Anyone who leads a busy life knows that it takes planning to keep things running smoothly. But not everyone turns to the same methods to do it–especially not right from the get-go each day. Personally, how I kick off my mornings is crucial.
Also, I’m a “biohacker,” which means I focus on upgrading my biology so I have more energy every day. You might catch me doing things like injecting stem cells into my brain as part of an attempt to live to at least 180 years old. But even if that’s (way) further than you’d ever be willing to go, it’s still true that getting the most out of every day allows you to live more–quite literally. The key, as I see it, is to dial in every detail of your routine to either make you stronger or give you more joy in less time. That means two things:
- Don’t waste energy.
- Add more energy.
Recently, I’ve upgraded my own morning routine by improving how my body creates and stores energy. At the cellular level, your body produces energy in your mitochondria–think of them like your cells’ power plants–which together account for around 10% of your body weight. These cellular structures are hackable, both in some extremely low-tech ways and through more advanced methods. With that in mind, here’s how I add more energy to my daily life.
Starting work at 10 a.m. doesn’t make you a bad person. No matter what you’ve heard growing up, there are morning people and night people. The researcher Michael Breus says people can be categorized by “chronotype,” which describes the largely genetically-driven factors that make some of us early birds, some of us night owls, and others something in the middle. No one chronotype is better than another.
I’m a night owl. My whole life, I’ve done my best work late at night. In the morning I’m far less efficient. I also have two young kids who get ready for school at a horrifying hour each morning.
Fortunately, my wife is a morning person. We’ve worked out an agreement: She gets the kids up and ready, while I wake up just in time to make a batch of Bulletproof Coffee and drive the kids to school. I rarely start my focused workday before 9:30 a.m., and I do my best work between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.
So if you’re always groggy in the morning, don’t try and force yourself to wake up earlier. Just sleep in. (Unless, of course, your boss is completely resistant to your biologically sound argument for tweaking your work hours–in which case, sorry!) Not ready to go to bed at 10 p.m.? Stay up late. Want to wake up at 5 a.m. and sing? Do it.
Feel out your daily rhythm and work with your biology, not against it. You’ll get more done.
I wake up feeling refreshed in part because I’ve gone the extra mile to optimize my sleep regimen. Here’s a breakdown of my bedroom:
- Blackout curtains to keep out all light.
- Everything that blinks or glows is covered with TrueDark light filtering dots or black tape.
- My bed is organic natural fiber, since foam can release chemicals into the air.
- I use a progressive alarm that senses when I’m at the top of my sleep cycle and wakes me up then. That means that unless I take a knee to the stomach from one of my kids, I’m never jolted from a deep sleep.
In other words, it’s a sleeping cave. I also follow this popular sleep-hacking protocol. The result is that I drop into deep sleep faster and stay there longer. Forget the research that claims otherwise; I’ve found that under the right conditions (and that’s the key), you actually can get a full night’s rest in six hours. That frees up a lot of time.
I start my day with (surprise, surprise) Bulletproof Coffee, which creates stable energy for hours and prevents cravings until past lunch. Then I take the kids to school and enjoy the drive back. My phone is in airplane mode this whole time so I’m totally present with my kids, every morning. This is protected family time. I only turn my phone back on once my kids are in class.
When I get home, I stand on the Bulletproof Vibe–a whole-body vibration plate we’ve developed that replicates going for a long walk in less time–while under an ultraviolet sunlamp that enhances mitochondrial function. (I know this may sound weird to the uninitiated but I write about the underlying science in my new book.) Then I do “neurofeedback” (essentially, a system for measuring brainwave patterns) in a program I’ve developed called 40 Years of Zen, in order to put myself in an advanced meditative state far deeper than I can do without technology.
Then I start work.
Yes, it’s cool to have toys to speed up everything I do, but I’m a professional biohacker! Not everyone has access to these gadgets (or an interest in trying them), but you can still get similar benefits just by going for a walk in the sun and meditating. Start your day with movement and meditation to wake up your body and mind–not text messages and social media. By the time you begin working, you’ll be in a calm, focused state.
Every time you make a decision, you sap a bit of energy from your brain. Behavioral scientists are beginning to question the concept of “ego depletion,” the idea, first established around two decades ago, that willpower is a finite resource and that decisions use it up. But even if the finer points of that theory need to evolve, anybody who’s left the office after a long workday, feeling their mental capacity totally sapped, knows how hard it can be to keep the momentum going.
That’s why the first work-related thing I do, every day, is meet with my executive assistant. I find that if I don’t manage my time, it’ll play fast and loose with my energy levels–no good. So every minute of my day is scheduled, even “free time,” lunch, acupuncture, and family time. Honestly, I usually don’t know what day of the week it is. It’s my calendar that tells me what I’m doing next.
I always try and schedule something fun–like ping-pong. It requires rapid mental turnover and strengthens “proprioception,” a fancy term for your brain’s sense of your body in space. I’ll play with my kids or with a ping-pong robot.
You don’t have to be a biohacker to prioritize what you enjoy every day, nor does your job need to prevent you from doing that. Work to improve yourself, strengthen your relationships with the people you care about, and change the world–but don’t forget to have a laugh now and then. Life is too short to take yourself too seriously.
Dave Asprey is the CEO of Bulletproof Nutrition and the author of the new book Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster-in Just Two Weeks. Follow him on Twitter at @bulletproofexec.