Are you one of those who wish that there were 48 hours every single day instead of 24 hours?
Are you one of those who wish for the ability to do away with just 4 hours of sleep instead of 8?
Are you one among those who WANT to do few many things, but are somehow never able to make time for them?
Before coming back to the reason for asking those questions, I will talk about what happened to me yesterday.
I was talking to an artist friend of mine. She is a sketch artist and an illustrator now. She takes up projects for clients and when we were discussing life, sleep, and our passion for art, etc., the topic of time management found its way into the conversation. I told her, “I wish for a day to have 48 hours instead of 24 hours.” She said in return that she wished to sleep lesser. She usually sleeps 8 to 9 hours a day. On days that she has pressing work, she sleeps around 4 to 5 hours. She usually goes to sleep at 3am and wakes up around 10 to 11 am. When talking about this thing, both of us went into different things we were doing everyday and one thing that hit us both was the realization that there was ENOUGH TIME.
I came to realize that there was enough time every single day. I also came to realize that the reason why I can’t do everything that I want to do, even if it is a reasonable expectation out of myself, should be the lack of something. Before I talk about what that something is, let’s go back to the questions I asked in the beginning.
Are you one of those people? We are on the same boat, then. Until today, I thought I had an idea of what it took to manage time properly. I did have some ideas but never put them into real use. Until December 2014, this issue didn’t bother me. Or probably it did but I never took a notice may be. Whatever be the case, it is from the second week of Jan 2015 that I started feeling the need to manage time properly. Why? More about that soon.
So, I was talking to my friend and I told her, “It was like an hour back was friday evening and now it’s Sunday night! Time flies very very fast! I wish I had the power of Hiro Nakamura (of Heroes) to stop and bend time ;)” Do you feel the same way about weekends? That one moment, it feels like it was friday evening and the very next moment you find yourself realizing that it’s sunday night. If yes, then read ahead.
Until December 2014, I was in college. In my college there is a privilege for students who have a GPA above 9 (on a scale of 1 to 10). The privilege is that we can have zero attendance and we could still attend exams and pass the course. That is, we don’t have to attend classes at all. As long as we have friends in those classes informing us of updates, assignments, quizzes, etc., we don’t have anything to worry about. We just need to go to class during exams and study well to maintain that 9 GPA if we want that privilege to continue throughout our academic life. Fortunately, for me, from my 3rd semester, I have had 9+ GPA and I haven’t attended any classes since then. I believe in teaching myself, so I did my own research, prepare my own notes and got some help from my friends who attend classes. So, essentially, I haven’t attended most classes since Feb 2012, and I am telling this because, every single day used to be a weekend for me. I didn’t have the usual sense of days, weeks, etc,. I just knew the day when I absolutely had to and I worked regardless of time or day of the week.
What has changed in January 2015? I started my internship with PayPal. So, I catch the bus by 8 AM, reach the office by 9.30 AM, get off at 6.15 PM, reach home by 7.45 PM. It’s been three weeks since I joined as an intern but I have NO IDEA how these three weeks just flew by in a jiffy. I want to do certain things, to contribute to my dreams, but somehow I never find time to do it. Or, in other words, somehow, I NEVER MADE TIME TO work on them.
So, what did I realize yesterday that it’s so important to post here as an article.
Here you go:
Often times, when we feel we don’t have enough time, it’s more likely to be a lack of ENERGY rather than a lack of time. I realized that I often put off doing certain things because I lacked the energy, or because of my not being in the mood, or because I just didn’t feel like it. Most of these originated from a lack of energy which I wasn’t really conscious about, until yesterday. Yesterday, I realized that I was sleeping a lot more and also that I was being a lot less productive.
I came up with some reasons why this happens and also some remedies for changing the status quo.
1. Food Habits
- Eating food with a lot of carbohydrates leading to sugar breakdown eventually resulting in feeling groggy, sleepy and tired.
- Eating food that has no nutritional value but just fills you up, fast food for instance. You never know how old the food you are eating is – for all you know, it may have been in the frozen state for one or two years and brought into an eatable form now, when you eat it.
2. Erratic Sleep
- Going to sleep at different times everyday and waking up at a different time everyday. This is a crucial factor contributing to the grogginess and tiredness because the body finds it hard to adapt to the sleeping schedule. As they say, we have a biological clock and by having erratic sleep timings, we only piss off the body more and more. So, our body ends up taking more sleep from us for its proper functioning.
- You probably wake up in the midst of an REM cycle. Usually a sleep cycle lasts 1.5 hours. That’s the reason why it’s advisable to sleep in the multiples of 1.5 hours a day (3, 4.5, 6, 7.5, 9, etc).
- Your breathing is poor. As in, you breathe poorly in such a way that your body doesn’t get the oxygen it needs leading to brain receiving lesser oxygen than necessary. Hence, you end up sleeping more.
4. Not taking breaks
- Often times, we end up so engrossed in work, especially sitting in front of a computer, staring at the screen for a long time that we don’t take enough breaks. We end up giving our brain lesser number of breaks and deprive it of the much-needed break time wherein it can replenish your focus and energy.
1. Food Habits –
- Eat food with less carbohydrates and more proteins. (Read – NO Rice)
- Avoid eating dead stuff – meat and everything included.
- Eat more fresh and organic food
- Absolute NO to fast food
- Don’t eat food with so much carbohydrates after 6pm.
