Some people just seem to have their productivity on point. You know the ones we’re talking about – the ones who can knock out an awesome presentation, pitch 10 new clients, run five miles, write a blog post, get their email inbox to the elusive “zero” mark, and race through a few chapters of the latest personal development book sweeping the business world… all before breakfast.
Yeah… it’s kind of annoying.
But here’s the thing: it’s only annoying because you want to know their secret. Who wouldn’t want to get more done in a few hours than most people get done in a few days – and feel all sorts of awesome while doing it?
Turns out, the secret to that kind of superhuman productivity might not be such a secret at all. Many of the world’s most productive people claim that biohacking is the key to boosting energy, performance, and productivity.
Here are nine easy biohacks that you can use to transform your business and boost your productivity (and feel incredible during the process):
Look at the world through yellow-tinted glasses
The couple that biohacks together, stays together. Via ILoveButterCoffee.com
Back in the old days, humans got most of their light from the sun. And once the sun went down, the light went down right along with it – so the human body got in the rhythm of light during the day, no light during the evening.
But today, you’re assaulted by artificial light around the clock. And the main culprit? Devices. Whether you’re working late on your computer, watching a movie on your laptop before bed, or shooting off a few emails on your phone before you call it a night, chances are you’re spending a lot of your twilight hours with your eyes glued to the screen.
And it’s not doing good things for your Zzz’s.
All of those devices emit blue light, which is not only terrible for your eyes, but seriously messes with your sleep patterns. Blue light suppresses delta brainwaves, which help you fall asleep, while boosting alpha waves, which keep you awake and alert. Too much blue light in the evening can also inhibit your body’s production of melatonin, a sleep hormone that’s a key ingredient for a good night’s rest.
Moral of the story: if you’re exposed to too much blue light, you’re going to have trouble sleeping. And not getting enough sleep isn’t going to do good things for your productivity.
Which means you’ve got to cut back on your exposure to blue light – especially at night.
Now, in a perfect world, you would just turn off all of your devices at sundown and avoid blue light from 6pm onwards. But that’s not always possible, so a good contingency plan is blue light blocking glasses.
Blue light blocking glasses, which typically have a yellow or orange tint, actually block the blue light from reaching your eyes, which can help mitigate the effect the light has on your sleep cycle. And they work! A recent study from researchers at the University of Toronto found that people who wore blue light blocking glasses during night hours produced significantly more melatonin than those that didn’t.
Less blue light = better sleep = increased productivity. So if you want to be more productive, pick up a pair of blue light blocking glasses.
Dial down the temperature of your showers
Who doesn’t love the feeling of a nice, hot shower? But if you want to boost your productivity, it’s time to dial down the temperature next time you step into the tub.
Taking a cold shower (and we’re talking freezing cold) first thing in the morning has all sorts of health benefits. It improves circulation. It boosts your immune system. It floods your body with feel-good endorphins. And it delivers a shot of adrenaline that will make you feel alert, awake, and ready to take on the day.
And all of those benefits? They have a direct effect on your productivity.
Think about it: if you’ve got great circulation, all of your organs are getting what they need to perform at their highest level. If your immune system is firing on all cylinders, you’re not going to get sick and miss work (or worse, suffer through the day and not get anything done). If you’re flooded with endorphins, you’re not going to deal with sadness, anxiety, or a general “blah” feeling that blocks you from checking items off your to-do list. And that shot of adrenaline will give you the focus you need to crank through projects like a superhero.
Now, hopping in a cold shower can be a little… jarring. So you want to prepare yourself. And a great way to do that is a little breathing practice known as the Wim Hof Method.
Wim Hof is similar to yogic breathing (called pranayama) and, according to practitioners, can help you better withstand extreme temperatures (like the ones you’ll face during a cold shower).
