In primary school I was fond of telling really bad jokes. One of my favourites was this:
Q: Why did the orange stop rolling down the hill?
A: Because it ran out of juice.
What we need to make things happen these days isn’t just time, but attention. In particular, we need as much of our best attention – our proactive attention – as possible, and at the right times. But what if attention was different to time? What if it were truly possible that, rather than simply managing your precious and scarce attention, you could actually create more proactive attention?
One productivity topic that is often overlooked is how we manage our bodies and brains. This is a vast subject area of course, worthy of several books in and of itself (and there are plenty out there). From what we eat and drink to how we move, how we sit and how we sleep, there are a lot of possible reasons why we feel energized one day but lethargic the next.
So where do you get your ‘juice’, and how do you stop running out of it? Are there things that you do that you know make you feel better? Personally, I know a short run first thing in the morning warms up my body and tends to put my brain into a fuller state of concentration. This is particularly true if I feel tired when I wake. I also know that if 88I’m delivering a workshop or likely to be on my feet all day, then porridge is the only breakfast that gets me through until lunch without me feeling hungry and fidgety. I know that ‘superfoods’ and certain vitamins help me to avoid that end of day ‘zone-out’ and prolong the length of time later in the day that I feel fully alert. And I know that while I’m lucky enough to be able to have a few beers or glasses of wine without getting a headache the next day, I will feel lethargic and spaced out.
There is a whole plethora of ways to look after your body and mind, some of which will have a more noticeable effect on your attention and energy than others. It’s a topic that cries out for extra attention if you’re serious about creating the impact in the world that extra energy and proactive attention can give you. For now, here are a few quick things to illustrate how looking after your health and wellbeing in order to improve your energy and productivity doesn’t need to be a huge extra commitment.
1. Combine exercise with something else instead of going to the gym.
The psychological effect of adding the gym as yet another chore or another thing to maintain in your already busy life means it’s destined to result in disappointment. Instead, think about what you already do that you could do differently. Rather than walking the dog, try running with the dog. 89Cycle or run to work, or if you have five minutes to wait for a train or bus, spend that five minutes walking up and down the platforms or stairs. There are plenty of ways to tweak your existing commitments rather than adding in a new one.