In a comment on my post on strategic refueling, Jeremy made an analogy of timing your physical training to allow peak performance for a specific event. His physical training reference got me thinking about my favorite workout back when my knees still cooperated with my running - fartlek training.
Fartlek - literally "speed play" in Swedish - is basically unstructured interval training, where you mix short bursts of hard running with slow running for recovery. In looking for a description, I found this page, which had this to say:
There is no predetermined schedule to follow, but instead the athlete will set her/his own interval lengths and pace in response to their own feeling of the workload. An advantage of Fartlek is that the athlete can concentrate on feeling the pace and their physical response to it, thereby developing self awareness and pace judgement skills. Also the athlete is free to experiment with pace and endurance, and to experience changes of pace.
The bold highlight is my own addition. That sentence got me thinking about how little we focus on developing self-awareness in terms of our optimum pace and how we work best, and how much our our work (and our lives, for that matter) could benefit if we paid more attention to it.
When you're running and you pay attention to what happens when you push it, ease back, etc., you develop a feel for what works and what doesn't. You get a better feel for how hard or how long you can push it before your performance is adversely affected.
You get to know what that peak performance looks like, and how it feels, and when just enough pushing it becomes too much. You start to develop an intuitive sense of it all.
What if we applied that same idea to our work? What if, rather than a constant headlong rush to push, push, push, we started paying attention to our pace and our performance. When do we shine? When does our performance start to fall off? What effect does slowing down have? What effect does speeding up have? How long can we maintain a high pace before we need to ease off?
The more we pay attention, the more information we have to apply to future performance. We could even take a "training log" approach to it, recording in a journal how hard we feel like we've been working, how we feel about our performance, how much downtime we've been giving ourselves, etc.
Keeping a "training log" for our work would create a history to look back on, spot trends, etc.
Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM