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Dec. 1, 2022

190. Gain Time by Optimizing Your Mental Performance with Portia Asli

Simple & powerful strategies to help you be more productive & effective with your work.


Simple & powerful strategies to help you be more productive & effective with your work.

 

ABOUT PORTIA

As the Founder of Optimyzed Brain and a licensed engineer, Portia Asli teaches driven leaders how to optimize their mental performance for effectiveness and efficiency. Through evidence and science-based micro-actions, Portia's clients gain 7 to 15 hours per week to achieve more and get ahead.

 

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Transcript

We need a little bit of time of rest before then we can go back into pushing ourselves and get into another productive and highly deep work and concentrated state. If we don't give this rest time, if you don't honor that, then that's what's going to happen is the love diminishing return, the more effort you put in, the less and less results you get. And that has been shown in a lot of different studies. One famous study is from Stanford where they study that, okay, if you're working on cognitively demanding task for 70 hours in a given week, but your output is like if you did only 55 hours.

 

Welcome, everybody. I'm excited today to have Portia Asli with us to talk about how you can gain time by optimizing your mental performance. She's got insights and a little bit of story to share about her coming from a perspective that's different from being able to do this and her journey about how she learned to do that. So, first of all, thank you so much for joining today.

 

Portia, thank you so much, mate, for having me on the show today.

 

Absolutely, my pleasure. So a lot of the times on this show, we talk about this almost dichotomy or this sort of ironic thing about saying, okay, I'm going to work less, but make more, or I'm going to do less and achieve more. And some people have a hard time to figure that out. It doesn't seem to make sense. It seems to be the production performance of this linear thing. And the more we do it, the more it's going to happen. And Portia, can you just share a bit about a little bit about your story that you found out in general, just to start out with? Why is it that it's not always just this linear relationship of more hustle, more work, just ends up being more productive?

 

Yeah, that definitely just brings a lot of my own journey of how I discover that I come from an immigrant family here in Canada who is super hardworking and what my amazing and hardworking parents role modeled and said that anything that I want to achieve, I have to do two things. One is work really long hours and to work really hard, which that meant that I had to sacrifice a lot of other things in order to achieve. And I'm super driven. I love to achieve. I love to hit my targets, go above and beyond. And it's been like that throughout my whole life. What I realized is that when I followed that route, I ended up hitting burnout. I had insomnia. One of the side effects is also high functioning anxiety. And yeah, there was basically achieving something in exchange for losing our health. And so that was definitely a path where it hit me hard. I end up suffering a lot from this health crisis. And when I ended up recovering from them getting help, getting help from coaches and mentors to finally recover. It made me think differently. I still want to achieve.

 

And I know a lot of other people out there, too, are driven and love to achieve. It's okay to do that, but it has to be another way. And as an engineer in environment and Health, I end up diving deep into how our brain actually powers us for performance and achievement. And that's where I learned that, hey, our brain cannot constantly work under pressure. It cannot be under constant pressure. There needs to be time where the brain has moments of rest so that it can power us to perform. And so it started from there were then I started diving in on how our neurons power us for performance, how we can really optimize our range for peak mental performance so that indeed, we can produce results in less time and achieve more.

 

That's awesome. Thank you. One of the things that I find that's so interesting is if you talk about physical performance, most people acknowledge that you can't push your physical body forever. There's limits. If you had the big race coming up, if you're an Olympic athlete and your big races tomorrow, very few people would say, okay, so do two or three workouts today. They'd say rest. But it almost seems like it's more visible to us. It's more easy for us to realize, well, physically, I can't move. My legs hurt. We don't seem to recognize the symptoms of mental fatigue. Maybe it's because they're covered over with sugar or caffeine. Or maybe we've just told ourselves, well, no, this is just what hard work is. What do you find just even to start out with? How can people even consider, might I be fatigued? Might I be missing out on performance? Because we understand there's this thing called diminishing returns. We talk about that. We reach a point where you're just you're not useful anymore. And if you've never seen it, if you're a parent, it's when your kid doesn't get their nap and you can start whining.

 

It's like the diminishing returns of their happiness, and you can give them a cookie, a blanket. They're just not happy. How can people start to see that? So they can even consider that, okay, maybe this isn't working. Maybe this is pushing through everything isn't the greatest thing. Maybe I am overdoing.

 

Excellent. Yeah. I actually want to build on the law of diminishing return that you just mentioned. So let me take a step back and share with you what's happening with us, what's happening within our biology, and how the law, diminishing return actually place here in terms of our performance and productivity in order to achieve more, but in less time. So throughout the day, we actually go through cycles. We experience cycles through our biology. You can measure it. It's quantifiable. One of the biggest cycle that has been well studied and very well known is the sleep cycle. You go through the different stages of sleep, from light to dream state to deep sleep. And it also happens in different parts of our biology for our pulse, our respiration, our blinking, that goes through cycles. And the same cycle happens within our concentration and our productivity. So we're going to start the day having a lot of energy. We're able to achieve that peak state, but then it starts coming down and then we start getting distracted. We get a bit of fatigue. So what happened here is we need a little bit of time of rest before then we can go back into pushing ourself, then getting to another productive and highly deep work and concentrated state.

