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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

How to Plan Your Day for a Healthy And Productive Life

How to Plan Your Day for a Healthy And Productive Life

There are many things that the 21st century makes a lot easier for us. Not everything, though… Despite the fact that the standard of living is constantly improving, some challenges just seem like they get more and more difficult all the time.

For example, even though there are hundreds of things, we can enjoy doing, hundreds of opportunities to take advantage of, and hundreds of tech gadgets that are supposed to help us, the lifestyle often backfires and makes getting things done much harder, especially if we want to do it effectively.

In essence, remaining productive in our day-to-day living has in many ways never been more difficult. However, it’s not something we have to just accept. No matter how busy we think we are, we can still enjoy a cool lifestyle without losing any of our productivity.

For me, and probably for many of you as well, being able to accommodate work-life balance (including things like dieting, relaxation, and working out each) is a serious challenge. It’s not impossible, though…

First, it’s important to realize that you don’t have to do everything, every single day, but in any given week, there will be at least one day when you will have to find a way to handle your work, take care of your diet, relax, and finally do your workout, all in just 24 hours…

How can you make that happen? Try the following approach.

1. Think in Advance

The best possible starting point is to spend 10 minutes in the evening planning your next day. You can use a tool like Google Calendar to schedule your workouts and other activities, to make sure that you don’t overlook anything important.

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You need to know how much time you have in a given day and how much of it you’re going to need to complete every activity. Once you have an understanding of what you need to do, you can focus on preparation. This means things like setting the alarm clock, planning what you’re going to do first, and so on.

When doing so, consider the following points.

2. Warm up Immediately After Getting Up

There are many ways to wake up in the morning. The most popular one is to drink half a gallon of coffee and leave the house immediately afterwards. How about doing a simple warm-up instead.

Start your day by doing some jumping jacks, pushups, body weight squats, arm and leg swings. Doing this for 10-15 minutes will have better effect than coffee. The other, probably even more obvious benefit is that it allows your stiff body to work out its aches and pains.

3. Eat a Good Breakfast

This is where your diet comes into play. Depending on the guidelines you’re following, there are many variations of a good breakfast. Just don’t go to the extreme with your diet… What is really important is to choose a diet that you’re actually going to be able to stick with.

A word about dieting… The word diet doesn’t always have great connotations. Many people think that a diet is something designed to make you lighter, when in fact it can have many other goals. Generally speaking, a diet is simply a well thought out approach for eating what’s good for you.

Take a look at these 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time.

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4. Bring Snacks With You

Snacking is the main problem for most dieters. We know eating chocolate every two hours is not a healthy habit… but many of us do it anyway. Throughout the day, you’ll find yourself craving different foods. The best way of dealing with this is to have a healthy snack on hand at all times, instead of eating less healthy foods.

Most of the time it’s just your brain telling you that it needs to consume something, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be chocolate. Now, if you’re working from home, it’s easier, but if you have a standard out of the home job then make sure to take some snacks with you to fight temptations at work.

Usually, no matter what kind of diet you’re on, things that can be considered healthy snacks are carrots, nuts, vegetables, and low-sugar fruit. (Consult your dietician on this.)

5. Work in Intervals

Time to work now. For me, the most effective approach at working is to focus on utilizing the following intervals (and it’s not the first time I’m sharing this, by the way):

  • Work for 50 minutes.
  • Have a 10-minute break.
  • Work for another 50 minutes.
  • Have a 30-minute break.
  • Repeat.

Why is this effective? Because our brain is not able of maintaining concentration for more than 1-2 hours at a time. By providing frequent breaks, we’re actually improving our productivity greatly. (Tested on myself.)

6. Workout Before Lunch

There are many reasons why working out before lunch is the right thing to do.

First, there are a lot fewer people at the gym.

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Secondly, you get additional stimulation to focus on the rest of your day (similar effect to the afternoon coffee).

Finally, after the workout you can have a protein-rich snack or lunch which will improve your weight loss / muscle gain results (hint: protein is good for both).

Another thing great about this is that your workouts don’t have to be long. Working out for 30 minutes before lunch, 3 times a week is still a lot better than working out for 1.5 hour, once a week in the evening. Remember what I said about sticking with your plan, and not trying to be too ambitious.

You can also try these 29 Exercises You Can Do At (Or Near) Your Desk.

7. Relax by Doing Something Entirely Different

Some people like to relax by going for a jog in the evening… For me, this is not a good approach. First, you’re exhausted after your workday and all you’ll be thinking about is your bed or the TV set. Secondly, as I said before, any physical activity wakes up your body (like a coffee does), and I don’t see the point of waking up in the evening, just an hour or two before you’re supposed to go to sleep…

For most people, relaxation is only effective when it revolves around doing something entirely different from what you’ve been doing throughout the day. For instance, one of the best relaxation activities is spending some quality time with your friends, kids, spouse, Xbox 360, or simply playing with your dog.

It’s good because it’s different. Believe me, if you were to play with your dog all day it wouldn’t be relaxing anymore. The same thing is true of physical exercise or intellectual activities. For instance, if your job involves a lot of thinking then it will be very hard for you to relax in the evening by reading an intellectual book. Always, I repeat, ALWAYS do something completely different.

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8. Prepare Your Food in Advance

This is the final dieting advice here. Some diets are hard to follow if you don’t prepare your own food. Most of the time you won’t find quality foods in the cafeteria at the office (unless you work at Google). That’s why you should prepare your food in advance, and then simply take it with you.

The best time to do this is either in the morning (as yet another way of waking up), or in the evening (as yet another way of relaxing).

However, if you don’t like preparing your own meals, or taking care of picking the right foods, you can take advantage of many diet food delivery services, such as Diet to Go, eDiets, Nutrisystem, BistroMD.

Now that you have an understanding of all the elements of an effective day, round them up and prepare yourself for tomorrow. However, most importantly of all, tweak every piece of advice you get until it fits your unique lifestyle. Find a solution that you can stick with permanently.

More Tips About Living a Balanced Life

Featured photo credit: Gabrielle Henderson via unsplash.com

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Karol Krol

Blogger, published author, and founder of a site that's all about delivering online business advice

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Published on April 8, 2021

10 Simple Ways To Refocus a Wandering Mind

10 Simple Ways To Refocus a Wandering Mind

Want to know what Steve Jobs thought was the ultimate key in achieving success?

“Focus and simplicity… once you get there, you can move mountains.”—Steve Jobs

And this belief is even more important today than it was years ago. At your fingertips is a literal world of information and entertainment. So, it’s no wonder we all have such wandering minds nowadays.

Thanks to the internet and smartphones, attention is practically a currency we should be more budget-minded about. In fact, a person who can stay focused is not only more likely to get more done but also be more satisfied at the end of the day because of it.

Going further, a person who’s focused will more easily achieve their goals—anything from losing 20 pounds to getting a promotion at work is within the reach of this type of person.

So, in the spirit of that idea, here are 10 ways to tame that wandering mind of yours and turn it into a laser-focused brain that gets things done.

1. Find Your Totem

Remember the totem in the movie, Inception? It’s an item that reminded people they weren’t in a dream when they touched it, and it was able to keep them grounded in reality.

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You can replicate this idea when it comes to staying focused as well. All you’ve to got to do is find something to be your “focus totem,” and it’ll remind you that you should stop daydreaming and get back to work. Ideally, it’s something you can see and touch.

In the movie, a chess piece and a spinning top were used—both are good ideas. You could also use a picture of your family, a mini trophy, or even wear a ring to focus your mind as well. (In fact, a green lantern ring might be kind of cool for this.)

2. Promise a Reward

Incentives are an obvious way to go. Having gold at the end of any journey makes you want to press forward just for the sweet results. In general, rewards should correlate to the difficulty/length of the work.

For example:

  • Finish a quick house chore = a piece of chocolate
  • Complete an annoying administrative task = 10 minutes of Youtube
  • A successful day of work = a whole movie on Netflix

Pretty simple stuff, right? But you’d be surprised how often you forget to reward yourself for doing solid work on the regular.

3. Make It Stupid Easy for Your Wandering Mind

I don’t know about you, but if I perceive my work to require more effort than I care to use, I’m instantly turned off. This then leads to distraction and procrastination. But you can offset this by breaking a difficult task into a bite-sized piece.

Case in point, what seems easier: 30 pushups or 3 pushups?

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It’s obvious, but sometimes our brains need to be “convinced” we’re only doing a small amount of work to get things going.

But here’s something cool about this tactic: You can (and most likely will) keep going past your stupid easy benchmark. You don’t have to, but my experience tells me once you get going like this, it’s easy to go beyond your bare minimum goal.

