Satire | Here’s a brand new sleep hack

Why fans of Japanese techniques for productivity and happiness might enjoy the Reverse Pomodoro

Updated - October 19, 2023 03:54 pm IST

Published - October 19, 2023 02:21 pm IST

The reason people hate waking up is their mistaken belief that if they get up from bed, they have to stay awake.

The reason people hate waking up is their mistaken belief that if they get up from bed, they have to stay awake. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Most people are unhappy — even those who claim they are happy. The main reason for their unhappiness is lack of discipline, and a chronic inability to exploit themselves for the benefit of their employer specifically, and capitalism generally. The only way to boost happiness is to boost productivity — that is, get more things done in a single day, and also increase the rate at which you increase the number of things you get done in a day, until your employer is able to double his output while halving per-employee costs.

The Internet contains many productivity hacks to help you do this. The best of them, such as Pomodoro and Ikigai, are Japanese. What makes the Japanese ones so effective is that they don’t only focus on making you more productive, they also aim to make you happy, because when you are happy, you naturally work more.

I have been trying out these Japanese techniques over the past month and I can assure you I’ve never been so happy with my life, the world and the universe. And I’m now itching to sow more joy in the seven realms by sharing with you some of the lesser known but powerful Japanese practices that anyone can incorporate into their daily life for complete fulfilment.

This column is a satirical take on life and society.

Orodomop (also known as Reverse Pomodoro)

Is your job so boring that it puts you to sleep? Do you struggle to finish your tasks because you can’t wake up in the morning when the alarm rings? Then Orodomop is what you need. While the world-famous Pomodoro technique entails breaking up your task into 25-minute chunks, Orodomop applies the same strategy to a non-task: sleep. It is based on an astounding insight: the reason people hate waking up is their mistaken belief that if they get up from bed, they have to stay awake, maybe all the way till dinnertime. But in Orodomop, you don’t wake up and stay awake. Instead, you wake up for 25 seconds at a time, then go back to sleep. You gradually extend your ‘awake time’ through a cascading set of alarms spaced out at 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, and 150 second intervals up to 2,500 seconds, until you end up feeling more awake than sleepy.


This is Ikigai for people who don’t have a “reason for being”. Unlike Ikigai, which requires you to identify a passion or formulate a purpose for your existence, Katthirikai asks you to build your life around an obsession, and to acquire one if you don’t have any. This Japanese innovation derives its name from its founder Akiraka Thirikai, who in the 1990s quit his senior management job at Nintendo to plant 10,000 acres of Bt Brinjal on his virtual farm. Some of his friends felt he had gone mad, but even they agreed they had never seen him so happy and fulfilled. He is today the leading supplier of Brinjal to the Umbrella corporation. If happiness is your goal, Katthirikai should help you.


Like the better-known Kanban, which is a visual management tool to track your progress, Nanban is an aural management technique that boosts your self-esteem — a critical element of professional success — by refashioning your inner voice, transforming it from being a guilt-tripping taskmaster continuously carping at your laziness, to being the voice of your best friend who supports you unconditionally, laughs at your bad jokes, and keeps asking you to join him for a drink. One reported side-effect of Nanban is that people sometimes find themselves too inebriated to start working. But that’s a small price to pay for the potential productivity gains of higher self-esteem.

Takkutakunu Seyyuda

Although in Japanese it literally means ‘do it now, do it fast’, Takkutakunu Seyyuda is a ritualised practice of starting your work in a timely way through ceremonial procedures designed to avoid procrastination. The choreographed act of self-administering a kick in the seat of your pants so that you rapidly move towards your workspace is a difficult art that requires several years of practice to master, but totally worth it.

Gacha Kucha Buchi Mu

This simple Japanese phrase means “if you check WhatsApp before you have finished 80% of your tasks, you are a genetically modified armadillo that feeds on disgusting electronic waste”. Invented in Okinawa in the late 1600s during the reign of Emperor Murakami, this sophisticated reminder to not get distracted by social media has been a great productivity booster through the ages.

The author of this satire is Social Affairs Editor, ‘The Hindu’.

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