June 5th, 2013/Productivity/By /

Productivity: Stop Focusing on Time: How to Manage and Increase Your Energy Levels

red_energy_gym

“24 hours a day is not enough”
“I would get so much more done if I had more time in the day”

It’s impossible for me to go a day without seeing someone complain about their lack of time on my Facebook newsfeed. What’s interesting is that we all have 24 hours in a day, but some people just get so much more done.

What’s the missing link? Their use of Energy.

If we’re short on time then what do people normally do? They try to “power through” it. They’ll sacrifice sleep, eat junk food, and load themselves up with sugary drinks in an attempt to overcompensate. All this does is lower your energy tank in the long run and cause crashes. You’re also making decisions when your brain’s fatigued.

The problem with focusing on time is that you’re only limited to 24 hours in a day. Energy however can be constantly replenished and improved on. Ever since I’ve added routines to improve my energy levels, I rarely get burned out from work now. Not only that but I’m just more passionate about my work and life. It’s hard to give it your all when you’re constantly tired or sleep deprived.

At the end of the day the only thing I’m concerned with is are results. I rather complete my work in 3 hours than half-ass it for 6.

Using Your Energy Levels Better

1. Utilize the 80 / 20 Rule (Pareto’s Principle) – This is a law that states 80% of your results comes from 20% of your actions. An example of this in the business world is that 80% of your profits can come from 20% of your clients. It makes sense then to focus more on servicing those clients, and trying to find more clients like them.

On the other hand 80% of your complaints can come from 20% of your clients. It could make sense to get rid of those customers because they’re a lot of work for less money.

I am constantly using this rule as an internet marketer. If I have a campaign in 10 countries, I’m going to focus most of my testing and attention on the 2-3 countries with the most volume because that affects the bottom line the most.

2. Do Your Most Important Work, During Your Most Productive Hours – My best hours are from 9am – 2pm. I am doing hardcore work during that time. No shooting the shit on Skype, no reading forums, and no watching youtube videos. I have the most energy and motivation during that time so I want to use it on my most important tasks.

3. Avoid Decision Fatigue – Obama eats the same food everyday and has 12 identical suits in order to simplify his life. Making too many decisions can sap your energy so the President routinizes a large portion of his life.

Are you Too Tired to Make Good Decsions?

I eat the same breakfast everyday, I go to the gym at the same time, and I know exactly what I’m doing the first hour of each day. By wasting less energy on low value decisions, I have more energy when I need to make bigger decisions.

4. Stop Multi-tasking – Multitasking can cause a 40% drop in productivity. The problem with multitasking is everyone feels as if they are doing more when they really aren’t. Only 2% of people can perform better when multitasking, and you’re probably not one of them. Instead what you’re doing is continuously switching tasks which is far less productive than just focusing on one.

multitasking_rounded

Experts Reveal Multitasking is bad for the brain

5. Eliminate the non-essential – Evaluate how you spend your time and energy and constantly ask, is it worth it?

I think around December I started playing DOTA 2 and fell in love. My first 2 weeks I easily logged 40 hours of play-time. I had fun of course, but I realized the time I was spending was robbing energy away from my other goals. I deleted the game and never went back. My problem with video games is I’m too competitive, and I just can’t compete against guys that can devote 16+ hours a day to it.

This includes people too. Times change and people change. I was dating this girl a while back and I had to end it. I want a girl that makes me a stronger man, not someone that’s constantly draining me.

6. Outsource – If you’re making $1,000+ a day then it doesn’t make any sense to spend an hour mowing your own lawn, when the neighbor’s kid wants to do it for $10. There are plenty of tasks that are easily outsourced such as laundry service and maids.

My dog’s food gets auto shipped every month so I don’t waste energy thinking about it or ordering it.

Increasing Your Energy Levels

Everyone knows we should sleep more, exercise, and eat healthier. Easier said than done of course. What made me actually implement some of these habits is understanding the science behind them and reading studies. Sometimes it’ll take a while before you can see the results. Trust the process.

1. Sleep – I sleep 7 hours a night everyday. On weekends I don’t set an alarm and let my body wake up naturally. There are plenty of guys who can get shit done on 4 hours a day of sleep, but I’m pretty sure they’d work better if they slept more instead.

2. Exercise – It’s almost counter-intuitive that exercising will improve your energy levels. You’re expending a lot of energy in the gym that could be used for work instead right? Not really. I think of it kinda like money. Sometimes you have to spend money to make more money. Consider exercise an investment in increasing your energy levels. A nicer body doesn’t hurt either.  

Regular exercise improves fatigue

3. Power Naps – I record my sleep daily so if I see that I got less than 6.5 hours of sleep last night, I’ll go ahead and take a power nap. if I wake up at 7am, then I’ll take a 20 minute power nap around 2pm. Tip: Use Eyemasks + earplugs.

4. Drink Tea – Tea can be just as energizing as coffee with 1/3 of the caffeine. This is is because it contains an ingredient called L-theanine. Coffee can be pretty good as well. Drink it black.

Caffeine and L-Theanine

5. Focus on Your Diet – I don’t want to get into this too much because the rabbit hole gets too deep.

I try to keep my diet simple and based on whole foods. The only “fast food” I’ll eat is Panera Bread or Chipotle. Take a multivitamin and fish oil daily. Cut out processed foods. Cut out sugar.

My typical meal is a protein, some carbs, and a side of vegetables.

Protein: chicken breasts, lean steak, turkey breasts,
Carbs: Brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, sweet potatoes.

Everything boils down to self-control. I’m more focused eating better food to help me reach my long term goals than to eat junk and satisfy an instant-gratification craving.

6. Drink More Water – Your brain is 85% water. Being slightly dehydrated can cause decreases in focus and concentration.

Drinking more water is very simple. I just fill a pitcher of water in the morning and have it on my desk along with a glass. I make it a goal finish the water by the time the day’s over.

The clearer the color of your urine, the better. (Keeping it real)

7. Take Regular Breaks – Work 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break, or work for 50 minutes and take a 10 minute break. During breaks I’ll stretch, or go outside for a few minutes.

I work 7 days a week which is not sustainable for for the long run. Every 3 months or so I can feel a burnout coming and I go take a trip to renew myself. It’s important to know when your breaking point is and to “reset” yourself.

Every month me and my cousin have a relax day. Lift some weights, head to a sauna, ice bath, and then an hour massage. I feel like a million bucks after this.

8. Sexual Transmutation – This is a really deep topic and my friends at AsianEfficiency wrote a lengthy article on the subject.

Asian Efficiency – Series on Sex, Motivation, and Productivity

Action Plan

Observe how you’re spending your day. Where’s your energy going and is it aligned with what you want to accomplish? Realize that it’s not about how much time you put in, but what actually gets done.

Implement my suggestions on improving your energy levels. Realize that the mind and body are one.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic then i highly suggest you pick up the book The Power of Full Engagement.