During my bachelor degree in Denmark, I had a Finance professor, who was briefing regularly the same material and exercises to us, but in different ways. By the end of the semester, we had done all the variations in practice, instead of by learning only theories by heart. At the final exam, I thought of what the professor had told us during the last pre-exam session: “If you do not know this by now, you will never ever know it”. Like the classical song by Simply Red.
Isn´t that how efficiency is often created? What it takes in my mind to become better in anything is repetition and practice, trials and experience, learning by doing. That was also my number 1 rule for being efficient in my daily life, at university, in the sport, at work, at my extra-curriculum activities.
In a paradoxical way, I am glad that the August Danish sun has gradually started to rise later than 4.30 AM. I know that it is common for people to have more energy during the long days of summer, and so do I, but with the sunrise coming later in the day, the constant morning feeling that I am late is finally disappearing. Not late for work, hit the road, or go the gym, but rather an inner sense that I am late to start the day; that I am missing out of it. Even when I had to come out of bed as early as 5 AM – the sun is up before me, so apparently I am late. Then come the warm, long sunny evenings after work, which are just irresistible to me. Therefore, you are constantly trying to get things done, be it fitness, book writing, gymnastics, and other projects, but at the same time you get distracted, because you cannot wait to go out and enjoy the fantastic weather after work. As much as I love the sun and the summer, I am also a bit relieved that the autumn is near.
Of course, blaming the weather, and other things we have no control over, is convenient, but it is not the perfect excuse, because with self-discipline and by making compromises I should be able to do anything, anytime. However, I believe having the “right” conditions proves quite important too, when it comes to being efficient (concentrated, creative, inspired, motivated..). Find out when and where you feel most inspired and energized. Could be that your brain works best, when you are in a quite café, at your desk at home, in a library surrounded by books, when playing a favorite songs on Spotify, or while having a hot cup of tea (or a cold beer). With some people, what it takes is having a walk in the park, or sitting next to the sea or in the garden – as long as it is in the midst of nature. Other people concentrate best and are most creative when they work (or workout) in the bright morning, but for others, it is during the darkness of the evening. All in all, it does not matter where or what it is, as long as it inspires you and charges your mind.
With me, it is the early morning workout or gymnastics that boosts my energy. My other “trademark” is the simple act of making a cup of hot coffee. It does not even come down to the caffeine in the drink itself, but is more linked to the ritual of drinking coffee. Regardless of whether it is before hitting the gym, going out for a run, finishing tasks at work, writing, preparing a project, going out with friends, or getting ready for trip, I find comfort in the hot black liquid (with milk). There is something particularly inspirational and cozy about making a cup of coffee that gets me into a creativity mode.
I also try to get the most out of these moments, when I suddenly have (what I believe is) a great idea, or simply feel inspired. That is why I have post-it notes, phone message drafts and papers all over my bag and desk. Lately, I started bringing a small notebook with me whenever I travel or commute, in order to put some structure to all the post-it notes, but also because I know that if I do not write the idea or to-do down right away, my day will get overwhelmed and the idea will be lost under the day´s practicalities.
So, here are the “tools” that help me be efficient and keep good ideas on track – practice, be active, make a cup of coffee, find the right surroundings, and remember to write things down. Not necessarily in this order:) Simple as it is. It makes a difference for sure when thousands of ideas and pieces of information are juggling in our heads. What are yours?