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Published on April 1, 2020

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 October 29, 2020

How to Develop Mental Toughness and Stay Strong

How to Develop Mental Toughness and Stay Strong

Are you the kind of person who wants to achieve massive success in your life? Do you have the mental toughness to make that happen?

I think we can all agree that no matter your ambitions, achieving success can be difficult; and over time, the daily grind can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional energy.

Achievers and high performers from all walks of life face ups and downs along the path to success—they face failure, burnout, discouragement, fatigue, self-limiting beliefs, stress, and so much more.

How do some people continually strive towards their personal goals year after year while others give up on them? How do those people stay strong and persevere when there is so much stacked against them?

Studies now show that mental strength is a critical key to success. If you haven’t read Angela Duckworth’s book Grit, you should. In it, she shows that “the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls ‘grit.’” In other words, mental toughness plays a significant role when it comes to achieving goals.

At its core, mental toughness is simply the ability to stick to something when the going gets tough. People with high levels of mental toughness can push beyond these obstacles and forge a path towards success, while those with lower levels of mental toughness may abandon their dreams.

The good news is that no matter who you are, what you’ve been told, or what you currently believe, you can develop the mental toughness you need to be successful.

1. Develop a Positive Mindset

If you’re going to increase your mental toughness and manage stress, the first thing you have to do is focus on building a strong, positive mindset in everyday life.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the average person has 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 95% of those thoughts repeat each day and, on average, 80% of repeated ideas are negative.[1]

That’s roughly 45,600 negative thoughts per day!

Carrying around these negative thoughts is like going on a hike in the mountains with a backpack full of rocks. The hike is hard enough on its own, but having extra junk weighing you down is a recipe for failure.

Sometimes, building mental toughness isn’t as much about building new strength as it is about saving your strength for the right tasks. Wouldn’t it be easier to dump the rocks out of the backpack instead of trying to get strong enough to carry the extra weight?

Let Go of Self-Limiting Beliefs

It’s pretty hard to be mentally tough when you’re constantly beating yourself up. Self-limiting beliefs are any beliefs that hold you back in some way. Here are some examples:

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“I’m not smart enough to…”

“I don’t have enough experience to…”

“I’ve tried that before, and it didn’t go well, so I must just be bad at…”

When we allow these self-limiting beliefs to flood our minds, negative self-talk runs rampant, and we crowd out our ability to think positively.

When you recognize a self-limiting belief cropping up in your mind, quickly silence it by telling yourself that it’s not true, and then back that up with some positive affirmations:

  • “I am smart enough; I may just need to do some more research first.”
  • “I may not have as much experience as someone else, but that’s not going to stop me from trying. I have enough experience to get started. I’ll figure the rest out on the way.”
  • “Just because I failed at this last time doesn’t mean I’m going to fail this time. My past does not dictate my future.”

Get Rid of the All-or-Nothing Thinking

Another form of negative thinking that could be preventing you from building mental toughness is all-or-nothing thinking.

All-or-nothing thinking is the concept of thinking in extremes. You are either a success or a failure. Your performance was great or awful. If you’re not perfect, then you’re a failure.

But this isn’t true!

If you’re trying to lose 30 pounds and only lost 28, isn’t that still better than not losing any weight at all? I’d say so!

If you allow all-or-nothing thinking to rule your mind, you’ll be on cloud nine when you succeed, but you’ll beat yourself up when you “fail.” Acknowledging the shades of gray in between will allow you to see success more often.

When you recognize an all-or-nothing thought, remember to look for the positive in the situation. What did you gain by trying? What would you have missed out on had you not tried? Could you do better if you were to try again?

Ditch the Dwelling

Self-limiting beliefs and all-or-nothing thinking can lead to a bad case of dwelling on the negative, which is bad news for mental health. If you want to build some mental toughness and keep your mind strong, you have to ditch the dwelling.

When we dwell on our misfortunes, we waste massive amounts of energy that we could be using to achieve our goals. When this happens, we’re more likely to quit altogether.

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That doesn’t mean you’re not mentally tough; it just means you’re misusing your energy.

The next time something bad happens, it’s important to allow yourself to feel the disappointment and frustration, but work on reducing the amount of time you dwell on the situation.

If you struggle with this, you can try the following:

  1. Call a friend or mentor and talk it through with them. Get some outside perspective on your situation.
  2. Time block your dwelling by allowing yourself to dwell for no more than one hour.
  3. Then, tell yourself to move on, that you’re human, and you’re allowed to make mistakes or experience setbacks.
  4. If all else fails, find a good way to distract yourself until you can calm down and reexamine things with a clear mind.

The faster you can focus on the positives and move past the problem, the quicker you can get back to achieving success in your life.

2. Connect With Your Purpose

One of the most critical elements to building mental toughness and keeping a strong and focused mind is having a strong “why” for all of your short and long-term goals.

If you set out to achieve a huge goal that you don’t have a “why” for, you’re going to find yourself distracted, discouraged, or disengaged as soon as you experience your first setback.

Think about the last time you were working on a goal or resolution, and things weren’t going well. Perhaps you thought you didn’t have enough willpower or discipline.

It’s more likely that you just didn’t have a strong enough why.

Simon Sinek has been spreading his message “Start with Why” across the globe.[2] In short, he says that:

“Your ‘why’ is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you.”

One of the biggest drains on your mental energy is pursuing a goal or a task that you don’t have a why for. Often, we set goals because we like the idea of the goal, not the reality of the goal. Without connecting to our why, we can’t intrinsically motivate ourselves to achieve our most challenging goals.

You can learn more on identifying your purpose in this video:

Find Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is our innate desire to do something, and it comes when we work towards something that satisfies ourselves above all else—not our parents or our bosses or our teachers[3].

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Develop mental toughness with intrinsic motivation

    Let’s say you think you want to quit smoking because you know it’s bad for you, but you really enjoy smoking. If you don’t truly want to quit smoking, it’s going to be nearly impossible, regardless of your willpower or mental toughness.

    However, if you want to quit smoking because you just had a baby, and you don’t want your baby growing up around smoke, then that “why” is going to give you intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is far more powerful than sheer stubborn willpower, and it’s far easier to maintain over the long haul.

    If you’re trying to develop mental toughness, connecting a why to everything you want to achieve will reduce the effort and energy it will take to achieve those things.

    3. Find Strength in Unity

    The final aspect of developing mental toughness is embracing the idea that you’re not in this alone.

    Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft alone. Oprah didn’t build her network by herself. Steve Jobs didn’t invent the iPhone without a team. Michelle Obama didn’t implement the “Let’s Move” campaign on her own.

    Behind all of these successful people were countless other people who were offering support, mentorship, guidance, and encouragement.

    If you want to develop unmatched mental toughness, you need to understand that you don’t have to go it alone. Even the toughest Navy Seals have a team backing them up.

    Find a Mentor or Committee of Mentors

    The benefits of having a great mentor are far too many to list, but to boil it down to the basics, a mentor is someone who will help show you the path to success, discover your greatest strengths, spot and overcome your blind spots, and work through your weaknesses.

    If you’re struggling to deal with your internal negativity or with finding your purpose, talk it through with a mentor. Sometimes we lose the forest for the trees, and a mentor can help us take a step back and see the bigger picture.

    Here’s how to find the right mentor for yourself: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

    Recruit Some Cheerleaders

    If you want to stay strong, it never hurts to have a group of personal cheerleaders to help you successfully complete your goals. Unlike mentors who are going to jump in and help you address your problems, a group of cheerleaders will help keep your spirits up.

    Even if you have a strong why and a positive mindset, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a positive attitude 100% of the time. It doesn’t make you weak to need some help from time to time. Having a group of people cheering you on will make all the difference in the world.

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    As you work towards your goals, tell a few close friends about what you’re doing, and when things get tough, tell them about it. When they give you the pep talk you need, don’t resist their positivity or counter it with your self-limiting beliefs.

    Allow their optimism to refill your energy and use that energy to press on.

    Form an Accountability Group

    Cheerleaders are great, but sometimes we need someone to give us the kick we need to keep going. You might have a strong why for running a marathon or losing 30 pounds, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy; and trying to force yourself to follow through is a sure way to tax your mental energy.

    Why not save some of your mental energy by forming an accountability group?

    Find a person or a few people who have similar goals, or at the very least, the need for an accountability partner. Then, form an agreement within the group to push each other every day.

    4. Learn to Pick Yourself up After Setbacks

    Building a strong mindset and developing mental toughness isn’t easy! Anyone who’s ever achieved massive success knows that obstacles, setbacks, and failure are inevitable, and you’re no different.

    As you work on your goals, you’re going to face many ups and downs, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t have mental toughness, willpower, or discipline.

    When you find yourself in a low spot, instead of giving up right away, ask yourself these questions:

    • “Am I being too hard on myself?”
    • “Are negative thoughts distorting my view?”
    • “What’s the positive side of this setback/obstacle/failure?”
    • “Why was this goal important to me? What was my purpose?”
    • “Is this goal still important to me?”
    • “Who can I ask for help? Who can mentor me or hold me accountable?”

    Asking yourself these questions is a great way to check in on your mindset. When we get lost in negative thinking or lose connection to our purpose, it’s far too easy to become discouraged.

    This article provides some useful tips to help you get back on track: How to Deal with Failure and Pick Yourself Back Up

    Tying It All Together

    A crucial part of developing mental toughness is learning to recognize negative tendencies and taking action to correct them early on with healthy habits. Developing mental toughness is not about eliminating weakness, but learning how to deal with it and overcome it.

    No one is perfect, but when we focus on the right things, we can develop a mental toughness worthy of life’s biggest challenges.

    More on Developing Mental Strength

    Featured photo credit: Zulmaury Saavedra via unsplash.com

    Reference

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