We talk so much about productivity, performance and working with focus, attention, and energy, we often forget the other side of this coin: rest and recovery of these same energies.

Without the merit of the question of who is right or who is wrong (or how much the internet speech revolves around one side or another of this coin), the central truth is that well-lived life needs to be nurtured by a varied set and well mixed with opposing forces.

Vitality, on the one hand, and emptiness on the other.

This article will address this second type of force and I need to say that the motivation to write about it is totally and entirely personal. Because I myself have been through a period of tiredness, overload, and even mild stress, and also because I see many people around me go through the same type of thing.

I’m not interested in this article discussing the details or explaining the most common causes that make people feel stressed. I’m interested in practical solutions to this.

After thinking a lot and analyzing what I advise myself and to my friends (who comes to me often with the “I cannot take this stress” speech), I found it fair to speak of the six basic and main attitudes which, if kept in your lifestyle, will help you.

After all, your energy is your most precious asset. And while it’s really cool to talk about productivity and organization (such as ways to save time, money, and do more), the truth is that none of this succeeds if you’re exhausted and deep in the well.

Your life is not balanced: it is mixed

We need to change the focus of our words because, as you know, the way we talk about things and the ways we verbalize our thoughts shape and affect (and much) the way we deal with those same things.

Trying to strike a balance, as many texts, videos, and people suggest, is to admit beforehand that all parts of your life need to be compensated with something else. And that is not always the case.

Sometimes you want to dedicate yourself fully to work. And? Sometimes you need it, too.

It is not always a matter of choice. None of this means, be aware, that you cannot strive to have a varied and creative life, made up of many different types of projects. Of course, you can.

But again, I bring the reality card to the table and I remind you that not always your daily life will be absolutely ideal, utopian and perfect. In a few days, you will need to work harder, put out fires and respond to the demands of others.

On other days, you will need to take care of a friend, spend more time with your mother, father, son or daughter and make time in your schedule to take care of a health emergency that has come up with someone.

On certain days, though, you’ll just lie idly or drop on the couch, watching TV and staring at the ceiling – and everything is fine.

Life is not a mathematical equation that needs to have a certain, round, and constant result.

Life is the sum of many parts. An eternal roller coaster and an eternal symbol of yin-yang: with moments of work within your personal life and moments of leisure within your work.

What are your priorities?

A problem as old as the sun is that many people are still trying to do everything. Crazy, right?

But when you sit down to plan your day or your week, more often than you would intuit, you overestimate the number of things you can do at the same time. I’m going to take care of my kids perfectly well, play a lot with them, teach a lot of cool things, go to the gym four or five times a week.

I’ll make time to date, have sex, and hang out with friends every time I want, and I’m still going to take 10 on all college subjects, get that job promotion, and sleep 8 hours a night every day.

In what world is it possible to have a perfect life? Certainly not here, folks.

We need to have clear priorities and build a picture, as detailed as possible, of what is the next level of progress that we want to have this year, this month or this week. What part of your life, however small, can you improve today?

What kind of breakthrough do you want to do this month? And this year? Deciding what your current priorities are is essential to actually progressing and eventually building a wave of achievements that will result in a steadily better life.

Until the day is over, you need to do at least one thing, however small, related to each of your top priorities. What are the really important and relevant parts of your life right now?

Leaving medium-term planning aside, focusing on how you live your days is a terribly simple and deeply transformative exercise that can, on its own, help you understand what kind of mix and composition you want and/or need to have in your life now.

This can change in a month or a day. Catastrophes happen, political events happen, good surprises also happen. Life is cyclical and part of your job is to always be on your toes to change the course of your actions when some event, internal or external, moves you.

Take care of your sleep, your food and move

We sometimes forget, in the midst of the mad rush and the impossible goals of everyday life, which is really important. If this is your case (as it may be mine too, do not deny it or deny it), consider this phrase as a vital reminder: The most important thing in your life is doing the things that keep you alive.

The first thing that flies through the window, in times of effort, sacrifice, and crisis, is usually food – or sleep. Or, then, the exercises. And maybe even, who knows, the three of them together.

For now, it’s no time to give you any practical hints as to how you can facilitate these three essential processes – this is a subject for another article. I just want to emphasize the obvious: without food, without sleep and without the minimum of physical activity, your body can not self-regulate as well.

By saying the same thing in other words, you cannot guarantee the minimum health necessary for your body to take care of you in the exalted way with which it is able to care. The main (and only) person responsible for spreading your life is you. Do not put this expectation on anyone. You simply cannot function well for long if one of these three Basic Pillars of Health is ignored.

Automate irrelevant decisions

Far from me wanting you to become a machine or a robot without feelings, you know. The footprint of this tip is not to strip your free will of your day to day, quite the opposite: the purpose is to strengthen the points that drain your energy.

We must learn to decide our decisions. That is: not to go back, not to doubt and not to rethink the things that we have already evaluated that are good for us. Mainly because, as you know, our brain (the most primitive part of it) loves to spare us the discomfort.

We are made to avoid all that can bring about our death – physical or metaphorical.

On one side of the coin, this is a boring problem. Many good decisions, about good and healthy habits of people to have, end up going through the Doubt Trail because, unconsciously and irrationally, our brain wants to save us from that unknown danger. Changing behavior, even eradicating some of our shortcomings, however good it may be in theory, is extremely uncomfortable.

