Habits have the power to shape our lives, in both positive and negative ways. It seems we often think of habits as adverse, such as nail biting, smoking, or gambling. But habits can also be a powerful tool in making or maintaining constructive changes in our lives.
We all know people who are known for getting things accomplished. You can bet those folks have incorporated life-long habits into their daily routines, habits that encourage their pursuit of productivity.
These three crucial “habit” areas are a great place to start if you’re seeking a more productive life.
For many people, sleep deprivation has become a way of life. Too few hours in the day coupled with an overflowing plate has resulted in the routine habit of skimping on sleep. The benefit of consistently getting enough shut-eye are many: a strengthened immune system, better retention of information, and an overall greater sense of happiness to name but a few.
Creating habits that promote more and better sleep are not that difficult but will require a level of commitment on your part. First off, determine to let the clock rather than the number of remaining items on your to-do list dictate when you turn in. Strive for “a bedtime” that’s the same every night and will help your body establish a normal sleep pattern. If possible, sleep near natural light to encourage your body’s waking up process in the morning.
A Morning Routine
It takes longer each morning for the brain to reach the “operating on all cylinders” status than most people think. So any decisions that can be simplified with a “no brainer” daily routine -breakfast, household duties - will save brain function for the more important decisions in the day ahead. Optimize your morning routine to reduce stress and the hurry-it-up-ness that can leave you frazzled before even walking out the door.
The Night Before Preparations
Choose an outfit, pack your bag or briefcase, throw together snacks or a brown bag lunch, and at least mentally organize the priority items on tomorrow’s agenda. Better yet, commit to jotting down the day’s events. Then, knowing all the preparations are taken care of, put it all out of your mind and head to bed at the designated hour. Spending the last fifteen to twenty minutes of your day looking toward tomorrow is one of the best productivity-boosting habits you can incorporate into your life.
On the other hand, there are also habits that hurt productivity. Chances are that one or more of these productivity-zapping habits is negatively impacting your day-to-day ability to get done what you need to accomplish. Be gut-wrenchingly honest with yourself as you identify the most damaging habits in your life.
- You fret at length over simple decisions.
Some decisions benefit from a pros vs. cons list. Others not so much. Where to grab lunch, what route to take to work, and whether to hit the grocery before heading home or go out after dinner shouldn’t require a lot of time or brain power. Push yourself to be more decisive and then move on.
- You say “yes” too often.
You may be the best at what you do, but there’s a limit to how much even the most productive person can do. Be realistic when tempted to take on more responsibilities than you can reasonably expect yourself to handle.
- You let perfectionism get the best of you.
Striving for excellence in all you do is not the same as demanding perfection from yourself. Establish realistic expectations and then do your best. Utilize co-workers or family who will speak up when they see perfectionism rearing its head.
Realize the positive role habits play in achieving a consistently productive life.
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