Maximising Human Performance - How To Get The Most From Your Work Day

Maximising Human Performance - How To Get The Most From Your Work Day

Hi, it's Dr Craig Duncan! Welcome back to Maximizing Human Performance blog, and we're talking about some things today: nutrition, exercise, the workday and stress. Well, the workday often causes us a lot of stress, but it's about trying to prevent that. Now, I think everyone should know how important exercise is. But it has always amazed me why few people engage in exercise regularly.

Sincerely speaking, I think not all of us that love exercise, but I do, because that's what I studied and that's what I do so I enjoy it. But most people, probably 90% of the population, find it a chore. So, I think sometimes it's people like me thinking how wonderful it is that is not being able to relate to people that don't like it. If we can improve that relationship with exercise, I think it's going to start to work much better. The thing with exercise is that there are many forms of activity. So, it's not like we have to go with what the latest thing on social media is, whether that’s a high-intensity workout or a low-intensity workout if it's a strength training regime or a cross-fit regime, or whatever.

All of those works to a point, but what is more important is what works for you, what you like, what you enjoy. The most important thing is that you do it regularly and that you must be committed to doing it for a long time. Not just starting over summer or for a few months, but getting into something and just being active and enjoying it; that's the most important thing.

You've got to enjoy it; it's got to be something that you like. It might even be walking. Simple things like walking are so wonderful because you know when you're walking you can become more creative, you’ve got that time to think and as you get that activity so surely you’ll get the benefit. But we know that strength for training is important because as we get older we lose strength to the point where simple things become harder, like to walk upstairs, or to get out of a chair or whatever. A combination of some form of strength training and some form of aerobic training is probably the best outcome. Don't think it has to be exactly what someone else does or what the latest trend is at that time. Find something that works for you, that you can regularly do.

There are many forms of exercise, and that's the same with nutrition. How many diets do we read about? If we look throughout our social media, what's the latest diet? Some Hollywood star is doing this, or some expert is telling you to eat like this. Again, there are many nutritional regimes and many so-called diets that will work for a period, but it's what fits in with your personality. There's no point being on the strictest low carb type diet if it doesn't fit in your personality; there's no point being on a paleo type diet if you don't like meat too much, even though both of these regimes will work. But it's finding out what fits in with you and something that you can regularly do, because you must know and be sure enough that as soon as you change from that regime and go back to a poor regime, then all your gains are going to be lost.

So, it's about what fits in with you, what you can regularly do, your lifestyle, etc. There's no point in setting yourself this regime where you've got to prepare all this food if you're busy at work and it doesn't happen, because what will happen is that you'll stop off at a local petrol station or something and buy any snack that's there. I think exercise and nutrition are quite related because we know we need to do better in those areas but too often we're trying to live someone else's regime rather than our own, so it's about sitting down reflecting and finding out what works for you and what you can regularly do.

And then this leads you to know the problem of stress. Like stress is a killer in our society. How many times a day or a week do you ask one of your friends how they are and they respond, “Oh, I'm so stressed.”? Well, what does that mean? We live a life that is always busy; we make it busy. But also, the world is better than it has ever been. Now that may surprise you, but if you think about it, thanks to productive technologies today life is easier than it ever has been.

However, we complicate it by making it so busy and thinking that we're so stressed. All you've got to do is think back to a few generations ago and imagine how difficult it was for them, and I'm not sure that they walked around thinking how stressful it was. So, for one it's a mindset. If you start thinking, “Yes, I am so stressed,” then yeah, of course, you will be. But how about we backtrack from that and start to think, how we can reduce the stress in our life?

I have spoken over the weeks about being prepared, having time for yourself and getting a real balanced lifestyle. Now meditation mindfulness is huge; we read about it everywhere. But again, just like exercise and nutrition if I say “Ok you're going to follow this mindfulness regime, you've got to sit still staring at a wall for 30 minutes,” …I know I can’t do that. But there are different forms of meditation that might work, or taking that time out just to sit there, relax and get your life in balance; to realise all the positive things that you have in life, and stress will start to reduce.

And if you are so busy, why? Ask yourself, why? What are you doing? Are you just racing around from place to place without really thinking why am I doing this? Do I have to do this? That's important. I'm very focused on you maximizing every day because we truly don't know when we will have our last day. So, we don't want to think we're always busy all the time, racing around. I think that's one of the reasons why we're always stressed. And that takes us into one of the major reasons that cause stress: our workday. Again, it's perception. I always think when I speak to people in the workplace that often they tell me how difficult it is where they are but, in my experience, the grass is not greener on the other side. So, in your workday, the workplace could be stressful and you think it's going to be different somewhere else, but it's not.

The changes have to be made in you. So, in regards to how you structure your workday. You need to be properly prepared to go into it: you've had a good sleep, you're eating well, you've got your exercise regime, you've got a routine in place. Even with e-mail, we all know to look if we have mail and there are thousands of e-mails there unanswered, but you need to sort them to get that under control. We can't be looking at e-mail all day long. How are you going to do that? You might check it at 10 a.m.; you might check-in at 4 p.m., I don't know how it will work best for you, but get in some routine there. What about your nutrition in the workplace? You know you have your breakfast at home or whatever you do. What are you going to do for lunch? Are you prepared? What are you going to do in the afternoon? If you go into a work meeting, why do we always have cake and biscuits at work meetings all the time? Why can't they bring something more nutritious? Why can't it be some of the basics that we have or some of the supplements that we use here?

I mean they're great, they're tasty, and they're more nutritious than sitting there and having a couple of biscuits or a piece of cake. Also, you know that about 2 to 3 pm time when you start to get tired? What can we do to stop that? Now some workplaces are putting in places where you can go for a nap, and that is if you work from home or you work for yourself, or you're a business owner.

Having a 20 to maximum 30-minute nap at that time around 2 pm the productivity post that would increase. These are simple things that we can put in place that will make a difference. If you're at a desk all day, get up and walk around each hour. There are a lot of people now using stand up desks because they think it's better for them. Yes, it could be, but if it doesn't work for you and you’re uncomfortable standing up, then it's not going to work. It's like everything in this whole performance area; I call it a poor performance X solution, and the X is you because it has to fit in with your personality ultimately. Anyway, there are some topics we've discussed today, and there's so much more that we can talk about. I just hope this evokes you to be able to reflect and think and go back and reflect on how you can make your life better.


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