Advertising

Last Updated on April 19, 2021

74 Healthy Habits That Will Drastically Improve Every Aspect of Your Life

Advertising
74 Healthy Habits That Will Drastically Improve Every Aspect of Your Life

Poor health and low energy levels can negatively impact every part of your life. Your creative spark can be destroyed, leaving you with zero inspiration and ideas. Work would become tedious and hard going, and your social life would become a shadow of what it used to be.

Life for you would no longer be fun. It’s a sorry state of affairs.

What you need to transform your life is a healthier lifestyle. One that will bring back your natural energy and zest for life.

By learning the best healthy habits to take and following the tips in this article, you’ll be able to get back to this optimum state.

What makes a healthy habit?

You may be surprised to learn that more than 40 percent of the actions you perform every day aren’t actually decided by you. They’re actually habits. Habits dictate how we live, how we perform, and the results we achieve in life. This is why it is so important to have strong, positive habits.

In case you’re wondering what habits consist of, think of them this way: something that you regularly do without having to consciously think about.

According to Medical Dictionary, a healthy habit is

“a behavior that is beneficial to one’s physical or mental health, often linked to a high level of discipline and self-control.”

Positive habits are the basis of your success, while healthy habits improve your overall well-being and make you feel good. Good habits include things like regular exercise, a balanced diet, punctuality, keeping promises, etc.[1]

Positive habits make it possible for us to do things without spending exorbitant mental effort. For instance, instead of thinking how to walk down the stairs in a morning, this is taken care of by your subconscious mind which has learned the habit of walking safely down stairs. You don’t need to think about moving your legs, and controlling your balance, etc.

74 healthy habits to improve every aspect of your life

Now you understand what habits are, and the benefits positive habits offer, let’s take a look now at 74 healthy habits you should adopt to transform your life. These habits are broken into four sections:

  • Healthy eating habits
  • Healthy living habit
  • Healthy habits for a peaceful mind
  • Healthy relationship habits

Healthy eating habits

1. Make sure you chew your food well 

Most people gobble down their food, and don’t take the time to chew or enjoy it properly. If you’re one of these people, try slowing down your eating by chewing your food longer than you would normally do. You’ll enjoy the taste of your food more, and you’re likely to eat less too.

2. Stock up on healthy food

At home you snack on what’s in your cupboards, refrigerator and freezer. If all you have in there is ultra-processed foods like fries, chocolate and ice cream, then you’ll find yourself snacking on them (not a good idea). To break this habit, make sure you have loads of healthy foods in your home like dried fruits, seeds and nuts to help satisfy your hunger cravings.

3. Aim to do 10,000 steps a day

Sounds like a lot? Well, it’s actually the minimum amount recommend by fitness experts. It’s not too difficult to reach 10,000 steps in a day. Simply walk in the park in the morning and evening, and take the stairs instead of the elevator at work.

4. Take a walk at lunchtime

Lunchtimes don’t need to be just for eating. You can use the time to get some valuable air, light and exercise. I usually walk for half of my lunch break – the other half I leave for eating.

5. Freeze your fruits and veggies

This is a great thing to do, as freezing these foods means they’ll last until you’re ready to eat them. And of course you can freeze them when they’re at their peak, so they’ll taste great when defrosted and/or cooked. This technique is also a superb way to enjoy healthy fruits and veggies outside of their normal seasonal availability.

6. Focus on colors, not calories

Too many people put their health and diet focus on how many calories they are consuming every day. But a healthy diet is not just about calories.

For example, there is a big difference between eating a handful of raw nuts and the same calorie amount of cake. Sure, the latter may taste better to you – but the nuts will always be the healthier choice.

7. Add an extra serving of greens to your plate

One simple way to boost your intake of healthy foods is to add an extra serving of greens to each of your meals. If you normally eat burger and fries (not recommended!), start adding a portion of peas or a green salad to your plate. Over time, you can start increasing the greens – and reducing the junk food.

8. Be active outside the gym

I’m sure you’ve spotted people at work who go to the gym most morning. They certainly know how to start their day well, but watch their habits after that. Often they sit down all day at their desk, and no doubt go home and chill out in front of the TV.

While going to the gym is commendable, don’t make it your be all and end all. Get out in the fresh air and natural light and move your body the way nature intended – by walking and running.

