Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.

 

Positive productivity: How increasing your energy maximizes your efficiency

The traditional concept of time management focuses on the practice of ardently planning and mastering conscious control over the time allocated to specific tasks.  It sure sounds hard, described that way, doesn't it?  In real lifeespecially business settingstime management requires tools, skills and processes all laced together by the ultimate goal of increasing efficiency and productivity. Frankly, time management takes a lot of time. 

But what if increasing productivity was much simpler than that? What if instead of involving project management software, schedules, graphs and apps, the process required a decent pair of walking shoes and a fluffy pillow?

Master your energy

Based on the assertions of Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in their bestseller, "The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal," our most precious resource is energy, not time. Certainly making the best use of your time is critical to your success but, if your energy levels are depleted, your productivity takes a dive regardless of what the clock reads.

Of course, managing your energy in a world abuzz with communication gizmos is no easy task. Energy replenishment takes effort. Think about it:  how many times during your workweek lunch breaks—an hour that should be devoted to refueling and recharging—have you allowed the chatter of texts and emails to further drain your energy?

Build your energy on 4 strong pillars

According to the ideas in "The Power of Full Engagement" as well as those on Tony Schwartz's blog, "The Energy Project," physical energy is the foundation to our overall efficiency. While emotional, mental and spiritual energy are also critical components of high performance, when our physical bucket is empty, all heck breaks loose. By incorporating these four key pillars of physical fulfillment into your typical day, you can elevate your energy levels and in turn, take a major step toward positive productivity.

1. Nutrition: Eat small, high-protein, low-carbohydrate meals throughout the day.  You've likely heard this before but eating mini meals throughout the day is a simple way to sustain your energy. For busy professionals who spend long days at the office, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends keeping single-serve packages of crackers, fruit, peanut butter, low-sodium soup or canned tuna in your desk. Tuck snacks in your travel bag for a quick refueling between meetings (I always have a couple of Kind bars stashed in my backpack). If remembering to eat  at the right times is a challenge for you, download an app such as the Temple Hydration, Food, Fitness and More iPhone app (TheTempleApp.com), which comes with customizable reminders that kick in when it has been too long since you last ate.

2. Fitness: Make regular exercise a habit.  According to the MayoClinic, regular exercise not only controls weight and helps you avoid a slew of health conditions and diseases, it improves your mood and boosts energy levels. If hitting the gym is not your style, buy a pedometer and record the number of steps you take every day. The Energy Project blog recommends shooting for 10,000 steps per day.  (By the way: I love my pedometer — I have a new one that is fantastic and will be reviewing it next week)

3. Sleep: Get an average of 8 hours of sleep every night.  To aid in developing a sleep-conducive cycle, the National Sleep Foundation suggests sticking to a regular bed and wake time schedule, including weekends. They also recommend creating an environment that is cool, quiet, comfortable and dark. If light is spoiling your sleep space, invest in room darkening or blackout cellular shades to block out the light. Finally, keep the gadgets out of the bedroom as much as possible. Computers, tablets and cell phones distract you from the task at hand: a good night's sleep.

4. Renewal: Plan regular vacations, social outings and personal time. Whether it's a massage, Frisbee golf with the guys or a week-long camping trip, detaching from the daily grind altogether for substantial pockets of time is key to replenishing your physical and mental energy. In the "The Power of Full Engagement," the authors redefine the old paradigm of "downtime is wasted time" to "downtime is productive time." Use your downtime wisely by doing something fun.

Bottom line, don't throw away your precious time management tools and apps just yet. But do make your physical well-being a top priority and start to take note of how your energy levels impact your focus and productivity. It's worth the time.

Got any tips that work for you?  I'd love to hear them.

Now available: "Toolbox for Success" eBook

I've been working with the fine folks at Hyperink Press to produce my first ebook, "Toolbox for Success:  What You Need to Know to Succeed as a Professional."  I'm pleased to announce that it is available through the Kindle store.

This is my first solo book (I've contributed to others), but hopefully not my last.  I'd love to hear your feedback and see your reviews on Amazon (especially if you find value in the book).  

Also, if you have topics you'd like to see me address or incorporate into subsequent books please let me know.

How Does Sir Richard Branson Forge Innovative Paths to Extreme Success?

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I have been fascinated by the enigmatic Sir Richard Branson for a long time.  He lives with a lot of flash, and seems to have his hands in all kinds of business (in a very interesting variety of areas) and I've discovered that he has a very interesting background and life philosophy.

Branson recently became the most followed LinkedIn Influencer with 1 million followers, passing President Obama.  He is founder of Virgin Group, a thrill-seeking adventurer and he loves his mum.  In fact, he says the best advice he ever received came from her: "Have no regrets."  In an interview with LinkedIn, Branson says his mother "starts more new projects in a week than most people do in a year."

In other words, don't waste time looking back on failed projects.  Spend that time developing new ideas.

