08/19/2013 04:39 pm ET Updated Oct 19, 2013

How to Perform at Your Peak

Are you performing at your peak? This is an important question to ask because a productive career person gets up the ladder fast and finds the most exciting opportunities. And for your own sake, you'd be a lot happier and fulfilled at your job. If you've been spending late hours in the office, waking up every morning feeling exhausted, eating lunches amidst a pile of work, and still need to work overtime every night, then take a pause and ask yourself that question. The answer is clearly a ìNo.î To develop peak performance, there are several areas that need looking into.

You and the Organization

At whichever rung you are in the corporate ladder or the multi-level organization, you play an important role. It is crucial to assert that role. Here are some pointers to perform well and ascend from it in the future:

1) Know your purpose.

It is easy to burrow deep into your work but this is counterproductive. Take a stance away from your job and define your work from that wider perspective. This way you can prioritize which things are important and which are not.

2) Maintain a cheerful disposition at work.

Adopting a cheerful mien towards your job makes you become more proactive and responsible. This positive attitude translates to high standards and accountability, which are highly desirable in the workplace.

3) Invest in your career capital.

Build your skills to make you more efficient and competitive. What skills are required by the organization? Take short courses and update on your competencies. Learn and acquire more tools on stress management, efficient communication and time management.

You and Your Physiology

Multi-tasking, deadlines, and endlessly racing with time ñ these are the work ethos of most organizations. Doing more (quantity) over time has always been the formula for productivity. But is it, really? Studies show that lack of rest and opportunities for a person to restore his energy impairs judgment, diminishes motivation, and compromises quality of work. This presents a completely different view from traditional work models on achieving productivity. At your level, start improving productivity by taking note of the following important points.

1) Get adequate sleep.

According to Your Brain at Work, A person requires from 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Do not work excessively at the expense of sleep; this will only take its toll on your physical and mental health. Inevitably, it will hamper and hurt your performance at work. The negative accumulation of lack of sleep is called sleep debt. This chronic sleep insufficiency has been a major contributor to burn-out among employees.
It is wrong to think of productivity in terms of quantity-time ratio. Recent work models show that optimal productivity relates directly to the level of energy and focus. Sleep plays a significant role in replenishing energy and improving a personís cognitive functions. Hence, a correct dose of sleep tonight is a major contributor to a productive day tomorrow.

2) Take power naps.

Making amends to offset your sleep debt can be done through short naps, or power naps. This will allow the body to pay off. Recovering from sleep debt through power naps will increase energy and mental alertness, and enhance productivity. Even without a sleep debt to pay off, the body naturally takes a dip in the afternoon. For those not restricted with company office rules, this would be the best time to take a nap. Naps, even 40-minute dozes, profoundly affect performance. People working on critical posts that require alertness and vigilance are advised to take these zing naps to ensure optimum performance.

3) Do power breaks.

If you can't take power naps, find ways to do power breaks. A person's sleep occurs in cycles of around 90 minutes. It starts from light sleep progressing to deep sleep in a cycle of approximately 90 minutes; then starts with light sleep and on to deep sleep again. A related study shows that during a person's waking time, the cycle is simulated. The cycle starts out with an alert state that slopes down to a fatigue state in approximately 90 minutes. The downtime should be a signal to take a break. Walk around, relax, doodle, or do something which is not your work. This interruption is a way of renewing. Those who have found the key to power breaks return to another demanding 90-minute work with clearer minds and invigorated spirits.

4) Take your vacations and leave work behind.

You will benefit from longer and more frequent vacations. This will help you achieve peak performance and redound to overall company productivity. More than half of the people taking vacations off their work aren't really vacationing. They bring work with them, send emails and reports to the company, check for mails every hour or so, and keep their mobiles on vibrate mode and themselves are on alert mode at the slightest beep. Career people perform better at meeting work demands and managing stressful situations with regular vacations that renew and restore them physically and mentally.

They are also less likely to look around for other firms. More and more companies have adopted human resource programs that address this particular need. Schedule your vacations and spread them at slightly regular intervals throughout the year. Your body will assume that annual rhythm after you have established the pattern for a while.

5) Eat healthy

Relying on caffeine to rev up your energy just wonít do any good in the long-run. Hydrate properly and eat your Go, Grow and Glow. Wake up early and donít miss out on a full breakfast ñ it is your first energy boost for the day.

Performance has always been equated with time spent on the job. Hence, there are the concepts of man-hours at work and overtime. Veer away from that traditional model and bring renewed energy and motivation to the workplace, instead. Working longer hours doesn't mean performing better. Work with your normal human rhythm of spending energy and renewing energy, and perform at your peak. The key to productivity is to balance renewal of the body and create focus time. To state it another way, when you renew your energy and mental function, renew and restore to the full. So that when you work, you can perform to your peak.