From fundamental habits to specific tweaks, over the years I’ve shared much productivity advice in this space. I don’t see productivity as how to squeeze more hours into the day, but rather, how to make the most of the time you have so that life feels simpler.
Often this conversation turns to energy management because we all get tired – or we’re actually tired all.the.time. And when we’re tired, it’s all-too-tempting to zone out with your technology drug of choice instead of doing something worthwhile. I am no stranger to this!
The thing is, this conversation tends to focus on the beginnings – how we start the day, a project, or a task even when we feel resistance. This is only half the solution. In recent months, I’ve discovered a small step I can take to regain energy and focus when I’ve already been working.
Late last year I started to pay attention to when my activities were only filling up my time and not my heart. Yes, my lowest energy periods (evenings for me) tended to be the worst. However, I also found that I went through cycles during the day. After I had been working just fine and with focus for a while, I would start to drift.
It turned out that the middles and ends of my activities were just as important to productivity as the beginnings. This discovery was not shocking, but powerful information to help me identify this state and shift my behavior. Now, instead of wondering where an hour went, I can take action with purpose. What this looks like is actually pretty simple.
When I feel myself wandering, I check my to-do list to see what I’m supposed to be doing and then I get up. I remove myself from the situation and get a drink of water, walk around the house, or look out the window. Sometimes I’ll even do jumping jacks or other simple physical movements.
I engage my body in order to re-engage my mind. This isn’t about getting your heart rate up, though that certainly doesn’t hurt. Activating your body – even briefly – is proven to increase energy and focus by sending more oxygen to your brain.
It’s taken practice to make this a habit and I am conscious about being gentle with myself. However, it was instantly clear that adding this productivity skill to my day was needed and only takes minutes.
Without any radical changes, I am more alert, more energized, and more focused throughout the day. More importantly, I feel more joy and ease in my life knowing that I am spending more of my time well.
Have you made a small shift that impacted your energy and focus? Share it in the comments.