Human Optimization 101
Surely you would expect a list of productivity hacks, allowing you to get more done, bust out more TPS reports and smash your Q3 quota. Maybe tips on geometric tie patterns to dazzle your new boss? At least an excel macro or two..? Heck. NO.
In fact, I think the whole pursuit of business nirvana through relentlessly reading the latest Top X Tips for Y is a waste of time. I mean, except this one of course. Why?
You're already focusing way too much on work itself. You're optimizing for just one part of your life. To be a better version of yourself, you need to focus on you. All of you. Which includes your body. You know that thing you need to lug to work along with your laptop? It's mostly a nuisance, getting in the way of your flow zone with toilet breaks and hunger. What a giant waste of time! Would be way more productive to just upload yourself to work, and automate a script to pump energy into your database.Buddy, I know. But this isn't the Matrix yet, so we're stuck with the torso for now.
MIND = BODY
Without getting all "the body is your temple" on you, I will prescribe three quick wins for human optimization, from experts like Tim Ferriss, Charles Poliquin, Dr. Rhonda Patrick, Pavel Tsatsouline, Stig Severinsen, Mark Divine and Steve Maxwell. These guys are not only successful in business but successful in life. They think about life beyond the TPS report. They run. They deadlift. They work on their body, which improves their mind. They sharpen their mind, which improves their body. It snowballs into a shiny new version of you. You, but better.
1 + 1 = 3.
So if you're one of those people that thinks Health & Fitness is for underachievers while you're on the keyboard crushing it, think again. How much more could you achieve, if you weren't ignoring the other half of your physical existence? By focusing purely on cognitive performance and work, you're setting the target to 50% overall. That's a D- in life, man. So here's three shortcuts to an A+ life. Let's get it!!!
#1: Morning ritual
Let me guess. When you wake up in the morning, you feel like a ton of bricks. Like a wet sandbag rolling out of bed. After coffee and a hot shower, you slowly regain your senses and are able to somewhat function as a human. Words emerge. It speaks! I was like that for years, and I'm not that old at all. I started thinking how the heck I would get out of bed 50 years from now. Maybe with drones…
5 simple techniques, 20 minutes a day is all it takes for a youthful, energetic you. Practice the 5 Tibetan Rites alongside Raageshwari in this exclusive video and feel the difference.
Around 2,500 years ago Tibetan monks had a morning ritual they called the Five Rites. No, you don't get nunchucks. It's a short series of five simple movements, that activate your body for the day. Do a few repetitions of each movement right after getting out of bed, taking all of 3 minutes tops, and after a few days, you'll feel the difference. Less stiffness, more awesomeness! Win the morning, win the day!
Just watch the video once or twice to remember the moves, and you'll make it a habit each morning. #winning
#2: Quick workouts
Studies actually show that physical exercise improves your cognitive ability. Not only that but a body with balanced strong muscles will maintain posture and mobility well into advanced age. In fact, research has shown that resistance training with weights reverses aging in your DNA. Unless you're looking forward to wheelchair wheelies and bed sores, you might want to pay attention. Most people don't have the time to spend 60 minutes at the gym regularly, but thanks to science there are two methods that give you that same result in 15 minutes or less. You have 15 minutes. You do.
The fastest workout that actually yields real results for both cardio and strength is called Tabata, named after a Japanese researcher who pioneered the method through scientific studies. The genius here is that this short workout uses all of your body's energy systems at the same time. Yes, you grow muscles by riding a bike! #gains. To make it as simple as possible, just jump on an exercise bike, and go as fast & hard as you can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times. With a warmup and cooldown, you'll be out of the gym in under 10 minutes! If you have no gym, you can also try some bodyweight exercises at home using the same 20:10 formula, like in this video.
We love Tabata interval workouts. It's four minutes of high-intensity training, alternating between 20 seconds of max training followed by a 10-second rest for a total of eight rounds. These workouts are fast-paced and fun and burn up tons of calories. In this workout, we bring you two sets of Tabata, plus a little warmup and cooldown.
For a more strength oriented workout that also develops your cardiovascular system, try High-Intensity Training. HIT. Not HIIT. Super simple. Hit whatever machines you have at your gym, each just once without resting in between, and do each machine for 10 repetitions as slowly as possible. Each rep should take 10 seconds or more. The last rep should be a struggle. Once you hit 10 reps on a machine, just add more weights next time you hit the gym. You'll be out of the gym in 15 minutes feeling like a champion.
While there is no shortage of gym apps out there, none of them can tell you what settings and weights to use to get progress and results. Our humble startup is solving that through the gift of science, so sign up for the upcoming beta if interested. In any case, in the gym, it's more important to achieve consistency and progress. This is a race against you, no one else.
In a recent Tim Ferriss podcast episode, he talked about how the most successful leaders in business, science, and military he's interviewed all have one thing in common. Meditation. While that may be a worthy goal to pursue, it does take some time to master, so a good way to get your zen game on immediately is breathing. Yes, breathing. You're already doing it, so let's do it better.
The most successful leaders in business,
science and military all have one thing in common.
What most people don't realize is that the breath is the only function in your body that is both autonomous and voluntary. Why is that important? It means you can gain control of your body's autonomous systems, such as your heart, by just controlling your breathing. Even Apple is getting on this gravy train with the upcoming Breathe app for Apple Watch. Steve Jobs would want you to breathe. You wouldn't want to disappoint Steve.
Breathe how? You can google all sorts of funky techniques, but the easiest is called parasympathetic breathing because it tells your body to calm down. You might see how that could be useful during your working day, right? Just breathe in through your nose, and slowly breathe out taking double the time you breathed in. One to two is the golden ratio. Three in, six out. Five in, ten out. You get the idea.
Mark Divine of SEALFit talks about breathing techniques.
If you need an app, try Headspace and go next level. It's meditation, but super approachable and you don't need to know anything about anything before trying it. It guides you through a little 10 minute R&R sesh each day to clear your head and get some distance from the daily grind.
#4: Bonus for nerds like me
If you want to get all scientific and stuff, one of my favorite apps of all time is called HRV4Training, which tracks the health of your heart and nervous system. No hardware needed, it uses the camera on your smartphone to measure from your fingertip. Even if you don't train that often, it'll give you insight into how stress, sleep and business travel affect your body. The key is to know when you're pushing too hard, and when you can comfortably turn up the heat and crush it!
Now drop that damned excel macro, start breathing, and leave the office early to hit the gym! #winning
Waste of time or fountain of youth? Feel free to share or comment and add to the conversation!
Further reading for those interested: