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In this installment of the Best of Muscle For Life, you’ll hear hand-picked clips from three popular MFL episodes: an interview with Eric Helms on natural bodybuilding, a monologue on getting back in the gym after a long break from training, and a motivational episode with my top tips on increasing productivity.
Some people—my favorite people—listen to most or even all of my podcasts, but my wizbang analytics tell me that while many listeners tune in on a regular basis, they don’t catch every installment of Muscle for Life and thus miss out on insights that could help them do at least a little better inside and outside the gym.
That’s why I do “best of” episodes that contain a few of the most practical and compelling ideas, tips, and moments from the more popular episodes I’ve published over the years. This way, you can learn interesting insights that you might have otherwise missed and find new episodes of the show to listen to.
So, in this installment of The Best of Muscle for Life, you’ll be hearing hand-picked morsels from three episodes:
Eric Helms on the Art and Science of Succeeding in Natural Bodybuilding
(Originally published 7/8/2020)
How to Get Back Into Weightlifting After a Break from the Gym (With a Training Program!)
(Originally published 6/15/2020)
Motivation Monday: My 5 Best Tips for Increasing Productivity
(Originally published 8/21/2017)
And we’ll be starting with number one, Eric Helms on the Art and Science of Succeeding in Natural Bodybuilding.
0:00 – My free meal planning tool: buylegion.com/mealplan
5:07 – Eric Helms on the Art and Science of Succeeding in Natural Bodybuilding
18:52 – How to Get Back Into Weightlifting After a Break from the Gym (With a Training Program!)
29:22 – Motivation Monday: My 5 Best Tips for Increasing Productivity
Mentioned on the show:
Want a free meal planning tool that figures out your calories, macros, and micros, and allows you to create custom meal plans for cutting, lean gaining, and maintaining in under 5 minutes? Go to https://buylegion.com/mealplan and download the tool for free!
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hello and welcome to the latest and greatest episode of Muscle For Life. I’m Mike Matthews and thank you for joining me today. Now, I have recorded hundreds of episodes of Muscle for Life, and I’ve talked about a huge variety of things related to health, fitness, lifestyle. Mindset ranging from the basics of diet and exercise, like energy and macronutrient, balance and progressive overload, and training frequency and volume to fads like the ketogenic and carnivore diet and collagen protein to more unfamiliar territories like body weight, set point, and fasted cardio.
Some episodes resonate with my crowd more than others, but all of them contain at least a few key takeaways that just about anyone can benefit from. At least that’s what I tell myself. That’s what helps me sit down in the chair every day and do this, and as cool as that is. It poses a problem for you, my dear listener, especially if you are new here, and that is, ain’t nobody got time for that.
We’re talking about probably a thousand plus hours of content at this point. And while some people actually do make the time to listen to most or even. All of my podcasts, my Wang Analytics tell me that while many listeners tune in on a regular basis, they don’t catch every installment of Muscle for Life.
Thus, they miss out on insights that could help them get even just a little bit better inside and outside the gym. Because if you just get a little bit better, consistently enough, that can add up to big results in the long. And people have also been telling me that they would like me to do more shorter multi topic episodes like my Q and A’s and Says You episodes.
And so I got an idea. How about a best of series of podcasts that contains a few of the most practical and compelling ideas, tips, and moments from. My most popular episodes going all the way back to the beginning. This way, people who are new in particular can quickly determine if this is the droid they’re looking for, if this podcast is for them or not, and then those who are regulars and enjoy what I’m doing, but just don’t have the time or inclination to listen.
All of my stuff, and I do understand that I don’t take it personally. . You can also then benefit from the discussions and the episodes that you are not listening to in full. And you can also find new episodes to listen to without having to give an hour of your time to determine whether it was worth it or not.
So here we are with the best of Muscle for Life, and in this episode you’ll be hearing hand picked mores from three episodes. One is an interview I did with Eric Helms on the Art and Science of Succeeding in Natural Body Building, which is very different than enhanced bodybuilding. Then there is a monologue from me called How to Get Back into Weightlifting after a break from the gym.
And that gives you a training program as well that can get you back into the swing of things. And lastly, there is another monologue from me, a motivational one called My Five Best. Tips for increasing productivity. But first, how would you like a free meal planning tool that figures out your calories, your macros, even your micros, and then allows you to create 100% custom meal plans for cutting, lean, gaining, or maintaining in under five.
