A Good Night’s Sleep

The common wisdom is diet and exercise is the key to a long and healthy life. I think this is not entirely correct. The key is exercise and sleep. After getting a good night’s sleep, everything seems to work better. You are rested, you have more energy, and you are thinking clearer. The length and quality of your sleep plays a significant role in your productivity and quality of life. Little is known about sleep, but sleep allows the body to heal, and removes or diminishes many of the pains of life. It is actually stronger than any man made drug Americans like to take.

They say that as one ages, we sleep less. At 56 years, I am experiencing the opposite. When I was younger, I slept about 7 hours a night, and now I frequently log about 8 hours of sound sleep. I love it.

Here are some of the things that I do to make sure that I get as much good sleep as possible.

Exercise

Modern life and productivity does not include much exercise or calories burned. Whenever I have the opportunity to burn calories, I do. On top of that, I run 5 miles at least 3 times a week. I believe it is a cycle of burning calories and then resting that creates a good rhythm for sleep.

Alcohol

Sometimes alcohol makes you sleep well but other times not. It certainly does not promote regular peaceful sleep. It is rare that I drink alcohol and when I do I make sure that i don’t have anything important the next day, because I want to make sure that I feel my best every day. Not because I am hung over, but I think that the alcohol affects my sleep.

Pills

One thing that I have learned in life is that there are not short cuts. And that includes your sleep. So many people think that they can take pills for sleep. In fact, I fell into that same trap because of all the international travel when I was younger. But I now know that sleeping pills do not promote healthy sleep. Perhaps more importantly, they can be down right dangerous and fatal.

Food

Here is one last tip. I have learned that if you go to bed hungry, you can sleep much longer and with higher quality. In fact, whenever I fast, I sleep amazingly well. It is counter intuitive. You think that you can’t possibly sleep well while feeling pangs of hunger but believe me, it is great.

Conclusion

An old friend of mine, Jim Taylor, once told me that your intelligence changes every day. One must be aware of when your intelligence varies, and only make important decisions when you are feeling smart. I believe that the variation in intelligence is a function of the amount and quality of sleep you get.

Insane Productivity

I like to get a lot of work done. Getting a lot of work done is my competitive advantage. If you think of your competitor, do you think you get more work done than them? Here are some ways to get insane amounts of work done.

Work from Home

Working out of your home is not for everyone, but if you are into insane productivity, then it is the holy grail. You waste productive time getting ready for work, worrying about your appearance, and then of course the commute to work. On top of that, once you arrive at work, there is the office chit chat, and the endless people that don’t know what to do that day. Of course, the nemesis of productivity are the dreaded meetings. All of that lost time can be spent doing real work, and moving your company ahead of the competition.

Get off Facebook

I know this woman and she claims to work 100 hours per week. There is no evidence of this, but I do know that she spends inordinate amounts of time on social media. This is a colossal waste of time and a productivity killer. There is a certain psychological component to Facebook too. You think, OMG, my college roommate’s kid is on scholarship to Harvard University. Then you think, maybe I should do more for more my kids. But all of this is just wasted thoughts, that take away from your productivity.

The funny part is that Facebook is highly addictive. Many people cannot stop. I have mentioned to some that a key to improved productivity is to stop Facebook. They look at me like I am crazy. Some people have convinced themselves that Facebook makes them more productive. They are not.

Stop the News

It isn’t easy, but I have turned off all of the news in my life. I do not watch news on TV, and try to avoid the news whenever possible when on the internet. I believe that the news is constructed so that all of us are distracted from whatever is really important to us. Right now, we are in the midst of another presidential election, and whatever stupid or smart thing a candidate says, it makes national news.

The news is not about what’s important. It is now about page views and likes. And I hate to say it but what people want to read and what they need to read are two different things. Now our sports pages are filled with the home lives of the stars rather than just sports. Or the dentist that killed a lion. I don’t care about any of this and neither should you. Either way, you must agree that paying attention to any of this hurts your productivity and should be discarded.

Eat When You’re Hungry

I mean really hungry. Somewhere along the line, we have all been trained to eat three meals a day. When I get a lot of work done, I routinely skip meals. The funny thing is that people believe that skipping meals is unhealthy. That somehow a missed meal weakens the immune system, and may make you sick. This idea is archaic, and it comes from people that live in the most obese nation in the history of humanity.

When I miss a meal, it makes me hungry initially and it passes. But when you miss a meal, the next meal tastes even better. It is awesome plus you get done a lot more work than anyone else.

You Control the Internet

As a general guideline, the internet exists to make you more productive. It is great to research a problem, or to a check the background of a job candidate, but the internet should not control you. The internet is about page views and monetizing page views. So the more time you waste on things that you did not originally intend, the more money they make and the less you productive you have become. There is so much information good and bad on the internet, and you need to focus on just the information you need right now, so you can get back to work.

Conclusion

I have a feeling that this is going to come off as radical. And imagine that, insane productivity is considered radical. I love getting a lot of work done. It is a great feeling and you have after you are done. Radical it is.