 

If we don't give this rest time, if you don't honor that, then that's what's going to happen is the love diminishing return. The more effort you put in, the less and less results you get. And that has been shown in a lot of different studies. One famous study is from Stanford where they study that okay, if you're working on cognitively demanding task for 70 hours in a given week, but your output is like if you did only 55 hours, right? So that's where it was. Let's say you're doing 70 hours, but there's less and lesson results you're producing. So what we need to do is it's okay that during the day we end up feeling a bit tired. We may get some distraction, we our mind starts wondering, but those are little signs here that are biology telling us, hey, take a break here, stop here for a moment and then come back to your work. This rest, this micro rest, I call it, and I call it intentional deconcentration time is anywhere between five minutes to 20 minutes. That's enough. That's enough for us to step back from the work we're doing. Let's say if you're doing like financial modeling or we're working on our marketing campaign and we require quite several hours into this, but we won't be able to work a whole, like four, five, 8 hours on this.

 

We'll get very tired because it's quite intensive. So we need to weave in those five to 20 minutes rest throughout the day where then we can step out from the work we're doing and then come back into our work. And that's where our biology, if we're in tune with it, connects with us and gives us signs, as you mentioned. Yeah, this is the time where we get a little bit distracted, we get a bit tired. We have fatigue from working. And those are, it's totally okay, we feel that way, it's natural. But we just need to honor those signs and step away. Give that five to 20 minutes and then come back in. And so that way when it comes towards the end of the day, we don't feel all of a sudden this crash that we just want to sit on a couch and watch Netflix all night, I forget what happened, right? Instead, we end up having energy to spend time with our children, to pursue a side hustle, to actually make time to go to the gym and work out, because then we have the energy. So that's what's happening, is if you don't rest, then you end up having a lot of the law of diminishing return occur.

 

But if you do honor the times where your biology is telling you that you need to rest, and then you end up be able to power yourself again for the next spout of productive and concentration work. And that's how you end up gaining back at the time where you're producing results, and you don't need to make that time up over the weekend.

 

Awesome. There's a few things I want to have you said there. So, first of all, this idea of the Micro West, and I think of a lot of times I bring physical analogies because people get this in a football match, in a soccer match, in an NBA basketball game. There's breaks if you're doing a marathon, or that's a different type of race, but even most marathoners are not running as fast at the end as they were at the beginning. But if you look at any high intensity activity, you play basketball, or even football football, American football specifically, let's say you go at it for like seven to 10 seconds at most, three to five to 7 seconds, take a micro rest, they go at it really, really hard to arrest. Or if you're in basketball, it's like, he's five to seven minute bursts. Even the best athletes in the world, world class athletes, usually are not playing 40 minutes straight. And even if they do play 40 minutes, they're not sprinting 48 minutes. It's not possible. And yet that half time, that break, that quarter break, can allow you to come back refreshed. And to your point, if we don't do that, then I'd like you to kind of break down into this, because then we crash.

 

And as you said now, instead of resetting for a nice sleep cycle tomorrow, instead of getting good time with our family, getting some emotional needs met, maybe taking a bike ride or taking a walk, maybe a little bit of Netflix, a little bit of something. But now we're exhausted, and now we're in this almost state of, well, I just worked my butt off. So I deserve to do my Netflix, I deserve to do my relaxing, my video games, whatever it is. But that's one thing. Maybe if it's Friday or Saturday. But if it's like Monday night, you got two or three to four more days and already you're throwing your rhythms off. And you might say, well, no, I still got to bed. At. Ten. But I watched TV until 959 and I ate. And I'm setting up the things that I know I've done. And when I did them, they just kicked my butt. And then I forget my aura gently reminds me that, oh, you must have done this. I was saying it's kind of creepy. Were you watching me? No, it's kind of obvious by your heart rate, how does that happen with people?

 

And then, so that concept of 70 hours in a week not being as effective as 55, and so you say, well, hold on, if that's true, then it really is now. We're now coming into the stage of being foolish. Now it's and maybe not 55 is the exact rates. Person might be slightly different, but around then, say now, literally, you're now counterproductive, you're hurting yourself. Share a little bit about that, if you don't mind.

 

Yeah. So about being counterproductive, when we are doing 70, working more than 40 hours per week, anything more than 40 is end up being very counterproductive because the brain here, it can do bouts of really deep work. And deep work, what I mean by that is where you are doing something challenging, you have a goal and you need to really concentrate. So there's no sort of distractions, there's no notification coming or emails or calls. It's like this hour, an hour and a half, where you are doing that very difficult work. And that could be like designing, it could be coding, that could be really about like writing your blog post. Any of these things are where you're thinking you're being created, we're being outputriven here. And so that you can do it for a certain amount of time, but after that, then your brain is not able to concentrate on that work because it's very intensive, it's exhaustive. And so that's where you actually do need to pull away from that actual work, from deliberately working on that, taking a few minutes of rest here and that could be like having water, that could be going outside, that could be getting some fresh air, getting some sun.

 

It's not going on social media or it's not the time for, oh, I'm going to take this 15 minutes and I'm going to respond to emails. It's very different because doing those things, you are then actually activating different parts of the brain. You're making it still work. But what you really need is right now is okay. I've been doing, like, design work, I've been writing a blog post. But I really need to do just move away from that work and rest and give my mind some just really rest time from just water, fresh air, sun, any of those things. And then you come back to it throughout the day having these really deep concentration time, deep work time. You can typically do it between, I would say, like two, three cycles. The max is 90 minutes. This is really what research has shown and how our brain can really work. John Meese deep condition, anything more than that is going to be very exhaustive. And you'll know, if you've done three rounds of 90 minutes. Deep concentration, it can be very, very exhausting. But what happens here is when people ignore that. They ignore the signs, and they keep pushing themselves.

