Is it possible to create an environment where you have a huge amount of energy, enthusiasm and direction each day? Well, that’s the question I answer this week.
Hello and welcome to episode 115 of the Working With Podcast. A podcast to answer all your questions about productivity, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.
This week it’s all about energy, positivity and sleep… Well, something like that. This week I’m answering a question all about maintaining high levels of energy throughout the day and how to make sure that happens every day.
Now, before I get into the question, I’d just like to say that one of the best times of the year to review and refresh your systems is the beginning of the year. So, now’s a great time to retake the COD productivity course if you have already taken it and if you haven’t then go ahead and get yourself enrolled. It’s a completely FREE course and will provide you with the know-how and skills to create your own system—a system built for you that is easy to maintain and simple to use.
Just by having a system in place is a great first step towards relieving stress and overwhelm, but it goes so much further than that because having a system also assists you in developing your goals and projects and when you build momentum in these areas you create the all-important “success momentum” and that just leads to better and better things.
Details on how to enrol for free are in the show notes and I’d love to see you in the course creating your very own system and helping me to spread the word that we don’t have to live a life of stressed out and overwhelmed.
Okay, it’s now time for me to hand you over to the mystery podcast voice for this week’s question.
This week’s question comes from Jurgen. Jurgen asks, hi Carl, you always seem to have so much energy and I was wondering what you do to keep your energy levels up.
Hi Jurgen, thank you for your question. This is something I have spent a lot of time researching over the last few years. The reason was that several years ago I committed myself to create a lot of content and to do that I knew would require a lot of energy.
Before I share a few strategies with you, allow me to take you back a few years.
Around 2009 I was quite a bit overweight, my diet was terrible. I was not exercising and I was having to wake up early to teach a 6:30 am class in a language institute in Korea and although I had the afternoons off, I was teaching again in the evenings until 9:30 pm.
This meant I wasn't getting enough sleep, my diet was very bad—too much sugar and fattening foods—and, not surprisingly my energy levels were rock bottom.
I knew something had to change if I was going to achieve the things I wanted to achieve. So I began researching and monitoring how I felt throughout the day. I noticed I began the day already tired, needing coffee just to function at a basic level. I was making excuses such as “I’m not a morning person” which resulted in a negative mental loop of “I hate mornings” which just reinforced this negative loop every morning. Obviously not a great way to start the day.
My research led me to discover how the food I was eating—a lot of sugar and processed carbohydrates— my daily lack of sleep and being overweight created a huge drain on my energy resources as well as impacting my mood. When you feel heavy and lethargic, it’s hard to feel positive and energetic.
What I realised was ultimately it comes down to four foundations. Get enough sleep, eat the right foods, drink enough water and get enough regular exercise. That’s it. As long as you build these four foundations into your daily life, you will find you have an abundance of energy each day.
Miss just one of these and your energy levels will drop significantly which impacts the performance at almost everything you do. You will feel frustrated and will start looking for excuses for why you feel the way you do. The reality is your decisions about what you ate, when you went to bed and how much water you drank were big contributors toward how you feel. There are no excuses because you can change the way you feel with just a few small adjustments to your daily life.
So, if you want to begin every day with energy and feeling fresh and alive—and let's be honest who doesn't?—you need to make some small changes. And that is where the fifth foundation comes in... Planning.
We don't get enough sleep because when we don't plan our own days we have no control over our days and that causes us to feel stress. When you are stressed you cannot sleep well. When you don’t get enough sleep, our will power and motivation drop and then we start craving refined carbohydrates such as cake, pastries and candy and because our will power is not at a high enough level we give in to the cravings and It becomes a vicious cycle and the only way to get out of the cycle is to start taking your planning serious.
So, how can you pull yourself out of this vicious cycle of low energy, stress and overwhelm?
Well, the first part is to make sure you get enough sleep. This one’s an easy adjustment to make because all it involves is a simple decision to go to bed at an early enough time to ensure you get whatever amount of sleep you need. I need 6 ½ hours, you may need more.
If you are not sure how much sleep you need to do a test next weekend. Go to bed on Friday night without setting an alarm and see what time you wake up. It’s a simple test and as long as you are doing what you would normally do and are not suffering from any kind of illness or have consumed a little too much alcohol, this should give you a ball-park figure of how much sleep you need.
The next step is the easiest to take and that is to invest in a good quality water bottle. One that you can carry around with you. A lack of water affects energy levels dramatically and you do not have to feel thirsty to become dehydrated. If you do start to feel thirsty, it means you are already dehydrated. I have a fantastic stainless steel Klean Kanteen Insulated water bottle on my desk as well as a smaller one I carry with me in my bag wherever I go.
The great thing about carrying your own water bottle with you is that most offices and places you visit will have a water fountain where you can top up your water bottle without having to buy more water or plastic bottles. So having your own water bottle saves you money too!
Perhaps the most difficult area to improve is our diets. Before reviewing and modifying your diet, I would recommend you read Dr Jason Fung’s book The Obesity Code. (I’ll put a link to that in the show notes for you) It’s a fantastic book that you will find you cannot put down. It’s written in a style that anyone, regardless of whether they have a scientific background or not, will understand and the book will give you some great food choice advice.
Basically, if you want to feel incredibly energised, fresh and have amazing moods then cut our refined carbohydrates. That means, no white bread, rice, pastries or sugar and instead eat sweet and regular potatoes (non-fried of course), avocados, fresh fruit and vegetables and use olive oil and vinegar dressing. It’s surprising how easy it is to replace refined carbs once you start to look.
Now, for me, I do enjoy a pizza and chocolate, so it’s perfectly okay to have a cheat day each week. For me, I cheat on Saturdays. I have pizza or rice and grilled bacon (a Korean dish called San Gyup Sal) and chocolate, But once finished I will do a 24 hour fast not eating again until 7 pm on a Sunday. And I should say, that’s a lot easier than you think.
Next up is regular exercise. Now, this does not mean you have to become a gym rat or a marathon runner. All it means is you move enough to raise your heart rate and breathing for around twenty to thirty minutes four to five days a week.
In addition, if you ban yourself from using escalators and lifts (err elevators for my American friends) for floors below the sixth floor you are going to give yourself a huge boost. That will stop you from getting the afternoon slump.
The final part of all this is the make sure you plan your sleeping, eating, drinking and exercise every week and make sure your sleep and exercise times become non-negotiable. Removing sugars, cookies and cakes, rice and other highly refined carbs from your cupboards and refrigerates will also help you be not giving you any temptations late at night. Using your calendar for bedtime and exercise time will help you considerably here because… What goes on your calendar gets done!
Anyone can have an abundance of energy and positivity if they really want it. If you want it, all you have to do is make a few small changes to your diet and lifestyle and very quickly you will notice a huge improvement in how you feel every day.
My advice is if you have never done any of this before and your diet is not good you don’t exercise and you sleep badly, is start with one part first. Create a goal to change al these things over the next three months so by the time you hit the second quarter of 2020, you begin each day full of energy, vitality and positivity. I can promise you any discomfort you may feel initially will be easily outweighed by the way you begin to feel after just one week of this.
I hope that gives you some ideas, Jurgen and thank you for your question.
Thank you also to you for listening.
it just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week.