Sleep Less and Become A Morning Person With Biphasic Sleeping

When I began looking into biphasic sleeping as a way to sleep less, I wasn’t concerned about becoming a morning person. In fact, I intentionally stopped being a morning person in order to adapt to biphasic sleeping. The truth is you can have the best of both worlds with biphasic sleeping. You can sleep less and become a morning person.

Sleep less and become a morning person with biphasic sleeping

A morning person has more time to be productive. A person who has figured out how to sleep less has more time to be productive. Biphasic Sleeping is your double-edged sword to take into battle against sleepiness.

George W. Bush used to rise at 5:30 am to exercise, read his bible, and prepare to lead the free world. Michael Hyatt uses the advantage of being a morning person to study God’s word, run, and often write. But for me, a young leader with a two year old, going to bed at 9 pm, so I can wake up at 5:30 am is just nuts.

Maybe if my kids were grown and it was just my wife and I, but even then I doubt I’d do it. I need time with my family, it’s what gives me the desire to be the best person I can be. Upon arriving home from work around 6 pm, I only have two and a half hours with my son. Then I have two and a half hours with my wife. That leaves me one hour with you, my reader. I write in that last hour before bed.

I then sleep six hours, which means I sleep less than most, but I still am rested enough to still wake up at 6 am and be a morning person. Thank you biphasic sleeping. Sleeping less and being a morning person isn’t natural, biphasic sleeping is a learned pattern. Here is how you do it.

Schedule – Create your ideal schedule. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t become an early riser at the same time I began biphasic sleeping. I fact, I used to go to bed at 1:30 am because I had to wake up at no later than 7:30am to make it to the office on time. This was a fool proof way to ensure I’d only sleep my six scheduled hours.

Nap – Time your one 20 minute nap to be at a time where you can stick to it. The nap is a key to biphasic sleeping so you can’t miss it. Life is busy and you’ll often struggle to find time to nap. Squeeze it into your schedule at a time that is usually quiet. This may be right when you get home from work, or for me, right after my son goes to bed. We like to be quiet in the house to help him fall asleep. This is a great time for my nap.

Alarm – I’ve found waking up from a 20 minute nap  is simple. There are still things to do so it’s easy to get up. The alarm clock in the morning however, not so easy. This is the biggest problem for people wanting to become a morning person. I’ve found that a Phillips GoLite is the perfect way to wake your senses, the natural way.

Sleeping less can be great and help you to become more productive. That’s why I adapted to a biphasic sleeping schedule. Becoming a morning person also has incredible upside. Combining the two is like combining Spider-man and the Hulk.

Would you rather be a night owl or a morning person?


Eat Like An Elite Athlete In The Office

“You are what you eat” is only sometimes true; take cinnamon buns, for example. Eating a cinnamon bun won’t make the others in the office excited to see you like they are when they see a cinnamon bun.


Eating like an elite athlete can make you a super human in the office. The opposite is true as well. Eating junk food can make you lazy, lethargic, tired, and unmotivated. Learning what to eat and when to eat it will make you an all-star at work.

World-class athletes have known for decades that what you eat prior to activity will play a huge role in your performance. The same is true for the world-class cubicle Olympian. Eating like an elite athlete, before and during your workday, will be the leading factor in your output and performance.

We often think of food as affecting only our physical well being. We all know that love handles and frontal butts are the result of too many cinnamon buns; but so are typos, scattered thoughts, and sub par work.   In order to manage your energy, learn to eat in the office like an elite athlete would eat when training for the Olympics.

Glycogen – Glycogen is the brain’s preferred source of energy. Glycogen is found in carbohydrates. But wait, carbs are bad for your booty right? Consider this: while training for Ali, Will Smith was on a low carb diet and training like an elite athlete to get his body into shape. But on shoot day, his trainers loaded him up with whole grain pasta. Without the carbs, he couldn’t remember his lines!

GI – The Glycemic Index of food determines how quickly it turns to sugar in the body. Eat a high glycemic food such as a cinnamon bun and you’ll be hyper for all of about 20 minutes. Then you’ll crash. The crash causes your body to feel tired and lazy. Instead, aim for low glycemic foods that provide a steady burn leaving you energized and focused.

