Business + Money

James Hewitt: Frameworks, Quantification, and Achieving Sustainable High Performance

Boomer Anderson
September 13, 2021
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James has dedicated his career to enabling people to perform at their best, through sharing novel data and cutting edge insights. In this episode, James provides a myriad of tactics for taking your productivity to the next level.

Who is James Hewitt? 

James Hewitt is a performance scientist and award-winning communicator. He has dedicated his career to enabling people to perform at their best through sharing novel data, cutting-edge insights, and practical tools, developed in his work with the world’s most demanding and top-performing organizations.


[3:40] From national athlete to performance science

[16:30] Issues in the modern workplace

[23:05] Tools for improving productivity

[31:45] Sleep, stress, and nutrition

[37:05] How to identify your best focus time

[42:01] When should you exercise? 

[48:10] The importance of an evening routine

[57:20] Balance as a useless tool for high performers


Dr. Aki Hintsa

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

The Pareto Principle or the 80/20 ratio rule

Biological Rhythms by Dover Pubns

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Boomer Anderson: Welcome to decodingsuperhuman. This show is a deep dive into obsessions with health performance,and how to elevate the human experience. I explore the latest tools, scienceand technology with experts in various fields of human optimization. This is yourhost. Enjoy the journey.

Yesterday is James Hewitt. James is a performance scientistaward-winning communicator, and you'll see that on this podcast. And he'sdedicated his career to enabling people to perform at their best, throughsharing novel data, cutting edge insights, practical tools, and developed hiswork amongst the world's most demanding and top performing organizations.

James has worked with formula one drivers, numerous CEOs andcyclists of all kinds of levels among just so many other professions. I'vewanted to speak with gyms for a number of years. Now, I came to know his workthrough a gentleman by the name of Dr. Aachi Hintsa, who is one of James'mentors. And it was an absolute pleasure to sit down with him in thisconversation.

We talked about really what it's like to be a world-classathlete. And James has some background in that. We talked about knowledge workspecifically, and most of this episode contains really tactical tools for youto both evaluate your current situation with the knowledge working environment,but also to really take it to that next level.

For instance, how you can look at the world of circadianrhythms and determine really what your most productive time. The show notes forthis one are decoding And that's J a M E S. If there isany confusion there and enjoy my conversation. Sure. To be the first of manywith James Hewitt, seems like travel is picking up again here in Europe, atleast.

And that means I'm going to be on the road when I'm on the road.Things like movement are particularly important to me. In fact, it's importantto me all the time, but time constraint movement is often hard to find. That'swhy I always have the be strong blood flow restriction bands in. Luggage, youcan check out the podcast that I did with the founder, Dr.

Jim stray Gundersen. Who's also of live high train, lowfame, and you can also check out my podcast with Sten stray Gundersen as well.We get into a lot and people like mark Walberg are using these blood flow restrictionbands all the time. You can get and use the code boomerfor temporary

James. I'm a longtime fan. So thank you for coming on todayto have a fun chat.

[00:03:09] James Hewitt: Thank you very privileged to behere.

[00:03:13] Boomer Anderson: So I followed your work for along time and love some of the. Work, you've done both in the sporting world,but also taking that to the quote unquote knowledge worker, if you will. Andgiven just what I know about this audience, I'm really happy.

We're going to have this conversation today, but I want tostart with just you and your background. So I know you have some background insport and there's a whole journey any there that brought you to where you aretoday. And so maybe we can touch on just sort of some of that sportingbackground and what got you really interested in performance science.

[00:03:55] James Hewitt: Well, thanks for that question.It's it's a good one and it's something I sometimes ponder it myself and say,how did I end up here? And and, and I feel like I've got quite coherentnarrative now. But I don't know whether I'm just post rationalizing, but I'llkind of I do that

[00:04:09] Boomer Anderson: all the time,

[00:04:09] James Hewitt: so it's okay.

Cause it's all going to sound completely logical now, but itdidn't always, always feel like that. But one thing that I think has alwaysbeen true and and consistent is I feel like I've had the guiding question in mymind for as long as I can remember. And, and that question, I would summarizeit now as what does it take to be the best we can be.

And for as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated withthat. And so I actually spent a few years living in north America when I was akid with my, with my dad's job. And and I remember kind of being. You're threeyears old watching spaceship launches, and I was obsessed with space. I wantedto be an astronauts.

I was obsessed with astronauts. They just epitomised thebest we can be for kind of a three, four year old kid. And and so I've alwaysbeen fascinated with that question and and explore that in my own life as well.They, for me, they're kind of one expression of that was in sports and I wasn'ta particularly talented athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but I I'm ayoung guy.

Kind of being a young, very young teenager stumbled acrossthis obscure sport called inline speed skating. And because I was alwaysterrible at football, you know, I was rubbish at team sports it's you know, andI just kind of put myself in a box. I stood out I'm not good at sport, but Istumbled across this sports inline speed skating sport.

I found I was actually quite good at it. And I ended uprepresenting great Britain on the national team which wasn't as great as itsounds. It wasn't that hard to get the team if I'm really honest. But got totravel around Europe as a teenager and got some pretty good results in the endand was in some really fun competitions.

And and this is, it was during that process that I startedto you know, figure out what it took to start a journey of becoming the bestyou can be. And sports is a, is a fantastic domain for that because it ismeasurable. It's quantifiable. And and so, you know, I'd summarize that processthat I started to me.

As a teenager in enforced steps. And I started byestablishing where I wanted to be eventually. And when I was first doing thisand speed skating and it was kind of winter metal at that time at the Europeanchampionships, didn't achieve it, but that's what I want to today. And thesecond step is I always want it to be as clear as possible about where I wasstarting from to try and evaluate that.

Then I'd break down the steps that were required to get towhere I want to be. And then the fourth step was probably the most important one.It is. I didn't articulate it like this at the time as a young teenager, butI'd always be trying to put feedback mechanisms in place to evaluate myprogress and adjust.

And so in speed skating, I was progressing. I could seeresults improving Pimas changing, but I started to realize quite early on, Ireally didn't have the right phenotype. I didn't have the right body type to bea great inline speed skater. And I had too many slow Twitch muscle fibers, andI was trying so hard to counter that.

So I was spending a lot of time in the gym kind of in theweight room kind of doing strength and conditioning training on my own. Justtrying to read books, trying to figure it out. You know, this is like the, thisis like pre pre millennium. And this is before the year, 2000, the aging myselfnow.

And so and, and this guy, this old guy in the gym used tokind of say hi, and like, you know, sometimes it gives me some advice about mylifts and things like that. Then one day he was like, you know, what, what areyou training for? Cause he here like pretty much every day. And I was like,well, I'm trying to get it to be a good non speed skater.

He says, you don't look like a speed skater. He said, youlook like a cyclist. I was like, all right. You know, and I was like, why doyou think that I'm like, looking back, it's just like scrawny, teenager, youknow, lifting probably 40 kilos on the squat, you know? And and obviously I,wasn't going to be a super kind of fast Twitch speed skater.

So he said, well, you know, if you ever, ever think abouttrying cycling and give me a call and it turns out this guy, guy named JeffCook had been the national team track cycling sprint coach, but he'd also hadworked with a long road cyclists over the years. And sure enough, he was trueto his word that I kind of said, when I evaluated my progress, it wasn'thappening.

I thought maybe, maybe cycling is the sport for me. And thistime I was probably about 16. So I gave this guy a call and I said I reallylike to try cycling. I'd really like to get good. And I didn't tell him at thetime, but I'd already done a bit of thinking and I figured. There's going to bea seven year project.

So I was 16. I thought, can I become a professional cyclistby the time I'm 23. That was kind of the idea of how they might head

[00:08:29] Boomer Anderson: and arrive at seven years.Was that just sort of a, an arbitrary number or did you break it down like youdid before?

