The Importance of Time Management: 8 Ways It Skyrockets Your Success

No matter how you slice it, there are only 24 hours in a day. Time is a finite resource, and it’s up to you to make the most of it.

If you lose money, you might get a chance to make it back; but a wasted hour is irreplaceable.

While we can’t add hours to our day, I can help you understand the importance of time management, and how time management helps you maximize the time you do have. This isn’t just a skill for entrepreneurs to master. Everyone could benefit from managing their time more effectively and appreciating it for the finite resource that it is.

The importance of time management

The importance of time management comes down to how much it impacts your personal and professional life. Time management is organizing your day so that you find the best use for every moment.

Excellent time management allows you to create a healthy balance in your workflow and home life.[1] The consequences of failed time management include missing deadlines and living with excessive stress.

Even if you’ve failed to manage your time in the past, it’s never too late to change. Set deadlines, get organized, delegate tasks, and prioritize your to-do list to get the most value from your time.

Why time management matters to you

With the right time management skills and tools, you will experience a lot of benefits from good time management. Here are 8 reasons why you should start to manage time better:

1. Do more with less

Knowing how to manage your time means that you’ll be able to accomplish more in shorter periods of time with less effort. Think about how much more you accomplish when you truly focus.

Prioritizing and matching tasks to blocks of available time is one way to do more with less effort. Instead of trying to do deep work in the ten minutes between meetings, complete a minor task. This frees up larger blocks for projects that require concentration.

If you find an extra hour of productivity in your day by using your time wisely, that gives you an additional 250 productive hours at work every year.[2]

2. Make work fulfilling and life meaningful

There’s nothing more frustrating than spending a day being completely busy but also entirely unproductive. A feeling of accomplishment helps you stay motivated at work. At home this translates into being able to relax and enjoy your time.

By being conscious of how you use time, you’ll have more of it to spend on the things you love.

3. End indecisiveness

Worrying about whether you have made the right choice can be time-consuming. Naturally, big decisions take up a lot of time but the small decisions you make every day can also be huge time-wasters. Deciding what to do next on your to-do list, for example, can have a major time cost.

Instead of staring blankly at your to-do list wondering what to tackle, create a plan or a routine.[3] This keeps you from using any of your precious minutes questioning what you should do next.

4. Achieve goals faster

Many people have big goals to feel fulfilled. But without understanding the importance of time management, these goals could sit on the shelf indefinitely.

For example, perhaps one of your goals is to lead a healthier lifestyle but you can’t seem to carve out time for gym sessions. Chances are, the time you need already exists. You just have to find it. By making the time to attend to your health, you can make necessary and desirable changes quickly.

5. Boost confidence

Time management can improve your confidence. You’re more likely to take care of yourself properly if you have the time to do so. You’ll look and feel more put together before you even set foot into your work space.

In addition, you’ll get a regular boost from feeling a sense of accomplishment. Meeting your deadlines and exceeding expectations is a huge motivator. On the flip-side, failing to meet deadlines and struggling to keep up leads to burnout.[4]

6. Have more energy to achieve more

Constantly feeling worn out and stressed is miserable. It also makes it hard to take on new challenges. An efficient workflow gives you the time to build new skills to improve your work.

This doesn’t only apply to work, though. Think of how much more exciting life is when you feel energized. With a boost of energy, you’re more likely to try a new hobby or go on an adventure instead of planting yourself on the couch.

7. Make more time to do the things you love

After you consider the amount of time that it takes for you to sleep, work, eat, commute and attend to your personal hygiene, you have about four hours per day to devote to the things you do for fun.

By learning to manage your time, you’ll have more opportunities to work on personal growth, spend time with family or visit friends. This quality time is priceless.

8. Reduce stress and avoid feeling overwhelmed

In a given day, you might be tasked with creating a mock up for a project, taking your child to practice, leading a discussion at work and buying groceries. When every task on your to-do list seems equally important, you’ll become overwhelmed.

Good time management allows you to look at your to-do list, categorize, and prioritize everything that’s expected of you. You’ll readily see the distinctions between work-related and personal tasks. You’ll know whether you can delegate some tasks or shuffle items so that you can be more effective.

The result is a calmer and more-accomplished you.

Start managing your time

Time isn’t an infinite resource for us. By becoming excellent at time management, everyone can make the most of the time they are given. Failing to manage your time means losing hours you can never get back. Succeeding opens a world of possibilities.

By sharpening your time management skills, you can expect to be more confident and effective at work, and you’ll have more time to spend with your family. You can take care of yourself and feel a strong sense of purpose when you produce your best work.

Find out how you can boost your time management skills here: 20 Quick Tips For Better Time Management

Effective time management leaves you energized, which translates into living fully and trying exciting things in the new time you’ve found in your day.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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The Definitive Guide to Cope with Work Stress (Simple and Effective)

Workplace stress is a modern epidemic. More than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress. This is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion a year in lost work hours and medical bills.[1]

Clearly, if you’re suffering from work stress – you’re far from alone. But, work stress isn’t inevitable.

In this article, I’m going to help you identify the root cause of your stress and suggest the most suitable ways to cope with it so you can become a happy and productive worker again.

  • Where does work stress come from

    Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. The causes of stress include:

    • Too much work – you find yourself saying: “There are not enough hours in the day!”
    • The job is too easy, not challenging or inspiring – this is where boredom (which is stressful) sets in.
    • Pressure from co-workers or lack of social support – colleagues are not helpful or only care about their own tasks.
    • Little praise and lots of criticism – this is where a lousy manager uses constant criticism to ‘try’ to motivate you.
    • Very demanding or competitive working culture – sales departments often fit this category.
    • Not having enough control over job-related decisions – this is when people try to micro-manage you.
    • High expectations on yourself or seeking perfection – while it’s good to do your best, being a perfectionist can be a powerful stress generator.
    • Low salary – if you work hard but receive slim financial rewards, you may start to feel downhearted, frustrated and stressed.

    The negative effects of stress on your mind and body

    Chronic stress is bad news for your health. These are some health symptoms of stress:[2]

    If stress hormones are triggered in your body for extended periods, they can lead to increased physical aging. This is because stress makes your cells look and act older – and this is reflected in your physical appearance.[3]

    In addition to the negative effects on your body, stress also has a significant influence on your brain – negatively impacting your daily performance.

    I recommend you watch the 4-minute video below to see just how stress can wreak havoc on your brain and your performance:

    How to cope with work stress

    You don’t need to be a victim of work stress. Here’s how to manage stress in the workplace:

    1. Set aside some time for planning

    If work has become too much for you, and you’re constantly falling behind… stop! Instead of trying and failing to catch up, you’d be much better off spending some time thinking about your goals and how your prioritize your tasks.

    Learn how to set clear goals with this step-by-step guide:

    How to Set Goals: 10 Steps to Stay Focused

    For instance, if your initial goal is just to get on top of your work (probably for the first time in months), then take 10 minutes to think clearly and deeply about how you can achieve this. Most likely, you’ll be able to come up with tasks that you need to complete to reach your goal. And once your goal and tasks are clear in your mind, you’ll be ready for the second step.

    2. Align your tasks with your goal

    Just knowing your goal and associated tasks is not enough. Many people reach this stage but still fall behind with their work and fail to achieve their goals.

    The secret is to understand which of your tasks should be high priority and which ones can be done when you have spare time.

    For example, checking your inbox every 20 minutes may seem to be a productive task for you, but in reality it acts as a constant distraction and productivity killer. Instead, you’d be better off setting aside 30 minutes in the morning to check your emails and 30 minutes in the afternoon to do the same.

