Getting Past Go

This is a guest post by the energetic Linda Formichelli, co-author of The Renegade Writer.  If you’ve ever fallen asleep at your computer when you should be working, this post will give you some ideas on what to do differently:


One of the many reasons freelancers procrastinate on writing, marketing — everything — is that they’re too tired to work.


In 2008, I suffered often from lack of energy. How hard it is to get anything done when all you want to do is (1) drink coffee or (2) sleep. So my resolution for 2009 was to boost my energy. Here’s what I did (and it worked like a charm!):


Talked with my life coach.  My life coach is the most energetic person I know, and she gave me some great tips and motivation to increase my energy. You don’t have to shell out for a life coach, though. Make an appointment with your doctor to ask her how you can become more energetic, and she can help you go over your lifestyle and see where you can improve. You can also glean energy tips from books on health, wellness, nutrition, fitness, and energy, such as The Exhaustion Cure: Up Your Energy from Low to Go in 21 Days by Laura Stack. I like YOU: The Owner’s Manual: An Insider’s Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger by Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen, which has good, basic health tips.


Got serious about vitamins.  I started taking a good multivitamin every day (before I was hit-or-miss about it), and also started taking fish oil capsules twice a day. (I remember that in one of the YOU books I mentioned above, Drs. Oz and Roizen mentioned that anything you can do that’s healthy for your heart will increase your energy.) My doctor also recommended I take 2,000 IU of vitamin D since many of us don’t produce enough D in the winter months.


Bumped up the exercise.  I’ve been an off-and-on exerciser for years, but when I went on this quest for energy, I got serious. I now do weight training twice a week with a trainer, do yoga once or twice a week, and walk to and from my office, which is about a mile away) most days of the week (weather permitting).


Started eating breakfast.  This was a big sticking point for me. I used to love breakfast, but at some point in 2008, I started skipping it. Like many people, I just couldn’t stomach food in the morning. My life coach convinced me to start making smoothies for breakfast, so I concocted a healthy smoothie with banana, frozen blueberries, ground flax seed, natural peanut butter, raw honey, ad lowfat milk. It takes two minutes to make and it goes down easy in the morning. And it keeps me going, bursting with energy, until lunch! If you’re a breakfast skipper, consider trying smoothies in the morning to up your energy.


Cut out most caffeine.  The research jury is still out on how best to use caffeine to increase your energy, but I recently read that if you drink too much of it, you’ll get used to it and the caffeine won’t have the same effect it used to. Now, I drink the occasional tea, but when I really need a boost to get through a slump, I’ll have a coffee or an iced coffee.


Banned the sugar high. Nothing depletes your energy like too much sugar. It blasts into your bloodstream, giving you a short-lived boost — and then leaves your body just as quickly, leading to a crash. I used to be the queen of sweetened drinks, but now I limit myself to one sweetened beverage per day. I also replaced the sugar in some homemade drinks like lemonade with agave nectar, which is a low-glycemic sweetener that doesn’t give you a sugar rush. (By the way, I still count drinks sweetened with agave as a sweetened drink and limit it to once a day.)


Got serious about relaxation.  If you don’t give yourself time to unwind and do the things you love, you’re likely to burn out — and to procrastinate on things like work. During super-stressful periods at work, I make sure to take a long hot bath every night. And several nights per week, I do guided meditations before bed. (I use the free podcasts from The Meditation Podcast.)


What do you do to bump up your energy when you’re feeling low? Please post in the Comments below!


About the author: Linda Formichelli has written for more than 120 magazines and is the co-author of The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success. She offers e-courses for writers at and free teleclasses for writers; you can sign up to receive details on the teleclasses at



  1. Good post — and good timing. I'm trying to wean myself back off a caffeine fix. Of course, I got on it trying to drum up more energy for a project. Shoulda just hit the treadmill.

    Finding energy has been a lifelong issue for me, too. This may be too new-agey, but sometimes what works is visualization. I picture myself energized and tackling the projects I want to get done (this is usually as I'm laying in bed, struggling to wake up in the morning!). Don't know how it works, but it seems to! (Unless I fall back asleep…in which case it doesn't work so well…)

  2. Get enough sleep! I make a habit of not doing any computer work or any other intense activity after 9PM. 9-10 is unwind hour. In bed between 10-11. Lights out no later than 11:30. Usually up by 7:30 by my natural clock.

    Eat regularly (including that breakfast smoothie–yeah, great tip and works wonders for me, too). Have a snack in the afternoon, midway between your lunch and dinner, preferably something like a cold, crunchy apple and a few almonds or peanut butter.

    Do light chores in the evening rather than just sitting in front of the computer or TV. Just do something for 15 minutes…dust a room, clean a toilet, fold laundry. I found doing my housework in 15 minute increments keeps it from being a drudge, helps keep it up–almost 2 hours per week for just 15 minutes a day–and gives me just a bit more exercise.

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