It is in the midst of this collapse that the famous fatigue of decision arises.

Once you know the three little healthy habits you want to implement, decide not to go back on that decision. I know this is easier said than done, but it’s worth insisting. Take these small lifestyle changes as irreversible and unbreakable.

  1. Focus on what’s really important

At the end of the day, do you feel that you have dedicated yourself to the handful of tasks (creative, sensitive, delicate and complex) that really are part of your work or your studies? Or was your attention consumed with social, bureaucratic, and “distracting” things that only made you busy?

This tip sounds silly and, to a certain point, pretty obvious, but you have a hard time making time to focus on what really matters. Getting busy with irrelevant things is always easier.

Do you really need to be more productive? Or do you just need to channel your energy well?

This is the central question that guides all this text and, in particular, this tip.

Everyone knows about you and I’m not here to tell you the important tasks of your day. The perfectionists on duty always end up finding safe and warm hiding places that save them from facing the lid. There are many forms of procrastination, but I am an expert in that and that is why it always comes to mind first.

We complain so much of the outside distractions – but do we do what to put our attention on the really valuable things? You know it’s okay to leave to answer a few emails after lunch. You know that if you turn off WhatsApp notifications and look at it only half a dozen times a day nothing bad will happen (depending on what your work is, of course).

But looking at the social networks every five minutes and not being able to leave the cell phone away are two examples of small, no important or relevant tasks that we love doing.

Because it’s easier. It is less risky, less laborious, and more secure.

Start your day with a few shitty tasks as possible and put your initial energy into things that really have to do with your year goals and your life goals. Leave the rest for later.

Stop working at the same time

Workaholics on call, unite. Let’s embrace virtually and create a thoughtform of people who know they should be taking care of themselves more than their work. Without entering into the merits of this discussion, the fact is that one must unite productive work with uncommitted leisure. Overwork is one of the safest ways you cannot work later.

I do not know you (because this varies according to the person and the biotype of each one), but if I strive to work at night (when I am, naturally, tired and without much focus) I get a Following. We do not always have that room for maneuver, of course, but for people who are self-employed or who have more flexibility at work, a hint of gold: save yourself.

Do not be the person to demand so much of yourself that you end up incapable of doing your job the next day. If there is no real urgency or no crazy time to fulfill, rest. You’re free.

The best tip I can give you is this: create a fixed schedule to stop working every day and faithfully do it.

This is super easy for some people (those who spontaneously know how to put it first), impossible for others (those who must obey third-party rules) and the path of light and salvation for a third group of people: those who are responsible for their own illnesses, for their own stress and need to remember that work is not everything in this life.

  1. Know how to say “no” when necessary

Knowing how to say “no” is essential – both for others and for ourselves. Saying “no” to yourself includes, for example, knowing how to deny easy, safe, and concealing tasks when you are afraid to do the really important tasks.

Saying “no” to others includes obviously knowing how to deny the opportunities you really do not want to take advantage of. Or those that, according to this theory that I love, would receive a grade 7.

I read a story in the book. If I’m not mistaken, and she tells us this: A CEO of a company was training their employees to hire new people to join their teams.

During the training, he instructed everyone to evaluate the candidates according to some tests and the only rule they had to follow at the time of the final evaluation was this: no candidate could receive the grade 7. It could be 0, 5, 6, or up to 8 – minus 7. The moral of this story is quite simple.

7 is the minimum enough to pass in school. It’s the thing that does not stink and does not smell.

It does not irritate you, but it does not appeal to you. It does not harm you, but it is not the seventh wonder of the world.

When you are tempted to accept something that in your head would receive a grade 7 (something good enough, not bad and not great, just more or less), ask the following question: what could I do to make this chance to win an 8 or a 9? Is there anything within my reach (AT YOUR REACH) that would make this opportunity a great addition to my life?

Think about it, analyze the possibilities and decide what is best for you.

After all, do not be afraid to say no to the shit you do not want. This will open space (in your agenda, in your heart and in your spirit) for you to attract and really bear the consequences of going after what makes you really jump energy. These are valuable experiences.

Do not be afraid to take a vacation

A logical unfolding of the penultimate tip and that serves the same kind of people: those who think that some horrible black hole will come up under their feet and that all possible world catastrophes will happen at the same time if they move away from their jobs.

One truth: do not go. Keep cool.

Try to think of your vacations as follows: a small window of time for you to recalibrate your creativity, your philosophical idleness and your divine right to do no blunders. Not everything needs to be productive in this life. Not everything needs to have a purpose and we do not always have to “make something” out of the things that we do.

Sometimes, we just have to be. Release yourself to live the present moment and don’t think much of whatever comes later.

Take seven to ten days off every three months or so. Of course, this is especially useful for those who are autonomous, entrepreneurs or freelancers, but it would be really cool if everyone could come to terms with their bosses and put some version of that idea into their work practice. You do not need to take 30 days off. You do not have to travel or spend money if you do not want to.

You just have to allow yourself to live something beyond your work a few times a year. This is very refreshing, man. This is what will give you rest (for you to have the strength to fight your battles) and what will give you even more energy and creativity to continue reinventing your work and yourself.