    By doing this, you’ll free up the bulk of your day for tasks that can help you reach your goal. These tasks are likely to be things like: writing a business proposal, creating a PowerPoint presentation, and finishing an important project.

    Learn how to prioritize in my other article:

    How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    3. Remove, change or accept the stressors

    How to tackle specific work stressors? I recommend the following method that WellCast introduced:[4]

    Take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. At the top, write remove in the first column, change in the second and accept in the third.

    Next, think of the stressors that are getting to you the most. Perhaps it’s your paycheck; it might be way smaller than you’d like or feel that you deserve. Don’t worry, this is your chance to break free from the stress surrounding your low pay.

    Think for a few moments, which would you prefer:

    • To remove yourself from the company
    • To try to change your salary by asking for a pay rise
    • To accept that your salary is okay for you

    You may be surprised at what thoughts come into your mind. Don’t reject them, but allow yourself time to be clear on how you’d like to proceed.

    If the status quo feels good to you, then write “paycheck” in the accept column. If you decide you want to increase your salary but stay in the same company, write “paycheck” in the change column. And finally, if you decide the time is right to seek a new opportunity at a different organization, then write “paycheck” in the remove column.

    By being decisive in this way, you’ll immediately feel freer and in control of your destiny. And your stress levels will begin to trend downwards. All that remains is to set yourself a clear goal of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do this.(Luckily, steps #1 and #2 above will help you out!)

    Of course, if you have multiple work stressors, then use your remove, change or accept sheet to work through all of them. It will be time VERY well spent.

    4. Create positive relationships at work

    One key to improving your ability to manage stress is being able to accept help from others. Not only does it alleviate negative circumstances by simply distracting you and creating a buffer between daily tasks and their negative connection, it will provide a sense of support and relief.

    Make an effort to create friendships with your colleagues. Go to the after-work happy hour or just ask a colleague out for coffee at lunchtime. Not only will you have someone to confide in, but you will start to associate positive feelings to work.

    Forming a healthy relationship with your manager or supervisor is also a good way to alleviate stress. Positive, two-way conversations about where you stand in your job, being honest about how you feel, and working together to make a plan of action in terms of improved work conditions and expectations are paramount. This will lead to opening up and receiving the necessary resources you need to support or help you.

    5. Take time out for yourself

    Anyone can get overwhelmed when stress occurs at work, and this can spill into other areas of your life. This is why it’s important to clock out mentally from your job from time to time.

    Take time off to relax and unwind in order to regain your energy and come back to work invigorated. Make sure you actually do something you enjoy like spending time with your kids or partner, or visit that country you’ve always wanted to explore.

    If taking time off work isn’t possible in the midst of your stress, take scheduled breaks throughout your day. Sit quietly somewhere or do some stretches to get your blood flowing like in the example below:

    6. Take mindful action towards your health

    The irony of stress is that your healthy habits can take a backseat. Maintaining and even improving your health will keep your stress under control. Here are some ways to keep you physically fit:

    • Eat healthy foods. Make sure your diet is full of foods that provide your body with sufficient nutrients. Eat more fruits and green vegetables, whole foods, omega-3 rich fish, and seeds such as flax, chia and hemp. These types of food ensure your body is working optimally to cope with its stress mechanisms.
    • Avoid unhealthy foods. This is obvious, but it’s these kinds of food you reach for in times of stress and negativity. High fat foods such as cheese and red meat cause sluggishness and tiredness. Foods high in refined sugars like biscuits, chocolate bars, and bread can be convenient snacks, but they cause you to crash and burn. Same with caffeinated drinks such as coffee and sodas – these are just ‘band aid’ habits that interfere with your ability to sleep.
    • Exercise regularly. Endorphins are the best for counteracting stress, and what better way to release them than doing physical exercise. Exercise creates a distraction and helps you get your thoughts back together in an orderly way. Start a new exercise regime – whether it’s running, swimming, cycling or walking to work. Getting your blood and endorphins flowing will make you feel happier.
    • Get enough sleep. Make getting 8 hours sleep a priority. When we’re stressed it can sometimes feel hard to get to sleep but sleep deprivation only exaggerates our current stress. A well-rested mind is able to find solutions to problems more easily and reacts better to daily stressors.

    Everyone encounters stress at work. It’s a natural and normal human reaction. The difference between letting the stress overcome you and coping with it is getting a head start by creating a positive environment and lifestyle.

    Counteracting stress is both an inside and outside job. Focusing on improving your health will create a positive mind able to react better. Forming positive relationships with certain people around you will give you emotional support.

    Beat stress with the right mindset.

    Featured photo credit: Caio Triana, Pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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    How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

    All managers and leaders must master the art of delegation. Understanding how and when to allocate responsibility to others is essential in maintaining a high level of productivity, both on a personal and organizational level. Knowing how to delegate is also essential for an effective leadership.

    To learn how to delegate is to build a cohesive and effective team who can meet deadlines. Moreover, knowing when and how to delegate work will reduce your workload, thus improving your wellbeing at work and boosting your job satisfaction. Unfortunately, many leaders are unsure how to delegate properly or are hesitant to do so.

    In this guide, you will discover what delegation really entails, how it benefits your team, and how to delegate tasks successfully.

  • The importance of delegation

    An effective leader knows how to delegate. When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more on a daily basis. Effective delegation also promotes productivity within a team by drawing on the existing skill set of its members and allowing them to develop new knowledge and competencies along the way. The result is a more flexible team that can share roles when the need arises.[1]

    When you are willing to delegate, you are promoting an atmosphere of confidence and trust. Your actions send a clear signal: as a leader, you trust your subordinates to achieve desired outcomes. As a result, they will come to think of you as a likeable and efficient leader who respects their skills and needs.

    Delegation isn’t about barking orders and hoping that your staff falls in line. A manager’s job is to get the very best from those under their supervision and in doing so, maximizing productivity and profit.[2]

    Here’s an example of bad delegation:

    Careful delegation helps to identify and capitalize on the unique strengths and weaknesses of the team members. Delegation also boosts employees’ engagement as it proves that the managers are interested in drawing on their talents.[3]

    The fear to delegate

    Delegation boosts productivity, but not all managers are willing or able to delegate.[4] Why? Here’re some common reasons:[5]

    • They may resent the idea that someone else may get the credit for a project.
    • They may be willing to delegate in principle but are afraid their team won’t be able to handle an increased degree of responsibility.
    • They may suspect that their staff is already overworked, and feel reluctant to increase their burden.
    • They may suspect that it’s simpler and quicker just to do a task themselves.
    • They dislike the idea of letting go of tasks they enjoy doing.
    • They fear that if they delegate responsibility, their own manager will conclude that they can’t handle their workload.

    Delegation vs Allocation

    Most people think that delegation and allocation are synonymous, but there is an important distinction to be made between the two.[6]

    When you allocate a task, you are merely instructing a subordinate to carry out a specific action. You tell them what to do, and they do it–it’s that simple. On the other hand, delegation involves transferring some of your own work to another person. They do not just receive a set of instructions. Rather, they are placed in a role that requires that they make decisions and are held accountable for outcomes.[7]

    So what’s the best way to delegate work so you can fight the fear of delegation, build an efficient team and work faster?

    How to delegate work effectively (A step-by-step guide)

    1. Know when to delegate

    By understanding how much control you need to maintain over a situation, you can determine the best strategy for empowering workers. There are 7 levels of delegation that offer workers different degrees of responsibility.

