Thoughts about Productivity, Lifestyle, and Entrepreneurship
Author: Alex Czartoryski
Alex is the director of digital marketing for Manitobah Mukluks, Canada’s fastest growing footwear brand, where he helps the luxury winter boot manufacturer accelerate growth profitably via digital marketing. Alex has over 20 years experience in e-commerce and digital marketing.
Millions of people around the world lack access to clean water. Here is an amazingly simple method to purify water using an empty pop bottle.
The Simple Way to Purify Water
Take an empty transparent bottle
Fill it with water
Leave it out in the sun for 6 hours
Drink the water
SODIS is a simple procedure for disinfecting drinking water. Contaminated water is poured into transparent water bottles (glass or plastic) and placed in the sun for six hours. During this time, the UV rays of the sun kill all the germs.
Does anyone else feel that we’ve been wasting a lot of resources building solar panel powered water purification plants? All this time we could have harnessed the sun’s rays directly.
Polyphasic sleep is the practice of replacing 8 hours of sleep per day with multiple shorter naps. If you’re a new parent, here is how to leverage polyphasic sleep to catchup on missing sleep.
Polyphasic sleep is the practice of replacing a single 8 hour sleep with multiple shorter naps. This is done maximize your “awake” hours: The claim is that you can achieve the same level of rest with less sleep, and have more hours in the day to do stuff.
When my daughter was born, I was forced into a polyphasic sleep routine (i.e.: I was woken up at night a lot). So I decided to try and continue the polyphasic sleep pattern during the day (i.e.: take power naps). Unlike traditional polyphasic sleepers, my focus was NOT on maximizing my awake time. My focus was on maximizing sleep time.
My plan was to try and sleep as much as possible during the night (with the expectation that I would be frequently woken up). During the day, I would take regimented power naps to catch up the the sleep I’ve missed.
There needs to be at least two parents
You need a flexible work schedule
You need a private place to take naps during the day
My Polyphasic Sleep Routine
Nightime (~10PM to ~7AM)
Try to get as much sleep as possible
Don’t force yourself to stay awake
Don’t force yourself to wake up at a specific time
Take a 20-45 minute power nap every 3-4 hours. If you wake up at 6AM, you take a nap at 10AM, 2PM, 6PM. If you wake up an hour earlier or later, the schedule gets shifted appropriately.
Capitalize on nap opportunities: If it’s only 3 hours since your last nap, but you have an opportunity for a power nap now, take the nap. Don’t wait another hour.
Don’t oversleep. Once that 45 minute alarm goes off, get up!
Don’t forget to nap. If you skip a nap, try to nap at the next opportunity and reset your nap schedule from that point.
Carry an “instant-anywhere-nap-kit”: a blanket, inflatable pillow, eye blind, and ear plugs to allow for instant naps anywhere.
Did it work?
Yes — it actually worked really well for me. I got into a routine of taking two power naps at work, and then another power nap shortly after I got home. How much or little I slept during the night didn’t really affect my day-time productivity, as I could catchup on the missing sleep.
I only followed this routine for 2-3 months, as our daughter started sleeping full nights very early on (which I am very grateful for).
Everything you do in life can be classified by its urgency and by its importance. We often spend our lives focused on the Urgent things instead of the Important things. It is important to learn to distinguish between the two.
Important and Urgent
Crises and Emergencies
Important but Not Urgent
Prevention, Planning, and Improvement
Not Important but Urgent
Interruptions and Busy Work
Not Important and Not Urgent
We often spend our lives focused on the Urgent things instead of the Important things. In business as in life it is extremely important to ask yourself: “Am I doing this because it is truly important or am I doing this because it is simply urgent?”
Important and urgent things, such as crises and emergencies, should not be ignored. However, the more time you can spend on the non-urgent but important things (prevention, planning, improvement) the less crises and emergencies you will experience..
Below is a more detailed explanation of each quadrant along with some examples:
Quadrant 1: Important and Urgent
Fire fighting mode: Crises, real hard deadlines for important project, health & family emergencies, etc…
Quadrant 1 is the urgent important quadrant: Things that you should definitely NOT ignore. However, spending too much time in fire fighting mode will lead to stress and burn out. You will be caught in a never-ending cycle of crisis management.
