From the archive: This episode was originally recorded and published in 2019. Our interviews on Entrepreneurs On Fire are meant to be evergreen, and we do our best to confirm that all offers and URL’s in these archive episodes are still relevant.
As an entrepreneur, bestselling author, and mother, Kate Northrup teaches a revolutionary approach to time management that allow ambitious women to light up the world without burning themselves out.
Do Less – Snag a copy of Kate’s book, Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time Management for Busy Moms – plus, you’ll get 4 incredible bonuses!
3 Value Bombs
1) Cultural programming has us believing that the longer we keep our butt in a chair, in front of the computer, the more we will get done — it’s not true. There’s a diminishing rate of return: the more hours you spend, you begin to cut away at your ability to focus.
2) We get obsessed with taking action because that’s what is celebrated in the entrepreneurial and business world, but we don’t pause to assess if things are working.
3) Saying yes to too many things will take you down, and your ability to decide which opportunities actually make sense for you is massively decreased.
**Click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.
Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: Do Less, Have More: How to Reduce Your Work Hours While Making More Money
[01:01] – Kate shares something interesting about herself that most people don’t know.
- She grew up as a dancer and that was her biggest passion.
[03:08] – Why do men and women relate to time differently?
- The way that we experience time is actually completely relative.
- Men’s hormones cycle every 24 hours. Women’s hormones cycle every 28-ish days.
- For women, it’s critical to give yourself permission to look at your month instead of your day as you map your productivity.
[05:28] – Kate talks about things that can help sync up productivity and improve how people in a relationship work with each other.
- Women have 4 phases to their monthly cycle, and each phase has a key to productivity.
- Follicular phase – it is after the period. It’s good for brainstorming, starting things, it’s a high energy time.
- Ovulation phase – perfect for presenting, shooting videos, having meetings, being out there, doing events.
- Luteal phase – perfect time for looking inward, doing the heavy lifting part of projects, completing things, dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s.
- Menstrual phase – great for taking a break, but also incredibly intuitive and great for research and reflection. This is also when women are at their smartest because the brain is interconnected during that time.
- For women, our brains are wired hormonally to be good at certain things at certain times of the month.
[07:54] – How does the 24-hour phase work for men’s productivity?
- Men have the highest level of testosterone from 6AM to around 1PM. That’s an optimal time to get their best work done.
[09:39] – Working less can improve our bottom line and our happiness as well – can you talk about this?
- Stop struggling against Mother Nature; instead work with the way we are built to be optimally productive – this is really the purpose of Kate’s work.
- Most people can only focus for 2 hours a day on high level skills.
- Look at taking breaks. The ideal ratio is working for about 52 minutes and then taking a 15-minute break.
- Cultural programming has us believing that the longer we keep our butt in the chair, in front of the computer, the more we will get done—it’s not true. There’s a diminishing rate of return: the more hours you spend, the more you cut away at your ability to focus.
- We are our most valuable business asset. We are a critical resource. If we don’t care for ourselves, there will be more illness, and higher turnover because there’s less satisfaction.
[18:46] – What can we learn about productivity and abundance from the natural world?
- As Lao Tzu said, “Nature never rushes, yet everything gets done.”
- The planet has 4 seasons, and it’s really important to look at how Mother Nature sets aside an entire season for each of these 4 key phases of energy.
- Spring time – the time of new beginnings.
- Summer time – the time of full bloom – things are fully out there.
- Autumn time – the time of letting go, wrapping things up.
- Winter time – the time for stillness.
- As humans, if we weren’t such hoarders, there would be enough to go around, and to support us all.
[24:14] – Why is taking deliberate breaks in between projects critical for both our revenue and well-being?
- As entrepreneurs, we’re obsessed with doing things and we have so many ideas.
- We get obsessed with taking action because that’s what is celebrated in the entrepreneurial and business world, and we don’t pause to assess if things are working.
[28:25] – How are entrepreneurs who think that they’re sacrificing their sleep for their bottom line actually making their business suffer more than they need to?
- Your quality of sleep is nearly as important as the quantity.
- If you are lacking sleep, you will cut away your ability to integrate information, repair yourself, and store your long-term memory.
- Saying yes to too many things will take you down, and your ability to decide which opportunities actually makes sense for you is massively decreased by cutting away your sleep.