Timing – Elite athletes know that when you eat is just as important as what you eat. High Glycemic foods are digested quickly and spike insulin production. Low GI foods offer a slow burn, fueling you for hours. Proteins offer steady energy and fight fatigue. Good Fats (mono and polyunsaturated) leave you feeling fuller, longer; helping stave off hunger pains.

NutrientsTim Ferris used to make a supplement called BrainQuiken. The proprietary blend of nutrients was formulated to provide your brain with the preferred nutrition to improve mental focus and memory. Skip the supplements and eat your veggies. Try for five colors. Carrots, Squash, Broccoli, red peppers, and cauliflower for example are a five-color medley.

Eat like an elite athlete and become the office all-star. Learning how certain foods affect your energy levels and mood will help you know how to manipulate your energy levels to provide long, steady, spurts of productivity. Choose foods that provide what you need, when you need it. Skip that cinnamon bun just before your next conference call or you’re going to be the guy drooling on the conference table halfway through the call. Good luck living that one down.

What snacks do you have in your desk drawer?

How To Limit Work Distractions

Recently, one of my partners and I were discussing our average workday and the high level of work distractions we experience on a daily basis. The higher in an organization you go, the more sought after your time will be. Managing all of these work distractions in the correct way can be the difference between getting things done and failing as a leader.

How To Limit Work Distractions

If you thought that big corner office would get you out of the cubical section into a more private space, you were sadly mistaken. The truth is, you’ll likely find more work distractions, as the size of your team and influence grows. Your goal should be a perfect balance between providing the input your team needs and tending to the tasks before you.

Learning how to avoid work distractions and get things done will benefit both yourself and your team.

Be Proactive – Find the trigger points before they are hit. For example, an employee needs approval on an invoice before she can process it. Rather than waiting for her to come into your office, thus causing repeated work distractions, set up a system where invoices don’t hit her desk until after they’re approved. This can often mean having your vendors send invoices to the person who approves them and only copying your AP department on the email.

Ignore Fun – When trying to focus, you must attend to the pressing issues. Try removing the emotion from your decisions and choose what you do based on an analytical approach. Doing only those things that are fun almost always guarantees procrastination on tasks that need to be done. Social media, web surfing, and chatting are some of the biggest work distractions I see on a daily basis.

Use a Schedule – Avoid pop-in visits from vendors. Additionally, when you have a task that needs your full attention for any length of time, schedule a meeting with yourself. This way you can close your door and focus without any work distractions. If anyone seeks your help at that time, tell him or her you have a prior commitment and will get back with them when you can.

Document Processes – To avoid future work distractions, document your processes. When team members ask you to show them, teach them, or explain to them how to perform a task, document your response. This gives them a template for future help. I find that time and time again people will come in looking for guidance on the same thing. Don’t give them a fish, teach them to fish.

Be Honest – We’re all busy. Level with your employees and explain why you must take time to focus on your tasks. As long as you’re working on something that benefits the team, it’s fair for you to take time away from work distractions and focus. They’ll understand.

As you move up in the organization you’ll quickly find that your time is in high demand. Work distractions are an every day occurrence. Learning how to mitigate work distractions can help you maintain your sanity and lead your team more efficiently.

What are some of your biggest work distractions?

Planning for the Stages of Life

We all find ourselves changing and adapting as we progress through the stages of life. What stage are you in now? Did you take full advantage of the last stage or are you still trying to relive the glory days? Learning to plan for each of the stages of life will help you to live a truly fulfilled life.

planning for the stages of life

I recently played a round of golf at Shoal Creek Golf Club in Birmingham, Alabama. It was incredible to say the least. Upon returning home, I had the itch. Apparently, it wasn’t only the hummingbird-sized mosquitos that had bitten me in Alabama; the golf bug got me too.

It has been two weeks since I’ve returned and I haven’t played a single hole.  I’m ok with that, it’s part of my current stage of life and I’m enjoying it. I’m in my twenties and my son is only two. There isn’t much free time for golf as my wife and I are building the foundation for our family’s future. This stage in life is a hybrid of learning and investing.

Since I’m in my late twenties, I am progressing from the learning stage to the investing stage. I’ve learned how to work efficiently, how to be a man, and how to take care of my family. I’m just now learning how to invest in them. My career is good, my company is growing, my blog is growing and I am growing. We just sold our house and are building a new, beautiful home on the golf course.