Minutes. All you gotta do is go to buy legion.com/meal plan b y legion.com/meal plan and download the tool. And if I may say, this tool really is fantastic. My team and I spent over six months on this thing working with an Excel wizard, and inferior versions of this are often sold for 50, 60, even a hundred dollars.
Or you have to. App and pay every month or sign up for a weight loss service and pay every month, 10, 20, 40, 50, even $60 a month for what is essentially in this free tool. So if you are struggling to improve your body composition, if you are struggling to lose fat or gain muscle, Mealplan can change everything.
Dieting can go from feeling like running in the sand in a sandstorm to riding a bike on a breezy day down a hill. So again, if you want my free meal planning tool, go to bi legion.com/meal plan b y legion.com/meal plan. Enter your email address and you will get instant access. Let’s start with number one, Eric Helms on the art and science of succeeding in natural body.
When you decide to compete to some degree, you’re making a deal with the devil to where your perspective is gonna shift, and you would do things you otherwise wouldn’t. And. Whether you realize it or not, you are accepting certain trade offs, and the arc of my career is all about not telling people the trade offs you have to make for body building are bad.
Therefore the sport is bad. But rather to say we’re all adults. But the issue is that a lot of us don’t have the proper informed consent going into the sport because we have misconceptions about it. The body fat required to actually get on stage is you take one of those lean people, that track and field athlete, that gymnast, that lifestyle bodybuilder, and they are probably.
About 10% over the stage weight they need to be. So let’s say you’re 180 pounds, you’re walking around lean, you’d probably gonna have to get close to one 60 to be the that’s, 18 pounds ish, right? Let’s say you’re a woman, you’re one 40 you’ve fit awesome changes to your physique.
You like the way you look. Depending on the division you compete in, you may have to lose, 15 pounds to, to get into the kind of shape when everyone on the street would be like, Oh man, you look. And then you go, Yeah, and I need to lose 15 pounds. Point is that the leaner you get so long as you haven’t like completely dieted yourself down to emaciation, you look more muscular.
So that behooves competitors over time. If you look at the Mr. America competitions in the forties compared to the Mr. America competitions in the fifties, and then you keep fast forwarding over time. Sometime around the eighties people started getting. What I would call like maximally lean. If you look at pictures of Danny Padilla or Frank Zane in the late seventies, or then you get to Rich Gaspari some of the guys, and then basically in the eighties, all of a sudden stride, glutes hit the scene, and that was since then, we’ve had.
Competitors in an increasing frequency who are getting maximally lean, if you will, to where there is the appearance of no visible subcutaneous body fat. And when you look at the studies on body building competitors depending on what techniques they use, and to cross validate that with our cultural zeitgeist of what we think percentage of body fat are for men, a truly shredded person is probably between four to 6% body.
And for women you can effectively add about like 8% to those values. Also, knowing that the process of getting down to that incredibly lean state results in almost a 100% number of people having a big rebound and gaining a ton of weight post competition. And if you’re not prepared for that, that can feel.
Really socially isolating and scary. A lot of the body building culture is based upon valuing yourself through the expression of willpower. You’re the person who could diet yourself down to this level of unhealthy leanness, incredible shredded this to display this physique on stage that is the athletic feat, quote unquote, in and of itself.
And then all of a sudden you can’t stop yourself from having a second dinner at Taco Bell after the competition’s over and you feel like all of a sudden you’ve lost your acceptance into this community. You’ve lost your bodybuilder card, the thing that made you special, that made you accepted in this group, that was something you were proud of.
Now seemingly vanished and you’re gaining pounds a week of body fat, feeling terrible, beating yourself up, and even sometimes going through these cyclical, not true bulimia in the sense that you might be binging and purging, but going on these really harsh diets to quote unquote correct for the binge.
That unfortunately prompts the next binge. And you look up three months after your show, you’re 30 pounds up, actually heavier than when you started your prep. You feel terrible, you’re unhappy. You don’t like what in the mirror, and you don’t know how you got. But simply knowing that. Can happen, why it happens, what to do about it, and to under have some acceptance and understand it can make a huge difference.
