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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 May 22, 2019

      Ditch Work Life Balance and Embrace Work Life Harmony

      Ditch Work Life Balance and Embrace Work Life Harmony

      How do you usually go about your day?

      Do you wake up in the morning, get ready for work, and then spend the whole day looking forward to being at home and unwinding?

      We often hear about work life balance – having a good balance between work and personal time. Whilst this may sound like a smart idea, it can also imply that we should dedicate at least half of our time to work–and sacrifice time for our “personal life”.

      To me, that seems…off balance. Because, the truth is, it’s nearly impossible to split your time equally between the two. And, you may end up stressing out if you’re not able to meet that expectation of balance.

      Instead, why not think of having work life harmony instead?

      With this mindset, you can actually integrate work into your life in a way that feels more complete. This way, you don’t need to view work and having personal time as separate.

      So, how do you achieve work life harmony?

      Work Life Harmony Explained

      The difference between work life balance and work life harmony is pretty simple.With the former, there is an implication that you have to sacrifice your “life” for work. But, this is the worst way to go about things! How can you truly be at peace in life if you dread 8 hours of your day?

      Work life harmony on the other hand, allows your work to be a part of your life. This means that you can choose to be happy both at home, and at work! Work no longer needs to be seen as the ‘bad’ or un-fun activity.

      Having work life harmony also ensures you’re truly present in whatever place you find yourself.

      Just take a look at Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon for example.

      He uses a non traditional approach to work by making time for breakfast every morning with his family, doesn’t set his alarm before going to bed, schedules surprisingly few meetings, and still puts aside a few minutes every day to wash his own dishes.

      He believes that all his staff should stop trying to achieve a ‘balance’ in their work and personal lives as that implies a trade off. Instead, he envisions a more holistic relationship between the two.

      As the world’s richest man, he must be doing something right!

      Rethink Time Management

      Now, when we think of striking a balance, we usually associate it with time, don’t we? How much time are we spending at work versus how much time are we spending in our personal lives?Are we taking enough time to be with our loved ones, to do meaningful activities with others or even for ourselves, or are we just dedicating all our time to work?

      This is the so-called-balance that many struggle with.

      With work life harmony, we learn to rethink time management. By re-assessing how you manage your time, you’ll have a lot more of it. It’s incredible how much time can get wasted over the period of a day–especially when you’re not accurately tracking it.

      Unfortunately, unless you’re consciously making an effort, your brain is not always the best at making accurate judgement calls when it comes to prioritizing. It tends to have a bias towards short term benefits and short term costs.

      As there are often many more options our brains link to short term benefit; when you’re trying to focus on a task that gives you a long term benefit, that task usually becomes low priority. This is otherwise known as Priority Chaos.

      In order to overcome this and be in better control of your time, identify the tasks that need the most focus to get accomplished. If it’s a big task, then it’s good to break it down into smaller bite-sized actions that will provide you with a clearer short term benefit.

      When setting up tasks, give yourself a time limit. The brain has a bias towards short term benefits, and your attention span is limited, so if your tasks are going to take ages to complete, you’ll end up losing focus… and wasting time.

      Once you have all your tasks written down, it’s time to prioritize them. Since you have a time limit, your focus should be on the top priority tasks. By doing this, you will already be able to get more done in less time at work!

      Have Passion for What You Do

      Managing your time is important in achieving that work life harmony. But, perhaps of greater importance, is loving what you do in life.One of the most effective ways to achieve a work life harmony is to really enjoy, or find a purpose, in what you do for a living. Even though everyone isn’t always lucky enough to find a position that pays them for pursuing their passion, you can strive to find meaning in what you are already doing, or pursue something new entirely!

      For example, say you work at an office that sells paper. While many people wouldn’t consider this a world changing pursuit, I beg to differ. Think of all the individuals in the world that rely on paper. From creative types to quantum physics experts, your role at your workplace brings incredible value to many many people all over the world. You will have, without a doubt, helped bring a new idea into existence. Several new ideas to be precise.

      So have a think about what you’re doing now. Is it something that allows you to embrace your passion?

      Or perhaps you might not even know what it is that you love or enjoy doing. Why not explore and reflect on what gives you joy and contentment? Is there an area or industry that you could see yourself exploring to experience that fulfillment?

      Can you find a deeper purpose in what you’re already doing?

      When you’re able to find meaning in your work, you’re that much closer to achieving work life harmony.

      Don’t Be Intimidated By Obstacles and Limitations

      Creating work life harmony is also about understanding yourself–which includes your limitations and past obstacles–as this allows you to become more resilient.

      If you never had to experience struggles, challenges or setbacks, then you would never be forced to adapt and mature. So in theory, having to face obstacles in life is actually quite necessary.

      Most of us think of setbacks and obstacles as negative. Though, if you’re able to maintain an optimistic attitude, you’ll almost always have a higher chance of success of overcoming those obstacles to reach your eventual goal.

      Your attitude towards setbacks will define the outcome of whether you rise from the challenge or remain stuck in it. So, in order to achieve work life harmony, it’s important to have a resilient attitude as challenges will always come your way–especially when you strive to integrate work into your life, and not a separate or dominant part of life.

      Delegate When You Need To

      Of course, when you want to increase productivity and minimize the time or effort spent, a great way to do so is to delegate!

      If you spend a lot of time doing tasks on your own that could be delegated to others (whether at work or at home) you’re losing a lot of precious free time that could otherwise be spent elsewhere.

      At the end of the day, we all have a limited amount of time. So we should all be striving to create a harmonious work and living situation where we can find meaning in all that we do.

      While an overall goal may be meaningful, not all of the milestones or tasks needed to get there may be meaningful. That’s because we have our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Not every task is going to be enjoyable or easy to complete. That’s where delegation comes in.

      Delegation simply allows you to leverage time from an external source, thus giving you opportunities to increase your own quality of time. Keep in mind that delegation should be done with deliberate attention, otherwise you may end up over relying on others.

      If you find that you’re running into the problem of over delegating, then it may be time to re-evaluate your motivation for doing whatever it is that you’re doing.

      Embrace the Circle and Become Happier and More Productive

      Living in harmony is about feeling good about the ways in which you spend your time, despite how busy you may be.Your switch from work mode to a more personal mode should be effortless. It’s about integrating your personal life and the things you love into your busy work life!

      It all begins with the shift in perspective. Understanding what your passions are, and learning to be resilient, before taking a different approach to the way you manage your time and everyday tasks.

      These are steps that you can start taking to move away from balance to harmony. 

      Featured photo credit: Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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