Discover your Chronotype with The Sleep Doctor

Lack of quality sleep can be debilitating, as any new parent can attest to. We’re often told ‘you need 8 hours of sleep’ but this thinking was first introduced 80 years ago. With the help of Dr Michael Breus aka ‘The Sleep Doctor’ you can transform your sleep with one piece of information.

Your ‘Chronotype’ simply means time-type, and it describes how your body naturally trends in terms of sleep. This variance is caused by individual differences in hormones and circadian rhythm. The two well known chronotypes are Lion (aka ‘Early Bird’) and Wolf (aka ‘Night-Owl’) and two others: Bear (daylight following) and Dolphin (light sleepers.)

Each of these types react differently to different types and times of sleep. Once you know your type, you can give yourself the right habits and schedule to improve your sleep. You can take the chronotype quiz here.

There general best-practices for sleep: a dark, quiet room, no caffeine after lunch, reducing blue/bright light after sunset. Knowing your chronotype allows you to add two new best practises, going to sleep at the right time for your body, and keeping your sleep schedule consistent.

If you’re a Lion/Early-Bird you shouldn’t push yourself to stay up past 9pm. If you’re a Wolf don’t go to bed at 9pm and sit awake in bed for hours. Dolphins need more time after dinner to wind down with reduced screen time. Bears, although generally the best sleepers can drift towards the other types when they’re experience poor sleep.

Dr Breus has specific tips for each sleep type after you take the quiz, and plenty of further reading around all aspects of lifestyle in his book ‘The Power of When.’ With a subtitle that reads: “the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More” you know it has to be good!

Thanks for reading!

Clear Your Mind to Reach Creativity – Manoush Zomorodi

It is one of life’s universal truths that the most creative, random thoughts come to us in the shower. But why? And can you take these creative moments with you?

Humans are really good at processing information. We spend a lot of our days “plugged in” to video, radio, television, social media, conversation, hundreds of streams of information monopolizing our attention. During this time we’re stuck in a processing mindset.

In the shower, all of these things are taken away. Free from distraction our mindset shifts into “default” mode, where our ideas are free to bump into eachother. It’s in these moments we get our most profound, creative thoughts.

If you want to get more creative, put yourself in those situations more, swimming, walking, jogging, woodwork, knitting, any physical activity you can do on automatic. Without distraction you give yourself room for creative thoughts to come through.

In short: get bored, get creative

This article was inspired by Manoush Zomorodi’s book “Bored and Brilliant”

Thanks for reading!

Meditation for the Serially Successful – Arnold Schwarzenegger

It’s hard to argue that Arnold Schwarzenegger hasn’t been a success at almost every endeavour he has attempted. Bodybuilding, Acting, Politics. He’s reached the top of every field.

At the start of his career, Arnold was faced with a cluster of projects pulling his attention all over the place: bodybuilding, a movie career, real estate investment, and a documentary.

From an acquaintance Arnold was introduced to Transcendental Meditation, as a way to deal with stress and anxiety, and to train focusing the mind.

Using meditation techniques you can ‘disconnect’ the mind just for a few moments, enough to bring calm to the situation. After a year of practicing twice a day Arnold has been able to master this technique, and carried this amazing skill with him ever since.

Meditation or mindfulness techniques can be used to calm stress and anxiety, and the simplest route to achieve it is by focusing 100% on the physical sensations of the body. Arnold uses workouts to clear his mind of anything else but the feeling of the muscle working and he excersises, making meditation part of his routine.

You can hear Arnold talk about this and more in Tim’s book ‘Tools of Titans’

Thanks for reading!

Unlock the Power of Learning – the Feynman Technique

Richard Feynman was a brilliant scientist and teacher. Not only did he win a Nobel prize in physics, he was able to explain complex scientific principles across many subjects.

Richard used the concept that you should ‘teach’ a subject to learn it. Whenever you learn something new, challenge yourself to put it into your own words, as if explaining it to someone else.

It gives you a chance to fully process a new idea and give words to it, which helps keep hold of new concepts with a deeper intuitive understanding.

