Kick up your productivity by getting out of your comfort zone

Take a look at yourself. Is your life the same every single day? If you feel like you’re wasting your energy because you’re unchallenged and uninspired, you’re probably right. There’s a good reason the saying “Grow or die” is a something of a cliché, because it verbalizes a deep-rooted truth about human nature: you need to keep to growing intellectually all the days of your life.

If that sounds good to you, then use these tips to help you get growing.

1. Challenge yourself to learn something new every day. A lack of challenges is a real energy killer. How can you be anything but bored if you don’t learn something new occasionally? Human knowledge is so vast and complex that there’s always something new to be learned, so get to it.

2. Exercise your creativity. There’s a reason a zeal to create is often referred to as “creative energy.” Channeling some of your time into creating something –whether it’s a meal, a watercolor, or a poem — can help you unwind.

3. Make a change in your life. If you feel like your life isn’t going anywhere, try something different to shake you out of your doldrums. Even something as minor as changing your route to and from work can help.

4. Challenge yourself to read more. Reading can be relaxing, but it also engages your intellect and keeps you busy. In our culture, reading is a necessary life skill, and that’s more than most forms of entertainment can say.  

5. Do puzzles to sharpen your mind. A lack of mental stimulation can bore and depress you, which can put your energy level in the basement. Just as reading can kick-start your intellectual energy level, so can puzzles — brain teasers, Sudoku, Kakuro, even a good, hard crossword.

6. Push yourself to grow and learn.  Sometimes we get a little apathetic and jaded, thinking we don’t have much to learn. Instead of giving in to apathy, get a mentor.  Developing new personal relationships is a great way to go to the next level.

7. Get involved in a worthy cause. Contributing to the greater good can make you feel good inside, which is a surefire way to increase your personal energy and kick exhaustion to the curb.

8. Make new friends. If you never stray outside your comfort zone, you’ll get bored with life real fast — and there goes your energy. We humans are social animals; we need to relate with other people on a continual basis. Get to know your neighbors, join a reading circle, or get involved with a hobby club.

Your energy level isn’t entirely dependent on your physical condition, or even your emotional and psychological health. One of the biggest energy stealers is a lack of mental and intellectual stimulation. The same dull environment experienced in the same way every day for months on end, can bore you to tears; instead, make a commitment to challenge yourself every day, and learn continuously.

© 2008 Laura Stack.  Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, author, and professional speaker who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier® with Maximum Results in Minimum Time™. She is the president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., a time management training firm specializing in productivity improvement in high-stress organizations.  Since 1992, Laura has presented keynotes and seminars on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in today’s workplaces.  She is the bestselling author of three works published by Broadway Books: The Exhaustion Cure (2008), Find More Time (2006) and Leave the Office Earlier (2004).  Laura is a spokesperson for Microsoft, 3M, and Day-Timers®, Inc and has been featured on the CBS Early Show, CNN, and the New York Times. Her clients include Cisco Systems, Sunoco, KPMG, Nationwide, and 3M.  To have Laura speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401.  Visit to sign up for her free monthly productivity newsletter.