9. Eat carbs every day

From time to time, carbs go out of fashion. We’re warned their bad for us, and we should avoid them. However, no-carb and low-carb diets usually end up as fads. That’s because carbs are actually are an excellent source of energy for our bodies.

Of course, our ancestors lived and thrived on carb-heavy diets for thousands of years. Just make sure you’re choosing healthy carbs instead of refined carbs.

    10. Choose healthy fats

    Not all fats are the same. Some are good for us, some are not. Which are the healthy fats? If you stick to cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and avocados, you’ll be getting the essential nutrients you need – in the healthiest forms available.

    11. Don’t eat until you’re full

    Advertising

    A healthy person’s stomach is the size of a fist, while an unhealthy person’s stomach can be the size of a football. It’s a shocking fact. The cause of the grotesque stomach expansion is overeating. When this is done regularly, the stomach starts to stretch. Consequently, the person needs to eat more and more to maintain that full, satisfied feeling.

    How to avoid this? Always eat a little less than you think you need or would like. This will keep your stomach at its natural size – and your body at a healthy weight too.

    12. Cut down on your meat intake

    Have you heard of meat-free Mondays? This is exactly as it sounds, no meat eaten on every Monday. If you’re a big meat eater, then meat-free Mondays are a great way to immediately reduce your meat intake. And it will also introduce you to the delicious flavors available in vegetarian and vegan meals.

    13. Halve your sugar intake

    We all know that sugar is bad for us, but yet, most of us still consume masses of it every single day. The problem of course, is that sugar tastes great. So good, in fact, that we literally become addicted to it.

    Now, if I told you to go ‘cold turkey’ and cut out sugar completely from your diet tomorrow – you almost certainly wouldn’t be able to do it. That’s why I recommend a reasonable and attainable goal of halving your sugar intake. You can do this through simple steps like: reducing or cutting out sugar in tea or coffee, stopping adding sugar to your cereals, and choosing healthier snacks (see No. 2).

    14. Swap soft drinks for water

    Soft drinks are typically full of sugar (or artificial sweeteners), coloring and other nasties! They may taste good, but they’ll leave you feeling bad. Instead, ditch the soft drinks and switch to drinking mineral water or filtered tap water. Your body will thank you.

    15. Buy a reusable water bottle and keep it on your desk

    I used to come into the office and drink tea or coffee all day. I never thought about drinking water. Then I started to notice that some people brought in large, reusable water bottles that they kept sipping from throughout the working day. I decided to give this a go, and I was amazed by how easy it was to drink in excess of 500ml of water every day. And the best thing? I noticed that I felt more hydrated, more focused – and definitely healthier overall. Try it for yourself, and I’m sure, like me, you’ll never come to work without your water bottle.

    Healthy living habits

    16. Stop weighing yourself

    This ties in with my earlier comments about calories (see No. 6). Some people – perhaps including yourself – are fixated on their weight. They weigh themselves every morning and every night. If they lose weight, they’re ecstatic. But if they gain weight, they can quickly sink into depression.

    Now, please don’t get me wrong, you certainly should be aiming to have a healthy weight. However, this will be a natural consequence of eating healthily and exercising regularly.

    17. Choose enjoyable exercise

    You might be putting off exercising as you don’t like going to the gym or running in the cold weather. Instead, why not choose fun exercises like dancing, yoga or a team sport? When exercise is fun, you’ll have much more motivation to do it regularly.

    18. Avoid over exercising

    People who over exercise tend to age quicker than they should.[2] Most things in life come down to balance, and exercise is no exception. Over exercising for months and years will deplete your body of its vital energy – leaving you drained and feeling out-of-sync.

    19. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual

    In today’s age of Netflix and YouTube, it’s all too easy to find yourself watching just one more video. Pre-internet, you’d have probably gone to bed two or three hours earlier than you currently do. My suggestion? You have an alarm to wake you up in the morning. How about setting an alarm to notify you when it’s time to turn off the TV and get yourself to bed.

    Sleep is a powerful restorative – so make you’re getting an adequate amount of it.

    20. Turn off technology from time to time

    Technology is a great thing. It enables me to type these words – and for you to read them. But let’s be honest, it’s all too easy to become addicted to our TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. The majority of people are staring at one of these devices for most of their morning, afternoon, evening and beyond. It’s a non-stop world of emails, SMS messages, news feeds, social media updates, etc.

