Earlier this summer I was in Germany, Turkey, Georgia (the country!), Armenia, Poland, and London.

I hosted several coaching workshops and helped run a 4-day entrepreneurship camp, delivered seven speeches, hosted a networking event in London, and ran my business back home. Oh, and I did all of this without getting sick, gaining weight, or skipping out on the good stuff.

That’s why one of the most common questions I get from my friends and clients is this… 

“Craig. How do you have such high energy levels with your crazy travel schedule and busy life…It seems like you have everything figured out?” 

And they’re right, I do. 

Over the past twenty years, I developed an obsession with optimizing my performance and have tested (almost) every strategy under the sun to get more energy and make the most out of every hour of my day. 

Along the way, I discovered that becoming an “Entrepreneurial Machine” is a lot simpler than most people think. 

You don’t need to take daily B-vitamin IVs, buy an expensive red light therapy device, or ingest a cocktail of un-researched – and incredibly expensive – stimulants.  

To get more energy and sustain peak performance during stressful times, you simply need to follow these 8 strategies. 

1. Use The #1 Sleep Hack to Double Your Energy Levels 

When I was in my late 20’s, I hit a wall. 

I was working crazy hours in my online business, hitting the gym five days a week, and partying like a madman on the weekends. 

And eventually, my hectic and radically misaligned lifestyle caught up with me. 

I was exhausted. My creativity dropped, my output decreased, and my ability to GSD and tap into flow all but disappeared. 

So I turned to my mentor Mark Ford for guidance. 

“Craig,” he said, “You need to start waking up at the same time every single day…even on the weekends.” 

I hated that advice. In fact, I ignored him for seven (!) years. But when I finally gave in and took his advice, as simple as it was, it had a profound impact on my life and helped me bounce back from my burnout fast.  

Listen… 

This is the same top tip you’ll hear from Dr. Matthew Walker in his New York Times best-selling book, Why We Sleep. And as inconvenient as it might sound, your body craves routine and structure and will reward you with better sleep at night and better mental performance in the morning. 

But when you have an erratic sleep schedule your circadian rhythm (which impacts your hormonal health, digestion, immune system, and neurochemistry) is thrown off, making low energy, insomnia, sleep deprivation, and burnout all but inevitable. 

After taking Mark’s advice, I noticed an immediate improvement in my energy levels. I no longer felt like an “energy vampire” had visited me overnight, and I was more energetic and productive even first thing in the morning. 

If you want to increase your energy and cognitive abilities quickly and naturally, start with this. 

Wake up at the same time every day for the next 30 days and see how you feel. 

If you stay out late or have a night of less than stellar sleep, wake up at the same time anyway. You can make up for your lost sleep with a short nap (more on those later) or by going to bed earlier the next day. 

2. The 4-7-8 “Tranquilizer” Formula to Beat Insomnia and Get the Best Sleep of Your Life 

When struggling with chronic anxiety attacks years ago, I accidentally stumbled across a simple breathing exercise from Dr. Andrew Weil that works like magic to combat insomnia and help you fall asleep fast. 

I recently shared this strategy with my Editor, a young man named Austin who was struggling to “turn off” at the end of the night and would toss and turn for hours before falling asleep and this is what he told me: 

“Craig, I’ve been tracking my sleep with the Oura Ring you sent me and, after using the technique for a few days, I was able to fall asleep in 20-minutes instead of two hours…it’s scary how well this works!” 

Even my pro-athlete clients–who struggle to fall asleep during their season because of the constant cross-country travel–swear by this technique and use it on a daily basis. 

I call it the 4-7-8 “Tranquilizer” formula and it goes like this…

  1. Gently breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds 
  2. Hold the breath for 7 seconds
  3. Exhale through your mouth, pursing your lips for 8 seconds 
  4. Repeat 4 times to calm down or 12-15 times to fall asleep 

It might be simple. But I promise you, it works. 

3. Take Your Coffee Like a Neuroscientist to Increase All-Day Energy

Although it seems like the entire Western economy runs on caffeine, 95% of the population uses it the wrong way. 

According to a 2004 study, the conventional model of gulping down a Double Mocha Venti Frappuccino (or four) actually lessens the positive benefits of caffeine while increasing the negative side effects (like anxiety and the jitters). 

Luckily, there’s a simple solution. 

Instead of “megadosing” with caffeine and consuming 800+ mg in one sitting, consume smaller but more frequent doses (20-200 mg) throughout the day. 

This will improve cognitive function and stop you from feeling manic in the morning. 

However…

It’s important to remember that the half-life of caffeine (the number of hours it takes for your body to eliminate half the caffeine you’ve consumed) is roughly 5-6 hours depending on your metabolism.

This means that if you drink two cups of coffee (~200 mg caffeine) at 12pm, you will still have 100mg of caffeine in your bloodstream by 6 pm.

To avoid tossing and turning for hours after you go to bed, you must follow my 10-3-2-1-0 formula for perfect sleep and stop consuming caffeine at least 10 hours before bed.

4. Become an “Aquaholic” 

Without a doubt, water (not coffee) is the best all-natural energy booster on the planet. 

Studies have shown that even mild dehydration (less than 3%) can have severe negative impacts on mood, emotional regulation, and cognitive function. 

To overcome this problem, I recommend that you immediately drink 1.5 liters of water after waking up (like I do), and consume another 1.5 liters throughout the day to prevent dehydration and ensure optimal performance. 

I know this sounds like common sense.