To get started with the Wim Hof method, sit in a comfortable position (keep in mind, this is something you do before the shower, not during). Then, take 30 “power breaths;” inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth quickly and forcefully (imagine you’re trying to blow up a balloon). This kind of breathing will give you a kind of “controlled hyperventilation” and you might feel light-headed and/or dizzy. After your power breaths, take one more deep breath to fill the lungs, then exhale all the air and hold for as long as you can (don’t force it – if you feel the need to gasp, that means you’re done). After your exhale, take a few deep, slow recovery breaths (inhale fully, hold for 10 seconds, exhale fully) and you’re done! This breathing method is said to help boost immune function and better prepare the body for the cold – and if anyone would know, it’s Wim Hof; nicknamed “The Iceman,” this Dutch athlete ran a full marathon in Finland above the Arctic Circle… wearing nothing but shorts. You can learn more about the Wim Hof Method and see a demonstration of this breathing technique on this recent interview with The School of Greatness.
Keep in mind, this might feel like a lot for your body to handle at first, so if you’re not used to cold showers, take it slow. Take a shower at your normal temperature, but dial down the heat and give yourself a chilly blast for 30 seconds before you hop out. Then, as you get more comfortable, start increasing your time.
Protect yourself from wifi
Yeah… this is a major EMF no-no. Via Time
Wifi is available pretty much everywhere, from your home to your office, your local coffee shop to the airport (not to mention the planes on the runway). And while this near-universal availability of wifi is certainly convenient, it’s also got a darker side.
The increased use of wireless devices like cell-phones and tablets has caused a sharp increase in EMFs (electromagnetic fields) floating around the atmosphere. And all those EMFs? Yeah, they’re not good for you.
Exposure to EMFs can cause a host of health issues, including headaches, disrupted sleep, cardiac arrhythmias, anxiety, behavioral issues, lowered immune function, decreased sperm count (for the gentlemen, of course), and even cancer. None of which are what you would consider productivity boosters. So if you want to be more productive – and healthier in general – you need to get away from the EMFs.
There’s no way to cut out EMFs all together. But you can decrease your exposure – and, as a result, decrease the negative side effects. Keep all electronic devices away from your body (so, for example, don’t put your phone directly on your ear when you’re speaking or in your pocket when you’re not). Turn off your wifi when you don’t need to use it (including when you’re sleeping). The less exposure to EMFs, the less likely you’ll be to suffer from EMF-related side effects – and the more productive you’ll be as a result.
Need to feel inspired? Try Yerba Maté
Yerba Maté – it does a body good. Via Be Brain Fit
One of the biggest names in the biohacking movement is Mr. Four-Hour-Workweek himself, Tim Ferriss. And one of Tim Ferriss’ favorite biohacks? Drinking Yerba Maté to give himself a little creative boost.
Ferriss sang Yerba Maté’s praises on a recent podcast interview with Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof Coffee and another major player in the biohacking world. According to Ferriss, Yerba Mate gives him a “2 to 3 hour steady, even-keeled, moderate cognitive high” thanks to the drink’s three stimulants: caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine, which all have different pharmacokinetic profiles (meaning they peak in your blood plasma at various rates). This cognitive high can boost clarity and creativity, making it an ideal drink to sip on when brainstorming business ideas or when you’re stuck on a project and in need of a little inspiration.
There are a few different ways you can enjoy Yerba Mate (like the cold cans you can pick up at the grocery store), but according to Ferriss, for the biggest creativity/productivity boost, try sipping on loose yerba mate leaves out of a gourd (more on that here).
Enjoy your coffee with a healthy dose of butter (yes, butter)
Butter and coffee – who knew? Via Further Food
Speaking of Dave Asprey, you can’t talk about biohacking without talking about Bulletproof Coffee.
Bulletproof Coffee is like a religion for most biohackers. This morning brew, which consists of coffee, “Brain Octane Oil” (which is a fancy-named high powered medium-chain triglyceride oil), and a heaping tablespoon or two of butter (either grass-fed unsalted butter or grass-fed clarified butter, also known as ghee), is a staple in most biohackers’ diets – and they claim it’s the secret to their high performance and productivity.