The reason for suggesting less carbohydrates and minimal sugar is that when you take in sugar, it leads to sugar high for the first few minutes and then eventually the sugar crash sets in, resulting in sugar breakdown. When this sugar breakdown happens, you will feel sleepy, tired, groggy, etc,. So, it’s advisable to avoid sugar and everything white – bread, cakes, and everything included.
The reason for suggesting you to avoid fast food is because it provides no nutritional value. Frozen food reheated and made into an edible form is given to you. But, do you know whether it was frozen one week ago or one year ago? We never know. With all the speculation around fast food, obesity and the resulting effects it has on our bodies, it is only intelligent to avoid fast food altogether. You have to run away from anything that even slightly shouts “Fast Food!”.
The reason I suggest fresh organic food is because they contain a lot of pranic energy and they are very rich in oxygen. Hence, when we eat them, we get all that energy, and we also get more nutritional value for the food that we eat.
The reason to avoid dead stuff (meat and anything dead) is because of that one fact – it’s dead. For those who wanna argue about the other side of vegetarian food, please hold on to the argument. We will have that argument for a completely separate series.
2. Sleep –
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday.
- Prefer to sleep at night and not at day.
- Take power naps (10 or 20 mins) for every four hours or so if need be, during the day.
- Make sure your room is completely dark when you sleep.
The reason I am suggesting to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday is because it creates a habit, trains your brain to switch off and on at the exact same time everyday. It also signals your body that it’s time to sleep and you end up sleeping well.
The reason for suggesting for the sleep to be at night is the fact that only in darkness sleep hormones are induced. You will have a hard time sleeping at day without blinds on. More on that in this article
Power naps give your brain the much-needed break and also puts your brain on an alert mode. It helps you to work better with much more focus.
3. Breathing –
- Make it a point to have deep abdominal breathing, inhaling and exhaling deeply and slowly. Shallow breathing leads to your body receiving less oxygen. So, breathe deeply. Some yogis were found to do away with 3 to 4 hours of sleep because of their yoga practice. The predominant reason for this is effective breathing.
- You can take half an hour everyday and do the ‘breath of fire’ exercise taught in kundalini yoga. Watch this video on the breath of fire. Do this breathing exercise everyday immediately after you wake up, for increased effectiveness.
4. Taking breaks:
- I have often observed that on days when I am obsessed about what I am working on and I get up only after I get that work done, I often end up sleeping more the next day, or I end up feeling totally tired. I also did some research on the attention span of our minds. The Pomodoro based research has proved the effectiveness of taking breaks and the effect it has on our body, our sleep and our ability to focus and get things done. So, I have started using the Pomodoro timer software to schedule breaks. You can try taking breaks at least every 2 hours or so, if not for every 25 minutes like in the Pomodoro research. We aren’t gonna lose anything doing it, are we? If anything, it’s not gonna hurt and it’s only going to improve our chances on having improved focus and productivity.
OTHER EFFECTIVE MEASURES
1. Starting Your Day Early
- I have found that waking up very early in the morning, like 4 am and getting most of your toughest and most important works for the day done before 9 am as the secret to having the most successful days. The time from 4 to 7 is very peaceful. As it gets busier around 8 to 9 am, you will find that the momentum you set up for the day from 4 to 7 drives you with a lot of excitement. Usually, tasks like exercising, planning your day, probably meditation and yoga (if you do meditate and practice yoga) practice and such physically intensive work can be done early in the morning. As much as early morning is apt for doing the physically intensive work, it is also best suited for emotionally/intellectually intensive works – the creative ones, logical ones, etc., may it be programming, composing music, songwriting or anything else for that matter.
- Early morning after you wake up, for at least half an hour, your brain will be still in the half-asleep and half-awake alpha state. If you get ahold of that state of your brain and start doing something, you will find it easy to focus and get it done.
- I have also found out from experience that if I read a book in the early morning, I read at twice the speed and with thrice the amount of comprehension I have when compared to reading in the afternoons or evenings.
2. Substituting Coffee With Green Tea
- I am a coffee lover. I love the coffee’s cocoa taste. But I have experienced that once you start using coffee, you start training your body to feel energetic only with the help of a substance. One of those days I didn’t drink coffee, my mind was fully occupied with the idea of drinking a cup of coffee. I didn’t like that feeling of dependency on something for something that is already available in my body. Hence, I started substituting coffee with green tea. I usually dip the green tea pack in a glass of hot water, extract as much out of it, and then add some lemon extract syrup into it along with two teaspoons of honey. Some days I drink it hot, some days I drink it cold. But it’s equally effective. Yes, the taste factor is missing. But then, there’s a good amount of caffeine in green tea and using honey adds to the improved metabolism. When I started feeling fake-tiredness (the trick that the mind usually uses to get you to drink coffee, just like it does with any other drug) I recognized it and stopped drinking coffee for taste. Nowadays I drink coffee occasionally and not out of habit.
So, these are the topmost reasons and remedies that I could come up with. If you have found any effective way to improve our energy and focus, you can share them in the comments. I ll edit the post and include your suggestions too.
Most often than not, what we perceive as a lack of time is nothing but a lack of energy to make the best use of the time we have. After some experience in the last one year trying to multitask, juggling many roles, trying out different ways to manage my time, I have arrived at these solutions and slowly I have started incorporating whatever I have mentioned above, in my life. You can incorporate some or all of these measures and see how they work for you.