I am always trying to improve myself, optimise what I do so that I can do it better and try to take a small step in the right direction every day. The tips below are some that I turn to, they help me to be more productive, be more content, get better sleep, build better relationships and help me in my goal of taking a small step in the right direction every day.
- Turn off technology 60-90 minutes before your bedtime
Read a book or write before bed instead of staying on your phone or computer. You might be getting some work done, or feel like you’re being productive in other ways but the blue light emitted from the phone is keeping you awake, so is all the distractions on the screen that keep your mind ticking. Don’t be fooled by night modes and other filters either, they reduce the amount of blue light but don’t get rid of it completely. If you don’t want to read a book, do what I do and download podcasts. Castbox is the app I use, and it lets me set a sleep timer that stops the podcast automatically at the end of the episode instead of playing the next one. If you’re looking for a podcast to listen to, I recommend Impact Theory by Tom Bilyeu which should be applicable to almost anyone.
- Set your light at night to a dimmer, red hue
This surprised me a lot but it is so effective. About 6 months ago I added a smart light to by room. Not only does this light have the ability to change to different colours, you can also dim the amount of light being released. After doing some research I found out that red light, counterintuitively, has a calming effect on your body. To my surprise this works, and works quite well. I use a pinkish dim hue all night unless I’m doing colour critical work. Personally, I’d suggest getting a LIFX since their products work by themselves and don’t need a hub, just a WiFi network.
- Exercise for at least 5 minutes in the morning
Research has shown that exercising in the morning is the most effective. Not only does it get your metabolism going early on in the day, if you get to exercise outside, the light from the sun wakes you up and energises your body. 5 minutes of high intensity exercise would be the best and helps with losing weight as well as helping you get into a more positive mood. My go to activity is to run after my dog in the backyard and finish off with 30 seconds of running up and down the stairs. As a bonus, my dog gets to burn off some of her energy as well.
- Don’t get sick by trying to be healthy
It’s easy to go cold turkey, give up all the ‘bad things’ and start ‘eating healthy’. But be mindful that your body uses things like sugar as an energy source. Switching cold turkey can cause issues in finding alternate energy sources for your brain and your body. Instead, slowly transition off the ‘bad food’. Things like intermittent fasting are also good, but listen to your body and don’t make drastic changes too fast – you can suffer not just physically but mentally as well. I’ve found that measuring a starting point and slowly cutting back helps not just quantify progress but also ‘see’ the progress you are making.
- Make lists and cross things off these lists
There are a number of benefits to making lists. Not only does a list help you plan what you would like to do, it helps you stay on track, plan your day better, and rewards you when you get to cross an item off the list. It doesn’t have to be a piece of paper that you can lose easily either, you can using an app on your phone – my personal favourite is Google Keep which syncs on all my devices.
- Set time limits on activities
Not everything you do is fun, or has to be fun. Whether its checking your emails at work or cleaning the house, setting time limits help motivate you. There is something in humans that makes us prolong an activity when there is no time limit set so set a time limit and make sure you keep to it. You could also try something like the Pomodoro Technique to see if that works for you. I find that setting about a 20 minutes time limit with 5 minute ‘breaks’ helps me be more productive – just make sure you don’t let coworkers or emails distract you.
- Find your purpose and focus on it
Belonging and a feeling that you are working towards something is not just fulfilling but also motivating. This doesn’t mean that you have to quit your job to live out your purpose of becoming a world renowned painter, instead, look within yourself to understand why you do what you do and what you are working towards. I find that this point works in with a lot of the others because I can see the larger goal in even the smallest tasks, I can see what I am working towards and I what I want to achieve rather than noting the boring, small task that I am completing at that given moment.
- Surround yourself with people who represent the person you want to be
Not only is connection good for you, humans are also very social people. So this tip is not just good for you emotionally and mentally, but also in every other part of your life. Don’t surround yourself with people who don’t want to rock the boat, surround yourself with people who want to keep challenging you and aren’t going to say ‘yes’ to every idea or thought you might have. This doesn’t mean you should wake up one morning and dump all your friends and cut ties with your family – these people are very important so hold them close, they might not motivate you in the ways you need. Instead look at networking groups or social groups you can join. With technology so prevalent, I love to get involved in Facebook Groups as well as listen to podcasts – this might seem like a weird way to make this point a reality but if the person you want to be is somewhat niche, or hard to find in person, online can be a great place to look, meet and share.
- Care less and do more
Stop caring about what others think and do as much. Of course, they might have a point when they are critical of your decisions, but they also might be passing off that Lamborghini as their own even though its a rental. Don’t let others limit your potential, take what they have to say and analyse it but also trust yourself. When it comes to the do more part, it’s simple – you’re held back by the feeling that you are not good enough or that there are others who are better than you, but don’t let that stop you. You might want to be a photographer, and chances are that there are better photographers than you – at least at the begging. But if you let that feeling of inadequacy stop you, you won’t be able to practice, you won’t be able to make mistakes and you won’t be able to learn. This list is my way of living out this point. I am a perfectionist, and I care about what others think – what my family thinks, what my coworkers thinks etc. but I told myself that I have to do this and here we are.
- Aim to learn at least one new thing every day
The world is a massive place. You’ve met such a small number of people who are walking the planet right now, and you’ve probably absorbed an even smaller amount of the knowledge of the people walking this planet right now. The sooner you start, the better, so set yourself a target to learn at least one thing every day. It could be something small like how to change a lightbulb, or something large like how do internal combustion engines work, but aim to learn something new every day. Podcasts, websites, books and people are all great ways to learn something new. I personally listen to a number of podcasts almost every day, including Tom and Lisa Bilyeu, John Lee Dumas, Brandon Gaille, Preston Pysh and Stig Brodersen and Tim Ferriss. Between them I not only learn a lot, but I also get a number of different points of view and the ability to then come to my own conclusions and beliefs rather than getting brainwashed by just one source of thinking.
I hope that was an interesting read. They’re just 10 of my own little tips that I try to adhere to as much as possible, I’d love to hear about any other tips that you might have and your thoughts on what’s above. As they are my opinion, none of it constitutes any form of professional advice, you should use them to help your judgment and thought processes.