Sleep Smarter Rodale Books, 2016
Amazon Audible iBooks Website

We spend one-third of our lives sleeping. That’s twenty to thirty years, hopefully longer. Yet we understand so little about sleep—namely how it works and exactly why it’s important.

I discovered Shawn Stevenson when he spoke at Michael Hyatt’s Free to Focus summit. He was addressing the impact that sleep has on our productivity. In Sleep Smarter, he also goes into how sleep impacts our health, memory function, ability to focus, our weight… it seems like there’s no aspect of our life that sleep doesn’t impact.

Some of my favorite tidbits:

  • What happens to your body chemistry, hormones, and metabolism when you sleep, and what’s throwing it off when you’re laying there awake.
  • The effect a patch of light the size of a quarter has on your sleep.
  • Why you might be more tired after hitting that snooze button.
  • Over 100,000 traffic accidents in the US are caused each year by driver fatigue.
  • Putting a TV in your bedroom causes you to have half as much sex.

One caveat: Shawn brings in a lot of scientific studies to support his arguments. Just remember that correlation is not causation.

Whatever quality of sleep you’re getting now, Shawn can help you take it to the next level. It’s a great book, the kind you’ll refer back to as you start spotting problem areas and want to fix them. It’s an even better listen; the audiobook is read by the author, and his personality shines through. (For example, at one point, he throws in a random Bane impression, from The Dark Knight Rises that isn’t in the text; I love it when they do that with audiobooks.)

Question: Have you read Sleep Smarter? Share your thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

How To Displace Quadrant 4 Before It Ruins Your Day

Understand why you’re avoiding Quadrants 1–3 and stay on track.

There are four Quadrants of Time Management:

  1. Crisis Management. When fires crop up, you need to put them out. You can’t ignore them. They won’t go away on their own without leaving significant damage.
  2. Growth, Actualization, and Renewal. This is where you want to spend as much time as possible. You have time to solve problems creatively and turn them into opportunities. You change things so fewer fires crop up. Your time spent offstage is rejuvenating and energizing, helping you to return to the stage stronger and more skilled.
  3. Gravel. Some activities don’t contribute to our goals, but they still need to be done. No matter how much you eliminate, automate, or delegate, some of it will still fall to you.
  4. Waste. We only have 24 precious hours in a day. When we’re in Quadrant 4, we’re wasting our time. We’re avoiding something.

We go to Quadrant 3 because we have to, Quadrant 1 because we have to now, Quadrant 2 because we want to, and Quadrant 4 because we’re trying to get away from 1–3.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / Tony Recena

What Contexts Should You Use?

Identify when, where, and how you’ll get things done.

One of the fundamental concepts in GTD is the context. As David Allen explains in Getting Things Done (2015) (emphasis his):

[The] best way to be reminded of an “as soon as I can” action is by the particular context required for that action—that is, either the tool or the location or the situation needed to complete it.

In other words, contexts are a way of marshaling the many things you need to do so you can focus on the few that you can take action on right now.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / praphab144

You’ll Only Get the Most Important Things Done

Start with the important and finish with a clear conscience.

Do you ever feel frustrated that you didn’t get everything done on your list? It’s a common feeling for high achievers. We have grand ambitions for the day: Many books will be written about it, paintings will be painted to capture it, and statues carved to immortalize it. Songs will be sung in fire-lit taverns as steely-eyed men gather ’round to tell their tales. “Where were you that day?” “Lad, I was there. I knew him.”

You may not go so far as casting the movie adaptation, but admit it—you have plans for the day. You have plans for your plans. And yet the day never goes quite the way you want it to.

It’s frustrating. We had a vision in place, a dream we were working towards, and now it feels like it will never happen.

Take a deep breath. You’ll get there, even if you have to write the books yourself.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / Coloures_Pic

Why We Scan: The Scanning Manifesto

We scan not to discard, but to keep.

My children love to help me scan. They love opening the lid to our ScanSnap S1500M and hearing it whir to life. They love putting papers into the document feeder (though I usually insist on doing that part), pushing the glowing blue button, and watching the scanned documents slide out the bottom. They’ve learned that if we’re doing a lot of scanning then it saves time and effort to bring the wastebasket over to the desk. They enjoy the whole process and occasionally fight over which one gets to help me. The only part they’re happy to leave to me is touching up and filing the scans in Evernote.

The other week, I grabbed a cutout heart my daughter had made in preschool. She shrieked and snatched it away from me. “No!” she cried, clutching it to her chest. “I don’t want to scan this! I like it!”

It seems I’ve taught them the mechanics of scanning, but they haven’t yet learned why we scan.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / maxsim