But common sense isn’t always common practice and, as high-performers, our gut reaction is often to ignore the basics while looking for “secrets”, “hacks”, and “weird tricks.”

But I can promise you, no weird supplement, biohacking gadget, or bizarre superfood will improve your mood and cognition as much as proper hydration.

So before you try anything else, commit to drinking at least 3-4 liters of water every day for at least 7 days and see how you feel.

For those of you can’t remember to drink water throughout the day, bite the bullet and invest in a “smart” water bottle (like this one) that will remind you to stay hydrated throughout the day. 

If you haven’t already made a conscious effort to drink plenty of water and stay hyper hydrated, you’ll be amazed by how profound of an effect this simple habit will have.

5. Get a Natural Energy Boost with the “Steve Jobs” Food Rule 

We’ve all experienced the dreaded “afternoon slump.” 

You know what I’m talking about… 

You wake up full of energy, excited, and ready to take on the day. Things are going great for a few hours…and then you get to lunchtime. 

After your midday meal, you find yourself cranky, fatigued, and incapable of sustaining focus for more than a few minutes. And just like that…the rest of your day is ruined. 

Luckily it doesn’t have to stay this way.

To beat the afternoon blues and maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day, I encourage you to do three things. 

  1. Skip breakfast or opt for a meal that is high fat/protein low carb 
  2. Eat a high protein and relatively low carb lunch 
  3. And eat the same meals for breakfast and lunch every day 

I know this might seem boring, but it’s one of the most effective strategies I’ve found to sustain high energy levels all day. 

Just like Steve Jobs wore the same black-turtleneck-and-jeans outfit for every Apple event (because it eliminated decision fatigue and any unnecessary wardrobe malfunctions), having a go-to food routine for your workday delivers consistent high-performance.

By avoiding simple carbohydrates found in processed foods (which cause extreme fluctuations in your blood sugar levels and play havoc with your mental alertness) and eating the same thing every day, you will save time–because you don’t have to think about what to eat and can prepare your meals in bulk–and create consistent energy levels all day long. 

Experiment with different options to find what works for you. But once you find it, stick to it. 

Your life will be simpler, easier, and more energetic because of it. 

6. Take a “SuperNap” Using this Weird New Technology

It should come as no surprise that some of the world’s most successful companies, like Google and Nike, have “nap pods” in the office for employees to sleep on the job. Research has found that a single 26-minute nap can improve mental performance. 

That’s not an excuse for you to skip sleep at night and then nap at work because, when it comes to improving your energy levels and increasing productivity, nothing beats getting 7-9 hours of high-quality sleep every night. 

But unfortunately getting a full 8 hours isn’t always practical (especially if you’re committed to waking up at the same time every day, or if you travel across time zones as much as I do). 

On those days when you’re running on empty and struggling to make it through the day, a well-timed nap can help you quickly bounce back, boost your energy, and dominate the rest of your day. 

However, there is another tool that you can use to get even more out of your rest and speed up your recovery. 

It’s called brainwave entrainment and uses soundtracks known as “binaural beats” to force your brain into a certain wave state. 

While I won’t dive deep into the science (you can check that out here if you’re interested), binaural beats have been well researched and proven to cause numerous cognitive benefits from:

  • Decreased anxiety
  • Improved focus and attention
  • Improved memory
  • Pain reduction
  • Improved sleep quality

And a whole lot more.

By listening to a theta wave soundtrack (like this one) you can help your brain “tune in” to a more relaxing frequency, making your naps that much more restorative. 

They’re free, easy to use, and work like a charm. Give them a try the next time you feel yourself nodding off and see what you think. 

7. To Hustle Harder, Hustle Less  

The human body was not designed to hustle-and-grind for 12+ hours a day. 

Your brain, like the other muscles in your body, becomes fatigued after prolonged periods of use. And because of the energy required to sustain long periods of intense focus (your brain consumes 20% of your body’s calories), long hours behind your desk can leave you mentally and physically exhausted. 

The problem is that most entrepreneurs try to “power through” these natural energy slumps, believing that taking an hour-long lunch break or dipping away for a quick nap makes them “lazy” or “weak.” 

However, according to the research, frequent small breaks every 60-90 minutes and at least one one-hour break each day can increase your productivity upwards of 20%

If you’re feeling tired and can’t focus on the work in front of you…don’t fight it. Step away, get some water, walk outside, or grab another cup of coffee and come back to your work when you feel rested and ready to re-engage. 

8. Create an Energy-Boosting Workout Program 

Let me share one of my more “controversial” opinions… 

I believe that most entrepreneurs exercise way too much. 

Listen…

Unless your business depends on you having a year-round 6-pack and 20” guns, there’s no reason to spend 60-90 minutes a day lifting weights or, god forbid, doing cardio. 

You only have so much energy to give every day, when you spend too much time in the gym, you are stealing that energy away from your work. 

Let me be clear. You absolutely should exercise every week. And I encourage all aspiring peak-performers to get in three intense weight lifting workouts each week. 

But don’t train hard every day. 

Instead, train hard three times a week and fill your other days with light walking or yoga. I promise you’ll be more energetic and productive if you do. 

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Want to take your performance and productivity even further?

Then click here to get access to my 90-Day “Reality Maker” Blueprint.

The “secret weapon” I give to my $25k/day coaching clients to help them compress time and achieve 12 months of work in only 12 weeks.

I’ll teach you exactly how to reverse engineer your biggest goals, eradicate the obstacles standing in your way, and create your dream life 10X faster than you currently believe possible.

Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men's Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift to high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he'll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com

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