Be Productive: Take Care of Yourself

Posted By on January 14, 2011

This is the first in a five-part series on productivity and health

To be your healthiest, happiest and most productive find balance between the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual areas of your life.

Taking care of your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs will help you become more productive and highly engaged at work.

In his book “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working,” author Tony Schwartz outlines four “quadrants” we need to balance to be the best we can be.

Physical: The research keeps showing that we humans need to take better care of ourselves. We need to drink water, get more sleep than we do, exercise and eat healthy. The kind of things that we all know we need to do but struggle with. I came across an eye-opening stat last week on Keith Ferrazzi’s blog.

He said 70 percent of the way we feel right now is due to our last meal. At work, a new cafeteria opened in our building, and their menus are predominantly healthy fare, including items made from Cooking Light recipes. It has been so easy to eat healthy when it’s right in front of you, and I’ve noticed that my own energy level is better when I properly fuel myself.

Emotional: For me, this is the trickiest area to handle as it’s about handling your emotions. When you’re emotionally triggered, you can be thrown into the Survival Zone, Schwartz points out. This is where you are irritable, annoyed, stressed and angry, and you’re definitely not productive when you’re in this mindframe.

I know I get emotionally triggered when I’m behind someone at Starbucks who is high maintenance or on the bloody cell phone instead of paying attention. When I feel myself become irritated with people, I try to remember to take a deep breath and summon up some compassion for the irritant. It’s not easy.

Mental: This is my area of specialty. The mental arena is about organizing, time management and getting stuff done.  Organizing isn’t about being perfect. You have to be able to find the stuff you want to find, get the things done you want to get done, not spend extra money to replace “misplaced” items, pay your bills on time, and to feel less stressed.

One important aspect about mental fitness is having boundaries and saying no. As a popular saying goes, anytime you say yes, you say NO to yourself. Just because we have devices that can let us work 24/7, should we work 24/7? The answer is no. There is a point each day when we need to shut work off and focus a bit on ourselves and our family and friends.

Spiritual: Schwartz refers to this as your passion for your work. Right now, we have people who have been searching for jobs regardless of their passion for it. After all, you can’t pay the mortgage with passion. As the job market and economy improves, it will be interesting to see what will happen. Will we soon have burnout from those who had to choose a job over passion?

Tony Schwartz’s book covers each of these quadrants in great depth and detail and provides numerous tips to help accomplish your goals in each area. To see where your energy is lagging, visit The Energy Project and take the Energy Audit.

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