Being productive is important and there is a whole industry built in order to tackle all these questions related to productivity.
One of the virtues of productivity is being able to to the most work that you can in the least amount of time possible. Time optimization is definitely a key element in this industry.
One of the ways you can optimize your time is by batching things up. However… How can you batch things up if you're feeling tired in the afternoon? Should you take some time to sleep? Or would it be a waste of time?
Hey, what's up? John Sonmez here from simpleprogrammer.com. I got a question, another—I've been getting a lot of questions about sleep, sleepiness. You guys are lazy bastards. You need to—who needs sleep? Sleep is for the weak. It's for women and children, come on.
This question is, “Do you have any idea of how to improve sleepiness and tiredness every afternoon?” This is from Lung Chen and he says, “Hi John, I tend to do my work in the morning because I would feel sleepy and terrible every afternoon. I wake up around 7 and don't want to spend much time on sleep that might be unnecessary. Have you ever felt that way? How am I going to boost and improve the afternoon's productivity?”
There's a couple of things here. I don't want to rehash everything I've said about sleep already. You can check out my sleep playlist, I should have one now since I've been doing so many videos on sleep, but I will say this. So, first of all, you don't want to waste unnecessary time on sleep, I totally get that, but time sleeping is really not wasted. You've got to kind of understand—I have trouble coming to terms with this, “I'd like to sleep as few hours as possible so I'm not wasting time.” But it's not really wasted because that refreshment helps me to think more clearly and to be more effective. When I go on less sleep I'm not as effective. You've got to really think of that as—I think I was reading maybe Tim Ferriss in his—I did this review on his Tool of Titans book which is a really good book, by the way.
I think in one of them he was talking about the idea that he basically was changing it instead of calling it like sleep or down time, it was basically recharge time. He had some way of spinning it, of framing it that made it sound like it was like a good thing instead of a bad thing. Sometimes you've got to think of rest time as not rest time, but as recharge, rejuvenation, whatever it is that's going to help you. You've got to have that mindset.
The second thing I would say here is—I mean I think you're probably lacking sleep, so if you're probably sleeping 5 or 6 hours a night and you're waking up at 7, of course you're going to be damn tired in the afternoon, of course. I would say that there's a couple of things you can do.
One of them, just as a hack, I mean I'll tell you this in general though, if you're lacking sleep, if you're only getting 5 or 6 hours of sleep you're going to just have to figure out a change of schedule to get to sleep because it's going to catch up to you in the long run, if it hasn't already. With that said, I'll give you a few hacks.
Hack #1 is when you start to get tired in the afternoon, exercise. Schedule your exercise session. I tend to do this because I tend to get sleepy in the afternoon. I did this a lot when I was working ridiculous hours early on in the Simple Programmer days. What I would do is about like 1 o'clock I would go for my run or I'd lift weights and then I'd come back and I wouldn't be tired. I mean I'd be physically tired but I wouldn't be mentally tired anymore. I'd be cool to go start working because I broke up the day and I got some energy—I got my energy levels up.
One thing I learned from Tony Robbins is that—when I've gone to his seminars, is that you could always raise your energy level. You just make a choice. I went to this UPW, Unleash the Power Within and one of the guys, he kept on telling us, he was like, “Okay, when I say get up out of your seat, I want you to jump up out of your seat with this eager look on your face.” It seemed silly and it's like you're damn tired because you've been there for 4 days already and you've been jumping up and down and cheering and not getting any sleep, but you know what, when he said that, you found that you could always jump up out of your seat and be eager and have energy, so it's a choice to have energy if you choose to put yourself in that mood. Your body, your physiology does control that a lot. If you go out and exercise, if you jump up, if you run around, that's going to make you feel better. Put on some music that you like and sing out loud and annoy the hell out of your coworkers, that will give you energy, I guarantee you. That's hack #1.
Hack #2 is this, schedule your day based on this. I was just telling someone I was coaching, I said, “There's a reason why I do my coaching calls at night.” He was like, “Oh, why?” I was like, “Well, because I schedule my day based on the level of energy that I need for the thing.” I knew that as the day crawls on that I'm going to be sleepier, I'm going to be more tired. What do I do first in the day? The hardest shit. I write first. Writing is the hardest thing that you can do so I write. Or I do the mentally tasking things first and then I schedule my phone calls for later in the day and I schedule my coaching for later in the day and I schedule answering emails for later in the day and perhaps shooting videos because those are all things that I can do while I'm tired that it won't affect me as much.
But if you tell me—if I'm sleepy and it's like 3 in the afternoon and you're saying, “Okay, John, write a chapter in a book” or “Solve this programming problem” I'm going to put my head on the desk and I'm not going to be able to do it. It's going to be much, much harder. That hack is basically schedule your day based on this. If you know you're going to be sleepy at 2, schedule the stuff that's hard, that's mentally taxing earlier in the day and then schedule phone calls and meetings and stuff like that at 2 where you can do that. When I'm doing coaching calls or I'm shooting videos or I'm doing phone calls it doesn't matter how tired I am, I can always talk to someone. I mean how freakin' tired do you have to be that you can't talk to someone? But to write a book chapter or to solve a programming problem, yeah, that can hurt you.
That's what I would say, but again, don't try and cheat sleep. It's not a waste of time. I'm saying this from having—I've tried so many years to fight sleep. It's just not possible. I've even tried polyphasic sleeping and all that kind of crap. It doesn't work. At least it didn't work for me. Yeah, so anyway, in the short term you can get away with it, but in the long term it will always catch up to you. It would be worth it to just—do you want to go through life feeling like shit all the time also? That's another thing I had to ask myself. I was like, “No, I'd rather get 8, 9 hours and feel refreshed even if I have to get less stuff done and actually enjoy my life rather than just get through it.” Just something to consider.
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