Stop Hitting Snooze & How I Found My Optimal Sleep Duration

Most people probably have understand that hitting the snooze button and wasting their day away is not a very productive practice. What most people do not know, however, is just how bad snoozing actually is.

For those that have not yet discovered Lifehacker, I highly recommend taking a look. Lifehacker, as the name implies, is a series of blogs that aim to help you “hack your life” through tips and tricks with your everyday motions.

Lifehacker recently posted an article why you should stop hitting the snooze button with a link to a great summary video on the dangers of snoozing. To briefly summarize: snoozing is bad!

Perhaps you have already determined this yourself, or perhaps you are about to discover something that will dramatically change your life. I, for one, can admit to the fact that I used to snooze A LOT. What I didn’t realize was how much it was affecting me each day. As it turns out, snoozing can dramatically impact your brain in a very real and chemical way that can reverberate throughout your entire day.

When snoozing multiple times, I used to feel very groggy throughout the day and never felt that my mind was truly “on”. Interestingly, on the days that I “lost sleep” because I had to get up early for something I always felt amazing. It turns out 2 things were happening:

1. I discovered that snoozing was taking a toll on me mentally. On the days that I snoozed several times I was much more tired than the days when I was forced to get up immediately.

2. I was sleeping too much.

I had always heard that the magical number for sleep was 8 hours, so I tried to get 8 hours of sleep each night. The problem was that I was still feeling really tired most days — yet on the days that I lost sleep I felt more awake. At the time I attributed this to being “over-tired”. I figured that I felt great because I was simply over-tired, however as I later discovered, I only need 6-7 hours of sleep!

I’m sure many of you reading this post have found their optimal sleep duration, but if you feel groggy or “out-of-it” fairly frequently, it may be time to try reducing your sleep (or increasing it if you sleep less than 6 hours). Many people would be surprised to find out that they only need 6 or 7 hours to function at their maximum potential.

Take it from me, someone that took forever to come to this conclusion — stop snoozing and experiment with 6 or 7 hours of sleep and see if it has the same profound effect on your as it did me.

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Quora: Powerful Crowd-Sourced Questions & Answers

Q&A

The internet is a miraculous tool. Type in a question and the majority of the time you will find the answer. Sometimes the answer comes in the form of a blog post, other times you can find an entire video answering your specific question. However, despite being extremely powerful, there are some questions that are too specific or hard to articulate that Google simply cannot fetch a simple answer for. Enter Quora.

Quora is a crowd-sourced Question and Answer platform that allows users to post a question and have the community submit answers and vote on which answers are best. In this regard Quora sounds much like any other Q&A site out there but there is a major difference: the people on Quora aren’t 11 year old trolls.

Quora can be summarized thusly: Yahoo Answers but with the exact opposite quality of answers.

The average Quora user appears to be rather well educated with a demographic that appears to skew heavily towards a variety of professionals; whether they operate in the tech, science or general business space. What this means is that you get insightful answers to very specific and often technical questions — questions that Google cannot easily answer.

Specific questions like: What is the best way to redirect a single page URL to the same page with a different URL?

The site has already accumulated a large user base and, while there are plenty of trolls, the site has remained intellectual with reputable answers. The site’s power lies in its crowd-sourcing nature. Instead of typing a query into Google and hoping it can find an answer to your obscure question, you are able to put your question out in front of thousands of intellectuals to tap into their knowledge.

What is even better about the platform is the ability to identify your skills and knowledge and follow topics of interest so that you can share information on topics that you are well versed in. For example, I have used the site many times to get answers to questions about developing my wedding site, since weddings are not generally my forté, while answers questions about marketing, technology and social media.

Quora is now my number 2 source of information with Google Search still holding the number one spot. I thought I would share because I think many others will find as much success with Quora as I have. Imbeciles need not apply.

Crowd-Sourced Questions and Answers

Movember: Team Canada Donations

I am extremely proud to call myself Canadian for hundreds, maybe even thousands of reasons. Just when I thought the list couldn’t get any longer, I am proud to add “we’re epic fundraisers” to the list.

As most of you know by now, Movember is all about growing dirty mustaches to raise awareness about men’s cancers and raising money to help abolish cancer in the process. I am happy to say that I have decided to take an active role in Movember this year and am happy to be a part of two awesome teams: Mustache Men B.C. and, much more broadly, Team Canada (currently at the top of the Movember fundraising leaderboards).

Movember Donations Canada

So far Movember has meant growing a very dirty mustache (patchy because of a hot oil spill on my face when I was younger),and  running a Casual-Friday-by-donation.

My goal for my first year fundraising is $200 and I am almost there. If you would like to help me reach my goal and say a big “FU” to cancer please visit my donation page.

As you can see in the image above, Team Canada is currently the biggest fundraiser in the world with already over $17 million dollars raised to crush men’s cancers! This is particularly impressive seeing as we have raised twice as much as the US despite  having a small population. As Canadians we should be proud of our collective efforts and everyone should be proud of a campaign that is already so successful with almost half the month still to go. Team Cancer is taking a bruising thanks to Team Canada!

To everyone growing a stash despite the looks they have been receiving from passers-by, I say keep up the good work and don’t worry, it gets fuller!

Extreme Entrepreneur: Elon Musk

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos are not extreme entrepreneurs. At least, not compared to Elon Musk.