    This brief video explains these levels and offers examples of when it’s appropriate to use each one:

    Delegation occurs along a spectrum. The lowest level of delegation happens when you tell other people what to do. It offers little opportunity for employees to try new approaches. The most empowering form of delegation occurs when you are able to give up most of your control over the project to the employee.

    Knowing how to delegate work helps you understand how to connect people with tasks that make the best use of their talents. When done properly, it ensures that you will get the best end-result.[8]

    When you’re deciding how to delegate work, ask the following questions:

    • Do you have to be in charge of this task, or can someone else pull it off?
    • Does this require your attention to be successful?
    • Will this work help an employee develop their skills?
    • Do you have time to teach someone how to do this job?
    • Do you expect tasks of this nature to recur in the future?

    2. Identify the best person for the job

    You have to pass the torch to the right team member for delegation to work. Your goal is to create a situation in which you, your company, and the employee have a positive experience.

    Think about team members’ skills, willingness to learn, and their working styles and interests. They’ll be able to carry out the work more effectively if they’re capable, coachable, and interested. When possible, give an employee a chance to play to their strengths.

    Inexperienced workers may need more guidance than seasoned veterans. If you don’t have the time to set the newer employee up for success, it’s not fair to delegate to them.

    You also have to consider how busy your employees are. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm someone by giving them too many responsibilities.

    3. Tell and sell to get the member buy-in

    After you’ve found the perfect person for the job, you still have to get them to take on the new responsibility. Let them know why you chose them for the job. [9] When you show others that you support their growth, it builds a culture of trust. Employees who see delegated tasks as opportunities are more likely to be invested in the outcome.

    When you’re working with newer employees, express your willingness to provide ongoing support and feedback. For seasoned employees, take their thoughts and experiences into account.

    4. Be clear and specific about the work

    It’s critical to explain to employees why the project is necessary, what you expect of them, and when it’s due.[10] If they know what you expect, they’ll be more likely to deliver.

    By setting clear expectations, you help them plan how to carry out the task. Set up project milestones so that you can check progress without micromanaging. If your employee has trouble meeting a milestone, they still have time to course correct before the final product is due.

    This type of accountability is commonly used in universities. If students only know the due date and basic requirements for completing major research papers, they might put off the work until the eleventh hour. Many programs require students to meet with advisers weekly to get guidance, address structure, and work out kinks in their methods in advance of deadlines. These measures set students up to succeed while giving them the space to produce great work.

    5. Support your employees

    To see the best possible outcomes of delegating, your subordinates need resources and support from you. Connect them with training and materials to develop skillsets they don’t already have.[11] It may take more time up front to make resources available, but you’ll save time by having the work done correctly. For recurring tasks, this training pays off repeatedly.

    Sometimes employees need a help to see what they’re doing well and how they can improve. Giving and receiving feedback is an essential part of delegation. This is also a good way to monitor the delegated tasks as a leader. While you can keep track of the progress of the tasks, you are not micro-managing the employees.

    Throughout the project, periodically ask your employees if they need support or clarification. Make it clear that you trust them to do the work, and you want to create a space for them to ask questions and offer feedback. This feedback will help you refine the way you delegate work.

    6. Show your appreciation

    During periodic check-ins, recognize any wins that you’ve seen on the project so far. Acknowledge that your employees are making progress toward the objective. The Progress Principle lays out how important it is to celebrate small wins to keep employees motivated.[12] Workers will be more effective and dedicated if they know that you notice their efforts.

    Recognizing employees when they do well helps them understand the quality of work you expect. It makes them more likely to want to work with you again on future projects.

    Putting delegation into practice

    Now that you know exactly what delegation means and the techniques to delegate work efficiently, you are in a great position to streamline your tasks and drive productivity in your team.

    To delegate is to grant autonomy and authority to someone else, thus lightening your own workload and building a well-rounded, well-utilized team.

    Delegation might seem complicated or scary, but it gets much easier with time. Start small by delegating a couple of decisions to members of your team over the next week or two.

    Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

    Reference

    [1] BOS Staffing: 5 Benefits Of Delegation – Empower Your Team
    [2] Brian Tracy International: How to Delegate The Right Tasks To The Right People: Effective Management Skills For Leadership Success
    [3] MindTools: Successful Delegation: Using The Power Of Other People’s Help
    [4] Fast Company: The Three Most Common Fears About Delegation: Debunked
    [5] Leadership Skills Training: Delegation
    [6] Abhinav Jain: Delegation of work vs Allocation of work
    [7] Anthony Donovan: Management Training: Delegating Effectively
    [8] Management 3.0: Practice: Delegation Board
    [9] Focus: The Creativity and Productivity Blog: A Guide to Delegating Tasks Effectively
    [10] Inc.: 6 Ways to Delegate More Effectively
    [11] The Muse: The 10 Rules of Successful Delegation
    [12] Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer: The Progress Principle

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    How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    Today is your lucky day, as I’m going to reveal to you how I helped my team get more things done in less time through the power of correct prioritization.

    A few minutes spent reading this article could literally save you thousands of hours over the long term. So, let’s get started.

    Everyone of my team members has a bucketload of tasks that they need to deal with every working day. On top of that, most of their tasks are related to creativity as we’re a content publisher.

    Despite having loads of tasks to handle, our team is consistently able to stay creative and work towards our goals.

    How do we manage that? Through the Scales Method – a productivity method I created several years ago.

    How to prioritize and work 10X faster with the Scales Method

    One of our new editors came to me the other day and told me how she was struggling to keep up with the many tasks she needed to handle and the deadlines she constantly needed to stick to.

    At the end of each day, she felt like she had done a lot of things but often failed to come up with creative ideas and to get articles successfully published. From what she told me, it was obvious that she felt overwhelmed and was growing increasingly frustrated about failing to achieve her targets despite putting in extra hours most days.

    After she listened to my advice – and I introduced her to the Scales Method – she immediately experienced a dramatic rise in productivity, which looked like this:

    • She could produce three times more creative ideas for blog articles
    • She could publish all her articles on time
    • And she could finish all her work on time every day (no more overtime!)

    Curious to find out how she did it? Read on for the step-by-step guide:

    1. Set aside 10 minutes for planning

    When it comes to tackling productivity issues, it makes sense to plan before taking action. However, don’t become so involved in planning that you become trapped in it and never move beyond first base.

    My recommendation is to give yourself a specific time period for planning – but keep it short. Ideally, 10 or 15 minutes. This should be adequate to think about your plan.

    Use this time to:

    • Look at the big picture.
    • Think about the current goal and target that you need/want to achieve.
    • Lay out all the tasks you need to do.

    2. Align your tasks with your goal

    This is the core component that makes the Scales Method effective.

    It works like this:

    Take a look at all the tasks you’re doing, and review the importance of each of them. Specifically, measure a task’s importance by its cost and benefit.

    By cost, I am referring to the effort needed per task (including time, money and other resources). The benefit is how closely the task can contribute to your goal.

    To make this easier for you, I’ve listed below four combinations that will enable you to quickly and easily determine the priority of each of your tasks:

    Low cost + High benefit

    Do these tasks first because they’re the simple ones to complete, yet help you get closer to your goal.

    Approving artwork created for a sales brochure would likely fit this category. You could easily decide on whether you liked the artwork/layout, but your decision to approve would trigger the production of the leaflet and the subsequent sales benefits of sending it out to potential customers.

    High cost + High benefit

    Break the high cost task down into smaller ones. In other words, break the big task into mini ones that take less than an hour to complete. And then re-evaluate these small tasks and set their correct priority level.

    Imagine if you were asked to write a product launch plan for a new diary-free protein powder supplement. Instead of trying to write the plan in one sitting – aim to write the different sections at different times (e.g., spend 30 minutes writing the introduction, one hour writing the body text, and 30 minutes writing the conclusion).

