In an earlier post, I wrote about how getting some fresh air by taking a walk outside or opening the windows does wonders for my productivity. Another example of the circumstances under which I perform well is after a late afternoon exercise.
I wake up around 6AM, and start working by 7. As a result my brain has been heavily taxed by 4 or 5 PM in the afternoon. When my mental energy starts to decline, an hour long workout helps boost my performance. I keep this hour long late afternoon slot open in my calendar unless I have an important meeting. This happens maybe once or twice a week. It’s also harder to schedule the workout on those days when I’m traveling.
The physical and mental benefits of exercise are documented at length elsewhere. In addition to these long-term benefits, exercise gives me a short-term mental boost. This helps me get another 2 to 3 hours of productive time out of the rest of the evening. I get a lot more done in one hour of exercise and 3 hours of work than 4 hours of work without exercise.
The right timing, duration, and breakdown of exercises will change from person to person. But I think it’s well worth experimenting with. Once you find what works for you, making it part of your daily routine can produce a step change increase in your productivity.