Have you had a freshly brewed cup of coffee this morning? If yes, then you just hacked your biology to supercharge your performance. Coffee, i.e. caffeine, is by far the easiest biohack that most people have been doing for centuries. There’s many other easy biohacks not enough people do, which can massively increase your productivity levels, starting today!
These tweaks are small enough for you to implement right away. Anyone can do them and I split each biohack into a technique for beginners (the more hesitant biohackers) and the advanced (experienced biohackers).
If your lifestyle is too complex to give all of these a try, don’t worry. Even just one of the tweaks on its own can instantly increase your productivity and performance:
1. Upgrade Your Sleep
Getting enough sleep is by far the most important investment you can make. As action-taking high performers we tend to sleep less to create more time in our day, but of what quality? Accumulating sleep debt reduces our cognitive abilities, concentration and productivity.
Fortunately there are a couple of biohacks that can help you get those precious 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep night after night.
Beginners can do:
Take a magnesium supplement right before going to sleep. This essential mineral boosts recovery, helps relax the body and ensures you sleep like a baby.
The obvious: wear a sleeping mask and earbuds. In terms of evolution, our eyes and ears haven’t had enough time to adapt to the ever louder noise and light pollution we live with today. So a light and noise blocker is the easiest hack to avoid waking up frequently or waking up tired.
Make your bedroom a no-screen zone. Screens from our devices emit blue artificial light which can disrupt melatonin production and make it harder to fall asleep. Whilst your best bet is to stop using devices an hour or two before bed, you can also minimise the negative effects of blue light by wearing blue-light blocking glasses. Many established brands are now producing these, such as Swannies.
2. Start Your Morning On A Fresh Note
Now that we’ve upgraded your sleep, it’s time to build on that momentum by improving your morning routine too.
If this technique sounds crazy to you, consider that it is a natural way to keep the immune system in check, it helps regulate body temperature and blood glucose levels. Finally, it helps you truly wake up and get charged up for being productive.
The technique I’m talking about? It’s cold thermogenesis, by taking cold showers.
Beginners should start at:
Warm-to-cold showers. Alternating from very warm to very cold for the last few minutes of your shower.
Cold showers. Gradually reduce water temperature until it takes your breath away, then stay under it for a few minutes.
You can expect to feel your energy levels spike as you go on to have a productive day.
3. Reimagine Your To-Do List
Know that feeling of overwhelm when you think of how many things you’ve got to do? This is when your productivity crashes, especially if you’re not prioritising your to-do’s. You should always be prioritising. Based on the Pareto efficiency, just 20% of the actions you take produce 80% of your results. So it’s important that you invest quality time into those 20% and allow to come up on your to do list organically.
You’ll need to be strict with yourself to really adopt this habit of focusing on fewer things to do. However, to your advantage, the brain is an ever changing canvas of processes. So don’t hesitate to start rewiring bad habits.
Beginners should start with:
Instead of the typical bullet point list, do a simple Pareto efficiency division every morning to outline what must be done vs what could be done. You should do this for at least 66 days in order to instil the habit, according to research from the UCL on habit formation.
Identify just ONE thing you need to do today that will get you closer to realising your goals. Not only will being so super-focussed make you more efficient, but you’ll also build up momentum by completing an important task every day, thus actually reaching the goals you’ve set for yourself. As with the beginners above, practice focussing on one thing first for at least 66 days to instil the habit.
4. Boost Your Focus with Nootropics
Nootropics, also better known as ‘smart drugs’, are supplements that enhance neurotransmitter processes in the brain. In essence they can boost your ability to focus which also impacts productivity.
Sounds risky? It needn’t be. You see, even your usual cup of coffee can be considered a nootropic.
Recommended for beginners:
Coffee. If you want an extra boost to your mental performance, add a teaspoon of coconut oil, MCT oil, or grass fed butter to your cup of coffee. These fats are broken down by your liver into ketones, the particles your brain loves, giving you an extra boost of energy.
Many brands offer pill-based nootropic supplements. Some of the better known are: Alpha Brain, Ciltep, Aniracetam, Piracetam etc. All of these should be taken cautiously according to the instructions on the back of the bottle.
5. Upgrade Your Body Mechanics
We feel tired if we’re slumped in our office chair all day. Not only does bad posture cause us pain but it also makes us unable to breathe deep and thus supply the brain with enough oxygen to be productive. The key to overcoming bad posture is to hack the big chunk of your day that you spend sitting in the office – your office hours. We need to eliminate the constant sitting and move more.
Set an alarm or reminder every 45 minutes to stand up and walk or stretch for 5-10 minutes.
Invest in a standing desk. Note that standing all day isn’t beneficial either. The key to better mobility and performance is to switch positions regularly: from standing to sitting, to walking and so forth.
6. Use Technology to Help Productivity
As noted before your mind is built on dynamic processes and your cells are refurbishing even while you sleep. You virtually wake up a new person every morning. This means you have all the power in the world to make yourself more productive. To harness that power, you need to constantly condition yourself in a variety of ways which will help you to maintain your ability to focus, achieve more and produce better results.
Fortunately technology can come in handy when you need some help with that conditioning. The following tech-biohacks are famous among productivity thought leaders.
Beginners should start with:
Use the Pomodoro timer technique to condition your mind into a routine of focussed work followed by a short rest. It doesn’t take many of Pomodoro sessions to find yourself delivering outstanding results in the same amount of time you had before but which you couldn’t use as efficiently.
Listen to binaural beats. Via two different pure-tone sine waves, these beats are designed to trigger certain responses in your brain: from relaxing to working.
7. Unlock the Flow
Once you have all those biohacks listed above ready, you will experience an advanced state of focus and productivity. The last missing piece of the puzzle is achieving flow – the state where you lose a sense of time and experience pure joy in doing what you do best.
To access flow, you will need to condition your mind using similar approaches as above: you’ll need to set the right environment and avoid interruptions.
Beginners should start on:
Setting up your environment to work: no visual distractions in your sight and no phones that will buzz when you need to finish something important. Most importantly, you should concentrate on one task at a time.
The more time you spend in the state of flow the better able you will be to come back into that state whenever you’re working. To allow for an easy transition from distracted to super-focussed, you need to clear your mind. This is where meditation can help, independent or guided through apps such as Calm and Headspace.
Which of these are you implementing today?
Featured photo credit: Bethany Legg via unsplash.com