This post originally appeared on LessDoing, a project of Ari Meisel, an entrepreneur and productivity geek who decided to share his knowledge of and experiments in efficiency. Ari is an Achievement Architect, helping individuals become more effective at everything.
At SinglePlatform we do pushups on the hour every hour. I love this practice and the benefits extend beyond just making us barrel-chested.
The trigger for my pushups each hour is an alarm clock I’ve installed on my desktop. When the clock strikes 12, a window pops up notifying me its time to drop and give me 20 (actually 34 this week!)
Though practically simple, the pushup alarm clock exemplifies a broader approach I’ve taken to energy management in my life.
We cannot create more time in the day. We can only maximize our effectiveness within a given time window. When I take an introspective look at my performance, it’s very clear that the single greatest determinant of output in terms of quality and quantity is energy; the more energy I have, the more effective I am. It’s why people slam coffee and 5 hours like it’s going out of style.
But instead of lambasting our bodies with caffeine or 80 days worth of B12, an alternative approach to optimizing energy is to practice strategic conservation. It’s important to recognize we have a limited capacity to process data. Continual processing depletes our energy stores and less energy equates to lower levels of output. Hence, to maximize our effectiveness, you must pick and choose where you’re going to channel your mental bandwidth.
In the case of workday workouts, it’d be very easy to divert my attention to monitoring my clock in order to stay accountable to the “every hour on the hour” protocol. But by relying solely on my periphery, I’m creating one more thing I have to process/worry about which requires energy.
My alarm clock limits the amount of energy I spend triggering the desired action. It leaves me with more energy for the tasks that are vital to me being effective at my job. In general, the less we have to think about non-critical actions, the more we can focus on important things at an optimal level.
Other instances where I use systems and routines in order to conserve energy:
Morning routine: Wake up at 6am -> make eggs -> prayer/read scripture -> shower -> write or go to the gym -> go to work. I more or less do the same exact thing every weekday morning unless I was out late the night before. Adopting a morning routine that limits my decision-making has had awesome effects on my energy and productivity not only before I enter the office, but after as well.
Workout regimen: I log all of my exercises, how many reps I got, and whether to increase the weight/repetitions next week. Because I always know exactly what I’m going to do each workout, I can focus on having a quick, upbeat workout instead of meandering around the gym thinking about what I want to do next.
Moleskin to do: anytime I think of something I need to do I put it on the back pages of my Moleskine notebook which I keep in my back pocket at all times. By logging “to-do’s” as they enter my mind, I can focus on important things instead of “having to remember to do x.”
It may seem trivial to worry about conserving energy on something as small as identifying that a new hour has approached. But it’s not about the pushups. It’s about all the value created when I’m not thinking about doing them. And the smallest changes, multiplied over a lifetime, have the greatest impacts.
Are there activities in your life that you’re expending energy on that you shouldn’t be? Are there ways to conserve energy here so that you can channel it towards something more important?