Conditioning for Productivity

A few months back, I started feeling ill in general. It was hard to get out of bed and I stopped getting things done properly. Looking into the possible cause(s) of this state, I've went to my physician for tests and the likes. Drawing blank on results and having my inspiration drained out of me by an invisible Dyson vacuum, wasn't one of my goals for 2009, so I decided to take some drastic measures.

I would;

  1. start running at least twice a week
  2. minimize my caffeine intake
  3. get solid nights of rest

All of these changes complement one-another, and especially the running brought back some much needed inspiration. In essence, I went cold-turkey from the basics of a webdesigner's life, with little to no coffee and no late-night design sessions that run until 4 AM.

So what are the ten-week results? For one, double shot espresso's will get me all twitchy. Secondly, the improvements in my condition do have a solid influence on my thought process and clarity of mind. And this clarity of mind is just the trait that got me to the third result.

Side-stepping into self-reflection here, one of the traits I possess is easily overseeing situations, quickly being able to think laterally and see opportunity on all sides of the dice. The downside is that it overwhelms me when designing and eats away at my self-confidence in the decision making process. It's the inverted 'ignorance is bliss'. Due to this I've always had a positive attraction towards a more normal biorhythm. Let me define that a bit. I consider a normal biorhythm as a daily structure in which the person has 8 hours of sleep per day at a regulated time of day.

The proper amount of sleep, no stimulants and a proper rhythm, the exact goal I was going for. The score? It's not for me. After 22:00 (10 PM for you crazy ones) is generally when my productivity boosters kick in. Systematically denying myself from these sessions of improved productivity did not result in the boosts moving to a different time slot. It resulted in my number one productivity low as the last four years.

Lessons learnt? If you find your productivity zone, your inspiration boosters and your moments of clarity, try to use them as wisely as you can. Sure, bending and conditioning them is possible, but a 180 degree switch is not the way to go, without changing other factors. Letting go of coffee was a mission accomplished, now I can use caffeine as a boost method, instead of having a lack of caffeine having the adverse effect.

Exercise, however crazy it might have seemed to me three months ago, is much more of a structural mental improvement and productivity enhancer than a regular caffeine intake. Take all the minutes you are standing in front of a coffee machine, add them up and you can put at least one - if not two - solid runs into your week.

At the end of the day it breaks down to being more aware of the automated life you have during the day. Look at the patterns of actions you've created and try to condition them.

What's your most efficient / productive situation or time of day?