Friday, June 3, 2016

The Secret to Long-Term Productivity

Ok, it's not a secret, but I don't think many of us understand, and even fewer of us respect the ryhthms of our lives. Do you even know I'm talking about?  Well, if not, let's talk about them some.  If you're going through the effort of reading this blog, written to help you lead yourself better, I'm going to assume you're either (A) my mom, or (B) someone who is pretty motivated and ambitious about a great many things in your life.  Since just one of you is my mom, I'm going to write to the rest of you today.  I hope this helps you too, mom. Love you :)

"We over estimate what we can accomplish in a day and under estimate what we can accomplish in a decade."

I'm not sure who first said this.  I heard it from Blaine Bartel and he attributed it to Tony Robbins. Whoever it was, never a truer statement has been made.

I spent some time with a few guys who I highly respect yesterday and we were discussing daily and weekly routines.  One of them mentioned how he pushes to get up early several days a week, but not seven days a week.  Another said he's found, through experimentation, what time he can consistently get up in the morning without crashing after a couple weeks.

The key that I want to ask you to think about today is sustatinability.  I get that you're driven.  So am I.  I get that you want to accomplish a lot with that day you've been given.  I'm glad.  Each day is a gift and I believe we're irresponsible when we go into a day without a plan - even if the plan is to rest.  But, please hear me Mr. or Mrs. high-output, driven, world-taker.  You over estimate what you can accomplish in a day and under estimate what you can accomplish in a decade. With that being the case, you too must experiment with what works and does not work for you.  You need to get to know your personal rhythms and respect them.

There are many examples we can use, but let's use sleep.  How much sleep do you need?  Sure, you can read medical journals and find out what's recommended, but we're all a little different.  Experiment for yourself.  I know you want to get more done, but remember, you'll get more done over the long haul, if you will do the work it takes to find sustainable rhythms in your life.  I've found that a good and sustainable rhythm for me is to be in bed between 9:30 & 10pm and get up at 5am.  I do this Monday-Friday, sleep till whenever I wake up on Saturday and get up at 6am on Sundays.  I'm not suggesting this should be your rhythm for sleep.  It's just mine that I've found through several years of experimentation, false-starts and failures.  For example, I know that I can get up at 4:15am for about 6 weeks before I begin to crash during the day, but the only way I  know is that I've tried.

Two Sidenotes:

  1. This is all a moving target.  Just about every cycle you find to be healthy will change as your season of life changes.  So, don't misunderstand and think this is a one and done exercise. 
  2. If you think you can operate effectively on 3-4 hours of sleep per night, you're a fool.  You're probably about 50% of what you really could be. You're cheating yourself and everyone around you.  Grow up and stop believing you're super-human.

Sleep is just one example.  You can apply this toward all kinds of activities - exercise, food consumption, reading, study, hours at work, time alone, time with other people.  You name it and you'll find a healthy rhythm for yourself - if you're willing to look for it.  Remember, you will accomplish a lot more over the long haul than you will today, so choose your activities (even your rest) wisely.

I'd love to hear about some of the healthy and unhealthy rhythms you've found for yourself.

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