Another 3 Mountaineering Tips for Superior Productivity and Performance – Part 2


Another 3 Mountaineering Tips for Superior Productivity and Performance – Part 2

Superior productivity takes a disciplined approach, and the result of this is that you can reach the bottom of your to-do list on time, rain or shine.

Have you ever wondered how some people always manage to complete what they have planned for the day, rain or shine? Mountaineers are this sort of people. You too could tackle your to-do list with the skills of a serious hiker, without even leaving the comfort of your workplace. So let’s unpack what they are doing so right.

In my previous article, I shared three skills we can learn from seasoned mountaineers that will help us work with great momentum and progress steadily towards our goals. These were:

1. Know your limits and plan accordingly

2. Tackle the most challenging tasks while you’re at your peak

3. Generate momentum early on

Here are three more tips I’d like to share with you for superior productivity and performance:

4. Find your pace and rhythm.

I walk relatively fast, especially uphill, and have frequent short breaks. Interestingly, I often reach the summit at the same time as my mates who walk more slowly and steadily and have fewer breaks. However, whenever I need to walk at their rhythm, I soon start to feel pain in my muscles and run out of juice.

You must also have a natural pace and rhythm, whether in the context of walking or working.

How long can you engage in different activities with your full attention, energy and smarts? How often do you need to take a break? There are no right or wrong answers, but you need to be aware of how you function best.

For example, ninety minutes is usually a good amount of time for me to get on a roll and make good progress with writing reports or analysing data, and then I need to take a substantial break.

On the other hand, when I brainstorm, I need to refresh my mind more often. However, then I only need a few-minutes break – typically moving around and stretching my body – after which I’m ready to carry on.

I’m sure you’ll also find that you work more effectively and also feel better when you follow your natural pace and rhythm rather than trying to conform to someone else’s.

5. Decide what you need: consistency or variety.

I love variety, in general, but I had several wonderful nature hikes where I was wandering through the same sort of terrain for a very long time. I was powering uphill or descending into a deep valley for hours on end, or even for a whole day, without anything breaking my rhythm. Every step appeared similar throughout the morning and afternoon, and I loved it. I felt clear, present and connected to the world around me. Some people call this state ‘the moment of truth’.

I often have similar experiences at work. I can make great progress when I get the chance to immerse myself in similar types of activities all day long.

A business educator once taught me a technique he uses to maximise and reach his superior productivity.

Each day before starting work he decides on the ‘energy’ of the activities that he would focus on, and then he spends all his work hours either creating, or collaborating, or analysing, and so on.

I tried this technique, and it works for me, so try to tackle tasks that are similar in nature in batches. When workflow allows, sometimes I spend whole days creating new content, or communicating and collaborating with team members, or doing obligatory paperwork.

However, this strategy doesn’t work for everyone. Some people I know can get a bit bored by doing the same sort of work for too long, and prefer to mix things up, jumping into vastly different activities every couple of hours or so. This is their way of maintaining momentum. What is yours?

6. Preserve your time and energy for superior productivity.

While bushwalking, it can be tempting to check out sidetracks to nearby hilltops or lookout points. They are often only short distances away from the main track, rewarding you with spectacular scenery.

However, good hikers know if they have enough time and energy for these little side trips, or if they should say no. They watch the clock and check their inner resources closely, just like drivers watch the fuel level when they have a certain distance to cover before getting the chance to refuel.

You rarely see a mountaineer doing things half-heartedly. When they walk, they truly walk, with their eyes on the path ahead. When they rest, they truly rest, enjoying where they are at, with their backpacks off.

Just picture them trying to sneakily shuffle themselves a few meters forward during a break, to feel that they are not wasting any time. Or can you imagine them leaving the track every few minutes to check out what interesting surprises they may find in the area? That would be ridiculous.

Yet, we keep making the same kind of silly mistakes at work.

Our energy is easily depleted, sending ‘just one more’ email during our lunch break, and checking our social media accounts ‘just one more time’ while we’re meant to concentrate on the task at hand. These are some of our habits that eat up our time and energy, so why not make an effort to stop them?

Even if you’re not a hiker yourself, I’m sure that at some point in your life you’ve walked through difficult terrain and conquered real mountains. And although you probably needed to stretch yourself to reach your destination, in the end, you felt that it was all worth it.

Next time, when you feel a bit disoriented at work, or lack momentum, imagine yourself pulling on a pair of hiking shoes and think about who you need to be to reach those amazing places. Superior productivity and performance are within your reach. 

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