As it so happens, I’ve been reading a lot of pop psychology recently on how to become a more effective, productive, world-conquering superperson. Some of it’s been pretty insightful, some…less so. And well, it’s driven me to take a punt at producing some myself, hopefully of at least average quality. Just to ensure it doesn’t become a cheesy pop psych post, I’ve added a completely irrelevant off-topic picture to the blog. Aww the kitten is kinda cute though right?

Anyway, there happens to be one topic that has been especially on my mind recently, and came up in conversation with Vibewire’s Omar Samad earlier today. So…

Now take a moment to immerse yourself in this masterfully constructed scenario – I came up with this all by myself. It’s a Sunday evening, you’ve just looked in your diary and you’ve got a really busy week ahead. Your heart starts pounding away and you’re probably thinking, “Ah…*expletive*, how the heck am I going to survive this?” – or thoughts to a similar effect. Nice.

Well the default answer is probably to see what you can cancel (that tennis game with Bob can wait right? And Sandra will still want to go out for a movie with you next week…), sleep less and drink more caffeine, buy meals rather than cook them, trim down on some more sleep, drink some more caffeine. Awesome, ready to boss it.

I’ve noticed that when our schedules fill up, the first things that go are the activities such as exercise, getting fresh air, time with friends/family, meditation, reading… and that anything deemed fun or relaxing is UNNECESSARY AND MUST BE DESTROYED IMMEDIATELY. It seems that we lose the ability to look after ourselves properly when we know we’ve got a lot to get on with, or just forget the importance of doing so.

We don’t make time for the simple things that keep us going. But it’s these that help us tick over and allow us to work at a high level. We need to make that personal investment in order to then give out. I mean this on a daily basis (keeping yourself topped up) and also on a long-term basis (giving time to your own personal development).

Scientific and anecdotal evidence has suggested that we only have so much capacity each day for decision-making and producing high quality, creative work. You know that feeling when you run out of focus and mental energy, and wind up browsing Facebook? Yeah that’s actually entirely natural and happens to everyone. Or when you look at some caffeine-powered writing forced out at 2am and reflect that it reads like bullshit? Again, it’s down to the way our brains are wired – so don’t be too hard on yourself.

The wonderful news is that there are intelligent people out there researching how our mighty brains work (and don’t work), and how we can get more out of them each day. I suggest having a read of this article. However, I do take objection to any suggestions that every person MUST DO THINGS EXACTLY THIS WAY because…well we’re all wired differently. I look at articles like this more as inspiration and suggestions. Often I learn a new way of working as a consequence – even if it’s a little different to what is outlined. Fitting in some walks every day and soaking up some sunshine, being creative through music or cooking, meditating in the morning.

Most of all, find your own way of working best and keep exploring. Oh, and when you have that crazy week of work, see what bits of work (not non-work) you can shift around, as the investment in yourself is probably more valuable than you realise.