I flew to Cardiff for a JISC Advance internal comms meeting on Tuesday and then went to London and back (Wednesday-Friday) on the train. The thing that seemed to take longest was walking and getting the tube around London. I remain baffled as to why anyone would want to live or work there; I feel like I need to take a shower after travelling one stop on the Underground.
Being inspired Google Teacher Academy UK more than met my expectations. I’m going to save my reflections for a series of blog posts over the next couple of weeks. Suffice to say, however, that from the first lesson on ‘Search’ I was challenged, inspired and enthused in equal measure. The team that organised #GTAUK were legendary: both friendly and awesome!
Watching Toy Story 3
My thoughts? Great film – probably my favourite action/jailbreak film actually. Still, not as good as Toy Story 2 and I found the attempt to make the audience cry at the end a bit cynical. It was Ben’s first trip to the cinema – he was tired by the end but enjoyed it!
Being reminded of the importance of sleep
I know how much I need to get a good night’s sleep to be productive. That has never been brought home to me more forcibly than this week. Man cannot live on caffeine, sugar and adrenaline alone…
About ten years ago I started getting migraines. I didn’t know why so I looked online. An excellent resource (now sadly offline) by the Migraine Trust suggested keeping a food diary to identify any triggers. Sure enough, the food colouring Annatto was to blame. I know to avoid it now (which is why you won’t see me touch anything orange at buffets).
Similarly, it takes reflection to identify what makes you unproductive. Once you’ve done so you need to counteract them somehow. So here’s my biggest productivity-boosters. Conveniently, they all begin with ‘S’.
Whilst it’s true that people need different amounts of sleep depending upon various things including age, it’s still a good idea to aim for 8 hours per night. You’ll usually find me in bed by 22:00 or soon after every night, reading before I go to sleep. I also use a Lumie Sunrise Bodyclock to wake me up gradually in autumn/winter and the Sleep Cycle iPhone app when I’m sleeping alone.
I’m sure in a perfect world I would love silence. Unfortunately it’s only very occasionally that I’m in a place that’s perfectly silent. The rest of the time that I’m in a ‘quiet space’ it’s a faux-silence, a world of hushed tones, shuffling papers and apologies-for-the-noise. That’s why I listen to music so much. I’m currently in the process of reorganising my Spotify playlists from a (probably rather anachronistic) alaphabetical-by-artist listing to a situation-based system. My currently most-played track? Sounds of the Amazon Rainforest. It doesn’t always have to be ‘music’ – I also like the Buddha Machine Wall and Brian Eno’s Bloom app for the iPhone.
People who know me know that I’m fairly outgoing. They’d probably describe me as an extrovert. People who know me well know that I’m an introverted extrovert. Or an extroverted invert. Whichever, I need my alone time and my wife understands that. Those who don’t quite understand this would do well to read Caring For Your Introvert from Atlantic Magazine, March 2003.
Image modified under CC license from an original by spike55151
I’ve started doing this over the past few months anyway, but it’s time to formalise it. In fact, some have taken the idea and applied it to a whole day (Analog Sundays). I’m not going to be that inflexible and groundbreaking, but it’s a start.
A quick scan through my Delicious links bore no fruit, but I’ve read within the last year two posts that had an impact on me. The first said that using a mobile phone before bed can affect teenagers’ sleep patterns. I did a little more digging and it would seem that using any type of screen within an hour of falling asleep can be detrimental.
At the other end of the day, I read on one of the productivity blogs I subscribe to that checking email first thing is a bad idea. Why? You immediately start the day off on someone else’s terms. That made me think, and I now have a coffee/breakfast/spend time with Ben/go for a run before I check email these days. It makes for much more laid-back mornings and allows clarity of thought.
So there we go: no checking of email until an hour after waking, and no screens in the hour before sleeping. Simple! 😀
Seeing as this blog recently featured in The Top 50 Productivity Blogs(yeah, yeah) I’d better get posting a few more productivity hints and tips!
I first came across the idea of a ‘caffeine nap’ on Lifehacker a couple of years ago. The premise is simple:
Drink a cup of coffee (‘the caffeine has to travel through your gastro-intestinal tract, giving you time to nap before it kicks in.’)
Doze (‘you’ll get what’s known as effective microsleep, or momentary lapses of wakefulness.’)
Wake up after 15 minutes (any longer and your brain’s prefrontal cortex – used for judgement, etc. – will ‘spin down’ and can take 30 mins to reboot)
The caffeine nap works by you using the time that it takes the caffeine to be absorbed into your bloodstream to nap. This ‘helps clear your system of adenosine, a chemical which makes you sleepy.’ (according to this source)
…was significantly reduced by caffeine and eliminated by the combined treatment, which reduced incidents to 9% of placebo levels versus 34% of placebo levels for caffeine alone.
I’ve found the caffeine nap to be a really effective technique to use when I come home from work to be more productive in the evenings. Coupled with the (Brian Eno-authored) Bloom iPhone app. it’s a winner! 😀
You can find a bit more about caffeine naps in Wikipedia’s more general section on Power naps and more about the wonders of caffeine can be found at the Coffee FAQ.