Matt Mullenweg’s WordPress content management platform is one of the most influential pieces of software on the Internet, running more than 19 percent of websites (including VentureBeat).
But before Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, was on the path to being a billion-dollar company, Mullenweg was simply an eager coder with a healthy attitude for self-experimentation.
In conversation with author Tim Ferriss this week, Mullenweg elaborated on some of his productivity hacks, including his now-famous stint with the “Uberman” polyphasic sleep schedule. Polyphasic sleep simply means more than one sleep period per day; many of our friends in Spain are on a polyphasic sleep cycle with their luxurious afternoon siestas.
Historians have recently come to believe that people are naturally bi-phasic in their sleep patterns. Before the days of electric lights, humans went to bed shortly after sundown and awoke during the middle of the night to cook, talk, read, and make babies.
Mullenweg took humanity’s polyphasic tendencies to its most extreme. Instead of just two cycles, Mullenweg did 6 sleeping periods a day (of about 40 minutes each), with about 2.5 hours in between each nap.
“This was probably one of the most productive periods of my life. I wrote WordPress in that time,” he told Ferris.
But it’s not easy to do. If Mullenweg missed just one of his 6 naps a day, he’d be “wrecked,” he said. Despite the difficulties, he might have continued the Uberman if it were more socially acceptable. Mullenweg says that he abandoned his extreme sleep schedule after getting a girlfriend.
Mullenweg also chimed in on other productive hacks. He’s a big fan of the alternative keyboard layout known as “Dvorak.” Except for few a letters, such as B and M, everything else is re-arranged to place commonly used keys in better positions, for greater typing efficiency.
It’s easy to switch to a Dvorak keyboard layout on many devices (Mac instructions here).
Mullenweg’s New Year resolution is to meditate 5 minutes a day, putting him among many successful tech founders who are also meditators. (Mullenweg notes that he is an investor a smartphone app, Calm, which aids meditation).
Mullenweg has a lot more advice, including how he hires, on the podcast. Listen here.