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Experiment For Optimum Results

Experiment For Optimum Results
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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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    Ibrahim Husain

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

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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