My wife just earned her Master’s degree and passed her certification test. Our life savings is growing rapidly, my retirement is ahead of schedule, and we are as busy as we can be. There is no time for golf, only time for life and love. I spend the few hours a day of free time we have to play with my son and connect with my wife. We’re laying the foundation for a life long relationship.

I’d love to play a round of golf right now, but honestly, I’m sure I’ll get sick of golf in my 60s when I’m playing every day. I’m ok not golfing because I have recognized my current stage of life and embraced it. Learning the Stages of Life will help you plan for each.

Keys to Getting The Most Out of Each of The Stages of Life:

Inventory – Before you know where you’re going, you have to know where you are. Sit down and analyze your day. Are the things you’re doing cohesive with the stage of life you should be in?

Intentionality – You must be intentional about living in your current stage of life. I want to play golf, but I realize that it is not a big part of my crossover between stages of life. If I fail to invest in my family at this stage of life, I’ll be in my sixties at the golf course regretting my broken relationships and my failed family.

Look Forward – Doing what needs to be done today will allow you to enjoy the future. Failing to live in your current stage of life leads to midlife crisis, broken relationships, failed marriages, and a lifetime of regret. Moreover, it robs you of your bliss in the future. In order for the future to be bright, you must lay the foundation today.

My post on the Stages of Life will help you to learn each one and where you should be. Apply the steps above and be intentional about your path to the future. What you do today, will dictate your joy in the future. Don’t be afraid to embrace your current stage of life. There will be plenty of time in the future for golf.

How can understanding your current stage of life improve your future?

Never Forget A Thing Again With Evernote

Flying through the air at 30,000 feet, I found myself perusing the Southwest Airlines Spirit Magazine when I saw a very interesting blurb about a film I’d like to see.  One week later, I couldn’t remember the name of it. Evernote came to the rescue and bailed me out again.

Never Forget a Thing Again

It seems that the world is spinning faster and faster with each day. We have more to remember, more things to do and less time to get them done.  At these times I find myself forgetting more and accomplishing less. To combat this problem, I’ve found Evernote. With Evernote, you’ll never forget a thing.

I downloaded Evernote for the first time a few years ago. At first brush it seemed cluttered and busy. It seemed difficult to use, so I didn’t.  Until one day I found Brett Kelly’s book, “Evernote Essentials“.  I loved the book so much I’ve placed a link to it on the right sidebar of my site. That space is reserved for my absolute favorite products and services, so you know it’s a good book.

I have used Evernote probably every day since downloading and reading Evernote Essentials. Just today I used it to:

– Remember the address for a meeting
– Remember the name of a book a guy told me about on the plane
– Hold all my travel confirmation numbers
– Made sure the correct stone was delivered to my new house
– I even used it to remind me to write this post

Evernote’s possibilities for remembering things are seemingly endless.

Integration – You can download Evernote to all your devices. It syncs your thoughts across all platforms. I have it on my Macbook, iPhone, iPad, and PC.

Capture Ideas – You can take a picture of something, record a voice memo, or type in notes.

Clipper – The Evernote web clipper is reason enough to download the software.  The last five minutes before I go to bed, I stumble upon a killer post by my favorite blogger Tim Ferriss.  I don’t have time to read it so with one click I copy the entire post into Evernote.  The clipper automatically takes out the ads and nonsense leavings me with just the post.  It instantly copies the title of the post and the URL.  The next morning, I pull it up on my iPad while having my morning coffee.

Notebooks – Keep yourself organized by saving data into notebooks.  I currently have 17 notebooks ranging from Book Notes to Wines. The wine folder contains labels of both wines I’ve enjoyed and the black list of wines I’ll never drink again. The largest Notebook, containing more than 300 entries, is my General Notebook. This notebook holds all of my random thoughts and ideas organized by Tags.

Tags – You can organize your thoughts by tags. I have one for example called Wish List. Whenever I see something I want to purchase later, I take a picture and tag it with “Wish List”. I saved the cover of the book ‚ “How To Create A Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed” by Ray Kurzweil in less than 10 seconds while running to the Thomas the Train section of a Barnes and Noble with my 2 year old son. Weeks later, I was in Barnes and Noble again. I pulled out my iPhone, hit the wish list tag, and bought the book.

