’s article series for inspo on writers' and illustrators' creative spaces

Author Moira McPartlin's lovely creative space © Moira McPartlin

Antony’s top tips are: “Try to work in an area that has natural light, this will help with the daily rhythms of the body, will create stress-relieving endorphins and will also reduce eye strain. Controlling noise is important – I find headphones with a ‘Classical Study Music’ playlist on Amazon Music is useful. Also consider some greenery – plants have been demonstrated to reduce stress. It’s unclear if these need to be real or not, probably not.”

4.  Take time to bling your brain

Time is a weird thing when it comes to creativity. If you don’t have enough of it you don’t get much done, but the more you have sometimes the less you get done. This is, in part, down to your ‘creative well’ becoming depleted when you draw on it for too long.

Sometimes refilling it is as simple as taking a break, going for a stroll or doing something incredibly mundane, like hoovering or a tax return. You might also benefit from watching a few kids’ films, or reading some excellent books. 

Experiences are essential for creative spark. While we remain in semi-lockdown it might seem like it’s hard to get this, but help is out there. SCBWI has been running some online socialising events – such as the Virtual Scrawl Crawl.

5.    Be kind to your insides

You’re probably sick of hearing the m-word by now, but millions of people swear by meditation for happiness, wellbeing and creativity. You can pay for apps like Headspace, or be an absolute skinflint like me and get stuff for free from YouTube, or Insight Timer. Even a ten-minute breathing break between your Pomodoring will make a difference.

And – if you’re working at home you’re in a much better place to make great food choices. 

“Good nutrition will have a huge benefit, including improving your energy levels and helping you to manage stress,” says Antony. “Eat from the food ‘rainbow’, the more diverse the colours the healthier you will be.”

And, yes, I checked, and this does NOT include scoffing a bag of M&Ms.

Header image: ©Oluwakemi Solaja (Unsplash)


Jo E. Verrill is an enthusiastic writer of humorous books for children, and an advertising and broadcasting standards consultant. 

Antony Hylton is a qualified physiotherapist of 19 years. He is the director of 
Zoinomics, a health and wellbeing consultancy business, providing advice to businesses based on current research and best practice, conducting ergonomics assessments and offering training and seminars.

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