In August, Mandy Brown published a great post called "Energy Makes Time."
In it, she contrasts a lot of well-known time-management techniques (pomodoro, etc.) with doing something extra, like making art or seeing friends, a restorative activity that lets you come back to your routine refreshed.
But just those three words -- energy makes time -- made something big click for me. They're true in ways that can change your life.
In my case, they apply to biohacking. First, let's define the term:
"Biohacking is do-it-yourself biology. It involves people making incremental changes to their bodies, diet, and lifestyle to improve their health and well-being."
Biohacking is particularly popular on the US West Coast among tech people chasing the future and Hollywood people chasing their youth. It can be expensive and complicated, or cheap and simple.
Sometime this spring, I started doing ice plunges (yes, I'm one of those guys) as a result of listening to Andrew Huberman's podcast (also one of those guys). And because I live within walking distance of a gym with an ice bath, that turned out to be cheap and simple.
There are lots of reasons people say you should spend a few minutes in cold water, but I just did it for the high. A plunger's high is like a runner's high, except it can last all day. I'll plunge in the afternoon and wake up the next morning still feeling a glow in my limbs. That alone was enough to get me daily to the gym.
And then I noticed something: By plunging in the early afternoon, I could go back to the office and get in three more hours of focus. (I can hear the work-life balance people groaning already, but look, you don't have to ice-plunge for the man...). And then I could get home after work and play with my four year old for a couple hours without blinking. I didn't need downtime.
Then something else interesting happened: I *wanted* to find other things that would push me in the same direction. I had the energy and focus to do something more. I started exercising a little every day, and that made me feel better. And then, the big insight: health is a flywheel, a positive feedback loop. The right bump will carry you to do still other things that get you a bump. It's like health itself obeys a power law.
And then I listened to Harvard geneticist David Sinclair (another Huberman discovery), and started doing the things he talked about, like intermittent fasting, which pushed it even further, until I considered re-committing the follies of my youth. :)
All of a sudden, instead of feeling like some middle-aged guy who's missing a step and looking over his shoulder at his best days, I was in my early thirties again.
Years ago, somewhere on the Internet, I read someone write that in retrospect, there had been just a couple years when they had the energy to solve really hard problems and the experience to know which ones to solve. It's a modern version of "if youth knew, if age could."
But what if youth knew, and age could? What if that window was a couple decades instead of a couple years?
What if, as Sinclair argues, we can even reverse aging? I know that sounds crazy, and personally, I don't really care about living forever. But I very much care about feeling energized, focused and healthy while I'm here. It makes a huge difference for the kind of father I can be, as well as to the work I do. And my experience about six months into this ongoing biochemical experiment on body and brain shows that people can get that energy and focus, cheaply and simply.
There are lots of companies out there that talk about excellence. They want excellent work from excellent teams. But much of what they do comes in the form of punitive performance reviews which are low-leverage burnout recipes, far downstream from where they should be looking.
The real leverage is upstream, getting people on the health flywheel. Energy makes time.
Anyway, there's a fine line between sharing this kind of personal news, and seeming like another whacko selling supplements on YouTube (frankly, I don't care if you spend any money on this ...). But what I'd like people to know is that this kind of health flywheel exists. I had no idea until I got on it by accident and ended up feeling great.
I'm never going back.