Monkey Wears a Watch: Living in 24 Hour Cycles

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What’s Going on Everyone?

We’re going to start out by breaking things down from the very large perspective, all the way down into the smallest details of personal life.

To start out: We have a rock orbiting a giant fireball.

This rock orbits the fireball, and rotates at the same time.

When the face of the rock is turned toward the fireball it becomes brightly lit, the side facing away becomes dark, and so on.

On the surface of this rock, there are various geographical features and forms of flora and fauna…

…as well as a large population of monkeys.

They are ornery, rowdy, jumping around and jabbering – all the time. Constant wars, building stuff, tearing it down, running in circles, and general chaos persist with this bunch.

These monkeys consider themselves the intelligent life form, and have decided to create mutual agreements about things, such as: lines of longitude, measurement systems, codes of conduct, and currency.

If you are going to reside on this rock, you have to play various games.

And don’t get me wrong, they are interesting games.

You can get into all kinds technicalities about who did this, who said that, who’s right and who’s wrong, and essentially have a whole lot of fun running amok.

For today we are going to discuss only one of these social agreements specifically….

The system we will discuss today is: Time

Humans have agreed on a 24 hour models for our timing coordination, as that is how long it takes for the rock we’re on to rotate one full rotation.

It’s precisely measured by expensive wrist watches and loud alarm clocks.

It that one thing nobody ever seems to have enough of(that and money).

Time is a motivator.

And if you’re not focused…

Time is elusive.

Right now, a lack of time is motivating someone to speed, while they quietly curse under their breath. They have overslept, and the other monkeys will not be happy with them.

That big one in charge one might even beat on his chest and make a whole lot of noise.

The minority of people that do seem to have enough time, are ironically the most productive.

All people thrive on routine, and generally do the same things everyday, around the same time.

Routines create a feeling of security, making things predictable, and helps improve productivity.

Design your routines to benefit you.

For this article we will use the 2400 time format, as myself and others often work all night, and rotate shifts often.

So let’s begin with a fresh 24 hour cycle.

First, let’s decide where to place our sleeping hours, as everything else will build on to that.

Everyone must sleep to be able to function well.

How much should you sleep? Are you not sleeping enough? Too much?

The popular consensus on sleep is 8 hours a night.

As the most popular consensus is almost always wrong, I’ve looked for and tested different sleep patterns.

Arnold recommends sleeping 6 hours, Trump recommends 4. I recommend 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Anything over seven hours, to me, is a waste of time from my 24 hour window.

Sleeping >10 hours will cause you to become depressed fairly quickly, unless you are a teenager who is growing, and needs that down time(or a bodybuilder on tons of hormones).

Sleeping <5 hours will render you fairly useless throughout the day, unless you pop stimulants like m&m’s (which will give you adrenal fatigue, and you’ll crash eventually).

What has worked best for me has been: 6 to 7 hours.

I can maintain fine on 7 hours, even while training several hours a day. On low exertion days, 6 is good. I cannot do six for extended periods, usually about a week until I start feeling tired.

Now, depending on if you work irregular shifts, need to be up early to get some alone time, or prefer to stay up late and socialize, will determine where you place your sleep in the 24 hour time-frame.

An early bird might sleep from 2100 to 0400 (Awake from 04 to 21)

A night owl might sleep from 2400 to 0700 (Awake from 07 to 24)

A graveyard shift worker may sleep 1100 to 1800 (Awake from 18 to 11)

All depends on when the best time for your routine to sleep is.

Now my #1 Tip with sleep is: Do not sleep in on the weekends. Your body gets used to a certain rhythm, and that will get skewed, because you decide to sleep +4 hours, cause its “Saturday”.

Your body doesn’t know or care what weekday it is.

All it knows is the internal clock, the circadian rhythm. Don’t jack it up, and you will sleep like clockwork.

Be sloppy and mess around, and be constantly tired all day, and laying awake all night.

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Morning Routine

So now that your sleep is set up, tack on an hour in the morning for your morning routine. Mine consists of reviewing the planner for “to-do” tasks, making a cup of coffee, some light calisthenics to get the blood flowing, a shower, and a clean shave.

Add in your Commute

After you’re ready to begin the day, factor in your commute. Mine is 45mins, with 15mins of safety margin. Figure out the time it takes you to get ready, leave, and arrive, while giving yourself some buffer time. As an old man told me once: “If you’re not 15 minutes early – you’re late!”

Factor in Eating

Next, factor in your meal times, including prep time, time to eat, and cleanup time (2 to 3 meals a day has worked best for me, 2 on busy days, 3 on recovery/easy days). I usually cook only simple dishes on the stove top, and eating doesn’t take long. Folk who enjoy sitting down for long meals will need to adjust and add more time on the schedule.

Set aside time for Physical Training

Now, you can add in your physical training time. I usually train at the end of the day, so I am not pressed for time, as I like to unwind and relax in the gym, and think about the day. It’s my alone time, and serves as a meditation and a church, so I allow myself up to 2 hours. Usually around 90 minutes is enough, but I feel relaxed knowing I have two hours.

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Everything Comes Together…

After all your basic needs are factored into the 24 hour model, outline your down time. Free time is for all the rest of the non-essential stuff life wants to distract you with.

Write out the list of all the critical tasks you must accomplish each day. Write out your day in it’s entirety, in one hour blocks. If you want to be hyper-productive, write it out in 5 minute intervals. It’s a pain, but it allows you to see where you are wasting time.

Think of things like: sleeping, eating, working, physical training, studying, recreation, and time with the important people in your life.

Spread them out through the 24 hour cycle in the optimum order, and once that is done, be very wary of adding anything new.

Become very selfish with your time.

Actively ask: “Is this activity worth the time spent?” and you will become happier, freer, with time to spare.

The key to maximizing the use of your time is to be aware of the time.

An example cycle would be:

2300-0600 Sleeping

0600-0700 Wake up – Morning Routine

0700-0800 Commute to Work(Listen to Lectures, Podcasts?)

0800-1600 Workday and First meal

1600-1700 Leave work, Go to the Gym/Pool/Track

1700-1800 Physical Training

1800-1830 Leave training facility, Go home.

1800-1900 Home, Second meal

1900-2300 Misc Tasks – Study, Chores, etc.

Notice there is plenty of Safety Margin in these numbers…

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And it’s only an example. Most people’s schedules will include a few more items, depending on whether they have children, pets, other obligations.

The key to being aware of time is focus.

Set a 20 minute timer and focus on one task only. Put your phone on airplane mode, and get to work.

Do not try to multi-task. Multitasking is myth created by the notoriously unproductive to explain away their lack of progress in any one direction.

Remaining focused takes discipline, as the mind likes to wander.

It is impossible for a human brain to multitask. We have a one track mind. Sure you can spin in a circle like the Tasmanian devil, and switch between tasks every 3 seconds, however you are not completing two tasks at once.

A computer can run multiple processes at once, a human must do one.

So eliminate the distractions(you know what they are), and use your laser focus, and precise awareness of time to accomplish your tasks.

There is nothing that makes time fly by faster than getting sucked into a TV show, or a video game. Staring at your smartphone will do it too.

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Final thoughts: Don’t be afraid to say “No”. Some people want to accommodate everyone, and end up to the eyeballs with busywork. I’ve never had this issue, as I am quite selfish.

Write out and optimize your day.

Focus on the important tasks.

And Breathe Easy.

All the Best.

-A