Basic Self-Maintenance for Academic Success – Part 2

This is the second installment of a two-part series by Ada Palmer (@Ada_Palmer), who has generously made a ‘Healthy Work Habits’ handout which you can download here. You can find Part 1 here.

Metabolism and Nutrition

“Listen to your Body!” It’s easy to convince ourselves that productivity is a question of mind, discipline, having the force of will to “power through” and get things done, but that simply isn’t true. Reading, writing, research, these require your brain to be operating at its best, and that depends on what your body and blood stream are supplying. You think better, learn more quickly, remember more, produce better work, feel happier and less stressed, and can genuinely get more done in less time,  if you take certain health-related steps which have short term immediate benefits, separate from any long-term health benefits (though they have those too).

  • Remember that some times of day will always be a little draggy, no matter what. The morning before you eat, the first hour after a large meal, and the last few hours before bed your brain will never be at 100%, so try to reserve those hours for tasks which require less concentration, like e-mail, grocery shopping, chores, or leisure activities.
  • Many people find their “best hours” are in the morning or late morning, at least for those who eat something when we get up. Overnight the body goes into a kind of “low power mode” to conserve resources until we eat again. This means that the brain is only running at 75% speed until we have a little food. Try waking up your brain by eating something with glucose in it; it doesn’t have to be a full breakfast, a glass of juice, a cup of fruity yogurt, even coffee with milk & sugar can turn your morning hours into 100% hours.

Continue reading “Basic Self-Maintenance for Academic Success – Part 2”