Discover how to get things done so you have more time for the things you love.
The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus
It was around 3:30 at the office, one of those slow summer afternoons at work. My coworkers were going about their work with the intensity of a large tortoise wading through a tar pit on a lazy Sunday.
No offense to this big fella, of course. He does his thing
Is it time to go home yet? Lisa announced to nobody in particular. Though I agreed with her sentiment, it got me thinking.
What the heck is wrong with us? I thought. Where is our life?
It doesn’t take a psychologist or scientist to tell us that the average person spends a lot of their time with droopy eyelids.
It’s not that all of us tend to not get enough sleep (though collectively we have a lot of room for improvement), it’s just that much of the time, especially in the afternoon, we struggle with feelings of exhaustion and lack of energy.
Have you ever stopped to wonder why the heck that is? Are we humans doing something wrong with our lives that we go through each and every day feeling lethargic and tired?
In today’s hectic world, time and energy can be hard to come by.
We may be working at a job that doesn’t exactly thrill us each and every day, and that’s fine. It’s unfair to expect that we are in a constant state of agitation and excitement. The way the world is set up today, we don’t need to constantly “live life on the edge” in order to survive.
So how do we eliminate this default state of “tired” and start living each day with more energy?
How to get things done and have more time for yourself
First, you need to find out what energizes you. This might sound way too simple, but really, think about it. What kind of people energize you? What kinds of activities energize you? What amount of sleep gets you operating at full power? What habits consistently get your blood pumping, and motivate you in other areas of your life?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of “trying to get things done” and completely skipping out on those soul-nourishing, physically-energizing activities that would actually give you more energy to get things done in the first place.
As a high-strung, entrepreneurial-minded person, I often times think that “breaks are for wussies” or that “I’ll never get things done if I don’t start now and just power through it.” The more I work, the more I find this is simply an immature attitude.
Today’s culture tends to glorify the time it takes to accomplish something. People put in 80+ hour work-weeks, tell their friends they spent “like 8 hours studying in the library”, or boast of the fact that they’ve been playing golf for 5 years.
When it comes down to it, what does that even mean? How can you possibly quantify achievement with an arbitrary period of time?
Shaquille O’Neal can take his dreadful shooting form and practice his free throws until the sun comes up for the next 7 years, but he’s going to be wasting a ton of valuable time and effort. Instead, if he focused his energy on repeatedly shooting with good form, he may achieve the same amount in 1 year that originally would have taken him 7. Maybe that way he wouldn’t lay so many bricks from the foul line.
There comes a point when you need to work smarter and not necessarily harder. Each instance you take time to find what strategies increase your energy and focus, you are making a short-term sacrifice in yourself that will increase your productivity and pay off for years to come.
One of my favorite tips to improve your efficiency and focus is a handy little method called the “Pomodoro technique”. Set a timer for anywhere between 15 and 25 minutes, or however long you can work effectively without any interference from distractions. Whatever the time period is, make sure it is less than the time it will take to complete the task. We’ll call this time period a “sprint”.
As your timer buzzes after your first sprint, assess where you’re at. Do you need a few minutes to recharge? Are you able to keep powering through, distraction-free for another sprint?
By setting a realistic deadline for working in manageable chunks, you eliminate all the inefficiencies that inevitably pop up when you try to power through a marathon work session.
Often times after returning home from my 9-5 job, I find myself wanting to do some writing for my blog, or sometimes I am lucky enough to get to write for an amazing site such as Everyday Power.
In order to get my brain into a mode that is conducive for writing, I have found that walking, as simple as it is, gets my brain primed for clear and creative thinking.
Don’t even get me started on the health benefits of walking and how many high-performers (Einstein, Beethoven, Thoreau to name a few) used to take walks to get their brains to an elevated state.
If there’s one thing you remember from this article, don’t be a tortoise wading through tar. Find your energy sources, use the crap out of them, and take off like a Lamborghini.
Hopefully, the above suggestions will help you get things done and have more time for yourself in a way that works and doesn’t hurt. Just don’t forget to stop every once in a while and smell the roses.