4. Empty Your Mind With Journaling

Sometimes, there’s too much stuff floating around in your brain that is making your mind wander. In that case, it can help to spill everything in your head onto a journal to free up some space. You can use a pen and pad for this or something digital like Evernote.

There are two basic ways to go about it:

  1. Freestyle – where you just write whatever randomly flows through your brain without thinking or pausing. This is great if you’ve got a million different ideas racing through your brain.
  2. Focused – where you create prompts or an outline to streamline your thinking and you just respond to the questions or format. This is best when you want to grasp a certain topic.

5. Use the “Just 5 Minutes” Method

Try telling yourself that you’ll work for “just 5 minutes” and then you can stop. You’ll find that the task feels far easier to handle. And like the “stupid easy” method, this tricks your brain into thinking the task is lower effort than it really is. After all, 5 minutes for even the worst task is psychologically manageable for any person out there.

The key is to honestly allow yourself to stop at 5 minutes—no matter what. That’s what allows your brain to accept the method as legit and also lets it overcome the mental hurdle that makes your brain want to wander around and focus on anything but your task.

6. Recite a Focus Mantra

I like to think of mantras as a totem you can take with you anywhere you go. They serve the same purpose—reminding you to stay focused—but can be done anywhere and anytime.

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I find the most powerful type of mantra to be based on reality. I learned this approach from Dr. Jon Fader—a performance coach who was on “Good Morning America”—and his book Life as Sport: What Top Athletes Can Teach You about How to Win in Life. He calls this “objective optimism.”

Basically, you create a mantra that’s based on personal success in your life. That way, the mantra isn’t just a fluffy positivity statement, there’s also the weight of real-life success giving it power

Some examples:

  • If you’re struggling to make yourself go to the gym but have technically been there many times already, you could say, “just another day of heading to the gym—easy.”
  • If you’re suffering from impostor-syndrome after accepting a promotion, just say, “I’m here for a reason” to remind yourself that your efforts were recognized by others and are the real deal.
  • If you’re nervous about an upcoming sports competition but have trained diligently for it, you could say, “I’ve done all the work possible” to remind yourself that your earlier efforts have created the best version of you for the event.

As you can see, the most powerful mantras are evidence-based and positive. So, just find proof of relevant success in your life and transform it into a motivating mantra.

7. Use the “Multi-Yawn” Approach

One of the best ways to be distracted is to be tired. And sometimes, you’ll be tired in such a way that you’re “sort of” working but not realize that you’re actually constantly distracted.

If you can notice when you do this, one thing I like to do is crank out as many big, satisfying yawns as possible. Olympic athletes sometimes do this before their big events. It calms them down and helps them perform better in the process. And it works just as well for us regular folks. I find it has a similar effect to taking a good nap (and actually works best in unison), so you can imagine how effective this can be.

8. Find an Easy Win

Nothing feels good like winning. So, it can help to find a few simple tasks you can do with little effort and just get them done immediately. This will create momentum and propel your productivity forward. The feeling of success will lock your focus in on the task at hand and refocus your wandering mind. Use this when you feel “resistance” to getting your work started.

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9. Create a “Wins” List

Feeling like a capable person who can win at life is motivating in and of itself. In light of this fact, it can help to have an ongoing “wins” list to prove you’re an able person.

Just keep track of all your daily wins—big and small. And whenever your focus starts to wane, give that list a peek and remind yourself that you’re more capable than you realize.

10. Add Stakes to the Mix

If you were to lose $20 if you failed to complete a task, would you be more focused on completing it? Of course!

Try and find ways to put something on the line when it comes to completing your tasks, and you’ll find your focus, motivation, and ability to things done to be higher than ever before.

For example, if you’re at work, you could involve a co-worker by saying you’ll buy their food if you don’t complete a task before lunchtime rolls around. At home, you could say you’ll also mow the lawn if you don’t remember to wash the dishes before the day is over. Or you could just use something like Beeminder or TaskRatchet, which actually charges you cash for failing to complete a task or goal on time. (It’s scary but effective)

All are viable methods, so just give one of them a shot.

Who Else Wants More Success?

Of the many methods of winning at life out there, focusing is definitely a top-three contender. You can’t get anything you want in life if you don’t buckle down and get your work done—a wandering mind won’t create success.

But with these 10 focus tips, you’ll be ahead of the competition and be closer to a fitter body, higher income, and a flat-out better life than before.

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Featured photo credit: Clay Banks via unsplash.com

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