When people talk about time management tools, we often think about schedules and planners. But what about food? Food is a significant time management tool since it is the fuel for your bosy and mind, and consequently has huge impact on the ability to focus, prioritize and influence others.
Take Chocolate, for Example
Chocolate is a staple of the late-afternoon doldrums. It is high in fat and sugar, which allows the body to quickly convert it into glucose and dissolve it into the bloodstream. It also contains the stimulants caffeine and theobromine, as well as phenylethylamine, which react with dopamine to release endorphins from the pleasure center of the brain: the same endorphins that are released during times of emotional pleasure. This is why so many cultures equate chocolate with sex (think Valentine’s Day). Some even say that chocolate is better.
Strike While the Coffee is Hot
The best time to communicate important information to people is between 9:00 and 10:30. That’s when the combined influences of light, caffeine and the activity of traveling to work yield the greatest alertness for all involved. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks deliver adrenaline into the bloodstream, which is why people see it it as a pick-me-up. It tends to wear off quickly, though, which is also why coffee breaks are often scheduled for mid-morning.
Sadly, though our love of coffee is more akin to an addiction. Caffeine is a psychoactive drug, an alkaloid, similar to cocaine, but not as severe. A great comparison article can be found here. It is quite painful for most people to wean themselves off coffee entirely, and for those of us who choose not to, its effects largely cap out at a certain time. Caffeine is not infinite in its energy producing powers.
However, it is a good idea to schedule your meetings for 9:00 sharp, and get your most important concepts out on the table within the first 30 minutes. Schedule your most important work of the day for between 9:00 and 10:30 to capitalize on its short-term effects.
Snack regularly and often – on good foods, not candy or chips. Avoid getting hungry. Eating when you are hungry leads to overeating. Because the human body was designed to eat tougher, coarser foods, it takes twenty minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that it has received enough. In an age when unprocessed foods had to be eaten slowly, this time delay was perfect. But in today’s world of high-calorie, high-fat, easy-to-chew processed food, it becomes extremely easy to ingest too much before the stomach gets the chance to say “stop!” Additionally, fast-food restaurant chains have made it their business to exploit the hunger urge through packaging, flavoring and pricing. A better route is to graze – that’s the term the nutritionists use – on healthy snacks throughout the day so that you don’t actually feel hunger, which will help you make smaller, wiser, healthier food choices at lunchtime.
This will also help reduce the impact of the mind-afternoon doldrums, by not overtaxing the digestive system.
Our desire for sugar and fats is a self-preservation instinct, sustained for thousands of years by the fact that we had to work a lot harder to find food of any sort while not becoming food for something else, and so caloric intake and expenditure pretty much balanced out. Fat became the storehouse for future famine situations. Our ancient bodies still react in the same way, only now food (for most of us) is abundant, and the highly refined sugars and flours that comprise fast meals require so little energy to process that it is easy for the body to convert it to fat. There’s nothing else it needs it for.
Remember, though, that donuts and other sweet snacks provide only a quick sugar high full of “empty calories,” which do nothing to support your metabolism over the long-term. In fact, that sugar-high can within minutes to a sugar hangover, bringing on feelings of sluggishness and fatigue.
Eating healthy does not have to mean being boring. More and more, the food courts and restaurants that surround us provide healthy offerings that are reasonably priced and very satisfying. They sell good, light meals and snacks, just when your body needs them, providing energy for the afternoon and helping to counteract that mid-afternoon trough.
Successful defense and use of time can only happen on a happy stomach. After all, food is fuel. You can’t manage your time without managing your physical self. Most people would never consider pouring a cupful of sugar into their car’s gas tank but they don’t think anything of doing the same to themselves.
This is an excerpt from my book, Cool Time: A Hands-On Plan for Managing Work and Balancing Time. If you would like a copy, hop on over to my Books page. If you would like me to come and speak to your group, contact details are available on my Speaker page. Either way, you will win back time and money. It’s just practical common sense.
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