avoiding hitting the wall

Avoid Hitting The Wall

From Runners World – By Paul Scott Image by Paul Scott Published 01/12/2007

“Chiang Kai-shek is said to have received news of his army’s mutiny while still in his pajamas. Chances are you will be equally unprepared for the mutiny of your own body-in other words, for bonking. We’re not talking about the mere cramping of a calf, or the everyday slowing caused by lactic acid build-up, or the deep muscle pain sometimes caused by downhill running. Marathoners used to call bonking “hitting the wall,” but it’s actually a bodily form of sedition. In some form or another, it becomes a collapse of the entire system: body and form, brains and soul. * Consider the muscle-glycogen bonk, where the brain works fine but the legs up and quit. Then there’s the blood-glucose bonk, where the legs work fine but the brain up and quits. Let’s not forget the everything bonk, a sorry stewpot of dehydration, training errors, gastric problems, and nutrition gaffes. * And then there’s the little-purple-men bonk. “After about 20-K, I started to see little purple men running up and down the sides of these cliffs,” says Mark Tarnopolsky, M.D., who wears hats as both a leading sports nutrition researcher and an endurance athlete. “I knew it was an hallucination, but I stopped in the middle of the race to look at them anyway,” he says. “It was kind of crazy.” * If you have run a distance race, chances are you have already become an aficionado of the bonk. You remember how your form held until you hit mile 18 and your feet turned into scuba fins. How your motivation held until you faced that last hill and became preoccupied with the idea of lying down on the pavement. Or, if you bonked thoroughly enough, how you began to see beings that belong in Dr. Seuss. And you thought sports nutrition was dull.”
Read more here: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-267–11428-0,00.html

NOW – some interesting advice on Hitting the Wall at work…

When You Hit the Wall

By Justin Levy on August 31, 2009 12:42 PM | 1 Comment | No TrackBacks


“You can always feel it coming.  You sit in front of your computer and stare at it blankly.  Watching Top Gun for the 15th time somehow makes sense.  Polishing your silverware sounds fun.  You even shut down IM, Facebook and Twitter.  What’s going on?  You, my friend, have hit the wall.  You have hit a wall where you are totally unproductive.  So, what do you do?  Do you accept your fate and take some time off?  Or do you decide to fight through it and see if you can get back onto the fast track of productivity?

Sometimes it can be that your morning just got started off on the wrong foot.  That’s easy to correct.  At the far extreme, it can mean that you’ve hit burnout.  Just a bit of advice: try to avoid the burnout side of the spectrum.  Other times, it’s that you fall in between those two ends and just have an all around unproductive day.  You can’t exactly put your finger on why but all you know is that you’re just being unproductive.  Suddenly it’s night time and you can’t really account for what really got done during the previous 12 hours.

Let’s face it.  As much as some of us don’t want to admit it, we all need to take a break occasionally.  If your family doesn’t force you to, eventually your body and/or mind will.  It’s natural especially if you keep laser focus and pride yourself on the lack of sleep you get.  Sometimes you have to just accept your fate and enjoy a day off of the grid and away from the normal grind.  But, other times you have to have a few sure-fire ways to give your day that shock needed to get back on track.  Here are the 9 ways that I help get my day back from careening out of control:

1. Turn on or switch up the music.  Music is a major part of my life.  It always has been.  So, I have to have music on whenever I want to get a lot done.  Sometimes though, just turning on music isn’t enough.  That’s when I have to smash the emergency glass and pull of the musical first-aid kit.  This entails precisely of my Bose ear-in headphones, Pandora ONE and/or iTunes.  The music has to be something with a great beat and hard hitting bass.  For me, Jay-Z is usually my go-to artist of choice.

2. Try for a couple small wins.
  Try to accomplish some of the smaller, easier tasks on your list.  Maybe that’s paying a bill or two.  Send out that rebate.  Make those 3 phone calls you’ve been meaning to make.  I find that being able to cross a few of those off the list will usually be the injection of productivity needed to switch focus to the bigger projects.

3. Break the big projects down to small tasks.  In my opinion, this is what you should be doing all the time.  But, we all forget and instead add “Take on the world” to our task list.  It’s no wonder that it keeps getting pushed off.  We find it to be daunting so we skip past it and move on to a bunch of smaller wins.  Instead of pushing it down the list, use your GTD ninja skills and break it into all of the smaller tasks needed to make the big win.  If you’ve forgotten about GTD, you can give yourself a refresher by watching David Allen present at Google.  I’ll sometimes make these tasks as micro as “Photocopy contract”, “Email contract”, “Send internal status update on contract”.  Again, it’s those small wins that will help you get back on track.

4. Switch locations. Sometimes it’s not you but your environment that’s making you unproductive.  Try workshifting from a different location.  If it’s a nice day, grab your laptop and go outside.  Head to a coffee shop or a restaurant.  Find those go-to locations for yourself and head straight there.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.

5. Drop the internet and put your hands up.  Even if you don’t think it is, the internet can suck up time.  Those little minute distractions of TweetDeck‘s little black status box popping up or your email yelling at you that you have 10 unanswered emails can really prevent you from focusing.  So, when you really need to crack the whip, start by shutting down EVERYTHING that can interrupt you.  Yes, that means, email, IM, Facebook, Twitter, cell phone, anything and everything.   I like to switch up locations and go somewhere that I know I won’t have internet.  It helps me to focus and allows me to be creative.

6. Get up and stretch.  I find that stretching revitalizes me.  It helps to unkink the muscles that have just sat there for hours on end.  A few cracks here, a few stretches there and I feel like I can conquer the world again.  If this doesn’t work, try going for a workout or take a quick shower. These little refreshers will help to make you feel better and gives you a few minutes to clear your mind before diving back in.

7. Take on something else.  If it’s work-related tasks that you’re not able to crush, try knocking off something else.  I recently had an entire weekend where anything and everything work-related seemed like a foreign language to me.  Instead of just wasting the day away, I did a bunch of tasks around the house and ran a few errands.  This made me feel like I was accomplishing something and also helped me for the week to come.  

8. Try calling a friend.  Some of my best work is done when I can co-work with someone.  Invite a friend over, meet at a bookstore or try a co-working space and knock out some work together.  The tools that many of us are equipped with such as laptops, broadband cards, phones and the like allow us to be digital nomads.  Take advantage of it.

9. Power nap.  Close everything up and take a 20 minute nap.  Power naps have been proven to increase productivity.  Some companies, like Google, even provide nap rooms for their employees.  So, close the laptop, grab your stuffed animal (er, um, I mean, pillow), set an alarm for 20-30 minutes and pass out.  If you can’t fall asleep, run head first into a brick wall.  It might knock you out for a little longer than 20 minutes but you’ll probably wake up feeling refreshed.  You might even hit your head hard enough to forget about some of your worries 🙂

These are just a few of a number of different tools I keep at-the-ready to help beat a feeling of being unproductive.  Even if I’m feeling totally productive, I will use some of these tips to help keep me pointed in the right direction.  Other times, just stop.  Take some time off and relax.  Your work isn’t going anywhere, that’s for sure.

Do you find these tips useful to you?  What do YOU do when you’re feeling unproductive? ”

Thank you to Paul Scott and Justin Levy for your very helpful tips!!


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