All of us have our down times. It’s perfectly normal with humans, just a residual effect of our negatively-biased brains. And while this characteristic helped our ancestors survive in hostile environments, today it can play havoc on our lives.
Backed by the bulk of research in the field, here are the top 10 most impactful things to start doing if you’re looking for balance in your life.
Establish Your Early Morning Routine
Neuroscientists found that “owls” and “larks” have distinguishably different levels of consciousness during the day, and early risers outperform late-bedders in various cognitive tests. Thing is, the study itself was being held during normal working hours from 8 am to 8 pm. So if your workday starts after that, then it’s OK, but if you’re like the rest of us, give it a second thought.
Having 1-2 hours prior to work all for yourself is awesome! Take time to nourish your body and mind with a healthy breakfast, exercises, and meditation. Morning sex is a great option too.
All of that will smooth out many edges of the following day for you.
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Drink More Water
Just 500 ml of water first thing in the morning, research found, boosts metabolism and burns an additional 24 calories.
Do Motivational Self Talk
A study researching the link between anxiety and productivity found that stress is actually helping us to do more. The main difference between the high achievers and low achievers from the control group was that high achieves were self-motivated and used their anxiety as incentive, while low achievers experienced an assertedly similar levels of stress but weren’t as motivated.
All it takes is just a few minutes in front of a mirror before heading to work. Draw yourself up and smile the $million smile. Talk about everything you wish for like you already have it. Imagine what a person who’ve achieved all this should speak like. Try to speak like that. That’s the first actual step of becoming that person.
Find Good Stuff in Bad Stuff
Think multi-billion companies like Instagram, Airbnb, YouTube, Slack, Groupon, Spotify. All of them started their lives as something else and only later pivoted into the directions they’re actually known for. You wouldn't have heard about YouTube - a video dating service, or Groupon - the social platform discussing social and charitable causes if there wasn’t a forward thinking shift in these companies.
The point is, if you refuse to dwell on the negative stuff and keep looking for opportunities and be open to change, you’re more likely to succeed.
Train yourself this forward thinking and try to find at least one benefit in a sucky situation. Stuck at work late? Less congestion. Broken elevator? Healthy cardio activity.
Change the perspective, change the world.
Do Something “Risky”
We feel uncomfortable being stuck in a rut, not realizing that it’s actually feeling comfortable that got us in it. We’re not moving on with our lives because we’re too afraid to leave our comfort zones. It’s very familiar to get up and do what you’ve been doing for years. To our brain familiar means safe.
But it’s not as if we’re treading warily on strange lands where might dwell new beasts and berries are of strange color and possibly poisonous.
Try bungee jumping, kart racing, rafting, canoeing, skydiving, or steal that blue horn from restaurant for your date.
These adrenaline-pumping events will be your happy memories forever, plus, they can help you initiate a needed change in your life right now.
Keep trying new things
There’s a subtle difference between this one and the previous. There’s another phrase I think about quite often. Keep trying new things. On the surface, it sounds so normal – duh, of course, I should keep trying new things. But think about our daily schedule: most of us go to work, come home, maybe work out or watch TV, then do it all over again…for the rest of our lives. Another thing to add to my list of needed productivity habits.
And yet, this list of tiny productivity habits has the potential to alter everything. So let’s examine these habits to see which ones can make a difference in your life.
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Focus on priorities
The known Pareto Principle dictates that only 20% of what we’re doing are responsible for 80% of all results. There’s a nasty caveat to this, of course, that, vice versa, 80% of our input yield just 20% of the productive output.
That’s why ultra-successful people appreciate the importance of prioritization so much. They ignore the bulk 80% of a boring stuff that adds little value and focus entirely on that small piece of a pie.
Given that you are self-motivated (your goals are really yours, not someone else’s), ask yourself what task has the biggest impact on reaching them? Write them down.
Next, write down what your usual day looks like and on which tasks take up most of your time. Look through your browser history or use a dedicated productivity monitoring app for that.
In most cases, people delay doing their top priority task. Psychologists deciphering the reason of procrastination claim that it’s due to fear. The more important task is, the more daunting it seems.
To tackle it, you need to chunk it into small steps. You don’t have to plan it all through, but concentrate on the initial steps and write down what needs to be done first in order to start.
Schedule these tasks at the time of day when you are most productive. It’s the first part of the day for most people, so try to avoid planning them later in the day.
Enjoy physical activity
You know how pleasurable physical activity is. If you don’t, go out there and play freesby, dance or just walk in a park for 15 minutes to remind yourself of that. Just a few minutes of aerobic activity boosts your immune system, speeds up your metabolism, enhances brain functions and develops new brain cells, helps you burn more calories even if you’re at rest, prevents aging and decreases the risk of heart disease, produces endorphins that can alleviate even acute pain, plus it does wonders for your mood:)
If don’t have physical activity fitted in your tight schedule, do it now. Try hot yoga, HIIT sessions, pilates, bokwa, dance fitness, aerial yoga. Also consider if you’re better off alone or in groups. Make fitness your ritual and you’ll never regret it for life.
Write Everything Down
Many self-made billionaires said that one of the pillars of their success was a habit of having a small notebook with them at all times. All sorts of ideas strike our heads and already halfways through the chimney by the time we are prepared to write them down.
In one interview, Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis said, “Always carry a notebook. Write everything down... That is a million dollar lesson they don’t teach you in business school!”
Ultra-productive people free their minds by writing everything down as the ideas come to them.
Try these productivity models
The 2-Minute Rule: if something worth doing will take you less than 2 minutes, do it now. In time, you’ll train your brain “out” of procrastination habit.
The Ivy Lee Method:draw 4 columns on a sheet of paper titled “Most important and Urgent”, “Most Urgent and Important,” “Most Important, Less Urgent,” and “Less Urgent, Less Important.”
Fill the columns with your tasks. Focus on the first 6 tasks from the list with your most important and urgent tasks on the top of it.
The Seinfeld Strategy:think of the most impactful action for your big goal. If, for example, your goal is running a marathon then a series of successive long runs would be your actions. Or writing N words a day, if your goal is to publish a book.
Buy a big wall calendar and draw a big red X for each day you took this action. The idea is to become emotionally attached to your goal, and having a visual representation of all the days you dedicated for it will help you to be more committed.
Of course, none of these models are perfect, but mix them up and you’ll see a huge difference. For instance, use the 2-minute rule to decide the best course of action for the immediate future, the Ivy League method for scheduling your plans for the rest of the day, and the Seinfield strategy to be consistent in the long-run.