I’m not quite there yet; I turn 59 in a couple of weeks. But I’ve just been through the toughest year of my life1. It forced me to be more aware of the health risks of my long hours, high stress work routine. I’m paying attention to my health issues with special attention to the fact that I’m just getting my career ramped up after a long period of disability and recovery while other professionals are winding their careers down. I feel like I am getting better and stronger now and thought that sharing this story might help or inspire someone else.
“It takes a long time to build 30+ years of professional expertise!”
The basics of health are obvious to all of us: eat healthy, control weight, exercize, sleep and manage stress. I’ve taken it a step farther by identifying three key issues that affect me and my plan to address them.
#1. Loss of sleep due to allergies
This is my #1 issue. Lost productivity related to chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) costs society in excess of $13 billion per year in the United States2. That loss is significantly reduced simply by following basic prescribe routines.
Top performers get an average of eight hours and 36 minutes of sleep each night. I sleep much less.
Last Monday in court I heard a lawyer talking about missing work and cancelling a deposition last week. (The awareness I took away might have been the only positive thing to come out of that day in court). That is part of what prompted this self exercise.
A small amount of lost sleep (90 minutes) results in a big loss of productivity (30%).
- Take antihistamine before bed
- Keep dogs out of bedroom
- Use hypoallergenic mattress cover and pillow covers
- Don’t drink wine or coffee in evening
- Use nasal wash
- Keep bedroom cool and dark, no TV (listening to radio or podcast seems to be OK)
- Keep a separate bedroom
I’ve been through the best professional diagnosis and treatments at a University of Pennsylvania. We’ve eliminate the other possibilities and positively identified the problem. I just need to follow the treatment treatment plan more closely.
Sitting more than 6 hours per day results in a 50% increase in mortality. It’s as bad as smoking.
Limiting the time when you’re inactive is even more important than exercise. Constant movement is more important than gym time.
- Schedule short work sessions with active breaks.
- Plan my physical “to do” chore list in small chunks.
- Use Fitbit for reminders and to track activity.
- Base my daily income on a 6 hour billing. (This will require a new fee formula).3
#3 Cognitive ability and mental health
Controlling mental decline is largely a matter of management of personal habits.
- Quality reading and listening. Blinkist (nonfiction subscription digest that I strongly endorse), Libby (online library), Medium and NPR.
- Reduce TV.
- Eliminate Facebook.
- Just say no and walk away from insanity, bigotry and ignorance.
- Increase, plan and regularly schedule CPE courses each month.
- Increase social activity with stimulating people. (Possibly including online group or social).
- Daily walks and gardening.
- Get more serious about nutrition.
- Time with spouse.
- Force myself to be selfish during tax season.
We recognize that these issues are all elated. A change in one, for better or worse, affects all the others. Finally, it is clear that there is a strong genetic component involved. I am blessed with good genes that can keep me productive for another two decades. That’s the plan.
1 So difficult that there is actually a book coming out about it “The Drowning of Money Island”, Beacon House Publishing, October 1, 2019)
3 It was actually the need to revise my fee schedule by a self-imposed July 1, 2019 deadline that inspired this blog post.