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Last Updated on December 2, 2020

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:

More Articles About Building Habits

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 February 17, 2021

50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

If you feel like you don’t have enough time to do everything you want to do, maybe it’s time to check-in with your time management skills.

No one is born to be very good at time management, so that’s okay if you think you’re bad in it. But everyone can learn to boost their productivity and achieve more!

Here are 50 ways to increase productivity and add hours to your day.

1. Set a Timer

Estimate the time you need to tackle different tasks and set a timer for each of your tasks. How you go about this is up to you as there are many different ways. There is the Pomodoro technique where you focus on a task for 25 minutes followed by a five minute break afterwards.

In the event that you have a task that will take much longer than that, you can consider one of the many timer-based apps. One that comes to mind is Clockify. It’s used for freelancers and entrepreneurs alike, however it’s a good way to be setting yourself a timer. It provides reports and you can serve as a project manager of sorts too. Best of all, it’s free.

2. Eliminate All Distractions

Distractions include the phone, email notifications and having multiple web browsers open on the desktop. Just as it’s important to be organized offline, it’s key to have things organized online as well. This free guide End Distractions And Find Your Focus is a good tool to help you. With this guide, you’ll learn how to get rid of distractions and boost productivity. Grab your free guide here.

You can also learn more on how to get rid of all distractions in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

3. Listen to Music That Boosts Productivity

Distractions should be avoided, but sometimes a bit of music in the background can help you focus.

Of course, it doesn’t need to be heavy rock music, but a bit of Beethoven may do you some good.

Here’s a complete guide to help you pick the right music for better productivity: How To Maximize Your Productivity With Music: A Complete Guide

4. Find Meaning in What You Do (And Love What You Do)

Enjoying what you do is the ultimate way to increase your productivity.

If you aren’t sure what you love doing yet, don’t worry. Leo Babauta has some unique ways to help you: How to Find Your Passion

5. Prioritize your tasks ahead of time.

By listing your tasks in order of importance, you can make sure that you finish all of your most important tasks during the day.

Learn a unique technique to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster.

6. Batch Similar Tasks into a Single Batch.

Tasks like blog writing, phone calls, email and errands can be grouped into a single batch. You will save time by completing similar tasks in one session. One way to help you with organizing all of those things is through the app Todoist. It’s an easy and simple way for you to plan out your day, set reminders, and group all of your most important tasks in a convenient spot.

7. Complete Your Most Dreaded Tasks First Thing in the Morning.

Whichever activity you are dreading the most is probably the one you need to complete first thing in the morning.

Many people tend to check emails in the morning because after checking a list of emails, they feel fulfilled. But that’s just an illusion of having achieved more.

Doing simple tasks like checking emails first in the morning is bad for you. Instead, do the difficult tasks because you have more energy in the morning to tackle them!

8. Reward Yourself for Finishing a Big Task

To stay motivated for whatever you do, reward yourself every now and then.

Keep track of your small wins and milestones and celebrate them. So whenever you struggle about your progress, you see how far you’ve come!

Find out more about this 2-Step Approach to Self-Motivation: Track Small Wins and Reward Yourself.

9. Don’t Multitask

Research has shown that multitasking is not productive. If you think you can multitask, think again.

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For optimum productivity, focus on one thing at a time.

10. Step Away from the Computer

The Internet has become one of the number one distraction. To increase your productivity, try to do as much of your work offline as possible.

I do this a lot when I try to brainstom new ideas and have found it to be very beneficial to simply unplug.

11. Use Focus Tools

Make good use of apps and technology to help you remove distractions.

Here’re 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools to help you stay focused. This way, you’re not distracted by the web, e-mail, or IM.

Also, join the free Fast-Track Class – Overcoming Distraction, and you’ll learn the one simple method to work even when you’re surrounded by distractions. Join the free session now!

12. Just Start

Often times, starting is the hardest part. People tend to wait for the perfect time with perfect condition to start. But there’s no perfect condition.

Once you get going, you will quickly get into a rhythm that could last for hours.

13. Find out Your Productive Hours

Everyone has a certain time of the day in which they are more productive than others. For me, it’s the morning.

Find out when your prime time is for productivity and optimize your work schedule accordingly.

14. Keep a Notebook and Pen on Hand at All Times

This way, you can write down your thoughts, to-dos and ideas at any time. The key is to get everything out of your head and onto paper. Your subconscious mind won’t be reminding you about it every other second. Another consideration is getting the app Evernote. Not only does this save you on ink and paper, Evernote is a convenient place for you to jot down notes and thoughts and then share them with the team. In certain circumstances, this can prove useful if you’re the type of person that has a lot of ideas that you want to share.

