How I Added An Extra Hour To Every Day, And How You Can Too

Wouldn’t it be great if you had an extra hour every day?

What would you do with that extra time?

A few years back I used to get up at 5.30am every morning (even weekends) to read business books for 90 minutes before I started to get ready for work.

I got through 1.5 books a week that way. Here are the summaries of my favourite 81 business books.

But then I had my first kid. And then another. And then another.

kids

And the best I could do was get up at 7am. And even then I was bleary eyed and grumpy.

I’ve only been able to get back into that pattern for brief periods of time. (That sweet spot when all the kids are not sick and none of them walk into our room in the middle of the night).

But I think I might have just cracked the recipe.

Even with 1 sick kid who wakes us up a few times every night this week, my eyes have popped open at 5.00am or 5.30am and I’m feeling good! I’ve been able to start reading business books again with consistency.

It’s been 6 mornings in a row now.

Want to know how I’ve been able to add an extra hour to every morning?

The secret is M&M’s.

m&ms

Yes, those delicious candy coated chocolate treats.

But I don’t mean adding them to my mouth. Removing them.

For about 3 months, every night I’d turn on a movie or a TV show and munch through half a bag.

Every night.

And then, one of those movies that I watched was called “That Sugar Film”.

that-sugar-film

I have a pretty good awareness of the high level of sugar in foods and I eat pretty healthy so I thought I deserved half a packet of M&M’s every night.

(In fact, I ate M&M’s all the way through the first half of the movie).

I didn’t think there was any harm.

But the movie made me wonder if I was actually addicted to M&M’s.

The way to test that is to break the habit, so the next night I didn’t eat any M&M’s.

It was hard! It was all I could think about!

And the next morning I woke happy at 5.30am and started reading a business book.

5.30am

The next day and night the cravings were intense, but I refused to give in to them.

And the next morning, I woke at 5.30am and read some more.

That’s when I started to wonder if abstaining from M&M’s in the evenings was related to me waking up so early and easily.

Now it’s been 6 mornings in a row and I’m convinced.

I think that either the food colouring, or the sugar in the shell or chocolate was sending me on a sugar high and sugar low while I slept!

As my body worked hard to pump insulin around my system all night, I woke up feeling tired still and not knowing why.

No sugar at night, and now my sleep is restoring and rejuvenating my body and mind.

And on 3 of those nights our sick middle child has woken us 2 – 4 times a night, and still I wake at 5.30am feeling good.

Hooray!

So if you’re as addicted to sugar as I am/was, try this experiment: Do without it for 7 days and try to be aware of how you feel.

Check-in with yourself on judging your energy levels in the morning, during the day, and at night.

100-percent-battery

And if breaking your habit works for you like it worked for me, what are you going to do with the extra hour you’ve now got every day?

12 Questions To Help You Organise Your Next Event

We live in a digital age.

There are more ways to communicate than ever before, but perhaps we are in danger of shallowing out our relationships with people if we rely on digital tools to replace our face-to-face interactions.

That’s why I love organising events.

Bringing people together in the same room, helping strangers meet each other and become friends, that’s one of the reasons I’m here on this earth.

1010 people enjoying TEDxTauranga on 25 July 2015

If you’d like to organise a gathering for 10 people, you probably won’t need this checklist.

But if it’s for 100 people, or 1000, then this checklist is a great starting point.

Rather than answer these questions solo, it’s better to get 1 or 2 others who are keen to run the event with you.

Have a sit down for a couple of hours and work through this list.

I hope it helps.