Search – Evernote turns everything into searchable text.  My Fujitsu SmartScan SI3000 scans directly into Evernote. After advising a startup on their wire-frame for their new site, I decided that I needed to make a few changes.  I quickly scribbled the new wire-frame on an engineering pad and scanned it into Evernote.  I dropped it in their shared notebook and texted the guys.  They got onto our shared folder and downloaded it.  Evernote is an invaluable tool for creatives.

I could go on and on about how much Evernote has saved my behind.  Rather than make this a 10,000 word post, I just wrote my other reasons into my Blog folder on Evernote with the post idea tag. I promise, I won’t forget.

What could you accomplish if you never forgot a thing again thanks to Evernote?


Have a Problem…Wait, Don’t Be That Guy

I hate energy suckers. They walk into a room and instantly all the positivity is stripped from the walls. You know these people, they always have a problem and they bring it with them everywhere they go.

Have A Problem...Wait, Don't Be That Guy

It’s early morning and I’m sitting at my desk with a nice warm mug of coffee (brewed in my Aerobie Aeropress of course).  I’ve got my Nozbe open and I’m going through all my actions for the day, excited to take the day by the horns.  Suddenly, I have a problem.  I hear the door handle turn and in walks Mr. Negative to the office.

The force of his positive vibe vacuum nearly knocks me to the floor as it sucks all the energy from the office.  “Please wait, don’t come in here and start getting on to people,” I think to myself.  “Please don’t have a problem this morning.”  But he does.

We all know this person. In fact, we’ve often been this person. We bring home our bad day at the office or we let someone’s rude words set us off.  We become the guy who always has to have a problem.

Being the guy who always has to have a problem is like being a parasite.  Don’t be the guy who sucks all the energy from others. Avoid the temptation to spread the negativity.

Hang it up – If you have a problem, hang it up before you enter a room, just like you’d hang a jacket. You might have brought the problem with you to the party, but don’t take it into the party.

Be Thankful – I keep a stack of notecards in my desk drawer full of things I’m thankful for. When I have a problem, I just stop and read the story of my life.  All the good that I have in my life quickly melts away the problems.

Wait A Minute – Take time to let it simmer down. Don’t be the guy who comes into the office just looking to be rude to other people because you’re having a bad morning.  Instead, take a minute to collect your thoughts.  It’s not their fault you’re mad – don’t ruin their day.

Write it down – When you have a problem, write about it.  I’ve found that writing out my feelings helps to get the problem off my chest.  Once you’ve taken the time to clarify your thoughts onto paper, you’ll realize they’re not as serious as you’d thought.

Tell it to the Wheel – My steering wheel and I are good friends.  We spend quite a bit of time just staring at each other.  But on days when I have a problem, we talk.  Often times, you just need someone, or something, to talk to about your problem.

Don’t be the energy sucker who enters the room and instantly – people hide at their desks, put their heads down, and hope you don’t come into their office.  This guy is the world’s worst leader.  Learn to control your emotions whenever you have a problem by using these few tricks.

How do you react when the “I Have a Problem” guy enters the room?

Delegation: Your Key To Success

In 2007, when I first took over Allied Equipment’s Alternative Fuels product line, I was still a young and untested leader. I still had not produced enough for the company to be what John C. Maxwell would consider a “level three leader”. Delegation was far from a priority as I chewed up opportunities one after another trying to prove myself.

Delegate - The Key to Success

This high level of production pulled me up the ladder quickly.  I was first promoted to Director of Business Development, then soon, Vice President of the entire company.  But producing will only take you so far.  At the Vice President level, I found a new problem.  I was doing too much and didn’t have time to do what I was being asked to in my new role.

This is a typical path for many leaders. Most leaders I meet around the country have long since learned the law of sacrifice and are willing to put in the time and effort to move up the ladder.  But at some point the law of diminishing returns takes effect. They can no longer sacrifice anything else; they’ve already sacrificed it all.  They can’t put in longer hours; their entire 24-hours are accounted for.

If not addressed quickly, a leader will stall at this level and fail to progress any further.  The only antidote is delegation.  Many leaders have a fear of letting others take control. However, you can delegate without fear by using a tried and true method. I can’t claim this one.  Michael Hyatt shared this system with me.

