A Day in My Life: Afternoon Habits

Ok! Technically things you will read are not all from afternoon, but when I get to school (work), it pretty much feels like afternoon. As I outlined in the first article of these series (A Day in My Life), I schedule my office hours early unlike many other teaching assistants because I feel like I’m more productive in the morning. “Afternoon” for me is all business and it’s time to focus. It is also the time I do my workouts. Even though the research says that around 4-7 pm (for most people), reaction time improves, testosterone increases, and body temperature peaks (which are all great for a better workout), I find that if I schedule my workouts for early evening, I tend to skip it. The best workout schedule is usually the one that person can stick to. It’s about discipline. Did you do your workout? Did you put in the work whether it is high intensity interval training, whether it is strength training, or whether it is just walking? In my opinion, if I schedule my workouts in the afternoon and go, it is much better than scheduling them in the early evening and skip them half the time. I think this point is clear. Before I list all my habits here and spoil the rest of the article, let’s get to them.

Late morning (until workout): My day at work starts with my office hour. Since not a lot of students come and go, I can also do some work of my own during this time. I usually leave late morning for reading and writing. As you (hopefully) read in the morning habits, I start my day with Lion’s Mane mushroom extract which is a nootropic (either from Four Sigmatic coffee or from Four Sigmatic sachets) and a 16-oz. caffeinated drink (coffee or tea). By the time I get to work, I still feel the cognitive enhancements of Lion’s mane and caffeine probably because I’m a slow caffeine metabolizer. Therefore, my brain works better for reading and writing assignments. Not that someone assigns something to me (as I’m done with my classwork), active brain functions properly. So, I either work on an article for my website, or read the articles I find interesting, or read scientific papers related to my Ph.D. work, or write something that my professors asked me to do. Articles I read are usually from the people I follow such as Robb Wolf, and Ben Greenfield, or it can be someone I learned about on a podcast. Scientific work (whether I read or write) is mostly about a future memory technology that my research group focuses on called Conductive Bridging RAM.

I think it’s also a good idea to mention that I try to be standing when I’m in my office. Instead of buying some expensive standing desk, I simply put a big enough box on my desk that can carry my laptop. This way, I can stand when I work and stay away from the dangers of over-sitting. About 30 minutes before heading to the gym, I drink some coffee (8-12 oz.) to increase fat burning and performance (which is my last caffeinated drink for the day).

Workout Time: As you read in the beginning of the article, in order for me to follow my workout schedule, I tend to work out early afternoon. I head to the gym on campus which is a great facility around noon or 1 pm. My workouts are usually written ahead of time and they change every other month or so. Recently the workout schedule I follow is as follows:

·      Monday: Chest & Arms day

·      Tuesday: 15-min ab work, 15-25 min high intensity interval training (focused on legs)

·      Wednesday: Shoulders & Back day

·      Thursday: Walk as much as possible throughout the day

·      Friday: Same as Tuesday

·      Saturday: Shoulders & Back day or Basketball

·      Sunday: Shoulders & Back day or Basketball (whichever I didn’t do the day prior)

This schedule may seem like it’s too much work, but I seem to be able to recover well enough. My recovery “toolbox” plays a big role in this. Cold showers I take in the morning, foam rolling and stretching I do, movement practices, my antioxidant intake, occasional sauna visits, etc. I know I will write an article about this in the future, but for now, start with where you are. You may need more conditioning or you may need to lose some more weight before you work out every day. Try to listen to your body and see if you are well recovered before you smoke yourself in the gym.

Lunch: After workouts, I do not chug down a protein shake with powder carbohydrates or eat a banana and a canned tuna. I simply go to lunch. So-called “window of gains(z)” is somewhat of a myth in my opinion. It’s true that the muscle glycogen and amino acid can replenish much better if you drink some carbs and protein the second you finish your workout. However, if you can eat one of your meals (like I can) instead of the shake, it’s much better in my opinion. It’s basically killing two birds with one stone. “Stone” in this case is a big salad with some protein. Vegetables I include are baby spinach, lettuce, spring mix, green/red/orange peppers, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes. If I want to add some higher carb content vegetable, it usually comes in the form of beets or sweet potatoes. But, the amount for them is relatively low. As I usually save most of my carbs for dinner (you will read about why I do this in the Evening Habits). Protein choices are usually sardines (if I pack my lunch) or chicken (if I eat out). I also have a little bit of fat coming from either olives or avocados/guacamole on top of the salad.

After Lunch: The clock usually shows about 2 pm when I finish my lunch. I tend to save the real work for this time. I am the material analysis and characterization guy in our group. My work involves utilizing tools like Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Scanning/Transmission Electron Microscopy (SEM or TEM), X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), Rutherford Backscattering Spectrometry (RBS). As I mentioned earlier, our group works with a future memory technology called CBRAM which are multi-layered thin films. Thickness of each layer is in the order of nanometers (one billionth of a meter, or about one hundredth of the thickness of your hair). Therefore, in order to understand how device performance changes with changes in material composition or device structure, we need to use these expensive tools. I honestly love when I do this stuff, plus it gives me something super cool to talk about with my colleagues and friends. The “downside” of doing this part of the research is the money part. These tools are expensive to use and I can’t simply go around and spend my professors’ money. Therefore, sometimes I don’t have anything scheduled. If this is the case, I either finish reading or writing any article that was left from the morning or walk around the campus, or do some other productive stuff such as helping my fellow researchers if the need help.

Once I’m done doing all this stuff, I head back home and that concludes my so-called “afternoon” habits. As I mentioned in the previous article, having structure and habits (having your day planned) work like magic. It improves mood and productivity. I love my routine and I highly suggest you do the same. Feel free to copy or change anything here. Until next time, mic-dropped!