Have you ever stared mindlessly at your computer in Los Angeles, trying in vain to claw your way out of the cavernous pit of the brain-dead world of unproductiveness? Sure, you might creep a few inches upward, determinedly muscling up every tiny bit of craggy incline toward the creative flow you knew only hours ago, but then an errant email notification clocks you on the forehead and you fly back down into the abyss.
Yeeeaaaaahhhhhh. I’ve been there. Pretty much every day around 2 or 3 pm, I’m RIGHT there with you. Afternoons in Los Angeles are tough. The sun is still high, it's warm, and all I want to do is lay by a pool at a Hollywood hotel. (Incidentally, if it makes you feel any better, there is a scientific reason afternoons are tough). Like many achievers, you are likely to get up early and slay the day, but then, in the afternoon, you’re pretty much ready for a siesta (and matching margarita).
Well, I think I may have discovered a great productivity hack for any slump in energy or motivation in Los Angeles. Are you ready for it? It’s water. Not drinking water — immersing yourself in water. And there is a scientific reason why it can change both your physical and mental states, get your creative juices flowing, and maybe even make you a little happier.
If you’re any kind of rational human being, plunging yourself into a bath of freezing water or turning the shower on its coldest setting sounds, well, terrifying. And, to be honest, it is pretty terrible for a few moments. But, it’s worth it in the end.
Rapidly changing your body temperature kicks your parasympathetic nervous system into gear. This is the part of your noggin that activates the fight or flight reaction which, in order to save you from harm, slows down your heart rate to save your energy. It seems counterintuitive to use cold water to calm down, but it works. Even doctors that work in the mental health field are using with some of their patients in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
So, how does this apply to productivity? Well, it turns out, relaxing makes you more creative. The most creative moments in the human brain take place when people and their brains are at rest. That’s why you have your best ideas when you’re walking around Los Angeles or taking a shower — when you’re not actively trying to muscle ideas.
Neuroscientists have found that, when we chill out, our brains are most active. In our relaxed state, our brain can make the connections that wouldn’t otherwise connect. So, a memory that may have once been forgotten could pop up, combine with another piece of information and . . . Voila! A new and exciting idea!
This also doesn’t just apply to ideas. Usually, when we’re most relaxed in Los Angeles, we get the bulk of our work done. Some of us call it our flow state. Others just recognize that they’re more productive at some times and less productive at others. Guess what? This usually has a lot to do with how relaxed your body is at the time you’re doing work.
So, how do you do it? Well, when you’re feeling stuck or “zoned out”, get up from your chair, go to your Los Angeles bathroom or outhouse or whatever, get naked, and immerse as much of your body as you can in very cold water. I’ve found that a cold shower is the fastest. I tie my hair in a bun, turn the shower water on as cold as it possibly can get, and stand in it for at least 30 seconds. If you’re feeling brave, you can do it badass Wim Hof style and hop in an ice bath.
Don’t get me wrong — this pretty much always sucks. But, afterward, I have never not been rejuvenated, awake (obviously), and ready to get back into the productivity game. If you’re at the office or a place where you can’t get naked (unless you’re with a coworker in the broom closet Gray’s Anatomy-style), stick your face under a faucet of running water. Or wet a few paper towels and put them on your face.
This may sound crazy, but I do it because I very much dislike wasting time. Whether I’m being productive by taking a walk around Los Angeles to come up with new ideas or writing a new article, I want to be as conscious as possible in my life. So, give it a try. The next time you are feeling unproductive, change your body temperature, engage your parasympathetic nervous system, and slay the day.