[33:33] – How can the biggest regrets of the people who are currently dying right now inform us of the way we need to schedule our time as entrepreneurs?
- The regrets of the dying are the exact opposition of the way we’ve been taught we need to find success.
- They are wishing to live a life truer to themselves rather than the life others expected of them.
[36:07] – Kate’s parting piece of guidance.
- Check out Kate’s book, Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time Management for Busy Moms, and get 4 incredible bonuses!
John: Boom, shake the room, Fire Nation. JLD here with an audio master class on doing less to have more. We’ll be talking about how to reduce your work hours while making more money in your business. Fire Nation, who doesn’t want that? And to break this down for us I have brought Kate Northrup. She’s an entrepreneur, best-selling author, and mother, and she teaches a revolutionary approach to time management that allows ambitious women to light up the world without burning themselves out. And for all you Fire Nation men out there, I am sure we’re gonna pick up a tip, trick, tactic, tool or two along the way. So we’ll dive in with Kate when we get back from thanking our sponsor.
So, Kate, say what’s up to Fire Nation and share something interesting about yourself that most people don’t know.
Kate: Hello, Fire Nation. So excited to be here. So most people don’t know that I grew up as a dancer and that that’s actually my biggest passion. I watched a recent episode of This is Us and bawled my eyes out watching Beth go back to dance. And I was like I need to make more space for that in my life. So that’s something most people don’t know.
John: I literally watched that episode and I said to myself man, how many people give up on their dreams and their passions in pursuit of something that they just realize belatedly is just not that important to them? And actually, this is something I’m excited we’re gonna be talking about in probably the last wrap-up part of our conversation when it comes to regrets of the dying. But, you know, nice little teaser, Kate, to what we have going on here.
Something else I wanna share with Fire Nation is Kate’s a fellow Mainer, so we have that connection in common. We’re both Maine-iacs, which I love. And, Kate, you’re here today to talk about how to do less and having more and reducing those work hours, which we all wanna do, while making more money, which would be nice as well, in our business. So give us a little teaser of a few of the things we’ll be chatting about and then we’ll dive right in.
Kate: So we’re gonna talk today about how men and women relate to time differently and why that’s important for each of our productivity. We’re gonna talk about the data that proves that working less actually improves our bottom line and more importantly, honestly, our happiness, what we can learn about productivity and abundance from the natural world, why sacrificing your sleep is actually gonna make you less money, even though you think that the work hours will make you more, you’re wrong, and how the biggest regrets of the dying can inform the way we schedule our time as entrepreneurs.
John: Fire Nation, you can just tell from that, that Kate is a pro inside and out and this is just gonna be value bomb after value bomb. So I’m not gonna waste any more time. We’re just gonna dive right in because the reality is, Kate, men and women, we relate to time differently. So expound upon that and then share why it’s important for our own personal productivity to know this fact.
Kate: So it’s so fascinating. In terms of the way we relate to time, I think about the way we relate to time with how our energy levels are. And so if – I have to get a little nerdy for a second and share that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which he came out with in the early 1900s, says that E=mc2, which basically means that the way that we experience time is actually completely relative.
And we all have had experiences of that, right? You’re living in Puerto Rico. I’m sure that the moments you sit on the beach with your lady watching the sunset, that moment feels timeless versus the moments in the morning that you’re waiting for your coffee to brew. That kind of feels like time is sticking. So those are two different types of time and they have to do with actually our energy, how present we are, how enthusiastic we are, if we’re feeling drained. And so that has to do, actually, with our hormones as humans.
And so men, their hormonal cycle, your hormonal cycle, cycles every 24 hours. Women, our hormonal cycle, cycles every 28-ish days. Now, we all know that, right? But on some level, I don’t think that most people realize that the world, of course, is set up for a 24-hour hormonal cycle and the 24-hour hormonal shift versus the way that women cycle. And that’s really important if you are a woman listening or if you know any women, if you’re in relationship with women, whether at work or in life, or you have daughters, whatever, you have to know that we experience time differently. And for women, it’s critical to give yourself permission to look at your month instead of your day as you map your productivity.
