Inside My Brain

Thoughts about startups, tech, marketing, and life

Guest post for ThornTech – The Week in Tech: Farewell to Google+, Windows 10 launches, and more

g+ logo toppled

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: Farewell to Google+, Windows 10 launches, and more.

This week we chat about the continued death of Google+, the birth of Windows 10, how Best Buy will sell the Apple Watch, and why science and tech moguls are against AI warfare.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article, sign up for my email list below, then connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Can you be more productive on less sleep? My first week experimenting with biphasic sleep

Sleeping dog

This past week I started experimenting with a biphasic sleep model, an alternative schedule where your sleep is broken up into multiple segments throughout the day. Here’s why I started exploring this sleep method and how it’s going.

Why I’m doing this

Most of us follow a monophasic sleep pattern, which consists of one long chunk of sleep every day. That was the schedule that I adhered to, and I would go to sleep around 11PM-midnight until 7AM, consistently getting 7-8 hours of sleep each day.

But since my daughter Maya was born over two months ago, Vicky and I have to wake up around 3AM each morning to feed her, which has wreaked havoc on my sleep schedule.

So instead of 7-8 consecutive hours of solid sleep, my sleep schedule started to look something like this:

  • Sleep from 11PM to ~3AM
  • Feed Maya until  ~4AM
  • Sleep from 4AM to ~7AM
  • Feed Maya until ~8AM
  • Sleep from 8AM to ~10AM
  • Wake up feeling really groggy
  • Take a 30-minute nap sometime during the day
  • Ride out the day pretty tired
Sleep schedule

Maya jacked up my sleep schedule

Even though I was getting up to 10 hours of sleep per day, I was basically a zombie. My work days started 2-3 hours later than usual, and I was lethargic throughout the day.

So I decided to do something about it.

I started researching biphasic and polyphasic sleep online and asked my Facebook friends if they knew anything about it. I basically was told that my sleep was fucked for life.

FB post - biphasic sleep

My friends think I should just surrender to my child.

I refused to let this little lady continue to jack up my sleep.

Biphasic Sleep Overview

The biphasic and polyphasic sleep methods are alternative schedules where your sleep is broken up into multiple chunks per day instead of the one long 7-8 hour segment that most people are used to (monophasic).

The purpose of these methods is to take advantage of the architecture of sleep to decrease the number of phases we sleep per day while still avoiding sleepiness, thus allowing for more awake (and presumably, productive) time.

This article outlines the many variations of biphasic sleep. I’ve decided that the Everyman2 (4.5 hour major episode and 2 20-minute naps) and Everyman3 (3.5 hour major sleep session and 3 20-minute naps) were the best options for my schedule and sleeping preferences. I work from home, so my schedule is flexible enough to accommodate these alternative sleep schedules.

Everyman3

E3 schedule – 3.5 hour major sleep session and 3 20-minute naps

In these cases, I would get anywhere from 4 to 5 hours of sleep per day and theoretically not be tired. That’s 5 fewer hours per day compared to my jacked up schedule! If this worked, and I would feel less fatigue with less sleep, that’d be amazing.

Let’s see how the first week went.

Day 1: Monday

I didn’t plan on trying biphasic sleep so soon. But on Monday morning, I couldn’t fall back asleep after feeding Maya at 3:30AM. So I decided to start the experiment.

I must say that Day 1 went really smoothly.

I started work around 5AM and was surprisingly productive. I’m typically not a morning person, so I was shocked that I could get so much done that early.

A little before 9AM – about 5 hours after I woke up, which is perfect according to the Everyman2 model – I started feeling groggy. So I took a 20-minute siesta and woke up really invigorated.

I made some breakfast and continued to work until approximately 2PM, when I snagged another nap. Again, I woke up energetic.

I didn’t feel lethargic at all the rest of the day. I even attended an industry event at night and drank a couple of beers there.

When 11PM rolled around, I was ready for bed and fell asleep really easily.

Day 2-4: Tuesday-Thursday

I continued the experiment throughout the week and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday went as planned.

Maya woke up for her morning meals on each day anywhere from 3:30-4AM, and we fed her as usual.

Fatigue came at expected times.

The biggest change I saw was that I had some vivid dreams during my 20-minute naps.

On Thursday evening, I was able to fit in a boxing workout, the first really intense workout I’ve had in a while. I felt pretty tired during and after the workout. That could have been due to the fact that I’m pretty out of shape right now, and not so much a result of the sleep experiment, but who knows.

Day 5: Friday

I was a bit nervous how my sleep schedule would pan out on Friday.

I had to diverge from the Everyman2 schedule because I had in-person meetings most of the day. I wouldn’t be able to take a nap until much later in the afternoon, and thus would have to skip both my morning and early afternoon 20-minute naps.

