6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Personal development guru Tony Robbins constantly tells his audiences, “Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” Over the years, having worked with people from all different walks of life, one question I hear over and over again is “How can I be more productive?”
Computers were supposed to alleviate our workload. Ironically, they’ve done just the opposite. The demands on our time in today’s world are intense. Whether you’re the CEO of a start-up, an entrepreneur, or just a parent trying to juggle everything, it’s not easy.
For years now, I’ve been obsessed with finding an answer to that question. At first, I thought the answer lay in tactics and strategies such as the 80/20 rule, the Pomodoro technique, Parkinson’s law, our in-box management, a time bubble, themed scheduling, leverage, or prioritization.
The good news is they do work. All of them. But there is a big difference in how effectively people can implement them. Therefore, the question isn’t so much what to do, but how. What separates the uber-productive and not so productive? I’ve found that it often boils down to two basic concepts: stress and health.
The two are intertwined. Stress affects our health, and health affects our stress which is why health is a key element to high performance. Entrepreneurs who fail to focus on health will pay the price long-term. I know because I was one of them.
In my youth, I was the guy who lived on meats and carbs. Doritos and Snickers were my snacks, and I snacked a lot. My health reflected that. Two or three times a year, like clockwork, I would come down with a heavy cold, and each time it would knock me out of commission for a few days. Sometimes I felt so sick I had to go to the hospital. Over a decade, it added up to hundreds of hours in downtime. But here’s the thing, my case was mild. A millionaire friend of mine ended up being hospitalized due to stress for three months. Even Michael Hyatt wasn’t immune. In his book Free to Focus, he starts by telling people about the time he thought he was having a heart attack, which turned out to be acid reflux and stress.
Thankfully, my wife changed all that. She balanced out my diet. My vegetable intake increased, and snacks decreased. As a result, I haven’t lost 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 drop, your energy rises, your mental focus will be razor-sharp. Best of all, all those hours saved can be reinvested into your life or business. So let’s take a look at what a productive diet consists of.
Related: The Entrepreneur’s Diet for Success and Brain-Boosting Performance
Westerners have been raised on meat and potatoes. Japanese, on the other hand, go with rice and fish. Until I came to Japan, fish was a once-a-month meal, if that. Today, my diet consists of fish at least twice a week. Salmon is the choice many nutritionists turn to due to its high omega-3 fatty acid content, which has been linked to improved memory and mental performance. But there is plenty of other fish that are worthy contenders. Hokke (Mackerel) and Buri (Yellowtail) are also rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Sanma (Pacific Saury) contains eicosapentaenoic acid, which improves blood circulation, and DHA, which reduces “bad” cholesterol.
Antioxidants galore here. Alongside water, green tea is considered one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. It’s linked to improved brain function, fat loss while lowering the risk of heart disease. It’s 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 several types of cancer.
Related: How a Structured Diet Can Help Entrepreneurs Enhance Productivity
Chicken soup is what we in the West turn to as a home-cooked remedy for colds. In Japan, it’s Miso soup. The big difference is that in Japan, miso soup is a way of life. Dinner at a Japanese home isn’t complete without miso soup. Miso is full of probiotics which contributes to improved stomach health. Moreover, pretty much any vegetable can be used, making it an excellent way to ensure we get enough of the vegetables we need.
For the snackers out there, put away the potato chips and grab yourself some nuts. For those with a sweet tooth, go with Trail Mix. Nuts are great because they quench our appetite and fulfill our snack desires while staying healthy. They are an excellent source of protein and natural fat. On top of that, they are an antioxidant, amino acid-rich food that contains vitamin E. If you’re looking to stay sharp, nuts are a great snack to add to your diet.
Related: 5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Get Their Diet Right
There’s a reason that Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and pretty much every tennis player in the world has bananas with them when they’re on the court. Bananas are some of the best sources of potassium and glucose. They’re also extremely filling, allowing you to focus better in-between means rather than going for empty carbs and high-sugar content snacks that offer short-term boosts of energy but come with a negative impact on 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 which is why we need to ensure it can handle the rigors of daily life. Exercise deals with strengthening our muscles and cardiovascular health, with its effects being evident in how our body looks. Diet works on the inside, which is why it’s even more important. Productivity isn’t just about mastering techniques and strategies but also about mastering ourselves.