In my experience as a coach, just having people with that informed consent and knowing what they’re getting into can make that experience a, not as drastic and magnitude, but B, not something that can really disrupt someone’s life to the same degree. So yeah, you might. Experiencing these metabolic adaptations, but that’s not just some hand wavy thing.
We actually see organs get smaller in the course of dieting, which might explain some of that. And if these organs are actually atrophying, that means they’re function changes too. So when you see low energy availability in men and women, we start to see our sex hormones go down. So in men, you typically see a loss of libido.
In one case study of a natural bodybuilder temporarily went down to one quarter of his normal resting testosterone levels. We see thyroid go down. We see leptin go down. Andin go up. We see an overall tilt of different axes in the body in terms of hormonal status. So cortisol goes up, testosterone goes down.
We’ll see hunger hormones get. Such that satiety won’t set in post-meal. And you have a resting higher concentration of hunger hormones. And we’ll see drops in subconscious physical activity. So non-exercise activity thermogenesis, you’ll see reductions in energy expenditure during sleep. And this all comes down to what’s called again, low energy availability.
And the way you actually determine that was you would look at your total activity and then you’d look at your calories taken in relative to your lean body mass. And then you look at, see what is that mathematical relationship and there’s consistent data showing that below certain thresholds and cutoffs, which are probably more realistically ranges and dependent upon your non-exercise activity, like what is your lifestyle activity.
There are certain ranges where you start to see things like izing hormone, pulsivity change, and women, which is a predictor, a early warning system, if you will, hormonally for when you’re gonna see menstrual cycle disruption in a amen. Essentially what I’m getting at is that through the process of creating a calorie deficit and then there’s a metabolic adaptation, some things, only one person gets fired off the accounting team right?
Then you might have to cut harder, You do more cardio, you reduce your calories, which necessarily changes your energy availability status. Cause now you’ve increased your exercise activity. And or decrease your energy intake so that mathematical relationship changes to increase energy expenditure, decrease energy intake, and therefore reduce energy availability per kilogram of lean body mass.
It means, okay, we’ve gotta trim the fat even further. Now we’re gonna actually fire another person from accounting and we’re gonna go to those motion sensor lights. And this plays out as us experiencing all these quote unquote negative adaptations. And these adaptations are all, if you look at them either behaviorally or physiologically, They all appear to drive us to want to eat more and move less.
So it’s essentially fighting our progress. So I think there’s a number of things you can do. One, you can’t address the fact that you have to get shredded. In the end, you will get shredded. So the other option we have, I mentioned there’s that short term and long term energy deprivation. The long term is you gotta get diced, can’t change that, or you don’t do well on stage.
We can change the acute energy deprivation. The original kind of approach were these eight to 12 week diets, and this went back to an era in body building where steroid cycles were actually still cycles. If you looked at the drug using side of the sport, people would often sometimes not take antibiotics at all in the off season and then take them.
For prep and then, over time and over time on the enhanced side of the sport, it’s gone from, okay, I do some cycles in the off season and then I do a different cycle during contest prep to now like it’s blasting cruise. Like I’m always on some low level because if I want to be five, 10 and 250 pounds on stage, I have to pretty much always be on super physiological levels of hormones.
The eight to 12 week contest prep is a side effect of the length of some of these steroid cycles, and it doesn’t have a whole lot of relevance for a natural bodybuilder. In fact, I would say it is counterproductive. It’s really difficult to get from the kind of quote unquote normal levels of leanness to the extreme levels of leanness needed to be competitive in eight to 12 weeks, and the only way to do it is to crash.
And that accelerates rates of muscle loss, and it accelerates all these adaptations and it puts you below those thresholds where you start to see disproportionate negative side effects of low energy availability almost right out the gates. So a better approach is to probably take almost twice as long, if not longer, and do things straight up.
First thing is just don’t lose body fat as. Cause it doesn’t require as much of energy deficit, so don’t do too much cardio. So I, a reasonable rate of weight loss is probably between 0.5 to 1% of your body weight per week. And I would probably only be closer to that 1% earlier on in the diet when you have more body fat to lose.
Logistically what I would recommend is instead of picking a very specific show, I would take a handful of shows that are all maybe no earlier than five months from when you start. And then, Be open to having an open-ended contest prep. So if there are enough shows in your region or within distance that you’re willing to go to have some backup options so that if you do find you’re just not getting lean on time, you don’t have to crash diet and then and disproportionately induce those symptoms, but rather just extend your diet a little longer.