10 Years of Running

It was November 2005, that I celebrated my first year of running. Now, November 2014, I am proud to say that I have been running for 10 years. A lot has changed in my life in the last 10 years. I married, have two wonderful children, and I have built my business from a small start up into a thriving medium sized business. Throughout all the change, there has been one constant – running.

After my first year of running, I established a routine which I still abide today. My normal run is file miles and it takes me slightlly less than an hour to complete. By any standard, I am a slow runner. I am not trying to run slow nor fast. I just start and go at a velocity that my body dictates. My mind is normally wandering through the clouds and flowing with whatever thoughts that will eventually drive my day. The good news is that in all my time in running, I have never sustained any major injuries. I did have a few falls but nothing that ever stopped the routine. I am happy to say as I turned 55 years old this year, that I still maintain the same routine with a goal of at least 3 runs of 5 miles each week.

In the last 5 years, I have been traveling extensively and that has not deterred my running schedule that much. Google Maps is a huge help when traveling. My run is normally somewhere between 5 and 6 miles, and I can plot a good course, and it helps me find the parks near by. I am proud to say that I have run Central Park in NY, and Hyde Park in London numerous times throughout my travels. There is also the treadmill option but for me that is solution of last resort. I like to explore the city and enjoy the outdoors.

Nothing really deters me from running. In Rio de Janeiro, I like running in the rain, because it never is really cold, and the rain is quite soothing. This year, it was less than 20 degrees in Myrtle Beach, and I just had to see if I could run. Running in the cold in the beginning is quite difficult, but after about 10 minutes, your body heat keeps you warrm, and you don’t have to worry about losing fluids.

In the last 10 years, I have run three half marathons. Running a race, for me, is a great challenge and highly rewarding. I love the feeling before the race begins, and then running among so many fellow runners. My goal is never to set a personal record, or run faster. I just want to finish and feel good after I am done.

I sweat profusely while running. I think that sweating is a very natural part of our body’s function and should be embraced rather than avoided. One time, I weighed myself before and after, and I lose about 4 pounds of liquids when running. The struggle for me lately has been how to rehydrate in the best possible way. In Brazil, I had the perfect solution in coconut water. It is 100% natural, with no sugar or calories, yet still high in potassium and sodium. Now that I am back in the US, it is very hard to find something that is not chock full of sugar or high fructose corn syrup, that also contains sodium and pottasium. I am always experimenting with what I should rehydrate.

There is no doubt that my life is better after 10 years of running. My relationships at work and at home are all better because I have time to reflect on my life and my actions while running. My business is just starting to blossom and I hope that it will continue too.

I am now 55 years old and it is my sincere hope that I can run for another 10 years. I view running like my thermometer. As long as I can run 5 miles without stopping, my health must be OK.

Lessons From My First Marathon

Water

My time on my first 1/2 marathon was 2:39 minutes which is basically a horrible time. The reason that my time was so bad was because I walked somewhere around 3 kilometers of the race. It was my goal to run the entire race, and I failed in that goal. I wanted to finish and not walk.

The reason is that I developed cramps and I started walking. Worse yet, after about 2 kilometers, both my legs cramped incredibly and I fell to the ground in pain. I was so mad at myself. People were yelling at me to get up and keep on stretching so I did. I started walking and finally I decided to finish the race running no matter what. I stopped again and started stretching like a mad man until I felt that I stretched out all the cramps. I finished the last 4 kilometers running and those are the photos taken by the photographers.

I had no idea, but I need to rehydrate. Cramps are a function of fatigue and hydration. I sweat a lot when I run. In fact, it is one of the reasons that I enjoy running but if I want to run for long distances, I have to hydrate during the run or I will cramp. My wife also ran and she did not hydrate much and she did not cramp. The difference is she barely perspires.

I decided to run a test and yesterday (4 days after the 1/2 marathon), I weighed myself before I ran my normal 7500 meter run. I weighed 69.1 kg which is 152 pounds. Aftewards, slightly less than an hour later, I weighed 67.4 kg or 148 pounds. So in less than an hour, I lost 4 pounds and to be honest, I was still sweating madly when I weighed myself.

The most important lesson that I have learned is that I have to learn to hydrate. I mean this literally because it is a skill to drink liquids while running.

Continue reading “Lessons From My First Marathon”

The 7 Principles of Success

Although so many people want to be successful, very few people are. Quite often, we end up rationalizing the success of others and inventing reasons why we are not successful. I have always believed different. It is not easy to be successful, but if one tries to achieve the following principles, ultimately successful will follow.

1. Tell the Truth

Or better put, don’t lie. If you tell the truth over the a long period of time, you earn something that is key in life, trust. Once people trust you, then it is easier to achieve more difficult tasks.

There is also a more important reason to strive to tell the truth. Do you remember when you were a kid, and you could tell when someone was lying to you? Over time, we adults lose this instinct. I believe it is because as we learn to lie, and our ability to detect lies declines. So the less you lie, the easier it is to see the truth. Continue reading “The 7 Principles of Success”