My grandfather had a heart attack when he was in his early 50′s, during the period when he was working on his doctoral thesis. At first, he did what any normal person would do: take care of themselves, wear comfy pajamas, and prod a bit at the thesis without over-doing it from home. He quickly realized that this was not the way to go about things, so he changed his approach to the work he had to get done.
Dress for success
I am not talking about suiting up for job interviews or when you go to networking functions. This is about the work each of us has to do on our terms – writing that next blog post, reading through that 30 page article, editing that large video file.
Like in a previous post in this series (How to Get your Groove On: Work, Jason Fried, and Timothy Ferriss) about how we each have our own environment that we do our best work in (a place, a time, a movement, and an aural environment), we all have our own way of dressing in order to finish a task. We are less aware of how we dress effects our moods.
My grandfather discovered this in a rather unfortunate matter since it took him having a heart attack to be fully aware of it. After he discovered that he was unable to work in pajamas, he started getting up early in the morning to shuttle the kids off to school and allow my grandmother to go to work herself. He showered in the morning and dressed up like he was going to work. After doing a few things around the house, he settled down into his study to begin working on his thesis.
When I first heard the story from my grandmother, I was in University and thinking, “Who in their right mind would get dressed up to stay at home?”
But after spending the past year at home myself taking care of my daughter, I can sympathasize with where he was coming from. It took some time for me to fully discover how I needed to dress or what my routine should be in order to get in the groove.
Pinpointing how we dress in order to get something done may be a bit difficult to narrow down. I’ll use myself as an example:
I was recently hired as a consultant for my previous employer, and I have tried to do work at home on this project, but keep failing. I took a trip out to the local Starbucks, dressed up like I was heading in for work, and had more done in one and a half hours than I had done in several days at home. I could attribute some of it to the coffee shop environment, but not completely. I did have the opportunity to work at home alone with my coffee in hand, music playing, and have a comfortable seat. The last part is what caused me problems.
I was comfortable.
To get work done, there has to be a bit of discomfort; a disconnect from the real you.
The discomfort has you putting in a little more oomph into your work to finish it in a timely manner. When you are completely comfortable, like I was or my grandfather was, you are more apt to taking those extra breaks or delaying things.
Another example, is how I get most my writing online finished. There is a strong contrast to how I get my other work done: I’m in athletic sweats, a tshirt, at home, listening to music in my headphones.
You may be telling yourself, “That sounds pretty comfortable. Where is the discomfort and disconnect?”
I sit on a stool with no back support at my kitchen counter.
This is probably bad for my back in so many ways, but on the other hand, I get my writing done fast. My thoughts are clear, I can focus easily on the task at hand, and I get things finished shortly after the time I had started. Yes, I am online when I do my writing, but I am able to avoid spending time surfing around because I would rather do that in my big, comfortable Lazeboy. When I first started writing, I noticed that the stuff I wrote in my Lazeboy tended to wander around a bit and wasn’t nearly as streamlined as some of my other stuff. That is when I made the shift to the stool and have been more productive ever since.
And let me tell you, I can’t wait to escape this stool and return to my Lazeboy to relax while reading or watching a movie – with perhaps a quick stop in the kitchen since it is staring me in the eye.
How can you discover what you should be wearing to work in?
First, look down at what you are wearing. If you are reading this, you are most likely in an unproductive state of mind. You may be taking a break from something else, but if you are like me, you bunch up all your reading into certain blocks while sitting down somewhere comfortable. Take a note of what you are wearing.
Next time you find yourself working in a dedicated fashion on your next task or project, take a note of what you are wearing, and contrast it to what you were wearing when comfortable.
Are you wearing anything different that is in contrast to the comfortable clothes? Slacks vs jeans, sneakers vs bare foot, tight shirt vs loose, etc. If you are, then you have discovered your ideal dress. If it is the same, then you may be a rare breed, but maybe experiment by changing your clothes and see what happens.
One of the best ways to discover how to get your groove on is to tinker with what you are doing. But that is for another post.
[ Photo credited to Brian J Matis ]