How Is That Pain In The Neck Affecting Your Productivity?


The pain in my hip and lower back was severe. After sitting in a plane seat for a few hours I could hardly get up to walk through the airport. As the pain subsided I rationalized that I must have "pulled something" and chose to try and resume business as usual. Then, when I least expected it, the pain would return. "I've just got too much to do to let this slow me down," I thought. I resisted for a couple of weeks until I just couldn't take it anymore.

Turns out, I had a simple case of bursitis in my hip, brought on by a quick increase in the miles I was running each morning. A few days of heat, stretching, and ice on my hip after exercising and I am so much better. The 10-15 minute process has given me such a boost in productivity, especially since I know the cause of my pain, even if it doesn't completely remove it.

The whole process reminded me (in a painful way) of how important it is to be at your physical best to get your work done. Any ache or discomfort can rob us of our productivity, and like my bursitis, the solutions often just require us to take some simple actions to reduce or remove the pain. Here's why I think it's critical to deal with these issues as soon as possible:

They minimize your ability to really focus.
I recall trying to write a blog or prepare a presentation, and I would shift in my chair, only to have a searing pain jolt me out of my deep thinking. Then came the thoughts of "I wonder what's causing this?" which took me further and further away from the task in front of me. I look back and see so much time I spent mentally pondering the possibilities, when I could have visited the doctor sooner (or at least done some research) to identify and address the problem.

They reduce your choices.
When I think "productivity" I think more than about work. I want to be productive in growing my relationships and my personal well-being. One of the recent fun activities with my daughter has been batting practice. We attended an Atlanta Braves baseball game in May, and she is hooked on the sport. We get out in the back yard, armed with a bat and lots of plastic practice baseballs, and have such a great time. The pain in my hip limited my opportunities to spend time doing something with my daughter we both love. That really hurt!

It becomes the filter by which you determine your actions.
The tipping point for me was when I recognized that I was beginning to use my hip pain (and trying to prevent it) as the guide for how I would structure my day. I know as I age there are things I won't be able to do, but if it's within my ability to reduce the limits placed on me, I want to take action as quickly as possible.

What physical pain, ache, or ailment is negatively affecting your productivity? And most importantly, are you willing to take action so you can get back to your best self?

For more on this topic:
Balance, Blend, or Blur: Keep Your Eyes On The Big 3
These Six Things Are Likely Holding You Back At Work