This is the third of a series of reports I’ll be posting monthly about my own Life Hacks.
Yes, this report is late. But its better late than never 🙂
Why late? Because my time has been consumed with a business related life hack (I’ll touch on that later) which is important.
I apply all the life hacks I write about in these reports in my own life; some of them work, others don’t. Either way, I’ll let you know.
I really hope these reports help you understand that you don’t have to be a globe-traveling millionaire with 5 best-selling books, 100,000 blog subscribers and tigers on a leash to be a Life Hacker (I don’t meet any of the above criteria — at least not yet!), and I also sincerely hope my Life Hacks can inspire you to step outside the norm, gain an edge, and start living life on your terms.
Life Hack Updates
In the November report I wrote about my “nose job” surgery. While the surgery was totally elective, it had nothing to do with my looks and everything to do with my ability to breath clearly through my nose, a privilege which has eluded me since I was very young. And the surgery was performed on my birthday, because that happened to be the only day in November the doctor was operating.
Now that my recovery is complete I’m happy to report I’m breathing free and clear most of the time and the surgery seems to have been successful.
In October, I wrote about my experiment in flexibility where I would sit down, legs together straight out in front of me, then wrap a rope around the bottoms of my feet and pull myself downward for 5 minutes every day in an effort to loosen my hamstrings.
Though I have missed days here and there, I am now able to touch my toes without bending my knees – barely — for about one second before the pain sends me back upwards. Regardless, this is an improvement from when I started so I plan to continue this practice. Of course, I’ll keep you updated.
Life Hacks for December
Health & Fitness
In The 4-Hour Body, a book by semi-famous author Tim Ferriss, there is a section devoted to polyphasic sleep.
The basic premise is that REM sleep is what really counts and the rest of the sleep cycle is a waste of time.
Theoretically, those interested in having more hours in their day can sleep in shorter spurts, spaced several times throughout the day (thus supposedly increasing total REM sleep time). There are many different variations of this, some involving a 3 or 4-hour block of sleep with several naps during the day, but the Mother of all polyphasic sleeping schedules outlined in the book is one where there is no long period of sleep, rather, several 20 minute naps are taken at strict times throughout the day for a grand total of 2 hours of sleep per day (what Tim refers to as the “Uberman” schedule).
I first read the book several years ago. My thought was one likely shared by many people similar to myself who are new to polyphasic sleeping — wow, think of all the stuff I can get done!
Tim does admit that he’s tried several variants of polyphasic sleep before (including Uberman), but does not elaborate on the break-in period, how long he was able to do it, or how it affected his cognition and focus. Not being one to jump right into something before I know what I’m getting into, I did some research myself.
The research revealed that sleeping 2 hours a day in 20 minute spurts was unsustainable for most people. Videos featured researchers waking people after 20 minutes into a zombie-like state where the research subject was totally incoherent. One subject was asked to type something on a computer keyboard and instead grabbed the keyboard as if it were a Teddy bear and laid back down with it. Suffice it to say these people weren’t going to be conquering the world or coming up with the next billion-dollar idea.
The more I read about polyphasic sleep from other sources the more it was revealed that people who try just about any variation, whether it’s Uberman, or other variations that allow a total of three or even four hours of sleep per day, are voluntarily subjecting themselves to a form of torture. Some described polyphasic sleep as a sort of “personal hell.” Many continued trudging through for a while, waiting for the day when their body would “adapt” to the new sleeping schedule and their productivity would sky-rocket because of it. A day, that for many, never came.
For the most part, sleeping less than 5-6 hours a day for any sustained period of time while maintaining coherence, productivity, and health seems to be elusive. Personally, I have not tried the Uberman schedule and some of the other variants myself (though I have tried a few in the past). There may very well be other people out there who can pull these schedules off, though the first few weeks may be tough. But be forewarned if you do try it.
There is an exception to every rule and biphasic sleep is the exception to the hellish side effects of polyphasic sleep, especially if you’re just getting started. Biphasic sleep, a variant of polyphasic sleep, was actually a common practice for many before electricity was introduced and is still practiced in other cultures around the world. We’ve all heard of taking a “siesta” before, and this is what biphasic sleep is all about. The premise is to sleep in one long solid chunk at night (5-6 hours) then take a short nap during the day.
