Momentum Podcast: 651
Protect Your Productivity
by Alex Charfen
For entrepreneurs, our productivity determines our success. It's difficult to make any arguments to the contrary. What we're able to get done every day, whether we have a team or not, will determine our longterm outcomes. In this episode of the Momentum Podcast, Alex is going to take you through the habits that he's installed in his life to be more productive all the time. It's one of the reasons he's obsessed with hydration, morning routines. They literally make everything easier in your life. I hope you enjoy this episode.
For entrepreneurs, our productivity determines our success. It's difficult to make any argument to the contrary. What we are able to get done every day when we have a team or not, will determine our long-term outcomes.
As an entrepreneur, I look for a habit that I can install in my life to help me be more productive all of the time. This is one of the reasons I'm so obsessed with hydration, it literally makes everything in your life easier.
Another habit that is crucially important for entrepreneurs but so many avoid is getting restful, productive sleep. The more efficient your sleep is, the more effective and efficient you will be during the day. This may be one of the hardest habits for entrepreneurs to accept, but it is also one of the most important.
Full Audio Transcript
Alex Charfen: This is the Momentum Podcast.
Speaker 2: For entrepreneurs, our productivity determines our success. It's difficult to make any arguments to the contrary. What we're able to get done every day, whether we have a team or not, will determine our longterm outcomes. In this episode of the Momentum Podcast, Alex is going to take you through the habits that he's installed in his life to be more productive all the time. It's one of the reasons he's obsessed with hydration, morning routines. They literally make everything easier in your life. I hope you enjoy this episode.
Alex Charfen: I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum Podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum. So we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop. And we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters. Clearly, the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution. And we always will be.
This weekend, I actually listened to a friend of mine's podcast. His name's Alex Hormozi. He has a podcast called Gym Launch Secrets. And he had a podcast called... I think it was the Most Important Habit for Entrepreneurs, the Most Difficult Habit for Entrepreneurs. And he was talking about sleep, like just getting a good night's sleep. And this is something that I've talked about for years. This is something that I've shared with our members. This is something that I focused on forever. And when I was listening to Alex talk about it, he was talking about going to bed early and getting a good night's sleep and waking up really early and being able to get up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning. And being able to do that in an easy way.
And I thought, you know what? I need to do a podcast on this because this was never easy for me. In fact, in my late teens and 20s, and really early 30s, I suffered from almost crippling insomnia. And when I say almost, I was able to get past it, but I would end up missing things and missing work. Here's why. Here's what would happen to me. Most nights, I would be able to go to sleep by around 10:30, 11:00, sometimes 12:00. But I would always wake up like 2:30, 3:00, 4:00. So on an average night, I was sleeping maybe three or four hours, two or three hours sometimes. And once I was up, it was like somebody had dumped cold water on my face. I was wide awake and out of bed and not out of bed. I was wide awake in bed, but knowing that I couldn't go back to sleep. And it was torturous. Sometimes, I would just get up and keep working. Other times, I would lay in bed and try and go back to sleep.
And here's what would happen to me over and over again, when I was younger. I would go like 20 or 30 days with the sleep cycle that I just shared with you, and then there would be a day where I just couldn't... there'd be a day where I'd got up and I'd have to go back to bed. There'd be a day where I'd be laying in bed, and I'd go to sleep at 2:00 in the afternoon one day, and wake up the next morning at 4:30 or 5:00, catching up on sleep. And here's what I eventually started to realize was, the longer the periods I had without sleep, the more diminishing returns there were in what I was doing in my life and in my business, the more mistakes I made, the more really challenging decisions I made, the more I was reactive and difficult to get along with and frustrated.
