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How to Fake It Till You Make It While Running On No Sleep

How to Fake It Till You Make It While Running On No Sleep

Deadlines have a way of ganging up on you. For those times when you’re faced with multiple due dates in the same week and feel no sleep is the only answer, here are some top tips to get through with your sanity and relationships intact.

Before: Prepare

1. Recruit your support team.

Or at the very least, warn those at home! The people you live with are the ones who will be seeing less of you, picking up the slack on the jobs you normally do and putting up with your sleep-deprived mood-swings. If you can, give them a start and finish date so that they know for how long life will be weird. Plan a special catch up treat for all of you on the other side. Help them understand why meeting these deadlines will not only be good for you, but for them too.

2. Postpone and plan.

Put off anything that is not essential until after you’ve met the crunch. Make a list of all the things you won’t be getting to and keep it in a safe place. This is an important step! Use this time to get to know your natural rhythms. What time of day are you most productive? When does your energy lag? Pay close attention, and learn the patterns so that you can make the most of them while clobbering your deadlines.

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3. Organize your environment.

Now is a good time to throw out unnecessary clutter, tidy your desk drawers, and pack away anything that you won’t need. A cluttered work area can be overwhelming when you are tired, but keeping your space tidy during your deadline crunch will help your mind to feel ordered and function more efficiently.

It is a proven fact that our brains don’t operate at 100% when we haven’t had sufficient sleep, but there are ways to work around this. Build in backup plans. An easy example is to have a specific place to always hang your car keys. This will save you hours of frustrated searching when your fuzzy brain can’t quite remember. If you are normally a messy person, train yourself to live tidily. It may seem like a small thing, but the point is to make your life as simple as possible while you focus on your deadlines. Living tidily means being able to find your stuff without spending precious working time hunting through piles of clutter.

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    During: Persevere

    A single all-nighter is a sprint, but an extended period of sleep-deprivation is a marathon and needs to be handled differently. Pace yourself, listen to your body, and split up your work into smaller, manageable sections. You will achieve more in short, focused sessions, with breaks in between, than longer sessions that cause you to fall asleep sitting up, drooling on your keyboard. Pay attention to the following.

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    1. Refuel your body.

    Just as your car won’t run on water, your body needs proper fuel. Avoid junk food: chips, sweets, and energy drinks. Instead, opt for healthy options: seeds & nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables, and healthy, light, regular meals. Choose water over fizzy drinks.

    2. No sleep; take naps instead.

    If you can’t afford a full night’s sleep, never underestimate the power of the humble nap. Your productivity will suffer if you keep working for too long without any sleep at all. If you struggle to wake up afterwards, take a quick shower, walk outside in the fresh air, and splash your face with some water; you’ll soon get to know what works best for you.

    3. Get up and move.

    Stretch to de-tangle your muscles and ease stiffness from sitting in the same position for hours. Get your heart rate up by running in place, skipping or doing jumping jacks. This gets the blood flowing to deliver fresh oxygen to your whole body and mind. If it makes you feel daft, don’t worry—we all feel silly leaping around by ourselves at three in the morning. Ignore your ego; your body will love you for it, and it will bring you closer to conquering your deadlines.

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    4. Include motivators.

    What makes your brain buzz? Play music that gets your feet tapping, or let your favorite tv show run in the background. If that is too distracting, line up the (healthy!) rewards at the end of each section. Find those things that switch you on and shamelessly bribe yourself.

    5. Avoid driving.

    Any pill that makes you drowsy comes with a warning for you not to drive or operate dangerous machinery while you are under the influence of that medication. Deadline crunching on no sleep can be just as lethal. Organize a carpool, or take the bus or a train. You might even be able to sneak in some zs while travelling—bliss!

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      After: Recover

      1. Take time off.

      Schedule time off to find yourself again. Get some decent sleep, and reward yourself for your hard work. Give your brain time to recuperate. Don’t be shocked if you find yourself feeling completely demotivated, directionless or even slightly depressed. Be gentle on yourself as you recover; give yourself plenty space to regroup and recharge. Beating yourself up will only delay your recovery. It won’t take long to find your groove again.

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      2. Prioritize time with loved ones.

      Make reconnecting with your support crew your chief priority. Spend time catching up on all the tiny details that you may have missed. Give them your focused attention. Turn off your cell phone, and leave the laptop shut. Go for long walks, cook meals together, do all the things that you said no to while meeting your deadlines.

      3. Take out your “postponed” list.

      With a brain that is still in recovery, you will be grateful that you made a list of all the things that you postponed. By now, some of them will need your attention. As you feel up to it, find your list and work your way through it one item at a time. Having a list in hand will help you get out of the post-deadline-slump in small, easy steps.

      Does your family still love you? Did you meet your deadlines? Congratulations! You successfully faked it til you made it while running on no sleep!

      Featured photo credit: IMG_5944 by Oleander via mrg.bz

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      Last Updated on March 21, 2019

      11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

      11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

      Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

      You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

      But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

      To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

      It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

      “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

      The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

      In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

      Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

      1. Start Small

      The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

      Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

      Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

      Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

      Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

      Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

      It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

      Do less today to do more in a year.

      2. Stay Small

      There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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      But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

      If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

      When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

      I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

      Why?

      Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

      The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

      Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

      3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

      No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

      There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

      What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

      Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

      This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

      This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

      4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

      When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

      There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

      Peter Drucker said,

      “What you track is what you do.”

      So track it to do it — it really helps.

      But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

      5. Measure Once, Do Twice

      Peter Drucker also said,

      “What you measure is what you improve.”

      So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

      For reading, it’s 20 pages.
      For writing, it’s 500 words.
      For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
      For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

      Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

      6. All Days Make a Difference

      Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

      Will two? They won’t.

      Will three? They won’t.

      Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

      What happened? Which one made you fit?

      The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

      No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

      7. They Are Never Fully Automated

      Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

      But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

      What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

      It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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      The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

      It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

      It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

      8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

      Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

      Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

      When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

      The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

      Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

      9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

      The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

      Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

      You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

      But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

      So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

      If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

      This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

      The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

      Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

      10. Punish Yourself

      Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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      I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

      It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

      You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

      No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

      The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

      But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

      11. Reward Yourself

      When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

      Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

      The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

      After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

      If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

      Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

      If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

      In the End, It Matters

      What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

      When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

      And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

      “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

      Keep going.

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      More Resources to Help You Build Habits

      Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
      [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
      [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
      [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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