We all have limited resources, limited time and limited bandwidth. Our time is simply our greatest asset and making good use of that time (for whatever purpose you chose) is something many of us find very difficult. “There isn’t enough hours in the day”, something I hear regularly and have told myself also many a time.
How do we create more time? Well unfortunately we can’t. We are all allocated 24 hours a day and that is it! Some people can get a lot done in this allocated time, but others struggle to achieve anything. Modern life is taking its toll. There seems to be too little hours in the day to actually get stuff done. We need to ask ourselves an important question . . . How do we make better use of the time we have? Or put in another way.
How do I become a productivity machine?
Last week I gave a talk on this very subject to a group of business owners. This talk wasn’t just your run of the mill, goal setting, staying focused, work all night type of talk. Instead I chose to focus my efforts on educating the business owners on how they can physically produce more. How they can increase the power of their brains all by taking time out to look after their bodies.
Yes less time awake, less time at work, less time at a desk! More time doing the things your body is designed to do.
SLEEPING, EATING and MOVING.
Today I am going to share the content from that talk with you. Enabling you to start to enjoy the positive cognitive and productivity benefits of living life in a healthier body.
Lets do this team!
PRODUCTIVITY HACK #1 – SLEEP
Sleep is probably the most valuable but often one of the most overlooked concepts when it comes to getting stuff done.
“There is not enough hours in the day, so I know what, I will just sleep less. 2 less hours sleep, 2 extra hours to get work done. Easy peasy”
Seems logical doesn’t it but believe me it is far from practical. Unless you are getting 9-11 hours of sleep on a normal day (which I am guessing you are not) sleeping for 2 less hours will not help you get more stuff done. In fact it will do the opposite.
The scientific literature seems to be quite clear on this. If you are getting less than 7 hours a day of sleep a night, your productivity is taking a whack as a result. A big whack! But it’s not only your productivity that suffers. If you keep up this malarky for long periods of time, it has serious health consequences – heart disease, obesity, diabetes, chronic pain, depression, the list goes on and on.
Have you heard this expression before? Has it ever left your mouth? Well it has a funny way of fulfilling itself. Don’t be this person, or your wish might just come true!
The world health organisation actually recommends between 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night. This is of course, person dependent, but if you want to be a productivity machine, I suggest getting at least 7/night moving forward. So that leaves us with 17 hours to be productive. Well not quite! I am going to take a few more hours away from you before we are done here.
PRODUCTIVITY HACK #2 – MOVE
Exercise might seem to be a little less essential than sleep. In a way it kind of is but it is certainly not something you want to neglect. Not in the short term and certainly not in the long term. When we are busy exercise is generally one of the first things which goes out the window.
‘I haven’t got time to train’
‘I am too busy to work out’
Have you muttered these words in the past? Do you want to know what I actually hear when I hear people say those words. It goes a little something like this. . .
I haven’t got time to get the most out of my body and live a healthy live both physically and mentally. I am too busy to protect myself against depression, heart disease, diabetes, alzheimers and cancer. I would rather spend more time sat at a desk and get less done that get off my ass and move a little to increase my productivity.
Wake up!!!! There is no such thing as being too busy to train but don’t take my word for it. Look into the scientific literature on the subject. I have a whole host of references from recent studies on my laptop. Just pop me an email and ask for them. Exercise promotes productivity FULL STOP. Not exercising leads to decreased productivity FULL STOP.
Productivity increase from exercising is a direct result of a combination of cognitive benefits related to movement.
3. Faster Learning
4. Prolonged Stamina
5. Enhanced Creativity
6. Lower Stress
Does that sound appealing? Exercising regularly makes you sharp and super productive. Do it often and you are on route to becoming a productivity machine. Aim for an hour a day during the working week. If you can pop that training session in before work, even better (as this timing has been shown to be the most beneficial for productivity).
If you are stuck for time in the morning why not hit up a lunch break workout? Not appealing? I get it. You want to eat and that is very very important too.
Well why not try this? Exercise during the working day. Take time out of your work to schedule to fit in one hours worth of exercise. Yes the time you are supposed to be sat behind the desk. A recent study has shown that those who take an exercise break throughout the day at work, get more done than there colleagues who work straight through.
