Want to know the real secret to productivity?

A Google search will turn up lots of tips and strategies, but when I’m asked this question by clients, my answer might surprise you – a healthy mind and a healthy body. 

That’s where it all starts.

How can we be expected to work at an optimum level when our mind is pulled this way and that.

We must start by freeing up the mind to be able to focus on the tasks at hand. Distraction is the number one enemy of focus and achievement.

Want to master sales techniques? A new language? Compose a new song? Start by removing all other distractions. 

Easier said than done. In our fast-paced world, we’re always on. Smartphones and Facebook notices are constantly keeping us in touch with the outside world. 

What’s worse is we love it. Every ping and buzz we get gives our minds a boost of dopamine. 

As they say in Spanish, “No es bueno.” 

The only break we get is when we shut down for the day.

That’s why, more and more these days, I find myself encouraging clients and friends alike to take some time to just get away. The further, the better.

My personal favorite escape (and even better when you have young kids) is camping. 

That doesn’t mean you have to rough it, but the goal is to get away and unplug if only for a day or two. It’s amazing just how different you’ll feel after spending some time in nature.

Twice in the past three years, my family and I found ourselves in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere here in Japan with a storm raging outside. We may have been trapped inside our cabin, but we were having a whale of a time playing board games.

It’s true what they say, sometimes the simple things are the best. 

Here are the benefits of the great outdoors and why I think every entrepreneur, executive, high performer, and parent should set aside a few days a year to get away from it all.

– Disconnect (just twenty years ago, we all lived without smartphones)

– Fresh air

– Clean water

– Exercise (a stroll or hike through the woods will do wonders for your mind)

– Communication (nothing like no wifi to improve real communication skills with the family)

– Time slows down

– Contemplation 

– Appreciate just how lucky we all are (modern appliances are a godsend)

– Games (no TV and no wifi means board games or card games are that much more enjoyable)

– Sunrise (want to reset your body clock, no better place than nature)

– Stars (a beautiful night sky is breathtaking, don’t believe me? Go to the Grand Canyon at night)

Today’s world has gotten so high-tech. 

People like to think the solution to all their problems can be found on the net. But I’m here to tell you that there is power in the basics.

Books over iPads. Nature over wifi. Camping over five-star hotels. 

If you want to become a high performer, I say start with unplugging. 

Look no further than places like Joshua Tree in the US, Yakushima in Japan or the Isles of Scilly in England, to free our minds and appreciate just how lucky we all are.