[00:08:37] James Hewitt: Yeah, I break it down becausethe, the way that professional cycling or cycling is categorized is until youget until you're 23, it's broken down.

So you've kind of got youth categories and whatever. Itstarts getting more serious when you're in the junior category, which is up to18. And then the kind of the proving ground where you figure out whether you'vegot, what it takes is called the Escobar category, which is French for hope,which is under 23 racing.

And so my logic was, was I was 16 and I had about a year anda half left as a junior. And I B when I was 18, I'd been the under 23 category.And I had to kind of a few years. Trying to figure out whether I can make it.And now the, the, the craziest thing is, is that at this point I'd never evenwritten a ride bike.

You know, so but anyway, I got one I've got a road bike. Iborrowed one got track bike, and from day one decided I was going to be aprofessional cyclist. So six months later I was in the junior national so thenational track championships riding the pursuit first time I'd ever written atrack bike in the, in the the national championships.

And it was terrible at 11, 11, 4, something like that.Hadn't really, didn't really know what I was doing. I'd never even been on thevelodrome before. It was just ridiculous, but I did it. So it was a steeplearning curve. Initially with the local team when I was 18 and turned in thisunder 23 cap category, I joined a national level junior team.

And then I started to get more structured in my training, measuringspeed and distance. Was about the limit at that point because Pam eaters weretoo expensive. Basically. I was saying for a given route, am I getting faster?And I was getting faster, started to win a few races. I started to understandhow to structure my training better.

So when I was 19, I moved to France to race full timeinitially for a regional team, wasn't really full time, had a job in a hotelfor them to pay the bills. But I was there because back in the day, you know,if you wanted to be a good cyclist, you had to move to the continent. Therewasn't really a pathway in England.

And I think a pivotal moment for me was when I got my firstpower meter. I'm sure many of your listeners will be familiar with thetechnology to measure essentially the mechanical work that you're doing on thebike. And it's fantastic because it's so measurable because then it gave methis this kind of normative data set.

So I knew some professional writers. I knew a few of themhave power meters. They're very forward thinkers and I've asked them to sharetheir data with me. So I knew what it would take to be a pro. And then I lookedat where I was starting. I broke down and I understood what kind of progressionI would have to achieve to get to be a professional cyclist.

So I started to progress and eventually I got a ride on anelite under 23 team, and that was linked to the professional team called . Atthe time I was starting to make a bit of money through that. So I couldactually race full-time properly and really start to invest in my progression.And I was controlling my diet and I was kind of getting super skinny and I wastrying to get more powerful and I was using every legitimate and legal means totry and improve my performance, the whole illegal side of it.

I didn't Dublin. That's another story I came, I encounteredit. One of my teammates got busted. He was in a housemate and we all gotarrested. The was

[00:11:38] Boomer Anderson: that a kind of thing orsomething else?

[00:11:42] James Hewitt: Well, he was, I think he, fromwhat I know I mean he ended up going to prison for a little bit of time. It wasenlightened that it was kind of a, it was testosterone and cortisone, I think.

He had I understand, I'm not sure what was proven in theend, but anyway you know, I wasn't going to go down that path. It wasn't partof my experiment. I hadn't preregistered those methods. But but suffice to say.This is a long way of saying that. I realized I wasn't very good cyclist and II realized I wasn't gonna make it to the decent pro by the time I was in myfinal year of an under 23, and I had some conversations with people about maybegetting some like contracts with a small protein and they weren't asconversations, you know it was clear.

I was never going to be great, but I'd learnt a lot. And I'dactually discovered that, you know, I really enjoyed this process of breakingdown the requirements understanding how you can become the best you can be incycling and, and and I've actually started to help people informally along theway, because people saw this skinny guy from England turn up in France andprogress relatively quickly.

It didn't feel quickly to me at the time. I was alwaysthinking about what I wasn't achieving, but actually my progression lookingback was very good. So I decided to get back to university. I studied sportsscience at a university in the UK called left breath which is quite well known,quite famous.

Yeah. And and so and then subsequently set up my coachingbusiness and applied the same process to the people I worked with. I've workedwith some elite, some professionals, but the vast majority of the people in mycoaching business were amateurs who had incredibly demanding jobs. And so thistime I was establishing where they want to.

I was trying to be as clear as possible about where theywere starting from breaking down the steps that they needed to get to wherethey wanted to be and put those feedback mechanisms in place to evaluate theirprogress and adjust. But this was another pivotal moment because I realized Ididn't have the feedback mechanisms to evaluate or consider how to adjust andstructure what was going on in their working life.

And what was going on in their working life was probablyhaving the biggest impact of anything on their physical performance, whether itwas psychological stress, whether it was jet lag whether it was simply just nothaving the time or the focus to be able to engage with the training. And as Ilooked around, I felt that a lot, the tools that were there and frameworksdidn't really fit the purpose in terms of trying to create this integratedmodel for the people I was working with of, of combining, demanding workinglife with quite demanding physical training.

So I started to apply tools and frameworks from sportsscience. So models like polarized training, for example to, to try andunderstand working life and in particular knowledge work. So work where peoplethink for a living because all the clients I worked with were managementconsultants and finance professionals, and they worked in technology.

That brain was that resource. And it led me to start toconceptualize knowledge work as a cognitive endurance activity. In a similarway as cycling is a physical endurance activity. I'm ready. That point was the,the catalyst for the majority of my work in research to this day. And so, sothat is how I ended up kind of on this path inspired by my background in sport.

And as I said so very old sounds very linear now. And maybesome of it was, but at the time it certainly didn't feel like that.

[00:14:59] Boomer Anderson: Very cool. And thank you forsharing. It's very, it's very interesting to see somebody who can take sort ofa reaching goal and break it down into really easily actionable steps.

And just the methods by which to use are fascinating to me.I want to come back to mentors a little bit later, but when we start talkingabout knowledge work and you know, I've had the pleasure of doing this in myown life, but also try and to do it with others as well, when we look at justknowledge work and you mentioned some of these measuring tools, and I think itis becoming easier with many of these quantified self devices, but how do youlook at, or.

Let's kind of break down the problems that a typicalknowledge worker has first, and then we'll kind of get into the differentmeasurement steps that you use. So when you're working with somebody, youmentioned management consultants perhaps some of my former banker types. Buthow would you classify or just sort of look at their Workday and say, these arethe obstacles that these Fe these people face.


[00:16:09] James Hewitt: So one thing that you'veprobably gathered about me is I quite like models and frameworks. And so when Iwas trying to. Ask that question. I think you posted a very good question. Howdo you actually understand some of the challenges and problems and tackle thoseproblems in knowledge work? And I came up with a framework that seemed toalways a heuristic device that seemed to describe what was going on.

Because the problem is, as you said, we've got some tools tomeasure what is going on in the brain. And, but you know, you've got EEG forexample. And even though the temporal resolution to the EEG is great, you know,we've got great time series data, and we can see what's happening second tosecond.

Then unfortunately we don't really know what parts of the brainreally, really precisely are doing what, when and how they're interacting. Andwe can have high resolution and vellum in terms of spatially, but then we losethe temporal resolution. So the tools aren't really there yet, we can look atsome of the outcomes in terms of the type of work we're doing, what we'reachieving.

And and that can, that can help again, it's fuzzy because,you know, in, in knowledge work, you know, maybe I think about an idea and fora new strategy for a company that I'm working with, for example, where I seemaybe an integration premium by kind of putting together this company and thistechnology and say you should work together to do it.

I might just think about that, but three weeks and then putit together in a proposal in the space of an hour and a half. How do I measurethat? How do I measure that? Thinking and processing that went on relative tothis very focused work that I might've done in 90 minutes to actually generatethat proposal for that client.