    Low cost + Low benefit

    This combination should be your lowest priority. Either give yourself 10-15 minutes to handle this task, or put these kind of tasks in between valuable tasks as a useful break.

    These are probably necessary tasks (e.g., routine tasks like checking emails) but they don’t contribute much towards reaching your desired goal. Keep them way down your priority list.

    High cost + Low benefit

    Review if these tasks are really necessary. Think of ways to reduce the cost if you decide that the completion of the task is required.

    For instance, can any tools or systems help to speed up doing the task? In this category, you’re likely to find things like checking and updating sales contacts spreadsheets. This can be a fiddly and time-consuming thing to do without making mistakes. However, there are plenty of apps out there they can make this process instant and seamless.

    Now, coming back to the editor who I referred to earlier, let’s take a look at her typical daily task list:

    After listening to my advice, she broke down the High cost+ High benefit task into smaller ones. Her tasks then looked like this (in order of priority):

    And for the task about promoting articles to different platforms, after reviewing its benefits, we decided to focus on the most effective platform only – thereby significantly lowering the associated time cost.

    3. BONUS TIP: Tackling tasks with deadlines

    Once you’ve evaluated your tasks, you’ll know the importance of each of them. This will immediately give you a crystal-clear picture on which tasks would help you to achieve more (in terms of achieving your goals). Sometimes, however, you won’t be able to decide every task’s priority because there’ll be deadlines set by external parties such as managers and agencies.

    What to do in these cases?

    Well, I suggest that after considering the importance and values of your current tasks, align the list with the deadlines and adjust the priorities accordingly.

    For example, let’s dip into the editor’s world again.

    Some of the articles she edited needed to be published by specific dates. The Scales Method allows for this, and in this case, her amended task list would look something like this:

    Hopefully, you can now see how easy it is to evaluate the importance of tasks and how to order them in lists of priority.

    The Scales Method is different from anything else you’ve tried

    By adopting the Scales Method, you’ll begin to correctly prioritize your work, and most importantly – boost your productivity by up to 10 times!

    And unlike other methods that don’t really explain how to decide the importance of a task, my method will help you break down each of your tasks into two parts: cost and benefits. My method will also help you to take follow-up action based on different cost and benefits combinations.

    Start right now by spending 10 minutes to evaluate your common daily tasks and how they align with your goal(s). Once you have this information, it’ll be super-easy to put your tasks into a priority list. All that remains, is that you kick off your next working day by following your new list.

    Trust me, once you begin using the Scales Method – you’ll never want to go back to your old ways of working.

    Featured photo credit: Vector Stock via vectorstock.com

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    How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    Until you know how to focus, you’ll never be able to think clearly, solve problems, make decisions, or remember things. Being focused is important but staying on a task is becoming harder and harder. A symphony of notifications can draw you out of whatever you’re doing at a moment’s notice.

    Every time your mind wanders from your work, you have to waste time and energy getting back on track. A recent study from the University of California calculated that it took people an average of 25 minutes and 26 seconds to get back to work after an interruption.[1] This means that every time something takes your attention off your work, you lose nearly half an hour of your precious time.

    Interruptions are bound to happen, but when they happen several times per day, you’ll waste lots of time and energy. In this guide, you’ll learn more about why it’s so hard to stay focused and what you can do to reduce distractions, be more productive, and increase your focus.

  • What makes staying focused difficult

    Physically unfit

    Everything is more difficult when you feel sick or tired. If you haven’t been getting enough sleep, your mind is bound to wander.

    Human bodies are meant to be in motion, many of us lead sedentary lifestyles. Not getting enough exercise is another common reason you might lose focus quickly. Exercised helps your body regulate hormones and process insulin. It also alleviates symptoms of depression and anxiety.[2] A British study found that people’s work performance were better on the days they exercised:

    What you eat and drink can play a major role in your ability to settle into your work, too. Start by staying properly hydrated. About 60% of your body is water. If you’re dehydrated you’re going to feel sluggish, and your brain won’t be able to work as well.

    Digestive upsets and imbalanced gut bacteria are disruptive no matter what you’re doing. An upset digestive system is uncomfortable, but it also prevents you from making use of all the nutrients in your food. This means that even if you are eating well, you may not be getting the nutrition that helps you focus.

    For example, B Vitamins are essential for digestion and we deplete them rapidly when exposed to stress. A lack of B Vitamins will almost certainly leave you feeling foggy-headed.[3]

    An emotional brain

    You know how hard it can be to focus when you’re worried about something else. Your limbic system, the epicenter for all your emotions and memories, attaches feelings to everything. Based on a study conducted by Bond University professor of management Cynthia Fisher, there are some common emotions at work shown to shape performance:[4]

    The way you feel about your work can destroy your productivity and focus if you have a negative point of view. It’s worthwhile to take some time to get to know yourself so that you can figure out what triggers emotional reactions and loss of focus.

    One of the best things you can do is infuse your life with positivity. When your work triggers positive emotions, you’ll be more interested in what you’re doing, and it’ll be easier to stay on task.[5]

    Too many distractions

    We’re fortunate to have so much technology at our fingertips, but these advances are a double-edged sword. As you work, phone calls, text messages, emails, and social media notifications threaten to derail your focus.

    A 2012 study from the McKinsey Global Institute found that people spend around 13 hours or 28% of their workweek managing emails.[6] That’s not to say that all time spent on technology is non-productive. It’s just that most of us have a hard time compartmentalizing our inboxes and notifications so that they don’t pull us from other tasks. As mentioned, it takes a whopping 25 minutes and 26 seconds to regain focus on average. Distractions are costly.

    Multitasking through the day

    You may think you’re being more efficient when you multitask, but only about 2% of the population can effectively multitask.[7] James Clear’s illustration has best described the myth of multitasking:

    For the other 98%, they mutitask in three different ways:[8]

    • Do two things at the same time.
    • Switch to a new task without completing the original thing we were working on.
    • Rapidly cycle back and forth between tasks, which gives us the illusion that we are among the 2% of effective multitaskers.

    Human brains aren’t designed to do that kind of cognitive shuffling. People end up with a nasty build up of “attention residue” when they switch between tasks.[9]

    If you’ve ever been distracted by thinking about something else you have to do while you’re working on another project, you’ve experienced the effects of attention residue. Constantly shifting between tasks can cost you about 40% or 16 hours of your workweek. That’s like tossing two days out of every workweek in the trash. [10]

    Multitasking can cause you to perform as though you’ve lost 10-15 points on your IQ score. No matter how smart you are, that’s a significant drop in your effectiveness. A study from the University of London likened this to missing an entire night of sleep.[11]

    You’ll thrive if you can learn how to focus and carve out time for deep work. You’ll need to create windows of time that are completely free of distractions like emails if you want to be most effective.[12]

    How to find focus in a distracted world

    Tricks to tackle distractions

    1. Block out time for uninterrupted work

    Make sure you schedule important time for yourself where you can focus on your tasks in uninterrupted silence. Let people know that you won’t be responding unless absolutely necessary. Think of this as scheduling a meeting with yourself and treat it the same as you would when scheduling a meeting with others.

    Put your status as “busy” on your messaging apps and shared calendars. Wear headphones (even if you aren’t listening to anything) to make yourself appear that you’re focusing on your work. Intentionally carving out this block of time will help you focus and cause others to be more hesitant about distracting you.

    2. Email batching

    Emails can come into our inbox continuously through the day and it’s tempting to respond to them as and when we receive them. Similar to blocking out specific time for focus, carve out time to deal with emails in one go.

