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Why Lack of Movement is Our Biggest Enemy and How to Deal With It

Why Lack of Movement is Our Biggest Enemy and How to Deal With It

However far apart, our mornings are probably just the same. There’s that sting in the eyes you feel as soon as you open them and that blatant pain that keeps on spreading from your lower back all the way up to your shoulders and head. And, finally, the realization that nothing will change, not even today – in the exact same order as the years before, you’ll have some pastry and coffee for breakfast, a tense stomach until noon, and a fuzzy head throughout the day.

Accepting Responsibility

    Once again, you’ll hear all about the glorious possibilities that the digital age has endowed us with, and once again, you’ll go to bed wondering what makes your muscles so sore and your bones so weak. Another day, you’ll come across an article about all those troubling consequences of a sedentary lifestyle and you’ll try to convince yourself that your fatigue and stress are caused by too much work.

    Having gone through all of that myself, I must warn you that extrinsic factors are not always to blame. Your aching lack of movement is a modern disease, indeed, but it still begins in your mind-set. Your choices might be your worst enemy, but the good news is that you can change them for the better.

    It will be hard, I won’t delude you. But, once you start waking up with the sun on your eyelids and a smile on your face, you’ll see that it was all worth it.Here’s how to flip your future beforehand, and replace pain, frustration and dispiritedness for vigour, achievements and contentment.

    Flight or Fight

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      It would be foolish of me to assume that you have never tried dealing with your sedentary lifestyle before, so I won’t tell you that everything begins with a plan. The biggest problem, after all, is that all of your organization tricks have probably already failed you, and what you need now is encouragement to carry on.

      So, instead of advising you to set up your morning alarm to go off an hour earlier, I’ll remind you of the consequences that await you if you don’t. The terrifying prospect of what my body will feel and look like if I continue choosing Netflix and TV dinners over walks in the rain and oranges was what urged me to make a change, and the same basic fight-or-flight response rests in each and every one of us.

      In the Aftermath

        You’re most certainly already experiencing some of the side-effects of an inactive life. I’ve mentioned only a couple of them before simply because they are the most common. As such, they are simultaneously infallible indicators of a decaying body and mind, and a red alert that keeps warning you to get up and start moving.

        Even though you spend a majority of your time seated – be that at work, where your job is to tirelessly type and click, or at home, where everything you want to do after a whole day of looking up to the screen is look up to the screen a bit more – you somehow cannot get enough rest. You’re constantly tired and sleepy, and you have no idea why. And, worst of all, you have pains in your body and weakness on your mind.

        Well, all that is because the human body was developed through movement, and it starts deteriorating if it doesn’t move. When inactive, it rarely does anything at all – your muscles stop burning fat and your blood runs more slowly, thus clogging the flow to your brain, heart, and limbs. No wonder that the consequences are reduced cognitive functions, brain fog and depression, obesity and diabetes, back pain, varicose veins, swollen ankles and loss of muscle and bone strength.

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        Now that you know all the symptoms you can expect, let me say just one more thing – as estimated by The World Health Organization, a lack of physical activity that the sedentary lifestyle implies is linked to 3.2 million deaths a year. A scary thought indeed.

        Finally, here’s how to shake it off.

        Time Waits for No One

          And, now back to the morning alarm. Whatever phase of your life you’re currently in, you cannot deny that there aren’t more interesting and fulfilling things to do than watching TV. I understand that hard work wears you down, but that was my story too. Sometimes, I would return back home at 8 p.m. and I had zero energy for doing anything else. Still, and it may seem like a phrase, little things are what keeps you running.

          Don’t cut off entertainment, just make it productive. The only movie worth re-watching hundreds of times is The Godfather; instead of wasting your time on mindless TV marathons, pen down a list of films and series that will make you elevated and smarter.

          The more little things you accomplish during the day, the more you will feel like a winner once your head hits the pillow. Don’t be afraid of scheduling dates, family outings and meetings with friends – in fact, once you commit to something, avoiding it will be much harder.

