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Last Updated on August 19, 2021

How to Become a Morning Person: 8 Steps to Kickstart

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How to Become a Morning Person: 8 Steps to Kickstart

Waking up, getting out of bed earlier, and starting the day has, for some reason, become the ultimate challenge for so many people. Yet, waking up early is one of the best things you can do. If you learn how to become a morning person, you can make significant changes to your mood and health.

Why? 

For a start, early mornings are the most beautiful time of the day. With so few people doing it, it also means it is the quietest time of the day, too. It means you get to spend quality time with yourself and have a cup of coffee without the risk of being interrupted or disturbed, and it means you have time to work on the things you want to work on.

Waking up early is simple. Set your alarm, go to bed, wake up when your alarm goes off. Simple, right? Well, simple, yes. Easy? Maybe not.

It can be very hard to open our eyes, get out of bed, and stumble to the coffee making facilities. It’s made even harder if you’re a natural night owl and didn’t go to bed until 1 or 2 in the morning.

So can you learn how to become a morning person? Yes! Here are a few steps that have worked for me.

1. Educate Yourself on the Health Benefits

Being a morning person has scientifically-proven health benefits, and knowing these can push you to get into the swing of waking up earlier.

One 2014 study went so far as to suggest that taking in more sunlight in the early morning hours could result in a lower BMI (Body Mass Index). The study pointed out: “Light is the most potent agent to synchronize your internal body clock that regulates circadian rhythms, which in turn also regulate energy balance”[1]. This shift in energy seems to have the effect of lowering overall BMI—impressive, right?

Furthermore, research shows that being more evening-oriented “was also associated with traits related to lower health such as reduced sport participation, increased risk of depression and psychoticism personality, late eating, and increased smoking and alcohol usage”[2].

There is still more research to be done on this topic, but it seems clear that morning people get to experience a lot of benefits!

2. Know How Much Sleep You Need

How much sleep do you need? This was a mistake I made when I started waking up early. I did not work out how much sleep I needed.

We are all different here. Some people need nine to ten hours of sleep, others four to six. I need between six and seven hours. Once I discovered how much sleep I needed, I could modify the time I went to bed each night.

Once you know how much sleep you need, you can modify your bedtime accordingly. If you need seven hours of sleep and want to start waking up at 6 am, you should aim to be in bed by 10:30 pm. This will allow you thirty minutes to drift off and ensure you get your seven hours.

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If you’re not sure how to calculate how much sleep you need, simply start to pay attention. You may even keep a journal.

Note how many hours of sleep you get each night, as well as how you feel the next day. If you find that you feel good on 6 hours, that’s what you should aim for. If you still feel groggy with 6, shoot for 8. It may take time to find your number, but it’ll be worth it.

3. Have a Plan

Okay, so you are going to wake up earlier. Great, now what? What will you do with the extra hour or so? You need a plan.

Robin Sharma has been peaching about getting up at 5 am for years, and in his recently published book, The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning Elevate Your Life, he goes into a lot of detail about what you can do with that morning hour you create for yourself.

Robin advocates doing 20 minutes exercise, 20 minutes planning, and twenty minutes studying. I love this concept myself.

I modified that a little and, instead of exercise, I study Korean for thirty minutes. Then I do 15 minutes planning and finish the hour with 15 minutes of meditation. For me, that one hour, focused on what is important to me, sets me up for a perfect day.

The beauty of waking up early is you get to choose what you do with your extra time. Whatever you do with that time, make sure it’s time you spend on yourself and not doing anything like checking email or your social media feeds. There will be plenty of time to do that later in the day. This morning hour is for you.

Here are some other ideas for how you can fill that hour:

  • Read.
  • Listen to a podcast.
  • Do yoga.
  • Paint.
  • Go for an early morning walk.
  • Squeeze in a morning workout of your choice.

4. Pick a Date and Just Start

Slowly reducing your waking up time is a very painful way to wake up earlier. You end up prolonging the transition period, and that is not pleasant. Just pick a day—Mondays are a good day to start—and wake up at the time you have chosen to wake up.

Now, I am not going to tell you it will be easy. It won’t. If you have been waking up at 7:30 am for years and you start waking up at 5 am, it will be difficult. You will feel rotten in the afternoon for a few days.

This step can be really difficult for some who are used to waking up later. In the first days, your body hasn’t yet adjusted to the new sleep schedule, so it will resist waking up earlier than normal. Consider putting an alarm clock out of arm’s reach to ensure that you’ll have to get up to turn it off (and don’t hit the snooze button!). This can be the momentum that gets you moving.

Another thing that may help is exposing yourself to natural light as quickly as possible. Once you see the sun is coming up, get to a window or go outside if it’s nice. This bright light will signal to your body that it’s time to be awake.

5. Don’t Make Excuses

Too often, we tend to overthink these things and then find all the excuses we need to prevent us from ever starting. We go to bed early, find ourselves being unable to sleep, and we then tell ourselves that we won’t start tomorrow—we’ll start the next day instead. We end up in a perpetual cycle of never actually starting. It’s always going to be the next day or the next week.

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If you want to learn to eliminate your excuses, check out this article.

The sooner you start, the sooner you will begin to enjoy the benefits of waking up early and having an extra hour in your day for yourself to do the things you want to do, without being interrupted or distracted by other people’s crises and issues.

6. Make Your Morning Routine “Me Time”

A difficulty we all face these days is finding any time in the day just for ourselves: to read the books we want to read, to exercise, and to just be with our thoughts. When you begin waking up an hour or so earlier each day, you get to find that time.

Those pre-dawn hours are so quiet that you can do what you want to do without the risk of someone else disturbing you. This is your time. That is why you do not want to be using this time for doing more work.

Just enjoy the extra time you have and do the things you want to do. During the winter months, go out for a walk and watch the sun rise. In the summer months, you can open your windows and listen to the birds waking up without their song being drowned out by the noise of cars and trucks.

7. Don’t Break the Chain

The concept of “don’t break the chain”[3] is a very valuable concept to use here. Essentially, what you do is make a checkmark on a calendar or in a diary to indicate those days when you woke up and got out of bed at your desired time.

    After a few days, you will find you don’t want to break your consistent run. It creates some self-competition and adds some motivation to keep you going when things get tough.

    When I began waking up at 5 am, I used my journal to write down the days I woke up at 5 am. At the top of the page, I wrote “Day XX – 5AM Club.” Over time, it was fantastic to see the number increasing. I got to Day 173 before I had to break the chain because I flew to Europe, and the time zone difference between Asia and Europe messed up my routine.

    The cool thing about this, though, is when I returned to Asia, I restarted the count. I am now on Day 82, and I have 92 days to go to beat my previous best. That’s great motivation.

    8. Just Enjoy the Time

    With everything that goes on in our lives throughout the day, it can be hard just to have a moment to ourselves, to reflect, appreciate and be grateful for what we have. The time you create for yourself by waking up early gives you that time, so don’t waste it thinking about the problems you have to deal with. Use the time positively and appreciate it.

    Listen to your favourite music, the birds, or a beautiful meditative album. Whatever you decide to do, this is your time, so just enjoy it.

    Pros And Cons Of Being A Becoming A Morning Person Vs. A Night Owl

    Being a morning person has recently acquired appeal, yet everything has advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few benefits and drawbacks. However, whether or not they apply to you is determined by your lifestyle and beliefs.

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    Here are some of the advantages of becoming a morning person:

    You’re in Tune with Life’s Natural Cycle

    Most species are programmed by nature to follow a set of patterns. You’re in step with the natural rhythm if you wake up as the sun rises and go to bed as it sets. This isn’t the case at all times of the year. For example, I wake up early in the winter since there are fewer daylight hours than in the warm summer.

    But, being a morning person rather than a night owl, I think I’m more in tune with nature. Plus, getting up early allows me to make use of as much natural light as possible.

    You’re the First to Rise

    If you’re a morning person, you get up earlier than most people to enjoy the peace before the day’s commotion and activity begins. There’s no need to rush to the bathroom. There’s no one to avoid as you reach for the cereal and no one’s worries to listen to as you reach for the cereal. The streets are devoid of traffic. The majority of the rooms are unoccupied, and you have the entire house to yourself.

    You’ve Got Plenty of Time to Get Used to the Early Routine

    It’s not enjoyable to be rushed when you’ve been up late and have many things to do. If you get up with the larks, you can take it easy in the morning. To some extent, the world is your oyster because you can do whatever you want. Perhaps you’ll go for a run, relax, or write without any obligations or interruptions.

    You Have the Option of Planning Your Day

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t prioritize or plan when I’m in a rush. I’m too busy, which is strange because planning your day increases your chances of making it a success.

    Fortunately, I am a morning person, so I have plenty of time to plan and prioritize how I want to spend my day. Sure, anything could derail my goals, but at least I’m on track and know which activities to prioritize for the best results.

    However there are several disadvantages of being a morning person.

    You irritate night owls

    If you’re a morning person, you’re upbeat first thing in the morning. Your housemates, on the other hand, might not be able to handle your exuberance. People like you turn on like light bulbs early in the morning. On the other hand, night owls haven’t yet gathered their senses and aren’t ready for such fervor or attracted by a flurry of action when they awaken.

    You’ll be too Exhausted for Late-night Parties

    If you don’t enjoy gatherings, being a morning person might be a good fit for your social needs. Those who enjoy social gatherings and nightlife, on the other hand, frequently find themselves needing to sleep just as the festivities begin. Whether you want to watch a nice movie on TV or participate in festivities, your bed may interrupt your plans.

    You Must Walk on Your Tiptoes

    Early in the morning, single people without housemates can swan around doing whatever they like. When you live with other people, though, you must take into mind their need to sleep. You might want to turn up the volume on your favourite music, clatter around in the kitchen, or do other noisy activities. However, you end yourself tiptoeing around to avoid upsetting anyone who is still sleeping.

