Being a workaholic might be considered a virtue, but it isn’t necessary for success. Why would you choose to work to exhaustion when you could simply work more efficiently? If you’d like to have more time and energy for the things that matter, click ahead to discover five small habits that will lead you to big success.
1. Set the stage.
Your work environment can make or break your productivity. If you feel uncomfortable in your surroundings, then you’re not going to perform at your best.
This is especially important for introverts. People like to assume introverts are antisocial, but that’s not true. Introverts just don’t handle stimulation as well as extroverts.
“Stimulation” could mean a ringing phone, chatty co-workers, constant interruptions, interactions with customers, or anything that steals focus from the task at hand.
“They just need to get better at multitasking,” you might be thinking. Wrong. There is no such thing as multitasking. The human brain isn’t capable of concentrating on more than one thing at a time.
“Multitasking” is just a fancy word people use to describe the act of switching your attention from one task to another. While employers consider this a strong-suit, they shouldn’t, because it just results in mistakes.
Focus is essential for success. This is why I set the stage before I sit down to write an article. I turn on classical music that inspires me. I light some incense, which relaxes me. I open my browser window in full screen mode so it is the only thing I can see.
How can you set up your work environment in a way that will motivate you to perform at your best? You could put a photo of your biggest role-model in a nice frame and hang it on your wall. You could write down a quote that resonates with you and place it on your desk. Be creative.
2. Turn off your phone.
Most people are so attached to their phones that they resemble a drug addict in need of another fix. If you check every text as soon as you receive it, I’m talking to you.
You might think I’m being dramatic, but I’m not. Most people are in denial about their addiction to technology. I feel qualified to say this, because I am a recovering addict myself.
It used to be so bad that I couldn’t even enjoy a family dinner without scrolling through my Facebook feed every minute or two. I’m so glad I’ve learned how to embrace the present moment since then.
I did several things to address my addiction. First, I began to silence my phone while I write. It’s much easier to focus without that distraction. I also got in the habit of leaving my phone in the car when I go on dates or out with friends. I won’t be tempted if it’s not in my pocket.
Now I even turn my phone off before I open a book or start a TV show. I do this, because the compulsion to check my email can be overwhelming. Leisure time recharges me more effectively when I can get fully absorbed in the drama that is unfolding (just in case you’re curious, Dexter is my favorite right now — I can relate with the concept of his “dark passenger”).
3. Prepare your meals in bulk.
Your body requires essential vitamins and minerals to perform at its best. Without these nutrients, your mood and energy will certainly suffer.
That said, I know what it’s like to be busy. It’s incredibly difficult to find the time to cook healthy meals every single day. I have good news, though. That isn’t necessary at all!
I only cook on Sundays, because that’s my least busy day. I fix enough food to last all week. I’ll share my preparation process. Please feel free to adjust it to fit your needs and lifestyle.
First, I go to the grocery store to stock up on meat and vegetables. Next, I throw the meat on the grill. While it cooks, I chop up some vegetables and put the pieces in Ziploc bags for future use. This shouldn’t take any longer than two hours unless you have a really big family to feed.
The neat thing is that you could combine these simple ingredients in different ways to make a wide variety of things. Put some ham and chopped veggies in your morning eggs and suddenly you have a tasty omelet. Put grilled chicken, cheese, sour cream, and salsa on a tortilla for a yummy burrito. More possibilities include salads, sandwiches, and stir fries.
4. Go to bed at the same time every night.
Being a workaholic has become something to aspire to in our modern society. I don’t know about you, but I think the idea of pushing myself to exhaustion every day sounds dreadful.
Stop checking office emails at home. Stop treating late nights as if they are heroic acts. You are only kidding yourself. Your body can’t function optimally when you constantly push it past its breaking point.
If you don’t get enough sleep, you might as well be drunk. A study by Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that moderate sleep deprivation can impair your performance just as much as alcohol intoxication.
I used to toss and turn for several hours before I could fall asleep. I felt groggy for most of the day, which had a detrimental impact on my ability to concentrate. After some research and self-study, I realized my struggle was due to the lack of a bed-time ritual.
All humans are creatures of habit. Our day-to-day actions aren’t necessarily rooted in logic or reason. Instead, 40% of them are the the result of automatic habits. If you have a hard time getting enough sleep like I did, then you can use this fact to your advantage.
Choose two or three activities to do before bed every night. The only rule is that these activities can’t involve a cellphone or computer, because the bright light on those screens will keep your body in an alert state. You should turn those off at least an hour before bed.
Keep your ritual simple so you can remember it with ease. Mine has three steps: shower, brush my teeth, and read a book in bed. It took some practice, but after I repeated this routine enough times, my eyes started to get heavy after I finished a chapter or two. I do have a rough night sometimes, but I’m happy that they are the exception (they used to be the norm!).
5. Identify one action point out of every article you read.
If you don’t intend to apply material from the content you read online, you are committing an act of mental masturbation. Advice is worthless without application. Choose one of these small habits to concentrate on for now. You can repeat the process with another after you have some success with that. Tell us how you are going to apply this material in the comments. If you know a friend who might be helped by this article, please share.