Sleep is often something that just happens. We do it every day and then we do it again the next day. On my search for ways to improve productivity I wondered if there was a way I could improve the quality of my sleep. If I could improve the quality of my sleep perhaps I would need less of it so I hoped it would be a win win result. At an event I attended I heard a talk about the effects of wi-fi on sleep. That night I went home, switched off the router and slept through the night for the first time in ages. It’s something I have continued with ever since. Sleep is such a important part of what makes us productive and effective. A great resource to learn more about the benefits of sleep is the book Thrive by Arianna Huffington is a great book. Arianna collapsed at work through exhaustion and the book tells the story of her education about sleep and sleep quality. As a natural owl I always found it hard to go to sleep. Left to my own devices I would be doing my housework at 4am, going to bed and getting up somewhere around 11am – something that happened regularly. No matter how much sleep I got it was never enough. Then I started thinking about quality rather than quantity. The first thing I did was to change my bedroom. I took out the DVD player where I used to watch films in bed. I stopped myself from taking the laptop up to bed and doing work. I fitted a blackout blind, invested in a new mattress and topper and new bed linen. I made my bedroom a little haven of peace and tranqulity. I switched the wi-fi off using a timer so it came back on automatically in the morning. The result was less sleep – from 10 hours to 8 hours and no exhaustion. I can’t remember the last time my nephew came in on a weekend morning and I rang for some childminding help. Infact he regularly comes in and I am already awake reading a book so as not to disturb him. Recently I have enhanced this technique further. As an avid reader and learner I generally have a pile of books to work through – all non fiction as I am always learning about something or other. Having read about the benefits of fiction in aiding a good nights sleep I headed right out of my comfort zone and to the fiction section of the library. I can report that after reading fiction instead of non-fiction I slept blissfully for 7.5 hours and woke up feeling refreshed. Having read all this you are probably feeling a bit sceptical. I know I was when I started looking at sleep initially. Well don’t take my word for it. Have a look at this fantastic TED Talk from Arianna Huffington about sleep. It’s aimed particularly at women but most of it is suitable for anyone. Questions to think about it: How do you feel after a night’s sleep at present? On a scale of 1-10 how interested are you on trying to improve your sleep? What steps/actions could you take to improve your sleep? Of those steps or actions which one is the easiest/quickest to implement? On what day next week will you implement this step?
IMPLEMENTING THESE TECHNIQUESHere is a step by step guide in how to put all these techniques into practice;
- Spend a week gathering intelligence and information using the time tracker, energy tracker and RescueTime if you are planning using it.
- Schedule a half day to for focussed working – ideally in the morning.
- Take steps to protect this focussed working time – let colleagues and family know.
- Schedule time in your diary before this focussed working time to get set up and ready – ideally the night before.
- Schedule some time in for a break immediately after your focussed working and protect this as fiercely as you do the focussed working time itself.
- Choose a day that’s best for any meetings and keep this as an out day and schedule 1 other day as an “in” day.
- Look at what activities you can batch together and try this technique for one day and then review.
- Pick one night to set yourself up for a great night’s sleep by implementing the tips in the sleep section of this program.
- At the end of the week review your productivity.
- Decide what techniques you are going to repeat and schedule in for the following week.