    Doing this will create more productivity and keep you in the flow of dealing with emails one after the other. If you find you still get distracted easily by every new email, you can install a Chrome extension called Block Site which allows you to stop Gmail notifications coming through at specific times.

    3. Turn technology from distraction to a useful tool

    These days, many people feel controlled by technology and their phones to some extent so make use of the disabling options it gives you. Turn off email alerts, app notifications, set your phone to go straight to voicemail and even create auto-responses to incoming text messages.

    There are also some really cool apps that encourage you to be more productive and less distracted by your phone. Forrest is an app that rewards you each time you focus well, motivating you in a fun way and encourages you to leave your phone well alone.

    4. Schedule a distraction time

    Just as important as scheduling focus time is scheduling distraction time.

    A study conducted by the social networking company Draugiem Group, found that regular breaks was the key to productivity. More specifically, the most productive employees spent 52 minutes working followed by a 17 minute break each time.

    This is down to the brain’s ability to stay motivated – it just can’t sustain long periods of focus and concentration. The average attention span for an adult is between 15 and 40 minutes. After this, distractions become more powerful and we become less motivated. So while taking a mental break might seem unproductive, in the long run it makes the brain more efficient towards a task.

    Techniques to train a more focused mind

    5. Anticipate your internal needs

    You may think it’s the outside physical distractions that cause us to be unproductive but actually 44 percent of distractions are also internal. Think about it – hunger, boredom, stress and lack of sleep have probably played a part in your demotivation many times.

    The good news is, you can control these factors by understanding your patterns and planning ahead. Do you always feel sleepy late-afternoon? Does the hunger set in around 11am? Do you start to get bored towards the end of the day? Taking note of these patterns and counteracting them is a brilliant way to become less distracted by them.

    Mix up your tasks so you alternate the boring and interesting ones more frequently. Keep a snack close when you know your stomach starts to rumble. Go for a quick run up and down the stairs to perk you up.

    6. Practice mindfulness

    Mindfulness trains your mind to identify thoughts that arise throughout your day. When it comes to distraction, understanding and noticing these moments can help you deal with them more quickly and increase your attention span.

    Meditation and mindfulness practice can be done at any time. While you eat your food, notice the taste, texture and how it looks and feels. When reading, really take in every word or while out walking notice how your body feels and the details of your surroundings. Doing this on a regular basis will eventually train your mind when it comes to other areas where distracting thoughts pop up like a work task.

    Watch this 20-minute guided mindfulness exercise guide if you want to learn how to practice mindfulness:

    7. Exercise regularly

    Not only is exercise good for the body but it’s also good for the brain. Physical exercise fires up the neurons in the brain making you more alert and willing to concentrate. This means it increases your ability to ignore distractions and get on with the task at hand.

    You can do an exercise routine in the morning and head straight into work making sure your block of focus time is carved out first thing. You’ll be surprised at how much motivation you have and how much you get done. If you think you’re too busy to do any exercises, here’s how to find time for exercises.

    8. Create a willpower workout

    Just like your muscles need a workout, so does your willpower in order to build up its strength.

    Setting daily self-control habits can train our mind in the art of control in many other areas. In the book Willpower  by John Tierny and Roy Baumeister, Tierny cites a study in which students were asked to watch their posture for a week. At the end of that week, these students performed better on self-control tasks (tasks that were unrelated to sitting up straight) than another group who weren’t asked to be mindful of their posture.

    A good willpower practice is to watch the way you speak. Make an effort not to use contractions i.e. try saying ‘I am’ instead of ‘I’m’. Speak in complete sentences and refrain from saying ‘nah’ instead of ‘no’ or ‘yeah’ instead of ‘yes’.

    Alternatively, try using your opposite hand in tasks. The aim is to get your brain used to mental effort and the more it uses mental effort, the more it builds up your willpower muscle. Find out more ways to help you increase your willpower here: 10 Simple But Powerful Tricks to Boost Willpower

    A solid routine to stay focused

    You don’t have to wonder how to focus if you set a routine. Having excellent habits leads to a productive routine that saves you tons of time and helps you focus.

    Finding and adopting the right daily routine will help you regain wasted time. Your mind and body will thank you for the decreased anxiety and your productivity will be super-boosted.

    If you’re looking for inspiration about habits you should incorporate into your day, check out my post about how to create your own powerful routine:

    A Powerful Daily Routine that Will Upgrade Your Life (With Exact Steps to Follow)

    Now you know why it’s hard to stay focused and what steps you can take to stay on-task.

    Start by addressing your physical health and emotional needs. Identify what’s distracting you and compartmentalize tasks like managing email to specific times in your day. If you’re a chronic multi-tasker, it’s time to hang up that hat and focus on one thing at a time.

    Above all, develop productive habits that lead to efficient routines so that deep focus becomes the norm for you. You have all the tools you need to figure out how to focus on the things that matter most to you. It’s time to give your work your undivided attention.

    Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

    Reference

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    A Powerful Daily Routine that Will Upgrade Your Life (With Exact Steps to Follow)

    We all have habits. Big or small, healthy or unhealthy, our habits combine to form routines that play out every day for us. Most of this is done without us even having to think. That’s why even though we understand the importance of having good habits, sometimes it’s tough to stick to a healthy daily routine.

    Today, you’ll learn more about why setting a routine can be a challenge. By understanding the root causes for your behaviors, you’ll learn how to make changes and stick with them. You’ll also discover some positive daily routines that can lead you to a healthier and happier life.

    Finding and adopting the right daily routine will re-energize you and help you regain wasted time. Your mind and body will thank you for the decreased anxiety and extra care you’ve given it. Here’s to a healthier, calmer, and higher-achieving you.

  • How a daily routine saves you tons of time

    Your daily routine consists of all of your habits. These actions structure your day and make the difference between operating at peak efficiency and struggling to make it through a poorly-planned day.

    You can have energizing, time-saving routines, or you can adopt draining, inefficient routines. The choice is up to you. Don’t feel bad if you know that some unhealthy habits have crept into your day. The important thing is to recognize them so that you can make a change.

    An excellent daily routine sets you up for success. If you make just one change that saves you 10 minutes per day, you can regain 60 hours of your precious time back each year.[1]

    Having a daily routine not only makes you more efficient, it also eliminates your need to waste time deciding what to do next.[2] It’ll help you build good habits and break bad ones.[3] It seems counter-intuitive, but adding some structure to your life can set you free.

    Daily routines for a healthier, calmer, and higher-achieving you

    It takes time to become the best version of yourself but I’ll help you to make it easier by getting you a few healthy daily routines to follow directly:

    • Daily routine for better health and more energy
    • Daily routine for an organized life
    • Daily routine for more productive work
    • Daily routine for a stronger relationship

    Pick one routine to stick to first, and then gradually combine one more routine to fit into your life each week. In less than 2 months, you will be living a healthy and successful lifestyle in autopilot.

    Daily routine for better health and more energy

    Morning…

    1. Start your day with a glass of lemon water

    Simply add the juice of half a lemon to your glass and drink it to enjoy a refreshing start to the day.

    Lemon juice reduces your body’s acidity levels, which in turn protects you against inflammatory diseases such as fungal infections and osteoporosis.[4]

    2. Exercise

    Working out early in the morning improves your energy levels, improves your circulation, and encourages good lymphatic function. Just 20 minutes every day can make a difference! Mix up cardio and weights throughout the week for all-over toning and general health.

