What goes on
We ask people for descriptions of what their world of work is like. Their answers include a lot of words that show work is physically tough stuff: long hours, time pressure, relentless pace, dynamic, reactive, and a whole lot more. When we ask people how tiring it is to work in these kinds of world, most of them tell us it’s very tiring (as well as rewarding). We then ask how many of them prepare to be fit enough for the physical nature of their world. It doesn’t take too long for people to realise they could make a big difference to their work if they start preparing physically. Simple choices with a massive impact.
Five performance truths
The brutal reality of high performance life – this is what you need to know
- With working hours and working pressures high, having the energy levels to get the job done is a professional competence for high performers.
- If you don’t think about what you eat before and during work there’s a good chance your energy levels won’t be what they need to be at key moments in the day.
- The ability to think clearly, make great decisions, think creatively and use skills expertly are all improved when physical energy levels are in great shape.
- Staying hydrated at work is key. Just a 1-2% dehydration level will start bringing about unhelpful side-effects for performing at work (loss of concentration, moodiness and headaches).
- People who start managing their nutrition, hydration and rest and recovery as a key part of the job feel less stressed at work .
Three things to do
- Start thinking about yourself as a performer who needs to be fit for purpose. Getting your body and energy levels right for the short and long term will stop you having to get to know your GP better, as well as helping you fulfill potential!
- Make sure you’re thinking about what’s coming up over the next couple of months so you can be physically prepared for the medium term challenges, as well as the day-to-day stuff.
- Start working out the blindingly simple things that make a difference to your energy level and take advantage of what you find out. Simple eating, resting and hydration habits are at the heart of this and failing to use the obvious stuff means you’re wilfully underperforming.
Tim was working part-time as well as being a dad to his family of two toddlers and his partner worked too. His creative role at work as part of a growing company entailed working with a lot of ambitious, energetic people. His work place was exciting, challenging and very fast paced and Tim put a lot of pressure on himself to make a full-time impact, even though he worked part-time. He also put a lot of pressure on himself to be a great dad and husband.
Tim knew that keeping his energy up was going to be important, so he developed a simple plan to stay in control of this element of his life. His simple plan was to:
- Be in bed, ready to sleep by 10.00 every night to try and get the best quality sleep possible.
- Organise work days so that he was eating little and often through the day to keep his ‘fuel levels’ in good shape. (this was easily achieved with getting a stash of dried fruit, nuts and taking advantage of two trips to a nearby deli each day… 2 trips so that there was a natural break from the desk and a bit of fresh air and walking too!)
- Get a 2-litre water bottle on his desk so that he could make sure he finished it by the end of the day, sipping little and often throughout the day.
- Eat evening meals no later than 8pm at night so there’s no chance of late eating interfering with sleep quality.
The plan took a little organising to get everything in place, but after trying it out for 4 weeks, Tim had much more consistent energy levels. He was finding that concentration levels were better and he felt more ready to deliver the impact he wanted. The simple foundation of an energy plan for work days helped him enjoy those days even more and to have more energy for his time at home. So last week he celebrated with a new tattoo.
Simple, not easy, though basic and essential. Are your energy fundamentals a foundation for you to perform to your peak?