And because I had to drive to and from these meetings, I was afraid of being tired behind the wheel.

Thus, I decided to intervene with some coffee, which I don’t drink often. It was certainly justified, and the sleep schedule, while not adhering too well to any of the biphasic options, worked out well.

I woke up around 3:30AM as usual and worked.

I left my home around 7AM to my first meeting and chugged a cup of coffee there.

I was done with all of my meetings around 4PM and scored a 1.5-hour nap, which felt really good. Then I was able to go on with the rest of my evening with no problems.

I found out that this biphasic sleep thing can be flexible, which is really nice.

Day 6 and 7: Mixing it up on the weekend

With fewer work constraints, I decided to be a bit more flexible with my biphasic sleep schedule on Saturday and Sunday. Some good and some bad came out of it.

I had a pickup football game to play on Saturday morning, so Vicky was gracious enough to handle Maya’s morning feedings so I can get a full 8 hours of continuous sleep. Isn’t my wife just a gem?

I took a 20-minute nap later that day because I was tired from the football game played in the sun and heat. No big deal.

But things went a little off the rails on Sunday.

For some reason, I reverted back to the jacked up, on-and-off sleep schedule that I was trying to avoid with biphasic sleep. And as expected, I was tired most of the day. I had to take a short nap later in the day and woke up groggy and lethargic.

Never again will I do that.

Conclusion

My first week experimenting with biphasic sleep was a real success.

I learned that you can be less tired and more productive with significantly fewer hours of sleep.

Not everyone’s schedule is as flexible as mine, and yours may not allow for naps throughout the day. But if you can shut your office door or dip out to your car a couple of times a day for short naps, I believe that your productivity and overall energy level can be improved by implementing a biphasic sleep option.

I’m going to continue using the Everyman2 and Everyman3 schedules until Maya decides to change up her routine. At that point, I’ll see which other biphasic schedule works best.

I’m really looking forward to a higher level of productivity on fewer hours of sleep in the weeks and months ahead.

Your turn

Have you ever tried out a biphasic or polyphasic sleep model? If so, how did it work for you?

If not, do you think these alternative sleep schedules might work for you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article, sign up for my email list below, and connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Dog image courtesy of Pixabay.

Guest post for ThornTech – The Week in Tech: Ashley Madison gets hacked, Jet.com launches to take on Amazon, and more

Ashley Madison

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: Ashley Madison gets hacked, Jet.com launches to take on Amazon, and more.

This week we cover the hacking of Ashley Madison, the launch of Jet.com, Lyft and Starbucks’ partnership, and the earnings results of Yahoo, Apple, and Microsoft.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article, sign up for my email list below, then connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Madison.

Guest post for ThornTech – The Week in Tech: Comcast announces Stream, Twitter’s fake takeover, and more

comcast

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: Comcast announces Stream, Twitter’s fake takeover, and more.

This week we highlight Comcast’s Stream, the fake takeover story about Twitter, the continuing Reddit drama, and eBay selling their enterprise unit.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article, sign up for my email list below, then connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Photo courtesy of Comcast.

Do you regret your past career decisions? Here’s why you shouldn’t.

Career regret

Studies have shown that workers can have up to seven careers in their lifetime. If you’re one of these people, this means that you may have had to take a few steps back and completely start over with little experience in your new job or industry.

Thus, when thinking about your career trajectory, it’s easy to say “I wish I had done that sooner,” or “Man, if I knew then what I know now, I’d totally be killing it today,” or whatever else people say about the career and life decisions that they regret.

Many people who have made career changes wish that they realized sooner what they wanted to do with their lives. They think that they’re really late to the game and regret not doing things differently in the past.

My career has been a winding, swerving roller coaster, and I think this way sometimes. But it’s bullshit. And when I do think this way, I always call myself out, because things change all the time, and you never know how past experiences can help your current or future prospects.

Here’s what I mean.

My convoluted career path

I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Materials Science and Engineering in 2000 but had no desire to work in that field after graduation. After all, life wasn’t to be spent in a lab or steel mill.

Thus, I pursued my Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering (IE) to hopefully start my career in the consulting industry. After obtaining that diploma in 2001 and getting a consulting gig, I wished I was interested in IE sooner. I felt that my four years of undergrad could have been better spent pursuing an IE major, and I wouldn’t have had to attend grad school.

Oh, regret.

The consulting career then ran its course.

When I started my career in sports business a few years later, I then wished that I had jumped into that industry sooner.

I was living the dream at my marketing job at the Washington Capitals. At that time, I couldn’t even imagine working in another industry.

Even when basking in the glow of my dream sports marketing job, I thought about how far up the corporate ladder I would have been had I started working in sports business after undergrad, instead of seven years and two graduate degrees (and lots of debt) later.