    Getting on the scale each morning is also an effective way to monitor your weight. Don’t go weeks without weighing yourself, because this allows you to remain in denial about any weight gain![5]

    3. Eat a good breakfast

    Fuel yourself with a healthy mix of protein, slow-release carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Sensible options include yogurt with nuts and berries, a vegetable omelette, and low-sugar granola bars with a piece of fruit.

    4. Stay hydrated and snack smart

    Did you know that becoming even slightly dehydrated can lead to lowered mood and decreased concentration? Keep water or other low-sugar drinks on hand to sip throughout the day.[6]

    When it comes to snacking, pick foods that will give you a slow release of energy. Pairing a protein with a complex carbohydrate is a smart choice. For example, try half an apple spread with peanut butter. Check out for more healthy snack ideas here.

    Afternoon…

    5. Get a healthy lunch

    Even the busiest of us can grab a healthy lunch. You just need to think ahead!

    For lunch ideas you can make in advance and take with you to work, check out this post: Healthy Lunch Ideas for Work

    Avoid too much fat at lunch time, as it promotes afternoon lethargy, which isn’t going to help you get through a busy day![7] If you are watching your weight, track everything you eat using an app like MyFitnessPal.

    6. Take some mid-afternoon exercise

    Most of us have a mid-afternoon “slump” somewhere between 2 p.m and 4 p.m, but you can keep yourself going through the day by choosing a healthy lunch and taking some moderate exercise in the afternoon. This doesn’t have to strenuous. Just a 10-minute walk and a few stretches at your desk can work wonders. Check out this list of 29 exercises you can do at (or near) your desk.

    At night…

    7. Dinner

    With a plethora of meal planning apps out there, getting a quick but healthy dinner on the table has never been easier! Use an app like Mealime to help you organize your grocery list so that you always have the right ingredients to hand. Be realistic – choose something that doesn’t require a lot of time or effort to throw together, otherwise you may resort to takeout.

    Green vegetables are always a great choice, as they are packed with antioxidants and have an alkalinizing effect. Choose plant-based proteins such as tofu or seitan or, if you prefer animal protein, pick fish and lamb rather than beef or chicken to minimize acidity levels in the body.[8]

    Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening, because it will prevent you sleeping soundly at night.

    8. Take time to relax

    It’s normal to feel stressed from time to time, but high stress levels leave you vulnerable to a number of health conditions and problems including depression and elevated blood pressure.

    Find a healthy activity that relaxes you, then set aside some time every day to do it! This could be journaling, reading an inspiring book, spending time with a pet, meditating, or simply taking a few minutes to remind yourself of everything that is going well in your life.

    9. Take vitamin C supplement before going to sleep

    Take half a teaspoon of buffered vitamin C powder in a glass of water before turning in for the night.

    This is a quick, effective means of reducing the acidity in your body. It will also ensure that you go to bed well-hydrated, which will help you wake up with a clear head.

    10. Go to sleep at a reasonable hour.

    It sounds obvious, but if you want to feel your best then you must get enough sleep. Most experts recommend that we get between 6-10 hours of sleep per night.[9] Some of us can get by on six hours, but be honest with yourself – if you feel better having had more sleep, bear it in mind when setting your alarm clock.

    Turn off your phone and computer at least an hour before bed, and avoid vigorous exercise in the late evening. These measures will help you wind down when it’s time for sleep.

    Daily routine for an organized life

    Before work…

    1. Make your bed in the morning

    Start the day off right by making your bed. It’s a quick chore that will put you in a productive, organized frame of mind.[10]

    2. Have your workout equipment and clothing ready the night before

    If you like to work out, the morning is the best time to do it! It will leave you feeling full of energy and will give you a sense of accomplishment before you leave the house. Whether you like to go for a walk, take a gym class or do yoga in your bedroom, make sure that you have all the equipment and clothing you need laid out and ready the night before.

    3. Spray down and wipe the largest surfaces in the bathroom

    After your morning shower, spray down and wipe the largest surfaces in your bathroom. It’s much easier and more fun to do mini-cleans throughout the week than wait until the weekend![11]

    4. Put everything back where you found it after breakfast

    When you’ve made your breakfast, put everything back exactly where you found it – this makes everything easier the morning after. If you notice that you are running low on a grocery item, add it to a list you can take with you next time you pass the grocery store.

    5. Run through a list of your essential items before you leave the house

    Before you leave the house, run through a list of your essential items such as your wallet, employee badge, water bottle, and so on. Keep a list of these items near your front door so that you can quickly check your purse or bag before heading out the door. Don’t try to de-clutter or re-organize a room before work, as this will just add to your stress levels!

    When you arrive at work…

    6. Prioritize your tasks

    Make a list of tasks and decide whether they are important, urgent, both, or neither. Start with important and urgent tasks, move onto the important and non-urgent tasks, then tackle the unimportant but urgent jobs. Writing a task list gives you a sense of control.

    7. Prioritize your emails

    Before you start your day, spend 10 minutes prioritizing your e-mails. We all receive so many messages each day that we can’t hope to reply to them all! Get into the habit of deciding which ones need your urgent attention, which are important, which are both, and which are neither.

    Check your e-mails every couple of hours rather than every few minutes, because frequent interruptions will impair your concentration and productivity.

    During your coffee break…

    8. Keep your finances on track

    Take a couple of minutes to keep your finances on track. Check your bank balance, and make sure that you’re sticking to your budget! You can also use apps to help you manage your money, including Mint.

    9. Think about what you are going to have for dinner

    Do you need to pick anything up from the grocery store on the way home? Do you need to look up a recipe? This only takes a few minutes, but a bit of planning can save a lot of time later. Why not use a meal planning app such as Mealime?

    At lunchtime…

    10. Make personal calls or send personal emails (when necessary)

    This is the perfect opportunity to make any personal calls or send personal e-mails. For example, you could schedule that dental appointment you’ve been putting off, or finally reply to that e-mail from your aunt. These little chores can seem overwhelming when you get home from work and just want to relax, so do them at lunch.

    11. Clear your desk before you leave your desk

    Take five minutes to clear your work desk before you leave for your break. It will help you feel more organized when you return.

    Afternoon…

    12. Quickly review your to-do list

    If you aren’t making as much progress as you hoped, it’s time to rewrite it!

    13. Carry out mundane and easy tasks

    If possible, carry out mundane and easy tasks such as replying to simple e-mails a couple of hours after lunch, when your energy will naturally hit a slump. In general, as the day goes on, we lose the capacity to make lots of high-level decisions.

    Try to schedule your more complex tasks for the morning. On the other hand, important and urgent tasks must always take priority.

    14. Neat your desk before you leave the office

    Spend the last 10 minutes of your workday neatening your desk and your computer desktop. This will help you stay organized the following morning.

    Evening…

    15. Put everything you’ve worn on that day the same place you took from

    Always put your coat, purse, and other possessions away in the same place the moment you get in the door. Otherwise, they might go missing!

    16. Do the dishes immediately after dinner

    Otherwise, you might be tempted to sit down in front of the TV and get distracted.[12]

    17. After dinner, spend 10 minutes doing a quick de-clutter.

    Set a timer, choose an area of your home, and get busy! It’s an easy way to see quick results, and will make you feel more in control of your possessions.

    Before bedtime…

    18. Lay out your clothes and accessories for the next day

    This ensures that you don’t have to think about what to wear the next morning.[13] You can even lay out your breakfast dishes![14]

    19. Do a “brain dump” of all your ideas and tasks for tomorrow.

    This is helpful if you tend to lie awake worrying about what you need to do the next day. Once you have written them down, you can go to sleep knowing that you can refer to the list when you wake up.

