Yesterday I arrived home by 5pm, having finished work for the day. The sun was shining while I chased my 2-year old Anna round the garden for a while, then settling down to dinner with Tan, the girls and a friend. Business is busy, and I was feeling well-rested having slept soundly the previous night. Later I would go for a run. It was a productive day.
But this wasn’t a one-off. I’m in a place where I’m getting a lot done, feeling fresh, and working fewer hours in the day. How did I get here?
For the last nine months I’ve been working on and using a new service called Coachify. We have launched it recently and are seeing extremely encouraging early interest. So if you like this blog, I think you’ll be interested in finding out more.
Anyone who’s known me for a while would be thinking “This doesn’t add up – we’ve always known Nick to be highly efficient and productive!”
That is true – I’ve always been efficient and productive. But too often my strengths tipped over into weaknesses because of a lesson I hadn’t yet learned. When I was 14 years old, my music teacher at school said to me “All work and no play makes Nick a dull boy”. And 15 years later a friend remarked that I don’t burn the candle at both ends, I snap the candle in half and burn it from four ends at once!
It has taken me a long time to fully appreciate the value of renewal and a balanced life.
Back in 2002 I was working far too hard, occasionally putting in 100-hour weeks in my role as an Associate at McKinsey. Don’t get me wrong – McKinsey is a tremendous company and I am delighted to have worked for them. But one memorable Friday afternoon, in sheer exhaustion I put my head on my desk: I literally couldn’t do any more work. My office mate Fabian told me to go home and get some rest. I got home and my mother knew just what I needed: she cooked me a large portion of incredible food (she is Greek – need I say more?). I went back for seconds and thirds, and dessert, then slept for most of the weekend.
What was the lesson I hadn’t learned earlier in my life? While productivity is good, it must not come at the expense of managing your personal energy. More than that, increased productivity requires excellence across multiple intelligences.
I came to realise this fully during an experiment I designed and subjected myself to last summer.
Experimenting on myself
In July 2015, when I was discussing coaching with Lord Wei of Shoreditch, he suggested to me that I should combine coaching and wearables, and choose the name Coachify. That suggestion grew into the business I have recently launched.
Coachify uses wearables to harness your personal data and transform your personal productivity. By combining data and coaching in a unique way, we can help you to improve your performance. It’s always-on, it’s next generation and it offers the complete picture, using a proprietary technology and data analytics platform to provide insight into individual performance, guidance and a bespoke goal orientated plan.
In preparation for launching Coachify, I made myself the first user – how can I credibly offer Coachify to others if I haven’t tried it myself? I tracked my diet, sleep, exercise, email habits, mood, spirituality and mental focus.
We are going to share more about Coachify this month, but until then, here’s a brief summary of the impact of my experiment. Between August 2015 and April 2016:
- My average sleep improved from 7 hours to 8 hours per night
- I upped my vigorous physical exercise from twice per week to 3-4 times per week
- I reduced sugar intake by over 50%
- My time spent intermittently checking emails (as opposed to time spent proactively checking emails and then not looking at them) has reduced by more than 100%
- My BMI has come down from 25.1 to 22.5
- I increased the amount of time spent playing with my children by 20%
- I have maintained and increased my impact at work – revenues are up 45% and profitability 75%.
- I have achieved other work objectives to a greater level – expanding my coaching practice, launching this blog, and keeping involved with the non-profits I’m part of, all while launching Coachify.
On top of all of that, I feel more alert during the working day, and I feel happier and more content with work and life (from an already high base).
I am on a mission to help people enjoy productivity, rightly understood. According to one definition, productivity is output divided by input. So if you increase output for the same input, productivity increases. I like this definition.
At the heart of enjoying productivity is the realisation that inputs and outputs do not relate only to hard efficiency-related elements such as tasks completed or hours committed. Inputs and outputs also relate to softer, intangible elements such as the extent to which what you are doing matters, or the inspiration with which you are approaching a task.
For more on this see my blog post – How an integrated approach helps you transform your personal performance.
Perhaps there were other ways I could have seen the kind of results I have over the past nine months. However, my experience has shown the potential that wearables have to completely reimagine productivity. Wearables have the potential to make the kind of transformation I’ve seen in my own life more possible for more people – that is a huge and exciting opportunity, and I could not be more excited to be at the forefront of that with Coachify.