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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Here’s how to maintain your ‘peak performance mode’ all week

No matter what kind of day or week you’re having, there are some simple ways to keep your energy and performance high at work.

Here’s how to maintain your ‘peak performance mode’ all week
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

Everyone has dips in their energy and productivity. However, when you’re trying to lead a business, it’s tough to lose valuable work time to a slump in motivation.

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The key to maintaining high energy levels and positivity at work isn’t resolving to “power through” the slump and burn yourself out; rather, it’s about integrating small, simple habits that may help reduce the likelihood of that slump in the first place.

To help you stay in optimal performance mode, a panel of Fast Company Executive Board members would like to share how they manage to keep themselves at their peak, regardless of what’s happening throughout the week.

1. MAKE TIME FOR YOUR PERSONAL LIFE.

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Lifestyle balance is critical for maintaining a sustainable, creative, clear-minded energy level. Make time for activities that you enjoy, such as family, hobbies, community building, and volunteering. Regular exercise, meditation, and being in nature are helpful for most people in both the short-term and long term. Invest in your own well-being, especially when stressors are pulling you elsewhere. – Charlie Bresler, The Life You Can Save

2. PRACTICE GRATITUDE.

Practicing gratitude means feeling grateful that “I get to do this” instead of feeling stressed that “I have to do this.” Mindfulness is a great way of managing energy (especially emotional energy). It gives you the self-awareness to know when it’s really time to step away and recharge instead of reaching deep to find the reserves of joy and meaning in your work.  – Padmini Sharma, Jester&Genius

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3. FIND BALANCE.

Balance is key but not the equal pie chart of balance, home, work, exercise, spirituality, or more. I prefer to think of the art of stone stacking or balancing like finding the right number of contact points and complementary surfaces for odd-shaped rocks to balance on each other. Find ways to make the different aspects of your busy day “fit” into each other. Where can your life align? – Viveka Von Rosen, Vengreso

4. MASTER TIME MANAGEMENT.

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Effective time management is key. I set realistic goals for what I need to accomplish each day and prioritize my tasks based on their levels of urgency and importance. I also make sure to block off time specifically for breaks. I find that this helps me maintain consistent levels of productivity and reduces unnecessary stress. – John Hall, Calendar

5. INTEGRATE PLAY AND CARDIO.

Integrate play and cardio into your everyday. Small rewards can bring a positive push that you need. For example, find time to get outside and play Pokemon Go!, push your personal best with running challenges around your local neighborhood and take some time for gaming fun by launching into your favorite retro console or VR immersive game to power up your play and give you a creative energy boost. – Val Vacante, Merkle, a dentsu company

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6. CREATE SOME ‘ME’ TIME.

Get out of the office. Block time out of your diary for “me time.” That means no calls, no meetings, no interruptions, and no exceptions. Go outside and exercise for an hour, whatever works for you. I think this is more important than ever right now with hybrid or full-time remote work, an always-on culture where there is the temptation for days to never end. Switch off. – Eric Schurke, Moneypenny

7. PRIORITIZE VALUE OVER PRODUCTIVITY.

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Focus on value versus productivity. You might be getting a lot of things processed in a day but much of it could be on low-value activities. Typically, it’s just a small subset of what you do (the vital few) that creates real value for you and your company. Always know what your “vital few” are and be relentlessly focused on them. Say no to what doesn’t matter to be able to say yes to what does! – Marc Inzelstein, Indiggo – Return on Leadership

8. DO LESS.

I find I’m most productive when I make a conscious effort to do less. It may seem counterintuitive, but you need a good amount of sleep, exercise, and mental rest to operate efficiently at work. Trying to simply fit more work into your day in order to get more done will usually backfire as you’ll be less productive, more stressed, and distracted. – Kevin Namaky, Gurulocity Brand Management Institute

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9. EXPECT NOTHING AND APPRECIATE EVERYTHING.

Show some gratitude. Expect nothing appreciate everything. Most unhappiness comes from the change between what we think we are entitled to and our actual reality. Barring personal tragedies, realizing your reality is actually amazing helps put everything in context and uplifts body and soul. – Esther Kestenbaum Prozan, Flowspace, Inc.

10. DON’T DWELL.

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Although I’ve had my fair share of bad days as a founder, I try not to get bogged down and dwell if a project or campaign fails. I assess why the failure happened, develop a new strategy, implement it, and plan my path forward.  – Kristin Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

11. CREATE REALISTIC TO-DO LISTS. 

An endless list of to-dos can lead to feelings of anxiety and unease. To keep these feelings in check and stay productive, I start each day by creating a manageable to-do list incorporating a mix of high-to-low priority items. Crossing them off one by one helps manage my workflow and feeling of accomplishment, which in turn helps me keep happily productive throughout the day and week. – Annette Sally, Blue Sky Agency

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12. RELEASE AND RECOVER.

Building on Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s incredible work on flow, I consciously practice running through a five-stage cycle of flow that involves preparation, purposeful struggle, release, flow, and recovery. If you want to get into a flow, to experience peak performance, it is important to remember that you can’t be in this state all the time. Release and recovery are also essential to this cycle. – Camille Preston, AIM Leadership, LLC

13. WARM-UP FOR THE DAY.

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My days start at the gym early in the morning. This is where I go to spend time warming up and getting ready for the day. I get to be in a relaxed environment among friends. After the gym, my day is newly energized and I am ready to take on whatever comes my way. – Martin Rowinski, Boardsi

14. COMMIT TO A ROUTINE.

Quite simply by establishing a routine and committing to attending to one’s mental health. You’re not going to be any good to others if you’re not at your best. To be at your best, you need to recognize and feed the machinery that makes you tick. For me, that involves daily exercise, mediation, and at least one hour of commitment to self-growth. Win the first hour and you’ll likely win the day. – Richard RB Botto, Stage 32

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15. REDUCE CONTEXT SWITCHING.

I used to take pride in how many meetings, activities, and projects I could take on in a single day. Now, less is more. I accept fewer internal meetings, designate more deep work or focus time, and allow myself to be less “scheduled” so I can catch my breath and feel a sense of spaciousness amidst it all.  – Michael Margolis, Storied

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