How do you prepare for peak performance?
Kids get new pencils and back-packs, maybe even a new lunch-box. How do you prepare for getting back to work after the summer down-time?
When I was a kid I loved the excitement of getting back to school. Maybe because of my new pencils and outfits, but I actually liked the action of being engaged and using my brain. During the summer-break I would miss feeling productive. I know you might wonder what kind of kid is thinking about feeling productive. I did not call it that at the time of course. I think it was more like feeling I did something that other people responded to, learning stuff and showing my teachers that I was getting better and better at what they were teaching me. Reality is that is still what drives us as adults at work but let’s discuss that in another article.
Be a kid again.
Kids don’t have the same dread of “crazy-busy-no-time-to-myself” that adults do. Later when they are teenagers and studying for an exam though, the perfection-performance-mode already sets in. It is that mode, where we think our brain is the key to performance and that we just need to keep going without feeding, fueling or nourishing it, or the body that it is attached to that keeps it working. It is like thinking the computer can work without battery and electricity.
How did we go so wrong?
When did we start thinking of our bodies like a machine that just keeps going until it burns out? We don’t even treat our cars the way we treat our bodies. Maybe it was during the industrial revolution, where humans became less important than machines and we thought to compete we had to be like them? The thing is, we know that pushing harder does not make us more productive, and yet that is our solution for getting the work done.
Work less, get more done.
In 1926 Henry Ford introduced the 40-hour work-week. He found that when he reduced the work-day from 10 to 8 hours and the work-week from 6 to 5 day, productivity went UP. And yet most leaders work 10 hour days (or more) and 6 day work-weeks.
Kids in Finland started performing better in school when they had more play-time. They added a 15 minute break after each lesson, and their focus and attention improved. No surprise really, because neuroscience also tells us that we only focus optimally for 45-90 minutes at a time, and then we need 15 minute brain-off time, so that we can reset our nervous-system and re-boot our mental energy, so we can focus optimally again for the next 45-90 minutes.
So getting back to work, take a look at your schedule and make some performance changes. Cut your meetings from 60 minutes to 45 and take the 15 minutes in between for performance self-care.
Work better on food.
I consistently hear that people are not hungry or thirsty all day so they don’t stop to eat or drink water. It is probably not true that you are not hungry or thirsty! You are just not pausing for long enough to pay attention to your body.
Your body needs water and food, just as much as it needs a pause throughout the day. But when you are running on survival-mode your body tries to keep up with you being chased by a tiger (this tiger could be your boss, a deadline or your board of directors). When you are working on survival-mode, your body stops sending you messages of hunger and thirst, because all systems and hormones are on go-go-go, and you don’t get the “memo” that you are hungry until you stop late at night, – and realize you are starving. But by then you are also burned out.
We don’t have to burn out. To avoid this cycle of burn out and recovery as the way we work, we need to bring self-care with us to work. We work better this way. It is how we can achieve peak performance, work better and go home happy with energy to spare.
Learn more about how to integrate burnout prevention into your company culture or your personal work-style find me at jeanettebronee.com for keynotes, workshops and 1-on-1 coaching.
Photo: Jeremy Lapak via Unsplash