And so once I started to think about this, I said, youreally, we can probably characterize the work that we do in differentdimensions or it's got different characteristics. So we say there's, there's acharacteristic related to the, to the level of focus and, or the intensity ofthe focus associated with the work that we do.

There's a an aspect or characteristic related to thecomplexity of the work that we do. There's an aspect related to how much weswitched during that time between different tasks. And there's an aspect relatedto the time pressure that we feel like. And actually you can use thosecharacteristics or those dimensions and measure them with self-report tools,things like the NASA TLX, for example that's got something called the cognitivetask load model and and the NASA TLX has been used in a lot of human factors,research it to make sure astronauts don't get overloaded on space shuffles.

I think that failed if you've ever looked at a spaceship orkind of a dashboard, you know, that that thing was going to be overwhelming foranyone. But anyway, and so I looked at that and that inspired me this cognitivetask load model. And, and I came up with the Horistic to think about some ofthe challenges, knowledge workers face, and what to do about them.

And I describe it as cognitive gears. And so you canessentially, you can think about these cognitive gears, there's three zones orthree types of work. And but then there are analogous to the three zones. Thethree broad signs that you might use for physical insurance training. And so ifI think about a knowledge workers day or my day, I think about how much timethey spent in each of these cognitive gears.

So there's a high cognitive gear which is kids are highintensity intervals in a workout. And three features characterize this highcognitive gear. The work is demanding it's complex and it requires sustainedfocus. So that would be me writing that proposal for that client. And there's alow cognitive gear and that represents time spent resting, recovering, and, butperhaps also just mulling over ideas that low intensity, maybe when you go fora walk and these ideas are just flowing around now, or you're in the shower,just pondering on.

That's obviously really valuable. And that was the kind ofpondering I did when I was thinking about the integration premium. How can Iput these things together for the client, then there's this middle cognitivegear and that represents menial tasks, switching work. And when you're doingemails and you're doing phone calls or you're short meetings and it'snecessary, it's a necessary part of many knowledge workers days.

But if I looked at a knowledge workers day and one of thetools I'd often use was just get people to show me their calendar. And if theydidn't keep their calendar in a very structured way, I'd encourage them to dothat for a period of time. Is that this middle cognitive gear. Really dominatedpeople's waking hours.

It wasn't just the conventional work that it was almost fromthe moment they wake up in the morning to just before they went to bed at nightmenial tasks and switching work with this high cognitive gear. If it everappeared, it was very brief periods which were very difficult to protect. Andthis low cognitive game is often almost non-existent.

It was very little time for this kind of reflective thinkingand, and recovery. And so one of the ways that I've tried to counter that andtackle that is help people to identify this challenge that the middle gear isswamping our conscious hours and to get more structured and to be morestructured, proactive about prioritizing, protecting time for high gear.

At the right time and really being deliberate about this lowcognitive gear time for rest reflection and recovery is the way I talk aboutit. And then just try and you can't eliminate it, but minimize this middlegear, which is taking over and know, anecdotally, at least I found personallywith people that I've worked with, that Horistic provides a tool to maybeidentify some of the challenges in knowledge work, and maybe start to thinkabout if we've got the luxury to do that, structuring our days with a bit moreintentionality and in a way that I think can represent some general principlesabout how our brain and body work, which perhaps we could talk about as well.

[00:21:42] Boomer Anderson: Why don't we, because I wouldlike to go into this cause this certain model you portray it well in your bookis sort of very similar to those three training modes that you do physically.But so. Been fascinated by productivity for a long time. And I think there's a,somewhat of a danger in that world.

When you get into the weeds that everybody followsParkinson's law, and we're all just sort of Pomodoro in our days to the pointwhere you just end up, you know, you'll have one good day and then six bad daysafterwards. And so if you don't mind, I would love to just kind of break downsome of those. You mentioned helping people identify where this middle part istaking over.

I mean, obviously email is one, but is it a matter of measuringthe amount of screen time on their phone where they go on their browser, all ofthat stuff, we can just start to break that down. That'd be really helped.

[00:22:42] James Hewitt: So I think, I mean, one of themost helpful the most helpful tools, essentially our objective.

And so if you're an office 365 user, I often encouragepeople to just turn on workplace analytics than that. And and, and just spend aperiod of time being deliberate about structuring the calendar and recordingthings in Canada, because I think sometimes we trick ourselves and we aboutwhat's actually going on because we don't report it.

And so one of the simplest tools is. Spend a couple of weeksand actually diarize, or even if you do after the event record, when you arerecovering record that time that you are focused. And and then it takes thatback. X-ray that data, you have something like workplace analytics and justsay, how much focus time did you have?

How many emails did you respond to? How many meetings didyou have? And, and actually come up with a kind of your own dashboard to, todescribe that that's probably one of the most, most helpful tools, but thenI'll try and integrate it with other data sources as well. So I'd start to say,so this is what is going on.

This is kind of your starting point. How are you respondingto that? So how does that, are there patterns associated with your sleep, forexample so use some kind of wearable device, or you can even use a log, youknow, sleep log. I'm pretty sure 80% of the people hit on this podcast. Listento them.

Using a wearable, but you can just use the sandbox. And soyou use some kind of wearable, I'm a big fan of several wearable devices I use,but I think measuring your sleep recognizing that there's some limitations inaccuracy, but is there an association between the number of meetings you havein a day and how you sleep?

Is there an association with your heart rate, variabilityaverage during the night, for example, and then start putting in overlayingdata about the workouts that you're doing. And and, and how that's somethingthat maybe having an influence, there's a correlation there and use some kindof journal feature.

Like I've used the streaks app periodically to measuredifferent behaviors and start to look at event. If you doing breathingexercises, for example, or some kind of meditation, and it is kind of stuffthat I'm sure people were doing on this on this podcast already who werelistening to it, but they only have a data set that says, where are you now?

And then starting to identify. One of the the differentthings that could be improved. But I think that the most important step though,is once you've done that to just pick one thing that you're going to work.Because I think that the challenge that you described a moment ago, which isthis kind of sense that we have these perfect days followed by kind of allthese rubbish days.

And sometimes I see that that can be a result of feelinglike we need to optimize everything and ending up optimizing nothing. And andso this, again goes back to a principle in athletic training and in sportstraining your periodization. So, you know, there's all kinds of debates aroundperiodization, but essentially the fundamental principle behind it recognizesthat it is impossible to optimally adapt or build every capacitysimultaneously.

And actually there's a case for prioritizing specificcapacities and building those classes at different times. So maybe there's aperiod focused on building aerobic capacity. Maybe there's a period with agreater emphasis on anaerobic capacity. It was a period focused on muscularstrength or forced development or whatever.

And so I often encourage people to say, yeah, We'veestablished now that there's 30 different things you need to do. You need toallocate more time for focus, protect it, switch off notifications, whateverneed to improve your sleep, need to reduce the number of meetings inparticular. Often, one of the things I see consistently is, and I've seen thisin some data from my academic research that there's a quite strong relationshipbetween the the time that you finished your last meeting and the time you triedto go to sleep, obviously.

And what type of thinking you do join that time. So that'ssomething else we could talk about. And whether that thinking isproblem-solving pondering, what we call work related rumination isperseverative thinking where we struggled to switch off, but when you'veevaluated all these, then I'd get that rank them.

And I'd say, okay, in terms of where you want to be. What dowe need to build first and not necessarily about what you think is mostimportant, but maybe what's going to have the biggest effect. Also, maybe whatthings can you do now that are going to make the next things easier? Obviously,we talk about sleep all the time.

That pretty much always ends up being the thing. If peopleare not sleeping enough. And, but, but break it down and, and get clear aboutprior civilization. If one of the I don't know if anyone on the podcast hadtalked about this before. I'm sure they have, but there's there's a phenomenonknown as the there's a Gornick effect.

