This post is also available in: Spanish
Discipline has always been against human beings. Yet, we care more and more about being productive to meet our goals and, most importantly, to enjoy our leisure time.
Since many ask me where I find the time to do my projects, I’ve decided to share some simple routines that can turn into productive habits. Here they are:
1) Make your bed
This goes especially to those, like me, who don’t feel like making it every day. As Admiral McRaven said in his famous speech at the University of Texas. “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”
To make your bed is to open the doors of productivity since the beginning of the day. Starting with such a simple habit (it takes less than five minutes, even one if you just have a duvet) will unleash a series of productive behavior during the rest of the day. As McRaven said: “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” Besides, tyding our room will also help us spring-clean our brain and lower our stress. If making your bed is nothing new to you, you can choose another ritual such as tidying your desk. Remember, you set your own rules 🙂 .
2) Start the day with a specific intention
You can name it “Today’s goal is to….”. By giving it a title, you will remember the goal you plan to achieve. And you will remind yourself to not go to bed until you’ve done it. This will give us an enormous satisfaction.
A good way to think about this goal is to devote a few minutes to mindfulness, or simply by doing deep-breathing exercises for 5-10 minutes. You can use Tara Brach’s video and her 2010 Smile Meditation as an example.
Note: the ideal scenario is to plan our goal before going to bed the previous night. This will make us be more productive and have an additional reason to wake up and start the day fully motivated.
3) Devote two hours per week to your own learning.
If you love writing everything in your calendar, block two hours a week and name them “Learning”. It is very common to not have time for the important things because of the urgent things. That’s why the only way to solve this is to be faster, that is, to fill the gap in our calendar (at least 2 hours per week) with a learning period before that gap is covered with something else. Let’s add a day and time in our calendar. MooCs, TED talks, books, courses, you choose.
4) Devote half hour a day to physical activity
Yes, I know that we barely have time, but luckily there are simple ways to reach these 30 minutes (biking to work, returning through a longer path, going one stop further in Metro…). Although experts recommend one hour a day, doing just half hour in the morning will activate our brain and make our morning highly productive since the very beginning.
5) Use technology
If you need a little help and procrastinating is your favorite verb, technology can be your best friend. Here are some tools that can be useful:
- Trello (to manage projects in a visual and easy way)
- Evernote (the renowned idea manager)
- Boomerang for Gmail (reminders and programming a mail to be sent later)
- Rescue time (it prepares reports of the websites visited, time spent and the hours where you are more productive.
- StayFocusd (free Chrome extension to limit the time you spend in those websites where you waste your time the most,
- Stickk.com (to commit to your goals)
6) Read a book that inspires you
There is nothing better than a good book to move to action. There are specific books addressing the productivity challenge, which go from Stephen’s Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, to the current The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg or The 4-hour workweek or Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss, all these books are mentioned in the free ebook for the SPARK blog subscribers.
7) Imagine you’re fired tomorrow
There is nothing like fear to make us move. It’s magic. You don’t need to think about this every week, but it is very useful and healthy if you think about it once a month. Imagining the consequences of losing our job will trigger emotions that remain dormant in us and they will make us enter an “alert” state which will push us to action. You don’t need to lose your job to feel wired and full of energy, you just need to imagine it and your body and mind will activate the “go” system.
8) Try the 2-minute rule
If you think that the task will take more than two minutes, write it in your list. If you think it’ll be shorter, don’t write it, do it directly. A simple yet powerful habit.
These are the eight habits that work for me. Which ones work for you?