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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

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.

 

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! 😀

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.