Hello! Here Luis.

For some time now I have been wanting to adopt a polyphasic schedule.

Primarily, my reason were that (1) I do not feel confortable with a normal sleeping pattern of 8 hours, and (2) I seems crazy, so I naturally want to try it.

Polyphasic sleeping consists on, instead of sleeping in one sit, breaking your sleep down into separated parts along the night (or the day). The trick is that this allows you to reduce the total sleep hours, without short term downsides. The long term effects are unknown.

A well known example of polyphasic schedule is the Siesta. Also, it seems that centuries ago, before the invention of electric devices, some people followed polyphasic schedules. Babies also do, as any parent who had to wake up at 3 am may known. (Reference)

I first got in contact with polyphasic sleeping by reading the 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. Thanks to this book I am now also leaner than ever before, if only because it motivated me into action.

In the book, there is a brief chapter devoted to polyphasic sleep, written by Neil Strauss. Mr Strauss tried a very extreme polyphasic schedule adaptation and failed to implement it, as far as I know. The schedule he was trying to implement is known as “Uberman”, and consists on a total of 2 hours/day of sleep, distributed into six 20 min naps. This schedule is the most difficult to follow.

It turns out, there are more polyphasic schedules, which can be classified into different tiers depending on the total sleep hours and the difficulty. I got all the information from the Polyphasic Society.

Truth is, I already tried to implement polyphasic schedules in the past, and failed. The reason that I failed was that the adaptation requires discipline and everyday persistence. Not quite like me. So this morning, after failing on following the schedule, I asked myself: why did I fail? Why should I do this at all?

I failed, because at some point I lost the motivation. I lost the motivation because I forgot why I decided to do it.

There are two important things to consider, the DOs and the DO-NOTs.

The DO-NOTs tell you why you shouldn’t do it. They may be seen as rocks in your way, if you really want to do something. DO-NOTs for me are:

  • I do not use my time effectively. Why should I then want more time?

From Lewis Howes, I know that I must break through my excuses for not to do something. I must figure out first what stops me, and solve it in a daily basis. The answer then is, to use time effectively.

What about the DOs?

  • Do it because it is a challenge, and you’ll learn from it.
  • Do it because it gives you more time during your most physically and mentally able years (I am 28).
  • Do it because people think it is crazy.
  • Do it to know more about myself, and what my body and mind can do.
  • Do it to practice self-discipline daily.
  • Ultimately, it gives me an additional “time slot” every day, allowing me to do more things (and there are a lot of things that I want to do).

My plan

I will go through a process of adaptation of about 2 months.

The first part lasts for 2 weeks, and consists on a biphasic segmented schedule.

Shaded areas are sleeping time.

Shaded areas are sleeping time.

The second part, about 6 weeks of adaptation, is a Dual-core schedule:

dualcore

Eating correctly is important to follow these schedules. This includes abstention of caffeine, alcohol, and sugar in the hours before bed time.

My plan includes 4 meals, A, B, C, and D (because I don’t know how to call them anymore):

A: ~2 am, half a can of sardines.

B: ~8 am, oatmeal with milk, vegetable soup.

C: ~12 am, vegetable soup with lentils, one banana and almonds.

D: ~6 pm, 4 meatballs, cheese, 2 boiled eggs, almonds.

As much water as I want, and I allow myself one or two cups a day of decaffeinated coffee, although I know it contains a bit of caffeine.

Guidelines for meals are to be found here (skip to the very end if you want to find a pre-made nutrition schedule, which is the one I took as a guide).

Adds

The body reacts to blue light and red light differently, to detect whether it is night or day and adjust our inner chemistry to prepare us for sleeping. This is explained in more detail here. The take home message is: use blue light during the day, and red light at dusk, about before 2 hours before dusk sleep. Unfortunately, computers are by default blue light emitters (well, they just emit in the entire spectrum of visible light). That’s were the app f.lux comes in handy, and it is totally for free. This app allows you to adjust the “blueness” of your screen. Even better, it automatically adjusts it during night time. Helping your body to enter into a sleep-ready state.

