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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

23 Good Habits for a Productive and Stress Free Life

23 Good Habits for a Productive and Stress Free Life

There is no stress-free life out there but, there are better and worse ways we can deal with stress and have a productive life.

“It is impossible to live without stressing about something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

This is a slightly modified quote by J.K. Rowling, but it rings true for every life out there.

And the better ways to deal with stress include the following 23 good habits.

1. Accept Life as It Is

“Life becomes easy once you accept that life is hard.”

This is a quote by Scott Peck which tells us that we need to think about life not as a stress-avoidant, but to accept stress as a natural part of life and find a way to live with it. This will make us bear the burden easier.

2. Pick Your Level

Life is like a game and you are a character in it. You choose the level at which you want to play the game. Some levels are harder, some easier, and your character can beat some levels easier while others harder.

Find your own level and play the game there to avoid additional stress and still stay productive.

Michael Phelps is an awesome water-level player, but with his short legs and long torso, he would be quite bad at long-distance running level.

Pick your level and the stress which will come with it will be “easier.”

3. Reframe It

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl.

This has an even bigger weight when it comes from someone who was an Auschwitz survivor and saw the horrors we can’t even imagine. But in spite of that, Frankl knew that his life has meaning and that there is a world’s difference in thinking you are completely helpless and, in thinking that you have absolute power to choose your response in that small window between the stimulus and your response.

So no matter how dire and stressful the situation might look, you can always reframe it into something which suits you better.

You can either have a 90% chance of surviving the operation or, a 10% chance of dying during the operation. Your choice.

4. Don’t Argue with Strangers

No matter what the debate is, from climate change to gender policy to flat-earth movement, you will face someone who has deep disagreements with you. And you will think that by citing demonstrable facts to counter another person’s beliefs, you will change their minds. Because logic says so.

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But that’s the time when a psychological phenomenon called the “backfire effect” takes over. And what happens is that as soon as you eloquently put forth the data to change the other person’s beliefs, they actually double down on them.

So the person actually believes more in their belief once you’ve demonstrated the facts and data that it isn’t true. And then, you two become even more polarized which doesn’t help anyone.

Just skip the arguing part because it won’t get you anywhere and will just cause major stress in the forms of assertions “If you could just look at the data, you would see that I’m right/ you’re wrong.”

5. Don’t Argue with Strangers…on Facebook

Take everything above and apply it to the virtual world and you get a giant mess of a situation. Not only do we need to stop ourselves from arguing with people face to face, but we need to skip over all the stupidities we see on Facebook (or Twitter, or any other social platforms).

But as the example above, you will not change anything by arguing with strangers on Facebook (or Twitter).

Austin Kleon in his book Keep Going: 10 Ways To Stay Creative In Good Times And Bad wrote an entire page filled with a single sentence over and over again:

“I will not argue with strangers over the internet.”

Following his advice will provide you with more time to be productive and, less time to be stressed about opinions of people who you will never even face.

6. Lose the Complaining Attitude

Sometimes things aren’t the way we want them to be. That is called life and sometimes, that really sucks. But hey, there is a way some people make that fact even worse.

And that is complaining!

It’s that one person on the bus of 50 people who yells and screams at the driver because he missed a turn or, because there is a delay on the road. The other 49 passengers are experiencing the same thing, but there is one person who decided to make the entire experience even worse.

If you want to have a stress free life, lose the complaining attitude.

7. Physically Move

If you’re on the bus with the person who keeps on complaining, just exit the bus and wait for the next one. Sometimes, you really need to move yourself physically away from people who create stress.

This also works when someone tries to argue with you or they are being loud for no reason, or they are simply “citing facts.” Simply stand up and start walking while singing Craig David’s song in your head:

“I’m walking away
from trouble in my life
I’m walking away
oh to find a better day.”

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8. Physically Move #2

A great way to increase your productivity and avoid stress is to move–physically. Take a small walk for 20 to 30 minutes to clear your head and get back to your work refreshed.

When I was writing this article, I did the same thing. Took a nice 20 minutes long walk in the beautiful nature of Rab and once I got back to my room, I finished the article.