    My advice? Make sure you step out of this cycle of distraction by having regular breaks from your devices. For example, why not switch off all of your devices when you’re eating with your friends and family. Make conversation be your focus, instead of being absorbed by online stuff.

    Healthy habits for a peaceful mind

    21. Spend time in nature

    Being outside has found to have a profound effect on your mental wellbeing mainly due to exposure to sunshine increasing your serotonin levels. Research has also found that spending even a short amount of time around nature boosts your mood. Imagine spending a day in a place like this:

      22. Have something to look forward to

      Being in a state of positive anticipation and expectancy can increase your happiness level according to study published in the Official Journal of the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies.[3] Planning something you enjoy and take comfort in, whether it’s a trip, a planned run, meeting friends or curling up with that book you’ve always wanted to read can keep you from dwelling on any negatives.

      23. Meditate

      Meditation is probably the most talked about concept in the happiness camps and it has good reasons to be synonymous with good mental health. Studies have shown regular meditation practices reduce stress, anxiety and health issues. The main reason is it can help reduce overthinking and create a more mindful mindset. It can come in the form of just sitting quietly, yoga, prayer or purposeful breathing.

      24. Move your body

      Endorphins are the chemicals in the brain that basically reduce the perception of pain. When you move your bodies, these are released and essentially tell your brain that all is well. Even if it’s just getting up from your chair, dancing around when doing the housework or taking up a regular exercise routine, these actions can increase the feel-good chemicals and elevate your mood.

      25. Learn something new

      People who continue to learn into adulthood have greater overall wellbeing. This could be because the brain is constantly being refreshed and rewired but also the sense of achievement, optimism and distraction it creates. In other words, it gives you purpose and focus increasing the ability to cope with stress. So learn a new language, take up painting or enrol in a course you’ve always fancied doing to create more mental wellbeing.

      26. Do something nice for someone

      Advertising

      Kindness may be seen as just good manners but being genuinely kind towards others increases your own happiness as well as theirs. Positive social interactions, no matter how small they may seem, boosts your feel-good vibrations. Giving compliments with pure intentions, holding a door open or offering to pay for a stranger’s coffee will keep you feeling good for the rest of the day. Do this on a regular basis and you’ll keep your positive mindset topped up as well as creating happiness for someone else.

      27. Re-evaluate toxic relationships

      Sometimes people’s mental wellbeing declines because they get used to being around people who bring them down. This can damage their self-esteem and self-worth but they often don’t associate this with others. You are the sum total of the five people you’re around the most. Ask yourself are these five people supportive, kind and fun to be around? If not, it may be time to rethink your relationships.

      28. Detox digitally

      The dangers of too much social media is commonly said. The comparison game can cause you to feel deflated and like failures if we’re not living how others are currently living. This in itself is reason to have a period of detox from your phone or computer. The digital world, as much as it enhances our lives, can take away our present moments and allows us to miss what’s really going on around us. Detoxing will give you that sense of freedom of time to do other things that will boost your mental health.

      29. Sleep more

      Sleep often gets ignored when we’re living busy lives but that’s no excuse. Getting adequate sleep is paramount to an optimum healthy mind. Sleep deprivation causes mood swings, irritability, health issues and all-round disfunction that affects how we think and causes us to react negatively to things happening in our daily lives. More sleep equates to a sense of peace and motivation through your day instead of stress and anxiety.

      30. Do things by yourself

      Low self-worth or self-esteem can cause people to believe that they can’t do things by themselves. The need to always have someone to do things with can create a sense of neediness and lack of self-love. Going off and doing things by yourself builds confidence and a sense of freedom.

      Don’t be afraid to be alone and make time for yourself; it’s a wonderful way to really reflect on yourself and have a breather away from others.

      31. Express gratitude

      Gratitude has been found to increase happiness and reduce stress creating a more positive mindset. People often get caught up on what didn’t go well in their day even if the majority of what happened was positive. A good habit to start is to think through your day and note everything that was great – from the straight-forward commute to work, a smile from a stranger, the delicious food you had for lunch or a text from your friend.

      32. Sit and stand up straight

      Body language is tightly connected to our mindset. When you slouch, it subconsciously creates the overall feeling of hostility, sluggishness, and negativity. When we sit or stand up straight it creates the feeling of power and confidence.