This is a lot more sustainable and does offer to add a few more productive hours to one’s day, though, obviously less than sleeping 2 hours a day would. I decided to give this a shot recently after a failed 5-hour night and 1.5-hour nap schedule some time ago (I felt like I was dead after 5 hours of sleep and sat around staring into space for the first hour after waking. Not very productive).
I started sleeping about 6 hours during the night then taking a half hour nap during the day (notice that the total hours sleeping is about the same as my previous attempt). Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, my cognition and coherence were really not affected in any negative way.
Getting up early has been a problem for me for a while now, as I’m a night owl and not a morning person. I also tend to wake several times during the night and am somewhat restless when I sleep, which interrupts my rest. There were days when getting out of bed at 8:30AM was hard. There were even days I completely missed and couldn’t quite muster the will to get out of bed. I suspect this throws me off.
This is more of a problem with my will to get up early than it is with the idea of biphasic sleep itself. I also found it a bit tough to try to grab that half hour nap, usually around 2-3PM, and actually sleep the whole half hour. Though I have fallen off a few times with the whole getting up thing, I feel good about this and seem to get more done when I do practice biphasic sleeping (maybe because I add another 1.5-2.5 hours to my day that I wouldn’t have had following the 8 or 9-hour sleep plan). All I need to do now is hack my will to get out of bed J
Sony Xperia Tablet Hack
A few months ago I got a call from a customer who had a Sony Xperia Tablet S SGPT121 that was stuck at the boot screen. Traditionally, I’ve shied away from repairing phones and tablets as many of them are designed on purpose to be very hard to take apart. But it was time to try something new (trying new things is one of the hallmarks of the Life Hacker). I told my customer that I’d take a look at it and if I couldn’t fix it I wouldn’t charge him. He agreed and dropped the tablet off.
At first, I tried using a fastboot cable and some free software to fix the problem. No luck there. Time to replace the motherboard. It turned out that I could get the tablet apart to fix it, but the cost of the new motherboard combined with my labor was more than the customer wanted to pay. The client then offered to let me have the tablet if I promised to mail him a check for $20.
Once the check was mailed off, I decided that it would make more sense if I were to buy a broken Sony Xperia tablet then cannibalize both of them to make one good working unit rather than buying just the motherboard. I went to eBay and bought a unit with a cracked screen.
When it arrived I took it apart and transplanted the motherboard into the unit my client had left me. Success! I now had a working tablet.
But I wanted a working tablet for free.
To cover the cost of the original tablet abandoned by my customer and the eBay unit, I listed the good left-over parts from the units on eBay. I also listed the old “stuck” motherboard, which actually sold, along with some other parts completely covering my costs and then some.
Snow Blower Rehab
December was a very warm month for my area, but I didn’t let that stop me from rehabbing a snow blower I had purchased on Craig’s List in early 2015. The machine was bought for $230 and would have cost well over $1200 had I bought it new. Being a business owner, I just didn’t have the time to shovel by hand or contend with my old and much weaker snow blower that I had gotten for free back in 2013.
The unit ran well and did its job for the remainder of winter in early 2015, but was full of rust (which left marks on my driveway) and had a flat tire.
I purchased a new tire then brought it, with rim (I had cut the old tire off myself), to a tire shop where they mounted it for $10. I removed the old, rusted-out skids and replaced them with new universal plastic ones. Now it was time to tackle the rest of the rust.
A cordless drill with a wire wheel attached made short work of most of the rust. A coating that converts rust to a paintable surface was then sprayed onto the machine, followed by 2 coats of rubberized undercoating to help stave off new rust.
Apparently the old owner had never changed the oil because it was jet-black when drained. I also replaced the spark plug and lubricated some key parts of the machine, which the manual (downloaded from the Internet) said needed lubrication.
Once it snows (and I’m sure it will) we’ll see how the rehabbed snow blower works.
Let’s gear up for an awesome 2016! I’m really looking forward to the possibilities and opportunities 2016 holds. How about you?
Sometime in early 2016, I’ll be doing a website launch – not for Life Hack Guy, but for one of my other businesses. I’ll keep you guys posted on that and let you know how it goes.
Did you make any New Year’s resolutions yet? Comment and let me know what they are. Maybe I’ll have a hack or two during the year that can help you achieve your goal.