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9 Daily Habits That Will Change Your Life

9 Daily Habits That Will Change Your Life

Having enormous goals for your life is exhilarating, exciting… and at times, utterly terrifying. If you create daily habits to automate certain aspects of your life, however, you’ll create a sturdy foundation to take risks from. Jonathan Fields, author of Uncertainty, calls these habits “certainty anchors”. They add a sense of reliability to your day so no matter how many risks you take, your habits will always be there to depend on.

How to Develop Daily Habits

As tempting as it is to try and change more than one habit at a time to reach your goals more quickly, the opposite is true. Doing poorly with one habit will have a domino effect on the habits you’re doing well with. The house of cards will topple over and the level of discouragement you’ll feel will make it that much harder to get back on your feet.

Here’s the habit-building process that’s working for me:

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  • Focus on building one habit per month.
  • Don’t give yourself a deadline: Some daily habits will be easier to build than others, and it doesn’t matter how long it takes to build the habit, as long as you build it.
  • Commit fully and don’t back down.
  • Go easy on yourself if you stumble. Instead of getting angry with yourself, use it as a learning experience. Figure out what caused you to stumble, deal with any external influences causing you problems, and try again.
  • Each time you hit a milestone—one week, one month, six months, etc.—reward yourself in some way. How is completely up to you.
  • Once you’re able to complete the habit without having to think about it, it’s time to move onto establishing your next habit.

Here are daily habits that will make an immediate difference in your lifestyle and help you reach your goals sans Xanax prescription:

1. Visualize

I used to find it hard to fall asleep until I began visualizing how I wanted the next day to go. Instead of my mind wandering from topic to topic, focusing on what “might” go wrong, I started focusing on what “would” go right. If you not only list in your mind what you’re going to do the next day but visualize yourself doing it, this matter-of-fact planning process helps keep uncertainty at bay (and the next day goes much smoother!).

2. Define Your Priorities

One of the big reasons why you’re not reaching your goals is likely to do with how much you have on your plate, professionally and personally. It’s likely you’re trying to do too many things at the same time. Ask yourself: what are your ultimate goals? Once you’ve defined them, drop everything that doesn’t cater to them. You can always come back to these things later, after you’ve established what’s most important to you.

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3. Get Up Earlier

I now get all of my important work done before everyone else is even awake—you would not believe the difference this makes! There’s no better feeling than knowing no matter what happens for the rest of the day, you’ve accomplished what you set out to. Bring on the interruptions and distractions; you’ll be armed and ready!

4. Create a Morning Routine

Wake up and do the same things in the same order before you start your day: have a glass of water, exercise, read, etc. Do things that you normally don’t have time for that make you happy. Easing into your day instead of rushing to get started not only depletes your stress level significantly, but puts you in a proactive frame of mind for the remainder of the day.

5. Drink Water

Having a glass of water first thing in the morning helps rid your body of toxins that have been stored overnight. Not only does it aid your digestive tract, it also boosts your metabolism, helping you feel energized sooner.

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6. Singletask

Only 2% of the world’s population can successfully multitask. The rest of us posers are serial-tasking: flitting from one task to another, nudging ourselves forward with each instead of focusing on one at a time. I broke this habit by choosing one item on my to-do list, then hiding it in a drawer until I was done. It’s a tough habit to break, but once you do your mind feels clearer, you feel less restless, and the quality of your work skyrockets across the board.

7. Go Minimal

External clutter leads to mental clutter. Do a clean sweep of your home and get rid of everything you no longer use or have never used. By the end of my own clean sweep last year, it looked like I’d been robbed! There’s no better feeling than knowing you actually need and use everything you’re surrounded by. Bonus: you also save time by not having as much to clean!

8. Set Online Boundaries

It’s too easy to get sucked into an online world of status updates, memes, list posts, and videos. Before you know it, over half your day is gone and you have nothing to show for it. This is especially difficult for those of us who work on the Internet. One of the best daily habits I’ve established is not checking my e-mail or social media accounts first thing in the morning. Create specific windows of time for your online tasks. It’s okay to check your e-mail periodically in case you receive urgent requests from your boss or co-workers, but if you check and there aren’t any, abort and get back to your day.

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9. Create an Evening Routine

Your evening routine is just as important as your morning routine, as it prepares your body for a solid night’s sleep. Create a relaxing routine that starts about an hour before you go to bed, and use it as your body’s “signal” that it’s time to go to sleep.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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