First, we need to get to, okay, we know the ETI ideology of why we experience these shitty things, and it’s really important to know they’re normal and they’re temporary. Almost all of the data we have. Suggests that sure, your testosterone might go to one fifth of what it was as a male, or you might experience the complete loss of menstrual cycles a few weeks or months, depending on your approach into your contest prep.
When we observe people who return to normal eating behavior and they return to similar, Body fat levels to what they were pre-contest diet. All these values return to baseline and that’s been shown in case studies and in some of the group level data we have on physique competitors. And when that does not happen, there seems to be indications of them trying to stay lean post contest or too lean, you could say.
The unfortunate reality is what we’ve seen from studies outside of the physics sector is that for the quote unquote metabolic adaptations to go back to normal. There has to be body weight regain, and this almost surely is related to the fact that adipose tissue secretes leptin. The position you’re in when you are shredded is the exact opposite of what’s useful for growing muscle mass.
So by doing a reverse diet on that most extreme version, or it takes six weeks to get out of a deficit, then you’re hanging around at maintenance and slowly increasing maintenance by walking back some of these adaptations but never going into a surplus. You could spend four months being in a state where, At best, you’re not losing muscle and maybe gaining some fullness and some acute performance, regaining loss muscle, but certainly you’re not growing any new muscle.
The recovery diet and contrast is the goal is not to reverse. The goal is to recover cuz in this sport, body building and in life, we’re trying to get back to an ideal physiological state where we can start making progress. Given what we know, that until you actually regain a reasonable amount of body fat, though the long term energy deprivation needs to go away.
In addition to that short term increase in calories, that means we need to actually get into a surplus. And the normal response, the reason why people rebound, it’s not because they did it wrong during the diet. It’s not because they developed an eating disorder. It’s a totally normal response to Hyperphasia.
So that just means. Basically when you’ve induced an incredible amount of hunger by dieting yourself down to being really shredded, the normal thing to do if you were just to do this in animal, is to therefore increase the amount of food they eat until they get back to a healthy physiological state.
And all of this stuff tilts back towards homeostasis when you start, if you decide to get into physics sport, that you’re doing it as, Hey, this would be cool. This would be fun. I wanna see how far I can take this rather than. Solving something, fixing something, and not being happy with where you are in life.
And seeing body building as a solution. Because as cool as it is, and there may be some positives that come from it, don’t get me wrong, it’ll improve your self efficacy. It’ll improve your ability to manage details, manage stress. If you can make it through a hard spell at work or a difficult, regular life stress period.
While doing prep, A global pandemic maybe Absolutely. Then you’ll be able to handle that stuff even better when you’re not , half starved. So I can definitely say that body building has given me a ton of positives. Don’t get me wrong. I think my effort I can put into my academics, my work, my relationships, my.
Quote unquote growth mindset. The whole philosophy of progressive overload, managing stress, and getting better and moving forward. I learned from the sport of body building and has made me a better human. But I was also fortunate that when I got into body building, I thought this would be cool, not man, I hate what I see in the mirror.
I need to fix that. Cause I think I would have a much more negative experience. And I’ve unfortunately seen and met a lot of people who have. Hey there. If you are hearing this, you are still listening, which is awesome. Thank you. And if you are enjoying this podcast, or if you just like my podcast in general and you are getting at least something out of it, would you mind sharing it with a friend?
Or a loved one or a not so loved one even who might want to learn something new. Word of mouth helps really bigly in growing the show. So if you think of someone who might like this episode or another one, please do tell them about it. That’s it for the highlight reel from my interview with Eric on the art and Science of succeeding in Natural Body Building.
And if you want to listen to the whole episode, it was published in July of 2020, so you can go back and find it. And now for our second course I have how to get back into weightlifting after a break from the gym with the training program. I have good news, and the good news is you don’t lose muscle tissue, actual muscle tissue nearly as quickly as many people think.
Yes, you can look quite a bit smaller after taking an extended break. After taking, shit, you start to notice a reduction in size. If you just take a week off the gym, max two weeks, right? Your arms look a little bit smaller, especially the smaller muscle groups. Pants are a little bit looser. You don’t have as much of a residual pump from your workouts, and many people mistake even that for actual muscle loss.