Elon Musk has long been on my personal list of “notable entrepreneurs”, but it wasn’t until Wired published “Elon Musk’s Mission to Mars” that I realized just how much of an extreme entrepreneur he is. The article is well worth the read but I will summarize Elon’s extensive resume:

  • At 12 years old, he created a videogame that he sold to a computer magazine for $500 — essentially a million dollars when you are 12.
  • In 1995 he drops out of university to start an online publishing platform called Zip2
  • 4 years later, Musk sells Zip2 for over $300 million.
  • A year later, he founds PayPal
  • In 2001, he establishes the Musk Foundation for renewable energy, space and medical research as well as for science education
  • PayPal goes public and is then sold to eBay for$1.5 billion — at the same time, Musk founds SpaceX
  • Invests in Tesla Motors — building high-end electric cars
  • Can you believe this list still goes on???
  • Becomes involved in renewable energy by helping to create Solar City, which provides solar power systems for buildings
  • Rounds out his resume through his involvement with SpaceX

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and the others mentioned at the beginning of this article have completely dominated their industries while dabbling in other sectors, yet none have a resume as diverse as Elon Musk’s. Richard Branson is the only close comparison; his launch of Virgin Galactic puts his ambitions on a similar scale. However, Musk has one major advantage: Branson is focused on getting people to orbit the earth —

Musk aims to put people on Mars.

Coming from an engineering background, gives Elon the ability to dominate a variety of industries from a technical standpoint. For example, since founding SpaceX, Musk has been able to reduce the cost of building rockets by 10-fold. Such a cost reduction could save an organization like NASA billions of dollars. The initiative to aim to put people on Mars was spurred from his distaste with NASA’s current timeline to put people on Mars.

As it turned out, given current costs of rockets, it looked like NASA would never have the funding to actually get people to Mars. Musk set out to change that and reducing the cost of rockets was the first step. The crazy part is that the SpaceX team has already succee

ded in dramatically reducing the cost of rockets. Not only that, but SpaceX is also the first company to launch a shuttle that successfully connected with the International Space Station.

Elon Musk - SpaceX, Tesla, PayPal

The team is now focused on building cheap rockets that are able to land casually on the martian surface.

How many entrepreneurs can say they are working on a project of that magnitude? It is for this reason, as well as his overall experience across diverse industries (tech, energy, space exploration) that I consider Elon Musk to be an extreme entrepreneur.

Can you think of any other extreme entrepreneurs? Leave a comment down below with anyone you think fits the bill.

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Running For Charity, Exercise and Fun

I took part in my first “official run” of my entire life the other day and thought I would share my experience and encourage others to get involved.

Runs are so much more than just running – they are about getting out there and meeting people, about supporting great causes, getting exercise and having a ton of fun. There are few activities that are as fulfilling. I don’t want to get too airy-fairy here – I am simply saying that doing a run accomplishes a lot of goals at once and it feels great.

I have always enjoyed running but here’s the catch: I have asthma that, while fairly mild, limits my endurance. As a result I have spent my life as a short distance sprinter. Despite not being tall I was always really fast, but when it came to long distance running I truly came up short. I can remember taking part in a number of very short distance Terry Fox runs as a teen and hardly being able to run for 10 minutes at a time.

Sprinting served me well as a kid (I was always a champion at tag and track-and-field) but its usefulness fades with age. So I decided that over time I would work on my endurance so that I could focus on running on a consistent basis to stay healthy. A brief stint in the military greatly helped with this goal, as no one pushes you quite as hard as a drill Sergeant; often literally. Before I knew it I had doubled my distance, then tripled it and more. I am still far from my goals today but have come a long way and am proud of my progress.

I took a big step recently by making it out for my first organized run. Held at Etienne Brulé Park, towards the west end of Toronto, the event was Halloween themed and appropriately named “Are You Afraid of the Park?”. The run was organized by a group of students for an event-management project and everything seemed to go off without a hitch, so props to them!

Marathoners or regular runners may chuckle at the fact that the run was only 5KM, however, prior to learning about the event I considered a “good run” at the gym to be about 2-2.5KM. Doubling my typical workout at the gym seemed like quite the stretch considering I had only about a week’s notice by the time I had decided to partake in the run.

My first effort to run 5KM prior to the event failed miserably; I made it to the 3KM mark before stopping, exhausted and unable to continue. The pace I had set for myself was partially to blame. There is a lot of strategy around successfully completing a run (mostly at distances much greater than 5KM) as marathoners surely know.

After adjusting my pace, I was able to complete 5KM at the gym in 37 mins. Come run day I was able to take an average of the two paces I had attempted at the gym to be able to complete the 5KM run in just over 20 mins. Not bad for a first try, right? I was surely excited about my progress. What made the race even more satisfying and fun was that there were obstacles along the way, every KM or so. These obstacle-course-runs are becoming more popular and for good reason; they are a ton of fun!

Perhaps I got carried away with this story. The message I really want to get across is:

Charity Run - Exercise and Fun!

Runs are awesome. You will feel amazing, and for a variety of reasons.

  • Typically you are helping a charity
  • You will feel great about getting a good workout
  • You will meet some awesome people

After this experience I greatly look forward to partaking in more runs in the near future. Whether you are running 1, 5 or 42 kilometers, start with what you are comfortable with, and get out there! You won’t regret it!

Feel free to share your own running stories below. Now accepting encouragement.

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