And reach your goals peacefully
I’m more and more amazed by the pressure we get…tons of pressure generated by the global economic competition.
It impacts all of us, it insidiously pervades our lifestyle:
we MUST perform.
Free time is shrinking and there’s little space to recover.
Faced with that ever-increasing tension, we respond by being tougher on ourselves. We expect more from ourselves, faster, and we want to make it by any means necessary.
At least that’s what I did for many years. I used to believe that unforgiveness would make me more efficient…
But does self-punishment really help us perform better?
Do we deliver more under threat?
Personally, I burned out enough to know that pain ruins my work capacity, so I changed my work habits completely.
I changed them so much that I don’t even know if I can still call that work, yet I get a LOT more accomplished.
I thought I’d share 3 rules to support your productivity, by supporting YOURSELF FIRST, body and mind included:
1- Change “the voice”
“The voice” is how you speak to yourself when you make a mistake, or when you’re trying to jump out of bed.
It’s the inner voice that goes unnoticed most of the time (everybody has at least one).
I’d like to invite you to slow down and pay attention to what your “voice” says, if you can.
For instance, what kind of language do you use with yourself when you lost your keys?
I know I used to speak French when that happened…
Once you’re more familiar with “the voice” you might be aghast at how nasty your own monologue actually is.
You can’t seriously expect your mind to collaborate if you treat it like that, so there’s two simple things you can do for a major increase in efficiency:
1- Listen to your own language and think:
Would I talk like that to a friend?
2- If the answer is NO, just tweak your inner conversation until it doesn’t sound like a German war movie.
That very simple approach frees a lot of CPU resources in your brain, which otherwise would be completely stuck in fear and rejection.
Once again, everybody speaks to themselves, the big difference is how they do it. I chose to make my inner voice my #1 supporter, it works, you should try!
2- The carrot policy
I regard motivation as the most important part of success and I’m a big believer that you can accomplish pretty much anything if your drive is huge enough.
I’ve practiced quite a few motivational methods, but if I had to sum them up, I’d say that they all fall down into two categories:
A/ The Stick: that consists in giving yourself stick when you think you’re not working hard enough.
B/ The Carrot: rewarding yourself when you work in the right direction.
The “stick technique” has always proved lamentably inefficient for me, so I’ll switch to the other one.
The carrot method is just about rewarding yourself, rewarding yourself again, rewarding yourself more. Don’t you think it’s easier to relate to work in that positive way?
Whenever you’re doing something:
- Make yourself comfortable
- Play the music you like
- Cultivate the flow to make your task enjoyable
If you treat yourself while working on your goals, you’ll train your brain to associate working with pleasure. Even if all that motivational carrot thing was not working on you, you’d still get chocolate and music in the process, pretty good deal overall.
3- The right temperature
Mind and body function like a diesel engines, they need a warm up to work well. Once you pass the warm up period, your productivity increases 5x.
If you accept that as a fact, you can take advantage of the “warm-up principle” to always be at your best when doing something, without stressing out.
Here’s how you can leverage the warming-up principle:
- Ban multi-tasking: multi-tasking is just evil, shuffling between tasks constantly takes you back to square #1: the warm-up zone.
- Be patient: accept that the first 20 mn of your work session will be boring and unfocused, focus on your task until you enter the flow (no email checking, no FB…:)
- Allow your work sessions to be significantly long: I usually plan at least 2 hours for writing. Out of these two hours, only the last 45 minutes are really meaningful.
4- Start a nap contest with your cat
There’s been enough studies proving that your brain desperately needs sleep to deliver, but since it’s not always possible to get the amount of sleep we need, naps are the right fix for that.
Role model cats if you want to learn how to recover on the spot. Napping is quite easy for them as their sleep pattern is a Polyphasic one (they hardly sleep more than 2 hours), as opposed to humans who are Monophasic (we generally sleep in one 7 hours stretch or more).
While trying to hack your mind to reduce your average sleep-time is not a good idea, I definitely recommend cat-napping.
You’re unlikely to win the race with your cat: their ability to nap is embedded in their system (cats sleep 2/3 of their time), but you should take cat naps whenever you’re dog-tired (my puns are getting worse by the day)…
That means whenever you sense tiredness, loss of focus, take a real break, lie down and pay your sleep debt.
Keep your naps 20mn long, not more, that how you’ll get the most benefit.
You can optimize your chances to take a real nap by using a sleeping-mask (I know, they look terrible, but they work!). I also use these awesome recordings that will cover ambient noise and wake you up gradually.
If you get a chance, let me know if these tricks helped you and if you like this article please retweet it or digg it, thanks :)