And and there's explain that a little bit for everybody.Yeah, sure. So This is one of the theories which can help it help to explainwhy we find it difficult to prioritize because everything is important. And itcan also help to explain acutely why we can find it challenging to focus on onetask, because we're so aware of the other things that we need to do.

And so essentially our brains are vulnerable to certainsituations that can make it more difficult to prioritize plan and focus. Andthere's a effect is a way of describing this vulnerability. So he was namedoriginally after the Soviet psychologist bloomers a Gornick and and itdescribes this experience that we have of continuing to think about a task.

When we have started it. But we're unable to finish it. Andand so there's some theories around, there's a garlic effect that suggests thatit might also be responsible for tying up cognitive resources. And so there'sbeen some studies which indicate that people do worse on a brainstorming task.

If they're prevented from finishing a simple warmup taskbeforehand, because that unfinished warmup task seems to be clogging up theiractive memory. So in contrast, our cognitive resources and liberated andperformance seems to be improved. If participants in that study example wereable to plan to complete that unfinished task later.

So but their study make some interesting points that arerelevant here. And one of those points is that those plans needed to be highlyspecific for them to be successful in eliminating thoughts of unfulfilledgoals. So, so when I've kind of done that process and we thought about here'sthe 50 things that you need to do to optimize your life.

Creation specific plans, but accept that you're not going todo them all straight away. Some of these might be things that you do down theline. And again, start to think about your octopus optimization process, likean athlete. I know I need to build strength, but right. Immediately I need tostart with endurance.

So I'm going to, I'm going to build this insurance-basedfirst, for example, that might not be right, but it might be the point beingthat you prioritize something, but there will be a specific plan about howyou're going to develop your strength later. And it seems to just quiet in thebrain to free us from that Zeigarnik effect.

And there's various tools that I use in practice and interms of that specific planning process and which, which I, I can share, but,but you know, that's kind of tactically how I'd start to think about thatprocess of breaking it.

[00:29:22] Boomer Anderson: Well, let's play a littlegame of choose your own destiny, or I want to pick your brain on those toolsbecause obviously people are listening to this and we have a number of peopleon the show. And I know myself, I've been guilty of this in the past that kindof have in their mind that they could do everything at once.

And we, you know, may have this training system that wethink can create anti-fragility or whatever it is. Right. And as you said, youknow, periodization is probably the better path. So one path that you canchoose is the tools first. And then I want to kind of go into the tactics that youmentioned earlier around that period, because sleep is.

Sleep stress and nutrition are the three numb top issues ofpeople listening to this show. And so that period between last meeting and bed,I want to go a little bit deeper there too. So James, the floor is yours,which, which way do you want to go first?

[00:30:19] James Hewitt: Well, caught me do everything Iwould just contradict

[00:30:23] Boomer Anderson: well said.

I think I, that was like a good volume. I mean, it is, NASAis a good bump set spike right there. So

[00:30:30] James Hewitt: nice job. Yeah. Yeah. Well Ithink There's a, there's probably a way to maybe link them together. And thinkabout this. And so we can maybe talk about some Zeigarnik effect, eliminatingtactics. We can maybe then like shift into thinking about maybe some focustechniques.

So, and then talk about how you switch off. And one of thethings that I've found to those areas that you just described you know, aroundwanting to optimize performance, trying to deal with stress, thinking about howwe eat, struggling to get to sleep, because you thinking about what to eat andhow stressed you are and how to optimize your performance.

I can certainly relate to that. And so be nice to maybe tryand blend them. But if I was to sum up one in one phrase, Resonates with me andseems to resonate with quite a few people who experienced this is if there'sone thing that I think many of us would like to experience, it would be a greatcapacity to switch on when we need to and switch off when we want to.

But the interesting thing is I'm getting a sense of, ofunderstanding your listeners and the switching on part often. Isn't theproblem. It's the switching off. When we want to switch off on the mat. But doyou think that the two are really in separately linked? I mean, I think it's azoom in quickly and just say, how can we free ourselves from the Zeigarnikeffect?

And I'd probably say there's, there's three primary toolsthat I would suggest people use to do that. And. Is ancient and, but it's it'ssometimes overlooked because it's been around for so long and it's theimportance urgency matrix from Stephen. Covey's seven habits of highlyeffective people.

I won't go into great detail about that. Google it, you'llfind it. And it's just a really practical way to start to take all those tasksand actually take them out of your head and think clearly about what's mostimportant. What's urgent. And, and what maybe do you just need to gonnaminimize those distractions interruptions?

The second tool is another matrix and it's the actionpriority matrix. And essentially it's a way to operationalize the Paretoprinciple or the 80 20 rule because it can help you to differentiate betweenthe menial tasks, which need to be checked off. So they don't become adistraction with the tasks which bring real results and should be protectedfrom destruction and interruptions.

So the action priority matrix, and again, I think people canprobably find it, but if not happy to share it where essentially you've goteffort on the X axis, you've got impacts on the Y and you've got quadrant standof quick wins, major projects, fill-ins thankless tasks. So that just to reallypractical tools.

And the final thing is just a a variation on a question Iposed a moments ago where just consistently asking you. What is the mostimportant thing that you can do today that will make tomorrow better and reallyjust structuring your time and energy in service of that goal. So that you'remaking these consistent these consistent improvements over time.

But but it's, it's a clarifying question. So that they'rekind of the, some of the tools that I would use. And I mean, I'm happy to kindof zoom in a bit more and say, how would I optimize that focus time, maybe theswitching on time, then maybe we can talk about how do you, how do you switchoff, but I'll pause and take a breath in case there's anything that you wantto, you want to reflect on a response.

So that's

[00:33:37] Boomer Anderson: the that's beautiful in termsof just giving people here, tactical, actionable models, really, to follow inorder to, to implement these kinds of things. Now identifying the optimal focustime, which I think is where you're going here. There's certain people, myself.I, I tend to be much more of a morning person.

And so first thing, you know, wake up meditate go is, hasworked well for me. But for those who haven't really spent as much timethinking about, or maybe have spent so much time in that sort of middle gear,that they don't even know what their optimal time is anymore. How do you workthrough that with somebody?

Cause like we have all these tools, you know, geneticstesting, which may or may not be useful. We can probably even get like 24 hourcortisol levels on people and start using that as a tool. But how would youbreak that down? During my conversation with James, you'll see, we get in a lotinto structures, models, and different ways to perform at your best.

We talk about some of these tools, some of these wearablesthat can help you elevate yourself to the next level. One of the tools that Icontinuously use or use every other day as per recommendation is the Vielight.My tool of choice is the neuro alpha. It helps get me into deeper meditations,helps me rest after a grueling day, and really just helps me bring myself toevery moment with much more presence and performance.

You can get and use the code boomer for a10% discount.

[00:35:17] James Hewitt: Well, I try, I try to keep itreally simple. I mean, I think those tools are fantastic and they can be reallyuseful. But often what I'll say to people is if, hopefully there's a time thatyou can remember where you had a vacation or a holiday as we call it inEngland.

And during that time, and if you had a holiday, ideally, acouple of weeks and I encourage you to just reflect back and think and rememberhow they felt. And so what kind of rhythms emerged when they didn't have theexternal pressures of work in particular? Did they become more of a morningperson or more of an evening person or in somewhere in between, because veryoften that rhythm that you described that preference for morning or evening,this often is driven as much by what's going on in our environment as it is byour own body clock around circadian rhythm.

So I encourage people first to start to think about that.You know, what happens when those external pressures are removed and, and oftenyou find that people's real circadian rhythm, their chronotype, and whichdescribes that tendency towards morning, necessarily even this will, will startto emerge. And then I encourage people to.

