GTD: Biphasic Sleep Experiment – Day 4

Physical State/Tiredness

Same as yesterday really, awoke feeling really fresh and alert first thing in the morning. I again took a nap at work at 1230-1300. There has been a fair bit of interest about the napping at work so I thought I would take a minute to talk about it here (see below).

Other than that, I did awake from my afternoon nap rather tired and groggy (took me 15-20 mins to get head together) but I actually think this is related to food since I ate a rather large pizza before sleeping.. :\

I have also found that even though it is great having the brain running longer, it can equally be hard to shut off. I have started going to bed with a book at 0200 so I can start to wind down to sleep mode for 0300. Staying up to 0300 is NOT a good idea, you really need to be going to sleep “FOR 0300” not “AT 0300”.

Napping at Work

Here’s what I do:

At about 1200, I do a quick scoot around the team to see if there is anything they need from me, I then tie off any loose ends as required. I make a point that in about 30 minutes I will be dead to the world :)

I’ve emailed the team to let them know about this experiment (mainly to apologise for any crankiness in the interim etc.) I also warned that there is a likelihood that I will need a nap in the afternoon. So, once it came around and I spoke to the manager about it, there were no surprises.

I asked the manager if he minded that I do it at my desk - I made it clear that I was not going to fall asleep for two hours without realising it, I have an alarm set up etc. I know there is likely to be odd perceptions when you walk in the office and see me snoozing on my desk with a sleeping mask on :) I also use my TomatoTimer app in full screen with the 30 minute timer on, so people know how long I have left. I then whack on a binaural mp3, go to sleep and then TomatoTimer wakes me with a nice loud alarm once my “set break” is over (I am a Pomodoro Technique practitioner).

Likely Issues

“You are a lazy sh*t Rob! Sleeping at your desk! Well I never! I don’t pay you to sleep on the job! blah blah blah

First off, anyone who knows me, knows I am far from lazy. But if you are that narrow-minded and out of touch (like many PHB’s) I would say (in this order):

  • “I am doing this to boost my productivity and brain power. This directly affects my work. Help a geek out.”
  • “Napping in the afternoon totally eliminates the afternoon slump which can quickly add up to hours in work over the week – @robcthegeek says so” (seriously, tell you boss to email me).
  • “If you prefer me to be at my desk doing work, it will only take me 30 seconds to return to ‘work mode’ at my desk if you let me crash there.”
  • “I am entitled to 30 minutes minimum lunch break by law, if I can’t do it at my desk, I will do it elsewhere.”
  • “Your attitude sucks, I think my skills will be best used in another employer. I can’t believe I have gone through four iterations trying to convince you to let me better myself!”

Mental State

Rapidly becoming BAU – very focused, very alert and feeling great at my tiny little ToDo list :)


Pretty much all symptoms of caffeine withdrawal gone now which is excellent (was a real thorn in side at times). I really appreciate the benefit of natural alertness over synthetic caffeine-fuelled “alertness”. The latter crashes hard :(

As mentioned above, I had a large evening meal and I think this really interfered with the afternoon nap, so I think I really need to keep tabs on that. It is becoming very obvious that the afternoon nap appears to be the key to making this work. Whenever I have had problems, it has been when I have screwed the afternoon nap over in some way.

Late night snack at 0100 rather than 0000. I had a REALLY light snack this time (1 slice of Marmite on toast) since I think it was offset by that damn pizza and didn’t want to propagate the problem to my main sleep.


Tomatoes Completed

Total number of Pomodori/Iterations from The Pomodoro Technique completed.

About 10 at work (lost a fair few due to interruptions today) and 9 at home, totalling 19. Nice!

ToDo List Zero

Are all items that were on the “ToDo” list at the start of the day/added and urgent completed?

Yes! As with yesterday, I also got a sneaky couple of items off of tomorrow’s.

Inbox Zero

All emails in the Inbox processed. (i.e. relevant tasks created/replies sent)

All emails that needed replies have had replies sent. Any relevant tasks were of course created as appropriate.


My main GTD/productivity thoughts today were “sustainable pace”. I know I am sailing close to the wind with the experiment, so I wanted to make sure I play it reasonably smart ;)

I am seriously thinking of setting a ceiling limit on the number of tomatoes I do in a day, or following a Kanban-style system where I set ceiling limits on different categories of work (e.g. 2 admin, 4 development etc.)

I am very close to completely clearing out my backlog of crappy RSS, Email and general admin. I am keen to then move into a period of “this is how I want to live my life”. In short, I am seriously thinking of aiming towards self employment sooner rather than later, so I need to get my working lifestyle in check. I do not intend to work at a crazy pace for the rest of my life!


Going to be reviewing this over the weekend, thinking I would like to start integrating some light exercise into my schedule to see if it kills me with this sleep level.


Another rocking day. I am still rather shell-shocked at the massively positive effect this is having on me. I am seeing improvements right across the board in everything I am doing. Like.. WOW!

I am also loving the conversation and interest this has sparked, it’s been real fun talking with you guys and hearing your thoughts (and laughing at the “you’re crazy” and shocked faces) – so for that, I thank you all! :)

I am a bit concerned that this stream may become a little boring across a month (obviously I have my own agenda to push the bar, which should help stem this) – however, if you have anything that you would like me to cover, anything then please feel free to ask and I will see if I can make it a regular appearance on these updates.


  1. Great points under "Likely Issues" - sleeping or napping at work.

    Avoidance of the afternoon slump, which mounts up to a general feeling of exhaustion at the end of most weeks for a lot of folks is a key "win". Leaving work at your usual time (go home on time, a common generic GTD practice: how to get your stuff done and leave work on time) does mean you are going home with fewer "carry overs" to the next day. This has to be a good thing. I find that a "carry over" task on a Monday can have a domino effect throughout the remainder of the week, month...and ultimately year (I may blog about this effect myself).

    Personally, I would struggle to grab 40 winks at my desk - I would need "the others" in my area to refrain from using their telephone's speaker for one-2-one calls, holding conversations over my desk/head. Popping out to kip in the car might be an idea: it would only be for 30-40 minutes, so should be do-able.

    Most firms offer at least 30 minutes for lunch, so grabbing 30 minutes kip and some food is reachable for most, IMHO.

    I notice that one of my colleagues here in Edinburgh goes for a "feet up", "eyes closed" look over lunch. It's pretty noisy in his area, I must ask him if he gets off to sleep, just doses or simply rests his eyes.

    I will close this comment by saying that my current boss is actually pretty open-minded and flexible. Were I to push the full sell for biphasic patterns to him, he would see the light - it would need to sell the fact that technically, there is no downtime, i.e. one is not sleeping on company time per say and that biphasic patterns can be conducive to "business".

    I lied, before closing off this comment: Rob, keep the daily updates coming. Yes, they might get same ol' same ol' and for 30 days will "be your blog". I'm reading each one with great interest - as I am sure will any would-be biphasic adopter who hasn't discovered your blog as yet.

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  3. hello

    Just saying hello while I read through the posts

    hopefully this is just what im looking for looks like i have a lot to read.


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