I try to take Thursdays off, but as often as I would like to say I have the day completely free, I wind up putting in about 12-14 hours and have a few clients thrown in that just can’t get in anywhere else.
For instance, yesterday started off with 2 clients, then I whipped back home to get a furnace tune-up, have 4 windows replaced in a constant battle of renovations and upgrades to our current house, then proceeded to write 6 programs, 2 distance training programs, and go through a presentation I’m giving in Calgary this weekend at the canfitpro conference. I then sprinted back downtown for a new client consultation, got in a solid workout (my first one of the week. I know, epic fail), shot some videos for an upcoming T-Nation article, and tried to not gouge my eyes out trying to figure out US tax law for an application to get paid for a workshop as a non-resident.
Then came three hours of trying to organize my office, file stuff, and make a general dent in the explosive Armageddon that occurs when I take off on weekends and have 50 irons in the fire at a time, as well as book hotels and rental cars for some other courses coming up. One more client at 5pm, whip home to tidy up after the windows were installed and re-feng-shui our living quarters, pick up the wife from her class and we’re ready to do some quality relaxation time, which meant reviewing Rick Kaselj’s Fix My Shoulder Pain Now videos, which are now available with CEC credits and the 50% off sale ends tonight. Hint hint.
Now a lot of this insanity was obviously self-imposed as I’ve been travelling a lot lately and days off have been few and far between. To give you an idea, in the last month I’ve spent 5 days in New York, 3 days in Toronto, 4 days in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and trained close to 160 sessions in Edmonton.
I’m not saying this to amaze you with my ability to outwork everyone, because I know for a fact that there’s a lot of people out there that put in way more hours and travel time than I do, but I’m just giving you a sense of how I spend my days.
Now interestingly, my Heart Rate Variability hasn’t been too bad lately. I tend to hover around the same level for the most part in the green zone, only dipping if I have a really hard neurally demanding workout, and if I don’t sleep very well due to dogs jumping on and off the bed all night, messing up my quality REM sleep.
This was something that made me really wonder, as HRV is supposed to be a measure of total systemic stress on the system, and one could say this was a pretty stressful month from a work output level. My workouts, when I get them in, have been pretty solid, giving me a chance to pull some decent weights and getting some good volume work in on occasion as well. In fact, in Toronto I hit a deadlift PR of 465 with a trapbar, and even have video proof and some witnesses to back it up.
Tracking my HRV has been interesting, as it shows I don’t really tend to get stressed out. Like, at all. Even when I have a crazy busy schedule and am still training on top of that. THe only two times I’ve had a noticeable dip in variability, showing my system was over-stressed, was following a 10 mile hike through Lake Louise where we hiked through glaciers and steep mountain trails all day, and once when I had an absolutely abysmal sleep following a very heavy high set day of deadlifts and for some stupid reason following that up with running a boot camp class through stairs, trail running and other fun things that shouldn’t be done following heavy deadlifts.
This has led me to believe that one of the following are true:
1. I am a cyborg. I cannot be killed or over-worked.
2. My HRV is pretty darn good and I don’t get too much from tracking it.
3. I need a different HRV monitor because this one is probably defective. I like that idea because it lets me buy new things and make comparisons, which feeds my inner geek.
As a result of my own experimentation with HRV, I can conclude that I either don’t respond well to it, I don’t train nearly hard enough to make a difference in my readings, or that it just isn’t all that important to me in the long run. I could see the benefits to someone who is a competitive athlete and is balancing training and recovery within a very fine limit, as well as someone who is a recreational endurance athlete and is prone to over-training or overuse injuries.
Now, the trick to being busy is to not simply create work to fill the time allotted, but to allot the time to complete the work, and then complete the work. As I wrote about in a previous post on multitasking, trying to do multiple things at once makes you bad at a bunch of stuff and gets you no closer to finishing anything.
When trying to get something done, the simplest advice is to get it done, assess what has to be done next, and then get that done too.
I’ll be the first to admit that I probably have some form of ADD, and my wife will second that motion, but I tend to get things done when I get into the groove and see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not glamorous, it’s not a trick, it just takes an understanding of costs to benefits.
Will checking Facebook obsessively for another two hours provide me with much benefit, or will completing my next three clients’ programs for the following month give me more return on my time? And then once I’m done that I can check the shit out of Facebook and the Twitter to see what kinds of funny videos and pictures are being put together, like this one featuring a Dragon Tee from JK Conditioning.
When approaching any task, always try to have an end-goal in mind of what it will look like, what it should accomplish, and how it should be structured. For instance, with this article I wanted to convey a sense of how unconventional my “days off” actually were, show what I get done in a day, and lay out how I determine progress versus excess by the use of a heart rate variability measure. From there, I wanted to lay out some ways to make being productive easier, such as this section right here.
Being busy has never been difficult for me, as I’ve always tried to have more on my plate than I could get done. I hate boredom. Actually, I could probably say that I’m scared of boredom. I’m scared of bordeom more than all but three things:
3. Clown Spiders
So that’s my epic advice on how to be productive: Get something done, then move on to something else. You could use all the fancy tricks in the world, like setting an alarm, or bribing yourself with stuff once a task is complete, but that never works well. If you love what you’re doing, or see a big enough benefit to getting it done, it won’t feel as much like work and you’ll be more likely to tear into it like Psy into Gangnam Style dance-offs.
Don’t forget, today is the last day to get Rick Kaselj’s Fix My Shoulder Pain product while it’s still good and cheap, at less than $20. Seriously, what else were you going to spend that 20 bucks on? 4 lattes? Wouldn’t you rather have shoulders that don’t suck constantly?