I have spent the last decade or so learning everything I could about productivity. Starting out I believed it was all about implementing strategies. They worked for me, which is why my original One-Bite Time Management Program was crafted around numerous strategies. However, experience has shown me that for most people, that’s not enough. It’s as much about strategy implementation as it is about caring for our health and body.
In my first book, iSucceed, I coined an expression I refer to as “the birds of a feather phenomenon.” Anyone who has survived high school will understand just how much people can have on those around them. Many of us adapt to fit in. Alcohol. Social media. Cigarettes. Sex. Drugs. It’s not uncommon for kids to do a 180 in high school because of wanting to look cool. It doesn’t change much when we get older. Want to be smarter, start hanging out with smarter people. Want to be rich, start attending events where rich people are. Influence is subtle, but powerful.
Got water? Most people I know live on a steady diet of coffee or soft drinks to help them get through the day. Caffeine is the drug of choice for many people. I used to be a six Mountain Dew a day man myself. These days, I have one a month at most. The rest of the time – water. It’s remarkable how by simply removing caffeine from your diet, how much better you’ll feel. And as I always say, “You can only be as productive as you feel.”
We’re all busy. I get that. There’s just so much to get done and only so much time to do it in. One of the common beliefs by students, CEOs and executives is that by cutting down on our sleep, we can get more done. Well, yes…and no. On paper it makes sense: the more hours we work, the more we get done. But we’re overlooking one small point and that is the quality of work we get done.
Don’t shortchange yourself when it comes to getting a good night’s rest. The body needs seven hours to operate at optimum levels. It seems counterintuitive, but less is more. Don’t try and work more, but instead focus on getting more out of the time you have.
Even when I was just an English teacher, I was always looking for ways my students could improve quickly. After teaching thousands of people and over my years in the classroom and in the boardroom, I’ve come to believe that the secret lies in two simple words – habits and perseverance. The second is self-explanatory, but habits are not.
I’ve come to believe that habits are the invisible chains that act either as an anchor holding us back, or as Buzz Lightyear loves to say “to infinity and beyond.” I could devote a whole series of articles to this topic alone, but suffice to say that one of the best things we can do is write down every habit we have, and put a + or – next to each one.
This isn’t something many people expect me to mention when they ask me to speak on productivity, but the older we get, the more importance this takes on. Food is the fuel for our body. Ferraris and Lamborghinis are among the most powerful machines on the road, but to operate at optimum levels they require high octane fuel. The same can be said for our body. As I explained in a previous article, that doesn’t mean we need to go vegan, a well-balanced meal will do the trick.
We all know that exercise is good for us. But science has shown that by doing just 20 minutes of moderate exercise done on a daily basis will increase our productivity for the entire day by as much as 20%. Exercise also helps boost our immune system meaning less down time.
The ultimate productivity killer. Stress comes in many forms, but most are linked to people in one way or another. Maybe it’s a nagging partner, an overbearing parent, a power-hungry boss, or a monster client, regardless of the cause we must find ways to reduce stress in our lives. We all deal with stress differently, but not all are constructive. Eating is one example of a destructive way of dealing with stress. It leads to weight gain which causes us even more stress. Massages, mini-vacations, hiking, martial arts, painting are all good ways to release stress. Just find something that works for you.
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