Do you want to perform at a higher level? Do you want to get more done? In less time? Do you want to have more energy? Better health? More happiness? Yes?
Performance, health, and happiness are grounded in the skilful management of energy.
The number of hours in a day is fixed, but the quantity and quality of energy available is not. This fundamental insight has the power to revolutionize the way you live your life.
You are not a machine: humans need relaxation, rest, and recovery for top performance.
The ideal many people seem to have about human productivity is working like a robot: no rest, no food, no sleep, and no recovery all day every day. That’s a recipe for disaster. Humans are physical beings, and we have physical needs. Instead of viewing your body as a vehicle for your brain, it’s useful to think of your body as one integrated tool, which you use to get things done. If the tool breaks or wears down, you won’t accomplish anything.
Here’s a great little story Warren Buffett often tells: if you were told that you could only have one car for the rest of your life, you would take immaculate care of it. You would polish, protect, and maintain it as best as you could. Our body serves the same purpose, so what would it take to treat it the same way?
We are guided by rhythms. The most famous rhythm which we adhere to is the circadian rhythm. We live our lives in 24 hour periods. We’re on and awake for 16-18 hours (spending energy) and then we’re off and asleep for 7-9 hours (renewing energy). A period of activity is followed by a period of rest. A period of energy expenditure (activity) is followed by a period of energy renewal (rest).
Our energy resources aren’t endless. We can’t sprint 100% for more than 10-20 seconds. We can’t concentrate for hours and hours on end. We can’t stay awake for much more than 18-20 hours before our performance plummets. Sooner or later we need to refuel our energy.
If we want to be at our best, we need to live a rhythmic life with periods of intense activity followed by periods of intense rest. We need to live life as a series of sprints, not a never-ending marathon.
The key to living life at your best is to optimize your energy, not your time.