Are there ways that you can start to structure your time andhow you deploy your energy in normal life outside of holidays, which are inservice of back chronotype. And we're aligned with that, that tendency. Sothat's, that's, that's one piece of it. The other thing that I would do is, isreally get people to think about their light exposure and because inindustrialized societies what do you call it has been often been completelyscrewed up and often driven by the fact that the light exposure that we getindoors is so low in terms of your measurement of looks, it's often less than10,000 Lux.

And significantly less than that relative to the outdoors.And so we've, we've become desynchronized with these natural cues in ourenvironment that we would also say to people start to prioritize some brightlight exposure, ideally from outside within the first two hours of, of waking.And, and use that as a way to start to re-entry in your circadian rhythm,whatever that is, even when it's reintrained you will is retrained again orrealign, sorry, it's probably a better phrase to use.

And when it's realigned, you will you're still, people stillprobably have a tendency towards morning or next evening, but at least you'vegot a sense of of what that is. And so the first step what's, what's naturalfor you, what happens when you realign in terms of getting some light exposureat the right time, also minimizing that light exposure later on, but thenfinally, just once you've done that start to just pay attention to your energylevels.

And generally what we'll find is a lot of people doexperience. And kind of maybe two to four hours after that they wake up whichoften relates to four to six hours after kind of a temperature minimum in theircircadian rhythm which they will have experienced that while sleeping. But soabout 20% of only about 20% of people are what we'd call more extreme morning type,according to the evidence, which sounds like you might be in that category nowthat kind of meditate, ready to go.

It seems like about 20% of people are this slightly moreextreme, late type. They will feel kind of groggy all day and really start towake up later on. Everyone else seems somewhere in between, but I encourageyou. Today's when they've done that finally is to start to try and characterizetheir days another heuristic.

And, and that's just to simply divide that day into threeperiods. A valley and a rebound and the order of that would depend on yourchronotype. So if you're more of a morning type, but that morning tendency,even if it's not extreme, you'd probably go eat valley rebound. If you're moreof a late type and, you know, probably start the day with that valley, then gointo the rebound and then have you peak later on, but accept that there's threephases have distinct characteristics that regardless of when it occurs, thepeak is likely to be the best time for that high focus, productive work.

And that valley is going to be the best time probably forthat low gear rest reflection. And then that rebound is going to be a greattime, probably for the kind of the menial tasks and the switching work, becauseso you do high gear with the peak, low gear with the bat. Middle gear with therebound. And there's some evidence to support this as well because in therebound phase, at that part of the day, it seems our inhibition, a cognitiveinhibition produces.

So we're more likely to be distracted anyway. Sosynchronizing the switching tasks with that rebound in your day you know,whether that's in the morning or the late types or at the end of the day, theearly types seems to help people to start to synchronize those patterns and geta bit more out of that day.

[00:39:45] Boomer Anderson: So if we were to, this isreally, really helpful by the way. And the whole study of biological rhythms asfascinated me for a long time. Now, if we were to overlay this with physicaltraining, because ultimately that's going to have an impact. On your ability toperform in the workplace as well. How are we to look at placing physicaltraining within that structure of peak valley and sort of that, that ramp uptime at the end?

If I'm, let's say an extreme morning person, do I just putit dent in the middle of my valley because I'm not really functioning that wellanyway, or how should I look at that?

[00:40:23] James Hewitt: So I really encourage people andI try and do this to myself to to zoom out first, because I think that one ofthe big challenges, again or hype people want to behind performance who arehigh performers, you want to be really physically fit to be performing at work,to have great relationships.

Is we, we fall back into that trap of trying to doeverything all the time. And so the tendency is you say people, people wouldsay, James, tell me the perfect time to exercise every day. And it's impossiblebecause what happens when work gets really busy or a kid gets sick, or you haveto take your dog to the vet or whatever, what happens is, is life gets in theway every time.

And as you described yourself, you have a perfect day, I'mcrushing the world and then it all falls apart and you just feel like you're aterrible person. You just was everything. And then, and that just creates this,this anchor I've been there. I was there last week, actually. And so Iencourage people say, okay, is this level of consistency is impossible.

We've got to accept variation. And we've got to go back tothat kind of period. So, what I would say to people is you're always going toexperience this peak, this valley in this rebound, but what you do in that peakvalley and rebound is going to change over time. And so with fitness, forexample, we know that if you can synchronize your training with kind of theperiod of your day it's often driven by circadian phase, but where kind ofyour, your body temperature is at its highest.

And particularly for strength training, you're going to liftheavier. You're going to move faster and that's, that's a great, that's a greatthing. The peak for physical training then might be the afternoon for somepeople. And it might be that you've got some difficult, what projects do.You've got a series of meetings at that time.

Unfortunately, it's impossible. But what I encourage peopleto do is I look at their calendar in the longterm and say, what do I need toemphasize at different points? So maybe exercise, you do feel at your best inthe morning for exercise, but it's not possible or. Look at your calendar andsay, okay, there's a period of time now where I've got four weeks after thisreally demanding project has come to an end before the next one really startsto ramp up.

I'm really going to focus on this four weeks of reallyputting a lot in the tank, really trying to build my physical fitness. So I'mgoing to choose to dedicate during this four weeks of portion of my peak timeto physical training to really try and build my physical fitness. There'sanother period of time where you might say it's going to be really demanding atwork.

And you've got a lot of deadlines. You're trying to finalizea project. You probably need to dedicate that peak time then to your cognitivework and basically just physical exercise in whenever you can. And when you dofit it in accept that it shouldn't be that intense probably is what I often seewith high-performers is We're trying to be everything in all the time.

Often what we ended up doing is massively overloading oursympathetic nervous system. We're basically completely overloading on stressand physical stress on mental stress and the, and the two are completelyinterlinked. You can't separate them out. Now. We'd love to be able to separatethem, mind and body.

And I think, you know, the Greek philosophy that informs alot of our worldview in the west, I think that lends itself to this kind ofidea that we can separate them out, but we can't, and, and evidence hasdemonstrated in training in in sports science that when we experienced veryhigh levels of stress, not only do we and psychological stress, but I needed tobe not adapt as effectively to physical training.

We're actually more at risk of injury at the same time. So Isee all these people and I do this myself. Work incredibly hard in that theirworking life and their knowledge work, trying to still kind of, you know, keeptheir fitness and beating themselves up because you know, their session,they're not, they're not completing the workout that day to the, to the levelof the intensity that hoped and every day just feeling like, you know, a failthat didn't quite get the work done that I wanted to, my training session wasterrible.

Like now I can't sleep and it's going to kill me because,you know, I'd read a book and like, my brain's going to start to melt awayinto, you know, when I'm 42, I just take a step back, just look at the bigpicture and just say, this block is going to have to be about work, but thisblock can be a bit more about my fitness.

And day-to-day you think about what, how do you need tostructure your time to prioritize that thing? That matters much? So on average,if you look back at your kind of 12 months, she can say. On average, I tick theboxes 80% of the time. And that will mean over time. From year to year, you canstart to work towards those goals.

That is the path. So going back to that model that Idescribed at the very beginning, where you start to say, where do I want to be?Be very clear about way starting now and which isn't going to be, where youwant to be when you break down those steps to actually get. And you can'tcreate a perfect routine.

That's going to be the same every day to achieve that.There's going to have to be phases with different emphases which again, toreflect your priorities, what's most important given time. And I've foundpersonally but also from people that I've worked with that that longer termview is quite liberating because you don't, you're not just pursued by thiscontinuous sense of not being good enough.

You actually recognize that you're going to achieve it, butit's going to take some time. And it creates a bit more margin, a bit morefreedom as a result of that. So, I mean, hopefully that answers your questionto some extent, but that's kind of how, how I, how I think about it.

