Fitter, Happier, More Productive?

Millennials have access to more data about their health, wealth, and happiness than any previous generation. But does more data give us a greater sense of wellbeing? In a data-rich economy, we must move from “drowning in data” to “swimming with information”. In this article, we look at how you can keep mind, body, and soul together in a world that never sleeps.


The rise in digital health offers us the potential to measure all kinds of data about fitness, wellness, and so on. However, the smart leader distinguishes between what is vital and what is merely background “noise” in choosing lifestyle technologies, rather than adopting more gadgets. Health technologies that help separate what matters most to the consumer are set to succeed in a crowded marketplace.

For example, the diabetes management app OneDrop uses timelines, geolocalization, badges, and social media to help people stay within their target glucose level range. OneDrop was devised by a diabetes sufferer, who intimately understood the needs of this group. Healthcare developments which target critical fitness/wellness opportunities or concerns are likely to do better in a crowded house of apps and technologies.


Hyman Schachtel pointed out that happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.

There is increasing evidence to suggest that a life lived on social media is not always a happy one. Large studies conducted in the USA and Italy suggest a negative correlation between time spent on social media and happiness.

Like most generalisations, these are not true for all people. Here are my top tips for effective use of social media:

  • Social media is social – Use it to socialise. Social media is not there to simply collect acquaintances like Pokemon cards or to troll people.
  • Connect passion with purpose – Daniel Pink points out that we are at our happiest when we connect our passions with our purpose. I have derived much pleasure from focusing on my passions for science/healthcare, business, and music over the years, and this is reflected in my social media activity. However, all work and no play makes for a dull life and even I have been entertained by cat videos on Facebook!
  • Celebrate differences – Find those people who share a common love for who you are and what you do. This does not mean they must be clones. Learn to celebrate differences that arise when different worlds collide.
  • Know the limits of Social – Don’t waste your time using social media on things best-done face to face. If a phone call is needed, don’t do it on Twitter and so on. I notice an increasing trend of entrepreneurs trying to do business on Facebook messenger. Inevitably such experiments fail in all but the simplest projects, as people cannot locate the information in lengthy threads. E-mail may be unfashionable, but it is an effective way of grouping conversations that need to be recalled. Smart people use the best tools for the job at hand.

More Productive?

As the world is switched on 24/7/365, it becomes increasingly important to be able to switch off for periods in order to maintain your effectiveness. Neuroscience is increasingly providing evidence for some self-evident truths about being more productive in our lives, which I covered in the article “How entrepreneurs can stay sane in an increasingly connected world”. Sir Richard Branson also kindly gave an exclusive interview in the book Leading Innovation, Creativity, and Enterprise, covering a wide range of insights into how to lead productively, an essential quality to survive and thrive in a complex and busy world.

My top tips for staying productive in a world that never sleeps include:

  1. Learn to be a great time manager. This includes the ability to act like “Dr Yes”, aka Richard Branson, by driving resources into the passions that make the most of your unique qualities. It also requires you to act as “Dr No”, by being clear as to what is not on your radar.
  2. Have the amount of sleep you need to function fully. This varies from person to person. Research shows that we perform poorly if the basic ingredients of high performance are not well looked after, such as sleep, nutrition, and fitness.
  3. Find those things that keep you fit and commit to doing them consistently. Excellence is a habit and we need to practice it daily.
  4. Learn to “swim with information” rather than “drowning in data”.  This might mean being choosy as to what information you consume rather than adopting a “grazing” approach to data management. Become efficient at information management leads to making wise choices.
  5. Use the myriad of productivity tools and apps carefully to meet your personal and business goals.


Peter Cook
Peter Cook
PETER leads Human Dynamics, offering Business and Organisation Development. He also delivers keynotes around the world that blend business intelligence with parallel lessons from music via The Academy of Rock. Author of and contributor to twelve books on business leadership, acclaimed by Tom Peters, Professors Charles Handy, Adrian Furnham, and Harvey Goldsmith CBE. His blends his three passions are science, business, and music into unique inspiring keynotes based on the art of storytelling. His early life involved leading innovation teams for 18 years to develop life-saving drugs including the first treatments for HIV/AIDS, Herpes and the development of Human Insulin. 18 years in academia teaching MBAs and 18 + years running his businesses. All his life since the age of four playing music. Peter won a prize for his work from Sir Richard Branson after his mother claimed he was a Virgin birth. He now writes for

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  1. Peter you are right! Celebrating differences and wanting what you have are critical pieces for a life well lived.

    Being choosy — staying on track with what matters! — is a way of turning the world’s data into your own path.

    For me, prayer, walking, sleep — with my favorite radio station set to remind me of bedtime and wake time — and doing the little things I can do daily help me to do this.

    Thanks for your spot on reflection on being fitter, happier and more productive and ducking the things that pull you out of your chosen path.