Be Productive: Take Care of Your Emotions

Posted By on January 28, 2011

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

Someone cuts you off in traffic, or a co-worker takes credit for your work. You feel your body tense up and face grow warm. Those pesky emotions. They get to us every time.

But what do our emotions have to do with productivity? Everything.

Tony Schwartz outlined how emotions can hamper or enhance our productivity in his book “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working.”

Avoid burnout, heed your emotions

Last week, we talked about our physical needs as they related to productivity.

Just like getting more exercise, sleep and healthy eating habits, we need to monitor what and how we’re feeling.

It’s difficult to be productive when you’re angry, depressed, irritable and downright cranky.

Our emotions can change in an instant. One minute, we’re fine, working along, and the next, we’re angry or upset. In that split second, we’ve been triggered.

Emotional triggers send us reeling from what Tony calls the “High Performance Zone” straight to “Survival Zone.” In Survival Zone, our flight or fight instinct is engaged, and we come out swinging.

If you spend too much time in Survival Zone, you can slip into “Burnout Zone” – which lives up to its name. People who are burned out, depressed, sad or feeling hopeless reside here a little too long and become empty shells.

Balance your “sprints” with downtime

Now you might think that you want to live in the High Performance Zone all the time. That would be nice but unrealistic. Tony points out that our natural energy dips every 90 to 120 minutes. With this in mind, Tony utilizes his 90 minute “sprint,” which is where you limit interruptions, shut the door and work.

Once your sprint is finished, you should go into the zen and calm Recovery Zone. During Recovery Zone, check email, return those phone calls, grab some water, or take a walk.

By using a couple of these 90 minute sprints a day, you will feel and be more
productive. I received an email the other day from a doctor who heard me talk about these sprints. After my presentation, she went home, turned off email, and worked for 90 minutes to finish up a manuscript she had procrastinated one for three weeks. See – it works!

Pause and breathe when agitated

But what do you do when your emotions have been triggered? Stop. Take a deep breath. My friends and I refer to this as “the deep yoga breath.” By taking your deep yoga breath, your body instantly calms down, and you can think more clearly.

You may need to sit quietly with your eyes closed and breathe deeply in and out for a few minutes. This mini-meditation helps you to lower your blood pressure and move you from the Survival Zone and back to the land of productivity.

See also:

Be Productive: Take Care of Yourself (Part 1)
Be Productive: Take Care of Your Body (Part 2)



One Response to “Be Productive: Take Care of Your Emotions”

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