John: See, that’s fascinating because I would never have assumed that men, in general, are every 24-hour cycling, where women as 28 days are cycling is completely off from each other. So I guess one thing I would have to ask is if you are in that relationship, like myself and my Kate are here, we work together, we live together, what’s one or two things that you would say hey, John, this is something, or hey, Kate, this is something that could really help us out, kind of sync up, not necessarily sync up our time, but just sync up our productivity and improve how we work with each other?
Kate: Yeah, it’s so fascinating. So it’s really important to know that there are actually four phases of a woman’s cycle. I’m sure you have never, maybe you have never talked about periods on Entrepreneur on Fire before.
John: I don’t think so. This could be a first.
Kate: This is probably a first. So women have four phases of our monthly cycle and each phase has a key to productivity. So for you, John, it would be really great for you to know which phase Kate is in. And not just – we talk about in our culture, oh, she’s on her period, right? That’s only one out of three phases and each phase is so critical and it aligns with a key element of productivity for projects. And as women, our brains are wired hormonally to be really good at certain things, at certain times of the month. But the problem is we try to fit ourselves into this 24-hour cycle and we feel like we suck or we feel like there’s something wrong with us and then it leads to adrenal fatigue and burnout and lack of confidence.
So for you, John, it would be really great for you to know which phase – first of all, she has to know which phase of her cycle she’s in. But the follicular phase, which is right after your period, is for brainstorming, starting things. It’s a very high energy time. Ovulation is perfect for presenting, shooting videos, having meetings, being out there, doing events. Then luteal is the perfect time for going inward and doing the heavy lifting part of projects, of completing things, dotting your i’s, crossing your t’s.
And then the menstrual time is really great for just taking a break, but also incredibly intuitive and great for research and reflection and we get our best ideas and we are our smartest because our brain is the most interconnected during that time, during the menstrual time. So I bet you didn’t know we were going there today, but hopefully that’ll help you out and the women listening.
John: I didn’t personally know that, but I think for the ladies that are listening right now, sometimes you just have to say to yourself, this just isn’t my phase right now to be doing X, Y, or Z. And just accept that, embrace it, and either wait for that phase to do what you need to be doing in that area, or just do whatever you need to be doing during that phase that is leading to your strengths. Now, to flip that, Kate, for the men you say we have this 24-hour phase. How does that work for us? How does it work for our productivity from that morning until we’re going to bed at night?
Kate: Super interesting. So I learned this, I wanna give a shout out to Alisa Vitti who wrote a book called WomanCode. And men, actually, have highest levels of testosterone from like 6:00 a.m., honestly, only until 1:00 p.m.-ish. And so your cycles, in terms of high levels of testosterone, that’s the optimal time for working out and getting your best work done, and actually having sex as well. So that’s a pretty short window for a lot of activities during the day.
And so what you wanna do is schedule yourself as much as possible to get the most important things done while those testosterone levels are high, from like 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. And then maybe doing things in the afternoon that don’t take as much focus or power.
John: Fire Nation men out there, 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., those are our golden hours. That circadian rhythm that we all need to be getting into. Some of you might be saying, well, wait, I sleep until 10:00 or 11:00 so I mean, what’s happening there? Well, you need to be getting up at 5:30, 6:00. You need to be getting that full eight hours of sleep so you’re waking up rested at 6:00 a.m. You have now the next seven hours to absolutely crush it. And then hey, the afternoon comes, why don’t you go for a walk, why don’t you relax, why don’t you chill out, why don’t you have some fun with your significant other and do some other things. Seven hours is plenty of time to crush your day, period, when your testosterone levels are high.
So this is all super interesting stuff, but Kate, we have a lot that we wanna cover during this chat. So I’m gonna move on to the next thing because you do have some data that actually proves that working less can improve our bottom line and our happiness as well.
And I think that kind of leads into what we just chatted about with, hey, if you crush it from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. when you’re at the highest as a guy, or when you’re a woman in that specific phase and you’re just focused on crushing it during that phase, you’ll be actually working less, but you’ll be working during the right times to actually improve everything that you’re doing output-wise to improve that bottom line and the happiness because you’re not struggling against mother nature. Talk to us about that, Kate.
Kate: I’m so glad you just said struggling against mother nature. That is essentially the purpose of my work. So well said there. It’s to stop struggling against mother nature, but instead to work with the way we are built to be optimally productive.