 

If they have a full time job and they have 8 hours, they think, for eight solid hours, I have to do cognitively demanding task, especially in this information and driven economy. But that's not the case because the more you push yourself and the more you end up ignoring your biological signs that tells you you need to take a break, then that's where you end up having the crash. End of the day, that's when you come back home and you know. You know that you need to spend time with what's, investing in your children's activities and being with them and building that bond, and you just don't have the energy to do that because your energy was all taken throughout the day and you didn't have the opportunities to actually recharge. And so you come back and you're just like, I'm exhausted. I just don't have the time to invest in my family. I'm exhausted. Don't have time to invest in my own self care. You just want to just lie down. And if that goes on for weeks, maybe even months, and that's where burnout actually happens. And so that's where it ends up becoming super counterproductive, because we are not trained, no one teaches us actually to really have those micro rest throughout the day and be able to, like, listen to the times where, hey, we're feeling a bit tired, fatigue, distracted, and actually pull away and that it's okay to pull away.

 

Unfortunately, in North America, we're taught that if we do that, it's deemed as we're being lazy, and therefore we have to keep pushing ourselves. But unfortunately, science now shows, hey, that's not true. You do actually need the time to pull away, to recharge throughout the day so that you don't hit the energy crash and hit those burn out.

 

Yeah, I know. In my business, I have a certain time of year. I'm now entering it because my software business, I'm just busier, and it's a good thing. It's income generating, and there's more business coming at me. And as entrepreneurs, it's very difficult when business is just coming at you to manage it, because especially when you're a younger entrepreneur or a new entrepreneur, the fear that, okay, will it not be there if I don't respond right away? So there can be that anxiety. To your point, the 90 minutes cycles, like, I found whenever I've gone past that before, I was aware I didn't see this, but as I become more aware, my little alarm will go off or whatnot. And usually it's about that time or even within a few minutes of that, that all of a sudden my writing like writer's block. And like, 15 minutes ago, it was flowing or everything just worked and cheryl but if you were the difference between this deeper cognitive work and sort of autopilot work, because a lot of us say we'd say, yeah, I definitely work more than four and a half hours a day. And there's some work in my case, I push it to the end of the day that I know is it's not completely mindless work, but it is the type of work that at least some research, if I'm correct.

 

In the case, you can kind of multitask or seemingly technically it's not multitasking, but you can almost multitask the really lighter stuff. But if you're trying to focus or create or concentrate, it can't happen. And that's when sometimes literally, like, your kids are like, no, no, literally turn down the radio so that we can find you driving a car, and you turn down the radio so that you can find a place. Like, what is that? Because one thing is like, literally as words going in your mouth, in your ear, excuse me, in your brain. And the other one is your brain trying to and it's literally your brain can't do the same, both of those at the same time once it's above a certain level. And the thing that I realized later was we can make some pretty big decisions intellectually, financially, and mess up some things pretty big, and nobody will say being overtired is not like, oh, they were temporarily insane, or they have a diagnosis or something you're not legally getting out of. It just a bad business decision just because you were overtired that day. And yet sometimes we don't see it.

 

And I just know my kids are like, you're just a grouch, or you just crash and you don't have time for us. How can a person see that difference between or how can they start noticing? Even if so, you mentioned the 90 minutes. I've heard anywhere from, like you said, 50 minutes, 60 minutes, nine minutes, different things. How can a person, let's say, when they're in a flow and they're feeling good, how can they maintain that? What could that look like? Let's say I'm working on my web page. I'm working on a blog post. I'm working on a blog post, something bigger. I'm working on my web page. I'm really doing all this deep work. I'm working on writing a book. I'm working on my sales page. And I know I'm going to invest, let's say, two or three of those 90 minutes sessions. What can that look like as far as literally how I manage my time? So I start my first when I do my 90 minutes. What can I be doing in addition to that to maintain my ability to perform?

 

Yeah, absolutely. So there's a few things here. First, I want to mention the two different types of work on a very basic level. One, we got the deep work here, and one is called the shallow work. And then also want to talk about the disciplines of here and how can that pan out throughout the day. So you're getting the most out of in terms of the results you're producing. Because as an entrepreneur for you, you can have a list of items. You can have so much on it that you can just cross off. But no matter how many cross off, you probably end up having ten more, 20 more added on to that list. And that doesn't necessarily mean it's getting you to the results you want, whether it be that revenue, whether it be that amazing product that retains customers. So for us as an entrepreneur, it's all about intentional output that gets us to our results. And so I want to dive into here and first say, okay, there's two types of work we can do. One is deep work where it's super intensive brain intensive concentration. That's our creative thinking. So that's like, if you are producing a webinar for your potential customers, and that is you need to think through what are the topics, what are the things that I'm going to be teaching, and that's you, your brain has to really work through that.

