This is Part 5 of 7 in my productivity week series.
If this is the first post you're seeing, please also check out Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.
There is no separation between mind and body.
It's all one connected organism.
It took me a long time to realize that.
I wish I had realized it sooner.
Over the last few parts of this series we have laid the foundation for success, and now it's time to execute.
This post is about setting yourself up for success.
Your body affects your mind.
A healthy, exercised body = an active, creative mind. A tired or poorly fed body leads to suboptimal performance.
And your mind affects your body.
Negative emotions and discouraging thoughts can literally make you physically tired, or even sick.
Positive thoughts, and affirming internal scripts can actually give you energy.
It is a flywheel - a positive feedback loop. The more healthy your body is, the more it fuels your mind, which in turns allows you to do things that make you feel good and experience more positive thoughts and emotions, which in turn energizes you and encourages you to get outside or eat healthier or hit the gym. And so on and so forth.
Four Keys to Great Execution:
1. Manage your Energy
We all know it's important to manage our time, our schedules, our expectations.
But more important than any of that? Managing your energy.
The holy trinity of all-day energy: Rest. Food. Exercise.
I used the word "rest" purposefully. Sleep is important and most people should be getting 8 hours (a very small number of people need less or more - know thyself and plan accordingly). Sleep of course, falls into the rest category.
But rest is more than just sleep. I am a believer in the power of micro-rests throughout the day. A 10 minute walk for example. Even 60 seconds of closing your eyes and breathing deep can do wonders.
I'm not going to turn this into a food column but please just respect yourself. Whole foods and moderation are good starting points.
While I am definitely not qualified to dispense exercise advice, here are a few things that have worked for me / observations you may find helpful:
1. Try different things and find what works for you. Don't be afraid to try stuff you have no experience with or that doesn't fit your "self image." You might like it.
2. Don't be discouraged if it's not always "fun" or "easy" or "enjoyable." It's not going to be.
3. Focus on how you feel after, instead of during, to help you decide whether to continue with a certain type of exercise.
4. What would more exercise look like if it were easy? Start there. If that means walking to the grocery store instead of driving, just start there. Then in two weeks, ask that question again.
5. It helps to be around people who exercise/you can exercise with. I am lucky that I happen to live with my personal trainer.
2. Know your Prime Time.
We all have peak focus hours. Figure out your peak focus times and schedule your work around that. Don't be afraid to get a bit unorthodox. For example, if you are know you experience peak focus first thing in the morning, then maybe you hit the ground running from 6:30a - 9:00a with your most important project. Then you take a break for breakfast, showering, exercise, etc. and get back to your work day around 11:00a.
3. Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
I've talked about the minefields of the modern workplace before.
In order to fight back, one of the things we can do is pay attention to our surroundings.
Everything affects our focus even if we don't realize it.
Give special attention to some of the classic focus killers:
- Temperature: Too hot or too cold? Adjust. (better to err on the side of too cold).
- Lighting: Natural light and soft light are what you want.
- Sounds: Background conversations? Open office? Pick up and leave if you have to.
- Meetings: The ultimate focus killer and time waster for many office workers. I get it - some meetings are necessary and productive. But seriously evaluate whether you need to go to that meeting. Do you really need to be there?
Even small things - like what shoes you're wearing and whether you have comfortable underwear can make a difference.
Stop going to that weekly recurring meeting that has too many decisionmakers.
Take over that empty conference room.
Stay home and do deep work once a week.
Rotate between standing and sitting.
Do whatever needs to be done to optimize your surroundings and you will bring more value into the world, I promise.
4. Strike While the Iron is Hot.
Key #4 is simple: You can't always plan the magic.
Sometimes it's 8:00p and you get a rush of productive energy. Be aware and be prepared to strike! Good work and the art of creation should not be stifled by an arbitrary industrialist schedule.
We are all professional athletes in our own field.
Professional athletes train and condition their minds and bodies for the big game.
It's part of their job description.
What if you made it part of yours?