12 Questions To Help You Organise Your Next Event

  1. On what date/time will the event be?
    • You can change this later, but it needs to be the very first decision you make. It gets everything moving
  2. What’s the purpose of the event?
    • To create relationships?
    • To inform?
    • To ensure we all share the same vision of the future?
  3. What does success look like?
    • It’s about making memorable moments
    • How are you going to measure success?
      • General vibe on the day?
      • Short online survey?
      • Gather testimonials?
      • Monitor how long people talk about it in the weeks/months that follow?
  4. What’s your budget?
    • For how many people?
    • Selling tickets?
    • Taking donations?
    • Finding sponsors?
    • What’s the $$ value of a successful event and the flow-on effects?
      • Staff retention?
      • Client loyalty?
      • Stakeholders with a deeper understanding of the organisations purpose and long-term objectives?
  5. How will you structure the content?
    • Blocks
    • Breaks
    • Fluff
    • Memorable bits
  6. Have you built in moments for appreciation for honouring individuals for their contribution?
    • Might some of those moments cause a tear or 2 to be shed?
  7. What will the attendees remember about your venue?
    • How do you make an impact when they first walk in?
    • Or when they walk out at the end?
    • Other considerations:
      • Size
      • Atmosphere
      • Seated/Standing
  8. What will the attendees remember about your catering?
    • Have you chosen quality beverages and catering that add to the mood?
    • How often will we hear “Mmmm this is nice”?
  9. How can you make it memorable?
    • Are there elements of emotional connection?
    • Have you allowed room for semi-structured spontaneity?
    • Who’s taking photos/videos?
    • How will we report on the event afterward?
      • Report/Newsletter/Email?
      • Facebook photo album?
  10. Who’s running the show?
    • An internal or external MC?
  11. What would you improve next time?
    • Schedule in a debrief just a few days after the event
    • Collect ideas for improvement for next time
    • Create a wrap-up to-do list
  12. How will you report on the event?
    • Doing so, makes “selling” future events so much easier
    • Collect written testimonials & video testimonials on the day (or shortly after)
    • Include lots of photos of people having a great time
    • Send it out 1 or 2 weeks later to everyone who came (so they can re-live their favourite moments)

Your Thoughts?

What do you think?

Have your say in the comments below.

The 6 Steps in The Creative Process: This will be awesome, This is hard, This is shit, I’m shit, This might be ok, This is awesome!

An artist friend of mine Murray Clode told me about the “The Creative Process” this morning at the Breakfast Club that I run.

The 6 Steps in The Creative Process

  1. This will be awesome
  2. This is hard
  3. This is shit
  4. I’m shit
  5. This might be ok!
  6. This is awesome!

This doesn’t just apply to creating art, it’s when we create anything:

  • You might have an idea for a new start-up business
  • You might launch into a d-i-y project at home
  • You might decide to learn a new language
  • You might decide to read a challenging book
  • You might decide to write a blog article like this one

Can you recognise yourself working through this process when you are doing something worthwhile?

For me, one of the most interesting parts of this list is how many opportunities there are to quit before you get something done!

The 4 Main Opportunities To Quit During The Creative Process

  1. Not getting started at all.
    • Having an awesome idea, but not taking the first step, not taking action. Most of us quit before we start
  2. When the initial optimism and excitement wears off and it gets hard, most of us quit
  3. If we work hard and then look with disappointment at what we’ve created, most of us quit
  4. When we see what we’ve created as a reflection of ourselves and blame ourselves for the dismal quality of the project, most of us quit

What Power Do You Have On Others Going Through The Process?

The second most interesting part of this is the power we have over people in the middle of creating something.

If you attack someones ideas you might send them into phase #3 (the “This is shit” phase) too early, so they quit!

If you encourage and uplift someone it might send them into phase #5 (the “This might be ok” phase) just before they quit!

When we are exposed to peoples ideas, we can’t help but have a reaction.

Those ideas might be art, they might be a plan for the future, they might be an idea for an event, an idea for a new product or service or business.

What Do They Need To Hear?

You have 3 choices when someone shares their ideas with you:

  1. Most often they need you to pat them on the back and say “good on you” and for you to keep any reservations you have to yourself so they can learn the lesson that awaits them
  2. Sometimes they might need some constructive criticism to send them in a new direction that will save them a bit of time & effort
  3. And sometimes they need someone brave to say “it looks like you’ve given this your best shot, have you thought about ending this project and taking what you’ve learned, and applying that to a new project? What project might that be?”

Is Ending A Project A Total Loss?

Most of the time we think failed projects are a complete waste of time and money/resources.

It’s this kind of thinking that stops most of us from starting a new project in the first place.

But all projects (whether they were failures or successes) are great learning, aren’t they?

In fact, perhaps up to 80% of your new skills and knowledge could be applied to your next project, couldn’t they?

Where To From Here? My 3 Hopes For You

  1. I hope that the next time you are in the middle of a creative project and feel like quitting, you remember that you’re in the middle of this 6 phase process and to not give up too early!
  2. I hope that the next time someone tells you their idea, that you choose right when you decide if they need a pat on the back, some constructive criticism, or for someone brave to prompt them to end it.
  3. But most of all, I hope you start a new creative project today, because the world always needs cool people working on cool creations.

(P.S. I was able to trace the origins of this list back to a tweet by Marcus Romer in Oct 2013).