Time takes its toll. Editors (like authors) spend a lot of time at their computers. As the hours, days, and years go by, we’re well served to find little ways to reduce the stress on our bodies and minds.
I turned fifty recently and am hoping to edit for decades to come. But I’m more and more aware of how much I need to take care of myself to do my best work.
Little things add up. If I’m editing and can use something like find and replace or a macro to reduce the time it takes to perform a repetitive task, then I’ll save myself hundreds of hours over the years, reduce the stress on my body, and free my mind for more important editing tasks.
One of my favorite macros (a program that runs within Word) is MerriamFetch, which lets me use a keystroke to bring up a Merriam-Webster search for the word where my cursor is located. Editors are constantly looking things up to see not only spellings but variants and words that are open, closed, or hyphenated. So this macro is a real time-saver.
(Convenient example: I used MerriamFetch to look up “time saver” and found that Merriam-Webster has it hyphenated, so I then used my Hyphenate macro to save a few keystrokes while hyphenating it.)
Here are five additional (and recent) accommodations I’ve made to care for myself while editing. They might help you too.
- Blue light–blocking reading glasses. These filter out blue light to reduce eye strain from long days at the computer monitor, and they also have my reading glasses prescription.
- Raised monitors. I use the monitor on my laptop and two external monitors. Ideally the monitor is situated so I can look at it level without hunching and creating neck strain, so I’ve used lifts and my desk riser to raise the level of my monitors.
- Desk riser. This is one of my favorite additions to my setup. The desk riser sits atop my desk and lets me easily switch to a standing-desk arrangement. In addition to taking regular breaks to move around, it is wonderful to stand and work for a portion of the day. (It was also relatively inexpensive compared to standing desks.)
- Split keyboard. This is the most recent addition to my setup, and I’m still adjusting to it, but I am feeling very positive about it. The split keyboard comprises two keyboard halves connected by a tether. With this unusual-looking keyboard, I can set the halves at a distance and angles that allow me to type with my arms at a more comfortable angle than the straight-ahead approach of traditional keyboards.
- Improved posture. This would seem an obvious accommodation, but I had to make a conscious effort to sit up straight and keep my mouse forearm parallel to the floor. I’d been experiencing arm pain, and this has helped alleviate that.
James Gallagher is a writer and editor with more than twenty years of experience. James can be contacted at James@castlewallsediting.com.