Peak Productivity, Deep Relaxation, and the Wasteland

One of the benefits of having a lot of successful entrepreneur as friends is learning from their habits. My buddy Max just posted some deep insights that I thought I'd share with all of you as there's a lot of useful thoughts in this as it's super valuable to entrepreneurs in general, especially ones that travel or are location independent like we are. Here's his thoughts on Peak Productivity, Deep Relaxation, and the Wasteland followed by my thoughts and what I personally do.

The following is written by Max, and taken from his friend's only facebook post that I wanted to share with all of you. His words: I want to be either in a Peak Productivity state or in a Deep Relaxation state. In between those 2 states is what I call the Wasteland, where I don't want to be.

Peak Productivity

This is a state where the priority is to achieve efficient and meaningful progress in my business. Meanwhile, I also want to maintain a healthy life balance with health, friendships, dating, etc. To achieve this, an excellent routine and set up is most important. Without that stable and solid foundation, I waste too much energy and focus.

As I am writing this, I am in a Peak Productivity state. I went to bed last night at 8:30PM and woke up at 6AM this morning. After waking up, I have gone through an extensive 2-hour morning routine which involves cardio, learning, skincare, meditation, gratitude, affirmations, etc. I am now sitting in my private office with a standing desk, external monitor, air purifier, AQI meter, mineral water supply, etc. This office is a 2-3 min drive from my condo. I am wearing the same clothes every day. I could go on, but you get the point. Everything is optimized.

This is what I mean by “excellent routine and set up”. This is what allows me to achieve the fastest growth in all areas of my life.

*watch my Time Hacking Like a Boss video below for my thoughts on productivity.

Deep Relaxation

Deep Relaxation is the complete opposite of Peak Productivity. In this mode, I want to be extremely relaxed, not having to work at all or very little. I call this "light work", which is about 1-2 hours every other day. This allows me to fully relax and rejuvenate myself. This is also where I can create rich experiences and memories.

I believe that I can discover more of a country in 2 weeks of "vacation" than in 2 months of "trying to live there". When I have a set amount of time to enjoy myself, that is when I can truly unplug. I don't feel bad about being away from work or splurging on more expensive experiences.

If I try to do this for too long (over 2 weeks), my ambition soon catches up with me. I start to feel like I should be productive again. I also automatically want to set up good routines, like working out, get back into dating, etc.

*also in the above time hacking video, I talk about going from Grind Mode, to Chill Mode, which is my form of deep relaxation.

The Wasteland

In between Peak Productivity and Deep Relaxation is what I call the Wasteland. The Wasteland is where I am not being most productive, but I am also not rejuvenating. For me, this usually happens if I am trying to live in a new country for more than 3 weeks but less than 3 months.

The waste starts in the first 3 weeks, where I waste all this time and energy setting up my lifestyle. (Ex: Finding the best condo, restaurants, gym, coworking, transportation, etc.)
Then, the waste continues for 1-2 months as I am experiencing growing pains that I must work on fixing. (Ex: Need to find better coworking space/condo/gym, get back into dating, build a social circle, etc).

And after 2 months, when it is all said and done, and I am finally reaching a state of Peak Productivity, it's time to leave and start over! That is the final and perhaps biggest waste of it all.

Even worse, in the those 2 months, I might have experienced even less than someone on a 2-week vacation who's doing all the sightseeing, activities, splurging on nice restaurants, going out, etc...

This is what a lot Digital Nomads start to experience after a while, and why I don't like that lifestyle. I have seen people living this lifestyle long-term but even they would agree that it looks better than it really is.

*read my post below on what is a digital nomad really is and moving too often.  

Read this post on what a digital nomad is.

In Practice

I like to spend 8 months per year in a Peak Productivity state. I like to space it out with about 4 months per year of Deep Relaxation state.

It has required me to invest in setting up a home base, which requires commitment. I need to have a yearly lease signed for my condo, proper visa so I can come in-and-out as much as I want, etc.

This might be different for other people, but it works well for me since I am fairly ambitious and like to work.


My 2020 Travel Plans as a Digital Nomad

Johnny's Thoughts

Max is right about having these three stages that most digital nomads move around too often to ever hit a stage of peak productivity. For me, these last two months in Chiang Mai I really hit my stride. I was ultra productive, had an amazing gym routine, diet, and social life. Most people travel so quickly and often that their habits are closer to backpackers than they are to actual location independent entrepreneurs or true digital nomads, but then wonder why they can never get a business off the ground.

The good news is that because I've been to Chiang Mai so many times, it didn't take me 2 months to get into the routine. Within 10 days this time I had a great apartment, gym, workspace, friend circle, dating life, and routine. The downside is that I left too early and would have benefited from staying longer, which is why I plan on staying for longer next year. For me I also get burnt out and bored if I stay in peak productivity for too long. Everyone's different and if you can do it for longer, you'll be better off. But for me, after around 3 months I get bored and antsy to move on. I get lazy in my routine and start just going through the motions instead of getting excited and giving it my all.

Let me know what your thoughts are on being productive, hitting a peak productivity stride, and what tips or tricks you've picked up along the way. While you're at it, watch my video below that I filmed on my birthday recently about what my ideal lifestyle and day would look like.

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD

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  1. Interesting Johny (and Max) I agree that there is an optimum productivity level, and you don't have that in the first few weeks of arriving in a new place. If you don't give yourself the space to not have this productivity your mood and then productivity will even decrease more in my experience. For me the 3 month mark is also pretty good. I get set-up pretty quickly and can focus quick - always travel around with a portable second screen & laptop stands. If less then 3 months is possible in a country, I'd rather just go for a period of max. 1-2 weeks, and just give myself the space to explore and work less. And also, sometimes choosing a place for a few weeks / months where you can truly focus on business is pretty good - and just embrace the focus (and maybe less social times).

    1. Agreed that 3 months it the optimal amount of time to get into a good routine, but still not get bored. =)

  2. Sounds like we're on the same page :) I agree that after a while in peak productivity, I also get a bit restless and bored. Perhaps that's something I did not mention in the write up. But yeah my yearly schedule would probably be ideal with one vacation of 2-3 weeks every quarter, and perhaps one longer trip.

    1. Good to hear we're on the same page, and wise words you shared above. My goal would be to stay in peak productivity longer, or even go on a trip and come back refreshed. But for me right now, going back to the same place after 2-3 weeks off isn't the same as having a complete new city or country as a reset.

      But we'll see how it goes, it's always going to continue to change i'm sure.

  3. This is what allows me to achieve the fastest growth in all areas of my life.


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