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5 Tried, Tested, and True Ways to Level Up Your Life

5 Tried, Tested, and True Ways to Level Up Your Life

If you are reading this post, I know you are interested in hacking your life — but what exactly does that mean?

Every month or so, I get together with a group of like-minded businesspeople in Managua, and we discuss our latest projects, triumphs, failures, and sticky situations. The hours I spend with them are some of the best times of each month. Get a group of go-getters together and the theme of leveling up and achieving/striving/trying will creep in somehow.

Our last meeting, though, was different.

I’ve noticed a shift in my go-getter friends. We all want to do great things and live great lives, but we’re also tired. No longer were we talking about projects and business models. Instead, we discuss running ourselves ragged without creating a worthwhile impact.

The words I heard over and over again were freedom, family, and time. In essence, we all want to level up, and have more freedom, more family, and more time.

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How can we hack our lives to get more of those: freedom, family, and time?

1. Seek Out the “Hell yes!”

There are so many decisions we make each day, but few of them inspire us to throw our hands in the air with excitement. What if we were to use that reasoning to guide us?

  • A fun new client? Hell yes!
  • A useless meeting? No, thanks.
  • Dinner with inspiring peers? Hell yes!
  • Mind-numbing tasks? No, thanks.

Seeking out the “hell yes!” in every decision injects serious energy into every moment.

Noticing exactly how I feel about each incoming opportunity and task helps me navigate my decisions and stay true to what makes me feel awesome.

2. Do more of the good

Each and every day, I know what I should be adding to my life. I love to write when it feels like nobody else is around, no phones are ringing, and emails are blocked off. If I want to add more of that every day, I can choose to schedule it and stick to a writing schedule that feels great.

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Doing more of good stuff will feel like adding extra layers of awesome to your life.

What activities would you do more of if you had the choice? What can you do to achieve that?

    3. Do less of the bad

    Very similar to what I described above, there are activities that I long to partake in much less. Personally, the administration piece of my startup makes me feel drained and worried (even when we’re doing well). I will always have to oversee that activity, but I learned to significantly diminish my involvement by delegating straining tasks.

    Doing less of the bad stuff in your life will feel like avoiding so many traps!

    If you could choose to dump parts of your life, what would they be? Can you take some small steps to achieve that tomorrow or the next day?

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    4. Divide your life in two

    Every single action and activity in our lives falls on either side of a line. I use the line to divide my life into two areas: that which feels liberating and that which feels limiting.

    • Working from home? Liberating.
    • Taking on a picky client due to economic needs? Limiting.
    • Waking up early to write in privacy? Liberating.
    • Doing weights at the gym when I’d rather be running? Limiting.

    Keeping more of my day on the side of “liberating” opens me up to feeling free and joyful.

    What do you find liberating in your life? What do you find limiting? You can use that personal information to judo chop your decisions.

    5. Focus on the process

    I am not going to lie to you. I sit on the fence about goals and striving for better in my life. Setting goals most definitely helps me find direction, but sometimes I stress out way too much about the end result. Lately, I’ve offset that stress by trying to focus more on the actual process of achieving anything. When I’m running, it’s easy for me to start daydreaming about the beach body I want — but why not focus on the actual running instead?

    By focusing on the process, I let go of the stress to achieve something and I have a lot more fun with what’s going on in the actual moment.

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    In the end, improving our lives and living every single day as if it’s a vacation is a long journey of self-development — but it’s incredibly worthwhile.

    When you think of leveling up your life, what do you picture? How can you get there?

    Featured photo credit: Multiple layers of escalators in a shopping center via Shutterstock and inline photo by Alan Levine via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    Last Updated on April 19, 2021

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

    The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

    Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

    In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

    When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

    Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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    1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

    When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

    As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

    That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

    The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

    What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

    Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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    There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

    So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

    2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

    When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

    No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

    3. Move Your Body

    A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

    It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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    So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

    4. Connect With Another Person

    Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

    One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

    Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

    5. Use Your Imagination

    When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

    That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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    And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

    Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

    Final Thoughts

    Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

    Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

    More on the Importance of Taking a Break

    Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

    Reference

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