There’s no substitute for hard work, but what if I told you there’s a hack to it?
Similar to athletes you and I want to “get in the zone” at work, but believe it’s not controllable.
Productivity is traced back to mental capacity and energy, but there’s a biological trigger for that: exercise.
Specifically: morning workouts.
Before complaining you’re not a morning person, listen to this: moderate to high workouts release endorphins which not only make you feel good, but boost your mood and energy for up to 12 hours after.
That’s why you’re in a better mood after it’s over and why working out at night before sleeping is counterintuitive (unless you want to stay up late).
Working out first thing in the morning (before breakfast) not only gets your body, but your mind right. Unless you slept less than 5 hours, worked out for the past 3 days in a row or are recovering from an injury disregard how unmotivated you feel. Get up and go to the gym (focus on how you’ll feel after).
Once you’ve completed it, take a shower and eat breakfast. Now your window for optimal work is open.
Take for instance my weekly workout schedule:
Morning workouts: Sunday, Monday and Thursday 7:30 – 8:30 AM
Basketball: Tuesday and Friday 6:30 – 7:30 AM
Rest days: Wednesday and Saturday
This gets me showered, eaten breakfast and working by 9 AM.
What morning workouts also unlock is your optimal working hours: when you’re the most alert and productive.
Since early morning exercise triggers it mine is: 9 AM – 3 PM.
Take it a step further: I do my best (alone) work 9 AM – 12 PM, so 12 – 3 PM is normally reserved for meetings, phone calls, video chats, etc.
I can get stuff done before 9 AM if I run ahead of schedule, but normally after 3 PM my focus drops considerably (use this time after for less-brainpower tasks such as: checking emails, planning your next day, etc).
Factor in I want to go home to see my family, but still this was true ever since sticking to a consistent workout schedule. The actual times will vary based on your lifestyle, yet the important point is to recognize the catalyst: morning workouts.
You and I tend to separate physical, emotional and mental states, but they are deeply connected. If you have time, read Harvard Business Reviews’s The Making of a Corporate Athlete. It completely changed my outlook on work.
Finding your optimal work productivity is simple: workout first thing in the morning and reap the benefits immediately after.