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How to Stay Awake and Energetic No Matter How Busy Your Schedule Is

How to Stay Awake and Energetic No Matter How Busy Your Schedule Is

Previously I wrote an article on Why I have a Morning Routine and How It Makes Me Sharper Every Day. I discussed my morning routine and some big picture reasons on why you should adopt one yourself. However, many people have asked me for a deeper and practical look into how I do these things. Specifically, I have been asked how I am able to wake up early and stay awake. So, let’s dive into those topics so you can live in the world you want to create!

You Can Live the Life You Want Only If You Know What You Want.

Increasing our energy and stamina is important on so many levels. The choices we make today will determine the life we live tomorrow.

We are living in the age of inactivity. Think about how much time you are wasting in front of a screen. What are you usually doing for extended periods of time while you are in front of a screen? You are probably sitting down and eating.

Dr. Nick Knight wrote about inactivity and how our culture of laziness is killing us.[1] Knight remarked,

“Yes, physical inactivity has its price tags. It is linked to the development of chronic health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression, dementia, and cancer. It can make us feel bad about ourselves, guilty and frustrated, appeased only with the ever-alluring reward of inactivity – comfort, rest, and stress-free.”

Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics that lead to the ailments Knight discussed. Do any of these characteristics resonate with you?

  • Do you almost float around in your chair appearing to be oblivious to your surroundings?
  • Do you eat fast food while watching television for hours upon hours?
  • Assuming you are otherwise healthy, are you a person who has to ride in a motorized cart while at the supermarket or the zoo?
  • Do you sleep the day away?
  • Do you look like a Jelly-Filled Human?

You might recognize some of these characteristics from the movie WALL-E. These are the Axiom Humans or the citizens in the film.

    I only make these remarks in order to provide you a wakeup call or an awareness to the deadly life you could potentially be living. If these comments describe you, then it’s time to make a change.

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    A Jelly-Filled Human or a Hacker?

    I have created a phased approach to this high-energy lifestyle. Let’s take a look at the 4-Levels people typically fall into. Note that you do not have to start at Level 1 (not all of us begin as Jelly-Filled Humans!).

    • Level 1: Jelly-Filled Humans. This is a person living the Axiom Human lifestyle discussed earlier.
    • Level 2: Learning to Walk. This level is usually brought on by an awareness of living in Level 1. Once you are aware of who you are (a Jelly-Filled Human), you can now learn to walk.
    • Level 3: The Aware. This type of person is someone who understands that they should be exercising and living well, yet at the first sign of failure they give in. They are close and simply need a breakthrough in their mindset.
    • Level 4: The Hacker. This is the level we should strive to be. The Hacker is a person who has adopted this lifestyle and is continually searching for new hacks (or ways) to improve their life. They have more energy, stamina, and an overall healthier lifestyle than Levels 1-3 combined.

    So, how to become a Level 4 person?

    Energy and Stamina Hacks

    Let’s take a look at some of the energy and stamina hacks you can use and then we will develop an action plan to follow.

    Exercise Hourly

    I use a version of the Pomodoro Technique for physical exercise. Take a look at my approach in 5 Ways My Crazy Morning Routine Will Transform You into Superman. Simply use a timer on your watch or phone, set the timer for every 30 or 60 minutes, then exercise.

    I have adapted my routine to look like this: 10 times a day – 80 push-ups, plank for 60 seconds, 40 curls. This is the best way to get your blood circulating and kickstart your metabolism every morning. Don’t forget to exercise while you travel… yes, be the weird person at the airport doing push-ups.

    Run

    The best form of exercise is to simply run. Run early in the morning. It is amazing what benefits this will bring. It will also bring about something called Neurogenesis. Read 10 Ways to Become Unstoppable for more on this topic.

    Planking

    If you only do one form of exercise (outside of running) this is the one you should do. Check out If You Can’t Hold This Pose for 50 Seconds, You Might Be Prone to Serious Health Problems for more details on planking.

    Practice Deep Breathing

    You must get quality sleep in order to stay awake longer and have more energy.

    Use the following 4-7-8 Breathing Technique: Sit with your back straight, place the tip of your tongue behind your front teeth (upper), inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. Make sure you exhale completely, then close your eyes. Hold your breath for a count of 7, exhale through your mouth for a count of 8, then repeat the cycle three more times for a total of 4 breaths.

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    Two additional techniques are The Stimulating Breath[2] and Breath Counting.[3]

    Stand While You Work

    If I have to work in an office or the dreaded cubicle, I always stand. Purchase a standing workstation and refuse to sit down!

    Improve Your Posture.

    Most people have horrible posture. I found an increase in energy and stamina by simply practicing and using techniques to improve my posture. Doing this forces us to be alert and active.

