Eat, Move, Sleep

In our daily grind, we often forget to take care of ourselves as well as we can. I know it sounds so obvious, but we don’t think twice about this. We forget that unless we take care of ourselves first, we won’t be able to do our work or help others by extension. Our needs begin at the physical level with sustainability. Eat, Move, Sleep represents the physical aspect of taking care of ourselves.

Physical energy is the first thing we need to renew in situations when we feel depleted. We should always look at our physical energy first when we’re tired. When our physical energy is insufficient, it is going to drag down every other source of energy. Not renewing this energy is akin to having no gas in the car. How can you expect a car to move, let alone perform, when there is no fuel? Energy is the capacity to do work. Think of this as a part of your daily maintenance that is required to sustain yourself in the long run.

There are a few reasons why doing these things is important. Eat, Move, Sleep forms the physical energy that drives every other energy, such as emotional/social, mental, and spiritual energy. When we’re low on physical energy, it will undermine all the other energy types, thus affecting our ability to work. Not doing these things well also affects our ability to work and play effectively. Doing them well consistently is the difference between performing sub-optimally and performing at peak levels.

While eating is the fuel that is needed to run our bodies, moving and sleeping are about rest and recovery. We work best when we move rhythmically between spending and renewing our energy throughout the day. Working in 90-minute sprints is a great way to ensure that we have enough energy to sustain ourselves for the course of a day as opposed to getting fully drained after a conventional 8-10-hour work day. This also ensures that you’ll have enough energy to spend outside of work.

What/how we eat directly affects how we move and the way we feel. I’ll write more about eating well in the future, but for now, just take it from me that eating well is important.

We have our physical minds and bodies, and if we don’t use them, we’ll lose them. They’ll atrophy. Losing it by not using it is as true for our physical bodies as it is with everything else. Moving is a way to renew ourselves. By moving I mean building strength using weights, doing cardio workouts for endurance, and doing stretching/yoga for flexibility.

I’ll expand on eating and moving well in a future piece.

After breathing, sleeping is our most fundamental need. It is the most important asset we have and use every day. It is the most important behavior in your life to get right and it’s the first one we get wrong. Sleep is also the first thing we’re willing to give up in an effort to get work done. The fact is that even small amounts of sleep deprivation can have a profound impact not just on our health, but also on our cognitive capacity and our effectiveness; not to mention, it makes us less efficient.

Also, sleep is far more important than food and exercise. You can go without food and exercise for days, but you can’t go very far without sleep.

When we feel low on energy, you’ll find that usually one or more of these are at fault: eat, move, sleep — these are the usual suspects.

Now that we know that doing these things well is important, how do we actually do these things every day without thinking about them? The first thing we do is schedule them in our calendar. Because whatever gets scheduled gets done.

With eating, block 30 minutes for each meal, which includes buffer as well. Eat your meals at the same time every day (more on this below), then plan everything else around it.

Exercise 3-5 days a week for at least 30 minutes at the same time. Also, consider taking frequent move breaks through the day for optimal rest and recovery. Set specific days and times to do at least three 30-minute cardio sessions, two 30-45 minute strength-training sessions, and an hour of stretching/yoga. Also, consider doing interval training at least once a week. It burns more calories and lowers your resting heart rate more effectively. How much we move influences our health, our energy, our mood, our focus, and our effectiveness.

Most of us need about 7.5–9 hours of quality sleep to feel fully rested. Make getting that sleep your daily priority, and read my piece about sleeping better.

Sleep at least 7.5 hours every day for complete renewal. Have morning and evening routines for yourself to bookend your day. Having the same sleep/wake times for every day (not just week days) will ensure you have one less thing to think about every day.

There are a few reasons why we want to block time for them in our calendar:

  • It ensures that we actually do them because we’ve made time for doing them and for doing them well.

  • When you block time for these, you won’t have to think about doing them; the less we have to think about doing something, the more we’ll actually do it, and the better it’ll work for us.

  • Scheduling them removes the fallacy that we have an endless amount of time each day; when you account for the time in your calendar, you know where your time is going. Only when you have some semblance of order in your life can you have the creative freedom to do your work. For more on this, I suggest reading Order and Chaos.

Here are a couple of tips for putting it into practice:

  • Doing these things at the same time every day removes the need for thinking about when to do them every day. Soon, you’ll realize that you don’t even need to remember to do these things because you’re habituated to doing them. At that point, be sure to not remove them from your calendar, while continuing to do them.

  • Remember to take buffer time into account. For instance, you might block 30 minutes for each of your meals through the day. You wouldn’t take 30 minutes to have those meals; it’s just that it’s nice to have that extra buffer time. This way you’re giving yourself some breathing room and not booking yourself back to back. Otherwise, if you schedule every minute of your day, you’ll likely suffer from burnout.

When you find yourself not having enough physical energy, look at how you feel in terms of Eat, Move, Sleep. Chances are that your lack of energy is related to one of those things. When you eat, move, and sleep consistently, you’ll be so much more effective in everything else that you do.

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