in Productivity

The Essentials

No matter how rock solid you are in terms of your routines and habits, there are days (or weeks) where things just aren’t going they way they normally do, and you seem powerless to stop it.  It’s as if you’re watching yourself from a detached perspective make the wrong choices, do the wrong things, and neglect what you know you should be doing to drive yourself forward.

When this happens to me, it feels like I can’t actually make the right decisions, even though I know exactly what they are and how to do them.  However, I’ve come up with a way to drag myself out of the mud that I think a lot of people may resonate with.  When I say “come up with”, I really mean “culled information from various people I respect and tested it out in my life.”

Here they are:

1. When was the last time you exerted so much physical energy that you felt like you were going to die – in a good way?

Chances are if you’re feeling a bit off, exercise has stopped being a priority.  Try doing some Tabata protocol sprints and seeing how you feel for the rest of the day.

2. Has there been a change in your social life that’s thrown you off of your game?

If you haven’t been getting enough face time with good friends, or friends have recently moved away, it can throw you off your routines and drain your energy.  Try hitting up a few Meetup events, or talking to random people as you go about your day.

3. When was the last time you spent some time on a creative passion?

I’ve noticed that when I fall into these funks, I stop playing music and I stop working on side projects. Give yourself an hour to spend on a creative activity you enjoy.

4. What kind of food are you eating?

Say what you want about the people touting Paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free diets.  I’ve noticed in my own life that eating this way drastically helps my mental state…not just emotionally but performance-wise as well.  It’s incredible how accurate it is when people tell you that they feel like a “mental fog” has been lifted.  Try adjusting your diet.  Marks Daily Apple is a great resource for this.

5. Have you taken 5 minutes to an hour to just sit and reflect?

I’ve noticed people have mixed feelings about mindfulness meditation, but I count myself squarely in the “it’s awesome” camp.  Watching your thoughts come and go without labeling them is a great exercise in unveiling the reasons behind your funk, and sometimes it points the way out very clearly. Try watching your thoughts for 5-20 minutes.  If you don’t know where to start, this is a great resource

In summary: exercise, social, creativity, diet, mindfulness.  The point here is not to shift all of these to max power levels immediately, but to find the one that you’re weakest in and just amp up the activity in that area.  Then see how you feel.  If better, keep it going and maybe strive to increase your activity in another area.  These 5 things have been very helpful for me in bouncing back from slumps much quicker than I used to before.