15. Write a Blog to Chronicle Your Own Personal Development and Achievements

The blog keeps you accountable and always working towards self improvement and personal growth.

When you write down all the small achievements you’ve been having, you’re also more motivated to move forward.

And you know what, this is how I started Lifehack too! What also helped me in starting Lifehack is WordPress, which allows people to set up a website for free. WordPress has simplified a lot of the process of building a site to the point that virtually anyone can build a website now.

16. Write out a To-Do-List Each Day

I like to plan my day the night before. This way, I can get started on my most important tasks as soon as I wake up. The Full Life Planner is a nice tool to help you organize your days and get things that matter done. Check out the planner here and start to plan your day ahead easily!

Make sure you don’t make any of these common to-do-list mistakes!

17. Write Your Most Important Tasks and To-Dos on a Calendar.

The key to good time management is knowing where to be and what to be doing there at any given time. Effective calendar management goes hand in hand with good task list management.

Learn here How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space.

18. Reflect on Your Productivity Constantly

As you go throughout your day, repeatedly ask yourself:

“Am I currently making the best possible use of my time?”

This one simple question can be an excellent boost to your productivity.

19. Get up Early Before Anyone Else

I know it could be difficult for some to wake up early in the morning but nothing beats a quiet house!

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Here’s How to Start Your Day at 5:00 AM and some Simple Things Early Risers Do to make waking up early easier.

20. Get Plenty of Sleep

When you work online, sleep can become a long lost memory. However, it’s important to get plenty of sleep so that your working hours can be as productive as possible.

Try out this night routine which I highly recommend for productivity: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

21. Exercise

Research has shown that midday exercise boosts productivity and morale in the workplace.

Take a short walk at lunch or do some simple stretches during your break to maximize your productivity.

Here I have some exercises recommendations for you:

22. Outsource as Much as Possible

If you want to achieve more in less time, learn to delegate or outsource work. Here are just a few of the companies that will help you outsource your everyday tasks:

Also, read this guide to learn how to delegate effectively: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

23. Set Some Exciting Goals

Without worthy goals, you will never be motivated to get things done.

Set goals that are challenging and achievable. The best goal setting framework is a SMART goal. That said, there are other tools that can help you out as well. For example, The Dreamers’ Guide To Reaching Your Goal is a great guide to help you set and reach goals effectively. Grab your free guide and learn how to make your goals happen this year!

24. Tell Other People About Your Goals

When you tell others about your goals, you will instantly be held accountable.

25. Listen to Podcasts

Listen to educational podcasts or audio books while you’re driving to work, cleaning the house, exercising, or cooking dinner.

Audio learning has the power to add hours to your day. Not to mention, your cranium is sure to thank you for it.

Some recommendations for you: 11 Podcasts To Inspire Yourself

26. Read David Allen’s best-selling book Getting Things Done

This is one of the most important productivity books you will ever read. Read it, apply the tips in your daily lives and get more things done.

Here’re more great books about productivity too: 35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life

27. Learn to Speed Read

When you can read faster, you will read and learn more! Check out these 10 Ways to Increase Your Reading Speed.

You can also make use of the app OutRead to help speed up your reading speed!

28. Learn to Skip When You Read

When you’re reading a book, just read the parts that you need and skip the rest. But you have to read with a purpose.

Learn how to make it work here: How to Read 10X Faster and Retain More

29. Focus on Result-Oriented Activities

Pareto’s law (also known as the 80 20 rule) states that 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. This means that 20% of our actions result in 80% of the results.

We must find the 20% that is creating the 80% of our desired outcomes and focus solely on those activities.

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30. Take a Break

You can’t always be working at optimum productivity. Instead, you should shoot for working in short bursts at your most productive times.

31. Start a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

What is polyphasic sleep?

Polyphasic sleep is a sleep pattern specification intended to compress sleep time to 2-5 hours daily.[1] This is achieved by spreading out sleep into short (around 20-45 minute) naps throughout the day. This allows for more waking hours with relatively high alertness.

While you can learn more about it here, you’re recommended to take some naps during the day to recharge your energy too.

32. Learn to Say “No”.

We can’t do everything and therefore we must learn when to say no in order to save our sanity.

Learn the Gentle Art of Saying No from Leo Babauta.

33. Go on an Information Diet

Most of the world lives on information overload. We must eliminate mindless Internet surfing.

Stop reading three different newspapers a day and checking your RSS feeds multiple times a day. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.

