One week ago, in my article here on The Good Men Project, I spoke about my experience of a digital detox over the holidays. It wasn’t just refreshing, but stimulating. My mind felt alive again. By keeping my mind away from reacting to all the noise on social media, it was free to think.
But it wasn’t just the detox that was helpful in rejuvenating my mind, but sleep. I’m a time management consultant, and have picked up nearly every book and program on the topic. What’s interesting is how most of them focus on tips and strategies. However, thanks to breakthroughs in science, more and more books these are now talking about the importance of our health with regards to productivity. In many ways today, productivity has become less about time management and more about energy management.
According to Matt Walker, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, “The evidence is overwhelming, it is irrefutable. Sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body health each and every day.”
And yet, sleep is often the first thing people neglect in order to get ahead or simply get everything done. The second is exercise. These and our diet are the three things that impact our health the most.
A study done has shown that sleep deprivation performance is similar to being under the influence of alcohol. It’s not surprising then that according to the National Sleep Foundation, an average of 100,000 crashes each year are caused by fatigued drivers.
I recently read an article in the Guardian which talked about Japan being the most sleep deprived nation. It’s become an epidemic, and sadly it’s spreading.
Most of us are living our lives not truly awake.
Our society as a whole has become one where the belief that more is better. However, as I learned from my digital detox, the opposite is true. We are inundated with information coming at us, what we lack is quiet. We continually invest our time in trying to get more done, when we should be focusing on doing less. Productivity increases when we focus in on a few tasks and put all our energy into them.
Instead of spreading ourselves thin, we need to become laser-focused. Rather than doing a lot at a mediocre level, we should be doing a few at a high level. That’s what our society demands today. We don’t want good enough, we want the best. Apple makes the best tablets. Google dominates search. Toyota has the most reliable cars.
In order to be truly productive, the one thing we should be focused on the most – our body – seems to be ignored. Obesity is America is at an all-time high. According to the latest from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey — put the rate of obese adults at 39.6 percent. This despite America spending $66 billion on weight loss programs and drugs.
Not only are we not awake, we’re also fat.
So the big question is, what can we do about it?
As I’ve heard Tony Robbins say many times, “Success leaves clues.” We need to model those people who have succeeded.
When it comes to food, I believe the Japanese diet is far superior to any new fad diet program. It consists of a variety of vegetables, meats and fruits. Miso soup is pretty much a daily thing. White rice is eaten at least once a day, and fried food is not uncommon. But walking around, it’s uncommon to see people who are overweight.
As for sleep and exercise, it’s science to the rescue. Studies have shown that:
- Just 20 minutes of exercise a day can radically change our health.
- We need between seven to eight hours of sleep a day to ensure our body is in peak condition.
It’s not rocket science. We get back what we put in. We understand this at work, and yet, seem to forget this about our body.
Over the years, I’ve often been asked what the number one mistake people make regarding time management is. It’s a tough question, but today, more and more, in dealing with clients I find that productivity begins within.