Actual muscle loss needs to be lean muscle tissue, and that is. Worth highlighting because lean muscle tissue is different. When I’m saying lean muscle tissue, muscle fibers, not necessarily the fluid that is stored in muscles, right? So you have water and you have glycogen. You’re gonna lose a bit of that.
If you’re not training. As time goes on, you’re muscles are gonna shrink. Then because of the lack of the residual pump, and they’re gonna be carrying around less water and less glycogen, your body holds onto muscle. Remarkably well, even if you’re not training and therefore holds on to strength too, because most of your strength comes from your muscle mass.
A bit of it comes from technique and even your mindset, but most of it comes from the muscle that you have. So if you are holding onto most of the muscle you have, you are also holding onto most of the strength potential you have. You could look at it that way, right? Because your skill can degrade and if you.
Squatted barbell squatted in a couple of months, like me or barbell deadlifted, you can assume that even if you haven’t lost any muscle, so let’s say you’ve been doing home workouts and you have retained all of your muscle, and if you’ve been doing regular home workouts that are even remotely challenging, you have almost certainly.
Retained most, if not all of your muscle, but you’re gonna get back in the gym. You’re gonna get under a barbell or over a barbell, and it’s gonna feel heavy if you’re trying to load it with the training weights that you were using before the lockdown. And that is mostly gonna be from skill degradation.
So the bottom line here is if you have not been working out at all, or if your workouts have been very sporadic or not very challenging. Don’t worry, you probably haven’t lost much in the way of muscle and strength and whatever you might have lost is going to come back quickly. If you just follow the rest of the advice I’m gonna give you in this podcast, you might want to just jump back into your old routine, but.
That’s probably a bad idea because unless you’ve been doing it at home, in which case you’re probably not listening to this podcast, your muscles are going to be much more sensitive to the training, and that comes with some pros and cons. So on one hand, you will be able to quickly gain back any muscle and strength that you might have lost, but on the other hand, it means that your muscles are gonna be far more susceptible to muscle damage than they were before the lockdown began.
And you’re gonna get a lot more. From your training form is a bit rusty on the big lifts in particular, and if you were to. Throw the normal weights that you use on the bar and go for it. You might be increasing your risk of injury. And specifically, I have a few guidelines for you to follow in your training.
So let’s start with the first one, and that is to use 50 to 80% of your one rep max for your compound exercises. Now, thanks to a phenomenon known as the repeated bout effect, your muscles become significantly more resistant to damage from strength training after just a. Workouts. That’s how quickly they adapt.
And this is why you got so sore when you started lifting, like when you were brand new but then stopped getting sore, or your soreness levels went way down after just a few weeks of training. Now, here’s something many people don’t know. Though you don’t have to train all that heavy or hard to reap the benefits of the repeated bout effect.
That is you can train with relatively light weights and protect your muscles from damage caused by heavier lifting. I am recommending that you use lighter weights for your first few weeks when you’re back in the gym because it’ll cause very little muscle damage. It’ll cause very little muscle.
Soreness and will greatly reduce the amount of damage and soreness that you’re going to experience when you get back to your heavier weights that you’re used to using. How light should the weights be though during your first week? Back in the gym week one. Use about 50% of your one rep max on your compound exercises.
And then on your isolation exercises, I recommend an intensity of about five reps in reserve. Just r is how I’m gonna refer to that. And in case you’re not familiar with r, what that is it’s simply an indication of how many more reps you could do in a set before your form starts to fall apart.
And then what I want you to do is to increase the load on the compounds, 15 to maybe 20% going into week two. So this would be somewhere around, let’s say you started with 50% of one rep max. Now you’re at about 60% of. One rep max again, working with your pre virus numbers and then bump up your isolation exercises by five pounds where possible and 10 pounds where you can’t go up by five.
So going up by five pounds will probably reduce your RRR by about one, going up by 10 pounds. Should reduce it by about. Two, and then in the following week, on week three, I want you to use about 15% more weight on your compound exercises, so bumping up your compounds, two around 70, maybe 75% of one rep max.
