Not having sufficient energy or motivation undermines everything else in the guide since most productivity interventions require some level of energy and commitment to execute. If I feel depressed, no amount of verbal self-encouragement or TED talks is going to get me to do my homework or check my to-do list. This section of the guide is basically how to live a healthy life, because even if health weren’t the most important part of your life (which I believe is), without it you certainly would have a really hard time getting things done. Time to get healthy.
Diet, exercise, and sleep are the trifecta of energy management. The summary is that if you eat right, exercise regularly, and sleep well, you will pretty much have enough energy to get all the things you want done. Sleep is so important because it’s the only time your body and mind gets to rest. Studies on sleep deprivation indicate a swath of intelligence and mood impacts in participants . You spend 8 hours a day sleeping, so any marginal improvement of sleep quality and duration has very high yield. When I started measuring my sleep with my Fitbit, I was appalled by how little high quality sleep I got. Compared to my peers and family, I’m a really sensitive sleeper. I can’t share beds with people, and I have a hard time falling asleep. Seeking ways to improve my sleep quality yielded some subjectively high results in memory, focus, and mood. Start with the basics. Make sure your bedroom has the right lighting, temperature, and noise levels. White noise machines and earplugs help with the noise, black curtains help with the lighting , and fans and heaters can help maintain an optimal temperature. Install flux on your computer and configure Night Shift/Night Mode on your phone to filter out blue light at night that is detrimental to sleep quality. Design a sleep hygiene routine. I have a physical post-it on my wall that is a series of steps to get me in the mood for bed. It helps because I’m pretty mindless by the time I’m sleepy, and may end up doing dumb things instead of getting ready for bed (browsing reddit, checking my phone, playing video games, etc). Here’s my post it: