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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 April 6, 2020

15 Best Productivity Hacks for Procrastinators

15 Best Productivity Hacks for Procrastinators

Let me guess.

You should be doing something else rather than reading this article. But due to some unknown force of nature, you decided to procrastinate by reading an article about how to hack procrastination. You deserve a pat on the back.

Fortunately, procrastination is not a disease. It’s just a mindset that can be changed, however, here are some productivity tips you need to start getting work done:

First, you need to acknowledge that procrastinating is an unhealthy habit. Not only you’re prioritizing unimportant things, basically, nothing gets done. Still unsure if you’re a procrastinator? Check out this article: Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing)

Second, your commitment to change is very important. You should be physically, emotionally, and mentally determined to change this habit. If not, then you’ll just succumb to the tempting lure of doing other things rather than your tasks or chores.

Here are sthe best productivity hacks to improve productivity and keep yourself from procrastinating at work:

1. Give (10+2)*5 a Try

Let’s start with a classic but very effective hack called (10+2)*5 created by Merlin Mann,[1] author of 43Folders.com. Don’t worry. This is not a complicated Mathematical formula you need to solve.

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The (10+2)*5 simply means 10 minutes work + 2 minutes break multiplied by 5, completing 1 hour. It is crucial to stick with the time limits and not skipping work and break schedules. The point of this is for you to create a jam-packed routine of work and break schedules. The result? You will eventually skip your break schedules.

2. Use Red and Blue More Often

Clean your desk and remove things that might distract you. According to a Science Daily study[2] about which colors improve brain performance, red was found out to increase attention to details while blue sparks creativity. Surrounding your workplace with these colors not only benefits your brain, it’s also pleasing to the eye.

3. Create a Break Agenda

List all the things you want to do on your break, be it surfing the web, checking your emails, snack time, taking selfies, Facebook/Twitter—everything.

Like the (10+2)*5 hack, squeeze these in between work time but the difference is you schedule these activities for ONLY 20 minutes. Eventually, you’ll take your break minutes wisely. You’re finishing tasks while sidetracking to doing the things you enjoy.

4. Set a Timetable for Your Tasks

Like any other habits, procrastinating is a tough wall to break. Replace this habit with another habit. When you’re assigned a task, set a timetable for each step. Let’s say you have a big research task. Here’s a sample timetable:

9:00 – 9:10 am – Set up all your tools, browser tabs, emails, coffee, etc..
9:10 – 10:00 am – Internet research
10:00 – 10:45 am – Look through existing files
10:45 – 11:00 am – Break time!
11:00 – 12:00 pm – Outline the research report

Deadlines are the best hack for getting things done. Setting a specific time to finish a task creates time pressure even if the deadline has passed.

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5. Take It Outside!

Do yourself a favor and don’t ruin the comfy vibe of your home. If you need to work on a stressful project, do it in a library or coffee shop. You’ll never finish it anyway. Your cozy sofa and toasty bed will just lure you into napping yourself to doom.

6. Become Productively Lazy

Instead of finding all sorts of ways to unproductively procrastinate, use your habit to look for shortcuts and new ways to finish your tasks. Staple multiple papers at a time or master the 3-second t-shirt folding technique. A strong drive combined with laziness sometimes bring out the productive and creative side you never knew you have!

7. Assign a ‘Task Deputy’

It could be your colleague, your supervisor, or your significant other, anyone who has the unforgiving guts to reprimand you when you procrastinate. You could go the extra mile by paying up unfinished tasks or times you open your Facebook or watch a funny cat video on YouTube. Let’s see how five bucks every time you procrastinate will change you.

8. Consider a Gadget-Free Desk

According to a study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, average users check on their phones 150 times per day and having your phone just an elbow away just creates sizzle to this habit.[3]

Removing mobile devices and gadgets allows you to focus on your work without the constant interruption from notifications, calls, and text messages. It eliminates the very distracting ambiance and the urge to unlock your phone just because.

9. Prepping the Night

Before hitting the sack to oblivion, prepare everything you’ll need the next day. This will probably take you 15 minutes tops, saving you more time for coffee in the morning.

Spin class at am? Pack up your gym clothes, shoes, socks, etc. or better, create a checklist so you don’t miss anything. You can also prep your food into containers and just grab one before leaving.

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10. Do a 7-Minute Workout in the Morning

Exercising is proven to increase productivity and stimulate release of endorphin or “Happy Hormones”.

Take a jog outdoors and get warmed up for the day. Don’t feel like running outside? Hop on a treadmilli. It’s a great investment and there are a lot of ways you can use a treadmill like endurance running and metabolism training. On a budget? Here’s a 7 minute, no-equipment needed workout you can do at home:

11. Set-up Mini Tasks

If you’re given a big project, break it down into mini tasks. Create a checklist and start with the easy ones until you finish. Got an article to write? Just start with the title and the first sentence. Or perhaps you have a visual presentation to make?

Spend 15 minutes on your outline, take five minutes coffee break, then finish the first two slides. Accomplishing something, no matter how tiny, still gives you that sense of fulfillment.

12. Create an Inspirational Board or Reminder

I found these mini desk chalkboards from Etsy you can use to write motivating quotes.

Or you know what? Simply write “Do it now!” and stare at it for 10 seconds every time you feel like dropping by on Reddit.

13. Redecorate Your Room

Redecorating my room motivates me to maintain that ‘new’ look for some time until I get use to it and eventually stop. So I redecorate again and again, it became a monthly habit really. Here are some DIY ideas you can do to any room without spending much.

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14. Ready Your Nibbles

You know that trip to the pantry? It’s just seconds away but it took you several minutes just to get your fruit snacks in the fridge. Before starting a task, prepare your nibbles on your desk to avoid zoning out and losing yourself on the way to the pantry.

Bonus productivity hacks you can do at home:

15. Schedule Your Chores

Write down your chores in a weekly basis with matching day and time when you should be doing these.

For the artsy folks, you can create fun chore charts like these or simply stick the list somewhere visibly annoying e.g. mirrors, doors, TV. The trick is listing as many chores as you can for the week and including unfinished chores the following week. Who likes seeing a long list of chores first thing in the morning?

More Tips to Overcome Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

Reference

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