      33. Find something to laugh about

      Laughter is powerful as it reduces stress levels, improves mood and even short-term memory. Laughing together with someone is probably the best kind of laughter but just watching a funny TV show or even laughing by yourself can do the trick.

      34. Write things down

      Writing things down is very powerful because in the act of writing, the brain processes what’s being written down more slowly and so it becomes a kind of therapy. It can help you process emotions and identify difficult areas or limiting beliefs that continuous overthinking makes worse. Writing down goals and dreams can bring about a positive boost and making lists of past achievements can help show you successes in your life.

      35. Spend time with your pet

      Any loving animal can increase your feelings of positivity in small and meaningful ways. They decrease loneliness, get you active, create loving bonds, keep you present in the moment and give you purpose.

      36. Change your routine

      While routine can keep us comfortable, it also creates a sense of mundane life and can result in depression. Making just small changes in your routine can trick the brain into thinking you’re doing something completely different. It could be taking a different route to work, walking instead of taking the bus, going somewhere different for lunch or getting up slightly earlier in the morning. Changing things up creates variety and opens you up to different experiences and opportunities.

      37. Explore your city or town

      Being a tourist in your own town or city is not something people tend to consider. Pretend you’re visiting for the first time – what neighbourhoods would you visit? Where would you eat? Doing this can help you appreciate where you live and gain a different perspective to a familiar place which helps open up the mind.

      38. Practice forgiveness

      Forgiveness can be a hard concept for many. But a lot of our angst is caused by our inability to let things go and move on. This doesn’t mean condoning what someone has done but just dropping the negativity around it and moving forward. Studies have shown that forgiveness protects against stress and forgiving yourself is important too in order to release any baggage and self-hate and create a happy life.

      39. Connect with someone

      As social beings, we thrive on connection. When you’re feeling depressed, the last thing you want to do is talk or reach out to others. Keep in mind that talking to people, even just short conversations with friends or in support groups, can repair your sense of disconnection immensely. Relationships with others builds a sense of belonging and self-worth so make time to connect with someone.

      40. Spend a day being mindful

      This is a great way to examine how you move through your day. How does your breakfast taste? How do your legs feel when you’re walking? Where did the ingredients for your lunch come from? What emotions are you feeling in each moment?

      Don’t judge yourself but just be in each moment. Bringing your mind to the present moment can help reduce depression in the process.

      41. Consider a more positive perspective

      A negative mindset creates a negative life. If you’re in this category of seeing the glass as always being half empty maybe question why you think this way. It could simply stem from beliefs you’ve picked up but understand there is always a choice in how you see things.

      Choose to consider a different, more positive perspective next time. Doing this regularly will slowly help change the way you look at the world around you.

      42. Stop taking photos of everything

      While it’s great to take photos for keepsakes, spending too much time taking the photo rather than enjoying the moment can decrease our happiness. Psychologist Maryanne Garry of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zeal has found taking endless photos “manipulates both our memories and subjective interpretations of lived experiences,”[4] meaning we end up remembering less and don’t fully appreciate the moment.

      Advertising

      43. Smile (even if it’s fake)

      Genuine smiles portray our inner happy feelings but research has found even fake smiling tricks the brain into thinking we’re happy.[5] So even if you’re in a quiet room by yourself, smile and you’ll notice overtime, it creates a sense of mental wellbeing.

      44. Do something that’s out of your comfort zone

      One of the main reasons people can become depressed is their need to stay comfortable. Blame this on the brain; it’s doing all it can to stop you from doing something fearful because it’s a survival mechanism – if you’re comfortable then you’re safe.

      Breaking out of comfort zones is never as scary as your brain imagines it to be and it creates confidence, wellbeing and opens up new and exciting possibilities.[6] The result? Better mental health.

      Healthy relationship habits

      45. Respect your loved ones

      The foundation of any good relationship is the level of respect within it. Being honest, avoiding gossip, and valuing your loved ones for the unique individuals they are sets the tone for all your interactions.

      46. Thank them

      Showing gratitude can be as simple as a verbal “thank you” or a short note, but the effects are far-reaching. Whether your partner just did a load of dishes or your friend swooped in at the eleventh hour to save the day, don’t miss the chance to say thanks.

