Why Productivity-in-a-Bottle Schemes Fail
“Are you tired, run down, listless? Do you poop out at parties? Are you unpopular? The answer to all of your problems are in this little bottle!” This quote, from Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy, is both hilarious and timeless. Her Vitameatavegamin bottle made some pretty large promises that only required an alcohol content of 22% to achieve!
Fast-forward a few decades and many people are still looking for that special something that can give them all the energy and vitality needed to enhance their job performance. While there is no magic pill or tonic powerful enough to get us achieving each day, a shift in mindset that leads to other changes can do the trick. This may require us to question conventional wisdom and forgo modern conveniences as we rethink the ways in which we move, play, and fuel.
Form follows intention
An increase of energy can be achieved by building in some simple daily movement patterns that are easy to do if you are intentional about it.
The first area to make changes is where and how you do your work. At some point throughout your day, you will inevitably find yourself sitting on a chair or couch. Before you begin your computer time, sit up tall, shrug your shoulders back and keep your elbows by your side to keep your core engaged. Also, make sure that your computer screen is directly at eye level so that you will not be looking down at the screen and causing strain on your neck.
Next, try sitting in different positions while you work. This will increase flexibility and will sustain mobility. For example, while sitting in a chair sit in varying positions for a few minutes at a time and mix in a yoga at your desk routine (such as this one). If you have a laptop, you can try working on the floor and laying in the pigeon position for a couple of minutes on each side.
Whenever you must get up from a chair or from the floor try doing it without using your arms. When you stand, you can do a few burpees to get your heart pumping. By using your own body weight, you are building in some simple resistance movements that will require activating your muscles at multiple points throughout the day.
Little movements, large results
In addition to changing where and how you sit, it is a great idea to invest in a stand-up desk. If you do not have access to a stand-up desk, but do have a laptop available, you could find a high counter to use and stack books to get the computer high enough to use with proper form.
CBS Golf writer Kyle Porter explained his daily work routine, saying that in the morning he uses his sit-down desk to plan out the day. Once he has a plan established, he splits up the day into work blocks. He primarily uses his stand-up desk for writing and editing articles with a shock absorbing mat under his feet, and he walks around while talking on the phone.
Other ways to get in more movement throughout your days include eating lunch outside (you'll also get Vitamin D if it's sunny!), taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther from the front door to increase your total number of steps, walking around while making phone calls, and practicing short yoga-style inversions during your breaks.
By building more movement into your day, you are providing your brain with more oxygen and should notice an increase in clarity and overall productivity.
Use those muscles
Another common practice seen by high achievers is a commitment to exercise. Many high achievers wake up early in the morning and workout before work. Some workplaces have onsite fitness facilities offering group exercise classes and personal training that can be utilized during the lunch hour or in the evenings.
The time of day is not as important as discovering what you enjoy and will stick to. This may be an individual activity like running or cycling, or it may be a group activity like Crossfit, boot camps, or pickup basketball. There is great power in the tribe mentality of group exercise classes and I would recommend trying a few different types to find your sweet spot.
If the idea of attending a group class is overwhelming than you could perform a YouTube search (Fitness Blender and Yoga With Adriene are both great!) and find a class to try out in the comfort of your own living room.
Once you have identified your preferred exercise type make goals about how often you will perform the modality each week and commit to the plan for a few months. You must fully commit to the plan but if, after a few months you, are not getting the results that you desire, don't hesitate to try something new.
Passion matters here. We give ourselves over to the things that we love. To sustain exercise, you must find some kind of regular exertion that you love.
Put the right fuel in the tank
Finally, let's turn this fresh perspective to how and when we fuel our bodies. Caffeine from coffee and tea are both well-known pick-me-ups but a lesser known source that some employees are trying are Vitamin B12 shots, which claim to “keep you sharp, focused, and naturally fired up for hours.”
Vitamin B12 deficiencies are linked to potential chronic fatigue, mood disorders like depression, and chronic stress or feeling run down so making sure that you are getting enough is important to your overall health profile. Drinking water is important. To keep it interesting and get other benefits, try infusing your water with peppermint essential oil, lemon juice, or mint leaves can provide a quick energy jolt and help to calm down hunger cues.
For what foods eat, it is important to understand that our bodies have a relatively small amount of carbohydrate (glycogen) stores and that they are replenished rather quickly. A good rule of thumb is that one should earn their carbs.
That means someone with a more active lifestyle can probably handle eating a few more carbs to replenish stores while those that are sedentary should primarily fuel with veggies, proteins, and healthy fats (such as nuts, avocados, coconut products, etc) as these foods are more difficult to overeat and will allow your body to listen to its hunger signals and stop eating before entering the dreaded, and energy-depleting, food coma.
No Vitameatavegamin necessary
Toward the end of the I Love Lucy Vitameatavegamin episode, Lucy finds herself drunk as a skunk from doing many outtakes of the commercial. Consequently, her productivity on that particular day was not anything like what she hoped it would be.
There's a lesson for us after the laugh track fades. Don't be fooled by energy pills and drinks and other quick fixes. Rather, be open to adopting some practical new behaviors that really can boost your energy and help you to knock it out of the park at work and come home with a smile on your face.
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