Again, using your pre corona numbers and making the same increase on your isolation exercises going up by just five pounds total. Where possible and where not possible go up by 10 pounds. And if you’re going up by five again, you’ll be eh, around probably three r ar. And if you’re going up by 10, you’re gonna be back to probably about one R ar.
So this should be more or less what you were doing before the virus on your isolation exercises. And then on the fourth and final week for your compound exercises, let’s get you up to 80% of your one rep, max, of your current one rep max. We can just go with current numbers now, because you’re gonna be back in the groove.
Your technique will have come back and a fair amount of your strength will have already come back. And so you can use your training numbers just in the week prior. You can use your 70% of one rep max numbers to now figure out. Where are you at actually with your strength? And let’s put 80% of your current strength on the bar, and let’s train there.
Again, we’ll talk about how many reps to do per set in a minute, and then on your isolation exercises, if you’re not already back to one r, let’s get you back there. So if you’re at three or two is fine, if you’re not back to one or two, let’s get you there. So if you’re still at three or four because you’ve gained back a fair amount of muscle and strength already, then let’s bump that.
Okay, let’s talk sets and reps per workout. What I want you to do is one to three sets for compound exercises and two to three sets for isolation exercises per workout, and that’s it. These are not gonna be very difficult workouts because how much. Work you do. How many hard sets you do in a workout is also going to heavily impact how much muscle damage and soreness your workouts produce.
And like intensity, you don’t need to do very much volume to reintroduce your body your muscles to weightlifting and to help protect them from damage and soreness that will come from the more intense training. Right around the corner. Moreover, doing relatively short, low volume workouts is also a great way to get back into the groove with your technique because when you’re only doing a handful of sets, you really never get too fatigued and you’re able to pay attention to your form, especially with the loads being lower, and you will be able to quickly sharpen your technique and.
Get back to doing quality training, quality reps. So what’s our plan? Our plan is week one, just do one set per compound exercise and just two sets per isolation, exercise per workout. So you’re doing your same workouts that you’re doing before, but just much easier versions week two Now. Two sets per compound with a bit more weight like we discussed earlier.
And then three sets per isolation exercise again with a bit more weight like we discussed earlier. And then on the third and fourth weeks, I want you to do three sets for all compound and all isolation exercises again, with the weights going up. Okay. How about reps per set? What I want you to do is, Two to five reps percent on your compound exercises.
And so again, this is gonna feel very easy. We’re talking about 40, maybe 50% of your own rep max for two to five reps. But it’s important that you just follow my advice. Don’t overdo it. So figure out what weight you can use on your isolation exercises that allows you to get 12 reps. With five still in reserve.
And again, that might take a little bit of trial and error, but you should be able to figure it out. Just looking back at your previous training, and especially if you’ve been keeping up any sort of home workout routine and seeing what you were using previously, assume that you were ending most hard sets with one or two reps still in the tank, and then adjusting according.
All right. One other tip here in laying out your training, and that is to squat and bench twice per week, even if you don’t normally do that. And deadlift and military press just once per week. And the reason for this is just to get back. Technique frequency is very good for that. Frequency doesn’t much impact muscle gain per se.
It’s more just a way to get in enough volume. But when we have allowed our skill to degrade, Something, whether it is swinging a golf club or swimming technique or squatting, frequent practice is better than infrequent practice for getting our skills back to where they were. All right. That’s it for the featured moments from How to Get Back into Weightlifting after a break from the gym.
And if you want to listen to that episode, it was published in June of 2020, so you can go check it out. And now we have my five best tips for increasing Productivity. Have you ever struggled with the idea that no matter how busy you might be, you’re just not getting enough done? That too many minutes of your days are being squandered on unproductive activities that you’re gonna eventually just wind up flattened under the.
Tonnage of all the work that you have or that you want to do? If you are nodding your head, you are definitely not alone. I have been there myself, and in fact, research conducted by Microsoft found that while people worked about 45 hours per week on average, 17 of those hours were spent unproductively, 17 hours per week.
That’s a tremendous amount of time. If you look at it, if you expand it, that’s 68 hours per month. That’s 884 hours per year. 36 full days of wasted time per year. Imagine what you could do with those wasted hours. If you do these five things today, you’re gonna see immediate results. And if you make them habits, then you might be surprised at just how much more you can get done every week.