 

The other type of work is more about like shallow type of work, where it's, as you were saying, it's the easier time, where it's not as demanding. In most cases, it can be delegated to an assistant, to another team member. So to understand what's deep and shallow, it depends on the person and their function and their specialty. So it's like deep is something that you need to do. It's your brain that's working, how to produce, it cannot be delegated, but it's super important because that's your skill set. And then shallow it is. It can be delegated, it can be given to someone, or it can be done at a time where, you know, you have those low energy periods. So it's important to know, first of all, where one is within their function and their skill sets. And once you know that, then you know, okay, when am I feeling the most engaged in an alert? Is it first thing in the morning? Is it mid afternoon? Is it actually late evening? It's very unique for everyone. Not everyone is the same. I think most people generalize that everyone works from 08:00 A.m. All the way to 05:00 P.m..

 

But there's also cases where scientists have shown that there are people who are actually more productive at midnight. I know have clients as well, optimize brain that they're like, I can work from 12:00 A.m. To 03:00 P.m.. That's where my deep thinking time is. And they just have a different DNA. So it's really unique for every person. And it's totally okay to know that you work differently than from someone else. And it doesn't fit in within the 08:00 A.m. To 05:00 A.m. Window. Just know that, okay, when is it that I'm the most alert that I can do really deep, engaging work? And once you know that time slot, you can try different time slots and to figure out when you're most alert, then the next step is to actually honoring that and working towards anywhere up to 90 minutes. If you're like right now at 15 minutes and you keep getting distracted, then you can slowly, slowly increase it to 30, to 45, 60, eventually 90, but no more than 90 because then it's very intensive for the brain. So once you know when that is, eventually you work up your cycle to 90 minutes.

 

You slot it in at the time during the day that that know you, you can produce results after that. Then you can vary it with a cycle where you're doing more of a shallower work, where let's say it's about prospecting outreach, where you have very similar messaging that's going out. So anything that deemed shallow for that particular entrepreneur in the domain they're in. So you vary throughout the day. But it's really important to know that when is the time where you're really alert that you can do your most deep thinking work. And then if it's more than 90 minutes, so let's say it's 3 hours, you know that this task is going to take you 3 hours. Make sure that you insert those retention deconstruction on those microbes five to 20 minutes so that you can give your brain a boost. And then you come back in and then you go through another 90 minutes cycle. And then you can also vary it throughout the day as well. You can have a 90 minutes in the morning, 90 minutes in the afternoon, late evening. It just depends again on the person and their own biology, how things work out best for them.

 

But varying it throughout the day between your deep and shallow is the best way to go. And then being able to work it to 90 minutes. If you're not at 90 minutes today, it's totally okay. What we want to do here is reserve self judgment. Because one of the things that I've noticed working with our clients is that judging our soft for not being productive, not being good, and not being able to achieve those targets in a given hour or in that day, what's going to do is actually we end up wasting more time. The self judgment makes us waste more time and we end up being more angry at ourselves. And in this case, it's just releasing those judgment when we're not actually producting that time saying, okay, that tells me something. It's feedback that this is the time period that I'm not going to work my best. So I'm going to pull away. I'm going to maybe do a training when I read a book or maybe have like a team meeting or team collaboration meeting, whatever that works for you at that time. And then come back here and give it another try.

 

So it's so important to also relieve that self judgment in order to be able to produce results and work with your cycle, knowing when you're the most alert and be able to do more intensive work.

 

Awesome. Thank you. Yeah, I found, to your point about the amount of time, the blocks, after a few cycles, I'm kind of done. And to your point, different days, it can be different. And even if we try to sleep intentionally, and there's a lot of things that contribute, you might still have a night where if you sleep in a bed with somebody my wife sleeps in bed with me, sometimes we don't know who somebody wakes up, and then things don't work out as well. The next day, you're still just kind of tired and like, okay, then unfortunately, if it's only one night out of, let's say, seven in a week, not so bad. I found that it can be very it can be very frustrating when I have other stuff to do. And yet you made a point in order to just stop working, and yet you made a point. I think it's very important, and some of it is a math equation. But you said something that's very clear. I'd like to and maybe if you want to expand on although I think you already nailed it, which is the shallow work very often, we can delegate it.

 

Now. We might not have the budget yet to delegate it, and that's okay. So depending on where you're at, or we might not have gotten it down to a standard procedure where we're like, okay, I still need to master this. I need to create my little either document, or I need to create a little loom video where I explain to someone, here's how you do this. But that's one of the things I find that, as much as intellectually, I want to let go of work. When I find myself doing that work earlier in the day, it's almost like a red flag, like, oh, wait, wait, hold up. I'd actually I'm better off to literally step away and then maybe even the first thing, maybe I already need a rest. Maybe I didn't get great sleep and kind of reset. I might go for a bike ride. And as much as I try to stick to a certain schedule, I found that to be beneficial. And it's annoying because I want my schedule to work the way it is because I designed it. It's supposed to go that way, but it usually doesn't. How can people really kind of selfmonitor and what are some of the specific examples?

 

You mentioned having a glass of water, taking a break, and you mentioned certain things that are not a break, like email or social media. What's the quality of it? Is it something physical? Is it activity? Is it movement? Is it even doing the dishes or something that's less mentally involved? What are those breaks like?

