The Ultimate(*) Productivity System, Screen Apnea & Waking Up App
🤸♀️ Stretch 27
🤸♀️ IN THIS WEEK'S STRETCH:
The Ultimate(*) Productivity System. Grounded in psych and neuroscience research.
Screen Apnea. And a basic breathing pattern you can try.
Waking Up. Not just another meditation app (+ giving away 1 free month).
👩💻THE ULTIMATE(*) PRODUCTIVITY SYSTEM
Oh man, even though I cringe at the word "productivity" and I'm making a pretty bold claim by saying "ultimate"... I'm pretty excited to share this one with you.
My system is based on everything I've learned about our minds and bodies over the past 2 years when it comes to having a fruitful & creative day.
Here's what it looks like:
Design - Organize your day based on your hardwired biological systems.
Know your sleep chronotype
Work in 90-minute work bouts
Build in movement and mindless wandering (and chores!)
Intention - Be clear & specific about what you'll focus on every day.
Do a regular brain dump
Define 3 priorities + MVP every morning
Color coded time blocking
Ruthlessly remove all distractions
(*) Obviously, even with this system, you'll still have plenty of throwaway days. Ultimately, we're trying to make 40,000-year-old brains function in a very strange world, so cut yourself some slack. But implementing just a few of these ideas in your daily routine will 100% help you get more done, with less stress, and with better output.
🫁 DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH.
Ever since taking a freediving course last year, I've become fascinated by breathwork.
And here's something I've learned that is especially relevant for all of us computer-tappy-tappy monkeys:
There's this phenomenon called screen apnea or e-mail apnea.
It's the temporary holding of your breath or shallow breathing while sitting in front of a screen, whether that's a computer, phone, or television.
There're a few reasons this happens:
When we're extremely focused on something (like getting through a full inbox), the brain instinctively "switches off" certain subconscious activities (like breathing) to direct brain power toward the task. Generally, holding our breath on the exhale is instinctive to help us focus or concentrate harder on what we're doing.
Our hunched posture, especially with computers and phones, compromises our ability to inhale and exhale fully.
When we’re lost in email and other online tasks, we lose awareness. We become so fixated on what we're doing that we don’t even notice this shift in our breathing.
This shift can be subtle, and it's not always for long, but it can be enough to disrupt our regular flow of oxygen and unwittingly kick our stress response into gear.
There's nothing immediately harmful about screen apnea, but it’s a good thing to be aware of for yourself. Now that I've started paying attention, it's quite striking how often I do it.
The good news is, learning (and really practicing) basic breathing techniques can help reverse the effects of screen apnea. It will also help improve your awareness of your own breath and breathing habits in general, and teach you how to breathe more easily during times of stress.
Now, there are many breathing exercises and techniques from both the East and the West, ancient and New Agey. The basics, however, seem to be quite simple:
Breathe in and out from the belly
Breathe in and out through the nose
Breathe out a little more than you breathe in
Making your exhales longer than your inhales is a scientifically proven way to lower the breath rate, reduce anxiety and calm the mind (in one study, showing even greater effects than meditation.)
Okay... and now breathe!
🧘♀️ WAKING UP BY SAM HARRIS
I just renewed my subscription to the Waking Up meditation app.
I know, I know - I just mentioned a study saying breathwork can be more impactful than meditation.
But, as Sam Harris says:
“The purpose of meditation isn’t merely to de-stress, or to sleep better, or to learn to be a little less neurotic. The purpose is to radically transform your sense of who and what you are.”
And for me, the Waking Up app has been incredible for that. Sam is a neuroscientist and Buddhist, and explains in great detail the brain processes going on while you're trying to meditate. Every session is like a wild expedition into the depths of my mind.
Not gonna lie - when I first started listening to him, I had no idea what he was talking about (I still don't a lot of the time.) I wouldn't be able to explain to you why I find the app so good. But intuitively, my nervous system seems to understand what he's talking about.
I often transcribe parts of a session just because I want to re-read and think about it more. Here's one such paragraph:
What he's saying is - despite the feeling we’re directly experiencing the world out there "as it is", our reality is built entirely in our heads. For all of us.
My version of reality is entirely different from yours. And that's not just figure of speech. You literally don't see what I see, and vice versa. Mindfuck, I know.
As part of my yearly membership, I have a free month of unlimited access I can share with someone.
If any of the above blew your mind as much as it did mine, but don't feel like a membership fits your budget right now, I'd love to send you this free month. Just hit reply to this email, and I'll send you the details (whoever's first).
Right now, pay attention to your breath. Are you breathing through your nose or your mouth?