Walking into Walls

I was with a colleague the other day. After a long week of travel and customer meetings we decided to take a moment to relax. As he turned the corner, instead of walking into the sitting area, he walked directly into the wall. His body made a large thump as he expressed surprise and confusion about what just happened.

In our exhaustion, we probably laughed louder and longer than we should have but since then, his little encounter has made me think.  Literally or figuratively, when we are really tired and run down, walking into walls is a pretty common occurrence.

Think about what happens to you when you are tired. You can’t navigate the plans you have made, or things you really want to do. When you hit a wall of exhaustion, you can barely make time for anything except the absolutes. You know why that is?  Because your pre-frontal cortex, the front part of your brain that thinks, makes decisions, handles relationships, is completely worn out.  Think too, about the people around you. When you are tired, your co-workers, your boss, your kids, your friends all have to contend with your wall of exhaustion. You have nothing left to give from the executive function of your brain and suddenly you become less accessible, less creative, less solutions oriented and far less fun!

So what can we do to stop walking into walls? Choice 5 in The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity highlights our ability to re-fuel our brain by focusing on 5 energy drivers.  They are:

  • Move
  • Eat
  • Sleep
  • Relax
  • Connect

Making time to attend to these drivers on a consistent basis will fuel both our brains and our bodies. The key is to intentionally make those high value decisions that keep us charged and refreshed, so we can head off those walls of exhaustion.  Burnout and stress create a perpetual wheel of dysfunction. Yet, it is possible to break the cycle by simply consciously deciding that restoration of our bodies and our brains is one of the most important things we do each day.

Of course, this takes planning. These drivers often slip; because they are an afterthought or something we’ll get to “if” we have time. Don’t forget these all important big rocks! Add them to your master task list. Plug them into your calendar and keep the 5 driver promises you make to yourself with the same diligence as the promises you make to others. If you do, you’ll see your energy go up and your stress, guilt and exhaustion go way, way down.

After all, nobody likes walking into walls.

Contributed by Suzette Blakemore, Regional Productivity Practice Leader, FranklinCovey Co.