When I have too much to do and not enough time to do it over an extended period of time my behaviour starts to shift to ‘less than inspirational!’ If you are a regular human being you’re probably just the same.

At times like this make sure you look after your shed.

That’s not quite as strange as it sounds. Your shed isn’t the jumbled mess at the bottom of your garden, it’s a short list of the most basic things to practise when times are hard so you can be at your best – and inspire the best in others.

S stands for sleep

For goodness’ sake stop thinking you can manage on a few hours sleep a night! Set a reasonable bedtime and stick to it – and don’t expect to sleep well if you keep working or watching TV right up to ‘lights out.’ Allow some downtime beforehand so your mind can slow down before you put your head down. Michael Hyatt has a lot to say about sleep and leadership. He says “We act like sleep is a luxury or an indulgence; as a result, sacrificing sleep in the name of productivity has become routine. But the opposite is true. Cheating our sleep is like maxing our credit cards. There’s a benefit now—at least, it feels like it—but the bill always comes due in the form of decreased health and mental ability. No one would choose to be sick and stupid, but depriving our bodies of sleep is the same thing. Robbing our sleep is robbing our productivity.” Pay attention – and it you are reading this late at night – go to bed!

H stands for hydration

When we are born we are made up of around 90% water – when we get older and eventually die it can be as little as 60%! There’s an important message in there somewhere. Get yourself a 2 litre bottle of water and make it your goal to finish it every day – not only will it help you think more clearly, it will reduce stress and anxiety, improve your mood, strengthen your immune system, help you with that mid-afternoon slump and improve the quality of your sleep. That’s a whole lot of benefits packed into only 2 litres! In fact a study conducted only a few years ago at the University of East London revealed that drinking water can lead to a 14% increase in productivity. That’s a 14% lift just through putting a glass to your mouth and swallowing every 30 minutes. Why wouldn’t you?

E stands for exercise

We all know the stats so let’s just start doing it. Start by parking your car at the furthest point in the car park (pack your umbrella) and walking up the stairs. For the advanced exercisers you could do something amazing, like (wait for it) … take a lunch break and go for a walk. You will feel better, your head will be clearer and your productivity will lift so much that 30 minutes exercise each day won’t actually cost you any time at all. In fact studies into longevity at Tufts University in the US reveal that exercise features strongly in both of the two biggest predictors you can influence to lead a long life – muscle mass and strength. So in truth you don’t have time NOT to exercise. Get out of that seat or you will not only lose through productivity, you’ll end up shaving precious years off your life.

D stands for diet

Tricky one for me as I love my food. Doubly so because we have been renovating our house and have just gone 6 weeks without a kitchen! If you’re anything like me this is also the one that slips first when the pressure’s on or you’re out on the road. But you know, and I know, that getting your 5-a-day, avoiding fast food and making sensible choices is all it takes. After all, we are what we eat.

So the pressure’s on. You have a lot to do. At times like this you simply cannot afford to let these things slip. So let’s keep it simple. If the chips are down and you need to be at your best – make sure you look after your shed!

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Peter Anderton

Author: Peter Anderton

A sought after coach and change agent, Peter has spent many years in Organisational Development, focusing on developing high performance leadership teams, executive coaching, strategy and change. He builds relationships quickly and is as comfortable in the boardroom as he is at ‘grass roots’. Known for his integrity, energy and a real passion for making things happen, he has a uniquely direct yet supportive style that delivers.

Peter is a qualified NLP master practitioner, a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and a Chartered Engineer.