“We all know that we need to reset our devices regularly so that they perform their best, but how can we reset our hearts and minds?”
What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You!
In fact, it can be dramatically reducing your productivity, happiness, and creativity.
A few weeks ago, I delivered the Keynote Address to over 300 people at the Annual National Conference of an international organisation. Afterwards, I was pleased by the number of people who came up to congratulate me and wanted to work with me further because it means that I did a great job… BUT I was disturbed by the realization of how business and performance stress is impacting people’s health and happiness and preventing them from relaxing and getting the sleep they need.
We all need sleep to function effectively and we know that, but the proportion of people who are using medications or natural remedies to help them sleep is rising each year and the data suggests that it is now over 61%… And that doesn’t include the people who simply put up with insomnia.
The problem is that when you are deprived of sleep (especially if that deprivation is ongoing) your health suffers, your concentration suffers, and your productivity nosedives. Yes, you’ve heard of people like Thomas Jefferson and the Duke of Wellington who slept only 3-5 hours per night, but what we don’t know is how much more they might have accomplished if they had had more sleep. In any case, for the rest of us, lack of sleep is one of the biggest productivity vampires.
Possibly you think that there is nothing you can do about it. Here are some common actions that people take to help them deal with sleep difficulties and deprivation:
- Sleeping tablets;
- Herbal teas and sleeping concoctions;
- Yoga or meditation before bed;
- Hot showers or baths;
- Turning off devices and screens and avoiding conflict 30 minutes before bed;
- CPAP machines;
… and many other similar strategies. These help some people, but not others and they rarely resolve the underlying problem which is directly responsible for lack of productivity.
The Best Therapist in the World (and they don’t charge by the hour)!
If you ever struggle to fall asleep, I have great news for you. This solution may even help to resolve jet lag.
Don’t let the simplicity of this solution stop you from trying it… Although, like all effective solutions it does demand that you take action rather than simply swallowing a tablet.
Here are the tools that you need:
- Paper or notebook
- 30 minutes (shortly before bedtime or at least after you have finished working)
All you need to do is set aside at least 30 minutes to write down anything on your mind. This might include:
- Situations or people that make you angry;
- People or situations that bring you joy;
- Tasks etc.
Spelling, grammar, expression are not important for this exercise. You don’t even need fully formed thoughts. It’s a full-scale, uncensored, brain dump. No need to organise it and it’s best if you don’t re-read it either. In fact, I suggest you have a second sheet of paper to note down any important tasks or actions that come to mind so that you don’t have to re-read what you’ve written. Just dump it down out of your head and heart and let it go forever.
Striking at the Heart of Your Productivity Vampires
You know how sometimes your computer, phone, or other device gets slower and slower and stops functioning effectively until you decide to reset it? Most of the time, turning the device off, waiting a minute or so, and then turning it on again solves all your problems because your device’s memory had just got clogged up with unfinished tasks.
Well, sleep is like a reset for our brain (and also for our body). It’s only when we sleep that certain hormones are released that clean out our neurosystems and restore the full function of the brain. This means that occasional sleep-deprivation isn’t a problem, but if you struggle to get to sleep night after night and wake up feeling exhausted then lack of sleep is affecting your productivity levels.
The simple tactic above is almost magical. Here’s what one of my clients experienced…
I Had the BEST Sleep I Can Remember in Years!
One of my clients was suffering from chronic insomnia and I tasked her to do this every night before she went to bed… Just take out a notebook and pen and write down everything that was in her head without worrying about whether it was biased, politically correct, accurate, well-expressed or anything else.
“You mean the uncensored version?” she confirmed.
Two days later she called me in great excitement: “Chandell, it’s like magic! I’ve had two nights of unbroken sleep for the first time in I don’t know how long! I’m falling asleep almost immediately, waking up refreshed, and getting more done each day. I’ve even had time to just sit and talk with my husband and play games with the kids as well as finding I’m doing my best work with less effort!
“I felt very uncomfortable the first night putting some of the things I think, but carefully never say down on paper, but I reminded myself that no-one would ever read them. I really like the idea of using loose paper and shredding or maybe even burning it every so often.
“Who would have believed that such a simple prescription could make such a dramatic change.”
And the Moral of the Story is…
If you want to be more productive, then you may not need to invest in a new system, tool, app, or other item that is directly related to productivity. Maybe you just need to take care of your sleep cycle by scheduling in a 30-minute brain dump before bed.
By the way, writing on your computer or electronic journal doesn’t seem to be as effective.