5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day

I am a habitual nap-taker. I take one almost every day and have for years. I used to feel a little guilty about it—like I was slacking off or something. Then Sam Moore, my predecessor at Thomas Nelson, admitted to me he too was a napper.

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“Every day after lunch, I lie down on the sofa in my office,” he recounted. “I hold my car keys in my right hand and let my hand hang toward the floor. When the car keys fall out of my hand, I know I’m done.” (Evidently, the famous artist Salvador Dali had a similar practice.)

Napping Celebrities

Then I discovered many other successful people who were nappers:

  • Leonardo da Vinci took multiple naps a day and slept less at night.
  • The French Emperor Napoleon was not shy about taking naps. He indulged daily.
  • Though Thomas Edison was embarrassed about his napping habit, he also practiced his ritual daily.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, used to boost her energy by napping before speaking engagements.
  • Gene Autry, “the Singing Cowboy,” routinely took naps in his dressing room between performances.
  • President John F. Kennedy ate his lunch in bed and then settled in for a nap—every day!
  • Oil industrialist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller napped every afternoon in his office.
  • Winston Churchill’s afternoon nap was a non-negotiable. He believed it helped him get twice as much done each day.
  • President Lyndon B. Johnson took a nap every afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in order to break his day up into “two shifts.”
  • Though criticized for it, President Ronald Reagan famously took naps as well.

Could these successful leaders know something you don’t?

Napping Benefits

I suggest you seriously consider taking a daily nap for the following five reasons:

  1. A nap restores alertness. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a short nap of 20–30 minutes “for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.”
  2. A nap prevents burnout. In our always-on culture, we go, go, go. However, we were not meant to race without rest. Doing so leads to stress, frustration, and burnout. Taking a nap is like a system reboot. It relieves stress and gives you a fresh start.
  3. A nap heightens sensory perception. According to Dr. Sandra C. Mednick, author of Take a Nap, Change Your Life, napping can restore the sensitivity of sight, hearing, and taste. Napping also improves your creativity by relaxing your mind and allowing new associations to form in it.
  4. A nap reduces the risk of heart disease. Did you know those who take a midday siesta at least three times a week are 37 percent less likely to die of heart disease? Working men are 64 percent less likely! It’s true, according to a 2007 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Dimitrios Trichopoulos, of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, who led the study said, “Taking a nap could turn out to be an important weapon in the fight against coronary mortality.”
  5. A nap makes you more productive. Numerous medical studies have shown workers becoming increasingly unproductive as the day wears on. But a 2002 Harvard University study demonstrated a 30-minute nap boosted the performance of workers, returning their productivity to beginning-of-the-day levels.

Napping Tips

I typically take a 20-minute right after lunch. If I can’t do it then, I try to squeeze it in before 4:00 p.m.

While working in a motor shop in college, I would eat lunch in my car and then lie down in the back seat. When I was CEO at Thomas Nelson, I napped in a “zero gravity chair” that reclined to a horizontal position. Since I now work from my home, I retreat to my bedroom and lie down in my bed.

Here are a few practices I have found helpful.

  1. Be consistent. Try to nap at the same time every day. This helps stabilize your circadian rhythms and maximize the benefits.
  2. Keep it short. Avoid “sleep inertia,” that feeling of grogginess and disorientation that can come from awakening from a deep sleep. Long naps can also negatively impact nighttime sleep. I recommend 20–30 minutes. Set an alarm on your phone to avoid oversleeping.
  3. Turn off the lights. Light acts as a cue for our bodies. Darkness communicates it is time to shut down—or go into standby mode. If you can’t turn off the lights, use a simple eye mask. I bought mine at Walgreens. Turn the lights back up to full brightness when you wake up.
  4. Use a blanket. When you sleep, your metabolism falls, your breathing rate slows, and your body temperature drops slightly. Though not imperative, you will usually be more comfortable if you use a light blanket when you nap.
  5. Be discreet. Getting caught napping at your desk is not a good way to earn respect. In some old-school environments, it might even get you fired! But most people get an hour for lunch. Eat in half that time and then go snooze in your car, an unused conference room, or even a closet.

Finally, shift your own thinking about naps. People who take them are not lazy. They might just be the smartest, most productive people you know.

Originally posted @ http://michaelhyatt.com/why-you-should-take-a-nap-every-day.html

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Five Killer Tips To Boost Productivity

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Improving your productivity can have many benefits – if you’re employed it can help you secure that promotion you’ve been chasing, if you own a business it can boost your profits. But improving productivity is easier said than done. Read on to discover five tips that will make your working-life more efficient.

1 – Avoid meetings where possible

Meetings, if they’re not handled properly, can be a real drain on your time. It’s not a case of turning down every meeting, but you need to be selective about which ones you attend. Getting together with a prospective client? Great! Spending an hour deciding what colour the office’s new carpet should be? Not so great.

Whenever someone proposes a meeting, ask yourself if you really need to be in it. If the answer is no, don’t be afraid to politely explain why you don’t want to attend. A lot of what goes on in meetings can be thrashed out in emails or during informal chats.

If a meeting is required, make sure there’s a plan and that it’s strictly observed.