And so, this subject of sleep is something that I have done a very deep dive on. I probably spent way too much time studying sleep and circadian rhythm. In fact, there's been a couple of times where I've been asked to go on health or medical podcasts and discuss circadian rhythm and sleep because I was so obsessed with it. I still am so obsessed with it. So I wanted to just share a little bit about circadian rhythm and sleep and insomnia, and why so many entrepreneurs these days are getting terrible sleep. So let me start with how to get a good night's sleep. Now, I've got three different things I want to share with you, is first a morning routine. Good sleep actually begins in the morning. The second, stuff that you can do all day to ensure that you get a good night's sleep. And then third, a wind down routine or an evening routine. I'll share my exact routine with you, so that you know what I'm doing.
So first, let's talk about how you get a good night's sleep. A good night's sleep actually starts right after you wake up in the morning. The preparation for the night's sleep starts right after you get up in the morning. And here's what far too many people do. What far too many people do, is they get up in the morning, and the first thing they do is this, they look at a cell phone, they look at a screen. How many of you are guilty of this? I know for years, this is how I lived. I got away from it. And part of the reason I'm doing this podcast and sharing this content is, when COVID started, I went back to old habits. I slept hard. Not right after COVID started, but it was really maybe the past couple of months. I'm just realizing how many bad habits I got back into. And one of them was waking up and looking right at the screen.
Now, here is why this is such a massive challenge to your sleep, to your balance as a human being, and to your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is this rhythm that tells our bodies when we need to get up, when we need to go to sleep, really, when our bodies need the right hormones or when we need the right chemicals, what we need at any given time. And circadian rhythm is programmed exclusively through light. So if you get up in the morning, and you go outside, and it's before the sun comes up, but there's no unnatural light, there's none of this stuff. And you go outside and allow your eyes to adjust to the natural ambient light, here's what happens. Our bodies are told it is 4:30 or 5:30 or 6:30 or whatever time you're up in the morning, that ambient light is telling your body, this is the time of day that we're in. And so we're okay.
Now, here's why circadian rhythm throws us off so dramatically. If we get up in the morning and we look at a screen like this, the blue light on phone screens today is the brightest blue light that our body has ever seen. In fact, it is an unnatural blue light that is brighter than the blue light of high noon.
So the unnatural light actually programs our bodies. And it says, when we wake up in the morning, we look at this screen, here's what happens. We're just waking up, our body's just getting started, we look at this screen and our circadian rhythm is programmed that it is the highest high noon we've ever seen. And as a result, here's what happens. Our body starts accelerating. It starts accelerating maybe some thyroid, maybe adrenaline, the sex hormones, all types of stuff that we do not want to have. We do not want to be in an adrenaline thyroid loop, just starting out in the morning. And when we get up in the morning, and we look at the phone, we literally tell our body, hey, we need to ramp things up now. We need to get ready for high noon. It is high noon. It's the highest high noon we've ever seen.
And so in the morning, there are several things that you can do protect yourself, so you get a good night's sleep. First thing is don't look at a screen in the first hour or two that you're awake. If you must, if there's something that prevents you from not being able to look at the screen, buy some blue blocking glasses. I wear these from Swanwick, and I think they're fantastic. They're my favorite. I think they have the best lens. The lens is very easy to see through, but it cuts down the vast majority of blue light. Just so you know, there are occasions where I wear these clear lenses, like when I have to go outside, when I have to walk around, I wear prescriptions. So I wear clear lenses. And sometimes during the day, I wear clear lenses. But when I'm in front of screens, almost always, I'm using the blue blocking glasses in the morning.
So in the morning, getting up avoiding screens, using blocking blue light, if you need to, and then getting outside to allow your body to program circadian rhythm. Every morning, I go through a morning routine. And one of the first things I do, is I go outside for a walk. It doesn't matter if it's 3:45 in the morning or 6:00 in the morning, whatever time it is, I am outside for a walk. Most of the time for me, I get up without an alarm clock, somewhere between 5:00 and 6:00. So sometimes, it's 4:30, but most of the time, it's between 5:00 and 6:00. Usually at the earlier time, closer to five. So I get up, go through my morning routine, get outside for a walk. I'm programming that circadian rhythm< so that I get a good night's sleep that night.
