A little over a week and a half ago, I stumbled upon this photo of everybody’s favorite Hollywood heartthrob, James (mofuckn’) Franco. As an aspiring filmmaker and current community college student already feeling stress from taking roughly 18-19 units per quarter, I thought to myself,
"No fucking way…"
Just the thought of taking 62 units per quarter made my hairs turn grey. However, he is James Franco, a praised Hollywood star who, most importantly, has money. Lots of it. With his fame and fortune, Franco could have easily manipulated his way through his UCLA degree.
But, no. My curiosity about how this was even physically/mentally possible led to extensive and somewhat overly-obsessive research about James Franco. I spent the next couple days watching and reading virtually every James Franco interview/biography/fanfic (jk) I could find on the internet, ONLY TO LEARN THAT he simultaneously attended three incredibly prestigious graduate school programs. Columbia University for writing, NYU Tisch for filmmaking, and Brooklyn College for fiction writing. He is currently pursuing a PhD in English at Yale. Again,
"No fucking way…"
"This man is insane." I told myself.
I feel like I barely have enough time to complete my 18 unit workload and have time left over to make my Vines (follow me), skate, clip my toenails, yadidida. How does Franco do it?
Jump forward to me discovering Franco’s outlandish work ethic. After watching multiple interviews of Franco, one conducted by his mini-me, Dave Franco, and a few with his various co-stars, I learned that
a. James Franco considers sleep to be defeat. What this means is that Franco will stay awake until he is physically unable to keep his eyes open for another minute. He doesn’t “get ready for bed” or “go to sleep.” He just passes out wherever he is and tends to go days without showers.
b. On movie sets, James Franco does not walk to the bathroom. He runs…in order to save time.
c. Franco spends practically every waking minute of his life being productive. In between takes during filming for movies, he will take out a book and start reading instead of taking a break. In the interview with his little brother, Franco responded to, “I never see you not doing something. Don’t you ever just stop and do nothing? Just relax?” with “Uhh…do nothing? I’m not sure what that means.”
His mindset and level of productivity made me reflect on myself and wonder how much time I waste throughout my day. I decided to embark on a personal journey I’d like to call, “The Franco Experiment.” The premises of this “experiment” are simply comparing my previous daily lifestyle to a lifestyle lived like James Franco and the shifts in productivity, personality, ability to function, etc.
So from last Thursday to Sunday, I lived my life as I normally would and I jotted down everything that could be deemed “productive.” Over those three days, I slept a total of 24 hours, roughly 8 hours per night. If that were the case, that would leave me with 16 waking hours per day to be productive. However, studies show that the average American worker wastes over 2 hours each day; I am no exception. Let’s say I spend a total of 2-3 hours on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, etc. per day. That would leave me with 13-14 hours left of “free time.” However, I’m not Franco, and I fancy my showers. Showering, getting dressed, the whole morning routine, takes an estimated half an hour. 12.5-13.5. Driving to and from school. 11.5-12.5. Walking to and from classes. 11-12. Texting throughout the day. 10.5-11.5. Going to the restroom #1, 2’s, and 3’s (God bless you), 10-11 (assuming you use your 2 time like me to waste time on your iPhone.) So point being, with my current lifestyle choices, I have about 10-11 hours of unused time per day. That’s over half my day and I didn’t include meals, and other extracurricular activities where you use your phone simultaneously to pass the time.
Beginning Sunday night, I uninstalled all my social networking sites on my phone (minus Facebook, but I uninstalled that the next day) and lived my life under the premises that
a. Every waking minute has to be filled with productivity.
b. I will not sleep until I physically can’t stay awake any longer. Also meaning I will not climb into my own bed.
c. I can’t fall asleep in class. (failed. But only for like 5 minutes.)
d. I had to work out at least once a day.
I love drinking tea, but I usually don’t drink coffee. From Sunday night - today (Thursday) I have had 8 cups of green tea and 7 cups of coffee. I’ve had a total of 11 hours of sleep. I was awake for 42 hours beginning Monday morning at 8:30 a.m.
There were certain exceptions in which I could “waste time” on my phone. I was allowed to text people back and check my e-mail.
So instead of resorting to Twitter or Facebook when faced with a lack of things to do, I carried around books with my wherever I went and had to read them whenever I wasn’t occupied with something else. This includes walking to class, eating, standing in line, waiting while video clips are rendering. Almost any downtime aside from at a stoplight. In the span of 4 days with a total of 11 hours of sleep, I’ve read Run The Game by Jason Myers and Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk in it’s entirety and began the first several pages of A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. Granted, I did also read when I could have been doing something else, but I wouldn’t have been able to finish two novels without substituting my wasted time and sleep with books.
I won’t get into all the other things I was able to accomplish because there’s no definite boundary on the time required (Stats homework, study for test, etc.) But I will say that the first 42 hours of this experiment were possibly the most productive 42 hours of my life. However, I started feeling the repercussions of sleep deprivation on Wednesday and even more so on Thursday.
Jump forward to today right before my math midterm. As much as I wanted to focus and be productive, I couldn’t because I simply could not concentrate. My lack of sleep and caffeine for the day (told myself I wouldn’t drink coffee today after almost having a heart attack the night before because my friend gave me an iced coffee with 5 shots of espresso at 12:30 a.m. I didn’t know it had 5 shots until after I drank it. I also decided that I needed to sleep because I could feel my body shutting down on me. Needless to say, my body was physically beyond exhausted, but I couldn’t fall asleep and my heart started going like bulhdflkhalghlkhglk;aaho;haoha;oh and I was having trouble breathing and all I wanted to do was punch things. Thanks Dustin Koliner.)
Wanting to know how James Franco’s body feels by essentially not sleeping and giving himself no breaks was the catalyst in me wanting to try this experiment. In conclusion, I am not James Franco, and although I was able to do considerably more in these four days, I need an appropriate amount of sleep or I may die.
There’s also no reason to say that there’s “nothing to do.” When in doubt, read a book.
3:11 a.m. Sleep deprived. Did not proofread. I enjoyed Invisible Monsters a lot. Run The Game, not so much. Gonna go sleep for several days. Book recommendations? Also, I only wrote down the things that took up a somewhat large amount of time. Left out things like “taking out the trash” or “washing hands” because I don’t wash my hands anyways. Ha!…ha. Bah.