2 – Use the cloud to get organized

There are plenty of cloud-based services out there which you can use to better organize your time. Trello is a project-management orientated noticeboard, which allows people to be assigned tasks. This comes in handy if you’re collaborating with a number of people working towards a single goal.

Even something as simple as Google Drive can be used to help keep track of what you need to be doing and when you should be doing it. Good time management is key to staying productive.

3 – Master your inbox

Dealing with emails can be a time consuming process, so it’s worth spending a bit of time getting to grips with your inbox in a structured manner.

Firstly, take some time to think about the kinds of email you send. If you cut down the number of pointless email you’re sending out, you’ll see a fall in the number of pointless replies you get. It’s a hard rule to stick to, but you should only send emails when it’s strictly necessary.

In an ideal world, you’d only ever send emails with attachments but obviously that isn’t possible.
Here are a few tips to help cut down the number of emails you send:

Never email someone you could physically talk to – the back and forth nature of email makes it more time consuming than a quick chat. If you can walk over to someone’s desk or even just pick up the phone, it will send you time.

Try to avoid emails which lack substance – Saying “thanks” is polite, but if that’s all you’re sending in your email is it really worth your while? Avoid sending one-word emails unless you really have to.

Only send a response if one is warranted – Don’t feel you have to reply to an email. If it’s not worth your time, just ignore it. If it does warrant a response, you should, as always, consider whether an email is the best way to handle things.

Other tactics for keeping your inbox under control include setting aside an hour a day to handle emails, ensuring your email address is only available to those who need it and setting up filters so your messages are pre-sorted for you.

4 – Understand how you procrastinate

Maybe you watch too much TV, or perhaps you’re a social networking addict. If you can identify the things you do when you should be working, then you’re one step closer to solving your procrastination problems.

If you’ve gone cold turkey and it hasn’t worked, try turning your preferred method of idling into a reward. If you complete everything on your to-do list for a given day, you get to watch X amount of TV, for example. This is a great way to help you get stuck into those personal projects you’re forever putting off.

5 – Understand your goals

If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve with any given project, then you’re probably going to waste a lot of time. If you’re not working towards a set goal, the chances are you aren’t working.

Goals don’t have to be massive, in fact it’s often better if they’re not. Just make sure you understand what you’re supposed to achieve and how you’re going to go about meeting your target. If you can’t do that, you’re just tilting at windmills.

Originally posted @ http://soho.ca/index.php/five-killer-tips-to-boost-productivity/

About the Author: Guest post by Will Stevens of 123-reg. The company has recently launched a new range of cloud servers aimed at helping small firms improve their levels of productivity.

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Why Sit Up Straight?

For people who spend the day staring at a computer screen, slouching is fairly typical. But what is it doing to your spine, if anything?

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Stop for a second and notice the way you are sitting. Back curved, shoulders slumped, maybe legs crossed? For people who spend the day staring at a computer screen, this position is fairly typical. But what is it doing to your spine, if anything? Do we need to sit up straight to focus, like that mean math teacher once insisted? Here’s some straight talk from one expert, Mladen Golubic, medical director for the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute.

Degrees of Comfort

Little research has been done on the best way to sit upright. One American meta study in 1999 concluded that sitting at an angle of 110 to 130 degrees was optimal for spine comfort. A Scottish study published in 2007 found that leaning back at 135 degrees is ideal to prevent back strain. While interesting, this sort of precision may be impractical for most people, Dr. Golubic says.

Sitting to Death?

His clinic sees patients with multiple chronic illnesses. Nearly all of them sit for long periods each day. The term Sedentary Death Syndrome was coined by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in 2002 to address the growing consequences of a seated lifestyle. “There are studies on Sedentary Death Syndrome that show that sitting for hours can cause anything from lower back pain to high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity,” he says. In other words, no matter what position you’re sitting in all day, it is pretty bad for you.

The Perfect Pose

Body posture determines the efficiency of your breathing. “Relaxed, straight sitting”—with the core strong, shoulder blades active but not tight and spine erect—”expands your chest, allowing you to take in a larger breath…and you’ll have more energy and focus,” Dr. Golubic says. To achieve this, sit away from the back of your chair so you don’t slump, with your feet placed firmly on the ground. He sometimes sends patients home with a blue dot to put on their computer screens as a reminder to sit up straight and stretch and take a deep breath when they feel pain. There is also an app called PostureTrack that alerts users when they’re slumping.

Slump to a Hump

It’s not as though slouching will give you a hunchback in a day, but “if you do this day after day, and your muscles are not strong, the whole skeleton changes,” Dr. Golubic says. “I’m not aware of any studies that look at the changes in the volume of organs like the liver and spleen when you sit straight or slump forward. But we do know that when you slouch, you project an attitude of depression and low motivation.” When you sit up straight, he adds, “psychologically, your attitude is better.”

Core Message

If you’re not used to sitting up straight, you may feel lower back pain—an indicator that you need to strengthen your core and work on general fitness. Dr. Golubic almost always advises his patients to start yoga: “The first thing we learn in yoga is how to sit properly.”

Walk, Don’t Sit

The bottom line: How you sit is less important than how long you sit, Dr. Golubic says. He tries to get up from his desk often, doing “walking meetings” with colleagues and taking phone calls outdoors. “If you cannot walk,” he says, “At least stand.”

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Originally posted at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323628004578461270192692406.html

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