‘Actually, this seems to be the basic need of the human heart in nearly every great crisis – a good hot cup of coffee.’ Alexander King
Creating legacy and meeting basic needs
The more I systematically explore the circumstances under which I make good progress on my legacy projects, the more I am struck by how important basic physical comforts are: whether I had a good nights’ sleep; how hungry I feel; how cold or hot I feel etc.
Physical comfort is worth the trouble
I wish these things didn’t matter to me at all; worrying about my grumbling stomach feels so trivial while working on a legacy project that I hope will outlast me and inspire others. But there it is: the grumbling stomach does distract me, and I usually work much better if I’ve taken the precaution to feed it before it starts to bother me.
Funnily enough, Gretchen Rubin had similar thoughts about the importance of physical comforts to her Happiness Project. Once again, an interesting way in which working on legacy projects seems so similar to working on your happiness – both are about the balance between short-term concerns (the grumbling stomach) and longer-term considerations (one’s overall feeling of happiness; a remarkable legacy project).
How to take care of your physical needs while creating legacy
So, whether I like it or not, it looks like physical comforts are to be taken extremely seriously when wanting to create legacy.
Here’s a short checklist I’ve put together to help me remember to take care of my physical needs before they start distracting me from my legacy work:
1. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep. No matter how little you feel you’ve achieved in a given day, staying up late to catch up just isn’t worth it in the long run; it will mess up your sleep cycle. (This is the one I’ve got most trouble with, hence it’s Numero Uno.)
2. Eat at regular intervals. It’s better to eat little and often than to realise too late you’re hungry – you’ll be more tempted to reach for junk food, which gives you a burst of energy and then sends you into a downward spiral.
3. Have healthy foods always ready for nibbles. Related to 2., eating healthy means you won’t get the up-down effect of junk food on your concentration. I tend to always have things like bananas and various seeds close to where I’m working, so I can reach for them when I need a pick-me-up – they release energy into your body slowly, therefore helping keep your focus on your legacy project at a steady pace. Unhealthy things like chocolate and crisps give you a few minutes of energy (which may in fact make you too hyper to work on your legacy stuff) and then make you feel drowsy when the energy goes away.
4. Drink lots of water. Not only does it keep hunger levels down, but water works wonders for your brain and your entire body. Try to drink at least eight large glasses of water a day, and never leave the house without a water bottle.
5. Go to the loo before starting work. Nothing is more distracting than needing to pee right as you’ve gotten into the flow of your legacy project. Don’t let your bladder ruin your concentration.
6. Use layers of clothing. This means you’ll be able to put layers on/take layers off quickly when you’re too cold/hot, without too much distraction. I also carry extra layers with me in my bag whenever I go to a legacy project HQ outside my flat.
Have I forgotten anything? Let me know and I’ll add it to my checklist.
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