      47. Express yourself

      If you really love someone, don’t be afraid to let them know. Say, “I love you,” often, and when you say it, mean it. Tell your significant other, friends, and family how much you care about them. Be generous with your affection.

      48. Take a walk

      Taking a stroll through the neighborhood is a great way to reconnect with your friend or partner. These walks are a great chance to get some fresh air and catch up on life without having to spend an arm and a leg.

        49. Make each other laugh

        Humor is a powerful way to bond with one another. Never miss a chance to make your loved ones laugh. Be a goofball, watch a comedy, and don’t be afraid to crack a joke at your own expense occasionally.

        50. Set goals together

        This habit is especially important for romantic relationships, in which you’re operating as a team. When you don’t set goals together, you risk sabotaging one another. Uniting to overcome a challenge is a powerful way to bond.

        51. Take up a new hobby

        Nothing kills friendships and romances faster than boredom. Don’t let things stagnate. Pick up a new hobby that you’re both interested in every now and then. Challenge one another to perfect your skills, and reap the benefits of growing together.

        52. Do something nice “just because”

        A great surprise requires thoughtfulness. It can be as simple as showing up with a cup of coffee or picking up your partner’s favorite treat on your way home. Send your mother a bouquet of flowers at random, or offer to help your friend with a project. You’ll make their day and show them how much you care.

        53. Relax together

        It’s not necessary to turn every moment together into an elaborate outing. Friendships and romantic relationships with staying power are those which can thrive in everyday situations. Learn to love watching TV together, going for walks, or sharing simple meals.

        54. Take time for yourselves

        Even the closest couples and friends need time to explore their individual interests. You don’t have to like the same things to get along. Your individuality is likely part of what drew you to one another. Make sure that you and your loved ones get time to nourish their talents and interests.

        55. Reconnect on a regular basis

        Texting and calling 24/7 isn’t a healthy habit, but touching base is great for a romantic relationship. For friends and family, it isn’t necessary to send a message every day, but connecting periodically gives you a chance to share your lives.

        56. Do chores together

        For couples, working in the house together prevents one party from feeling resentful toward the other. A 2007 study found that 62% of couples believe that sharing chores leads to a successful partnership.

        57. Take time to snuggle

        Physical contact influences how you feel about your significant other. The act of cuddling causes your bodies to release oxytocin, a hormone responsible for bonding. Hugging also causes the release of oxytocin, so this healthy habit applies to non-romantic relationships as well.

        58. Tell them what you love about them

        Saying, “I love you,” is great, but sometimes it’s nice to back the sentiment up with some examples. Let your friends and partner know what specific attributes you love about them. This confidence boost helps them weather whatever storms come their way.

        59. Pay attention

        Asking thoughtful questions and responding may seem like common sense, but many friend, family, and love relationships lack attentiveness. Listen deeply. Make eye contact. When a loved one talks to you, they should feel that they have your undivided attention.

        Advertising

        60. Figure out their love language (and speak it)

        The 5 Love Languages: Secrets to Love that Last, tells us that there are five main ways that people give and receive love. Knowing your significant other’s love language helps you learn the best ways to show your love based on their needs. It’s worth noting that the love languages are not limited to romantic relationships.

        61. Ask about their day

        This is a great way to start any conversation, whether your chatting with your dad or talking to your best friend. You’ll get a ton of information that can help you be present for them, and you’ll show that you’re genuinely interested in their life by asking this simple question.

        62. Be honest

        Honesty is critical for any relationship. When you care about someone long, you must be able to tell them the truth. They’re counting on you to be someone they can trust. Besides, it’s kinder than lying, and you never have to worry about them finding out that you fibbed.

        63. Be their cheerleader

        We all encounter challenges, but having someone who can cheer you on your worst day is a real gift. Be the person who can give them the encouragement they need to face whatever is in front of them. Sometimes your loved ones just need to know that you believe in them.

        64. Unplug to reconnect

        You can’t have quality time if you’ve got your heads buried in your phones, video games, or laptops. You can certainly enjoy those things with one another, but commit to spending some time together screen-free as well. If you’re out to lunch, make a no-screen policy so that you can actively listen to one another.

        65. Show that you’re loyal

        Fidelity is a no-brainer in a romantic relationship. Fidelity isn’t the only way to show loyalty, though. In all your relationships, be sure to shut down gossip and stand up for loved ones even if they can’t stand up for themselves.