[00:45:32] Boomer Anderson: No, I love that.

And the way you encourage flexibility, because there is thistendency and I'm guilty of this, right? Like the type a person who wants toover-schedule everything, including their morning routine. And then the moment.Yeah. Some shit gets thrown in there. It's like a, wow. My day is over. And sothank you for talking a little bit about that flexibility.

Now I want to go to the end of the day, cause there'ssomething you alluded to earlier that you're researching now about meetings andthen that process before going to bed and the ultimate impact on bed. So again,predominantly business people, entrepreneur types, listening to this and sleepis a huge issue.

And we know that globally. Now, what does that end of dayprocess? Well, we kind of know how it looks in a lot of people, but what wouldbe more optimal if you.

[00:46:31] James Hewitt: Yeah. So, I mean, I thinkthere's, there's a, another model that body of research that I find reallyhelpful when we think about what's going on after work.

And and it's it relates to work related rumination and andactually this there's a questionnaire that was developed by some calledprofessor mark properly work related rumination questionnaire. And and heidentified three factors in relation to work related rumination. So there'saffective, rumination.

Problem-solving pondering and detachment, which is kind ofjust being able to switch off. It's really interesting actually, because whenyou everyone thinks, ah, just need to detach, just need to switch off. But whenyou look at detachment the people who switch off completely there's actuallyquite a strong association between people who switch off and actually lowerwork performance.

So and this isn't true for everyone. I know some incrediblyhigh performers, so you can just switch off and sleep like babies, you knowthat they just don't worry at all. But my experience has been that a lot ofpeople who were quite high performers really struggled to switch off and theywish they could switch off completely, but they can't.

And that, but actually, maybe that's not a bad thing. Itseems that one of the, the strongest predictors of kind of that negative stressanxiety or kind of still sleep well and perform well, it seems to be whetheryou're in this affective rumination camp or the problem-solving pondering camp,After work, particularly once we start to get into the evening before, beforesleep.

And a lot of the problems seem to revolve around this aspectof rumination as per separative, thinking about work. There might even be anassociation in terms of our executive function here in terms of an inabilityto, to switch from these work-related thoughts to something else. So quite alot of what I've been thinking about, and what I'm trying to put into practiceis, is to try and equip people with some tools to switch from the aspect ofrumination to to more problem-solving pondering, which seems to be a bithealthier.

And one of the ways I characterize this is that it's aboutswitching emotion to action a lot of the time. And, and so again, there's aframework that I've, I've used to to try and to try and operationalize this.And you know, it's not, it's not peer reviewed, it's not evidence-based, thisis just the kind of coaching framework that, that seems to help me some timesand has helped to have some of the people, even though the work-relatedrumination kind of research it's obviously got a great great evidence-basedbehind it.

And there's three steps to this process to switch theaspects of rumination to the problem solving. And the first step is to do whatI'd say is identify sticky thoughts. So often we experienced this effectiverumination and we struggle to switch off because of thoughts that areassociated with emotions and these emotional thoughts seem to be particularlykind of sticky.

And so. The most emotionally sticky thoughts often seem torevolve around, or you could reduce them to what I call a Y related thoughts ora Y related question. So you find yourself repeatedly thinking, why don't Iever manage to finish this? Or why am I always the one has to takeresponsibility and, and we experienced some unpleasant emotions that areassociated with that, and we feel stressed and we struggled to switch off.

So the first step is to just notice and identify thosethoughts and perhaps even take the time to write them down. And many peoplethat is quite, quite powerful, that process of writing down, why does so-and-soalways do this? Or why do I always think that the second step is to try andshift that emotion to action?

Because if we can do that, it starts to take away the powerand this associated with it, and actually switches into more of aproblem-solving pondering. The third step is to, is to do that. And again,Often, I encourage people to write this down, but over time, this just becomesa mental model, which you embed and can start to activate when you need it.

Even if you don't need the pen and paper. But initially I doencourage people to use the pen and paper. The step really involves justwriting down that why thought, which you've probably already done followed by aspecific how. Which you can put into practice, even if you're not going to putthe action into place straight away.

So for example, if you keep thinking, why am I always theone who has to take responsibility, then you would write a night, maybereminding yourself to schedule a time to speak with your team about howresponsibilities are being allocated tomorrow. And so, again, you're leveragingsome of those principles.

I mentioned earlier in relationship, there's a garliceffect. You creating a specific plan, really freeing some cognitive resources.You know, a lot of these effects, we're often talking about the same thing,maybe from slightly different angles, his inability to switch off. So switchaspects of ruminations, problem solving, pondering with that.

What I call that, why to, how process seems to help peopleto to start to detach. The other thing you can do is simply to increase theamount of time between your final meeting or your final engagement with somekind of work-related technology. And the time that you go to bed, that seems tohelp.

But the fourth thing that, so the third thing relates toanother framework and This is was driven by I got the concept which ended upbeing synthesized in the questionnaire or the recovery experiencesquestionnaire that characterizes four different recovery experiences. So itdescribes detachment again, where we forget about work.

We distance ourselves from work relaxation where cognitiveload drops, and we actually physically change our posture and relaxed masteryrelated activities, where you learn new things, you seek out new challengesthat are unrelated to work, where you have horizons are broadened and controlwhere you actually get a sense that whatever you're doing, you feel like you'regetting to decide to do that someone else isn't imposing their schedule on you.

So I find that this combination of a tactic to try andidentify the why related thoughts or those emotive thoughts and switched intoactions, identify specific plans, and then kind of doing a mental checklist andsay, During that time towards the end of the day, I might ticking kind of oneor two, or maybe more of those recovery experiences, boxes.

If I might physically distancing myself and detaching fromwork you know that might mean closing the door on your office and locking itand kind of hanging up the key, which is something that I've tried to enter thepractice of doing and tickets since I've not been traveling and I've beenworking from home for the last year.

Are you happy, physically changed your posture? So sometimesI fall into the trap at the end of the day of you know, I'm like, oh, Ifinished work now. And I just stay at my computer, just tapping away. MaybeI'll watch some stupid YouTube videos or something. I think I'm relaxing, butI'm still in that same posture.

I'm so I haven't changed. And it's amazing. It's sointuitive. Sometimes we need checklists to remember remind ourselves to do thesethings. I go downstairs and actually sit on the chair and put my legs up. Andthat change in posture in better. If you can lie down, that has a reallysignificant impact on your, on your nervous system.

When your physiology, in terms of helping that parasympatheticbreak to start to slow down the sympathetic nervous system mastery is a greattool. The reason my hobbies are so powerful, but also it's why it's so harmful.When we get too busy and hobbies go out the window. Learn new things. This arethe new, and I've I've started blends by golf recently.

I'm terrible at golf. I'm a really, really late Stanton. I'mreally enjoying the process of having some lessons, you know it's, it'suseless. There's no reason really, for me to play, learn, to play golf for myprofessional life. You know, maybe I'll have some meetings or something one dayI'm doing it because I'm learning a new skill and it's really fun.

And I don't think about work. And when I've played a littlebit of golf, you know, I've gone to the driving range, hit 50 balls, andthey've gone all over the place. I actually feel really refreshed. It's notmastery, but maybe I'm on a path to achieving something, maybe approachingmastery in 10 years time finally control if I've gone to the driving range,because I wanted to, not because someone told me to, so, you know, then justsome, some tools and I think there's a good evidence base to support themfundamentally and tactics that I encourage people maybe to try it.

To actually start to switch off or at least switching tomore helpful mode of thinking at the end of the day. Which is something that Ithink many of us really, really struggled with me included.

[00:54:20] Boomer Anderson: So what do you, in hisparticular situation where a person just either owns their own business andfeels like they can't shut off, or they just love what they do so much thattheir work is their hobby in many ways.

