An Easy Way To Get More Done Each Day

It’s exactly 7:05am on Friday morning as I begin to write this article. I’ve been working for about an hour now and getting some good “early bird” stuff out of the way. The usual “things undone” from yesterdays workload, responding to emails, checking the news, my Linked In feed, Twitter, WhatsApp, Messenger etc.

Regardless of when I finish writing this piece however, I know that at exactly 7:30am, I will be walking around the local High School for a good 10–15 minutes or so. That goes for whether this article comes out just the way I want it to, or it becomes drudgery and a mess I need to clean up. Either way, I don’t care. I’ll be walking in 25 minutes.

The reason for this is both selfish and quite simple: It really does help me get more done each day. Here’s why…

By 7:30am I will have been going at it and working hard for about 90 minutes. Besides the usual neck and posture related pains from sitting looking at a screen for most of my day, there’s an even worse drain on productivity at play here by around this time. My mind is beginning to “cramp up” and get stale too. It’s not as obvious to me as the pain I feel in my neck from leaning forward and constantly trying to correct my posture — it’s much more subtle than that. Ever notice how your attention span wanes as you watch TV or try to work just before bedtime? Well, it’s like that only you don’t actually fall asleep (I hope). And it happens throughout the day even though we try to “tough it out” or “work through it” almost as a conditioned response.

It’s more deadly too, because it’s more subtle and harder to know it “hurts”. The pain shows up as reduced productivity and worse, waning clarity of thought and even disinterest. At about 90 minutes, tasks are becoming more laborious, harder to accomplish and result in noticeably diminished quality of work — end product, so to speak. Imagine if these sequences just pile up throughout the day? Is it any wonder it’s so easy to burn out these days, even if you are only in your 20s?

Well, it’s nearly time for my walk and I will have to go very soon. I will just have to finish this later. Sorry, it’s just not as important as a walk is right about now. And it’s not like it’s sunny, or even pleasant here in New York, it’s about 36 degrees and windy.

About an hour later….

Well I’m back at the screen now. Earlier, I left the warm, cozy comfort of this:

For the brisk nature of this:

And I have to say, the difference you feel between you ears after just 10–15 minutes of that is so worth the little bit of cold you feel around your ears while you walk outside.

It’s like hitting reset. It’s like getting a whole new perspective. Whatever you were working on, whether the problems were about business strategy, online marketing, sales, coding, design or any of the myriad of tasks we need to overcome each day, doing this will get you better results over the long term. Believe me, it works. It just takes a bit of a leap of faith and the replacing of an old habit (the sofa, the Starbucks, the WeWork conference room etc.) and replacing it with a new one. Once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll wonder why you never tried it before.

You see, when I leave the lure of the bright pixels on my screen and the endless stream of notifications, emails and other distractions we are bombarded with by the minute, when I actually remove my “self” from the current “comfortable” surroundings I’ve been at for the last 90 minutes — and when I step out into that fresh air and get my thoughts elsewhere, it really does get me back to where I was 90 minutes ago — fresh and ready for anything.

Doing this is so worth it in the end. It reminds me of the thoughts I used to have before going for a 10 mile run in the fridgid weather back in my marathon training days. As I sat on the sofa looking at TV, running even one mile was the absolute last thing I felt like doing, especially when it was single digit temps outside. But I always remember too, that about a mile into the run, with all of that fresh air circulating in my lungs and a perfectly and naturally warmed body temperature, how I used to wonder how the heck I could lay on the couch for so long looking at TV — something I was doing just 15 minutes earlier.

And the man I have to thank for this great insight:

That’s my Dad. And he loved to walk, rest his soul. He was born and raised in Ireland — a place where it is extremely difficult to find a spot that is not absolutely beautiful to walk upon.

The Cliff Walk, Howth, Dublin

I too was born and raised in Ireland — so thanks Dad!

But while the school above and my local area now is nice, but not quite so nice — it is still by all means, nice enough. So don’t ever let that be an excuse. There are lots of great places around you to do this — no matter where you live. You just have to stop making excuses for not breaking a stale, useless old habit and work instead, on forming for yourself a great new one.