Problems

For all this text, now I address what I meant to from the beginning. My issues on adapting to a polyphasic schedule. The main problem is that after a 3.5 h sleep, I’ll turn off my alarm and go back to bed. This will happen if I lack motivation, and I am finding it particularly difficult also during the summer (well, almost summer) with such warm temperatures which make me feel really sleepy.

Tips to overcome these issues are discussed here.

Things that may help:

  • Remind myself about why I want to do it (e.g. with a post-it next to my alarm).
  • Drinking water: drink 1 L water 30 min before core sleep, so that I’ll need to urinate when I wake up.
  • Increase my body temperature immediately after I wake up. Enter in contact with cold water (e.g. cold shower, eski filled with icy water next to alarm).
  • Use blue or white light (e.g. from the computer, from a flashlight…). A very easy thing is to sit in front of the computer.
  • Pavlov’s conditioning: adopt the habit of an after-core routine (e.g. sit in front of the computer instead of going to bed).

Another thing with which I struggle sometimes is going to bed early when I am not sleepy. I found (in the same link above) that a possible solution is to “sedate myself” with alcohol (some strong drink, like bourbon) before a core. Although it should be used only spuriously.

Things that I will try next:

  • I will drink water (maybe not 1 L) before sleep.
  • I will sit in front of my computer (with f.lux disabled) and do some non-work stimulating activity, such as playing videogames. I am in the middle of Half Life 2. No. I do not want to use the extra time to play, but if it proves to be a good tool to keep me awake, I’ll use it for some time.

This is not easy at all (less with these hot temperatures), wish me the best!

Luis

Hey guys!

In this post I’ll point out the main things about the “review” habit and what will be my focus on applying it to my life.

But first, I’ll talk about how the habit #6: Organize, is working for me.

Organize is about keeping stuff in its place. What’s the place of the stuff? Well… wherever you decide. Don’t think much about it, just put it in that place consistently.

I’d say for me it was pretty easy to keep everything organized. What I focused on is, putting things back wherever their place was, after using them and/or changing activity. This is all that thing about paying attention to the transitions. In the end it is very simple:

  1. Set up a new activity.
  2. For this activity, I need a certain material, e.g. a book.
  3. Take the material to the working place and complete the activity, or work on in until I stop.
  4. Before beginning the next activity, put the material back to where it was, e.g. the shelf.
  5. Besides the material that I used, is there something else in the working place that is misplaced? If yes, put it where it belongs (and decide “where it belongs” on the fly if needed). For example, I keep putting my notebooks inside my handbag all the time, whereas before they would just randomly lie on top of the desk at all times.

This was a really little change which however helped me to keep things cleaner.

Another thing that I paid attention to is: keep flat surfaces clean. Now my desk is completely empty of papers just lying around -much more comfortable.

Ok. Now, let’s move on.

#7 — REVIEW

Reviewing is about keeping you on track. It’s easy to get out of the way and mess up, a weekly review helps to go back to where you want, to do the things that you want.

Modus operandi:

Do a Simplified Weekly Review.

  1. Review the single long-term goal, and the weekly short-term goal. The short-term goal should synergize with the long-term goal, so that you make sure you’re advancing toward the latter. Is the short-term goal finished? Yes: choose the next short-term goal that pulls you closer to the long-term goal. No: What minitasks you should do to complete it? The book encourages you to choose one and only one long-term goal for the year, since focus is the most important component in achieving a goal. I believe that this one action is important.
  2. Review your notes. Do a quick scan over your todo list, completing unfinished tasks that can be done fast.
  3. Review your calendar. Things need to be moved forward? New tasks triggered? What are the upcoming tasks next week?
  4. Review your lists. Update to-do list, cross off completed items. Scan your other lists (someday/maybe, errands…).
  5. Set short-term goal and plan Big Rocks. This is actually included already in the Minimal ZTD. I am setting Big Rocks for each week and taking my MITs for the day from there. However I didn’t set any “yearly goal” yet, within the frame of the Minimal ZTD. Yay! I am thrilled!

I had set up my Big Rock review on Saturday (that is, today), so I’ll just substitute that for this habit.

How do you approach the issue of “keeping yourself on track”?