So a really interesting work from the Harvard Business Review showed that very few people can be in a state of high concentration on things that really move the needle forward, like writing about new ideas, creating content, teaching a webinar, that sort of thing, for more than four or five hours a day total. So this syncs right up with what we were talking about. You’ve got that seven-hour window, let’s say, as a guy, but the studies show that we can’t really focus for more than four to five hours a day. And that holds true even amongst really, really high performers like elite athletes and novelists.
And honestly, most people can only focus for two hours a day on high level skills. And that’s even executives and managers. So the recommendation then, is really to look at taking breaks. And the ideal ratio is actually, from the Business Insider, it shows that the ideal ratio is working for about 52 minutes and then taking a 15-minute break. So believe it or not – and that’s hard, right? I mean, I’m an entrepreneur. I get it. I have limited hours because I’ve got kids. And we all have limited hours because we live on planet Earth, right? There’s just a limited amount of time.
And so it’s really hard to force ourselves to take a break. And we think oh, well if I’m gonna work four hours, but I’m gonna take four 15-minute breaks, that’s a third – or, that’s a quarter of the time. A third of the time. I’m not that good at math. And it’s really powerful, though, because people find that when they take more breaks – and this is not – listen, I’m not the first person to talk about this.
But we have to keep reminding ourselves because the cultural programming has us believe that the longer we keep our butt in the chair at the computer, the more we will get done. And it’s actually not true. There’s a diminishing law of return, there’s a diminishing rate of return on the more hours you spend. You actually are beginning to cut away at your ability to focus and cut away at your well-being.
Another interesting piece that was published in The Lancet shows that a 55 hour workweek led to a 33 percent increase in stroke and also coronary heart disease and that a 49 hour workweek, which by the way in the U.S. the average is a 47 hour workweek, so this is about the average amount of work that we do, it actually is associated with really poor mental health. So I don’t know about you, John, do you think of a 49 hour workweek as ridiculous?
John: I don’t think of it as ridiculous, I think of it as something that a lot of people are expected to do in the day and age that we live in right now.
Kate: Yeah, I completely agree. And it is the reason – part of the reason that I am talking about this stuff is because I do believe that we need to change the structures so that they actually support human life. We need to change the way we do business because we are our most valuable business asset. Whether you work in a company or you run your own business, you are the most – human beings, that’s why there’s a human resources department. We are a critical resource.
And if we don’t care for ourselves, what ends up happening is that there’s more illness, which means more days sick, which means – and also higher turnover because there’s less satisfaction. So in places like Sweden, they’re actually moving towards a six-hour workday because of the well-being of workers, which is really cool. And a Stockholm-based app development company called Filimundus is finding that they’re able to give their workers a six-hour workday, but still increase their bottom line and keep productivity the same because their staff is happier, there are fewer office conflicts, and it saves a ton of time and energy.
John: We are super aligned with this because I can look back over the seven years I’ve been running Entrepreneurs on Fire, and 2012, ’13, and ’14, I mean I was putting in the hours. And I thought I had to. I thought I had to be sitting there putting in the hours, doing this, doing that. And I noticed during the 2014-2015 time frame that man, I’m looking at myself, I feel like my energy’s lower, I feel like my health is worse, I feel like I’m not in the optimal shape that I feel like I should be since I’m “running my own life/running my own business”.
And that’s what inspired me, Kate, to launch The Mastery Journal in 2017. It was kind of just like a compilation of all of those years of saying am I really getting more done by working more? And the answer was pretty much always no. And so I crafted this Mastery Journal, which really lines up exactly with what you’re saying with these 52 minutes on and then 15 minutes off. I’ve set it up where if you follow this process, you have four focus sessions every single day. And I say hey, my perfect focus session actually is 43 minutes on and 17 minutes off. That’s just what works for me. I’ve tested it over time. I kind of like how it just fits in that perfect hour timeframe.
So I do a 43 minute focus session on one topic, then I take a forced 17 minute, what I call, refresh time before I move on to that next focus session. And I limit myself to four per day. And by the way, sometimes I only do two or three and I’m fine with that because I know during those four sessions, or three sessions, I’m getting incredible quality work done. And that’s what The Mastery Journal is all about. The actual tagline is master productivity, discipline, and focus in 100 days. And this book trains you to get more done in those four maximum one-hour focus sessions.