 

Yeah, absolutely. And I want to also add on the breaks to the purpose. Of it is not just having that intentional deconcentration time that we're talking about but you touched on something about problem solving. Because as an entrepreneur, what we're doing throughout our business is we're solving one problem at a time. Any outputs we're producing, there was a question that we had to answer. We had to solve this particular problem. And so that output is the response. The answer to that question, that problem. What happened here is with the brain is it needs to actually pull away from that particular problem in order to find insights and answers. That's another reason why that time away is super important because if you're working on a very tough problem and the more you work on it, the more your brain gets tired and it's not able to see from the data set that you have and be able to link those insights together to give you the solution. So when you pull away and you may have already noticed it when you are in a shower and you also got this AHA moment and you're like you solved it or when you're on a walk and all of sudden a you find the solution to this particular problem that was just keeping you awake at night.

 

And that's what's happening is because when you pull away from doing that particular task and you're doing something else which involves like some motor activity, some movement, then you're using a different part of the brain and during that time your subconscious and starts connecting those insights where you were not able to do it consciously and that's where solution also Comes up. And that's really powerful because it could have taken you a month to predict find a solution to this really tough problem. But because you pulled away, you went for a walk, for a shower, maybe washing the dishes, maybe going for a run, any of these things, then all of a sudden, you found a solution. And that's really powerful because that means that now you're moving forward faster. And that's what it means about having a peak mental performance, is we want to be able to execute as fast as we can be able to solve those problems better and faster. And when we pull away from that particular problem, we're doing certain activities that our brain is able to find a solution at a much rapid pace. So a few examples of what could be is you want to do something that's different.

 

So if you're problem solving, you're likely in front of your computer. You're typing, you are designing, so you're really thinking your brain is really active. So you're sitting down. There's hardly any movement here. So what you want to do is you want to pull away and you want to incorporate movements here. So that gets your brain distracted and instead starts working with your subconscious to connect those hidden insights and be able to come up with a solution. And, yeah, it can be as simple as going for a walk around the block. It could be as doing a few mobility movements, stretches and yoga movement for 20 minutes or yes, if you're at home and you can vary it with, okay, I'm just going to tidy up the kitchen here for a few minutes, wash the tips here, go for a shower, and then come back. So it's any of those activities, it's something very different. You just want to do something very different than from actually working on that particular problem, and then you'll see you'll get those AHAs very quickly. It's pretty powerful.

 

Yeah, it's interesting for me and this, this might not for those people who are really, really focused on sort of the Western view of medicine and biology, this might not make sense. And yet if somebody's a little more sees the sort of energetic view, it just feels almost like literally, if all my energy is all up here in my mental dimension and literally, it's just there's nothing else going on. No different than you stand on your leg, you get like a little foot cramp or your foot falls asleep or that sort of stuff. And it just feels like at times, if we're so entrenched in one dimension and again, as you mentioned, when it's desperate, literally, I mean, like, right now, I'm not literally here, down is not moving, and that's not a horrible thing. But at the same time, if we have this physical body, this energy, we do know that blood circulates or doesn't circulate. Things move. Energy moves. What can people do from a nutrition standpoint? Because there's all these different objectives and goals for the way people eat. So some people just eat for pleasure. Some people eat for pleasure than they eat for energy.

 

They do the five hour energy drink or whatever might be your caffeine or Coca Cola or Mountain Dews. Some people are trying to do a keto or a vegan or there's all these different things going on, and yet, at least from what I've seen, there are certain things, like, for example, most people would have been a lot of refined sugar is horrible. There's very few people that are like, yes, that's secure. It's a longterm production. One of the things nutritionally to help us have that more consistent, steady, rather than we all kind of know, okay, if I need something for five minutes, I can get a chocolate bar, and for five minutes, I'm good to go. But then after that, I'm kind of done. What's the better way or more effective way to have a consistent energy flow?

 

Yeah, absolutely. I'm excited the divine into the nutrition aspect. I want to say one more point because you mentioned something really powerful here about, like, we're constantly sitting down. So what this also movement does is that your brain needs more blood flow and oxygen. So when you're moving, you're actually getting more blood flow into your brain. Therefore more oxygen. So that way it can help you to think better and faster when you go into your deep work sessions. That's another reason on a biological side of what's happening within the brain and why is it that we need to pull away and we need to do some movement in between, is to be able to increase the blood flowing to the brain, bringing that oxygen, and be able to help us to actually think. So now, moving on to the nutrition aspect of things, there is so much in here what powers the brain toward nutrition. What I would say is for something to start with, it would be what's happening within your first meal of the day. Regardless of what time that meal is, there's two things here. There's a sweet meal or savory. So there's two things here.

 

And what's happening with our North American culture is that we are often encouraged to have a sweet meal as our first meal, like get that coffee with that pastry, or have that cerebral, or have that oat. So what's happening here is when we have a sweet meal, we end up actually having this glucose spike and then crash. And so what does that is? It makes us actually crave for more sweet throughout the day. So it makes us have this more cravings. And when we have these cravings, it ends up making us be more distracted and prevents us from actually doing those deep work sessions. We get five minutes, ten minutes, 15 minutes into it and our brain is like, hey, I'm hungry, I want something sweet. And so those distractions add up throughout the day. We end up losing lots of time, which then we feel guilty to make up for this lost time. And then we end up working longer hours or making it up during the weekend to instead of spending time for ourselves or with our family, we end up making up for that time loss. So the first meal of the day is very, very powerful and has a lot of impact.

