In today’s fast-paced culture, we are more time-constrained than ever before. We all know of things we should be doing, things that would give us the edge over not only our competition, but also the current quality of our lives in general.
The following habits are designed to be things that can be implemented into even the busiest daily schedules relatively seamlessly and will serve to optimize your efficiency and satisfaction of daily progress.
When most of us hear the word meditation, we instantly conjure up images of a stoic monk perched atop of mountaintop making odd noises into the distance. While this is certainly admirable, meditation today has made its way into the mainstream amongst everyday people such as you and I.
The wonderful thing about this practice is that it is so adaptable and able to be taken advantage of wherever you are at in life. Meditation is often ill defined, made out to be time-consuming and overly spiritual when in fact, this is not the case.
All it takes is setting aside a modest amount of time in your day (this could be five minutes, or an hour) to sit quietly, focus on your breathing, and simply let your thoughts flow through your mind.
As they appear, you don’t judge them, good or bad, you just let them come and go. There are a tremendous amount of meditation guides available to get you started; YouTube is a great place to check some of these out.
The benefits you ask?
According to the American Psychological Association, implementing daily meditation into your schedule fosters a variety of benefits, including:
• Significant symptoms of depression
• Stress reduction
• Increased working memory
• Even a higher reported level of relationship satisfaction
So here’s the thing, we have all heard the spiel about how our body’s are 60% water and that we need to be drinking at least 8 cups of the stuff per day. However, as with the other items on the long list of things we need to do, but somehow expertly avoid, we are chronically dehydrated as a species.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that up to 75% of U.S. citizens are chronically dehydrated. It is common knowledge this is not at all conducive to living our best lives and achieving personal growth. Instead of the classic “water is good for you” phrase we’re all sick of, here are just a few benefits reported by the Australian Institute of Family Counseling that will jumpstart your journey to self-improvement:
• Improved mood
• Better concentration
• Increased oxygen delivery to the brain
Let’s face it; screens today dominate our world. Desktop monitors, cell phones, billboard advertisement, and of course, televisions. I am not here to tell you to hide away in a cave and avoid screens at any costs. However, dialing back your screen time when the sun sets is an absolute game changer.
Without getting to far into the science of the light spectrum, digital screens emit a type of light know as blue light. This type of light is known to decrease the body’s natural production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates circadian rhythm and allows us to sleep properly.
Planting your face into your cellphone or binge-watching Netflix right before bed is killing your sleeping habits and imagine how negatively the effect can be on our mission of self-growth and improvement.
Besides keeping you up far too light, Harvard Medical School has even found a correlation between increased blue light exposure and diabetes and obesity.
How many of us wake up every morning knowing we have a hectic day ahead of us and don’t even know where to start? Without any guidance or direction, trying to maneuver throughout a busy life is futile.
This is where the power of scheduling saves the day. Each night, take a second to make a tentative schedule of the following day. This can be done on your cellphone, as long as you don’t end up on Facebook and covering your face with blue light of course, or even the old-school way; in your handy-dandy planner.
With each to-do, give a timeframe for when to start the task, and what time you plan on completing it. Don’t think you have to obsessively list every detail of your day, just include the important items.
I promise you’ll be amazed at how much more efficient you become and will wonder why you now seemingly have increased hours in the day.
The Power Of Audiobooks
In most cases, household pieces of literature serve only to fill up space on the coffee table or make a bookshelf look esteemed and intellectual. We forget that leisurely reading is crucial to our growth as individuals. How could you possibly fit in time to read for the sake of reading when you are being pulled in a hundred different directions, you may ask? This is where audiobooks come into play.
These wonderful creations allow you to pop in some headphones during your daily workout, or even stream through your car during your daily commute, while still allowing you to reap the benefits and the wealth of knowledge available via literature.
To emphasize the importance of daily reading, the Mayo Clinic states that, among other things, this practice serves to:
• Improve social skills
• Slow cognitive decline with age
• Improve sleep
Monitor Those Around You
The phrase, “you are the sum total of the 5 people you surround yourself with”, is more than a nice little term to add to your office desk. In the pursuit of optimizing your life and improving yourself as a human being, avoiding toxic people is a must.
You know the people I’m referring to; the complainers, naggers, woe-is-me type of individuals that can singlehandedly dull the sunniest of days.
WebMD suggests that avoiding toxic people can result in a vast reduction in stress levels and even fatigue. If you take anything from this habit, please remember that it is perfectly OKAY to cut certain people and situations out of your life.
Wake Up Earlier (Just A Little Bit!)
You might have read the bold print above and been immediately tempted to stop reading. However, hear me out. Think about most of the habits we have already discussed that are extremely beneficial to your individual growth and improvements.
How many of these would become so much easier to implement if you gave yourself an extra thirty minutes in the morning, before the family is awake, before your cell phone is buzzing uncontrollably?
For just a few days, set that alarm back just a few ticks, and use this time to follow through on some of these habits. I have no doubt the minimal reduction in sleep will be a drop in the bucket compared to the benefits you will experience.