What Would You Do With an Extra Day?

ImageA traffic ticket. First one in 12 years. And with a car full of kids. Humiliating. This after an early morning wake-up call from a neighbor who needed to be taken to the hospital. The kids finished up school and one is on the precipice of high school. Vacation looms, deadlines persist, meetings await. Can I get that extra day now?

With so much good happening, often the negative tends to be amplified. I’ve skipped two runs this week and have yet to get out on my bike this year. I am not complaining, just observing how difficult those good habits can be to establish.

Consider the proverbial bar stool with four legs to support it. Remove one of those legs, and while it may feel off-kilter, you’d likely find a way to keep your balance. With only two legs remaining, you would need to compensate by employing one or two of your feet to stabilize your seat. With only one leg remaining, now even the wood will be stressed to the point of breaking.

As each leg of the bar stool is removed, you may choose to maintain a positive outlook and proclaim you are still comfortable. However, ignoring the reality of your situation only delays the inevitable – you need fixing!

Your brain only represents 2% of your body weight yet consumes up to 20% of its resources. When blood flow is compromised due to poor health, external stress or lack of exercise, you remove one of those legs to the bar-stool. Which each additional stressor or lack of some good vigorous neural transmitter firing (release that serotonin and dopamine – the happy drugs!) your body works against you. You dumb down, slow down and grow down. The glass is half full and leaking gravely.

Porter Knight, founding partner of Productivity Vermont recommends the following to combat the daily battle for your productivity and sanity.

  1. Get organized – remain calm and eliminate unnecessary clutter.
  2. Refuel – Thinking requires internal resources and every decision requires more resources. How many times have you actually let your car run out of gas? You know when to refuel and you always do. Do the same for your body. Food, water and oxygen – and the greatest of these is oxygen. Go for walks, use the stairs, and plant a garden. Breathe more fresh air.
  3. Decide – Make your choice (a well-defined goal) and execute!
  4. Stop Multi-tasking! – In reality, there is no such thing as multi-tasking. It’s really “duel-task interfacing.” Your brain can only hold up to 5 simultaneous actions, but can only perform one (effectively) at a time. The mental exhaustion caused by duel-task interfacing actually results in 43% more mental exhaustion. Focus 90 minutes of your day on that which is critically important for your success. Studies show those that do are 58% more productive.
  5. Schedule – Map out your day and prioritize. Stephen Covey calls this moving the “big rocks” first. Go (portion control) Grow (90 minute focus) and Glow (feel centered and refreshed).
  6. Connect – Surround yourself with those that will energize you. Find time to break away from routine and meet others that will challenge you mentally (attend a FBI@UVM forum!). And look for new people to stimulate you.

Abe Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” And, we made a movie about him, plus a few monuments as well. Lincoln applied many of the above steps and I have no doubts that that tree was no match for Mr. Lincoln.

Your extra day awaits – what will you do with it?

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