Think Like a Computer

I want to ask you a question. Yes, you, the person reading this blog.

How do you feel right now? Do you feel tired? Do you feel energized? Are you feeling sad or excited? Take a second to do a quick scan. How are you feeling emotionally and how are you feeling physically?

Hopefully, you can answer these questions in the positive. “I feel great! I feel energized and I’m excited to face the day’s challenges.”

But if you can’t answer positively or you find yourself feeling tired and blah more often than not, have you ever stopped to think about why?

There could be any number of reasons, of course, but a very common reason behind this fatigue (both emotional and physical) often comes back to the way we treat our bodies and the environments in which we live.

Think about the impacts of feeling tired all the time. If we continually feel burned out and exhausted, it is very hard to be creative, put extra time into things we enjoy, or want to spend time with family and friends. We need to learn to treat our bodies better in order to feel energized, reach our goals, fulfill our commitments, and most importantly, enjoy the journey!

Ultimately, the goal of Paleo Is Possible is to apply the fundamental laws of a primal way of life to our modern world. In this case, while I could dive into ways that our ancestors overcame these challenges, I think it would be more realistic and effective if I spoke to modern times, especially since some of these obstacles did not exist back then.

So, for a second, I’m going to flip the script and ask you to think about your body as a computer instead of a caveman. Think about the things a computer needs to function and perform optimally and how we can apply those principles to helping our bodies perform optimally.

Keep your battery charged

A computer is useless if it runs out of battery. It feels great to power up a computer at full charge, knowing that you have hours of productivity ahead of you without any performance problems.

When a battery runs low, the computer will start to shut off certain features to conserve battery life. You’ll notice it process just a bit slower. Your body behaves in a similar way. When you are tired, certain functions will start to shut down to keep you moving. While this helps you work longer, you typically are not as productive and your brain moves just a little slower.

Ways to Improve YOUR Battery Life:

  • Full Recharge - Did you know that sleeping less than 7 hours on a regular basis is associated with a myriad of health risks, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes? Getting 7-8 hours of sleep ensures that your body wakes up with a full battery each morning. You wouldn’t enjoy using a device that only charged to 50% each night. You would intuitively know you wouldn’t make it through the day with it. Apply that same thought process to your own internal energy levels and it will help put the imperative of sleep in context.

  • Single Tasking - Multi-tasking is a myth. Not only are we less effective when we try to multitask, but it drains our battery MUCH quicker and keeps us in a constant state of distraction that lowers productivity. For me, this means closing email, turning on “Do Not Disturb” on my Mac and drowning out all noise with my headphones to funnel 100% of my energy towards one task at a time.

Clean your desktop

The desktop (or home screen) is the landing page of the computer. This is where you begin your journey. If your desktop looks like this:

it might be difficult to figure out where to go and what to work on. The clutter and chaos will drag you down and force you to waste unnecessary brain power sorting through all the files, folders and junk to find the important work. If your desktops (home, office, car, etc.) are filled with clutter and chaos you will find yourself in a similar dilemma.

Ways to Clean Up YOUR Desktops

  • Make Your Bedroom a Sanctuary - You spend 1/3 of your life in bed, so why surround yourself with an environment that is not optimized for restorative sleep? To create a calm, peaceful environment, eliminate clutter from the bedroom. The more things in the bedroom for your brain to focus on, the harder it will be to fall asleep. Consider charging your phone in a separate room, or at least on a counter away from your bed. This will ensure you are not distracted by your phone while trying to sleep. Get blackout curtains to make the room completely dark, which will help melatonin kick in and work its magic, helping you to drift off to sleep quickly.

  • Clean Up Your Workspace - The only essentials you need to get work done are a device, things to do, and information. This means, on your desk, there should be a computer, a list of your top priorities and the information required to perform the tasks. Anything else on your desk is going to be a distraction and clog up your thought process. For me, I work on a Macbook Pro, list out my top To Dos for the day on a simple notepad, pop in my Bluetooth headphones and keep a beverage close at hand to keep me caffeinated and hydrated (in that order). I can spend hours in that setup and be insanely productive without being distracted by stacks of paper, a TV in the background, food, or other crutches people use to avoid productive work.

Clear your memory

Another important component of a computer is memory, which determines how fast the computer will perform functions and how many functions it can perform simultaneously.

When people launch many different applications on their devices and keep them open, this slows down the computer, as it has to continually multi-task and divert resources to many different areas. Savvy computer or phone users are really good at closing apps that are not currently in use, which helps keep the computer running quickly. You see where I’m going with this? If your brain has 10 different things on its mind, each item is only getting 1/10th of its needed focus. Find ways to clear your brain and focus on one thing at a time.

Ways to Manage YOUR Memory

  • Time Blocking - There is literally an infinite number of things you could be doing and information you could be absorbing. How do you know which is most important? How do you know which is urgent? Is what you consider urgent also important? I find the best way to answer these questions is to use a technique called “Time Blocking.” The main idea is to prioritize your most important tasks on your calendar in certain time slots during the day, and most importantly sticking to those commitments without fail. Of course, there are always exceptions as important things come up, but the key is to start learning to say “No” to things that are not tied to your goals. Time blocking keeps you on track, gives you a time limit in which to complete the task and, most importantly, deters others from filling up your calendar and letting their goals decide your day.

  • Remove Noise - Think about everything currently vying for your attention (people, apps, text messages, etc.). It is constant disruption. From a technology perspective, notifications have become a constant barrage of information, most of which are not useful and important enough to interrupt your current task. Remove these distractions so that productive work can ensue. For me, this means going to my device Settings to turn off almost all notifications. I ask myself, do I need to know this information as it happens? Once I have this information, will I act upon it or just ignore it until later? I’ve gone so far as to turn off ALL email notifications (personal and work) and designate two 30-minute windows each day for email correspondence. I find I can respond to the whole day’s worth of emails in this period since this is my one focus, as opposed to spending 5-10 minutes every hour to respond, which takes longer and cuts into other tasks.

  • Take Breaks - When faced with a barrage of digital information without any downtime, our synapses get fried. Sustained attention can only last for 20 minutes. After that the brain begins to zone out and you are compelled to refocus on the same task. Notice when you are on the computer, how long it takes before you inevitably begin to shift from productivity to YouTube videos, needlessly check emails, or Facebook notifications. This is a signal that your brain is fried and you need to step away from the computer and take a break, even if just for a minute. I recommend at least a 10 min break every two hours and one 30 min break mid-day, preferably right after lunch to help digest.

I find that just being aware of these possible issues and recognizing when they occur is more than half the battle. Once you begin to automatically identify these situations, just think about how you would tackle the problem if the same issue occurred on your mobile device or laptop.

So, are you ready to make some changes to your weekly routine? Or do you perform all your work on a typewriter and communicate via carrier pigeon, so this article was a huge waste of time?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments or feel free to reach out to me directly! Also, don't forget to subscribe so you stay informed about future blog posts!

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