5 Strategies for Peak Performance I Learned from Tracking My Entire Life

This is a personalized post from the base camp of our founder, JD Arbuckle.

If you think you’ve seen neurotic, wait until you see this. The things I do for you… Everyone wants to perform better. You may want to be more efficient, spending less time at work or making more money,  Maybe you want to be in a better mood, or have more energy. Increasing your personal performance is these areas is key. I spent three weeks tracking every single aspect of my life to discover my own peak performance “levers”. This includes:

+ Time Spent on All Activities
+ Sleep and REM cycles
+ Nutrition
+ Intelligence with IQ tests
+ Mood Levels (Happiness, Relaxation, Stress, Focus)
+ Exercise
+ Supplements
+ Strength Gains
+ The Controversial Biorhythms

Below are a few screenshots of some of the data:

Strategies for Maintaining Peak Performance
This project revealed very specific and simple strategies for peak performance to stay frosty every single day. I can use these whenever I fall off track to instantly force my way back into movement. I’ll outline the result you might be going for below, and then list the top tactics to stay in that peak performance state as long and as many times as possible. A couple of these strategies will seem obvious, but a few will surprise you.

 

INCREASING WORK EFFICIENCY

Increasing your work efficiency means getting more done in less time, being more creative in your problem solving, easily staying organized and productive, as well as moving forward at a record pace. If that’s interesting to you, I suggest you:

 

Move into a completely different task between 2PM – 3PM.

Most people suffer from a mid-afternoon crash during this time. The worst thing you can do during this hour is try to grind through the crash. Instead, head to a local restaurant and meet a friend. Switch into workout clothes and run the lake. Go run errands and pick up groceries. After this break, you will return to finish the rest of your work completely re-energized and focused (If you haven’t already finished everything between 9-2)

 

Consume 400 mg of caffeine within 1 hour of waking and no more throughout the day. Use wisely.

400 mg of caffeine is no joke; that’s about 2.5 cups of coffee. You need to consume this before 9AM, or you won’t sleep well that night. Schedule your day that your most focused, important, creative, and interactive tasks will be executed between 9AM – 2PM. You will be zoned in. For the rest of the day, drink only water. When I continued to consume caffeine through the day, my mood dropped, my productivity dropped, and the day after was ineffective because of poor sleep.

 

Absorb a High Protein Breakfast.

A power breakfast of 3 – 4 eggs is exactly what you need to make your work day a huge success. High protein in the morning will keep you full until the afternoon, fuel your brain power, and will even promote healthy weight management. Avoid breakfasts high in carbohydrates like the plague; you will suffer an immediate crash. This means cereals, donuts, bagels, and muffins are out. That’s not even real food anyway.

 

MAXIMIZING HAPPINESS AND MINIMIZING STRESS

Everyone has a bad day. If you want to have as few bad days as possible without sacrificing any of your productivity, you need to continually help your body and mind stay in a state of increased dopamine and serotonin levels.

 

Spend between 1 – 2 hours each day on a combination of entertainment, socializing, or personal development projects.

Play. Going just one day without a “break” didn’t have a measurable effect on output, but stack a few days without the above activities and you’ll suffer an extreme drop in your happiness and stress levels. Even a simple Netflix binge or quick drink at the bar with a friend has a huge impact on maintaining a balanced positive mood all day. I found minimal difference between activities, and was just as satisfied with my overall mood whether I was socializing with others or working on a project I truly enjoyed. This will vary for everyone, so find what works for you.

 

Early morning daily meditation is absolutely crucial.

Every day that I did not spend around 15 minutes in meditation each morning, I saw a drop in both mood and relaxation by over 30% throughout the day, every single time. I still stand by the fact that meditation is one of the most powerful happiness hacks of all time.

 

Enjoy 1 hour of fitness related activity a day.

Posts that make claims like, “walking for 15 minutes a day can keep you healthy” are really under-selling this. Your body is a powerful machine that is built to move, run, jump, play, and hunt. If you don’t use it, your body will shut down production of endorphins to keep you happy. Feel free to break up your activity, but perform cardio, strength training, flexibility, or skill based athletics daily. Missing a few days will tank your mood. To go a day without opening the lungs and getting the heart pumping is simply sad.

 

MAINTAINING THE ELUSIVE ENERGY

Those people who are motivated, positive, and energized all day, every day; how do they do it? Chances are, they’ve treated their body and mind respectfully with exercise, positive thoughts, and some of the above tactics. Here are a few more you might not know about to maintain a powerful productive machine from dawn until dusk.

 

Consume a consistent diet of high protein foods.

We’ll talk extensively about exactly what to eat for the rest of your life in a later post; right now, understand that protein is a vital source of energy for your body. Protein builds muscle, promotes weight loss, and even helps the brain function. Our modern diet in America is severely lacking in protein. In fact, if you don’t consciously watch what you eat, 90% of your daily intake might be carbs. Breads, sandwiches, pastas, muffins, snacks, pizza; almost every modern food we eat every day is a manufactured and processed carb. Just one day of a high-carb, low-protein diet resulted in a 50% energy crash by 6PM.

 

Maintain a strict sleep schedule.

Everyone knows they need to get the proper amount of sleep each night to be productive. Until I went through this test, I didn’t know how true that really was. My magic number is seven. Seven hours of sleep provided me with a high level of energy (as well as all other mood indicators) all day. Any less resulted in small dips during the afternoon, and any more resulted in a depressed morning. Even if you don’t know your hourly number, it’s also extremely important to stay on schedule. An 11-6 every single night was perfect for me. If I slept in, I would wake up groggy and unfocused. This was both physiological as well as mental, because you feel behind and stressed.

 

Use the “Sleep Cycle” app.

Can you tell sleep is really important? The sleep cycle app lets you set a half-hour window of time you can wake up in, instead of a strict number. By using your phone’s accelerometer, the app can tell when you are rising out of a deep REM sleep. When you wake up from an alarm when you’re in deep REM sleep, you’re usually drooling and wondering who the current president is. You’ll carry that groggy feeling with you all day. Instead, have Sleep Cycle wake you up during that window where you will feel most refreshed and invigorated. Start the day right.

 

MOVING FORWARD

Reading a blog post with proven strategies for peak performance is one thing; taking action is another. I strongly urge you to just simply adapt one of these strategies for the next week and keep a careful eye on the results.

“He who busies himself with things other than improvement of his own self becomes perplexed in darkness and entangled in ruin. His evil spirits immerse him deep in vices and make his bad actions seem handsome.” -Ali Abi Talib, ancient prophet (Ok, Ali… That’s a little much, don’t you think? I appreciate your sentiment, though.)

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2 Comments

  1. Lina T.

    What app were you using to track your life in the second graphic? It looks very useful!

    Reply
    • JORDAN ARBUCKLE

      That’s Toggl.com, which I use to track my business work hours, but can also be used for personal 🙂 Love the simplicity of their tracking.

      Reply

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