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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Productivity

Here's the Habit You Should Prioritize Over Work if You Want to Be Successful

As a productivity enthusiast, I’ve been searching long and hard for that one activity that, once mastered, would make me better at everything else I do. I went to bed earlier, I downloaded all the apps (plus some), and I even tried journaling.

But alas, no luck—until I stumbled upon this article written by Josh Steimle, a digital marketing CEO who prioritizes exercise above everything, including his own business. So much so, in fact, that he dedicates 10 hours a week to physical workouts, even when he has 50 “urgent” tasks waiting for him at the office.

As someone who’s always placed going to the gym at the bottom of my to-do list totem pole, I didn’t understand how anyone could prioritize some time on the treadmill over completing real tasks that, you know, actually impact other people. (Picture me rolling my eyes when people stroll into work an hour after me, gym bag in hand.)

Steimle, however, proved my mindset wrong (and revealed my workaholic tendencies in the process). Here’s why the CEO would rather reschedule a client meeting than cancel his workout:

If exercise stops, then my health goes downhill. With the loss of physical health my productivity at work goes down. I become depressed. I lose motivation to do the things that makes my business successful. I’ve learned firsthand that excellence in one area of my life promotes excellence in all other areas of my life. Exercise is the easiest area of my life to control. It’s easy to measure. Either I get it in, or I don’t. When I do, it lifts up all other areas of my life, including my business.

Let’s dissect this: First, Steimle draws the connections—connections that so many of us choose to neglect—between physical wellness and our job performance. Second, the entrepreneur shares that control over his exercise has a trickle-down effect. When Steimle completes his workouts, that control carries over to his responsibilities as a business owner, as a husband, as a father, and as a friend. “The trick is to figure out which ordering of priorities provides the maximum overall benefit,” he says.

I gave his strategy a try this summer, and for the past two months, I’ve gone on 30-minute runs and practiced Pilates five times a week. Very quickly, I saw the results. Apart from feeling more energized and focused when I work, knowing that I can accomplish my daily workout goals gives me confidence in achieving all of my other goals—especially the more challenging ones at work.

Even if you haven’t stepped inside a gym in forever, take a leap of faith and see how prioritizing your physical health can transform your performance at work. If someone like me—who, you should know, hasn’t broken a sweat in a full year until two months ago—can do it, you can, too.

Photo of running track courtesy of Shutterstock.