That’s essentially only four hours of real, hard mental thinking per day, even less than that when you take out that refresh time that’s mandatory. Every single day you’re getting more stuff done as a result of it and that’s how, for the last three years now, Kate, I’ve been running my business. And I am typically, by 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., even before knowing about this 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. thing that you just shared, I’m pretty much shutting it down for the day.
I’m not doing any hardcore business tasks or thoughts that are stretching into the afternoon or evening. That’s my exercise time, that’s my relaxation time, that’s my chill out by the pool time. That’s when I’m actually being able to move into as I go forward. So is that kind of what you’re seeing you’re moving your life into as well?
Kate: Absolutely. And I love that you are a walking testimonial for the do less way. And you set up your journal exactly reflecting what the data shows, which is so cool. So, yeah, that’s what I’m recommending.
Now what’s interesting, is for men that’s gonna work really well because you cycle the same way every day. For women, you’re gonna have to reorganize it. And I do talk about that in my book Do Less, where you will be then scheduling yourself over a 28-day cycle so everything gets done, but every day doesn’t look the same. So it’s slightly different, but yes, I mean I still show up, I live on planet Earth so I still show up five days a week and I organize my time very similarly to what you’re talking about, John. And I just reorganize the tasks that I am doing based on more of the cyclical nature. So it’s pretty cool.
John: Fire Nation, you have to identify what your strengths are and then work within that capacity. And that’s what I’ve been doing now with The Mastery Journal, this is what Kate’s doing with her phases. It’s critical stuff. You have to arm yourself with the right knowledge. And that’s why we brought her on here today to talk about this audio master class about doing less and having more, which of course she expands much more in her book Do Less.
So Kate, the natural world, I mean, it can teach us so much. And a quick side note here, Fire Nation, if you haven’t seen the Netflix documentary, This Strange Rock with Will Smith as the host, you have to. It’s amazing. It just shows you what this natural world does. It’s absolutely unbelievable. And, Kate, you found, and you’ve written about, and now we’re gonna chat about, what we can actually learn about productivity and abundance from the natural world. So talk to us about that.
Kate: So to start off, I wanna share a quote that I found on a teabag. And it’s from Lao Tzu who said, “Nature never rushes, yet everything gets done.” And when I’m feeling stressed out, when I’m feeling hurried, I repeat that quote to myself and I remember that my body is made of nature. Your body is made of nature. And our brains are formed from nature. I mean, all of it is interconnected. We’re literally made of the same elements as the natural world. And we are animals.
And so we have, just like the planet has these four phases, these four seasons – now I understand that you live very close to the equator so you’re not experiencing the seasons as much, but you used to in Maine. And it’s really important to look at how mother nature sets aside an entire season for each of these four key phases of energy.
So the springtime is that time of new beginnings and that energy, the summertime is the time of full bloom and really things are fully out there, the autumn is that time of letting go, of wrapping things up, and then of course the wintertime is the time for stillness. So she sets aside, mother nature sets aside just as much time for doing nothing as she does for all those other three phases.
And we can learn so much from that because there is enough to go around on the planet, as far as resources, for the animals and the plants and keeping this incredibly abundant system going with air, with water, with food. Now, as humans, we have a problem with hoarding behavior around resources, but if we weren’t so – if we weren’t such hoarders, there would be enough to go around, to support us all. And that is with an entire three to four months set aside where it really looks like nothing is happening during the wintertime.
And our culture is so focused on being out there and pushing and always doing more than you did the day before and feeling like a failure if you’re not, that we have completely cut ourselves off from the wisdom of going within in that autumn energy and the wintertime energy.
And in my business, I noticed that I was always in the energy of springtime or summer. So I would be starting things, then launching things. Then I would start the next thing, then launch the next thing. And I never took the time to properly wrap things up in the phase that I call culmination in a project, which is the same as the autumn phase. And I never really took the time to properly rest. And as a result, my work wasn’t as good. My ideas just weren’t as impactful, and I felt like I was just kind of swimming in the shallow end, if you know what I mean, in terms of my impact.