 

And what I want to encourage here, instead of going for sweet, go for a savory first meal, because that way you have a lower and a smaller glucose spike. It's more steadier. And with a savory meal, you feel more full so you don't have that hunger craving and you have a much more steadier energy throughout the day that you're able to maintain and be able to actually sustain a longer concentration time, so you'll be able to actually concentrate on that really tough problem, that tough work, and be able to produce results. And that's really important, right? So we know that now that 90 minutes is something we want to strive for at least once per day. But in order for us to be able to sustain that, it's very dependent on what we eat, how we fuel the brain. And so that's what I would recommend is in terms of nutrition. Let's start looking at what a savory first meal look like.

 

Thank you. So what are some examples? You just described exactly the difference between when I have a good night's sleep, I feel like I can have and I don't know if it's going to be savvy, what I have, but I might have something that's a little more definitely less like more some sort of complex carb. Or I do like any of the veggie burritos or different things like that versus other times I'm like, okay, it used to be Frosted Mini Wheat or something that is going to give me a little bit of a push. But then, like you said, every hour at most, later, I'm already craving something again. So what would be some examples of savory meals that people can use?

 

Yeah, what I want to recommend is instead of completely overhauling our lifestyle and what we eat, we can do small tweaks, very small, minor tweaks. That way it becomes more sustainable and it's not overwhelming because if we want to overwhelm ourselves and completely change it, it makes us feel bad. We don't end up sticking to it. We go back to our old habit and it just doesn't work. We want to do like small tweaks, what we already doing, and just to modify that. So let's say you love having like, bread. Instead of having white bread. Let's switch that to a sourdough or a multi grain or whole wheat. So that's like a small change here. You can still have your bread, but let's make a better option. And then what we want to do is instead of going for a jam that has a lot of sugar in there, or anything that has a lot of sugar, and instead we want to replace that with something savory like hummus or avocado. And then we also want to be able to add proteins. And protein is the key component here because it can give you so much nutrients, it will keep you full longer.

 

So it depends on what proteins one loves. It can be eggs, smoked salmon, sardines, you can turkey, chicken, any of these things. And it's totally okay to be a bigger savory meal when we add these proteins. So it's like, okay, because then it can keep you full longer. So you can still have your bread. Let's switch it up into maybe sourdough multigrain. Let's top that up with hummus, maybe some greens, and have some eggs, salmon, sardines, any of these things, depending on what you can take another example, would be a lot of people love to have oatmeal, but that gives you a huge sugar spike. So what you want to do is that you want to combine that with healthy fats. So oatmeal with grassed butter in there or peanut butter, and then have eggs on the side so we can still have our oatmeal if we love it. But let's tweak it a little bit here with some grasset butter. And what fat does is that it slowly releases the glucose so you don't get that crash. So that's really important to add healthy fats to it. Another example would be going for omelets.

 

Omelette with avocado and a side of greens. So having those really amazing first meal that savory. The key here is having fun with it. You want to really enjoy it. You want to look forward to your first meal and be like, oh, I'm gonna have this delicious meal, and I'm looking forward to it. And when you have fun with it, it makes it enjoyable. It helps you to stick to this lifestyle because now you're making lifestyle changes to power your cognitive performance, to be able to produce results, to be able to achieve more. And it comes with really small tweaks. What you want to avoid is having those cereals, because there's a lot of additives in there, it's full of sugar. And yeah, you want to definitely avoid those super high carbs breakfast and instead going for much more savory, fuller first meal of the day. Those are very key.

 

Awesome. Thank you. Another thing that people talk a lot about, that they didn't talk about years ago, but a lot more people talk about is sleep and its impact. And on some of it seems kind of obvious. Again, physically, we know what it does to athletes, but for some reason, we've told ourselves in some of the Western culture that, well, no, sleep is for sissies. Basically, sleep, I'm tougher if I don't need sleep. And you just look at biological things. The sun's not up in most parts of the world 24 hours a day. There are these natural cycles. All of nature has these cycles. Well, it seems, okay, we probably have something like that. How can people start to manage their sleep? And what even does quality sleep look like as far as just setting ourselves up? And I'm going to say specifically maybe even the difference between what's quality sleep look like even perhaps during the work week versus maybe even slightly shifting, or what we can allow ourselves to do on the weekends?

 

Yeah, absolutely. How does sleep play a role in when we are powering our cognitive performance in terms of achieving our revenue targets or building those amazing products? So there's different stages of the sleep. Under his, the light, there's the dream state, and under the deep sleep state, each of them are very, very important and how it powers entrepreneurs. And fortunately, now there's so much research around this that shows that, hey, how our sleep actually impacts the way we perform the next day, the way we think, the way we solve problems, how we close our deals, versus when we don't get the different stages. And it's quality and quantity, it really does have an impact on our business performance. So as an entrepreneur is really important. So what I want to highlight here is share a little bit of just the power of different stages of sleep, how it helps us achieve. And I also want to highlight one thing that we can do to be able to get this powerful sleep that then we can perform the next day. So there's a few things that's happening. As an entrepreneur, you're learning a lot. You need to learn really fast.