    Daily routine for more productive work

    Before work…

    1. Plan for the upcoming work the night before

    Some of the most effective and productive people get started on their daily routine the night before.

    Think of this as the planning stage, at this time you might find it useful to plot out your day in blocks of time, with a specific activity planned for each. This is commonly known as the time blocking method.

    Using this method ensures that you don’t end up multitasking which can have a negative impact on your productivity. As the president, Barack Obama often got ready for his day the night before by reviewing what he needed to accomplish.[15]

    2. Wake up at a time that works for you (and sticks to it every day)

    This may sound counter intuitive, it is often imagined that the most productive people are those that can wake up at dawn, and continue into the evening. But the 9-5 work day might not necessarily suit everyone.[16]

    I’m not suggesting that people work less, but someone who works from 10-6 works for just as long as someone who works 9-5, and that extra hour in bed may mean that they’re more fresh and ready to work.

    Often you might not have a choice in what time you get up, after all, if you are expected at work at 09:00, you can’t be in bed at that time, but if you have any flexibility at all, consider what works best for you.

    3. Eat a good breakfast 

    As also mentioned in the Daily Routine for Better Health, once you have woken up, it is very important to eat well. You need something that will give you a good boost of energy, all the while keeping you full. A good idea is oatmeal with a smoothie or a healthy fruit juice.

    Check out 30 Healthy And Tasty Recipes For Breakfast That You Can Make The Night Before for more healthy breakfast choices that are easy-to-make and will keep you energetic.

    Back to work…

    4. Ensure a clean workspace which is distractions free

    A few years ago a study at Princeton University concluded that if in your field of vision, there are many forms of visual stimuli, your brain will spread its focus and attention to each piece.[17] In another word, if your desk is cluttered, your ability to focus on the task at hand.

    Simply clearing your desk of distractions therefore, can have a great impact on your focus, and with it, your productivity.

    5. Don’t check emails first

    Mornings are a great time to do productive work that requires focus, creativity, and strategy. Clearing out the inbox gives you a false sense of achievement, and wastes the opportunity to engage your brain in more proactive tasks. Though you may have read a lot of emails, you have nothing important done.

    Unless your job revolves around emails checking and replying only, never make checking emails your first thing to do when you’re back to work. Instead, focus on your goals and do what really matters.

    6. Tackle the worst thing first

    Start your working day by tackling the most difficult or most pressing task first, the task that will most likely encourage you to procrastinate. This is the philosophy put forward by Brian Tracy in his book Eat That Frog.

    The benefit of this is simple. Even if you accomplish little else that day, you can be happy with the knowledge that you did something important. Also, by doing the most difficult thing first, everything else will be easier.

    7. Take a quick nap or meditate

    When setting up a routine, it can be easy to forget the most important activity – resting. Humans simply aren’t built for working all day, every day without a break. If you don’t consider this in your routine, there is a danger that you will lose energy and enthusiasm all together and burn out, thereby killing your productivity altogether. This can be mitigated by making sure to making sure you get some rest.

    One way to do this is by picking a reasonable time to stop working, another is to take a quick nap, others recommend meditation. It all depends on your preference.

    8. Say no to unreasonable requests

    This can be the hardest things on this list, but it can be one of the most effective. Adding extra tasks and jobs to your day can immediately throw your routine off balance, and it will negatively impact you day’s productivity.

    As such, declining and saying no to extra tasks (that are unreasonably urgent or are unimportant) can be the key to staying productive. After all, doing one thing really well is more important than doing several things badly.

    Sometimes you may be forced to say yes and accept new tasks, but this won’t always be the case. Feel free to say no some times.

    9. Finish up and off on time

    By remaining focused on specific tasks, you won’t feel overwhelmed and overworked as you’re totally in control. And because you have things all planned out, you saved tons of energy from making unnecessary decisions.

    As you should have tackled all the hardest things by now, the rest of the day should be far easier too.

    Daily routine for a stronger relationship

    Morning…

    1. Kiss each other goodbye

    How often do you rush out of the door with a quick peck on the cheek and a ‘see you later!’ Maybe you’ve got to the stage where you don’t even do that anymore. It’s important to really take the time to say goodbye.

    Create 3-5 minutes in your morning routine to just be with your partner and properly say goodbye. Kiss each other meaningfully and take in the moment. It’s important not to get in such a rush that these small gestures don’t get overlooked.

    During daytime…

    2. Create little daily rituals when you’re together and apart

    Creating small actions that are meaningful to both of you can build a sense of connection and these can carry on throughout your day when you’re apart.

    Find a certain song you sing to each other when you bring a cup of coffee. Leave a message on the fogged up mirror for your partner to discover or leave little notes in the car or biscuit tin. Text a joke of the day on your lunch breaks.

    These types of rituals bring a sense of positive expectation and bonding – something only the two of you share together. Without these, relationships can become stale.

    Evening…

    3. Kiss each other hello

    Again, these moments can get looked over once the initial spark of a relationship has died down. We often walk in the door exhausted, maybe even irritable, and we don’t take the time to connect.

    Spend a good amount of time saying hello to each other. Kiss, cuddle, ask how each other is or don’t say anything at all and take in the embrace. Physical touch in silence is equally powerful.

    It’s very easy to neglect this simple routine where it becomes a habit to not do it anymore.

    4. Schedule regular date nights

    This is particularly important when you have kids. When your lives are controlled by children and extra responsibilities, your relationship can get overlooked. This is when things can breakdown and intimacy gets lost no matter how much you love each other.

    Schedule regular date nights where you can be free from responsibilities and really connect with each other. Use this time to check in with how each other is feeling, and most importantly, have fun. Keep reconnecting with the reasons you fell in love in the first place.

    5. Create a bonding bedtime routine

    When the doors are closed and you’ve finally fallen into bed, it’s easy to want to fall asleep but bedtime is a wonderful time to get connected with your partner not only in a physical way but in an emotional way too.

    Try to go to bed at the same time and use it as your couple time. Pillow talk is a great time to bond. While you’re in a relaxed state, talk about your days at work, any concerns or even future plans. Communication and talking things out is the best habit you can have as a couple. Just make sure you take the time to really listen to each other with respect and an open mind – always ending the night on a positive note.

    Regular relationship habits…

    6. Say thank you to each other

    Whether it’s in the morning, evening or a text in the day, remember to express gratitude to your partner.

    Feeling thankful is a powerful way to create love in a relationship because it benefits both of you. Really feel gratitude for something they’ve done – even if it was something small two months ago. It’s impossible to feel gratitude and negative feelings at the same time so this can really strengthen your love for each other.

    7. Use your partner’s love language

    A lot of bad communication and feelings of neglect are down to not understanding each others love language. There are 5 key ways people express love and two people could have two completely different languages leading to misunderstandings.

    Find out each others’ love language and try to use it to show your love throughout the morning, day or evening. Your partner may express love through physical touch whereas you express your love through words or gifts. One isn’t better than the other but finding out which one is important to each of you and acting accordingly will help your relationship to flourish.

    How to stick to your routine like glue

    When you do something and no immediate harm comes to you, your brain assumes that it’s safe to continue doing the activity. Overcoming a habit that feels comfortable to you requires impressive amounts of willpower.

    Reaching for a snack or scrolling through social media can sabotage healthy plans by flooding your brain with dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter. That dopamine release causes you to want to continue the action whether or not it’s good for you.

    There may be quite a few things that ought to change in your life. Changing too many habits at once can be difficult and discouraging.[18]

    On top of all that, we only have so much mental bandwidth to devote to making decisions. When decision fatigue sets in, we’re likely to revert to whatever is easiest, even if we know it’s unhealthy.[19]

    Biting off more than you can chew is a surefire way to fail. Instead, pick one routine, and work on that.[20] Before long, you can completely reconfigure your day. Slow and steady wins the race.