And when I began to embrace these seasons and look at Mother Earth and then mimic that within my business, within each project, and look at each project and its four seasons, and I built in the time for the autumn and the winter, it’s been amazing to see what we’ve been able to create. And this is what I teach within my membership and the women are – like a woman named Clara was able to cut her work hours only to 12 hours a week and double her income and she also homeschools five kids.
So when you actually begin to operate this way, you get way more done in less time and more importantly, you feel better, your central nervous system feels better, you don’t get sick as much, and your relationships thrive. She’s reported that she feels closer to her husband than ever in their life and they’re having this spectacular romance 17 years into marriage.
John: Fire Nation, nature never rushes. Why the heck are you in such a hurry all the time? Take a cue from mother nature here. And I didn’t actually even think about this when I first mentioned it, Kate, but in the book – in the, sorry, documentary, This Strange Rock that I mentioned earlier, it’s so fascinating how they talk about how billions and billions of years ago this asteroid hit the Earth, which caused a 28-degree tilt of the Earth so now we have the seasons as a result of that. If we hadn’t had that little tilt, we wouldn’t have the seasons at all because it would just be always hot on one side and always cold on the other side and that would just be how it always is.
And that happened and allowed Earth to be what it is today because of that, Fire Nation. So take a cue from that. The reason why everything we have is because this little 28-degree tilt that gives us this culmination period, this ending period, this beginning period. And we need to take cues from that and that’s our life. That’s the overall circadian rhythm that we need to be getting into. And if you think Kate’s been dropping value bombs, Fire Nation, you just wait till we get back from thanking our sponsor.
So, Kate, we’re back and we are entrepreneurs, small business owners, we’re human beings. I mean, we all need time to relax, to refresh. But really break it down for us. Why is taking deliberate breaks in between projects critical for both our revenue and our well-being?
Kate: Well, you spoke earlier about how important it is to take those rest periods during your work day, but then this is on a macro scale, is taking breaks in between projects. What ends up happening is, I spoke about this earlier, as entrepreneurs we’re obsessed with doing things and we have so many new ideas. So you’re never gonna run out of ideas. I just wanna say to those listening. So don’t worry about needing to take action immediately on the idea like it’s a runaway train that you have to catch. It’s not going anywhere.
And so we have to temper ourselves and take the time in between projects for one thing because analysis is critical. We’ll often just move along and not take the time to look at the analytics, like what are those email open rates? Which subject lines are doing better? What are the conversion rates? Is the social media strategy actually working? How is the webinar going? How are the Facebook ads? All of those things that are happening, we get obsessed with taking action because that’s what’s celebrated, especially in the entrepreneurial and business world. And then we don’t actually pause to assess, are things actually working?
So, as a practical example of this, I’ll see people spending thousands of dollars on Facebook ads and they’re wondering why they’re not working. Well, they haven’t taken that culmination time, right, once they get all the ads running and up there, to actually look at well, what are your conversion rates? Where are the profit levers that you can tweak to look at what you can improve?
And that analysis time, that time for the post-game of the launch, like what worked, what didn’t work, what can we do better next time, we’re often so overbooked with running into the next project that we don’t adequately do that analysis so then we don’t adequately either prune what’s not working or improve upon things. And it’s like pouring water into a bucket with holes because the water would be your time, energy, money, resources. And then when you haven’t taken that culmination period, that slow-down after a project, you’re just leaking water everywhere and it’s like driving down the road just dropping $50 bills outside, out the window.
And then in terms of the full rest, that’s the culmination, but that full rest period is the time to percolate and pause. Our best ideas can only come through – it’s the reason that we get our best ideas in the shower or while we’re playing tennis or while you’re cooking dinner because our best stuff, our intuition, our best instincts, need to come through in a pause. If we’re constantly busy and constantly looking at a screen, constantly obsessed with doing the next thing and being busy, we can’t hear ourselves. And I believe entrepreneurs are incredibly intuitive creatures and we do have incredible instincts, but we silence them by being addicted to busyness.
John: Fire Nation, we need to become a person who completes what they start. I mean, so many people are starting a million things and they’re finishing none of them. I like to say they’re going a mile wide and only an inch deep with all these little things. But there’s those people that say hey, I’m just gonna go an inch wide and a mile deep and I’m actually gonna crush and finish and just complete this. Those are people that are winning at a high level.