        66. Be the person they can count on

        Your partner and friends should know that whether they had a bad day at work, or they’re sick, you are always ready to jump in and help. When things are going poorly for your family, your parents and siblings, know they can turn to you. You’re there on time every time they need you to be, and you mean what you say.

        67. Pull your weight

        It’s unfair to expect one partner or friend to shoulder the burden for everything. You don’t have to split every responsibility down the middle, but you do need to reach an agreement so that neither of you carry the load alone.[7] This applies to things like household chores, but it also relates to things like deciding where to eat or choosing an outing.

        68. Make time for them

        Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People once said:

        “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

        If you want your relationships to last, you have to make them a priority. Schedule “appointments” with loved ones if you have trouble making the time to connect with them.

        69. Love without judgement

        Unless their behavior is a deal breaker, re-frame how you think about the other person’s flaws. To have real love, you have to love the real person. To see who someone truly is, they have to feel safe enough to show you without feeling judged. Your family, friends, and significant other should know that you love them, warts and all.

        70. Forgive their mistakes

        You aren’t perfect, and neither are your friends, your partner, or your family. When someone you love messes up, put yourself in their shoes. If it’s not worth ending the relationship over the mistake, forgive the person.

        71. Be vulnerable and accept vulnerability

        Being vulnerable can require practice in friendships and romantic relationships. With friends, this is your chance to show them who you are, and it gives them permission to be more open with you. With your partner, vulnerability with one another builds trust.

        72. Start the day with them

        For couples, beginning each day with your partner is a show of solidarity. Even if you work opposite schedules, you can find ways to share the beginning of a new day together. Write a note or spend a few minutes in the morning seeing them off.

        73. Call it a day together

        You don’t necessarily need to be on the same sleep schedule as your partner, but winding down together is a healthy habit. This act builds trust, and it gives you one more chance to reflect on the day.

        74. Make decisions as a team

        Independence is great, but when a decision you need to make will have a serious effect on your family, friends, or partner, it’s best to include them in the process. Remember that you’re in it together, and take time to establish how your team will communicate about major life decisions.

        Taking up the healthy habits

        To take up these healthy habits, pick one from the list and focus on that first.

        Check out this step-by-step guide and learn how to develop good habits for a healthy lifestyle:

        A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Good Habits

        When you put in the time to develop these 74 healthy habits, the effort that you put into your body, mind and relationships will come back to you many times over.

        Advertising

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

        More by this author

        Leon Ho

        Founder & CEO of Lifehack

        What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide) Feel That Life Is Meaningless? Here’s How to Find Meaning How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life The Careful Art of Delegation: How to Delegate Effectively How the Flow State Helps You Stay Productive and Concentrate

        Trending in Habit

        1 13 Steps to Build a Positive Habit Stacking Routine 2 How to Build New Habits With An Accountability Partner 3 How to Find the Best Keystone Habits to Change Your Life 4 The Psychology of Habit Formation (And How to Hack it) 5 11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on October 7, 2021

        Are You Addicted to Productivity?

        Advertising
        Are You Addicted to Productivity?

        “It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

        Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

        “Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

        Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

        Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

        “The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

        This is my mantra:

        I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

        But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

        Addiction to Productivity is Real

        Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

        Advertising

        “A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

        Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

        “It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

        Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

        “A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

        “There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

        “For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

        There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

        Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

        By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

        Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

        Advertising

        Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

        Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

        Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

        The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

        Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

        • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
        • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
        • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
        • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
        • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
        • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
        • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

        The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

        Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

        Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

        1. Set Limits

        Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

        For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

        2. Create a Not-to-Do List

        Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

        3. Be Vulnerable

        By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

        Advertising

        4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

        Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

        Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

        There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

        5. Don’t Be a Copycat

        Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

        That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

        6. Say Yes to Less

        Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

        That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

        Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

        7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

        “In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

        “That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

        Advertising

        • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
        • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
        • Establish realistic goals.
        • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
        • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
        • Hold yourself accountable.
        • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
        • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

        8. Simplify

        Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

        The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

        9. Learn How to Relax

        “Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

        “But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

        “And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

        But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

        • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
        • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
        • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
        • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
        • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
        • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
        • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
        • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
        • Visit a massage therapist.
        • Just breathe.

        “Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

        It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

        Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

        Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

        Advertising

        Reference

        Read Next