I kept the Minimal ZTD for a few days, and it’s simplicity is just elegant. One Inbox list, one Master todo list, one MITs list. That’s all you need.

I’ve been also keeping a BIG ROCKS list, and an @Errands list, for convenience. So that’s basically how my Evernote shortcuts list looks like now:

Evernote shortcuts

 

The numbers are for me to keep the notes ordered in a particular order, because I order them by name.

I didn’t keep track of anything, but I am happy and confortable about how it works now. Note that by having the @Errands list, I include something from the Simple Trusted System (Habit 5, read more). I’ll only add more things from this habit if I see that I need them.

Tip: Only add these habits that you know you need. If you don’t know, try them out and figure out.

I am jumping straight into the next habit. Enter number 6, ORGANIZE. Yeah.

Organize, consists on having things clean and ordered. Having “a place for everything, and everything in its place”. There are some things about it that I already do, like putting incoming stuff in my inbox, having a simple filing system, labeling stuff…

Some other things I only partially do and could be improved:

  • Find a home: Everything should have a place/home where it goes. If something has no home, create it.
  • Put it away immediately: Don’t leave put things in their home for later. Do it now. I’ll need work on this…
  • Pay attention to transitions: Use the time between one action and the next (“transitions”) to put things away.
  • Keep flat surfaces clear: Speaks by itself. It implies the desk, the couch, the bed…

I’ll leave a week to assess this habit.

Did you try this habit? How did it work? Any tip? How do you organize your stuff?

See you next time.

 

During the next 7 days I’ll apply the minimal ZTD. This is a minimalistic version of the ZTD habits, with only the essential for the system to work. Read the original blogpost by Leo Babauta to know what it is.

To accomplish this I have to do the following:

  • I have to fast process my lists into a master to-do list. My lists right now have like hundreds of items, so for the sake of easiness, I will file them and ignore them for the time being, which means that I’ll start with a pure clean empty master to-do list of love and joy.
  • I’ll have to keep my inboxes clean, emptying them at least once a day. If not, I get eaten by angry purple weasels from Thailand.
  • To empty my inboxes, I have to process them. And DELETE is the default option. I must put myself into this, since it is so difficult to delete my own ideas. But I don’t do anything with them in the end, so what would be the difference, right?
  • I have to plan my BIG ROCKS (once a week) and MITs (once a day, either in the beginning of the day, or in the end, for the next day).
  • I have to do the MITs, of course. This is actually the most important thing, far above the rest. The whole purpose of a productivity system is doing what you choose to do.

Hopefully this is simple enough that I will follow it. I believe that procrastination is my greatest final foe now.

-Ties a headband to his forehead, fits in his boxing gloves- See you in one week.

Hi all,

For the last weeks (or months…), I have been neglecting to put in practice the ZTD system (or the habits I had went through), which does not make me feel confortable.

I think that the main problem which led me to the current situation is having to many lists, too many things in my lists, and too many daily things to do with my lists. As a consequence, I ended up losing focus, and I became more and more loose in applying the habits.

Incidentally, talking about applying habits, this blogpost by Leo Babauta is pure gold.

Piles and piles of things to do have been gathering dust in my lists for ages now, I hardly ever pay attention to the daily activities regarding these lists (e.g. review them) that I set on my google calendar account, and the whole thing seems to be completely messed up.

That’s why I decided to restart. Yes, RESTART. I’ll do it however slightly different than before:

  • I’ll apply one habit, not per month, but per week.
  • I’ll being with the minimalistic ZTD (more about that in next blogpost). I will consider this my first habit to apply. Edit: Actually, everything about the minimal ZTD is here.
  • I’ll learn the habits in the way which is most useful to me. What I need most critically now are the habits of doing and planning (in particular, allocating a time frame to my actions), so that’s what I’ll be doing first.

Heads up and see you soon! :-D

Hi, Luis here!

I completed the mini-challenge that I announced in December, with christmas in between! This definitely helped me to have a bit more control on my MITs. I also began applying a simple schedule to make sure that I don’t get lazy on that. If you just want to read about the schedule, scroll down and skip the result of the challenge.