And I love that phrase, Kate, percolate and pause. Percolate and pause. And if you can say that to yourself, Fire Nation, you can really maybe get into that zone where you’re actually pausing long enough so that you can come up with that next great idea that you can then go all in on, and by the way, complete that idea.
And on the other hand, Kate, it really does pain me because entrepreneurs do think that they’re gonna make more money and they’re gonna do more things if they sleep less. So break down for us why entrepreneurs who think that they’re sacrificing sleep for their bottom line are actually making their business suffer more than they need to.
Kate: Yeah, so when we are lacking in sleep, and the data shows that most people do really well with between seven to eight hours of sleep. Some people do fine, like my husband Mike, does great on six hours. I wish I did, but I’m more of a nine or ten hour kind of girl, which has not been working out well with young children, but I’m making it work.
John: I can imagine.
Kate: So, you know, everybody’s a little bit different and you do have to listen to your own rhythm, but I will just put in a plug here that the quality of sleep is nearly as important as the quantity. So getting to bed before 11:00 or midnight is critical because that rejuvenating sleep happens in those middle of the night hours. And over time, you will, if you are lacking in sleep, you will cut away at your ability to integrate information, to repair your cells, to store your long-term memory.
And when we are operating sleep-deprived, it’s as though we are – our IQ has decreased and also, it’s as though we’re operating while drunk. So you might as well just show up for work every day drunk if you are cutting away at sleep. Spending four extra hours in, like let’s say from 1:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. or 5:00 a.m., or in the middle of the night, is going to make you dumber the next day. And you need your wits about you and your ability to make really good decisions as an entrepreneur, because things fly at us really fast.
And I will say, I love the Steve Jobs quote, “I’m more proud of the things that we didn’t do, than the things we did do”. And that success point is so important as entrepreneurs. It is not so much the things that we – it’s more important the things we say no to, the things that – saying yes to too many things will take you down. And your ability to decide what actually makes sense for you is massively decreased by cutting away at your sleep.
John: Fire Nation, quality of sleep is everything. And this is actually something I wish I discovered years ago. Unfortunately, I only got it about six months ago and it’s called the Oura Ring. And what I love about this is I actually sleep with this ring every single night and I wake up in the morning and one of the first things I do is I sync my Oura Ring up to my phone and it gives me a sleep score from zero to 100. And I can then see the different cycles of sleep, my REM sleep, what percentage of my night was that, my light sleep, what percentage of my sleep was that, and then my deep sleep.
And one thing that I realize, that I would not have known without really taking this next step, is I do not get enough deep sleep. And that is that restorative sleep that Kate’s talking about. And I don’t get enough of it. In fact, I should be going through two, at a minimum, sometimes even three optimally, deep sleep cycles every single night. But I’m only going into one and then I’m just pretty much light and REM sleep the rest of the night and I’m not getting that restorative sleep that I need.
So I’m starting to learn things about myself, like I actually need to be going to bed by 9:15 every night, which I’m okay with. I’m almost in my 40s here, I’m not trying to break any records here. I’m good with that. And also, if I eat within a couple hours of going to sleep, my deep sleep is out the window. Forget about it. It’s not there. And these are just things I’m learning about myself.
So I wanna just emphasize a point that Kate’s making about how the quality of sleep is everything, but you need to know yourself. Like her husband Mike, okay, six hours, maybe. I’m not actually going to just say absolutely. I would say show me the results, Mike. I wanna see the actual results from an Oura Ring that you’re getting enough deep sleep during those six hours. And if you show me the results, then I’ll believe you. But I’m a huge believer, you’ve got to know yourself. Because, I mean, Kate, so many times for so many years, I was going to bed from – at 10:00 p.m. and I was waking up at 6:00. So what was I doing? I was getting eight hours of sleep, right? Like everybody should.
Well, the Oura Ring shows me when I go to bed at 10:00 and I wake up at 6:00, I’m getting six hours and 24 minutes of sleep because I’m waking up throughout the night a couple times, I’m not going right to sleep, I’m actually waking up a couple – a little bit before I actually get out of bed. So I was thinking I was getting eight hours and I was getting a ton less than that. So you have to know yourself, Fire Nation. Quality of sleep is everything. It’s my biggest focus in 2019, I’m gonna say over everything, is dialing in my quality of sleep.