Oh, regret.

Until, of course, that career ran its course and I became an entrepreneur.

Do I wish that I had pursued entrepreneurship earlier in my career? Not at all.

You are the sum of your experiences

Your experiences make you the person you are now, and your current career is the aggregate result of your past careers. Even if your past careers seem completely disconnected from what you’re doing now, don’t ever regret the path you took nor take your past experience for granted.

I never came close to using materials science and engineering concepts in any of my careers, but that degree laid the foundation for the analytical thinking I use everyday.

I actually did use my IE degree in my consulting career, which is a plus. And even though I don’t directly apply IE to my current job, the concepts of efficient work, project and time management, and process analytics certainly influence each task that I execute on a daily basis.

And looking back, the MBA that I attained isn’t a necessary credential for an entrepreneur; rather, many say the degree is a detriment. But do I regret getting that degree? No way.

Although I attended NYU Stern to pursue a career in sports business, I learned so much about marketing, branding, and management, skills that I use every day. And much of my professional network stems from my time at NYU, which has helped and will continue to benefit my career in the future.

Conclusion

Sure, everyone wishes they had pursued certain career paths earlier, but hindsight is always 20/20. Don’t even waste time looking back and regretting your choices.

Just know that your past experiences make you who you are now, and that’s a good thing.

Your turn

Have you made career decisions that you regret? How do you think those decisions have impacted your career trajectory? I’d love to hear more in the comments.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article, sign up for my email list below, and connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Guest post for ThornTech – The Week in Tech: Microsoft to lay off 7,800 workers, Yahoo launches daily fantasy sports games, and more

microsoft layoffs

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: Microsoft to lay off 7,800 workers, Yahoo launches daily fantasy sports games, and more.

This week we cover Microsoft’s layoffs, Yahoo’s new daily fantasy sports games, and Waze’s carpooling initiative.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article, sign up for my email list below, then connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Guest post for ThornTech – The Week in Tech: Apple Music launches, AOL takes over advertising from Microsoft, and more

Apple Music

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: Apple Music launches, AOL takes over advertising from Microsoft, and more.

This week we highlight the launch of Apple Music, AOL’s takeover of ad sales for Microsoft, Uber acquiring Bing map assets, and the chaos that is Reddit.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article, sign up for my email list below, then connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Guest post for ThornTech – The Week in Tech: Apple succumbs to Taylor Swift, Lexus teases a hoverboard, and more

Taylor Swift vs. Apple

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: Apple succumbs to Taylor Swift, Lexus teases a hoverboard, and more.

This week we discuss Taylor Swift’s battle with Apple Music, Lexus’ hoverboard, Google’s News Lab, Facebook streaming HBO shows, and Snapchat’s new ad agency.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article, sign up for my email list below, then connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Image courtesy of jazills on Flickr.

Guest post for ThornTech – The Week in Tech: Uber driver deemed an employee, Microsoft shakes up management, and more

Image courtesy of streamishmc on Flickr.

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: Uber driver deemed an employee, Microsoft shakes up management, and more.

This week we highlight a big court decision against Uber, changes at Microsoft, the launch of YouTube Gaming, and Amazon’s new delivery scheme.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article, sign up for my email list below, then connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Image courtesy of streamishmc on Flickr.

Trello vs. Asana – which is better project management software?

For the last couple of years, I’ve used Asana as my project management software of choice. I’m not really sure why I originally chose to use Asana other than reading some articles about it and realizing how beautifully designed the tool was when I first saw it.

Lately I’ve had so many people tell me how much they love Trello. So I’ve been testing it over the last few months to see if it’s as good as people say, and whether it’s a better fit for me than Asana.

Here’s what I learned.

Overview of Trello and Asana

Trello

Trello is a simple but powerful web and mobile application based on the kanban board that Toyota popularized in the 1980s and used for their innovative supply chain management process.

The user interface is a board (which typically equates to a project), filled with lists (categories) of cards (tasks or ideas). The default board has lists that are named “To Do,” “Doing,” “Done,” but you can organize and rename each board and list as you please.

The card is the atomic unit of Trello, and here’s where you can create and assign a task or idea, build checklists, add notes, upload attachments, type comments, and more.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what Trello looks like:

Trello welcome board

Asana

Asana is project management software with a bit more structure to it.

The first entity in Asana is the workspace, which is the rough equivalent of a Trello board. When you get into a workspace, Asana has a three-column interface:

  • The left column lists projects and members of the workspace
  • The middle column lists task info
  • The right column shows task details, where you can add attachments, create subtasks, add comments, and more

Here’s what Asana looks like:

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 6.38.42 AM

Trello’s strengths

Super flexibility

You can do anything with Trello; it’s not just limited to to-do lists and project management.

