As part of my ongoing experiments with my favorite guinea pig (i.e. myself), I was curious about understanding what factors were the best predictors of my performance in a given day. Now, performance isn’t easy to measure. So, I decided to just check for my mood at the end of the day – the general assumption was that, the better my performance during the day, the better the mood at the end of the day. It isn’t perfect but I thought it was a good enough proxy.
The results of this fairly unscientific experiment to test predictors of performance over the past 6 weeks or so were as follows –
1. Sleep. This didn’t surprise me one bit. But, it became very clear to me that lack of sleep was the single biggest day de-railer. Get 7.5 or 8 hours of sleep and I can literally feel energy through the day. Anything less and the effects begin to show. And, once it gets to the 6 hours territory, I just begin to feel slow.
2. Morning routine. This was a pleasant surprise. I found a huge difference when I got through my morning routine without stress- this includes meditating, blogging, clearing personal email, catching up on feeds/news, freshening up and having breakfast. If I have that 1.5 hours or so in the morning, the day goes much better.
(As you might expect, sleep has a big effect on the morning routine because sleeping late means waking up late and that, in turn, means less time for the morning routine. So, sleep’s top position is well deserved.)
3. A feeling of fitness. I target 6 exercise points in the week. 2 of these points can be 10,000 fitbit steps. 1 point otherwise is either 6 exercises in the gym or 0.5km in the pool (both take ~20 mins). If I feel I’m target for the 6 for the week, I feel great. If not, I feel sluggish. Interestingly, I observed that it is the “feeling” of fitness that matters more than fitness itself. The games our minds play..
I think I have generally been well fed in the past weeks and I didn’t try starving myself to see what the effects of food are. :-) I expect they are substantial too. I still think these 3 would be up top.
As I write this, it strikes me that all of this sounds so basic. That said, I also know that I’ve worked hard for the best part of the last 5 years to just get these basic things in place. And, they’ve played a big role in improving my overall level of happiness.
Common sense, as they say, is not so common. And, as I’ve learnt, getting the basic things consistently right is definitely no simple thing. Either that, or I’m a very slow learner.. and we can’t rule that out as yet. :-)