Is there any model in this case for interjecting would you,in that case, interject the hobby with that somebody, or would you allow it toflow freely as it is? I I'm just curious. Cause I run into these types ofpeople all the time.

[00:54:52] James Hewitt: Yeah. I mean, I think one ofthe, one of the most that you can never get someone to do what they don't wantto do.

And you know, I try not to be. Too prescriptive. The way Iapproach coaching, working with people, I kind of say, you know, here are somemodels, here are some ideas, try it out, see if it works for you. And I thinkone of the things that's clear in high-performance, whether it's someonerunning their own business, for example, an entrepreneur or a successfulexecutive, even like a professional athlete is there is a special energy that'sdriving them.

And, and normally. About ways of approaching life and workdon't really apply. And you know, one of the most unhelpful concepts, I thinkthat pretty much anybody, but particularly high-performance is this idea ofbalance that we can achieve this state of perfect equilibrium. I think theenergy that's driving a lot of my performance is passion and there's actually areally interesting body of research around passion.

And one of the most helpful models and that found inrelation to this passion research characterize his passion as either harmoniousor obsessive. And I can send some links to that if you're interested andthere's actually a a scale and then a psychological scale that you can do to tomeasure your tendency towards obsessive or harmonious passion and what Igenerally find in high-performers and, and what I've found when I start to kindof go off the deep end in my own life and work is when that harmonious passionstarts to become obsessive because when passion is harmonious, you can do thatreally hard work.

But somehow it's energizing and you enjoy it. And so ifsomeone is in that harmonious state where they're putting in huge hours anddoing massive amounts of work, but they're in great results, I'm reallyenjoying it. What I'll often say is if it's not broke, don't fix it. But justbe aware of the fact that this passion that you're using as a really powerfulforce, it's like star wars, you know, it's it's a powerful force.

It's got a dark side. And, you know, if if, if harmoniouspassion is kind of the light side of the force, obsessive passion is the darkside and we're all at risk of tipping over there. So I'd encourage people.Initially, I wouldn't interject. I wouldn't say, oh, you really need to stopworking on this great project.

That's kind of, you know, super profitable and reallyfulfilling. And you need to go and pick a new hobby just crazy. But I wouldperhaps interject if someone started to recognize that they've worked up intothat obsessive passion you know, the actually they weren't being set energizedanymore. One of the number one characteristics or warning signs.

That you're tipping into obsessive passion is that youexperienced what I call rigid persistence. You keep going because you feel likeyou have to keep going. You keep going because you really scared that if youstop something bad will happen. And the problem is is that, you know, thatactually is ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Often you keep going because you fear that something badwill happen because you keep going something bad does happen. If we end up withkind of, you know, burnout or, or even just being so exhausted that you have totake some extended time off and before you can, before you can recover. So it'swhen you start to see the warning signs of that kind of obsessive passion, thatI then try and encourage people to intervene for themselves.

But the at the same time though, I do find that one of thegreatest risks for many of us is we often think we're immune, we think with aspecial case. And and there's a real, and so sometimes I think about hobbiesincreasingly as similar to prehabilitation prehab athletes. Athletes eightprehab, you know, like everyone knows, like we need to be doing something forour rotator cuff.

Right. You know, even if you kind of, you've got to dosomething by do anyway, this you've probably got your own thing you have to do,especially as we start to get a bit older and, and it's boring. It's like,there's nothing wrong with my shoulder. Why do I do these stupid exercises withthis little band? I just want to smash it.

You know, it's one of these, some cleans, I mean the gym buthobbies and things like this that they're like the prehabilitation for acompetent high performer. And, and it's part of this mindset shift of seeingrest as productive. It's a shame we shouldn't have to. It'd be really nice,wouldn't it.

If like we were like, my sense of self-worth is so completeand that I deserve to rest and you know, for some people that works really welland I've heard people say that it doesn't really work for me, it's probablybecause underneath it all, I'm probably an insecure overachiever, you know? ButI have to, I have to rest by telling myself rest is productive.

This is my prehabilitation for my cognitive high-performanceand it's, it's awful, isn't it? But it seems to work for me. And it works forsome of the people that I've worked with as well.

[00:59:15] Boomer Anderson: Well said, well said, James,I wanna kind of bring things to a close here with a couple of rapid firequestions, but one question that I've, I've wanted to ask you and it reallyasks a lot of our guests is what role have mentors played in your developmentas performance scientist and what you're doing?

[00:59:37] James Hewitt: It's, it's been huge. They'rementors and key people and good friends have played an absolutely a criticalrole. There's no way I'll be doing all these interesting things and have theseopportunities without them. I mean, I'm happy to name, name, a few people withthat. A girlfriend you want to give them a shout out?

Go for it. Yeah. I mean, there's, there's a, there's quite afew, I mean, like one of the early ones was because I'm very interested innutrition as well. And I was an undergraduate studying sports science and I wasobsessed with supplementation. And because I tried lots different supplementswhen I'm cycling.

Pretty much performance. And there was one professor inparticular called Ron mourn. You can Google him professor Ron Morton, verywell-known nutritional researcher or nutritional scientist. And, and, and henever really taught undergraduates, but he occasionally did. And he taught oneof our undergraduate lectures.

And after it's I kind of was in the queue of people to goand speak with them with that geeky questions while everyone else went and hada beer probably. And Ron and I was like, you know, asked him, I asked him somequestions. I can't remember what obscure supplement I asked his opinion on. Hebasically said if it works, it's probably banned.

And that really stuck with me because I realized that it wasprobably. You know and there's a general principle, which under like that, andit really forced me to take a much more simplified approach, I think, tothinking about nutrition, but also thinking about training more generally. Andthe idea of he had such a deep understanding, but he really did keep thingsquite simple in terms of the advice he gave.

And so that really. I've only ever had like a couple ofinteractions with him that really stuck with me. The other person who issomeone else he wouldn't remember me. I think, but if some good doctor in Nicoand first met Dr. NIGO back in 2000 does a lot of work and he's

[01:01:21] Boomer Anderson: Colorado

[01:01:22] James Hewitt: state. Right?

Exactly. Yeah. So he's originally from Spain. When I met himin 2006, he was working as a physiologist and doctor at the Sonia to bowprofessional cycling team. And I just stopped racing a year before. And I wasspeaking to him and in the conversation, something that he said reallyresonated with me and because I've been dieting a lot, I was really skinny.

I was about 63 kilos and I'd struggled a lot with you know,with over training in hindsight and. He wasn't talking about me. He was talkingat the cyclist he worked with and he was one of the best physiologists. And youactually coach the most recent sort of Frantz winner as well. He knows whathe's talking about.

He said that many cyclists diet too much. And he talks abouthow they have these hyperkalemic caloric diets. They don't eat enough caloriesto fuel the work. And then his view, he said it was better that writers have abetter diet and that he would prefer a rider to be a kilogram, overweight andkilogram in professional cycling terms is massive.

But he preferred them to be Akila either with strength andunderweight and the conversation I had with them got me thinking about the factthat, you know, in sport initially, there's probably a way to combine health,the performance and that idea we can combine health and performance and theyactually don't need to be in conflict with each other.

It really stuck with me. And there's another person, aprofessor Steven sailor, who is responsible for a lot of the work aroundpolarize training as a physiologist. I'd encourage you to look at thispolarized training intensity distribution, this idea. We spend a relativelylarge amount of time.

It's low intensity, smaller focus, time, high intensity, andreally minimize time in this middle zone. That really got me thinking, I sawthe benefits in my own training and others physiologically. And it really gotme thinking about, is there a general principle here that could be applied tocognitive work too?