It’s a win, win. You get to train. You get to have a break from your work and you actually get more done, not less!!! Did somebody say productivity machine? I think so…..
Exercising may take 1-2 hours out of your day. Leaving you with around 15.
PRODUCTIVITY HACK #3 – EAT
I’m sure I don’t have to convince you to do this vital activity. I might have to convince some of you to do less however but that is not the purpose of this post. We all love food. Food is literally the best thing ever. Taste, smell, texture, everything. But how often do you eat with productivity in mind? I’m guessing not that often.
The most important thing you can do with your food for productivity purposes is maintain a level blood sugar level through out the day. This is not as simple as cramming down as much food as possible at every available opportunity in the hope you keep that blood sugar high for energy.
The amount of food you eat, how often you eat and the type of food you eat will all effect your blood sugar levels.Eating lots of carbs should keep you blood sugar levels nice and solid right? Wrong!
Do you ever experience energy dips throughout the day? Say after lunch?
This is likely the result of the food you have eaten. More specifically the amount of carbs you have eaten. The phenomenon is known as rebound hypoglycaemia, which basically means a drop in blood glucose levels below your normal levels after eating a meal containing lots of carbohydrates.
It happens like this. Just like shown above.
1.You eat a meal with lots of carbs.
2. The carbs are broken down and absorbed into your blood stream.
3. Your blood glucose levels rise – You feel awesome!
4. The pancreas releases lots of insulin into the blood to bring back down the blood glucose to normal levels.
5. The insulin does too much of a good job and your blood glucose levels fall below normal – You will tired/sluggish/like you are going to fall asleep.
6.You reach for the cakes and coffee and the whole cycle starts again.
Don’t get caught up in this cycle. It is hard work for your body and will prevent you from getting your hard work done. To avoid it, it is best to use the following tips.
1.For breakfast opt for a lower carb choice. My breakfast is usually carb free and consists of a balance of protein and fat. My go to breakfast is 5 scrambled eggs.
2. Eat at regular intervals. This will prevent dips in blood sugar and will curb hunger cravings which may lead to further carb binges.
3. Opt for carbs which digest slower and have a do not cause a sudden elevation in blood sugar levels. These types of carbs are known as low GI and there are plenty of sources available online to find such choices. Go to google and search ‘Low GI carbs’.
There is one more thing you can do in order to be a productivity machine with your nutrition as that is to utilise caffeine. Caffeine has been shown to have a whole host of cognitive benefits. It is also protective against neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia. My choice of caffeine is of course CWOFFEE!!!!
Go on, say it in your best New York accent. CWOFFEE! Mainly for it’s taste but also for its high level of antioxidants. I would advise you to use coffee and caffeine sparingly however. I keep my coffee consumption to 2 times daily and avoid caffeine after 4pm as it can have dramatic effects on sleep quality and quality. Remember the first productivity hack? SLEEP!
There is nothing I will do in my life to sacrifice sleep!
Food preparation and eating might take 2 hours out of your day. Leaving you with 13 hours.
PRODUCTIVITY HACK # 4 – PAIN
Yes pain can wreak all sorts of havoc on your ability to get stuff done. It is distracting, irritating and fatiguing. I could take all day about the pain but I will leave that for other posts. The reason I left pain until last is for one reason.Just like productivity, pain is also impacted by all of the above. If you get on top of your Sleep, training and nutrition, the chances are that some of your pain may subside as a result. Pain in itself however can get in the way of you doing all of the other things.
Don’t let that happen. If you are struggling with musculoskeletal pain and its preventing you from being at your best. Stopping you from training, working, sleeping etc. Get it looked at and start to put the wheels of your recovery in motion. There are no prizes for toughing it out and ‘just getting on with it’. If you need help, I know a very talented, handsome and all round amazing osteopath that can help.
Just ask. Now go out there and get productive. You now have the knowledge to turn yourself into a productivity machine. Make good use of it! If you follow this guide you will have 13 – 15 hours of your day where you can be productive. Get after it!