The standard thing to do with Trello is to create boards where you can log and organize your tasks by project. I’ve created task boards for projects that I’m working on, such as ribl, Thorn Technologies (one of my consulting clients), Startup Weekend DC planning, and personal projects.

But because Trello is so flexible, you can create a board for almost anything. I’ve created a Content Planning and Distribution board, where I log all the blog post ideas that come to mind as well as all of the channels where I can distribute my content.

I also use Trello as a lightweight customer relationship management (CRM) tool for the sales and business development that I do for my clients and my consulting practice. I’ll create cards for each prospect and within each card I’ll log call notes and create checklists for follow-up tasks.

As you can see, Trello is amazingly flexible and can be used to keep track of anything you can think of.

More visual

While Asana is beautifully designed, Trello is more of a visual tool. You can attach images and add color-coded labels to categorize cards. The app displays plenty of icons that represent checklists, votes, due dates, and more. You can even change the background image of your board. Check out the side-by-side comparison below, with Trello on the left and Asana on the right.

trello kitchen redesignScreen Shot 2015-06-09 at 6.38.42 AM

Moving cards around is really rewarding

I have a board that I call “Today’s To-Dos” that lists all the tasks that I need to execute today. Whenever I complete a task, I’ll move it from that project’s list to the “Done” list. And there’s something super rewarding about moving those cards, as opposed to checking off a box and having that task disappear, like in Asana.

And at the end of the day, when I see the board below, I can be pretty proud of all that I’ve accomplished.

Trello Done

Today was a good day (cue Ice Cube)

Asana’s strengths

Structure

While Trello’s flexibility is extremely powerful, it may be too flexible for people who are looking for a tool to provide structure in their lives. In this case, Asana trumps Trello.

Asana provides many out-of-the-box features that will help you better organize your tasks and projects. The app lets you categorize your tasks by “Today,” “Upcoming,” and “Later,” so you know what you need to work on and when. You can assign tasks to projects and easily navigate between views for projects and your specific tasks.

A big part of the structure that Asana provides better than Trello is recurring tasks. If you have tasks that you have to execute on a repetitive basis (e.g. every month I need to invoice my clients), Asana allows you to easily set these recurring tasks with a couple of clicks.

Asana recurring tasks

You need workarounds to do this in Trello. You can either manually copy cards over and over again, or just change the due date of that original card. You can also create weekly or monthly lists and copy those at the beginning of each week or month. Or you can use a Zapier integration to facilitate this. It’s just not that easy.

Better email reminders

Many people hate receiving email, and understandably so. But my workflow depends heavily on email, and Asana’s email reminders are amazing.

When you set a due date for a task in Asana, the system will send you email reminders:

  1. One week before the task is due.
  2. One day before the task is due.
  3. The day when the task is due.
  4. Every day the task is overdue until one week has passed.

Yes, that’s a lot of reminders (up to 10 emails for one task!) but it sure as hell will get you to either complete the task or change its due date.

On the other hand, Trello will send one email reminder the day before the task is due, and that’s it. For those who want to avoid email, this is great. But for those like me who depend on email as kind of a to-do list in and of itself, one email reminder isn’t enough.

Dashboards

Because of the more structured philosophy of Asana, the tool is able to better track project progress with dashboards. Asana provides visuals of how many tasks have been completed and remain, and allows the project owner to provide descriptions and status updates about the project. This is a nice feature to get a quick snapshot on how the project is moving along.

Other factors to consider

Team collaboration

While I’ve primarily used Trello and Asana for personal task management, I have also used both apps to manage projects with other team members.

I didn’t see much of a difference between the two apps in this regard, but that’s probably due to the fact that I haven’t used them all that often for team collaboration.

There may be many differentiating features with respect to team collaboration but I don’t have enough experience to determine them.

Mobile apps

Asana and Trello have mobile apps that accompany their desktop counterparts.

Both apps are pretty easy to use and stay true to their design principles. I didn’t see a major difference in quality of the mobile apps outside of the aforementioned differences in the desktop version.

So this isn’t a differentiating factor for me, but it may be for you.

Integrations

I use upwards of 10 apps while working everyday and many of them can talk to and exchange data with one another. Both Trello and Asana have integrations with many other apps that I use, but I’m not a big user of these integrations yet.

Maybe I’ll find out if there are major differences down the road, but right now, this isn’t a big factor for me.

Conclusion

Trello and Asana are both great project management tools to keep you organized and productive. Selecting which app works best for you really comes down to personal preference.

For now, I’m going to stick with Trello. I think the visual user interface and flexibility of Trello trumps the structure and strong email reminders of Asana.

Have you used both Trello and Asana for project management? What are your thoughts about their differences, strengths, and weaknesses? I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article, sign up for my email list below, and connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.