Tom Rath’s 2015 book, Are You Fully Charged? The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life, focuses on three areas that contribute to a daily experience of greater engagement, well-being, and productivity — what Rath calls being “fully charged.” These three areas are:
Meaning: doing something that benefits another person
Interactions: creating for more positive than negative moments
Energy: making choices that improve your mental and physical health
Throughout the numerous short chapters that make up each of these three sections of the book, Rath distills research studies conducted by medical researchers, social scientists, and his team at Gallup into clear, actionable recommendations. Many of these suggest ways to make small changes to produce higher quality moments in your day to day life. Some of these will seem familiar: to sleep more and eat better, to silence distractions, to use a timer for work and to take breaks — but even those suggestions take on new meaning within his energy framework. Rath points out, for instance, that K. Anders Ericsson‘s research into top performers (which initially posited the idea of 10,000 hours of practice popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers) not only suggests the importance of practice in creating expertise, but also the importance of sleep: high performers typically sleep at least 90 minutes more than the average American does per night. Sleeping more not only improves your health, but allows you to create more meaning throughout your work and life.
Other recommendations, or the research behind them, will be new to many readers, such as the value of workplace friendships for both productivity and well being, or the importance of investing in experiences rather than material things for long-term happiness. Rath also stresses the importance of having the majority of your interactions with people be positive — which might mean having a committee or team focus on what is working, before addressing problems, or consciously avoiding conversational sinkholes of gossip, complaint, or one-upmanship.
An appendix of one-line summaries of key points and questions for reflection are especially useful. Some of these questions include:
How could you add one meaningful activity to your daily or weekly routine?
Which external motivators tend to pull you in the wrong direction?
Who energizes your days? How can you spend more time with these people?
How can you make sure that people know you are paying attention to their work and efforts?
Rath’s book is a good resource for both those new to thinking about holistic productivity and well-being and for veteran readers of ProfHacker who want clear concise reminders of research-based strategies for improving your day to day work and life.
What helps you meet your day with energy? Let us know in the comments!
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