The only way to reduce the time spent in this quadrant is to be proactive by spending more time on the important things BEFORE they become emergencies (see Quadrant 2 below).
Quadrant 1 Example Dealing with a heart attack is an Urgent and Important problem that cannot be ignored (but perhaps by living a healthier lifestyle such health emergencies can be reduced or avoided all together).
Quadrant 2: Important but not Urgent
This is where you should spend most of your time.
Quadrant 2 tasks are all about planning, prevention, capability improvement, relationship building, recognizing new opportunities, etc…
Spending time on these important things should lead to a clear vision and a balanced life, discipline, control, and fewer and fewer crisis situations.
Quadrant 2 Examples
Frequently buying flowers for your significant other “just because”
Eating healthy and exercising to avoid future health issues
Preventative maintenance on your home or car
Reading, learning, and education
Forming bonds and strengthening relationships with your friends and family
Self renewal and spending time on things that inspire and uplift you
Quadrant 3: Not Important but Urgent
Many of us spend a big portion of our time in this Quadrant confusing the Urgent things for the Important things.
Interruptions, ringing phones, most emails, etc… Spending too much time on the unimportant urgent things leads to a very short-term focus with continual crisis management. Your plans and goals will seem increasingly useless since you are unlikely to have time to devote to them. Your relationships and reputation will suffer and you will feel victimized with no control over your life.
Quadrant 3 Example
You have scheduled an important meeting with a coworker 2 weeks ahead of time. This person has very limited time and so you carve out a 30 minute window to deal with a very important matter. As you sit down and start the meeting, your phone rings.
The phone is screaming: “Pick me up! Pick me up! Pick me up!” Most people will pickup the phone and sacrifice the very important meeting for the likely not important but urgent ringing phone.
Quadrant 4: Not Urgent and Not Important
These are the time wasters in your life.
Spending too much time on non-urgent and not important things can lead to dependence on others for your basics, loss of jobs, irresponsibility, etc…
Quadrant 4 Examples
Trivial busy work
Mindless web surfing
Watching too much TV
Lots of pleasant activities
How do I use this to make my life better?
A. Identify Quadrant 2 activities.
Write down all the Quadrant 1 and 3 activities you routinely do (all the Urgent stuff)
Write down how you can prevent these things from reoccurring or from becoming emergencies in the first place: These are your new Quadrant ii activities.
B. Free up time for Quadrant 2 activities
Look at all the things in Quadrant 4 and STOP DOING THEM!
Look at all the things in Quadrant 3 and stop doing them too. This is more difficult as it involves saying NO to people.
You should now have time to spend on Quadrant 2
C. Schedule time for Quadrant 2
Schedule time to do Quadrant 2 activities. (Put them in your calendar just like a meeting).
DO THE THINGS YOU SCHEDULED!
D. Reduce Quadrant 1
The beauty with spending more time in Quadrant 2 is that it should slowly chip away at all your Quadrant 1 activities.
As you reduce your Quadrant 1 activities you have more time for Quadrant 2, creating a fly-wheel effect.
Not quite. The Question “What is important to me?” usually does not have a simple answer.
What Quadrant Am I?
Example 1: Going to a Sporting event (Hockey, Baseball, Football game, etc…)
Which quadrant does this fall into? The answer is it depends on YOUR priorities and what is important to YOU. On the surface it looks clearly like a Q4 item – a time waster. Not urgent and certainly not important.
But, it could be a Q2 event (important) if you consider the event to be an opportunity to spend quality time building relationships with your parents, children, or friends .
Example 2: Watching TV
Clearly another Q4 item: A time waster. Or is it? If watching TV is a stress reliever for you and serves as a way to wind down and chill out after a hectic day, it could very well be a Q2 activity. Just as long as you frame it correctly and consume it in the right way.
To be successful with this method you must have a very clear understanding of what is important to you, what your long term goals are, etc… For more information about how to plan your week around this framework, see my blog post on How I Plan My Week.