A few months back I watched a John Overdurf training and heard him say something that stuck with me. It’s something I think about a lot throughout the day as I jump from task to task and mood to mood.
“We are so concerned with what we need to do, that we forget about who we need to be to do those things.”
Basically, our state of mind is the throttle for our productivity.
Understanding that states are specific to each of us, it’s interesting to start matching the right state of mind with the right task. For example, if I have a lot of simple tasks to do I find that the speed of drum and bass music gets me into a mood where I can quickly accomplish a lot. Alternatively, if I need to really concentrate then sitting at a desk with good posture and ambient music does that. If I’m trying to be creative then walking around the city gets me into the right frame of mind.
Chances are that music / posture / food / caffeine are low hanging mood alterers that you already do naturally. However, when you think about starting your day after a poor night’s sleep, becoming overwhelmed by your tasks, or getting flustered in a meeting… do you have a way to get back into the right state of mind?
Earlier this week I realized that I needed to find a reset routine - some series of actions/thoughts to quickly change my state from wherever it was to where it needs to be. Furthermore, I needed a few different reset routines - one to start the day, one when I was alone, and another when I was in front of other people.
I’ve been starting every day with a 20-30 minute meditation + exercise (usually Crossfit, Nike Workout app, 7 minute workout, or ad-libbing some yoga). To make sure this habit sticks I reward myself with some time reading the news afterwards. After exercise, I reward myself with coffee and breakfast. By the time I finish this 2 hour routine each morning, I’m in an awesome place to be productive and get shit done.
The morning routine is so important that Tim Ferriss asks every guest on his podcast what their routine is.
When my post morning routine high doesn’t last all day, I use simple breathing exercises to hit reset. Depending on whether I’m looking for calm or energy, I’ll use mindfulness breathing (calming) or breath of fire from kundalini yoga (energizing) to get into the right state of mind. Sometimes I'll stare at a beautiful photograph that reminds me of some place I've been (see Manitoulin Island below) . This quick and simple breath work or imagery does the trick within 2-3 minutes, which makes them quick enough to fit in no matter what your job.
The personal routine works well when I’m on my own, but if I’m in a meeting chances are huffing and puffing might be a little awkward for other people in the room. In this case, I’ll check in with my body, and notice where I’m tense. If I find tension, I’ll release it and focus my thoughts on how I want to feel in this situation (usually calm & confident). I’ll also focus on my peripheral vision, which helps short circuit any anxiety that might come up. The best part is, no one else in the room knows I’m doing it.
As you plow through the list of things that you’ve got to do today, make sure you’re also giving yourself time to get into the right state of mind for each type of task. You’ll start to notice how much more productive you can be by allowing just a few minutes to reset your brain to the task at hand.
I’d love to know how you reset throughout the day? What are your rituals / routines to get you where you need to be?