Now, Kate, one thing that I love, and you go into in depth about this within your book, but I wanna kind of touch upon it now, is that we need to learn from those people who have come before us. How can the biggest regrets of the people who are currently dying right now inform us of the way we need to schedule our time as entrepreneurs?
Kate: I am so glad you asked this. This is some of the most fascinating work. It’s by Bronnie Ware. She wrote a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. She was working as a palliative care worker and she realized she was having these conversations every day with people who were dying and they had a lot in common. And the big disconnect is that she realized their regrets were in exact opposition to the way we have been taught that we need to find success.
And so the things that we’ve been taught to believe matter most are living up to the expectations of our parents, our communities, and our society, right? There’s a lot of pressure around that. Working really hard and as much as possible, not being so emotional, getting ahead of other people, like being in competition, and that achievement will make us happy.
But what she found is the five biggest regrets of the dying, they show, there they are, they’re about to be done with their life and they are wishing they’d had the courage to live a life more true to themselves rather than the life others expected of them, which is circling back to that This is Us episode where Beth rediscovers the – I mean, amazing. Wishing they hadn’t worked so hard. So nobody’s lying on their death bed being like man, I am so glad that I put in those 50-, 60-hour workweeks. Nobody’s thinking that.
Kate: Wishing that they’d had the courage to express their feelings. So thinking about who is it that you need to tell that you love? Or what conversations do you need to have? Wishing they’d stayed in touch with their friends. How many times have you thought, oh, I wanna call my best friend from college or oh, I wanna pop over to my neighbor’s, but I don’t have time, right? And that’s gonna be – that’s a big regret. And then wishing they’d let themselves be happier, which I think connects with all of the prior four regrets.
John: Fire Nation, are you going to have those same regrets? I mean, the time to start is now so that when you are in that situation, hopefully years and years down the road, you have a smile on your face because you had the time to implement the changes that you know you should be making and that you don’t have these big regrets that, frankly, for some people it’s just too late.
So, Kate, we’ve been rocking and rolling. You’ve given us an incredible audio master class on how to do less and to have more. How we can reduce our work hours while making more money in our business. Give us one big final wrap-up here. Tell us about your book and why Fire Nation needs to go to that book to learn even more important things about what we’ve been talking about and then we’ll say goodbye.
Kate: Awesome. So the book is called Do Less. The subtitle is actually A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Busy Moms, but as you can see, this stuff applies to everybody. But you know how it is with marketing.
John: You got a niche. You got a niche.
Kate: Yeah, you gotta niche it down. So if you are a working mother, though, know that I wrote this book for you, but it applies across the board. It’s so important to have the tools, the framework, and the data to back up how we can reorganize our lives to be honoring our cycles, honoring our bodies, and honoring the truth of what it means to be human, which is not that working all the time will – is the point. And so that’s what the book is about. And I would love also for you to just check it out and also check out my work over at katenorthrup.com.
John: And is there an ideal place for Fire Nation to go pick this book up? Or is it just all over the place?
Kate: There is. If you go to katenorthrup.com/book, you’ll actually get some great bonuses with it. One of them that I think your people will love is called How to Reduce Your Work Time by 80 Percent While Increasing Your Results by 80 Percent. And it is a practical application of the 80/20 rule with a mini-workshop and a download that I’ve actually never seen a practical application like an exercise for dialing in exactly what your 80/20 is. And so I made one. And so you’ll get that for free when you buy the book.
John: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with and you have been hanging out with KN and JLD today. So just keep up the heat. And if you do head over to eofire.com and type Kate in the search bar, not only this episode, but the episode we did about 1,900 episodes ago will also pop up and you can hear a whole different episode because we talk about Kate’s worst moment, her aha moment, some really, really cool stuff. So I’d recommend listening to this episode of course, as you have, and then checking that episode out as well to see what Kate was doing back in the day.
But of course, the strong call to action here, Fire Nation, if you are a mother or you know a mother or you just wanna become more overall knowledgeable about this whole topic and these topics that we’ve been talking about today, head over to katenorthrup.com/book. Snag this book, snag it as a gift for somebody you know, like, trust, love and you’ll be doing a good thing in the world. So, Kate, thank you for sharing your truth with Fire Nation today. For that we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Kate: Thank you.
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