Because here's what happens, why so many of us either get a really exhausted nights sleep, or we feel like we are exhausted in the afternoon, or we hit a second wind at 7:00 or 8:00 at night. And then, we're all ramped up again, has a lot to do with the stressors that we're under. But it also has a lot to do with the blue light. Every time we're looking at these phones, every time I'm looking at the screen unprotected, it's telling my body that it's high noon. So this is something that we can combat by using the right type of glasses.
And then throughout the day, here's some stuff you can do to ensure that you have a great night's sleep. One, water, drinking a ton of water, making sure that your body's not taking on toxicity, that you're drinking water, that you're hydrated, that you're getting through the day effectively and efficiently.
And then, here's a big one. Now this is one that sometimes I forget to do. So I'm calling myself out a little bit here. Every time I do that, it makes me a lot more diligent about doing it. So this is a tool for you and for me, is getting outside intermittently throughout the day. So every hour or two, going outside for three to five minutes and doing the following, allowing your eyes to see the natural light. Now, I want to make something very clear. This doesn't mean going outside with your phone and answering email. That defeats all of the purposes. It goes in the wrong direction. I guess it's a little bit better than answering email inside. But what we're trying to do here is give you the best night's sleep possible.
And here's what happens, if every couple hours or every hour, you go outside for three to five minutes, a few things happen. One, we're programming your circadian rhythm, which is fantastic. We're now letting your body know, no matter what it's seen inside, you go outside to the ambient light outside. And take off your blue blocking glasses. And we're letting your body know that it is 10:00 in the morning, then it's 11:30, then it's 12:45, then it's 2:00, then it's 3:00, then it's 5:00. And as you go out through the day or as you go through the day, those times outside, as little as three to five minutes, can program your circadian rhythm. Because even though, blue light from phones and blue light, junk light indoors is the brightest blue light that there is, your body responds to natural ambient light. So going out and being outside is going to help you get a good night's sleep that night.
Now, let's talk about it evening routines. There were times in my career, I thought that I wouldn't solve this. There was times when I was younger, where having insomnia made things so challenging. I can remember more than once, where I had a big event or I had something coming up. And what would happen is, about two weeks out from the event, I'd start getting nervous about my sleep schedules. Because I was so afraid I would have one of those days where I was going to crash during an event or doing during something that was really important. When you live with that type of anxiety around sleep, you actually go to sleep anxious, and it makes things worse. I remember going to sleep, not being able to sleep at night, sleeping fitfully then waking up way early because of everything that I had going on. And that, it's just a downward spiral. I talk about entrepreneurial loops and spirals. One of the most aggressive downward spiral is insomnia or lack of sleep. It just gets worse and worse and worse. Let's get real, when they want to torture prisoners of war, they don't let them sleep. So for us as entrepreneurs, if we're preventing ourselves from sleeping, we're literally torturing ourselves and raising the pressure and noise in our lives, like crazy.
So here's what I do in the evening in order to get a good night's sleep. So I use a couple of supplements. I actually use [Qualia 00:12:21] Night. I use Qualia Mind in the morning that is caffeine free. And then at night, I use Qualia Night, which is an amazing supplement. I just started using that a couple of months ago, and it's definitely helped my deep sleep. And it's definitely helped my HRV, my heart rate variability at night, which I track with my [Oura 00:12:40] ring. And so, I don't just prepare for a good night's sleep. I track every night's sleep to make sure that what I did the day before is giving me the results that I want. Then the second thing that I do is, I make sure that I'm wearing blue blocking glasses. For me, it's most of the time that I'm in front of screens or most of the time when I'm in junk light indoors. So I wear them almost all day. And sometimes, I take them off for a little bit in the middle of the day. And I wear some that I have that are yellow, or I wear some that are clear, but still block about 20 or 30% of the harmful blue light. But at night, I make certain that from about 6:00 on, if I'm around any type of junk light, I have my blue blockers on, and I'm not allowing that junk blue light into my eyes to reprogram my circadian rhythm and mess with my body. So just using the glasses helps a ton.
