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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 April 6, 2020

      15 Best Productivity Hacks for Procrastinators

      15 Best Productivity Hacks for Procrastinators

      Let me guess.

      You should be doing something else rather than reading this article. But due to some unknown force of nature, you decided to procrastinate by reading an article about how to hack procrastination. You deserve a pat on the back.

      Fortunately, procrastination is not a disease. It’s just a mindset that can be changed, however, here are some productivity tips you need to start getting work done:

      First, you need to acknowledge that procrastinating is an unhealthy habit. Not only you’re prioritizing unimportant things, basically, nothing gets done. Still unsure if you’re a procrastinator? Check out this article: Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing)

      Second, your commitment to change is very important. You should be physically, emotionally, and mentally determined to change this habit. If not, then you’ll just succumb to the tempting lure of doing other things rather than your tasks or chores.

      Here are sthe best productivity hacks to improve productivity and keep yourself from procrastinating at work:

      1. Give (10+2)*5 a Try

      Let’s start with a classic but very effective hack called (10+2)*5 created by Merlin Mann,[1] author of 43Folders.com. Don’t worry. This is not a complicated Mathematical formula you need to solve.

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      The (10+2)*5 simply means 10 minutes work + 2 minutes break multiplied by 5, completing 1 hour. It is crucial to stick with the time limits and not skipping work and break schedules. The point of this is for you to create a jam-packed routine of work and break schedules. The result? You will eventually skip your break schedules.

      2. Use Red and Blue More Often

      Clean your desk and remove things that might distract you. According to a Science Daily study[2] about which colors improve brain performance, red was found out to increase attention to details while blue sparks creativity. Surrounding your workplace with these colors not only benefits your brain, it’s also pleasing to the eye.

      3. Create a Break Agenda

      List all the things you want to do on your break, be it surfing the web, checking your emails, snack time, taking selfies, Facebook/Twitter—everything.

      Like the (10+2)*5 hack, squeeze these in between work time but the difference is you schedule these activities for ONLY 20 minutes. Eventually, you’ll take your break minutes wisely. You’re finishing tasks while sidetracking to doing the things you enjoy.

      4. Set a Timetable for Your Tasks

      Like any other habits, procrastinating is a tough wall to break. Replace this habit with another habit. When you’re assigned a task, set a timetable for each step. Let’s say you have a big research task. Here’s a sample timetable:

      9:00 – 9:10 am – Set up all your tools, browser tabs, emails, coffee, etc..
      9:10 – 10:00 am – Internet research
      10:00 – 10:45 am – Look through existing files
      10:45 – 11:00 am – Break time!
      11:00 – 12:00 pm – Outline the research report

      Deadlines are the best hack for getting things done. Setting a specific time to finish a task creates time pressure even if the deadline has passed.

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      5. Take It Outside!

      Do yourself a favor and don’t ruin the comfy vibe of your home. If you need to work on a stressful project, do it in a library or coffee shop. You’ll never finish it anyway. Your cozy sofa and toasty bed will just lure you into napping yourself to doom.

      6. Become Productively Lazy

      Instead of finding all sorts of ways to unproductively procrastinate, use your habit to look for shortcuts and new ways to finish your tasks. Staple multiple papers at a time or master the 3-second t-shirt folding technique. A strong drive combined with laziness sometimes bring out the productive and creative side you never knew you have!

      7. Assign a ‘Task Deputy’

      It could be your colleague, your supervisor, or your significant other, anyone who has the unforgiving guts to reprimand you when you procrastinate. You could go the extra mile by paying up unfinished tasks or times you open your Facebook or watch a funny cat video on YouTube. Let’s see how five bucks every time you procrastinate will change you.

      8. Consider a Gadget-Free Desk

      According to a study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, average users check on their phones 150 times per day and having your phone just an elbow away just creates sizzle to this habit.[3]

      Removing mobile devices and gadgets allows you to focus on your work without the constant interruption from notifications, calls, and text messages. It eliminates the very distracting ambiance and the urge to unlock your phone just because.

      9. Prepping the Night

      Before hitting the sack to oblivion, prepare everything you’ll need the next day. This will probably take you 15 minutes tops, saving you more time for coffee in the morning.

      Spin class at am? Pack up your gym clothes, shoes, socks, etc. or better, create a checklist so you don’t miss anything. You can also prep your food into containers and just grab one before leaving.

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      10. Do a 7-Minute Workout in the Morning

      Exercising is proven to increase productivity and stimulate release of endorphin or “Happy Hormones”.

      Take a jog outdoors and get warmed up for the day. Don’t feel like running outside? Hop on a treadmilli. It’s a great investment and there are a lot of ways you can use a treadmill like endurance running and metabolism training. On a budget? Here’s a 7 minute, no-equipment needed workout you can do at home:

      11. Set-up Mini Tasks

      If you’re given a big project, break it down into mini tasks. Create a checklist and start with the easy ones until you finish. Got an article to write? Just start with the title and the first sentence. Or perhaps you have a visual presentation to make?

      Spend 15 minutes on your outline, take five minutes coffee break, then finish the first two slides. Accomplishing something, no matter how tiny, still gives you that sense of fulfillment.

      12. Create an Inspirational Board or Reminder

      I found these mini desk chalkboards from Etsy you can use to write motivating quotes.

      Or you know what? Simply write “Do it now!” and stare at it for 10 seconds every time you feel like dropping by on Reddit.

      13. Redecorate Your Room

      Redecorating my room motivates me to maintain that ‘new’ look for some time until I get use to it and eventually stop. So I redecorate again and again, it became a monthly habit really. Here are some DIY ideas you can do to any room without spending much.

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      14. Ready Your Nibbles

      You know that trip to the pantry? It’s just seconds away but it took you several minutes just to get your fruit snacks in the fridge. Before starting a task, prepare your nibbles on your desk to avoid zoning out and losing yourself on the way to the pantry.

      Bonus productivity hacks you can do at home:

      15. Schedule Your Chores

      Write down your chores in a weekly basis with matching day and time when you should be doing these.

      For the artsy folks, you can create fun chore charts like these or simply stick the list somewhere visibly annoying e.g. mirrors, doors, TV. The trick is listing as many chores as you can for the week and including unfinished chores the following week. Who likes seeing a long list of chores first thing in the morning?

      More Tips to Overcome Procrastination

      Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

      Reference

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