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Last Updated on December 28, 2017

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

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      Last Updated on September 20, 2018

      8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

      8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

      You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

      Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

      When you train your brain, you will:

      • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
      • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
      • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

      So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

      1. Work your memory

      Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

      When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

      If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

      The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

      Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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      Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

      What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

      For example, say you just met someone new:

      “Hi, my name is George”

      Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

      Got it? Good.

      2. Do something different repeatedly

      By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

      Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

      It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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      And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

      But how does this apply to your life right now?

      Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

      Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

      Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

      So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

      You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

      That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

      3. Learn something new

      It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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      For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

      Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

      You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

      4. Follow a brain training program

      The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

      5. Work your body

      You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

      Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

      Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

      Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

      6. Spend time with your loved ones

      If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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      If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

      I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

      7. Avoid crossword puzzles

      Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

      Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

      Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

      8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

      Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

      When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

      So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

      The bottom line

      Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

      Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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