C-Suite Network™

Are You Working on Survival Mode?

Most of the time, when I ask someone why they don’t drink enough water every day, the answer is… because I don’t have time to go to the bathroom. Wait… you are thirsty and you know you are getting dehydrated, but you still don’t drink any water?

What is the problem here?

The problem is not the water, the water is just the symptom. The problem is time. Our relationship with time is… complicated. In our busy modern lives, time is the new currency and we cut corners to save time. We multi-task and juggle as much as possible on our to-do list and we try to do it in less time, but I think you and I can agree, it is not working. We don’t get more done it just feels that way. And we are more busy than ever and when we look back on the day, we might wonder, where did the time go and how much progress did we make?

What does water have to do with it?

A lot actually. Because when we are dehydrated we don’t think as well; we lose focus and attention faster, we get more easily overwhelmed and we might even find ourselves more confused. You might also be more irritable and impatient. Yup… Next time you are in a meeting with an impatient, slightly passive aggressive person, pass them a glass of water and see if it helps.

When we are running low on water, our most basic and essential inner fuel, our bodies think we are under survival stress. Your body does not know that there is water in the faucet just around the corner from your office, your body thinks you are in the middle of nowhere and you have not yet found water, so it will try to preserve its energy and keep you from using it, by slowing things down until you find a waterhole again. Because why else would you starve yourself from what keeps you going right…?

When you are on survival-mode, your hormones run the show. Actually, your hormones always run the show, but when you are smart about your fuel, essentially you are the master of your hormones. When you are on survival mode your hormones take over, because their job is to save you from extinction. At the office that means your hormones are trying to save you from yourself. Or rather from your work which is keeping you from pausing for things like water and toilet-breaks. So in a round-about-way you are just working against yourself.

The time you spend, is time saved.

When it comes to self-care, and probably many other things in life, we save time at the end, when we spend some time up front. With self-care it works this way: the more you take care of your essential foundational needs for water, food and sleep, the more you optimize your human performance. It is really pretty simple, so simple that we don’t do it.

And yes, being dehydrated is not going to save you time, it makes you spend more time getting things done, because you are not focused. More time solving issues in meetings, because you are overwhelmed and cannot think straight. And simply being in-effective because you have to comeback to the same task over and over, because you lose your attention. Survival-mode will do that to you. And maybe all you needed was some water through out the day and a couple of 10 min. toilet-break here and there, and you could have saved yourself hours of being unproductive, unfocused, and unhinged. So instead, go drink some water and see how it makes you feel. You might just realize it is the quick-fix to unstressing, getting more work done, and the foundation for you performing at your best. As a CEO told me the other day, “I was having a hard time focusing and I felt tired before my meeting, then I drank a whole bottle of water and I felt fine again, I was ready for my meeting right away.”

Now go drink some water! And take a pause to enjoy it as well.

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