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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

Health, Wellness & Productivity Writer

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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