Define Workflow – Analyze what needs to be done and how. I like to create a wireframe of this workflow. The first thing to look for is any inefficiency in the way you’ve always performed the task. Take out anything you can while still defining every step.

Document the Process – Write out each step and any useful information such as URLs, usernames, and passwords.  There are many free tools on the web that can help you with this documenting process. The one I us is Evernote.

Delegate the Task – Clearly define what you want your delegee to do. Also define your timeframe for completion and expectation of quality. The more detail, the better.

Track – What gets tracked gets done – this is one of my favorite pieces of delegation advice. Nozbe is the best tool I have found for this. Since it tracks projects and tasks by context, I set up each of my employees as a context. Anything I have them doing for me is tracked in the system.

Follow-up – Check back regularly to make sure the work is getting done correctly. Ask questions that only someone who understands what they’re doing would know the answer to. Don’t micro manage, but do make yourself available to answer questions and provide guidance.

Delegation is a fearful thing. More often than not, it gets worse before it gets better. The process of defining workflow, documenting the process, delegating, tracking, and following up can take more time than performing the task yourself. But if you do this correctly, you’ll soon find people doing these tasks all on their own. This is when you really begin to gain back time and see your efforts multiplying.

What is the biggest excuse standing between you and delegation?

Creating Office Workspaces That Work

“Are you out of your mind?” my pilot asked me when he saw me standing next to a reclaimed bookshelf that I had slid into my office when no one was looking. It was certainly an oddity for most office workspaces, but not mine. This bookshelf soon became my desk. This continued for months, until I finally purchased a handmade, custom, stand-up desk.

Creating An Office Workspace

My new stand-up desk was the talk of the office.  It was mostly talk about how crazy I was. I wasn’t listening to the critics though. The amount of energy and high level of production I was experiencing while at work was unparalleled. A stand-up desk should become a staple of all office workspaces.

In order to be productive, remain organized, and keep your sanity, it is critical to create an office that is conducive to such a situation. This means beginning with the end-in-mind when designing the most productive office workspaces.

Just as a baseball field must be planned out, measured, leveled, trimmed, chalked, and well prepared for the game to be played, so too must an office be equally prepared for work. Just imagine going to watch the New York Yankees play baseball and the field is covered in the tools of the trade. Bats, balls, gloves, trash, and weeds cover the field. This wouldn’t be a very good platform for a game.

The same is true of office workspaces. Papers, supplies, files, and personal junk can clutter your playing field and halt the progress of your game. You cannot play the game unless you prepare the field for play.

This is the current hardware I use to design the most productive office workspace:

A sitting desk – While I work most of the day standing up, it is necessary to take periodic breaks to sit down. This doesn’t mean you can’t continue to be productive. A normal sitting desk is a great place to sit comfortably but still remain productive.

A standing deskStanding desks increase blood flow in the body, keep you alert, and spur creativity. I use my standing desk 80% of the time. I feel more office workspaces should have standing desks.

One Computer, Two Monitors – I have a monitor on each desk.  The same computer runs them both.  I use a wireless mouse and keyboard that I can carry to whichever desk I am using at the time.

Fujitsu Smart Scan – This is the scanner I use to scan all my paper, so I can throw it all away. It syncs up to Evernote and Dropbox, two software tools all office workspaces should be utilizing.

File Cabinets – Use as many cabinets as you need to store only the paperwork you must.

Extra Seating – Whether meeting with clients, employees, or just reading a report, it’s s nice to sit in a different chair and change perspectives for a moment. To avoid the old principle’s office feel of most office workspaces, I’ve placed my chairs to the side, not directly in front of my desk. This makes a leader more accessible and creates a feeling of comfort.

As I travel the country meeting with executives, I rarely see well functioning office workspaces. The vehicle the executive rides to work in was first engineered to be effective and efficient before it was built. Even the desk they work behind was engineered and planned. Why do we not engineer and plan our office workspaces, so they too can provide the level of support our vehicles and desks play in our day?

A smartly planned and equipped office is like a machine. When all the pieces are in place and working together, what you put into the machine can then be efficiently processed to create amazing output. If you want to be a highly effective person, your office must support that mission.

How many pieces of paper are on your desk, floor, or chair, right now?