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Experiment For Optimum Results

Experiment For Optimum Results

Experiment For Optimum Results

    Many times when we are looking to improve in any aspect of our life, we search for someone who has already achieved the results that we are looking for, and we do our best to mimic their actions, expecting their results.  The problem with this approach is that there are too many variables to consider in pretty much any aspect of life, and therefore too much is out of our control.  We would be better off creating a plan that takes into account the success of others’ actions, and then tweaking our own actions to better fit our needs and expectations.

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    For instance, I just finished a 30 day biphasic sleep experiment.  For 30 days I slept only 4.5 hours total each day, with a 3 hour core sleep each night and a 1.5 hour nap midday.  This schedule was very different than any other biphasic sleep schedule that I had read about.  The problem with the other schedules was that they just didn’t match my lifestyle and day-to-day schedule.  I knew that in order to be successful with my experiment I would have to follow a schedule that worked for me.  So I set about researching the amount of hours of sleep I could function on, then with the help of a neuroscientist friend created a schedule that we thought could work.  I decided not to get too attached to this newly created schedule till we could observe whether or not it worked, and having gone 30 days with it, I can safely advise that the Universal Man sleep schedule (as I later named it) was a great success and can be used by anyone with a few days to adjust.

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    Had I followed other schedules, I can’t assume that I would have been as successful as I was with the Universal Man schedule.  That’s not to say that I wouldn’t have been successful, but that there would have been schedule conflicts initially, which would only lend to less success.  As I went through the experiment there were days when I needed to make minor changes, though.  And thus the idea of tweaking your experiments as you go.  I started summer school mid experiment, which meant that I would need to have higher levels of focus from 8 am to 3 pm.  This led me to have a really sleepy mid day lul.  I supplemented my sleep with a 15 minute nap at 1 pm (I just walked out of class, went to the library, and slept for 15 minutes).  This allowed me to “recharge” and when I got back to class I was better focused and able to stick to the experiment.  Had I not tweaked the experiment to allow for this nap, I’m quite sure I would have failed.

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    This is not to say that it’s not good to follow the trails of others who have found success, because it’s always better to follow someone who has done what you want to do than to try it alone.  But we need to understand that we are all different, and because of that we all have different needs and requirements.  By learning  your own needs, you will be better equipt to tweak every aspect of your life for optimum results.  And what is the use in all of this self-improvement if not to become the optimum human, right?

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    More by this author

    Ibrahim Husain

    Ibrahim is a management analyst who writes about communication tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

    More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

     

    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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