We have all been through it at some stage of our lives. A deadline, or an anticipated event. Something that has kept us focused on one task for extended periods of time. Although we will usually survive it unscathed we will be exhausted. Perhaps there is a better way to get through such a tough time. Perhaps it doesn’t have to be a gruel struggle.

This is slightly off topic from this blog but there are food concepts too (which will be covered in greater detail in the next post). And I believe that there are people that could be helped with this information. Honestly I wish I knew all of this when I was going through some tough deadlines. Or maybe I did know but just didn’t remember to utilise them? As Rodin says “common sense is anything but common”.

This will also help everyone who will be enjoying the start of one of the most anticipated video game title releases in a few hours; guild wars 2.

Quick version

 If given enough notice ensure that your other commitments around that deadline have already been taken care off or postponed;

  1. Get enough sleep before the deadline;
  2. Work in a well lit and ventilated area. Look away from the screen every 20 minutes;
  3. Watch your posture – shoulders back and down, back straight, don’t slouch;
  4. Have some water bottles ready next to you work area and have a swig every now and then;
  5. Go easy on the caffeine as it will make you crash and dehydrate you;
  6. Avoid fast food and have a good slow digesting meal that will power you through the first few hours;
  7. Pre prepare your food to quickly grab it and eat whilst working;
  8. Have almonds and fruits ready for snacks;
  9. Go outside and get fresh air;
  10. Don’t forget you have a life outside of this and this is just temporary.

Long version

Other commitments

First up before we get to the health bits, if you are keen on playing or working uninterrupted, pre-prepare anything that needs to be done  – if you have any other assignments due, other work to finish, emails to respond to, anything, try to get it done before that important deadline or launch.

Sleep

Try and get a good sleep during the week before the deadline. The last thing you want is to be exhausted which hampers your cognitive function. Even if you can only manage a nap get 45 – 60 minutes. Don’t nap for anything longer than 60 minutes unless you intend to sleep for a few good hours as you will start to enter deep sleep. Waking up during this will make you feel horrible.

Eyes

Look away from the screen every 20 -30 minutes and focus on something far away even I it’s just for ten seconds. Staring at the screen too long will mess up you long range vision.  Even just looking around the room helps

Make sure you are blinking whilst looking at the screen or get some eye drops ready. Blinking normally would be preferential to using eye drops but we have a tendency to stare when looking at the screen

Also make sure your play area is well lit up (having a light on behind the screen helps too) otherwise you’re eyes are going to get strained big time

Posture

Posture is so underrated but so important. Keep your shoulders down and back. Having the keyboard and mouse lower don helps as you don’t have to lift your arms too high.

Don’t do this and you will get the computer jockey’s trademark – pronated shoulders.  And become a hunchback. Then people will throw fruit at you like in the hunchback of Notre dame movie. Just kidding! I have it and have been struggling to fix it. It is so much easier to be aware of it and prevent it now than to have to fix it later. Squeeze your shoulder blades together to keep them back.

Have your monitor such that the top of the monitor meets your eyes when your neck is in a neutral position. Keep your neck in this position and look down with your eyes instead of tilting your head.

Keep your lower back lower back straight and don’t slouch in the chair or slouch forward. It would be better to sit on a fit ball or backless chair so that you use your muscles instead of relying on the chair.

Get out of the chair every now and then. Every 30 to 60 minutes is best. I know time is of to essence but even if you just stand up and quickly reach up to the sky and stretch it will do you a world of wonders. It helps the blood in your body start flowing again and you will be amazed at how refreshed you suddenly feel. Take in a deep breath of air too.

Stretch your fingers every now and then. Something as simple as opening your palm and spreading your fingers out as wide as possible will be sufficient. Also, open and close your palm a few times.

Water

Fill up a giant bottle or a few bottles of water and keep it close by. Set a reminder, whatever and have a swig every now and then.

Have at least a full glass of water before you start. Trust me you do not want to be dehydrated. When you are dehydrated, your whole mental capacity diminishes. You won’t be as quick in your thinking and reflexes and you will start to feel exhausted.

Having a few sips every now and then will make sure you stay hydrated. If you wait til you are thirsty you will already be dehydrated and it will take a while between you drinking the water an it being digested and having effect.

You will not need to pee that much unless you overdo it.

Working hard?

Soft drinks / energy drinks / tea / coffee

These are not water. Having a few soft drinks is not the same as having water. You still need to have water even if you are having soft drinks.

First up soft drinks have so much sugar (and the diet ones have horrible artificial sweeteners that will kill you in the long run). Having too much sugar at once will cause an energy spike and then a crash! You will feel horrible and sluggish when you crash. Check here for an explanation on this.

Energy drinks are the same. They have loads of sugar. If you do have them, space them out and drink them slowly so you get the best effect. Don’t smash down too many or you will probably have a heart attack and never finish or get to max level your character.

Alcohol is the same as above and if you have too many you will lose brain function and slow down. Keep drinking, and depending on your tolerance you will probably fall asleep or pass out.

Tea and coffee are ok. Without sugar is better. Green tea will be the best.

Be warned though, all of these drinks above are diuretics. They WILL make you pee. This is why you need to drink lots of water if you have these drinks or you will quickly dehydrate. Also, they will flush out important nutrients so you will start craving food.

If you have too much caffeine you will also crash pretty hard when it wears off. You do not want this to happen as you will feel horrible and exhausted. So if you have caffeine, pace it out and drink lots of water.

Food

You probably want to binge on fast food, but if you can try and have something that will actually keep you functioning and feel full.

Having fast food will make you feel sluggish, tired and irritated.

Instead of the burgers have wholemeal bread or oats. Have some meat like chicken breast or steak and some veggies. This will keep you going for a few hours.

Pre prepare your food so you can grab it quickly.  And just microwave if you need to eat whilst gaming or working. I usually cut up the pieces of meat so it is easy to just grab with a fork or spoon.

Eat a little bit of good fat like some avocado, olive oil or some nuts.

Keep some almonds next to you to use as a snack. The healthy fats found in these will also optimise brain activity. Fruits are great too

Breathe

Don’t forget to breathe. You are probably thinking, how can we forget not to breathe as we will fall over and die?

Well, we all automatically breathe in air but we do not breathe in properly or enough when focused on an activity. What happens is that we take short shallow breathes which then gets the body very tired. Those of you who have limited nasal capacity like me will know what I am talking about.

Make a conscious effort every so often to check that you are breathing deeply. Take in a few deep breathes of fresh air at this point too. You will notice the mental clarity you get straight away.

Miscellaneous

Take a break. Go outside, get some fresh air. Go do some exercise to pump some blood around your system. Don’t get too caught up and forget your body.

Take toilet breaks. Don’t hold it in for too long. You don’t want to be cleaning up after or getting kidney stones.

That’s it

I know this is a lot and is extreme but I hope you at least take a few points from it. Don’t neglect your body. It is easy to level up a character or get through a deadline but it is so hard to fix your body.

Most of these are obvious and you will probably say, Ranjeev, we know this stuff already. But do you really. Voltaire said that “common sense is anything but common”. Set a reminder on your phone. In that reminder ask yourself to look at your posture, your breathing, your water intake, and your movement levels. And if it is all up to par I will shut up. But I can guarantee that for most of you (like for me) after a while of focused activity, all of this “common sense” goes out the window and your body goes into a comfortable position of using the chair for support instead of your own muscular systems.

Happy gaming,  happy dead lining and don’t forget to look after yourself 🙂