So here’s the first one. Stop checking your email so much. I basically try to spend as much time. In my email as possible. Said, no productive person ever. I’ve known and I’ve spoken with quite a few scar productive people, and one for one, they talk about doing email like they were performing surgery.
You wash up, you dawn your scrubs, you put your game face on, you cut, probe, mend, and you get out, on the other. Many horribly unproductive people are hopelessly addicted to email. I swear they would mainline it if they could, and research facts this up, actually, studies show that knowledge workers spend upward of 28% of their time every day just waiting through their inboxes.
And the problem here is that email is a diabol. Time waster. It’s the easiest way to feel productive without actually doing anything. All that important. Instead of starting your day with email, start it with laying out and reviewing what you need to get done for the day and dedicate your first block of work time to those tasks, to the things that are most important, that are most aligned with your greater goals and purposes for the activity that you are engaged in.
Okay, so the next tip here is to eliminate all distractions. Too many people out there, they’re. Full on victims of our modern dopamine on demand culture. Who has time for deep thought or deep work? When the penny arcade of the internet Beck ins with its cleaning bells and strobing lights and greasy food, I guarantee you that if you can’t learn to work undistracted, you are never.
Going to be good at getting things done, and I might even go as far as saying that you are never going to be really good at anything because it takes tremendous amounts of focus, concentration, and work to develop extraordinary abilities. Furthermore, research shows that distractions make you dumber and more error prone and that they cause you to waste a significant amount of time.
Simply refocusing on the tasks at hand. Banish any digital distractions. Put your phone on silent. Put on noise canceling headphones, shut your door so people know not to bother you, and so forth. All right, moving along. Here is the next tip, and it is create a personal routine. I don’t really know how I get everything done and how I get fit in all my workouts and get my meal prep.
I don’t know. I just, I guess things just happen. I just hope for the. Said, no productive person ever. I think too many people, they really just ask too much of their willpower and their self discipline because they don’t realize that it’s in pretty limited supply. Yes, you can improve it, as I spoke about last week, but many people are starting with rather shallow reserves and the most productive people that I know.
They all. The same thing as far as willpower goes. They save it for the most demanding and creative parts of their work and lives, and they just automate the rest. A simple place to start in building an effective personal routine is reviewing all the activities that you engage in regularly and then applying the 80 20 rule, the burrito principle.
I’m sure you’ve heard of that. If you haven’t. It’s very simple. It is the scientifically validated observation. That 20% of the input is responsible for 80% of the output. So 80% of the consequences stem from 20% of the causes. You’re gonna find that a lot of what you do doesn’t really move the needle, and in many cases may actually be sabotaging you.
So the idea, of course, is to remove as much of the ladder as you can to make more time for the former. All right, so the last tip here is to manage your mood. I don’t need to cite scientific research to tell you that you just work better when you are calm and happy. We’ve all experienced that. And on the flip side, we also tend to work like crap if we feel like crap.
And that’s why many productivity systems, I think they really miss the boat when they focus too much on managing your time. And not managing your energy and mood. Here’s how Sean Aker puts it in his book, The Happiness Advantage, which I do recommend if you haven’t read it. Doctors that are put in a positive mood before making a diagnosis show almost three times more intelligence and creativity than doctors in a neutral state, and they make accurate diagnosises.
19% faster Optimistic sales people outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56%. Students prime to feel happy before taking math achievement. Far outperform their neutral peers. It turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best, not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive.
So if you manage your mood as carefully as your work, you’re not only gonna get more done in less time, you’re going to feel better as well. And particularly important is your mood at the beginning of the day, because research shows that this has a market effect on both the quantity and quality of your.
Throughout the rest of the day. So starting off on the right foot is very important it turns out. So last here, I wanna share 10 simple and scientifically proven ways to improve your mood. So one, you can jot down a few good things that have happened to you every day. Two, you can make time to do things that you’re uniquely good at.
Three. You can show gratitude for the nice people and the good things in your life. Four, you can spend time with people you like. Five. You can stop obsessing over making more money. Realize that this is not going to make you as happy as you think. The great western disease of I’ll be happy when I have the house or the car or the boat is a trap.
Six. Stop obsessing over yourself and your goals and help someone else with theirs. I hope you liked the snippets from my five Best Tips for Increasing Productivity, and if you want to listen to that episode, you can find it in August of 2017. I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show.
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