And then towards the end of the day, besides just taking Qualia Night, I also take magnesium every night, which helps me wind down and go to sleep. And then, I also use CBD, a small dose of CBD to just allow myself to sleep better. Now, here's why this is so crucially important. As entrepreneurs, our productivity is literally up to us. How productive you are every day, whether you have a team or not, is going to affect your overall outcomes, your success. And so, I want to be as productive as I possibly can. So my whole career I've spent time looking for what is the habit, or what is the modality, or what can I add that is going to help everything in my life get better. And one of the things that helps everything in your life get better is getting better sleep. So remember, first thing in the morning, get outside during the day, get outside multiple times, make sure you're drinking a ton of water during the day. And then at night, develop a wind down routine that includes blocking blue light, taking the supplements that work for you. I shared the ones that worked for me that I'm now using. And I'm getting consistent good sleep. And then, consider whether you want to monitor your sleep as well. I use the Oura Ring. There's a lot of devices out there that monitor sleep, that actually give you data. So you can see if you're improving or not improving, how much you're sleeping. This is one of the most effective things you can do for yourself as an entrepreneur.
And if you do have a team, sleep is so important because lack of sleep, the first thing that we start to see with lack of sleep is that reactivity goes up. We start getting more reactive, more anxious, more frustrated, more irritated, even with things that maybe we shouldn't be anxious, frustrated, or irritated around. And so if you can improve your sleep, it's going to make you a better entrepreneur, it's going to help you get more done, and it will actually make you a better leader for your team. I know that's what it's helped me do.
If I contrast from when I was younger, when I couldn't sleep, to now, when on a typical night I go to bed at around 10:00, maybe a little bit later. And I'm usually up somewhere, like I said, right around 5:00 or 5:30, somewhere in that time range, sometimes, a little bit earlier. But these days I wake up, I'm getting a good amount of deep sleep. I'm getting the sleep that I actually need. I wake up feeling refreshed in the morning, and I wake up ready to take things on. There were times when I was younger, I remember waking up and feeling like I just couldn't do it, feeling like I wasn't going to be able to get through the day, feeling like it was just too much with as challenged as I felt to actually make things happen.
So I hope some of these suggestions help you if you're feeling any of that, because I just want to validate how incredibly frustrating it is, not to be able to sleep when you want to. And if you follow the strategies that I talked about here, over the course of time, give it two or three weeks, you will not only start improving your sleep, you'll start feeling better in the morning. And you'll start seeing yourself actually be as productive as you can be in any given day.
So if you want more information like this, if you'd like to understand more of what will help you actually move forward as an entrepreneur, I've got an event coming up that I don't want you to miss. It's called Momentum Masterclass. And what I'm doing is for three days in October, October 6th, 7th, and 8th, I'm recording content that's going to go behind our paywall. And so, I'm going to deal with a live audience. And so, if you'd like to be in the audience, I'm going to be talking about the entrepreneurial personality type, the billionaire code, how you create momentum, our planning lenses. And again, this is all stuff we normally only share with our members. So if you'd like to register, you can go to momentummasterclass.com. You'll spend some time with me on October 6th, 7th, and 8th. You have to be there live. There's no replays since this is behind the paywall content. I'm going to record it with the live audience, and then that's it. But here's my commitment, I will stick around and answer any question anybody has. So check it out, go to momentummasterclass.com.
And if you try any of these strategies for sleep, do me a favor, shoot me a message. Let me know somewhere that you tried them, if they worked for you. I'd love to understand and know that these methods work. A ton of our members use them, and I know that these are the simple things you can do to dramatically improve your sleep, your energy, your recovery, and what you get done in any given day. If you have time, love to see you October 6th, 7th, and 8th. Go to momentummasterclass.com. I'll see you there.