Sometimes my co-workers ask me:

“Willy, how do you keep up with this?”

Laughing, they’d say “You are some kind of a robot.”

And I’d usually reply “Oh well, that’s me!” and take a sip of cold watered-down coffee while raising my eyebrows and smirking.

But what is actually going on here?

  • How do I summon the mental fortitude to bring the output of an immortal creator-god every single day?
  • How come I am excerpt from the trials of the human flesh?
  • What makes me such a fine blend of alertness and energy?
  • In other words, why am I so productive?

Hard work looks like magic to those who have not witnessed the dedication you have put into it.

But the thing is, being able to bring yourself into that state that allows you to work good also requires some work.

And that’s what I want to talk about today. More specifically, the things I do every single day in order to stay energized and mentally alert. It all starts with…

The morning alarm

sleepy cat morning alarmPhoto credit: Carbon Arc // VisualHunt // CC BY-NC-SA

Sleep is important. And cats know this. They sleep, like, 80% of the time. A sleeping cat is a warm fuzzy ball of purring happiness. While a fully awake cat is natural-born psychopath that just wants to mutilate everything with a pulse. To be honest, I have the same inclination if I don’t get a good night sleep.

No, I am not telling you to go to bed early. I am not your mom and you are not in high-school anymore. Sure, we could all go to bed a little earlier instead of commiting to our respective forms of before-bed procrastination. But this has nothing to do with when you go to bed.

It’s about how you wake up in the morning

More specifically, your alarm goes off and the noise pierces your sleeping mind like the cruelest blade. This is like waking up with a bullet to the head and it will affect how you feel throughout the rest of the day.

What is actually going on here is that your brain is supposed to go through the few phases of sleep before it is ready to wake up. In other words, the best way to wake up is by yourself. So in case you wake up before your alarm goes off, just jump out of bed. It might be tempting to drift off once again but this way you are setting up yourself for failure because your brain will once again enter into the cycle of sleep phases and your alarm will wake you up before they are finished.

Now let’s talk about food.

cat looking at camera
Photo credit: ShebleyCL // Visual hunt //  CC BY

Food is important. And you know who knows this? Cats know this. When they are not concerned with sleeping or killing, cats dedicate some of their precious waking hours to eating. Sometimes when the stars align, they happen to eat whatever they’ve just killed. And then it’s usually back to sleeping again.

Do you get sleepy after a big lunch? Boy, I sure do. How am I supposed to back to doing stuff when all I want to do is catch a few Z’s? A whole alphabet of Z’s. Well I could tell you to grab an espresso on your way back to the office. Or even an energy drink. And then I can throw myself in front of a train for being a hairy bag of meat and redundancy.

So, let’s not do that and look into why things are the way they are. Why do we get so sleepy after wolfing down a large pizza with a coke and a couple of muffins?

On one hand, digestion is a process that requires a lot of energy. The body will send all those red blood cells to handle the work, leaving your brain into a state of blissful drowsiness. Which is on the opposite spectrum of being productive.

On the other hand, there is a little something called tryptophan. It’s one of the essential amino-acids. I don’t want to get too sciency here, so let’s just say that if you eat enough proteins and carbohydrates, you’ll get sleepy and tryptophan has something to do with it. I am told.

So, what are you supposed to do? Fast until the end of the day? Well, that’s one valid strategy. On the other hand, you can simply stick to high-protein meals and avoid high-carb foods like the plague. Eating high-protein meals during the day with some veggies on the side will keep that serotonin surging. Serotonin is basically a “stress” hormone that keeps you alert.

So, yeah…

That’s what I do. This is my great “bio-hacking”strategy. If I’m lucky, I get out of bed before the alarm goes off and I have high-protein, low-carb meals during the work day. It’s as simple as that. Now you can also be an immortal creator-god!

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My name is Willy and I write the blog OfficeTopics.com. My goal is to improve the life, health, and overall well-being of office workers all across the world.

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