You don’t have to teach someone face-to-face. You will get the same benefit if you write out a few paragraphs detailing your new knowledge. For some, the physical task of writing also reinforces new ideas.

  1. Take a piece of paper and explain your new concept in simple language (including examples)
  2. Think about which parts of the explanation were difficult, and refresh your learning on them.
  3. Look over the difficult parts again and see if you can explain them more clearly, and easily. Could you explain it to a child? And have an answer if they ask why?

When you practice this technique you will be able to speed up deep learning, allowing you to move on to new things more quickly, and more efficiently!

Thanks for reading!

Remove Shame from your Diet – Liz Josefsberg

We have a complicated relationship with food. We are designed to want food, as our primitive brain is wired to consume whenever we see, smell or talk about food.

But with such abundance it is easy to over-eat. We get intense pleasure from sugary food, and can start to use it to deal with stressful situations.

When over-eating leads to becoming overweight, this dependence on sugary food turns to shame. This shame manifests most when we’re trying to diet, to get back in shape. If you slip and eat chocolate, or whatever you’re restricting we panic and trigger stressful shameful thoughts about breaking the diet.

The ingrained response to this is to binge on further sugary foods to counteract the stressful situation.

Liz proposes a shift in mindset in her ‘target 100’ course. With no hard limits on food types you can go over your daily carbs or drink a glass of wine and still score 70 even though your target is 100. The higher the score the better, but it allows for more flexibility.

Reframing those times you slip differently means you reduce the stress and shame, which reduces the cycle of binging and dieting without long term weight loss.

Liz also advocates environment design and mindfulness to form new, better habits around food.

Remove your most tempting snacks from your house. Set an earlier alarm so you have time to make a healthy breakfast. Practice mindfulness to allow yourself to deal with stress and temptation more easily.

Read more about the course in Liz’s book ‘Target 100

Thanks for reading!

Get better at anything – David Bayles

This story is based on making art, but the principal can be used for any endeavour you want to get better at.

A pottery class was split into two groups. One was instructed to make as many pots as possible, and that they would be marked just on how many pots they produced.

The other group was told it would be marked on the quality of a single pot.

At the end of term, the students were marked, and they were invited to showcase their work, for a chance for a special award.

Nearly all the awards went to pots made by the quantity group. Without the pressure of being marked on quality they could focus on the process of making hundreds of pots. Through this they gained so much more insight into their craft than the quality group who, instead of learning through doing, spent more of their time thinking about how to make the best pot.

The take-away here is that if you keep doing the thing, without worrying about the quality, you will keep learning.

This could be a creative endeavour, writing, art, music, but it works in all fields, technical and interpersonal. Coding, Crosswords, Public Speaking, anything. If you keep doing it, without fear of judgement then you will improve.

Build into your routine a chance to practice your craft, it can be 5 minutes a day, an hour a week, whatever works. As long as it’s regular and without worrying about quality. Do, Repeat, Improve.

This story was taken from Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland

Content is King – Gary Vee’s 64-Post Day Explained

Recently Gary Vee released a slideshow / deck that outlines the step-by-step process he and his team have used to create 64 pieces of social media content in a single day.

The key to this feat is speed. Many of the posts are created in seconds, and learning to use your phone’s tools efficiently and effectively means you can create a dazzling social media presence in the lift, or in line at lunch, or while your software loads.

The other thing it explains is how to design the right type of content and right type of presentation for each social media platform. One of the ways it synergizes well is how to adapt and manipulate your content to give it context across multiple platforms, meaning you can serve a single piece of content multiple times.

Some Examples:

Text Post

  • Think of a short message relating to a recent thought you had in your life and or business.
  • Write it on a notebook app on your phone.
  • Take a screenshot and crop it to size / square.
  • Post it on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook.

Photo

  • Take a picture with a colleague or customer.
  • Write a quick description on your meeting or project you’re working on.
  • Post it on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.

Gary suggests you ‘document.’ Keeping content simple means you don’t have to think too hard, so you can keep producing content without burning out.

The deck of slides is available at Gary’s blog

For further reading:

Crushing It: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too – Gary Vaynerchuk (2018)

The F.I.R.E. Movement – Financial Independence, Retire Early.

There’s a growing number of people who are looking to escape the traditional work life model. Why retire at 65 when you can retire at 35 or younger?

The main goal of the movement is to save enough to live off a portion of the interest. For many people the figure they are trying to reach is 25 times your annual living expenses. At this level you should be able to withdraw enough to cover your living costs, usually 3-4%, and still be able to grow your savings.

The key figures here are income and living costs. The larger the gap between them, the more you can save. The question is, can you save 25-50% of your income each month?

Of course having a high income is important, but saving at this level calls into question how your lifestyle impacts your living costs.

If you are able to live frugally, your retirement goal will be a lot lower, and it will also increase the rate at which you can save.

With 25 years of living expenses as the goal, it’s quite easy to calculate your savings goal. If you spend $20k a year, you could aim to retire with $500k.

Getting there from zero is going to take a while. If you can save 25% of your income you will be able to retire in around 32 years, 50% will take 16 years, 65% will take just 10 years.

For many FIREists getting to these high percentage savings is done through living frugally. If you are able to reduce your expenses, move to a smaller property in a cheaper area, reducing spend on luxuries, switching to less expensive hobbies it all helps. Every $100 a month reduction brings your goal $30,000 closer.

If you’d like to read more try ‘Work Optional’ by Tanja Hester.

Fall Asleep in 5 Minutes

Getting a good night’s sleep can be elusive for many. A stressful day or a noisy environment can easily keep you awake.

Reason enough for the US military to train their soldiers to fall asleep more easily.

They reported that 96% of the people they trained over 6 weeks could consistently fall asleep within 5 minutes using these techniques.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Think about any tension in your head and face. Concentrate on relaxing your jaw, tongue and eyes, and finally neck.
  2. One by one, release the tension in your shoulder, arm and hand on each arm. Stretch each side down and then release.
  3. Breathe in fully, then slowly breath out and feel your chest relax.
  4. Stretch out your legs and then release, considering your thigh, legs, ankles and feet.
  5. Clear your mind with visualisation. Imagine yourself in a serene comfortable environment, like a quiet seaside grove, or snug hammock. If you can’t clear your thoughts repeat ‘do not think’ in your head for 10 seconds.

By practicing these techniques you can rapidly increase your relaxation and readiness for sleep. Faster sleep means more sleep, which is always a good thing.

Sleep has a huge benefit on your physical and mental body. You can read more about sleep (and how important it is) in Dr Matthew Walker’s book ‘Why We Sleep

Thanks for reading!

3 Steps to a Healthy Sexual Relationship – Emily Nagoski

Having a strong sexual connection in a relationship is important to many people. It can be difficult to maintain this connection as other areas of our lives get in the way. In her TED talk Emily outlines a few things that couples can do to maintain a strong sexual connection.

1) Make sure you have friendship and trust.

The strongest relationships have a foundation in friendship, and trust is key when you’re asking your partner (or yourself) to go into an intimate situation.

Any negative emotions between you can be a barrier to intimacy. The best solution is to talk through your issues from a place of friendship and trust.

2) Prioritize Sex.

As a couple you need to agree that having sexual intimacy is important to you. There are a multitude of things you might get in the way, other commitments from work or family, travel, tiredness etc.

If you agree that sex is a priority you should be able to put some time aside for it, having a ‘date night’ set to allow for some private time with your partner.

3) Get into the mood with skin contact.

We don’t always feel in the right mindset for sex, especially after a long stressful day. If you’re not ‘feeling it’ then you can use skin contact to remind your bodies that you enjoy sex.

Cuddling afterwards is a proven sign of a strong relationship, so try prolonging the intimacy to promote your sexual connection further.

Watch Emily’s talk here:

Check out Emily’s Book ‘Come As You Are.’

Amazon US