Sleep, Creativity, and Being Brilliant Every Day

It is another video collection!

There are a lot of “productivity suggestions” online. Often referred to as “hacks”, some genuinely are useful. Most, however, are slight rehashings of common sense or trivial alternative ways of doing a thing. A few are downright counterproductive.

Below are a handful of videos I’ve found to be genuinely useful. They require a greater investment than the hacks you might find most places. I’d go so far as to refer to them as productivity lifestyles. If you’re up for a challenge, I’ve found the returns they offer are worth the effort.

Creativity in Management, by John Cleese, Video Arts (1991)

Yes, it is Monty Python’s John Cleese giving a business lecture. However, despite it being a “serious” talk, the viewer ends up getting tremendous insight into John’s creative process. I particularly like his steadfast insistence to take all available time to search a creative space exhaustively.

Oh, and it also turns out that John is an entertaining speaker. Whoda thunk?

John Cleese on Creativity in Management

Sleep is Your Superpower, by Matt Walker, TED (2019)

“Pulling an all-nighter” is romanticized in software development. And there was a time where I did that to make deadlines on a fairly regular basis. However, as I grew older I began to notice that the time it took to “bounce back” became longer and longer. Comparing working me in my 20s verses a 40-year-old me after a night with a sleepless baby is stark.

So sleep is important. Probably not a news flash there. However, the degree to which it is essential shocked me.

With a search, you can find quite a few videos by Matt Walker online. However, I like this one from the 2019 TED conference. It packs all his usual witticisms into a digestible twenty-minute chunk. The difference, for me, of having six or eight hours of sleep a night is my overall stress level, ability to roll with the punches, and reciprocate social graces. The older I get, the more powerful superpower that becomes.

Sleep is Your Superpower

If you’re interested, Matt goes into greater detail (with more specific tips for getting to sleep quickly, dealing with jet lag, and more) in a longer Google Talk.

Being Brilliant Every Single Day by Alan Watkins, TEDx (2012)

I dunno about you, but there are those days when I feel fantastic: I can say the surprising, witty thing, I have an epiphany to a tricky problem, or I slip into and out of deep, concentrated flow like a salmon returning home. Then there are other times when achieving coherence is the brunt of the battle. Control over which version of me showed up, and why, was mostly a mystery.

Thankfully, the talk “Being Brilliant Every Single Day” provides numerous pointers on the various physiological factors that impact one’s sense of being. Being mindful of what our bodies are telling us in any given situation, and finding the appropriate methods of coping, can make a tremendous difference.

Does that mean I effortlessly saunter about the plains of enlightened nirvana? Hardly. However, I can attest that taking a moment to breathe, as shown in the video, successfully quiets the lizard brain before being creative or attempting sleep.

Being Brilliant Every Single Day (Part 1) Being Brilliant Every Single Day (Part 2)

Wrapping Up

There are numerous, self-proclaimed, lifestyle gurus online. However, I keep referring to these videos because I’ve found the information to be useful. If you know of similar productivity lifestyle enhancements, not just hacks, let me know.