Keep an Eye on Your Physical HealthCaffeine, sugar, power bars and the pure will to concentrate can compensate for lack of sleep and poor nutrition, but nothing substitutes for genuine physical health. Sleep, exercise, a proper diet and regular checkups are important for maintaining your physical health. This is a basic, essential priority, which provides the well of energy from which you draw the strength to accomplish everything you need to do. Some people neglect their own health for so long that they forget what it feels like to be healthy and rested. Making the commitment to your physical health will have an immediately visible effect on your productivity. Take the following steps:
- Monitor how much sleep you currently get, and then increase your sleep time in half-hour increments. Studies show that getting the same amount of sleep every night is healthier for your body than trying to run on five hours a night during the week and then sleeping 10 hours on the weekends to catch up.
- Choose bedtime reading materials carefully. Try reading only fiction or poetry before sleep; nonfiction, self-help, business books, and the newspaper tend to rile you up rather then settle your brain.
- Discover a form of exercise you love. Try Pilates, yoga, aerobics classes, biking, rowing, softball--anything that you enjoy and that takes your mind off the torture of exercise! Start small and don't be overly ambitious. Exercising three times a week is just fine.
- Listen to business tapes while on the treadmill or out for a walk. Combining the two can make you feel that your exercise time is for your work, not a break from it.
- Buy a pedometer--and walk everywhere instead of taking the elevator or the car. Keeping track of how many miles you trek a week, month or year can motivate you to keep on truckin'.
- Take a multivitamin. You'll be surprised what a difference it makes. Replace your afternoon energy booster with something more organic than sugar or caffeine--an energy bar, juice, jumping jacks, a walk in the fresh air.
- Establish a personal relationship with each of the doctors on your core team. Know each of their receptionists--those personal connections are key to swift appointments. Aim for morning visits--doctors fall behind later in the day--so you can get in and out fast. Try to bunch all of your annual checkups at the same time of year--autumn and springtime usually present the fewest scheduling problems.
Articulate Your Personal VisionYour career is a major part of your life. What drives you to be where you are? What, beyond this moment, keeps propelling you forward? What is the vision that inspires you? Take a minute now to articulate what drives you personally. State clearly what you are working toward. Developing a vision can be a little overwhelming, but it doesn't need to be complicated. What does your gut tell you? What do you want? What's making you wake up every day to get started on your work? Don't feel pressured to articulate your one-year, five-year, and 10-year goals. Vision is often as hard to describe as feeling an impulse, a wish or a desire. You may be driven to learn as much as you possibly can about your industry, or to develop a reputation as the best in your field. Maybe you want to be a role model for others or become wise. Often, your vision is a dream, a hope, or a belief in yourself and the unique contribution you can make to the world through your work. Whatever compels you, articulate it--it will grow stronger and more inspiring as you acknowledge and embrace it. Don't be shy.
Combat ProcrastinationDo you procrastinate on everything or only on some things? Some people procrastinate primarily on big projects; others tend to avoid the small, boring or annoying tasks. The worst part about procrastination is how much time we waste on meaningless tasks and doing anything to avoid the dreaded project.
Combat procrastination in the following ways:
- Break down overwhelming projects into smaller tasks. Break down large, intimidating tasks into a series of half-hour to one-hour steps. Each day you have some time to work on your project, tackle one step at a time for a sense of true accomplishment.
- Start in the middle. If it's hard to get started on a project, try jumping to the second or third step to ease into the water. For example, when writing an e-mail letter to customers, the opening paragraph may be the most difficult to craft. If you're stuck, try jumping to the body of the proposal, outlining the bullets you want to cover first. Get that out of the way, and the introduction may come easier.
- Focus on the payoff. By taking your eye off the particular task and focusing on the happiness and success you'll gain from completion, you can often keep yourself moving forward. For example, when writing a proposal, think about the benefits to your business that might arise from your well-crafted proposition.
- Set time limits on difficult tasks. Setting aside either too much time--or not enough time--can make you procrastinate. If you are setting aside an hour to do expense reports, minimize the torture by shrinking it down to 30 minutes and get as far as you can. Trying to plan a meeting in 30 minutes and can't get started? Try giving yourself an hour and see if that does the trick.
Make Use of Your Travel TimeWhether commuting, shuttling your kids from one after-school activity to the next, or taking a business trip, make a conscious choice about how you want to use that travel time. Travel time should never be lost time. Listen to music to escape. Talk to your kids to strengthen your connection with them. Listen to business books on CD to enhance your work. Also, choose the best mode of transportation for whatever you're planning to do. A cross-country car trip is a great way to build relationships; public transportation offers plenty of time to sleep (physical health), read or watch movies (escape), and concentrate (work).