Last week I got out of the Big Apple and headed home for some much-needed vacation.

The first thing that always strikes me when I get out of the car is how quiet it is here. Which is a bit surprising, as I am not really bothered by city noise, nor do I even consciously notice it most of the time.

My neighborhood is quiet and my apartment faces a courtyard rather than the (sleepy) street, but even so, it can’t match the farm. Not that it is completely quiet either – there’s usually some wind and often birds and insects, but the difference is noticeable.

It’s like taking a deep breath after a long submersion, even if I am not conscious of the need before it happens.

There are a lot of things that are this way.

I wasn’t particularly bothered by email notifications on my phone or commercial breaks on my music player before I turned them off and decided to pay for the premium, ad-free versions, respectively.

However, once I ditched them, the difference was great.

We’re great at getting used to things, at least in the sense that we can learn to block conscious awareness of things that grate on or tire us out.

However, that doesn’t mean we don’t still suffer from ill-effects.

That’s why it’s important to periodically change your environment and ditch as many external influences as you can for a time.

That allows you to recharge, but also to run diagnostics on your life and figure out what you need to change or eliminate.

Small drains add up quickly, so they should be audited for and dealt with often.

This is particularly important for those of you who are headed to college in the fall. When you get there, a lot will happen all at once.

The stresses will pile on and bad habits will accumulate quickly if you give them any chance.

Get rested up this summer, but try to establish sustainable habits, including sleep, exercise, and self-monitoring.

If you can figure these things out and maintain them, it will go a long way towards avoiding burnout and sustaining high performance from here on out.

Uneven performance and burning out are by far the most common derailers of success among high-achieving students, so if you can just avoid them, you’ve radically increased the odds that you will do well without having to work any harder.

Later this summer I’ll be releasing a major project that will combine what I’ve talked about with specific and very powerful productivity techniques, so stay tuned.

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