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          Finally, arm yourself with a lot of patience, since not all of your productivity and time management hacks will work right away. You’ll need to stay flexible and optimistic and try to cross off one task more from your to-do list every next day. Consistency takes practise and time, but most of all, it takes good will and determination.

          Running Ahead

            Though time management is still something I’m trying to wrap my head around, physical activity is something I’ve mastered, and the best piece of advice I can give you is to start in medias res – not on Monday, not tomorrow, but right away. That way, you’ll have no time to hesitate, overthink it or, as it usually happens, find an excuse.

            Carefully designed programs are for professionals, and everything you need to begin with is to shed a little sweat. Don’t plan to go out walking, since that rarely happens. Hit YouTube instead, search for 20-minute workout routines and finish one each day. Speaking from personal experience, these energy boosters will take exactly an hour of your day, given that you’ll need to take breathers in between and take a hot shower afterwards, so stop telling yourself that you have no time for exercising.

            And, once three weeks have passed and you don’t see any significant results, remember this – it’s a period of adjusting that your long-time inactive body absolutely needs to go through. In five weeks’ time, the pounds will just start melting away, the compliments will come from every side, your back will no longer hurt, and you’ll be so absolutely hooked on looking and feeling amazing that you will never stop working out again. True story.

            Flip the Coin

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              Unfortunately, the sedentary lifestyle is all about giving up. Once in a blue moon, you feel motivated enough to get all dolled up and grab a couple of drinks with your friends, but mostly, that’s not the case. When given a choice, you almost always walk the line of least resistance. If so, you’ll need to start practicing what I like to call the flip-the-coin routine.

              I won’t tell you to choose what’s better for your health, since God knows that nobody does that all the time, the same way that almost nobody chooses pomegranates over chocolate. If having a hard time resisting temptations – and you certainly do, since that’s another symptom of a sedentary lifestyle – make a game out of it and flip the coin. That way, your decisions will not be entirely yours to take, at least in the beginning.

              I’ve done the same with fast food – each time I felt the need for something sinfully greasy, I’d allow a coin to choose in my stead. The odds were always 50:50 and the juvenile excitement of playing a game would make me feel less guilty once I got to savour the fries, while those cases when the coin decided differently taught me that junk food was actually something I can do without.

              Paradoxically, this game of chance enabled me to regain control over my vices, simply by teaching me to balance them out. A life without simple pleasures is not a pleasurable life, which is why you’ll have to learn exactly when to discipline yourself and when to indulge. Hopefully, this cheatsheet strategy will train you to harmonize self-restraint that a healthy lifestyle imposes and hedonism that your human heart longs for, and empower you to stand behind your choices.

              If anything else, you’ll face your worst enemy and pinpoint its weaknesses. No revolution is possible without self-awakening, so allow yourself to dive deep into what you are and what you want to be before deciding to give in or to stand up and fight it off.

              Featured photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/u/abbykihano/ via pexels.com

              More by this author

              Vladimir Zivanovic

              CMO at MyCity-Web

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              Last Updated on November 19, 2019

              20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

              20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

              Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

              If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

              1. Create a Daily Plan

              Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

              2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

              Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

              3. Use a Calendar

              Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

              I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

              Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

              4. Use an Organizer

              An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

              These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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              5. Know Your Deadlines

              When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

              But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

              6. Learn to Say “No”

              Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

              Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

              7. Target to Be Early

              When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

              For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

              Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

              8. Time Box Your Activities

              This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

              You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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              9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

              Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

              10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

              Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

              You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

              11. Focus

              Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

              Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

              Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

              12. Block out Distractions

              What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

              I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

              When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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              Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

              13. Track Your Time Spent

              When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

              You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

              14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

              You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

              Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

              15. Prioritize

              Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

              Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

              16. Delegate

              If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

              When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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              17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

              For related work, batch them together.

              For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

              1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
              2. coaching
              3. workshop development
              4. business development
              5. administrative

              I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

              18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

              What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

              One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

              While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

              19. Cut off When You Need To

              The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

              Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

              20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

              Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

              More Time Management Techniques

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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