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Monday, March 14th, 2011

Tony Schwartz Tips on Managing Energy & Productivity

4 Comments Emotional Energy — How you feel influences how you perform. Duh!

A Major Myth — Most of us believe (wrongly) that to get more work done, we should work more time. Instead,…

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Author Tony Schwartz (Be Excellent At Anything) had some good nuggets on increasing energy and productivity at SXSW in Austin today.

Talented artist Sunni Brown did this super-cool live drawing of Tony’s talk (below).

Some Of Tony’s Energy & Productivity Tips

Emotional Energy — How you feel influences how you perform. Duh!

A Major Myth — Most of us believe (wrongly) that to get more work done, we should work more time. Instead, Tony says, we should manage our energy better.

The Power of Sleep — “Sleep is the single most undervalued behavior in our lives” because of the myth that if we give up one hour of sleep that will equate to one hour of additional productivity.

Quote from Herbert Simon — “What information consumes is rather obvious. It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”

Multitasking is Bad — It is inefficient to multi-task (technically you can only task-shift). If you shift your attention from something, the cost to you is 25% effectiveness on that first item’s successful completion.

Two Tips On Improving  Your Productivity– He cites a study of Berlin violinists  by some guy who is an “expert on experts” (they were cited in Outliers)

#1 Practice– The top violinists practiced for 90 minutes maximum in 3 sessions primarily in morning (Schwartz says that it’s been proven that you can only practice 4.5 hours total in a day (that’s the limit))

#2 Sleep — Schwartz said that the superstar violinists slept more than average violinists (typically 8+ hours per night) and that they also napped on a regular basis (about 2.8 hours per week).

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because I wrote about Tony Schwartz’s previous book The Power of Full Engagement in How To Recharge Yourself and The 20 Best Business Books Of All Time.

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Thursday, June 17th, 2010

How To Recharge Yourself To Make It Through Life (Happy)

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I was discussing ‘recharging’ with some friends over pizza in the Italian North Beach neighborhood of San Franciso the other night.

The concept of recharging caught my eye when I read the amazing book: The Power Of Full  Engagement by Tony Schwartz & Jim Loehr.

I was captivated by the stories that Tony & Jim told of how they studied professional tennis players.

I must have lent my copy of the book out so I’m going by memory here…as I recall, Tony & Jim studied two groups of tennis pros:

  • Group A: The Top 10 Tennis Pros (e.g. 1 to 10) (who make millions per year) and
  • Group B: The Lower-Ranked Tennis Pros (e.g. ranked 100 to 500) (who just scratch their way by career-wise)

When they studied videos of the two groups of tennis pros, they noticed something odd: there was no real difference in the talent of the two groups (a guy ranked 200 had essentially the same quality serve, forehand, backhand, etc. of a guy ranked #1).

Amazing, right?

So, what WAS the difference between the two groups

Answer: careful analysis showed that the main difference was the way the two different groups “recharged.”

Examples of recharging were:

What the players did between points

Group A had a a nice steady breath and a casual glance at their racket (perhaps adjusting a string or two) or looking up at place in the crowd or sky

Group B, on the other hand, spent time in between points getting angry with themselves or an umpire (e.g. about the last point they may have lost), distracted by someone in the crowd, or were otherwise fidgety.

A look at what the players did in between games and sets was similar: Group A player was relaxed and regrouping while Group B player was talking to himself or a fan or the umpire.

I recall that the authors may have also mentioned that they observed differences between how the two groups acted (or recharged) between matches too.

So, how does this relate to you?

Well, Tony & Jim pointed out that business-folks need recharging even more than athletes (because we typically don’t have coaches to help us out, structured training or dedicated time off (such as Spring/Summer for most professional basketball players or Winter for baseball players).

Reading Power Of Full Engagement inspired me to be more conscious of how I recharge my batteries.

So, I set up a new recharging strategy…it’s been a couple of years now and I thought I’d lay out my schedule of recharging.

Here’s a typical day for Rob Kelly:

  • 6:00am to 7:15am:  I wake up and focus on creative works (I read about concepts or play guitar or map out ideas on giant post-it notes) (Check out my article on 5 Easy Steps On How To Be An Early Riser.
  • 7:30am to 8:30am: I work out (yoga or basketball) (RECHARGING)
  • 9:15am to 11:30am: I work my job (and I get up at least once during this time to stretch my legs, drink water, etc.)
  • 11:30am to 12noon: I drink a caffeinated beverage and read the San Francisco Chronicle (RECHARGING)
  • 12noon to 2:30pm: I work more on my job
  • 230pm to 3pm: I take a 30 minute break for food and read the Wall Street Journal (RECHARGING)
  • 3pm to 5:15pm: I work my job
  • 515pm to 6pm: I pick up groceries for dinner (RECHARGING)
  • 6pm to 7:45pm: I work more on my job and do some light other work (perhaps write a blog posting)
  • 7:45pm to 8:15pm: I cook dinner
  • 8:15pm to 9:15pm: I watch quality TV (RECHARGING)
  • 9:30pm to 10pm: I read low-intensity books (usually fiction…so as to ease my way into sleep)
  • By 10:15pm, it’s usually light’s out (7 to 8 hours of sleep — RECHARGING)

I’m also trying to apply consistent recharging to longer time periods such as:

  • Weekends — I recharge through at least one visit to nature
  • Every Quarter — I try to take a long weekend at least once a quarter
  • Summers — I try to spend two weeks each summer with my family
  • Annual — I try to do one off-site family vacation per year
  • Bi-Annual — I try to leave the United States once every two years (that’s something I learned from How To Innovate: 5 Tips From Leading Innovators.

I’m really happy with the results so far. A consistent recharging has made me feel healthier and more balanced.

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