9. Exercise

Studies have shown over and over again that exercise helps increase your productivity, lowers tension and stress, makes you healthy, improves memory, reduces risk of depression, boosts your physical and mental energy, provides higher self-esteem, regulate your sleep patterns, and gives you a great cooping mechanism which provides stronger resilience.

Or spoken in plain English language: “Just do it.”

10. Eat a Slightly Bit Better

Most people are tired of hearing the advice of “eat healthy.” First of all, that means a completely different thing for almost everyone out there. You can’t just take a copy/paste diet from the internet and apply it to your situation. There are specifics regarding your body, immune system and geographical position that you need to take into concern.

Someone living in Norway will have a different healthy diet from someone living in Mexico or Ecuador. Someone who has genetical problems with heart or blood will have a different healthy diet from someone who doesn’t have those problems.

But no matter what your situation is, just remember that every change starts small and slow. So don’t make big and rash changes– they never last.

Start small and keep at it. Eventually, the compound effect will take place and you will become healthier.

11. Practice Mindfulness

This doesn’t have to be meditation. That’s just one form of mindfulness. My personal practice is taking a longer walk in nature with my headphones on as white noise. That works the best for me, but you try your own thing(s) and stick with those that work for you.

Mindfulness is always personal, there is no cookie-cutter thing you can just take from someone else.

Learn more about mindfulness here: Meditation Can Change Your Life: The Power of Mindfulness

12. Have Some Kind of a Spiritual Connection

This can be whatever you want it to be. But it has to be bigger than you.

We need something in our lives which is bigger than us to whom we can turn to. It can be your personal God, Allah, Buddha, or just your mission, vision or personal “why” in life.

This article may just help you find your “why”: What Is the Purpose of Life and What Should You Live For?

13. Talk with People Face to Face

Texting and calling isn’t a replacement for face-to-face interaction with people. No man is an island and everyone out there needs to communicate with other people in their physical proximity.

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So turn off your laptop and go meet a friend for a coffee.

14. Enjoy a Night out

And it’s not just about a casual coffee during the day. Enjoy a night out with your friends and the good time will lower your stress, increase your happiness, and that will make you even more productive in the following days and weeks.

15. Have a Meal with the People You Love

I had a friend from Andalusia, Spain who told me that there is a special time during the dinner called “sobremesa.” It’s the time during the dinner when everyone finished their meal but before someone starts collecting the plates and moving away from the dinner table.

He said that those 45 minutes to 1 hour is a special time where his family talks about life, sharing good and bad things that happened to them during the week. It’s practices like these that we need more to bond with our loved ones.

16. Read Books

You only live one life, but if you read books, you can live out thousands of other lives. And just imagine what kind of ideas, stories, novelties, mind-boggling stuff you can (and will) read in books.

If there is one thing that I suggest to every single person who I ever meet, it is to read books and to read as much as possible. I read 90 books in the last two years and they have changed me in every single aspect of my life.[1]

17. Don’t Read 90% of the Things on the Internet

But we humans are lazy and why should we read a 350-page long book when we can just skim over a book review which takes us 3 minutes?

And that’s why 90% of the things on the internet are crap (Sturgeon’s Law). Most of the articles on the internet are created to spur outrages without any concern for the truth. Because it’s all about the clicks which bring advertising and that leads to money.

So choose what you read online wisely. Choose to read only trustworthy and positive websites.

18. Don’t Watch the News

News cover 1% of the 1% of the 1% of the extremes that happen in the country. So not only are they not the representatives of what is really happening, but they are also focusing on getting the eyeballs through the most extreme news so that the advertisers give them more money.

19. Don’t Read the Newspapers

“We think the more information we consume the more signal we’ll consume. Only the mind doesn’t work like that. When the volume of information increases, our ability to comprehend the relevant from the irrelevant becomes compromised. We place too much emphasis on irrelevant data and lose sight of what’s really important.” — Nassim Taleb

Most stuff in the newspapers is noise. Ignore it. The important stuff will find a way to reach you, one way or another.

The best decision of my life was to stop reading the newspaper.

20. The Two-Scroll Rule for Social Media

People who tell you to stop using social media to lower stress and increase your productivity are not being realistic. Because most of us will not comply nor would it be beneficial for us to comply with that.

