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You Only Need 20 Minutes For An Insanely Productive Day (With This Morning Ritual)

You Only Need 20 Minutes For An Insanely Productive Day (With This Morning Ritual)

Picture this: you start the day on the wrong foot. Say the alarm didn’t buzz. So, you take a hurried shower and have burnt toast for breakfast, the kids decide to disappear at the instant your car refuses to start, and basically everything goes south from there. It’s like Murphy’s Law: if something can go wrong, it will. The result: your plans to have a productive day go flying out of the window. The solution? A 20-minute morning routine that lets you have an insanely productive day!

The Harvard-trained happiness researcher and New York Times best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage Shawn Achor recommends a morning ritual that will increase your positivity levels and give you a happiness advantage.

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What is the Happiness Advantage?

When you raise your positivity level, your brain feels happier. A happier brain, drunk on positivity, is better equipped to handle stress as well as everyday situations. This is true simply because the brain becomes more intelligent with a dose of positivity. A happier brain also makes your body’s energy levels rise and makes you move about more proactively. A brain fed on positivity makes your day far more productive, according to Achor. Your productivity can go up by about 31%. So, let’s talk about that 20-minute morning routine that will promote an insanely productive day.

1. 2 Minutes to Relive the Most Positive Moment of the Past Day

The brain can be tricked – it does not realize the difference between experiencing a high and visualizing one. So, take two minutes to write down the happiest moment of your past 24 hours and to relive all its great moments. This will make your brain feel more positive. A more positive brain, as we have just seen, basically makes you far more productive in everything during the day, be it work, chores, or hobbies.

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2. 2 Minutes to Send a Positive E-Mail

Sending someone a positive email full of nice things will make two things happen. One is that it will make you feel pumped because you’ve done a good deed. The other is that it will make you stronger in interpersonal relationships. And being popular will certainly make you and your brain happier, thereby making your brain and you far more productive than normal.

3. 2 Minutes to Express Gratitude

Jot down three new things that you are thankful for on an everyday basis for at least 21 consecutive days. This will train your brain to become more optimistic and to look for positivity everywhere instead of negativity. Thinking of all that you have makes you feel good about your life. Instead of seeing the glass as half empty, this way you can train your brain to see it as half full. An optimistic view of the world is an infinitely happier one. And happiness, as we have seen, puts you on the path towards more productivity!

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4. 10-15 Minutes to Exercise

Exercise affects the brain in two ways. Vigorous exercise, even if it’s for just 10 minutes, floods your brain with endorphins, aka the “happy hormones” that reduce stress and make your thinking tank function optimally. Secondly, by taking a little time to exercise and do something for yourself, you train your brain to think that you matter. The positivity carries through the day and through everything you do. Completing an exercise routine is one way to train the brain to get through something with perseverance, and so it makes your brain more productive too.

5. 2 Minutes to Meditate

Finally, even if it’s just for two minutes, sit and internalize your thoughts, meditating on nothing but your breath going in and out. This improves the focusing mechanism of the brain and makes it more accurate, as well as increasing positivity and lowering stress levels. Sharper concentration means you let your brain focus on the job at hand, and this makes it more productive.

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This routine can be done in 20 minutes a day, or it can be stretched a little more on days you have time. It will make you and your brain more positive, and definitely more productive too.

Featured photo credit: Pixels via pexels.com

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Rima Pundir

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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