Getting Things Done - GTD

Take Care of Your Energy and Be More Productive This Summer

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
tags Focus Advice
“We all have times when we think more effectively, and times when we should not be thinking at all” ~ Daniel Cohen.

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Take Care of Your Energy and Be More Productive This Summer

One of the factors that influence the most in your personal productivity is the energy you have when you need to face a task. It’s obvious that if you’re feeling tired, moody, distracted or grumpy, you won’t be capable of keeping the same level of attention to what you are doing and because of this you either will take longer to complete the task or the final result will be worse. But usually, both things will happen.

David Allen, creator of GTD, noticed this right away and he included the available energy as one of the four criteria in his model to choose actions in the moment.

The idea is simple. If you’re capable of keeping an inventory of tasks that require little mental effort or creativity to carry out, you’ll have the option to choose one of them when you are in one of those moments with low energy level. That way you’ll be capable of being productive even when you aren’t at your best.

These energy levels are more or less cyclical in each person throughout the day, however, most of us will agree on the fact that at the end of the day we aren’t in the top of our game. This normally is the perfect time to focus on the “lightest” tasks, like organizing your stuff, reading articles, upgrading software, or finishing entering data in your GTD system.

Summer is that time of the year when the moments of low energy multiply. Days are longer and you usually perform more activities than you’re used to, a lot of them in the sun and with tons of heat and high humidity.

If you aren’t careful of your energy levels, you can go through really low productive months which will eventually take its toll. Here you have a few basic tips on how to keep your energy high for the longest possible:

  1. Drink a lot of water. If you only drink when you’re thirsty you should change your habits. Drinking water regularly keeps you from dehydrating, something that affects your metabolism, slows your cognitive functions down and generates fatigue and headaches.
  2. Eat well and do several small meals throughout the day. Eating more often helps you keep your energy high. After a big meal, your digestive system needs to do a great effort in order to process it, reason why you don’t really feel like doing anything for a while. Activate your metabolism with a healthy breakfast. Then go for vegetables, fruits, fiber-rich foods, vitamins, electrolytes, sodium and magnesium. Avoid spicy foods, diuretic, sugary drinks and alcohol.
  3. Sleep as good as possible. Having a bad night sleep is a common problem when temperatures are high, but that’s something that will affect you throughout the day. So air you room and use air conditioner to rest as good as possible.
  4. Exercise, but adapt yourself to the new conditions. It doesn’t make any sense to go out for a run at 5pm, with 32°C and a scorching sun. Go out really early in the morning or late at night, as it suits you. Go for shadows and cool places. Reduce the time of your training sessions. And change your exercises: swimming can be more appropriate if there’s too much heat.
  5. Take time to rest. In Summer you’ll probably need to rest more often, do it and don’t feel guilty about it. Relax, take a nap if you need to, and take a shower if you feel like the heat is exhausting you.
Francisco Sáez

Francisco is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a Software Engineer who is passionate about personal productivity and the GTD philosophy as a means to a better life.

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Commented over 6 years ago Steve

Great advice, Francisco, except it is winter here in our part of the world (Australia)! ;-)

avatar Steve

Great advice, Francisco, except it is winter here in our part of the world (Australia)! ;-)

Commented over 6 years ago Francisco Sáez

Good point, Steve. You don't know how I envy you right now. ;)

avatar Francisco Sáez

Good point, Steve. You don't know how I envy you right now. ;)

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