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liveWELL: To be Productive, One Must Pump the Brakes
Iowa Ag Connection - 02/14/2018

David Drake, professor of microbiology in the Iowa Institute for Oral Health Research in the College of Dentistry, has some advice for those seeking to be truly productive: relax.

"Over the years, I have learned a lot about what it truly means to be productive--it is NOT about how many tasks you check off each day," says Drake. "It is about doing work that truly matters and has an impact.

"I have also learned that working 80-plus hours a week is not a badge of honor," he continues. "Being exhausted compromises your health significantly and is not the way to produce your best work. One must rest, relax, and get plenty of sleep."

The value of health became increasingly important to Drake about a year ago, when he was diagnosed as being pre-diabetic. The diagnosis heightened his commitment to lifestyle medicine. He now follows a healthy, low-carbohydrate eating plan for his meals and snacks.

"Being diet-conscious has been of benefit to my wife and friends," Drake says. "We have always strived to eat healthy, but now, with my condition, we are even more careful what we eat for meals."

Drake recommends two books that support the idea that a healthy lifestyle will enhance productivity: Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang and High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard. Drake has also found that exercise contributes significantly to better blood sugar regulation. He now includes a short treadmill session in the morning and more substantial treadmill session in the evening as a part of his daily routine.

Drake will concede that creating new habits can be a challenge. "It is hard at times to get out of bed at 5:30 in the morning during workdays and head for the treadmill first. It takes diligence and commitment to maintain this practice."

The enlistment of an accountability partner significantly helped Drake make lifestyle changes, as these partners can help map out strategies for creating new habits. "I strongly suggest faculty and staff at the university meet with one of our outstanding liveWELL health coaches," Drake says. "They will work with you to create goals and establish new healthy habits."

The methods Drake uses in managing his health and sustaining his productivity continue to take time and energy, but remain a priority.

"The bottom line is we are not robots. We cannot work like a machine," Drake says. "Do you want to be the best and do deep, meaningful work? Take breaks. Work defined hours per day, then go home and rest. Enjoy hobbies, exercise, and deepen relationships. This is what makes a productive and healthy person."

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