Thursday, 27 August 2015

A quick checklist for performing at your best

  1. Eat a nutritious breakfast.  Fads come, fads go, but needing enough fuel to sustain your high-powered morning is a constant.  So eat a good breakfast.  Oats, porridge, scrambled egg, tofu, whole meal toast or whatever.  Go easy on the caffeine and focus on protein with slow releasing energy carbs.
  2. Cut the caffeine.  Caffeine is fake energy that’s powering you towards a big crash later in the day.  Either cut the caffeine or make a point of having several days a week with no caffeine.  Power yourself with inspiration and motivation instead.  Caffeine also interferes with sleep which isn’t going to help anyone’s performance.
  3. Stay hydrated.  Drink lots of water and herbal teas to stay hydrated through the day.  It’s good for the brain and the body. Dehydration is bad news when it comes to performing at your best.
  4. Get enough sleep.  Whilst many people sing the praises of being up before the birds, there’s no escaping the fact that to perform well you need sleep.  Not too much, but not sleep deprived either.  So know what’s right for you, and get enough sleep to be able to conquer the world when the alarm goes off.
  5. Take a break.  Working long hours, 7 days a week just leads to burnout.  Push when you need to by all means, but then take a break to recharge and refocus.  Socializing, seeing family and friends and taking holidays fit into the “important but not urgent” quadrant of the Eisenhower matrix.
  6. Don’t get hungry.  Even if you are watching your weight (and who isn’t?) having a small healthy snack to stave off hunger pangs helps performance.  It’s hard to concentrate when all you can think about is lunch, so have an apple or half a dozen almonds to keep you going.
  7. Get fit.  It’s counter-intuitive, but the more exercise you do, the more energy you will have.  But, you have to build up gradually, otherwise you will just fall asleep at your desk.

These are the foundation stones for week-on-week high performance.  Aim to perform for a solid “7” level performance each day, rather than expecting to perform at "10" day after day.  So when you need that bit extra of performance you have something in reserve and you can raise your game to an impressive “9” or “10”.

I'm lucky enough to be working with Nathan Douglas, a double Olympian and world-class performer by anyone's standards. This is his list for getting the basics right.  Do you agree or disagree with the list?   What would you add?  What's your top tip for staying on top of your game?

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