The emotional and physical wear and tear that comes from being consumed by work is hitting a lot of younger employees and entrepreneurs at alarming rates.
Research finds that people are more stressed out than ever, and we are (potentially) losing years of our lives because we do not want to change our bad habits.
Personally, I found myself in this conundrum. Hopeless, wandering around, wanting to change for the better. I then found the inspiration to fix up my "flow" and get my stuff together to be a healthier and more productive individual.
1. Run A/B tests on yourself.
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One of the things that I've learned from both Sherlock Holmes and Tim Ferriss is that the best way to improve your mental and physical functionality is to conduct experiments on yourself.
If you're looking for a self-improvement hack or "lifehack," don't outsource the process, simply start performing tests on yourself to see what works and what doesn't. Most importantly track it down.
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The process that I'm mentioning above is no different than what someone in the tech startup realm, specifically, someone that handles conversion rate optimization, would do with a product.
Find ways to keep besting yourself, and making a lot of small changes, that will keep you creative and yearning for success. More importantly, once you feel stagnation in your current flow, find ways to keep it going.
Quick example: I wanted to find ways to wake up earlier and find an alarm that would work best. I started bi-weekly experiments with different alarm types. The paid alarm on the app store, the one sponsored by The Rock, and lastly, waking up to the theme song of Rocky. The Rocky soundtrack totally worked with an 80 percent wake-up rate. Though the paid alarm was nice, it led to more snoozing.
2. Focusing on health improves the mind.
We're seeing a lot of companies trying to disrupt the health/nutrition industry. There's been a rise in nootropics (think over-the-counter brain improvement medicine) proving that people are looking for safer means to improving their brain functionality, cognitive ability, and retention skills. We're also looking at companies like Soylent, that are trying to replace meals altogether, by providing a nutrition-filled compote that will fuel your body.
Personally, I feel like purchasing Soylent, or any other shake (I guess Herbalife would be another one) is a complete cop out. You can make a lot of these things right from home, and see lasting effects.
Using my self-experimentation flow, I was able to find that making my juices with fruits and vegetables that have the same nutritional value (some that I would never enjoy masticating); I can get pure, healthy nutrients right from the plants.
I would also like to mention that I replaced all my meals with healthy juices and cut down my meat consumption to twice a week; I also made sure to have three liters of water a day. In one month, I went from weighing 285 pounds to 258 pounds. Weight loss wasn't the only benefit from eating/drinking raw foods. My body (and brain) started to operate better and my work productivity has nearly doubled.
Though mainstream over-the-counter drug vendors don't push nootropics, I find that researching all the independent sellers and trying to buy them at a wholesale price is cost-effective and you can get some good results.
They market it as "brain-powering" drugs and so far, there have yet to be any peer-reviewed studies saying that they are a legit method to enhancing abilities, but I will say that I have seen a significant improvement in my retention capacity, along with my mental health/stress management. I have shattered all sorts of personal records upon using them; I can read two books (and one audiobook) per week and retain a lot of the information from them. Not only that, but I find myself recollecting more and more things from the past.
So think of it as the drug from the film "Limitless", but less exaggerated.
If nootropics are a placebo, I would highly recommend your mind to welcome it, as it'll bring nothing but positive change. In today's hyper-distracted society, with all kinds of bells, whistles and push notifications, nootropics will give your mind a sense of clarity and focus you won't get elsewhere.
And though I hated to make it anecdotal; it's important to incorporate physical activity into your regimen. I track this via my Fitbit application. I try and best personal records and keep my activity higher than myself, along with all my friends. The steps are a vanity metric, but the "activity minutes" counter is a more telling metric that'll help you see how active you are on a daily/weekly basis.
It also helps that doing crossfit three to four times per week. You don't necessarily have to put up a lot of weight, just focus on your flexibility and mobility and you'll see positive changes rather quickly.
3. Proper planning equals good results.
A rocket ship isn't just built. Every single thing has to be examined and tested in order for it to get to space.
The beauty of entrepreneurs is that we have the innate ability to multi-task and see the bigger picture in what we do, and more importantly, plan things out so people can see how and why we do it.
The one thing that a lot of modern-day workers lack is the ability to focus. Focus on conversation, tasks, being away from their cell phones. Awareness and being mindful have become afterthoughts in our "hyper-productive" society.
Everyone has the ability to shut distractions down to focus on major tasks, or even focus on things that they are passionate about. However, based off of my observations working in corporate settings, startup accelerators, funded-startups, etc., people are fine with letting their jobs consume them, leading them to lose focus on their "why", so to speak.
The real key is to plan things out, map out your goals, what would you consider a daily win? what can you do to advance from a professional standpoint? A personal standpoint? A gym rat standpoint?
Then don't let anyone else bring you down, or make their opinion get in the way of your goal.
If opinions and thoughtless criticism were replaced by intelligent inferences and calculated hypothesizing, it would be safe to assume that we would solve a lot of problems faster. However, one of the real beauties of existence is the fact that we get to enjoy (or hate) conversation and opinions from people, in order to understand successes, wins, failures and shortcomings -- it's probably the only reason that the biography section still exists in bookstores.
There'd be no Snapchat, Facebook, Warby Parker, Whatsapp, [Insert $1 billion "unicorn startup" here], etc., had it not been for someone telling a couple of kids that their product doesn't have potential, or that they don't see it.
Map things out, plan it, execute it and stop thinking that everything is a race. If you meet your goals, you'll see the results. If someone else is trying to compete against what you're trying to do, or holding you back, the person with the better mental edge will win 11 times out of 10.
What are you doing to make yourself better and improve your productivity? Do you have any recommendations for me, or other young entrepreneurs, to help improve our productivity?