And there's, I mean, there's loads of these people I couldtalk about. There, there's a guy called professor Olivier earlier, a verywell-known neuroscience publicly. I met him when he was at the world. Economicforum is global head of health strategy is that he's got hundreds of papers tohis name, but his main interest is in measuring the gap between intention andaction, what we think we do and what we actually do.

That's huge. Isn't it

[01:03:25] Boomer Anderson: just such an interestingfield? Like how do you even, I mean, it's a massive field to study, but like,how do you. I don't know. I wouldn't even know how to go about doing that insome cases, but that's pretty fascinating.

[01:03:38] James Hewitt: Well, that, and that's thechallenge with that question is what has led to all kinds of interestingconversations and we're actually working together now, a company called calledOptivia.

But yeah, Olivia played a really fundamental role in forcingme to think clearly about the limits and the opportunities in measurementtools. As well as like the interplay between physiology, anatomy, biology, ourbrains, and then how we interact with the world. So he's, he's continues to bea really key influence.

The glycol professor, Steven Lockley is a professor of sleepand circadian rhythm at Harvard, really informed a lot of the thinking I'veshared today. When we're at our best and circadian rhythm and chronotype, Imentioned professor mark properly. And and, and finally there's a guy calledDr.

Atkinson who founded a company called Hintsa performance.And he gave me this job kind of back in 2015. I don't work with the companyanymore, but you know, he, he gave me a job with the company, this humanhigh-performance company, and with this fantastic broad canvas and resources topursue my curiosity and creativity in this world of human wellbeing andperformance.

So no really needs to give a shout out to him that couldkeep going away in the interest of time. People probably unheard of thesepeople, maybe not interested, but they're really fantastic people. We've had ahuge influence on me, so really wanted to name them

[01:04:54] Boomer Anderson: well, I'll, I'll link to allof these people in the show notes cause I know.

A number of them. And of course the ones that I don't know,I'm going to go and do a little bit of Google searching and afterwards, but twofinal just rapid fire questions for you, James, when you really need to focus,like really just tap. What's your go-to. Do you have any tools that you use inparticular?

Perhaps I don't know if you're in a supplement. Well, youjust mentioned your supplement story, but these supplements, like what do youuse to really

[01:05:26] James Hewitt: focus? So I think, I mean, supplementwise, you can't be caffeine. This has been brilliant studies that show thatcaffeine is actually has been shown to be as potent and effective as Modafinil,which is quite popular, smart drug.

And so yeah, I use supplement space. It's mainly caffeine.It's pretty simple. The other one, this is going to be really boring. I'mafraid it's hydration. So even pretty small amount of hydration, significantlyimpact cognitive performance. And so, so that's you know, that's another one.The other one is actually glucose now, obviously health wise, ideally we wantto avoid big spikes and.

Yeah, it's been associated with kind of increased risk ofmetabolic disease, even healthy people. However there's a, this transienteffect associated with increasing blood glucose acutely that boosts cognitiveperformance. If I really need to boost my cognitive performance potentially atthe detriment to my long-term metabolic health, and can't be done at about 2050grams of carbohydrate of sugar, just make it with some caffeine and I'll thinkabout it the same way as I would if I was racing.

So when I was cycling, I used to use energy drinks now,terrible from my house that made me go faster. And this is kind of the samething for cognitive work. So that's kind of the nutritional stack. And thenobviously, you know, with the my environment is, is huge. Again, it's simple.It's about turning stuff off.

All screen on the one thing I'm concentrated on, making surethat my screen is at the right height. There's some interesting research on theHuberman lab about the orientation of our eyes, influencing our alertness. Andand I've actually found that effect myself. So I'm not on a laptop down here,I'm actually looking up.

And so modify my environment and then kind ofpsychologically, it's really about identifying those priorities. Just what isthe one thing that I'm going to focus on now and what is the outcome I'm tryingto achieve? And, and just zoom in on that. And then of course, Pomodorotechnique, 90 minute block Pomodoros in the peak period of my day, which for megenerally is probably about a couple of hours after I wake up.

And, and then lock in and just try and get that great workdone. And and generally it works when it doesn't. I try not to beat myself uptoo much about it

[01:07:36] Boomer Anderson: book, which has most impactedyour life in how you show up to it.

[01:07:42] James Hewitt: If that's a curve ball,

[01:07:45] Boomer Anderson: I had to leave you withsomething like, this is like a classic knuckleball, right.

It can move all over the place. So if you have one or two ormaybe even a handful, it's okay too.

[01:07:57] James Hewitt: Yeah. I think like one of the,the most influential psychology got popular psychology books. Whereas when Iread them thinking fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman and the jewel process jewelprocess of the mind that kind of model is obviously got massive limitations.

And again, it's a heuristic, but it really, it was verypractical. It really opened up my mind to some different ways of thinking.Particularly when I started to get more into looking at psychology, not justphysiology. And so that's, yeah, that's a, that's a, really, a really big onethere. And, and the, this idea of anti-fragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and heWhat's the name, what's the detail of that book?

Just the idea, this idea that there was something beyondresilience and then actually in the right conditions, challenge, anduncertainty can create opportunities for growth. And and so that reallyresonated with me, this idea of of, of anti-fragility see that there, there area couple and often us end up spending a lot of time just reading journalarticles, loads of them.

So this is why there's sometimes a struggle with popularbooks. Cause I'm just like, yeah. When was the last time I actually sat downand read a popular book, cover to cover. It was quite a long time ago. Most ofthe time I'm kind of stuck in pub med, kind of looking around to see what I canfind.

[01:09:13] Boomer Anderson: Very cool.

James. This has been a very inspiring conversation for me,and I know that it's going to be for everybody listening to this podcast. Sothank you for taking the time, but where if people want to find out more aboutyou and what you're up to, where should we direct them?

[01:09:29] James Hewitt: And so I've got a website andand so that's James cubits, and you know, we'd love it ifyou're interested, if you sign up to the newsletter on there.

And I push out weekly newsletter of kind of all kinds ofideas and stuff I've found. So we'd really appreciate it if you're interestedto give that guy. And there's also an online Coursera as well in the academysharing some of the ideas that I talked about today. But but then also there'sa new company which we're working on, which is trying to try to operationalizesome of this science in terms of detecting when you're.

When you're stressed, how can people to identify andovercome kind of the leading causes of stress and sheds all the time inrelation to that that's company called Optivia It's not availableto the public yet, but again, there's a waiting list. And really appreciate theopportunity to plug that.

Cause I know that's not the main intention of this podcast,but there are the two main places and obviously usual suspects. You can find meon LinkedIn on Twitter game speak here. I've got many followers struggled tofind the time to engage with social media, but I did put some stuff about thatwhich people can find, but yeah, and we'd really welcome the opportunity toconnect with people.

If they've got questions there's, if they wanted to followup on, they want to challenge me on there's stuff that people think I might beinterested in such an amazing sources of knowledge and ideas. And we reallywelcome the opportunity to connect with some of your listeners.

[01:10:48] Boomer Anderson: Absolutely. And I highly recommendthe newsletter.

It's it's very thoughtful gyms and really targets what we'vebeen talking about today. Quite a bit. So again I'll link to all of this in theshow notes for everybody tuning in here. And James, thank

[01:11:03] James Hewitt: you for the time today. You'rewelcome. Thank you.

[01:11:06] Boomer Anderson: Total listeners out there.Have an absolutely epic.

It's not often that I listened to a podcast or record apodcast with somebody and sit down and immediately afterwards, watch that recording.And in this case I did, I took so many notes and hopefully most of those getcaptured in the show notes for this episode, that I'm just really, reallyexcited to release this to you guys.

And I want your feedback. If you enjoyed this episode, headon over to apple podcasts, leave a five-star review and really tell me what youthink I want to hear from you in the show notes for this one again, right tocoding And thank you for your attention.

James Hewitt
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