    For suggestions on how to improve your posture, read 5 Ways My Crazy Morning Routine Will Transform You Into Superman.

    Nootropic

    Otherwise known as smart drugs, these are cognitive enhancing supplements that improve memory, motivation, creativity, and performance. Some of the best Nootropics come from the Racetam family, such as: Aniracetam and Piracetam. Read 5 Powerful Mind and Body Hacks for a Limitless Brain and find out more about Nootropics.

    Vitamin B-12

    This is the perfect vitamin to take if you are looking for a vitamin to take to boost your metabolism or provide an instant energy boost.

    Drink Bulletproof Coffee

    This is what I call Super Coffee! Bulletproof coffee is a high-performance drink that greatly boosts the energy and cognitive function. It’s easy to make, find out how to make it here.

    Drink More Water

    Drinking water will instantly give you more energy. In fact, you will feel drained and fatigued if you are dehydrated.

    Intermittent Fasting

    When we fast, our bodies metabolic shift lowers our leptin levels. Calorie-restriction brings about a process called autophagy, which cleans house and removes waste. It also enhances our brain cells and improves cognitive function.

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    There are many different ways to do this, let’s look at the 16-hour Fast: stop eating around 7-8pm. Wait until 12pm the next day to begin eating again.

    Stop Worrying So Much.

    Stop worrying about things that do not matter. If you worry about too many things or try to spend your day pleasing everyone else but yourself, then you will lose energy. You will fail to get sleep and you will spend your entire day with low stamina. Why waste energy worrying when you could use the same energy to visualize success?

    Take a Cold Shower

    If you find it hard to wake up or you simply need an immediate energy boost then take a cold shower.

    Get a Theme Song

    Listening to music will provide you an instant energy boost. Try creating playlists for each mood you would like to put yourself in. Apple Music is a perfect place to start.

    Go Outside.

    You will be amazed at the energy boost by simply going outside.

    Chew Gum

    For me, chewing Big Red gum provides me an instant energy boost and an increase in focus. Just make sure to smack your gum when you are around your spouse! They will love it!

    So, how can you put this all together?

    Putting It All Together: Meta-Questioning

    Step #1: Where are you currently?

    Figure out if you are operating at the level of a Jelly-Filled Human or a Hacker. Be brutally honest with yourself. Identify the people you surround yourself with, the relationships you are in, and the tensions or stress you are living in and around.

    Step #2: Where do you want to be?

    Now figure out where and who you want to be. Use the powerful technique of Meta-Questioning.[4]

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      Start reframing your questions. For example, change the following statements:

      • When you say: “I can’t do this.”
        Change this to: “What specifically can I not do?”
      • You say: “I can’t exercise.”
        Then ask: “What is stopping me?”
      • You say: “I don’t have time.”
        Now ask yourself: “What needs to happen for me to start exercising?”
      • You discover: “I can use the techniques identified in this article and create more time.”
        Then imagine how you could start exercising: “If I could exercise, how would I do it?”

      Step #3: What obstacles are impeding your progress?

      Next, figure out which obstacles are standing in your way and remove them. Use the techniques discussed in How to Make Irrational People Rationalpeel back the layers of a cause and dig deep into the root of each obstacle.

      After identifying the real obstacles that are blocking your from progressing, tackle them one by one, and layer by layer. The process will be challenging, but by breaking the challenges into smaller parts, they will be less overwhelming.

      Do or Do Not, There Is No Try.

      Yoda’s words are always wise.

      In the end, you have to want it. You have to be willing to work hard and suffer some short-term pain. Follow the advice here from C.T. Fletcher,

      “Suffer the pain of Discipline or suffer the pain of Regret!”

      Reference

      [1] Independent.co.uk: The age of inactivity
      [2] Dr. Well’s Breathing Exercise: The Stimulating Breath
      [3] Dr. Well’s Breathing Exercise: Breath Counting
      [4] Slideshare.net: The four magic questions that help resolve most problems

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      Dr. Jamie Schwandt

      Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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      Last Updated on September 11, 2019

      Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

      Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

      How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

      Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

      To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

      Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

      Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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      • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
      • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
      • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
      • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

      Benefits of Using a To-Do List

      However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

      • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
      • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
      • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
      • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
      • You feel more organized.
      • It helps you with planning.

      4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

      Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

      1. Categorize

      Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

      It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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      2. Add Estimations

      You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

      Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

      Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

      3. Prioritize

      To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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      • Important and urgent
      • Not urgent but important
      • Not important but urgent
      • Not important or urgent

      You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

      Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

      4.  Review

      To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

      For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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      Bottom Line

      So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

      To your success!

      More to Help You Achieve More in Less Time

      Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

      Reference

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