    When Everyone Else is Ready to Go, You’ve Run Out of Energy

    When you’re a guest in someone else’s home, have visitors, or have to attend social activities, you’ll feel exhausted as the evening progresses while everyone else is energized. Those times when you have to force yourself to grin and stay awake despite the need to curl up under a blanket are difficult, albeit they don’t happen very frequently.

    What’s Your Sleep Chronotype?

    We’ve all heard of the terms “early bird” and “night owl.” Some of us can get up and start the day right away, while others perform much better at night. Because our bodies are all different, our daily schedules are all different.

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    Our bodies work according to their biological clocks, which include our chronotypes. I talk about chronotypes a lot because they’re such a vital aspect of sleeping well.

    Dr. Michael Breus, a sleep expert and author of The Power of When claims that your unique wiring (also known as your sleep chronotype) dictates your most energetic times of the day.

    While you probably already know if you’re a morning person or a night owl, Dr. Breus goes a step further with four sleep chronotype classifications that will help you figure out the optimal time of day to make a major decision, exercise, or do anything else.

    Which Sleep Chronotype Do You Represent?

    Bear

    The bear chronotype encompasses the majority of humans. The sun dictates the Bears’ sleep-wake cycles, and they have no trouble sleeping. Bears are best prepared for demanding duties in the morning, and they have a slump in the afternoon.

    Bears, on the whole, are energetic and get things done. They can work productively throughout the day if they don’t try to work past the mid-afternoon recharge phase. Bears are known to be sociable creatures.

    Wolf

    Wolves are at the opposite end of the nocturnal spectrum. They get an earlier start and ride the production wave while the rest of the world is winding down. Wolves have two peak periods: one from midday to 2:00 p.m., and another just as the rest of the world is leaving work.

    Wolves are known for being creators, such as writers, painters, and coders. When the sun sets, the creative parts of the wolf’s brain light up. Wolf personalities are more likely to be introverts who enjoy their alone time. The wolf chronotype plans meetings for later in the day and asks you to supper after the restaurant’s dinner rush has passed.

    Dolphin

    Dolphins may or may not have a consistent sleeping pattern. They regularly wake up during the night as light sleepers and do not get enough sleep. Dolphins ruminate over the day’s failures as they try to fall slumber.

    Because of their high intelligence and perfectionist tendencies, dolphins spend a lot of time chewing over the day. From mid-morning to early afternoon, they are at their most productive.

    Lion

    The lions are early risers. These are the doers, the leaders, and the type-A shakers and movers. They may not reach for a cup of coffee until just before lunch, and by then, their most productive hours have passed. They tend to fizzle out in the evening and turn in early due to their action-packed mornings.

    How To Reset Your Circadian Rhythm?

    • Maintain uniformity in your waking up and sleeping timings – make sure you don’t change the time table
    • Turn off TVs, phones, and tablets at least 1-2 hours before going to bed
    • Have your heaviest meal early in the day, when digestive juices are at their peak
    • Steer clear of any caffeinated beverages after morning
    • Reduce your alcohol consumption at night because it impacts your sleep negatively
    • To avoid indigestion, stop eating at least 3 hours before bedtime
    • Invest in blackout curtains and low-wattage light bulbs for your bedroom

    The Bottom Line

    If you really want to learn how to be a morning person, it can definitely be done! Waking up early gives you space for yourself in a world designed to distract you. It gives you the time to reflect, work on the things you want to do, and enjoy some quiet “me time.”

    All you need to do is decide to wake up earlier, then set the date and begin.

    More About Becoming a Morning Person

    Featured photo credit: Keenan Constance via unsplash.com

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    Carl Pullein

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

    How to Become a Morning Person: 8 Steps to Kickstart How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity 7 Best Free Scheduling Apps That Make Scheduling Easier Why You Need Intermediate Goals And How To Set One 6 Golden Rules to Make Progress Towards Achieving Goals

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    Last Updated on October 7, 2021

    Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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    Are You Addicted to Productivity?

    “It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

    Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

    “Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

    Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

    Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

    “The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

    This is my mantra:

    I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

    But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

    Addiction to Productivity is Real

    Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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    “A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

    Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

    “It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

    Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

    “A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

    “There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

    “For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

    There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

    Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

    By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

    Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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    Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

    Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

    Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

    The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

    Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

    • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
    • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
    • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
    • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
    • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
    • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
    • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

    The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

    Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

    Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

    1. Set Limits

    Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

    For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

    2. Create a Not-to-Do List

    Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

    3. Be Vulnerable

    By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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    4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

    Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

    Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

    There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

    5. Don’t Be a Copycat

    Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

    That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

    6. Say Yes to Less

    Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

    That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

    Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

    7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

    “In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

    “That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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    • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
    • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
    • Establish realistic goals.
    • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
    • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
    • Hold yourself accountable.
    • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
    • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

    8. Simplify

    Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

    The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

    9. Learn How to Relax

    “Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

    “But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

    “And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

    But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

    • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
    • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
    • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
    • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
    • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
    • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
    • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
    • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
    • Visit a massage therapist.
    • Just breathe.

    “Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

    It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

    Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

    Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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