How To Optimise Your Day Without Being OCD About It

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper said:

Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, We’ve always done it this way. I try to fight that. That’s why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise.”

We, humans, are naturally wired to think about big things, such as the meaning of life, and how come I didn’t get my letter to Hogwarts.

By doing this, we neglect seemingly boring part, which consumes almost the two-thirds of your life.

I already wrote about setting the foundation and giving up on things that don’t support your goals.

But today, we tackle the third pillar of productivity.

Which is based on the following question:

How can I optimise the activities that I have to do, but that don’t support my goals directly?

These things would be:

  • eating
  • drinking
  • sleeping
  • cleaning
  • cooking
  • groceries
  • commuting
  • physical activity

I went over the board, to be honest, started optimising things like water tap pressure so that the water can come out faster, and save me 2 seconds per glass.

Anyways, I went through this in excruciating detail, so you don’t have to.

And the process was life changing.

Not only that the quality of my life increased because I’ve optimised things that were usually hard to enjoy, to the point where I can immerse myself in things such as vacuuming.

But also, because I became efficient and effective, I’ve gotten more time in return.

That’s what we are talking about today.

But, enough talking, let’s get to the meat.

Outsource

Outsourcing becomes one of the most useful tools for your life when you realise the value of your time.

Just ask yourself following:

What activities in my everyday life I could outsource for less money that my hour is valued at?

An example would be:

Instead of going to buy groceries yourself. Create a list, and have it delivered to you.

Here are a couple of other things you can think about:

  • cleaning
  • ironing clothes
  • cooking

Right, sometimes you just want to enjoy these.

But in the majority of situations, you will find more benefit in finding someone who can do these things better, for less money.

I suggest you try just one.

Bulk Up Your Tasks

Whatever is left after outsourcing, you need to bulk up.

I suggest you specify a day of the week where you will do remaining events. Bulk them up, put them in order and start doing one by one.

It usually takes two or three hours to finish cleaning, decluttering, grocery buying on Sunday, compared to doing these things 30–60 minutes every day.

This way, you will save a massive amount of time a week, and it will be easier to operate day to day, knowing that you don’t have to think about things you have to do because you have defined a particular time of the week for their execution.

Optimise Your Eating Habits

Whenever I tackle this topic, people think that I only perceive food as energy. Which is mostly true.

I am not saying that you cannot enjoy food, what I am saying that the way you consume it, should be as automatic as possible.

The way you do this is by determining following defining at the end of each week, what will be the meals for the rest of the week.

Sit down, open a paper and write down what will you eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack for the remainder of the week.

This will take you 20 minutes if you are single, a bit longer if you are cooking food for an entire family.

And then you just buy groceries or have them delivered. And that’s it.

Instead of having to decide every day what you will eat and then buy groceries, you do this once a week and then execute.

It will save you daily at least an hour, but it can go all the way to three hours easily.

Reclaim Dead Time

Dead Time = time spent on activities that you cannot eliminate at this moment, but can be used more productively.

The main idea here is to do something that will give you value while performing items that you already are committed to spending time on, such as:

  • physical activity
  • commuting
  • grocery shopping
  • cleaning
  • breaks at work

To be productive, find something you can do while being engaged in these activities.

I started paying attention to this when I bought my first iPod Nano and a Kindle.

From then on, every bus ride, cab drive, waiting in line or at the doctors office, waiting for late people, working out or running, having break, being in the ultimate thinking place (bathroom), buying groceries, all of these things became more enjoyable, because I managed to supplement them with entertainment, knowledge and inspirational content.

Or sometimes, just good music (today was Godsmack — Come Together).

Possible options include:

  • Listening to audiobooks and podcasts
  • Reading books (reading on Kindle)
  • Using apps such as Duolingo to learn a language.

When this happens, your friend being late for 45 minutes is not longer as frustrating, because you can listen to a chapter of your favourite book, or listen to a podcast and learn something new.

Optimise Your Evening Routine

Most people think that waking up early begins in the morning, which is far from the truth.

First, you need to set yourself for success the night before. And there are several ways you can do that.

Stop using technology before your sleep time

Exposing yourself to too much blue light (from your smartphone, tablet, or computer) before bed has an adverse influence on the quality of your sleep.

That’s why 1–2 hours before you go to sleep, go into so-called “Amish Hour,” turn off everything, and focus on yourself.
Prepare for the next day

Instead of having to decide on these things in the morning and losing precious willpower and decision-making ability, decide on it the night before.

Here are three things you should think about:

  1. What are my top priorities for tomorrow?
  2. What clothes will I wear tomorrow?
  3. What meal can I plan for tomorrow?

And then picture your ideal morning. This alone will influence your motivation to stay awake and stay away from the snooze button.

Read

With our busy schedules, it’s challenging to find enough time to read, but when you eliminate technology, you will easily find 30 minutes you can dedicate to reading. Whether or not it’s for personal or professional growth.

Optimise The Quality Of Your Sleep

Most of us go through life without knowing what affects our sleep and what can we do about it to make it better.

Not today. Today we have some answers. Let’s take one by one.

Stop the stimulants

At least six hours before you go to bed, you should stop drinking coffee and alcohol, because it will mess with your sleep.

You can drink green tea (without caffeine) and water, which are a much better substitute.

Avoid eating big meals

They’ll burden your digestive system and lower your sleep quality.
Instead have a small snack, like nuts and glass of milk, so you don’t wake up hungry.

Drink one glass of water

Since you are about to sleep for 6–8 hours straight, your body will need a lot of hydration; that’s why you should drink at least one glass of water.
If you have been drinking, make that at least two (and one when you wake up).

Avoid exercising before sleep

Exercising less than 3 hours prior bedtime can keep you awake. So try to do it earlier or in the morning.

Set right conditions

Find a quality mattress and pillow. Sleep in a dark and silent room (you can wear a sleep mask and have Melatonin as a supplement).

And pay attention to the room temperature, preferably you would want to sleep in a colder room (which for me in Malaysia is close to impossible).

Go to bed at the same time

At the beginning going to bed at the same time will be challenging because your body will operate on the old rhythm, and that’s why you should go to sleep when you are tired.

After several days you will start to feel tired towards the end of the day, and then you can sleep more consistently.

The first thing you should do is find the perfect time you should go to bed each night, and discover the ideal time you should get up to maximize energy and health.

While you sleep, you go through cycles of sleep states.

The first state in a sleep cycle is light sleep, followed by deep sleep and a dream state referred to as REM-sleep.

A full sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes (1.5 hours) and is repeated several times each night.

It would look something like:

1.5 hours > 3 hours > 4.5 hours > 6 hours

Of course, you will not be able to hit it exactly to the minute, but over the time you will get better.

You know how sometimes you sleep for like 11 hours, and you wake up groggy?

That is because you woke up during the sleep cycle.

On the other hand, have you ever woken up after sleeping for 3 hours and you felt wide awake and energised?

Again, sleep cycle.

For me, establishing a habit of getting up early had the biggest impact on my life, because it allowed me to focus several hours on myself and my biggest goals.

When it comes to getting up early, my suggestions are following:

• Go to bed at the same time.
• Get up earlier gradually

If you are currently getting up at 8 am, and your goal is 6 am, start with 7:50 am, then
7:40 am, and so on until you reach your goal, and then work on maintaining it.

Note! You might experience energy drops in the first couple of weeks.

However, that is normal until your body adjusts to the new schedule.

Pro tip: if you experience a sudden drop of energy, take a 20–30 minute nap.

HERE’S THE FINAL PILLAR.

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