Initial MITs/Final MITs

Day 1: 2/2(2*)

Day 2: 6/2(2*)

Day 3: 5/2

Day 4: 5/1(1*)

Here I took a few days of doing NOTHING, and entirely ignoring any productivity system. Not really what I had thought to do though…

Day 5: 4/2(2*)

Day 6: 4/4(1*) Played videogames this day, example of what you should not do. Well, perhaps you can have a biweekly “mess up” day or something…

Day 7: 4/3(1*)

Total: 30/16(8*)

The end result is not incredibly bad, but I still feel that I need to improve a lot.

What I found that helps me TONS, is to define specific time slots to do things. Not something like, at 10 am I do this, at 11 am I do that, and so on. This is a problem, because if I for instance oversleep, I mess things up completely.

What I adopted is a schedule similar to this Pomodoro thingie.

SCHEDULE

My schedule gives plenty of free time (so one does not get into the “I feel like a slave” mood) and structures working time independently of the hour of the day, so no matter what time you wake up, or where you are, you can always use it. This is as follows:

- Wake up

- 30 min Shower + breakfast

MIT TIME:

- 1.5 h MIT1

- 30 min batch

- 1.5 h MIT2

- 30 min lunch

- 1.5 h MIT3

NON-MIT (“free”) TIME*:

- 2 h Batch+TODO

- 30 min snack

- 5 h Batch+TODO (and somewhere in between dinner)

- 1 h consume**

- Sleep

*I can follow this schedule or just do something else. I defined a sort of structure for my free time because I want to have some idea of what I want to do during my non-MIT time

**By “consume”, I mean watch movies, read fiction, play videogames… whatever involves obtaining entertainment, in opposition to “produce”.

This schedule assumes two things. I do 3 MITs every day. And I can do one MIT in 1.5 h. Both are just reference assumptions that are far from being written in stone. In fact, most of the time I need more than 1.5 h for one MIT (which means that most of the time I don’t complete 3 MITs every day).

In each 1.5 h slot I have a break of 10 minutes in between. So it’s not really 1.5 h, it is 1 h and 40 minutes. It goes like that:

- Work in MIT for 45 minutes.

- Take a 10 minutes break. Get away of the computer or whatever you’re using. Usually I make myself a tea, or drink water, do squats, walk a little bit…

- Work again in MIT for 45 minutes.

This schedule is not constrained to a certain hour of the day, which is perfect for me, since my waking up time tends to fluctuate, and I don’t have a fixed starting hour for being in the office (good things of doing a PhD!)

And that’s what I learned during this mini-challenge!

Soon the second mini-challenge (of 3) will come.

See you around.

Ahoy fellas!

Today (first post in a long time) I’ll set the ground to a number of mini-challenges to redress my usage of ZTD.

I have had big problems, in particular with the DO habit.

The COLLECT and PROCESS habits I perform quite well (they’re perhaps the easiest).

In the PLAN habit I stumble a bit. The main problem is that I set the alarms for tracking my BR and monthly goals via my GoogleCalendar, they get mixed with all my other emails, which I tend to ignore more often than not, and as a result, these alarms get also ignored sometimes. The thing is: although I could set a different gmail account for my GoogleCalendar, switching between gmail accounts is a pain. I could maybe use some other tool, but I have everything set up in my GoogleCalendar already… I’ll see how I tackle that. Maybe as one famous entrepreneur says,the best is to “let little bad things happen”.

I fail the DO habit, having one same item in my MITs list for the day during days or even weeks. If I managed to empty that list everyday, I’d be a happy man. Today, I want to set a mini-challenge to try to tackle that.

I’ll do a one week version of the challenge I did for the DO habit. I’ll track the number of MITs that I set for the day, and the number that I have left at the end of each day.

I should fill the following lines:

Initial MITs/Final MITs

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Etc.

I’ll start tomorrow!

Note: Sometimes, it happens that I couldn’t do a MIT that day because I had to wait for another thing to be complete, which didn’t depend on me. If that happens, I’ll mark a number with a *. Example: Let’s say that I had 3 MITs, I completed 2, but one of them I was unable to complete for external reasons. I’ll mark it as: 3/2(1*)

Hope to report in a week!

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