The coffee/oil/butter combo might sound a little weird, but it’s essentially the equivalent of a high-performance fuel for your body. It boosts your metabolism, keeps hunger and cravings in check, and – most importantly for productivity – boosts brain function. The Brain Octane Oil in Bulletproof Coffee is almost immediately converted to ketones in the body, which give your brain an immediate boost of energy and diminish any lingering brain fog or inability to focus, while the butter delivers a healthy dose of essential nutrients (like omega-3’s) and lowers inflammation, which will keep you in peak physical condition. And the caffeine (courtesy of the coffee) doesn’t hurt either!
If you want to be a productivity machine, start your day with a cup of coffee, side of butter.
Unlock your potential through your headphones
The key to maximizing productivity might be hiding in your headphones.
Binaural beats might sound like something from a “Black Mirror” episode, but they’re actually an auditory strategy you can use to boost productivity and perform at a higher level.
Binaural beats are two tones with different frequencies. One plays in your left ear, one in your right. When your brain hears the two tones, it combines them into one. This process can produce specific effects within the brain, with different tones producing different effects.
And that’s where it gets interesting.
You can use binaural beats to trigger specific responses in your brain – including responses that will make you more productive. Wake up feeling tense and agitated? Listen to a few minutes of binaural beats that trigger relaxation so you can head into work with a clear head. Feeling tired? Look for an energizing binaural beat to put a little pep in your step. Poor sleep affecting your productivity? Pop in your headphones with some sleep-inducing beats before bed.
Breathe on purpose
Finding your inner calm just might be the key to producing outer productivity.
Breathing is automatic. It’s not something you have to think about.
But if you want to be more productive, you need to breathe on purpose. Or in other words, meditate.
Meditation has a laundry list of positive health effects, many of which are directly linked to productivity, like increased focus and mental clarity, decreased stress, better concentration, better sleep, improved memory, increased creativity, a better ability to multitask – it even increases grey matter in the brain.
Seriously, meditation is like the holy grail of productivity hacks.
And getting started is simple. Sit with your back straight, either cross-legged on the floor or in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes and bring attention to your breath. Focus on your breath going into your body and your breath leaving your body. When you notice your attention start to wander (which it will), acknowledge it and bring your focus back to your breath. Start with five minutes in the morning and, as it becomes easier, work your way up to 20 minutes, twice a day.
If you need a little more guidance, check out Headspace, which has a great collection of guided meditations to help you get started.
Spend more time in flow
Get out there and find your flow.
You’ve heard the term “go with the flow.” Well, turns out “flow” is one of the keys to a more productive life.
Think of flow as the highest level of engagement; it’s when you’re completely in tune with the present moment. You’re totally absorbed with what’s going on right here, right now, and aren’t thinking about the past or the future. It’s during times of flow that you’re able to be the most productive because your brain and energy are completely focused on the task at hand.
According to a McKinsey report, some of the world’s top executives claim being in a flow state makes them five times more productive. A study from researchers at Advanced Brain Monitoring found that artificially inducing a flow state reduced the time it took to take snipers from the novice to the expert level by 50%.
The point is, the more time you spend in flow, the better you’ll perform – and the more you’ll get done. Which means you need to spend more time doing the activities where you feel more engaged – both at work and during off-hours.
Do you completely lose yourself in the design process? Block off a few hours a day where you cut out all distractions and focus just on design; you’ll get more done by allowing yourself to get into the flow state instead of being interrupted every five minutes by an email or phone call. Does running completely clear your head? Commit to taking a run every day on your lunch break (when you get back to the office, the flow you experienced on your run will carry over and deliver an extra boost of productivity as you head into your afternoon). Whatever flow means for you, make time for more of it – and reap the productivity results as a reward.
You don’t have to spend your time feeling annoyed by all the uber-productive people in the world. Use these biohacks and become one of those people – and watch your business (and life!) transform in the process.