In his recent book, "Screw Business as Usual," Branson sums up his formula for success with a few simple ideas that incorporate passion, belief (confidence), perseverance, listening and having fun.  Oh, and delegating—one of the hardest things for a leader to do.  Balance good work with a good life and you, too, could be sitting pretty on your very own Caribbean island.  Branson named his Necker Island. What will you name your island when you get it?

Big Ideas = Big Risks

Branson encourages you to dream so big you have to catch up with yourself. When you have developed a plan for your idea, follow through with it no matter what it takes. You can't succeed if you don't try—a simple statement that has enormous impact.

If your risk takes money that you don't have, cut costs whenever possible to make your idea happen.  Market online through social media, reuse paper, print business cards for less, eat your leftovers, recycle cans & bottles for the deposit, save your change.

Reputation is Everything

Being controversial isn't always a bad thing. Richard Branson signed the Sex Pistols to his Virgin Records label after the punk band was dropped by other labels for the members' mayhem and debauchery. When other businesses are fearful of taking risks, step in and cash in the opportunity. If it blows up in your face, move swiftly onward and learn from your mistakes. But don't look back with regret or Mum Branson will be disappointed.

Move Swiftly

Act big on your dreams. Branson never had a journalism degree, yet he started a magazine. He never took a business class, yet he's one of the most successful and influential businessmen in the world. "Forbes" reports he's the fourth wealthiest person in the U.K.

Give Back

Richard Branson recently joined the Giving Pledge, where the world's wealthiest people—a total of 105 families from nine countries—make an agreement to donate half of their wealth to charities around the world.  Branson and his wife Joan are quoted on the website saying they would like the Virgin Group to help make a difference in the world; to address issues that allow business, government and not-for profit companies to join together creating a healthy, equitable and peaceful world.

Team Spirit

Encouraging a sense of togetherness that resembles a "daytime family" is top priority in Branson's companies.  In the Mojave desert, the Virgin Galactic team is building spaceships on a mission to take people to the moon for $200,000 a ticket.  It's a delicate venture building aircraft for these missions.  But faith, family, dedication, good health, kindness and hard work prevail.

Never Give Up

There is always something big out there for you.  If a business opportunity doesn't turn out as you had hoped or planned, keep on the path toward one that does.  Never give up.

What's Most Important for Focus?

For the past month, I’ve been working with Jason Womack  as part of a group coaching program based on this book, “Your Best Just Got Better” (you may recall I reviewed his book last month).  The program, called “Achieve Your Next” is all about clarity, focus, and outcome-oriented thinking.  I have really enjoyed the program, as well as the group approach Jason has taken.  

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What are your MIT’s?

One key takeaway has been to move away from focusing only on tasks, projects – and even goals – and spending some of your time focusing on your roles and areas of responsibility.  Jason refers to these as MIT’s or “Most Important Things.”

For the past week, Jason has asked me to pick 3 MIT’s I want to focus on each morning, and try to deliberately engage in activities that help me improve in those areas.  Incidentally, this approach is also described in the book.

Earlier in the program, we began to achieve clarity about what our MIT’s were, so I already know what mine are (at least right now).

MIT’s drive focus

MIT’s can be things like “Thought Leader,” “Provider,” “Leader,” “Amazing Parent,”  or they can be even more tangible.  For example, Jason’s MIT’s for his business are Lifestyle, Revenue, Client List, and Products.

As you can see, however you define your MIT’s, they provide a lens to evaluate your tasks, commitments, projects, meeting, actions, and more – and to make sure you get what you want out of life.

If you're overwhelmed by stuff you could  do, maybe focusing on your MIT's will help with prioritization.  If you want to give it a try, check out Jason't book.

Colossal Public Speaking

I've just finished reading James Greenward's ebook, "Colossal Public Speaking: A Public Speaking Guide for Shy People," and I enjoyed it so I wanted to tell you a bit about it.

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This book is not really about how to create a presentation (though there are some pointers for how to structure your story); instead, it focuses more on how to prepare yourself -- both mentally and physically -- to maximize your chances of delivering a compelling message, while overcoming fear, anxiety, and doubt.

Advice from someone who's been there

Greenward's guide is a "from the trenches" perspective on how to overcome some of the challenges of public speaking and presenting, particularly the aspects in which we tend to become our own worst enemies.

In this ebook, you'll find practical advice for how to become more comfortable in front of crowds, and tips and tricks to get some practice in before you actually stand up in front of the crowd.  I use a few of the techniques he describes (for example, "presenting" to myself during my commute), but I also learned a few new techniques from the book that I'm going to try.

One of the sections discusses how to get rid of stage fright (there's no silver bullet, but the tips he shares will help), and how to leverage your own personality and create a higher-impact presentation.  He also talks about how to get rid of things might be distracting, both in your voice and in your appearance - there is some good advice here, for sure.

More than just the presentation

One thing in this book was a bit different from other presentation books I've read:   Greenward's treatment of the Q&A session and how to prepare for success.  In particular, he discusses how to deal with adversarial audience members and how to deal with uncomfortable (and even unfair) questions.

If you consider yourself to be a shy or inexperienced public speaker, have a look at Greenward's site, where you'll find out more about this ebook as well as an ordering page.