Waking up at 4:30 experiment - Part 1

Once I got back from Europe, I decided instead of suffering to overcome the Jet Lag I would leverage it to do something I have always wanted to try: Waking up at 4:30am. I have read many accounts of how successful people woke up very early

Unfortunately I have always thought of myself as a Night Owl, basically only woke up early but I was very far from being fully functional in the early stages of the day. 

It was at night time when I felt my productivity and creative were both at their highest level, when I ran my own company most of the actual work was done dark into the night; The first part of the day consisted in getting through the clutter, email, meetings, phones calls.

Switching to a schedule that goes against what my natural circadian rhythm has been for years is going to be a challenge, but the benefits could really justify the the effort.

After a week of trial, here is some ming boggling math that substantiates the benefits of this change so far:

Time savings 

  • Traffic congestion inbound to work - 10 avg mins waiting for a car, - 12 avg mins of traffic 
  • Traffic congestion outbound from work - 12 avg mins waiting for a car, - 14 avg mins of traffic ,
  • Waiting time to elevator: - 4 avg mins morning, - 2 avg mins lunch time, 4 mins avg return lunch time, 3 mins avg leaving 
  • Elevator trip: - 1.10 secs avg morning, - 0.50 mins afternoon

Total: Just the savings in time alone, we are looking at approximately one hour a day, so 5 hours a week over 20 hours a month, this is 2 and a half additional working days added to my life!

Preliminary findings

The biggest effort and variation comes in the form energy and general well being. I decided to separate both because I have had days where I am full of energy but my overall well being is not the best. 

They appear to be two separate things, one is the fuel to do things, the other is related to satisfaction, joy and general happiness. I also did not add the weekends as they would introduce too much noise into the data as stress levels are reduced and the sleep schedule was slightly altered. (not entirely)

Below is the initial data set:

Analysis 

  • Overall energy levels steadily increasing,
  • Initial dip was due to getting a minor cold during this time,
  • Significant gap between morning and afternoon energy, 
  • Energy levels trend is in sync trend wise between afternoon and morning despite the gap between both. 

Next Steps 

Continue tracking, consider adding "night-time" as an additional data point. The impact of this change in the quality of my life has been massive at this point, I will do a follow up on this post once I hit week 6. 


Monday Focus: Work is not email

In an age where engagement and communication are constant, the purpose of why they exist in the first place seems to have been lost. Communication does not equal connection, its not on its own productive, its not on its own conducive to any positive outcome. In fact, communication should lead to productivity, it should not be the end goal by itself.

If we measure the amount of time we spend communicating versus actually creating something of value we would take pro active measures to communicate less and do more. 

There are many jobs where communication is at the core of the role description, but even in these roles the actual work is not communicating, its improving the processes in which communication occurs.

Challenge of the week: Track the amount of time you communicate, start with email alone and work your way to other channels. I will share my own results next week. 

Culture is not a project

Its common to see companies plan initiatives to improve their culture in an attempt to get it to align to some sort of an ideal or vision of what the company should stand for. The problem is that if the organisation isn’t already what it to sell itself to be, the culture of the company isn’t going to be either.

Culture is always a reflection of the past and present, it is completely oblivious to the future, it doesn’t care about any plans or short term initiatives. 

In short, the culture of a company is the result of what a company has actually been in past and what is actually represents today. If staff is demotivated, cynic and shows lack of passion and belief in the companies mission, this is what the culture actually is, the mission itself is meaningless if its not backed by people that truly believe in it. 

Is it possible to significantly change the culture of a company? Absolutely, but this cant be done over night and it will take a level of commitment and introspection that most companies are quite simply not ready for. 

Understanding why an organisation exists is important, but being able to stand by it when things get tough is what will ultimately create a belief system that will attract the right type of talent and the right set of behaviours.

The culture of a company is something that becomes, its not something that is done.

Lessons from the Falcon Heavy Test Flight

It was so wonderful listening to the cheers of the SpaceX staff as you watch one of the largest rockets ever created by Mankind leave the platform racing up to the sky. Watching the those massive rockets lad simultaneously felt unreal, I had to rewatch it a few times to make sure this was not CGI.

While the technological feat was a marvel to see, the Human aspect of this launch was what stood out to me. I think only someone who has had hands on experience creating something will understand what it feels like to see your work rewarded that way. 

What you are listening to is not the sound of hype, its not fluff or superficial cheering, its pride, relief and a deep sense of collective accomplishment. 

Some Lessons learned from how SpaceX managed this launch:

  • Failure is not just part of success, but an essential path to success,
  • Tempering expectations is a good thing, 
  • Full transparency is always rewarded in the long run,
  • Its impossible to disguise the genuinity of a truly engaged team,

Mark Zuckerberg - Vulnerability and Honesty as signs of growth

I just watched Mark Zuckerberg's interview following the Cambridge Analytica data incident and it really struck me how much he has grown as a Leader. 

The growth I am referring to has nothing to do with the external facing confidence that comes from great success and a boosted ego, its internal facing, truthful, vulnerable and honest. 

I don't like Facebook, I don't use it, I don't like what it stands for and I don't like the principles behind the product. It was fascinating to see that as its Founder matures, his vision of what the product should stand for appears to be changing as well. 

During the interview he mentioned that he felt that having the greatest positive impact across the word was the most important thing to him, this translated in the way the product was built. 

I am hoping that as his view of what having a positive impact in the World changes, so will the product and what it stands for.