A few observations to note from my experiments in sleep and productivity:
- What I eat matters. I might crave high carb (junk food) especially when I have to do difficult work but the outcome is actually a reduction in focus and a general feeling of lethargy. Also eating junk food leads to wanting more junk food which increases the lethargic feeling. It may curb the craving and enable me to work, but soon I’ll feel horrible.
- Working late. I’ve tried stopping work and packing up to wind down at 8pm and I’ve tried working past 8pm and getting to bed only when I can’t focus anymore. I prefer stopping and packing up at 8pm. For one, the quality of my sleep is much better when I completely go offline at least two full hours before bed. Secondly, when I worked late into the night, I might have gotten “more” done but the quality was a lot less and slower paced. Thirdly, the next morning rather than having a clear mind ready to refocus and do more work, all the information worked on from the night before was still swirling in my mind because my brain did not get the quality sleep (and nutrients) it needed to store, file and process the new connections between information that would’ve made me more creative and productive the next day. In effect, I would’ve been better off stopping at 8pm, winding down and getting quality sleep so as not to impact the next day’s productivity. This is an important point as working into the night makes me less productive and creative the next day.
- Everything gets out of whack. When I don’t take care of the fundamentals, everything else gets out of whack. A two hour wind down and quality sleep the night before is actually the best preparation for a day of creative work. It will take time to become proficient in executing the fundamentals—it’s a habit change that takes a lot of conscious work over a period of weeks and months before it becomes second nature. But the better I execute the fundamentals, the better I can execute my Highlight.