The Power of Ritual

Nov 04 2005

There’s some new VR story over there.

Meanwhile, I’ve more than doubled my productivity at work this week. How? Ritual.

I just finished a neat book, The Power of Full Engagement, which suggests that the proper management of energy, not time, is the most direct route to personal improvement. They point out that you can expend and recharge energy—physical, mental, emotional, and spritual—a lot like you exercise a muscle: stretch it for a while, then rest for a bit. So, during a work day, instead of trying to expend your mental energy for eight straight hours, you take a break every hour and a half or two hours.

But how do you remind yourself to take those breaks, especially if you’re not used to taking them? Rituals. Here are the rituals I made up for myself earlier this week:

9:00 Clean up my to-do list
10:00 Make phone calls
11:00 Write in my log
1:00 Go for a walk and meditate on nature
3:00 Make a mug of tea, eat some cookies, and re-read a few pages of The Brand You 50
4:00 Write in my log and fill out my timecard for the day

I’m sure I’ll change these over time, but they’re a start.

Because I’m now forcing myself to take breaks from my work every hour or two, I don’t get nearly as tired throughout the day. At 4:00, I have about 80% of the energy I had at 9:00 in the morning, whereas until now I’ve had almost no energy in the afternoon.

So, want to increase your productivity? Break up your day into smaller chunks, and force yourself to take those breaks. It feels completely unnatural and bizarre. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.

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