A survey of 4,100 business executives from medium to large organisations in 33 countries including South Africa revealed that work-life balance is the key determinant of a successful career ahead of money, recognition or autonomy. The battle between achieving peak performance at work and our personal lives is a frequently asked question with largely open-ended answers. We all crave the idea of it, understand the importance of it and constantly strive to achieve it. Yet how one person remains productive may be different to another. So how do you ensure you are performing at your peak? We asked our experts the same question and the results may surprise you…
Performing At Your Peak All The Time Is Both Impossible And Crazy
“No one always performs at their peak, life would be very boring if we did. I find that routine and systems can help in getting a consistent and better performance in any aspect of life.”
– Braam Hanekom, Refugee Rights Activist.
It would be unrealistic to assume that daily peak performance is standard practice. However, establishing a proper routine will ensure that hours in the office are productive and that time for yourself is a possibility.
Establishing A Daily Routine
Probably the most important time to consider is when we open our eyes and begin to face the day – the morning routine. This sets a standard for how the rest of your day will unfold. Science tells us that willpower is strongest in the morning and fades as the day runs its course. Behavioral scientist Dan Ariely agrees, stating that we have a brief window of time during which we’re most mentally capable of getting tasks done (read more). Think of your willpower as a muscle—fatigue sets in after exertion. Therefore, start your day with the hardest task on your to-do list and block out time for less mentally taxing tasks for the afternoon. Completing the biggest chunk of work will make the rest of your day a lot less overwhelming.
If you need more convincing, James Clear from BufferApp is brutally honest about the importance of our mornings in his article 8 Ways To Improve Your Morning Routine. According to average life expectancy statistics from The World Health Organisation, our adult life has approximately 25 000 mornings. That is a wealth of opportunity with which many of us do not take full advantage of. His advice? Manage your energy, not your time, ensure to prepare for your day the night before, don’t open emails until noon and likewise turn off your phone. Read more on James Clear’s article here.
The Power of Good Habits
“Performing At My Peak – I don’t! And I don’t think any real people do this. Try your best, but accept that there are ups and downs in life. Acknowledge it and accept it. Sleep when you are tired. Find time to run and get into the wild. Read books. Do nothing. Let your brain tick over. And then when you do work, work very hard and efficiently! It’s about the quality of work, not quantity.”
– Alistair Humphreys, Adventurer, Cyclist, Author and Motivational Speaker.
Although establishing a routine can ensure optimum performance throughout your day, it may be a daunting task to begin with. If you do not have an already established daily routine, we advise starting small by creating healthy habits for yourself that can pave the way to your peak performance routine.
How To Set A Good Habit
According to the article18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick by Scott H. Young, all you need is to commit to a new habit daily for 30 days in order to ensure it becomes routine. In addition, writing down your new task and finding a buddy to motivate you are all but a few methods to ensure the habit sticks. For example, you may want to start your day by reading a business article or two before work. Schedule in 15 minutes for your new habit, write that commitment down in your diary and have a colleague ask you every day about what you read that morning. Try the same for tasks such as daily exercise, eating breakfast in the morning or an afternoon nap on weekends. Stay consistent for more than 30 days and you will have established a new routine. Such healthy habits can be for work or personal purposes, all play a vital role in ensuring you perform at your peak.
For more tips and tricks on starting a new habit, read the full article here.
How Technology Can Assist In Ensuring Peak Performance
“Be honest with yourself about where and what your peak really is.”
– Justin R.Melville, Designer, Intellectual Capitalist, Futurist & Entrepreneur.
Ensuring peak performance is no easy task and technology can greatly assist in many ways. A quick search for apps on your phone will reveal a library of tools promising you more time, less stress and greater organisation. The key is choosing which of these apps will work best for you, much of which requires trial and error on your part.
Apps That Assist Productivity
In the article 10 Apps You Would Find in a Successful Person’s Phone by Casey Imafidon, there is a myriad of featured tools available to assist the weary. Let’s take a look at some of them:
A personal magazine tool that allows you to keep up-to-date with the most up-to-date content and news on topics you are most interested in from publishers all over the world. Think of it as a Pinterest board for articles.