 

You need to pick up new technical skills. Those knowledge you gain during the day, they end up being cemented in your sleep. So it's so important to make sure that you have time to sleep because that way then it converts those short term memory into long term memory and then you can also then tap into it the next day, next few months. It just helps you to retain that skill and knowledge. So if you're learning marketing for the first time and you're like a very technically oriented entrepreneur, you need to be able to know how you can write really good copy, how you can do really great advertising. You need to learn those really fast. But how do you keep that and retain it? Well, that's where the sleep comes in. It helps you to retain that knowledge so that way you can execute on it much faster. What is also happening here is within sleep and that happens at a dream state is really powerful is that it helps you solve problems. Dreams are really powerful. It happens at the beginning. Mostly the dream at first that happens is the deep sleep. We get a lot more and then we get more dream sleep towards when we're waking up.

 

So what we want to do is we want to make sure we get a good quantity and quality so that we can have the dream state where it helps us to solve problems. It can happen where you go to bed, you wake up the next day and you feel like I found the answer to my problem. And so and that's why that's what happened is because again, when we were sleeping, your brain starts connecting the dots. It's something that you cannot do consciously when you're awake, but it happens when you're sleeping. So that's why your business actually grows when you're sleeping because you end up solving problems much faster if you are going after this really big client and it's been like a long SaaS cycle and you just can't figure out but actually sleeping on it. Then your brain starts connecting those hidden data points that you couldn't see and then boom, you wade up and you have the solution. So that's why sleep is really important, both for cementing new skills and both force problem solving which are really key skills to help you hit your target, to to be able achieve more, to be able to then gain back time so they can invest in other areas and you can have that three day weekend that you want.

 

So how can we now improve this? There's lots of things in here you can do. But one of the things I'm seeing, especially those entrepreneurs who are going towards like the three day weekend, what they want to do is do a lot more work during the beginning of the week. And that means like longer hours. And so what I'm usually seeing, especially for my clients, is that they're working late and then once they're done, to shut off the computer and then they go straight to bed. And so what's happening when we do that we work really late and then just go straight to bed is that our brain doesn't have the time to reset and to be able to wind down. And so when we're in bed, we end up thinking about the things that happened during the day. We were thinking about just the work and the mind is running and running and running, running and therefore we're not falling asleep. So we end up having this sleep latency. Sometimes it takes an hour to fall asleep and then we feel horrible because then we wake up the next day, we feel horrible that it took us so long to fall asleep and have a good night's sleep.

 

We end up hating ourselves, judging ourselves again, and then we have this cycle repeating over and over again. So what I want to talk to our audience here listening to is that before you go to sleep, make sure you have at least one to 2 hours of downtime. And let me tell you a little more about the science of it as well. It's what's happening. So our neurons communicate with each other through both chemical activity and electro activity. In terms of electro activity, we can actually measure that because that brain produces wade. So a different state throughout the day we produce different brain waves. So when we're working and we are like thinking, analyzing, debating, those are when we're producing beta brain waves. So it's higher frequency and that's easily measurable also correlates with our heart rate. So that means our heart rate is up. Not as up as we're working out or exercising, but it's high. And when we're sleeping, our heart rate is much lower. It starts getting lower and we produce a different brain waves. Those are called delta brain waves. And so what we want to do is going from beta to delta.

 

There is a part in the middle is called alpha, which is where we're relaxed, where our heart rate is lower, we're much more calm, which facilitates us going into the delta brain state where we are sleeping. So it's super important for us to go into these different brain states and give the time, honor the time for us to go from beta to alpha and then to delta. And so if we're going from working, which we're in beta, and all of a sudden we want to go to bed and sleep and try to force us to get into this delta brain state. Well, we haven't gone transition into alpha yet. So our brain is like overworking and trying really hard. And same with our biology. Our heart is still working and it hasn't had time to lower yet and to come down yet. So what I would recommend here is give yourself at least an hour to 2 hours. 2 hours is always the best to really go through the alpha state where is the relaxation where your heart can lower. And what you do within that time period is very key. You can read a book, you can do a DIY activity that brings you joy and relaxation.

 

You know, you can paint, you can color adult coloring books, you can play board games with your family, have really nice meaningful conversation with your spouse, something other than work, something other than screen time because you don't want to be in front of the screen. Just anything that one looks at and feels that this is a relaxing and joyful activity so that you can just go into that calm state. So that's really important. And doing that an hour to 2 hours before bed allows you to then reduce your sleep latency. So if for you it takes a long time to fall asleep because you constantly your mind is wandering and running and running, you'll notice that you're able to shut off your mind much more easily and that able to facilitate you going into sleep much more quicker. It will be able to actually help you get much more deeper sleep, help you to have better REM sleep. And then you come back and merge out of the next day and you feel much, much more energized. So just by doing that 1 hour or 2 hours of alpha's day where you're relaxed and having given that downtime is very powerful.

 

Yeah, so true. I remember when I first started working, I was working about 60 hours a week and I was working in claims, and I remember the claim numbers, which is not a good thing. 1230 at night, I'm trying to fall asleep. It's been an hour and I'm remembering the claim number and the person's name and what am I going to do? And I was just constantly active with it. And as I've gotten better, I'm not always great at it, but the no screen time and then the downtime literally every day and again or it will remind me if I don't say it looks like you got to know the biology is there. As you mentioned, the markers are there. So the last thing I think you and I talked about, at least in the pre interview that I think is very important is people's emotions and how it impacts their mental state. And I know emotion is kind of a very it's a very vague word in our language. Sometimes it means emotions, means love, it means feelings. And those are really two different words. How would you define emotion? So the person say, okay, this is what it means, and then how can we manage our emotions?

