Al Lee was the finale of our 2016 lecture series on April 6. He shared key insights into how we can work smarter and in more creative ways by incorporating a few simple strategies. He focused on three primary concepts: Energy creation, energy use, and enjoyment.
Al pointed out the importance of knowing what builds up our energy reserves and makes us feel good. Is it a hobby? Time in nature? Once we know what helps us feel good, we can better manage the positive energy we create while doing those things. Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance. We can create more energy, but we can’t create more time. We must learn to use energy more efficiently to increase performance.
Passion is the key element for figuring out what your energy creating activities are. What can you emerse yourself in for hours and feel more energized after doing so? Al emphasized the importance of prioritizing these activities that we enjoy and are passionate about. While we often schedule over them, they are critical for our health, wellbeing and creativity.
The way we work in our culture doesn’t work. Our brains are not hardwired to multitask. Studies show that it adds 20-50% more time to each task, not to mention the mistakes. Work marathons, 24/7 connectivity and the never-ending workday are poison for our productivity. Al’s motto is: Work hard. Go home.
So what does work? Intense focus on one thing followed by a break.
Just like building strength at the gym, the optimal creative cycle is built around stress and recovery. Al recommends 90-120 minutes of intense focus on one thing, followed by 5-20 minutes of recovery.
The recovery can include anything that is relaxing like taking a walk, a short rest, or something you enjoy. Often times during these recovery phases (distraction), the right and left brain will process the work you’ve been doing and new ideas will be generated. The analytical left brain gets a chance to shut down, so the creative right brain works it’s magic generating new ideas. As an example, how often have you gotten a great idea in the shower or while on a run? In particular, Al noted the measured increase in creativity while walking versus sitting in a chair.
After the sprint of focused work, Al recommends taking a moment to acknowledge what you’ve accomplished, look forward to the next tasks at hand and plan for them. Most importantly, take time to appreciate your focused effort and enjoy the rewards of hard work.
Working in this kind of rhythmic cycle benefits us in several ways. By emphasizing and placing a priority on relaxing activities that we enjoy, we lower stress. This permeates in to our overall health, providing a boost. Less stress and better health increase our overall clarity, which helps to boost creativity and performance.
How do you start?
Al recommends scheduling yourself in to this cycle until it becomes a habit. Make time for the activities that you enjoy that help you create energy. Time with friends, a workout, reading, cooking, gardening. Make it a priority for yourself to regenerate so that you can take this energy and apply it in a focused way to your projects.
The Hyatt Training annual winter lecture series brings in experts on wellness-related topics from nutrition and cooking to meditation and sleep. We created the series as a benefit to our clients because we believe in the importance of learning and sharing new information with our community. If you have a topic you’d like to see covered or want know about future events email us at Go@HyattTraining.com.