Keep all of your personal finances in check while on-the-go. Mint consolidates all of your online banking, investment accounts, debts and expenses to help you oversee cash-flow, budgets and credit. The app can also suggest ways for you to save money.
A communication platform adopted by many global brands including Airbnb, The Wall Street Journal and Adobe. Slack allows easy, smooth communication for your team that is accessible on any device, where ever you are.
An easy-to-use voice recognition app allows you to speak into your phone and see your text or email messages being typed. This tool claims to be five times faster than typing on a keyboard.
For more featured apps, read the full article here.
We suggest searching for a tool that you are certain will alleviate your stress whether that be by saving you time, giving you greater organisation or peace of mind. Then trial the app and reflect on whether the tool has in fact helped you so that you may decide to continue with the tool or find another alternative.
Understand The Importance of Scheduling in Some Downtime
“I build in breaks. About every three months, I need a complete digital detox and an escape to nature. If I don’t do that, I start to get edgy and irritable. My creative output also suffers. So I have to schedule in time to relax to stay at my best.”
– Mark Schaefer, Social Media Marketing Expert, Author & Educator.
Performing at your peak requires frequent opportunity to restore energy and that time does not involve scrolling through your Facebook Newsfeed. Arguably, switching off from technology may be the hardest to do when trying to find the right approach to integrating career and life demands.
The Digital Detox Trend
In 2014, The Huffington Post discussed the digital detox trend and it’s benefits. Arianna Huffington herself tried it and said, “I was floored by the realisation of just how much my phones had become almost physical extensions of myself.” (read the full story here). Shockingly, The Daily Mail reported a poignant study that says we spend more hours on our phone than sleeping – around 8hrs 41minutes to be exact (read more about the study here).
In light of building good habits as discussed above, try unplug in the evenings by turning off your phone for an hour every night and leaving your laptop in another room. On weekends, check your phone only when necessary and leave your work at the office. See it as a great opportunity to spend time on something you may not have been able to do before.
Be ok With Failure And The Opportunity It May Present To You
“There will be bad days, but you can’t let those change things. Accept them as normal and keep going. Failure teaches better than success.”
– Anthony Christov, Art Director at Pixar.
Often we forget that failure presents an opportunity to learn. Even companies are realising the importance of peak productivity in their employees and are making efforts to learn the tricks. The Washington Post released an interesting article showcasing how various companies have joined the battle using extreme, albeit noteworthy, methods to fight employee burnout. For example, if you happen to work at the Dutch design firm Heldergroen, your desk is taken away from you at 6pm by means of suspension from the ceiling. Similarly, Richard Sheridan, CEO of software design firm Menlo Innovations, refuses for his employees to take their work home. Finally, software company Evernote who pays employees extra if they take a full week away from work! For more outlandish stories, read the full article here.
Dealing With Succes or Failure
When it comes to dealing with disappointment, or success, we say try following the “24-hour rule” coined by Don Shula, American sports legend and coach. His policy focused on looking forward instead of dwelling on the past. He would allow himself, and his team, to fully celebrate the emotions of a victory or defeat for only 24 hours. Once this time was up, he would encourage energy to be focused on the next challenge ahead. That way, you allow yourself to put into perspective both your positive and negative experiences. For the full article on dealing with failure, clickhere.
To Wrap Up
Understand that peak performance isn’t something achieved every day but remains a conscious, consistent effort. Make sure you are realistic about what your peak performance really is and be sure to establish a solid morning routine to take advantage of your most productive time of the day. In addition, set some healthy habits for yourself, have a buddy at work keep you motivated and make sure to continue doing so for a consistent 30 days. Find an app that can assist you where most needed and know that a digital detox will also work in your favour to restore your energy. Finally, ensure that a failure, or success, is an opportunity to learn by applying the 24-hour rule. Our advice? Start today, don’t wait for tomorrow!