    You can’t change your entire life overnight, but you can gradually change your lifestyle and routines.[21]

    Upgrading your daily routine is a commitment. By starting small and being realistic, you can develop healthy habits and efficient routines that help you get the most out of life.

    Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

    Reference

    [1] Inc.: 7 Daily Habits That Will Save You 60 Hours of Your Life Next Year
    [2] Skilled at Life: 18 Reasons Why a Daily Routine Is So Important
    [3] Examined Existence: Why Having a Daily Routine is Important
    [4] Develop Good Habits: 34 Quick Habits To Add To Your Daily Morning Routine
    [5] Develop Good Habits: 34 Quick Habits To Add To Your Daily Morning Routine
    [6] Journal Of The American College Of Nutrition: Cognitive Performance & Dehydration
    [7] WebMD: Afternoon Energy Boosters
    [8] Chatelaine: How To Balance Your pH & Find Out If You’re Too Acidic
    [9] National Sleep Foundation: How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?
    [10] The Spruce: 10 Things To Do Daily To Be More Organized
    [11] Creative HomeKeeper: 10 Things I Do Every Day To Keep A Clean & Organized Home
    [12] The Spruce: 10 Things To Do Daily To Be More Organized
    [13] The Spruce: 10 Things To Do Daily To Be More Organized
    [14] Creative HomeKeeper: 10 Things I Do Every Day To Keep A Clean & Organized Home
    [15] Buffer: The Daily Routines of 7 Famous Entrepreneurs and How to Design Your Own Master Routine
    [16] Trello: The 5 Productive Morning Routines Of Highly Effective People
    [17] The Journal of Neuroscience: Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex
    [18] Zen Habits: Sticking to a Habit: The Definitive Guide
    [19] Develop Good Habits: Psychology of Daily Routines (or Why We Struggle with Habits)
    [20] Zen Habts: Sticking to a Habit: The Definitive Guide
    [21] James Clear: Why is it So Hard to Stick to Good Habits?

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    How I Break 3 Bad Habits in Less Than 2 Months

    The cycle of bad habits is what keeps us living small and stops us from reaching our true potential. Breaking a bad habit isn’t as hard as it seems; despite being a CEO of a company and raising two children, I still managed to break 3 bad habits I had within 2 months.

    I took steps to eliminate them one at a time. Habits such as drinking Coke every day, slouching when sitting down and not having a consistent exercise routine.

    So how did I break these habits? I used the Control Alternate Delete Method (Ctrl Alt Del).

    What is this method and why is it so effective? Read on to find out how you can use it to improve your own life too.

    How the Control Alternate Delete Method helps to break bad habits

    We all notice on some level what our bad habits are. A lot of the time we choose to ignore the negative ways these impact us.

    For me, I was sitting most of the day in front of my computer at work in a slouching position. I drank Coke every single day in an attempt to stay awake. I put off any kind of exercise regime because I felt that it was better to just relax and have fun after a whole day of work. As a result, I was leading a really unhealthy lifestyle suffering from weight gain and back pain.

    I needed to make a change.

    I started by focusing on just one bad habit, the first one being the sheer amount of Coke I was consuming each day.

    Every day I applied the Ctrl Alt Del Method and after two weeks, not only did I stop drinking Coke every day (I only drank one can in 2 weeks), but I started the better habit of drinking 8 glasses of water every day instead.

    After eliminating one bad habit, I moved on to the other two with this same method and a month later I was:

    • Hitting the gym twice a week.
    • Improving my sitting posture, not only at the office but also at home and everywhere else, improving my back pain.
    • Gaining core muscle which improved my back pain as well.
    • Losing fat around my waist which went from 36″ (considered obese level) to 32″ (normal level).

    If I can improve my life using this method, then so can you. Using this structure to eliminate your bad habits will increase your success and replace your bad habits with more positive ones.

    Control: Master your desire

    Identify your triggers

    Bad habits such as drinking alcohol, snacking too much, and skipping exercises for something else trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain.[1] Although you might not like the end result, they give you a positive outcome in the moment.

    It’s important to identify what is triggering you to continually act out your bad habit. This isn’t always an easy step because our habits have been built up over a long period of time.

    Self-reflect

    To help you work out your triggers, do a bit of self-reflection. Ask yourself questions such as:

    • What comfort are you getting from this habit?
    • Why do you need comfort?

    For example, I chose to drink coke because it tasted good and it made me feel good when I was stressed. I sloughed only when I sat for too long working on my desk and started to feel tired. I skipped exercises because every day after work I felt I already did enough works and didn’t want to work out.

    If you choose to eat fast food every night, you’re probably telling yourself you’re too busy to cook. But ask yourself why? What are your priorities? Maybe you have a lack of self-worth that means you don’t have the self-love to want to look after your health. Perhaps it’s a sign you’re not making enough time for important routines like shopping and creating a healthy meal yourself. Maybe you’ve always had a belief that you’re a bad cook.

    Write a diary

    Write down your thoughts and feelings around this bad habit. Writing things down forces the brain to think harder.[2] This helps you to find the source to your stress or limiting negative beliefs.

    Alternate: Find a replacement

    Find a positive alternative habit

    Once you think you’ve discovered your trigger, try to find a similar but healthy option. This is where I replaced Coke with lemon water; sloughing with simply taking a walk and stretching my back every hour; and chilling at home after work with workout exercises that I actually found them fun.

    You could decide to walk to the office instead of driving or getting off the bus earlier to walk. You could switch to a healthier breakfast cereal instead of grabbing a sugary snack when you head out of the door.

    By doing this, you aren’t getting rid of the act altogether like you would if you completely gave something up with nothing to fill that void. This helps your brain accept the improved habit more.

    Create a defence plan

    Everyone has moments of weakness and that want to revert back to the bad habit will rear its ugly head. This is where a plan can help counteract these moments.

    Think of things you can do when the temptations come. For example, if you want to check your phone less, ask your friend or partner to keep it for you or switch it off and read a book. If you’re a starter for an exercise routine, like me, get someone to do it with you to keep you accountable.

    Decide on something you will do once you feel triggered to go back to your old habit. Repeating these positive alternative habits consistently will help wire your brain to see them as your normal new habit over time.

    Delete: remove temptations

    Remove stuff that reminds you of the bad habit

    Getting rid of anything that reminds you of your bad habit is essential. For example, I got rid of coke in my office and at home and replaced my usual office chair with an exercise ball. It makes it much easier to stop slipping back in a weak moment.

    Avoid all kinds of temptations

    In the same vein, avoid places or people that you know will tempt you back into that bad habit. Don’t go to the supermarket on an empty stomach to avoid the temptation to buy trashy snacks, don’t drive past that fast food joint but find an alternative route instead, say no more often to the friend you know will get you drunk again this weekend.

    It’s all about not putting yourself in the situation where you’re in danger of relapsing.

    The Control Alternate Delete Method uses the right steps you need to overcome your need to indulge in your bad habits. Working with your core psychology, emotions and feelings behind your actions is what makes this method effective and easy to apply to all bad habits you have.

    Bad habits are easy to form and making changes can seem difficult but remember that it’s all about consistency and repetition.

    Start using the Control Alternate Delete Method today. What bad habit do you want to put a stop to once and for all?

    You must set aside time and pick one bad habit to focus on. Start using the steps to increase and maintain more positivity in your life moving forward.

    Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

    Reference

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