Peak Performance

Peak Performance; Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success. By Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness

I started this self-help book a long time ago (a long, long, loooonnnnnnng time ago in today’s world). I was pleasantly surprised to find it chock full of practical and useful advice (unlike most self-help books) on how to get the most out of your daily life.

Then, just as I was about to start getting more out of *my* daily life, along came COVID-19 and of my precious waking hours I now spend about 95% of them on my phone, looking at the same damn reports and advice over and over again. Thus, in an attempt to break that terrible habit, I give you what I learned from Peak Performance, or tips for living your best life.

Tip #1: Multitasking is not a thing.

Don’t believe me? The science says so. Multitasking is actually just singletasking with really fast gear-changing. There are two problems with this. One is that changing gears to refocus on a different task wastes valuable and potentially productive energy. Another is that you are not allowing yourself to fully concentrate on one task, which maximizes your productivity. It’s a hard habit to break, but seems like it might be worth it.

(Put your phone away … the COVID news will still be there in an hour)

Tip #2: Singletask in time blocks of less than 2 hours each.

Turns out a lot of studies show that we can’t maintain peak concentration on a single task for more than about 90 mins. Two hours, tops. So plan on taking a nice break for 15 or 20 minutes if you successfully focus for this long on a task. These days, I’m pretty happy if I stay focused for 9 mins, let along 90, but this just gives me a stretch goal to strive for.

(Don’t check your phone for COVID news on your 15 min break. Take an actual break.)

Tip #3: Distractions steal energy.

Not very surprisingly, your phone is a distraction (a BIG one these days). More surprisingly, setting your phone off to the side is still a distraction if it’s still visible to you. And it takes energy to ignore distractions while you are trying to concentrate on an important task.  I personally used this helpful tip by hiding my Tardis candy jar at work when I was cutting out desserts and chocolate for a month. Hiding the candy is better than having it sit out in plain sight, but actually it turns out your brain still knows it’s there, so best is to either toss it out (NEVER!) or have someone else take it away for as long as needed.

(Seriously. Put your phone away.)

Tip #4: MEDITATE.

Blah Blah Blah. EVERY self-improvement and personal health book recommends that you meditate. It’s like a conspiracy! Unless they are actually all onto something ….

(MEDITATE)

Tip #5: Get enough sleep.

Totally do this! It’s not a badge of honour to brag about how little sleep you are getting because of your “hard work” or your “active lifestyle”. You may be doing a lot of things, but you’re not really doing a lot things efficiently or effectively. Again, there’s tons of science here. Plus, there are lots of benefits to getting enough sleep that people spend lots of waking hours trying to achieve – weight loss, improved health, increased mental acuity, increased energy. Honestly, is there anything easier than just going to bed?

(STAY HOME. That’s also easy!)

Tip #6: Minimize extraneous decisions.

This tip is not for me, but apparently many extremely successful people (men) have elected to wear the exact same outfit every day (Jobs, Zuckerberg) in order to reduce the number of decisions they have to make per day. Seems extreme. That said, when I’m really, really tired I can attest that making decisions seems like a lot of unnecessary energy. Decisions like “where should we go for dinner” or “do you want to watch reruns of Friends or The Big Band Theory tonight”? Maybe making decisions does take more energy than I thought!

(Wash your hands all the time. And STAY HOME.)

Tip #7: Transcend your “self”

This tip, the book argues, will help you to create core values and a purpose that are more motivating and that will allow you to break through self-imposed limits set to protect your ego. I suppoooossse that’s possible.

(Self-isolate! Help other people by staying away from them!)

There are LOTS of other tips in this book that are actually useful and helpful. Surprisingly, I liked and would recommend this one.

Rating: Buy it from Kindle, or wait until we can safely move about and then pick up a copy from a local bookstore who is surely suffering by now.

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