The key is to limit yourself only to information that you can immediately take action on. Here’re some simple tips you can try: 10 Simple Productivity Tricks To Manage Overloaded Information

34. Organize Your Office

The piles of paper around your desk can be a huge barrier on your productivity. Optimize your time by organizing your office, setting up a system and dumping the junk.

Check out these 21 Tips to Organize Your Office and Get More Done and 20 Easy Home Office Organization Ideas to Boost Your Productivity.

35. Find a Mentor

By modeling after those who have already achieved success, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy.

A good mentor is hard to find, so here’s a guide to help you: What to Look for in a Mentor

36. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

With technology’s help, you can double your work efficiency. Even better, you learn all the shortcuts when using technology, for example keyboard shortcuts.

When you use keyboard shortcut, you gain 64 hours every year!

Not sure what shortcuts to lear? Check out these 22 Tricks That Can Make Anyone A Keyboard Ninja.

Besides learning the shortcuts, you can also create keyboard shortcuts with AutoHotKey.

37. Improve Your Typing Speed to Save Time

Do you know you can save 21 days per year just by typing fast?

You don’t really need to take some serious courses to type faster, try these typing games online:

38. Work from Home and Avoid the Daily Commute

If your job is a flexible one, consider working from home. This saves you the commute time and you’ll find yourself more energetic throughout the day as you have saved the long ride.

Take a look at these tips to help you stay productive while working from home:

How to Work from Home and Stay Ultra-Productive

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39. Get Rid of Time Wasters

Common time wasters include Instant Messenger, video games, Flickr, checking your stats 10 times a day, television and extraneous Internet surfing.

Don’t rely on your willpower, make use of some of these useful tools to help you stay focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

40. Plan Your Meals in Advance

Plan out all of your meals a week ahead and make your grocery list accordingly. This allows you to focus on the necessary – saving you time and money. You can also save yourself even more time through a wide variety of apps. One app that I find helpful is Mealime. It’s an app that provides you with a wide selection of recipes and also a convenient spot for your grocery list as well.

Considering the fact that over 4 million users have this app, it goes to show that there is a good selection of meal plans that you can follow and that the app is friendly to use.

41. Cook Your Meals in Bulk

When you cook your meals in bulk, you will have plenty of leftovers. This can avoid having to cook everyday.

Find out more about how to make cooking in bulk works: Once a Month Cooking: Productivity Hack or Overrated Time Suck?

42. Protect Yourself from Unnecessary Phone Time with Caller ID

The minutes you spend on picking up unnecessary phone calls are time wasted. You can prevent that from happening.

Check out this detailed guide how you can deal with those unnecessary phone calls: How To Lose the Useless Items that Weigh Down Your Day – Cellphone Calls

43. Take Shorter Showers

This one may sound silly but it’s actually something I struggle with. I spend up to 30 minutes in the shower. Think of the time I could save simply by speeding up a bit.

44. Save the Trips to Bank by Taking Direct Deposit

Many employers now offer direct deposit. If yours does, then be sure and take advantage of it and save yourself from a number of trips to the bank.

45. Auto Pay Your Bills

How many times have you been worried about whether you missed the bills deadline?

Auto paying your bills will save you time and eliminate late fees and increased interest rates.

46. Shop Online

Whenever possible, avoid going to the store. When you shop online, you can be more focus about what you’re getting.

47. Speed up your Internet With a Broadband Connection

Many people are aware of the slow speed of internet but aren’t doing anything about it. In fact, this is the number one Internet time-saver!

If you must use dial-up, then you can use accelerators like Propel and SlipStream to double or even triple your speed.

48. Keep up the Speed of Your Computer

If you’re a Windows user, use Windows hibernation feature to avoid the slowdown of exiting and restarting Windows.

Or maybe, consider switching to Mac as there’re plenty of Advantages You Probably Don’t Know About Switching To Mac From PC.

49. Turn off the TV

The average American watches more than 4 hours of television every day. Over a 65-year life, that’s 9 years glued to the tube.

For better health and productivity, turn off the TV. Here’re 11 more reasons to tell you to stop watching TV so often.

Turn off the TV and you are sure to get more out of life.

50. Use a Tivo or DVR

This can help you cut an hour-long television show down to just 40 minutes. You can save time while not missing the fun.

So, here’s the ultimate list of techniques you should learn to boost productivity. Pick the techniques that work for you and make them your daily habits. As time goes, you’ll find yourself being a lot more productive.

More Time Management Tips

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

[1] Medical News Today: What is biphasic and polyphasic sleep?

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