But to prevent mindless scrolling on social media, there is something called the Two-Scroll rule.

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Once you take your phone in your hand and open Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, you are only allowed to scroll down twice. That way, you still see what’s happening on the platforms but are limited in time and information which bombards you. This also makes you follow only the most important things on the platforms.

21. Focus on Your Long-Term Goals

There is nothing more fulfilling to a person than progress at something meaningful. So work on your long-term goals and it won’t even feel like work, it will feel like a mission to you.

It will be your own level that you’ve chosen to play at and your own vision which you decided to bring to life.

More work here means less stress in your life.

Learn how to set long-term goals with these tips: The Surefire Way to Set Long Term Goals and Reach Success

22. Learn How to Rest

Most people are in a perpetual “on” state. This really damages their health and productivity.

If you’re working, you are working. If you’re resting, you are resting. Go 100% in both activities and you will see massive differences in your results with less effort, less stress, and more productivity.

If you want to master this, take a look at this article: How to Use Deep Work to Wipe out Distractions And Boost Productivity

You can also learn from people like Cal Newport or just get his book Deep Work.

23. Be Okay with Failing from Time to Time

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” — J.K. Rowling

You will fail your way to success– there is no other way. So don’t be afraid of failing, be afraid of not even trying.

Learn to conquer your fear of failure: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It Step-By-Step)

But if you read all the way up to here, you have already taken the first step forward. Now keep going, we got your back:

Featured photo credit: Content Pixie via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Bruno Boksic

An expert in habit building

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Last Updated on November 5, 2020

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. A rut can manifest as a productivity vacuum and be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. Is it possible to learn how to get out of a rut?

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, or a student, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on Small Tasks

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks that have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate positive momentum, which I bring forward to my work.

If you have a large long-term goal you can’t wait to get started on, break it down into smaller objectives first. This will help each piece feel manageable and help you feel like you’re moving closer to your goal.

You can learn more about goals vs objectives here.

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2. Take a Break From Your Work Desk

When you want to learn how to get out of a rut, get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the bathroom, walk around the office, or go out and get a snack. According to research, your productivity is best when you work for 50 minutes to an hour and then take a 15-20 minute break[1].

Your mind may be too bogged down and will need some airing. By walking away from your computer, you may create extra space for new ideas that were hiding behind high stress levels.

3. Upgrade Yourself

Take the down time to upgrade your knowledge and skills. Go to a seminar, read up on a subject of interest, or start learning a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college[2]. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a Friend

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while. Relying on a support system is a great way to work on self-care when you’re learning how to get out of a rut.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget About Trying to Be Perfect

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionism can lead you to fear failure, which can ultimate hinder you even more if you’re trying to find motivation to work on something new.

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If you allow your perfectionism to fade, soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come, and then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

Learn more about How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up.

6. Paint a Vision to Work Towards

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the ultimate goal or vision you have for your life?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action. You can use the power of visualization or even create a vision board if you like to have something to physically remind you of your goals.

7. Read a Book (or Blog)

The things we read are like food for our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great material.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. You can also stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs and follow writers who inspire and motivate you. Find something that interests you and start reading.

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8. Have a Quick Nap

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep[3].

Try a nap if you want to get out of a rut

    One Harvard study found that “whether they took long naps or short naps, participants showed significant improvement on three of the four tests in the study’s cognitive-assessment battery”[4].

    9. Remember Why You Are Doing This

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall your inspiration, and perhaps even journal about it to make it feel more tangible.

    10. Find Some Competition

    When we are learning how to get out of a rut, there’s nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, and networking conventions can all inspire you to get a move on. However, don’t let this throw you back into your perfectionist tendencies or low self-esteem.

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    11. Go Exercise

    Since you are not making headway at work, you might as well spend the time getting into shape and increasing dopamine levels. Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, or whatever type of exercise helps you start to feel better.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

    If you need ideas for a quick workout, check out the video below:

    12. Take a Few Vacation Days

    If you are stuck in a rut, it’s usually a sign that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange one or two days to take off from work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax, do your favorite activities, and spend time with family members. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest.

    More Tips to Help You Get out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Ashkan Forouzani via unsplash.com

    Reference

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