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How 30 Minutes of Daily “Me Time” Improves Your Productivity

How 30 Minutes of Daily “Me Time” Improves Your Productivity

Living in the twenty-first century is fantastic. The things we have access to every day allow us to live lives of immense convenience.

We can now talk to our friends across the seas in real-time, and we can order our favorite food via a phone app and have it delivered within 30 minutes. This is a far cry from 50 years ago when it would have taken up to a month for a letter to go from London to New York. And if you lived in London in 1950, you probably have never heard of pizza.

We have a lot to be grateful for, but with all this convenience comes a few downsides. As it is so much easier to contact other people, we are have now become more dependent on our electronic devices, demanding our attention every minute of the day.

Long gone are the days when if you wanted some quiet time, you would take the phone off the hook. Or if you decided to go hiking in the hills on a weekend you could enjoy complete solitude.

Now, not having your phone on you would attract weird looks from other people. We have to make an excuse like the battery went dead or your phone was stolen.

All You Need is 30 Minutes

All these interruptions and demands for our attention destroy our ability to focus on ourselves. Instead, we are pushed to focus on other people. But if you were to set aside a bit of time each day to yourself, you would be able to identify and focus on your priorities and the things you want for yourself.

It is when you focus on your priorities that you start to achieve the things you have always wanted to achieve. This can also make you a positive beacon for other people. You start to lead others instead of just following.

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Robin Sharma has spoken and written about what he calls The 5 AM Club. This is where you wake up at 5 AM, do twenty minutes of exercise, twenty minutes of planning, and twenty minutes of learning. Giving yourself this one hour each day to focus on yourself helps set up a fantastic day.

This may not be for everyone, but if you can go to bed early enough, you will wake up every morning feeling better.

You do not need to spend a whole hour on yourself each day to get the productivity benefits of solitude and “me time”.

All you need is 30 minutes.

There are a lot of things that you can do in 30 minutes, and most of them can give you a boost in productivity. Here are a few:

Focus on Your Priorities

Many people have goals and aspirations they claim they never have time to work on. But if you give yourself enough time to reflect on your day and plan the next, you will be able to focus on your priorities better and plan how you will spend your time doing them.

There is a simple method that can help people focus on their priorities called the 2+8 Prioritisation System. In this system, you set two objectives that you absolutely have to accomplish within the day and set eight other tasks related to these objectives that you will try to complete.

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It only takes ten minutes to do, but the results can be incredible. It means you begin the day with a plan and an intention, and this helps you resist the urge to give in to other people’s priorities.

As the late Jim Rohn wonderfully said:

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”

Your productivity increases dramatically when you begin the day with a plan. When you do not have a plan, the least important things may hijack your day.

Me Time Gives Your Mind a Chance to Rest

With so much going on in the world, it is easy to get caught up in the drama and fears of everyday life. The reality is that very few of these dramas and events have any real impact on you.

Your mind is designed to seek out dangers and make these perceived dangers seem more important than they really are. This is how our ancestors survived on the savannahs hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Yet the dangers we are pre-programmed to avoid no longer exist. However, news organizations discovered that sensationalized news sells. They fill the void by feeding us scare stories that make us react in predictable ways—panic buying toilet paper, for example.

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Giving yourself a little time each day to jump off this cycle and to focus on your priorities gives you some much-needed perspective in this volatile world. This will help you get your most important works done without being caught up in other less important things.

Scheduling downtime for yourself and your mind is very important. It keeps you focused on the here and now and the things that matter the most for you.

Anchors Keep You Grounded

Having a few anchors in your life keeps you focused on the important things. Have a morning routine dedicated to self-care, make time for daily exercises, and spend quality time with your family. These are essentials that should be non-negotiable.

Your boss, customers, friends, and colleagues should never be allowed to take that time away from you, and the only way that can happen is if you let them.

People like Gary Vaynerchuk and Casey Niestatt work hard. Yet if you look at their schedules, they dedicate two or three hours of family time each day and at least an hour for exercise. These are their daily anchors, and these anchors are non-negotiable.

Your time is your most valuable asset. The time, health, and energy you have today are never guaranteed and could be taken away from you in an instant. It is important to protect your time, and you should learn to say no to the things you have no interest in.

Of course, it easier to write that and a lot more difficult to do, but so is learning to play golf or the guitar. With practice and a few weeks of consistent practice, you start to play these at a reasonable level and the same goes for learning to say no.

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At first, it will be very hard and uncomfortable, and you will feel guilty. But after some time, you will stop being a yes-man. Instead, you will learn how to say no and protect your own time. You will be able to focus on the activities that you think are important to you.

Make Your Me Time a Non-Negotiable Part of Your Day

Schedule 30 minutes every day for yourself. Put it on your calendar and make sure you never allow anyone to take it away from you. Use this time to plan the day, read books, meditate or just get some fresh air without any distractions.

If you find it difficult to include your me time as a non-negotiable part of your day, you can always try to learn how to find time for yourself.

Allow your mind to wander to enjoy the things around you and to get new perspectives in life. Doing these keeps you focused on your life and your priorities, and you will then notice an improvement in your productivity because you are more focused on the truly important things.

Learn More About the Benefits of Me Time

Featured photo credit: BhAvik SuThar via unsplash.com

More by this author

Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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Last Updated on April 22, 2021

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

Motivation Is Not the Answer

How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

1. Define What a Win Looks Like

In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

4 Steps to Define a Win
  • Know the outcome you desire.
  • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
  • Write the outcome down.
  • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

2. Evaluate Your Activity

Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

  • Do now
  • Plan to do it later
  • Delegate to someone else
  • Delete it

Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

  • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
  • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
  • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
  • Does this activity have to be done at all?

Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

3. Prioritize Your Calendar

If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

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

Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

    But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

    “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

    Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

    Use these questions to reflect on your day:

    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • What can I change?
    • What do I need to start doing?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

    The Bottom Line

    Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

    Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

    “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

    Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

    That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

    More on Creating Healthy Routines

    Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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