 

Obviously, we can't control everything. If something happens, we maybe don't feel great about that's going to happen. But in general, how can we set ourselves up so that we're not creating this difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep, or there's just constant need to feel that if we're not active, that we're just either messing up or screwing up or we're not keeping up. That seems to fuel this being driven as opposed to feeling like you're driving, like you're the one that actually has the wheel in your hands and gets to decide where you're going.

 

Yeah. I think the biggest thing I want to say in terms of when it comes to emotions and how it plays a role in terms of our achievement, is we got the positive emotions, which is great, which is like joy and happiness, and you feel fulfilled. Those are great. But what actually prevents us from being that peak mental performer that prevents us from achieving is those emotions that are judging us, where it's really internal criticism of how we've done something. So if we didn't eat well, then we end up selfsabotaging ourself and blaming ourself and maybe even having some selfhatred. If we didn't sleep well, then we just say, I didn't sleep well again, and I don't like it. And just constantly blaming ourselves for doing something that didn't serve us. So when we're in that state, the easiest and the first step is to release in that judgment saying, okay, I didn't sleep well. It's just this one night. I can reset it again tonight. I get another chance to say to ourselves, it's okay, it happened. If we didn't have that saber meal that we wanted to have because we were out with friends and we want to enjoy it's, okay, we have to enjoy our life too.

 

So we're just releasing that and saying, it's okay. This time I'm just going to feed my soul, I'm going to enjoy being out with friends, and I'm going to have a sweet breakfast. But it's a part of the enjoyment of life, right? Sometimes we do end up staying upnight, whether it be our kids keeping us awake or you're at a concert late. It's important to not judging yourself when those things happen and just saying, it's okay, it happened, and I'm going to reset again tomorrow, or Today is going to be a new day. It's important to release those self judgments because the more judgment we keep internally, the more it piles up and the more it starts eating us away internally and slows us down from the most important thing is execution. When we are not executing, we're wasting time, and that means we're not getting to our goal nor our target. So it's important to just release that self judgment and saying it's okay. And then we're going to move forward. And especially a time where, yeah, you didn't get a good night's sleep. Well, I'm going to make 20 minutes to an hour.

 

I'm going to have a nap during the day so I can just catch up, get more energy, and I'm going to go about my day. So it's all about just stepping back, saying it's okay, I'm going to restart and then do it better today.

 

Awesome. Thank you. There's so much in here that you've shark tank in different times. I've done my research on some of these things, definitely not to the level that you have. And a lot of things you've mentioned I've been doing, and just the audience listening, it sometimes feels restricting, as if there's these rules because it feels like this lack of freedom. And yet when I reverse it to say, well, yeah, but then there's also this formula that if I can just the first word is obey. It's not obeying if I can just follow it. Just do farmers. There's a certain natural path to how things happen. No experienced farmer would plant something, a seed today and expect a crop tomorrow. They know there's a certain path to it. And while it can sometimes feel frustrating at the same time, like you said, we can be gentle with ourselves to know that. Yes, sometimes even though if you do your bedroom time routine right, something's going to go wrong. There's going to be a noise if the fire truck came through or whatever. And if it's not this struggling, just saying, wait, on the flip side, if I follow this, it just kind of works like exercise and nutrition, if you follow, for the most part works.

 

And that's the part that's helped me get more intentional about, okay, I want to write that book, and I want to be able to sit for a certain amount of time. And you're creating your experiences where you block five or 6 hours to write a book and 2 hours in, you're done. You're like, I got nothing, and what do I do with the rest of my day? And a lot of it is this management stuff. So, so much you've shared, and we're going to share all your links and how to connect with you in the Bible and in the notes. Would you share? There's something you want to share with the audience, and you can share what that is.

 

Definitely. Thanks for this opportunity, for being on your platform and being able to teach your entrepreneurs how they can really make that three day work week, a three day weekend happen. And so to help you support that optimized brain, I've built a tool called Time Gain Projector, which helps you through a few points, identify how much time you can gain back by optimizing your mental performance, and help you get into this three day weekend. So if you're interested, the link with that is going. To be with attached to this show.

 

Awesome. Thank you. And yeah, this is the thing. I know, having done this for years, I think it really is a combination of a lot of interventions. There's no one intervention that I found that guarantees to get you there. But if you're eating better or exercising better, you're also doing productivity tips, you're also delegable stuff. It's all these combination of things. And if anybody's listening to the show for any period of time, you'll notice there's overlap. And most of the people that I find that do really well, they might specialize in one area, but they're very aware of the other areas as opposed to just doing one thing. So, again, Portia, thank you so much for sharing. For those of you listening, I've been doing quite a bit of what she's mentioned. It's true. It's really she did a really good job of tying all together. So, again, thank you, of course, for joining us in all of your listing. As always, look forward to helping you impact more people and make more money and less time doing you do best she can fully enjoy your family, your friends, your freedom and your life. Thanks for listening.

 

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Portia Asli

Founder & CEO

As the Founder of Optimyzed Brain and a licenced engineer, Portia Asli teaches driven leaders how to optimize their mental performance for effectiveness and efficiency. Through evidence and science-based micro-actions, Portia's clients gain 7 to 15 hours per week to achieve more and get ahead.