I inadvertently ran a little experiment on myself this week. The week after TEDx happened I was struck with the most crippling lack of motivation I've experienced in a long time. I finally pushed it aside and was able to get a handle on the projects that had been playing second fiddle in my psyche for the past couple months. I realized I have some pretty awesome projects to work on and got super excited to make some progress. Something clicked in my head and I told myself I'd do whatever I needed to push these projects forward. I was ready to bear down and get some serious work done!
Instead of buckling down within the fairly successful framework I've created for myself, I regressed to a younger (and dumber) version of myself. Specifically, I stayed up very late a couple nights in a row to "get more work done." For some reason I thought I'd be able to go to bed at 1 AM and still get up early enough to really wring out all the value in my favorite time of day -- the early morning. Believe it or not, I'm human and when I don't get enough sleep I don't operate very well.
At the beginning of last week I told myself I'd do whatever I could to have a super productive week. Instead, it was one of the least productive weeks I've had in awhile. It's funny that my mind immediately went to, "I'll just stay up later!" to fulfill the need to be more productive. A much better approach would've been making sure I got to bed on time every night, getting up a little bit earlier (since I know I love the mornings), working out and meditating regularly (because when I don't I feel like a failure and that carries over to my work), eating well, working in short and focused bursts, etc. Basically, everything I normally do to accomplish really cool things and feel good about my work. I've been developing these habits and routines for awhile and they all went out the window when I decided I needed to be truly productive.
Last week wasn't a complete bust, however. I may not have been super productive but I did gather some useful data. The best way for me to be productive is to stay within the guidelines and routines I've created for myself. Greater productivity can be found by improving the way I operate and using my time within my current constraints. It's tempting to think that staying up later night after night results in greater productivity. I think I've been collecting data on myself and studying my optimal work habits for long enough to know that wasn't going to work. The last seven days confirmed that for me in a big way.
When's the last time you had a bad week? Instead of just trying to forget it as soon as possible, is there something you can learn from it?