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This article was translated from our English edition.
The opinions expressed by the collaborators of Entrepreneur they are personal.
Personal development guru Tony Robbins constantly tells his audience, “Successful people ask better questions and get better answers as a result.” Over the years, having worked with people from different walks of life, a question I hear over and over again is “How can I be more productive?”
Computers were supposed to ease our workload. Ironically, they have done the opposite. The demands of our time in today’s world are intense. Whether you’re the CEO of a startup, an entrepreneur, or just a parent trying to juggle it all, it’s not easy.
For years, I have been obsessed with finding an answer to that question. At first, I thought the answer lay in tactics and strategies like the 80/20 rule, the Pomodoro technique, Parkinson’s law, our inbox management, a time bubble, thematic scheduling, leverage, or prioritization.
The good news is that they work. All of them. But there is a big difference in how effectively people can implement them. Therefore, the question is not so much what to do, but how. What separates the super productive from the not so productive? I found that it often comes down to two basics: stress and health.
The two are intertwined. Stress affects our health and health affects our stress, which is why health is a key element for high performance. Entrepreneurs who don’t focus on health will pay the price in the long run. I know because I was one of them.
In my youth, I was the type who lived on meat and carbohydrates. Doritos and Snickers were my sandwiches, and I ate a lot of sandwiches. My health reflected that. Two or three times a year, like clockwork, I would catch a bad cold, each time taking me out of commission for a few days. Sometimes I felt so bad that I had to go to the hospital. Over a decade, it added hundreds of hours of downtime. But here’s the thing, my case was mild. A millionaire friend of mine ended up hospitalized for stress for three months. Even Michael Hyatt was not immune. In his book Free to Focus, begins by telling people about the time you thought you were having a heart attack, which turned out to be acid reflux and stress.
Fortunately, my wife changed all that. She balanced my diet. My vegetable intake increased and the snacks decreased. As a result, I have not missed a day of work for eight years.
All my clients have heard me say: “You can only be as productive as you feel”. With better health, your stress levels decrease, your energy increases, your mental focus will be sharp. Best of all, all those saved hours can be reinvested in your life or business. So let’s take a look at what a productive diet consists of.
Westerners have grown up on meat and potatoes. The Japanese, on the other hand, go with rice and fish. Until I came to Japan, fish was a once-a-month meal, if anything. Today, my diet consists of fish at least twice a week. Salmon is the choice many nutritionists turn to because of its high content of omega-3 fatty acids, which has been linked to better memory and mental performance. But there are many other fish that are worthy contenders. Hokke (mackerel) and buri (horse mackerel) are also rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Sanma contains eicosapentaenoic acid, which improves blood circulation, and DHA, which reduces “bad” cholesterol.
Antioxidants abound here. Along with water, green tea is considered one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. It is linked to better brain function, fat loss, and at the same time reduces the risk of heart disease. It is also a natural energy enhancer without the negative side effects of sugary drinks. Some studies even indicate that green tea drinkers are less likely to develop various types of cancer.
Chicken soup is what we in the West use as a home remedy for colds. In Japan, it is miso soup. The big difference is that in Japan, miso soup is a way of life. Dinner in a Japanese home is not complete without miso soup. Miso is packed with probiotics that help improve stomach health. Plus, pretty much any vegetable can be used, so it’s a great way to make sure we get enough of the veggies we need.
For sandwiches, save the fries and buy yourself some nuts. For those with a sweet tooth there are the Trail Mixes. Walnuts are great because they satiate our hunger and satisfy our snack cravings while staying healthy. They are an excellent source of protein and natural fat. On top of that, they are an amino acid-rich antioxidant food that contains vitamin E. If you’re looking to stay strong, walnuts are a great snack to add to your diet.
There is a reason why Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and almost every tennis player in the world have bananas with them when they are on the court. They are one of the best sources of potassium and glucose. They’re also extremely satisfying, allowing you to better focus on your middles rather than reaching for empty carbs and high-sugar snacks that offer short-term energy increases but negatively impact your waistline.
Other notable mentions: fresh fruit, eggs, yogurt, tomatoes, spinach, and meat.
Health is something we take for granted, especially in our youth. But life takes its toll on our body, so we need to make sure it can handle the rigors of daily life. Exercise has to do with strengthening our muscles and cardiovascular health, its effects being evident on the appearance of our body. The diet works on the inside, which is why it is even more important. Productivity is not just about mastering techniques and strategies, but also about mastering ourselves.