In my last post, I introduced you to my vision statement and my planner. I also talked about the importance of having a mentor or an accountability partner. In this post, I’m going to share with you what I do to maintain my energy and my focus.
Diet, Sleep, and Exercise
At 30, I was on statin meds for high cholesterol. I was in daily pain from rheumatoid arthritis. I was wearing a size 18. I was miserable and tired all day every day. I had trouble getting to sleep at night and trouble waking up in the morning. I suffered from chronic sinus headaches.
At 44, I have no issues with cholesterol and have been off my statin meds for over 5 years. I can’t remember the last time I had an arthritis flare up. I’m in a size 14 and headed to a size 12.
I have zero trouble sleeping, and I can’t remember the last time I needed an alarm to wake up. Now, I only suffer from a sinus headache when we have a 40 degree drop in temperature or I’m exposed to strong chemicals (perfume, cleaning supplies, etc).
How’d I do it? Diet and exercise. Not the answer you were looking for huh? 🙂 Like most things in life, there’s no quick fix.
Why does it matter? Because by being healthier and sleeping better, I have much more focus, better memory, and so much more energy–all of which you need to be productive!
Most Americans are consuming a ridiculous amount of sugar and preservatives, because nearly every “food” in the grocery store has sugar or corn syrup as a primary ingredient. It’s making us obese, unhappy insomniacs.
I’ve included a few websites below where you can read up on this. I personally eat a whole food, plant-based diet, but I started with the Mayo Clinic Diet and have numerous friends who have had similar success with the Whole 30 Diet.
Bottom line… When you eat better, you sleep better and have more energy. When you sleep better and exercise regularly, your body and your mind work better, which means more focus.
Mediation & Daily Reflection
When I bring this subject up, most people regularly say, “I don’t have time for mediation!” But the most effective people take time out to be still and quiet, and they take the time to reflect on how their day went and what they can do better tomorrow.
As a Christian, I choose contemplative practices for my quiet time, but I recommend exploring options. Here are just a few possibilities:
- Zen Meditation
- Mindfulness Meditation
- Guided Meditation
- Centering Prayer
- Art as Contemplation
- Walking a Labrynth
Meditative practices give you a reset in your day. I have three periods of prayer and contemplative practices scheduled during my day to help me reset and refocus. On the busiest of mornings, I guard that time, because it keeps my day from going down hill.
Each day as I unwind, I complete an Examen, which walks me though my day focusing on those moments when I felt closest to God and when I had trouble feeling God’s presence. It ends with a prayer asking God to help me improve tomorrow.
It helps me let go of all of those moments we lay in bed hashing out and thinking of how we should have handled them better. It helps me remember all of my little wins throughout the day. Most of all, it reminds me that I can start fresh tomorrow.
I use an Examen journal, but all you really need is blank paper. It doesn’t have to be as structured as mine. I’m an INFJ, so I love structure, but maybe you just need to sit with your thoughts and free write. Again, it has to be a practice that works for you.
The Myth of Multi-Tasking
Did I just say “the myth multi-tasking”? Why yes I did! That’s right! The world’s most productive people DO NOT multi-task.
Let me say that again… The world’s most productive people DO NOT multi-task.
Why? Because when you multi-task, you are less focused and therefore less productive. When you focus on one task at a time, you’re more focused and more likely to finish quickly and without error. Every productivity study ever done confirms this.
That being said, you can break large tasks into smaller parts and focus on one of the smaller parts, switch to another task, and move on to the next smaller part IF you are outlining the project and assigning the smaller parts in your task lists.
To review, we’ve talked about vision statements, accountability partners, and planners. We’ve talked about how to get your energy and focus up and keep it there. Next week, we’ll take a look at some resources that have been invaluable to me on my journey.
In the meantime, what can you do today to improve your energy and focus?