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6 Habits Of Highly Successful People Before Bedtime

6 Habits Of Highly Successful People Before Bedtime

We’ve all heard the stories about the mega-successful who wake up early every day and conquer the world before most people put the coffee on. But what about the other time of day that plays an equally important role? What are successful people doing right before bed? Do you want to know the secret? They set themselves up to have an even more productive day tomorrow.

Here are six bedtime habits of highly successful people.

1. Read for an hour

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates is an avid reader. Each night before bed, he spends an hour reading a book, ranging on topics from politics to current events.

Aside from the obvious benefits of gaining new knowledge, reading daily has also been shown to reduce stress and improve memory. A 2009 study from the University of Essex revealed that reading for as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by up to 68%.

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Another big benefit from cracking open a good book on a nightly basis is that it can improve the long term health of your brain. Every time you read, it’s like a mental workout for your mind. This study performed in Britain showed that people who stimulated their minds through activities like reading, reduced cognitive decline by an average of 32% as they got older in age.

2. Unplug

After passing out from exhaustion and injuring her head to the tune of five stitches, Arianna Huffington has been an evangelist for “unplugging”. Every night before bed, she puts her phone in another room so she’s not distracted by it before bed. And science proves that she might be onto something.

According to Dr Charles Czeisler, a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard University, the bright lights produced by our cell phone screens disrupt our bodies natural sleep rhythm and actually “trick” our bodies into thinking it’s daytime. Those bright lights send a message to our brains that prevents certain chemicals from being released, causing us to have a much harder time going to sleep. So, if you want a good night’s rest, stash your phone in another room.

3. Take a walk

The busy CEO of Buffer likes to unwind with a brisk walk right before bed. He uses his walks to turn off his thoughts about work, and slowly work his self into a “state of tiredness”.

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For a busy person always on the go, Joel’s late night walk routine could be perfect way to unwind after a stressful day. And aside from the obvious health benefits of daily walk, there a couple of surprising bonuses that come along as well.

One study revealed that walking can increase creativity. When you’re walking, your mind isn’t working as vigorously, which “opens up the free flow of ideas.” So if you’ve got a tough problem you haven’t been able to solve, maybe a nice, night time stroll is all you need to find the perfect, creative solution.

4. Meditate

The media maven has long supported the idea of regular meditation. No doubt, Ms. Winfrey has a schedule that keeps her mighty busy, and what better way to unwind at the end of a stressful day, than with a focused meditation session.

There’s often times a stigma surrounding meditation, and there has always been a debate as to whether mediation is actually helpful. But when a 2014 study took a look at over 19,000 cases involving mediation, the results were clear. Meditation was found to help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and pain. So regardless of one’s view of mediation, you can’t argue with the results.

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5. Get creative

In 2006, Vera Wang stated to Fortune that her nightly routine includes, “a fair amount of designing — at least conceptually if not literally.” Sometimes, the quiet of the night can be the perfect remedy for a creative block.

What’s even more surprising is that there’s a study that actually shows night time can be the perfect time for creativity, even if you’re tired from a long day. A study from Albion College revealed that, “tasks requiring creative insight was consistently better during their nonoptimal times of day.”. 

So if you’re a morning person (raises hand), then your most creative ideas will come right before bed. Researchers believe this is true because your mind is less restrained at night. Your ability to make logical connections worsens, but it works in your favor because you’re able to make connections you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

6. Plan the next day

The American Express CEO likes to manage his time, and he does so by ending his nights in a very simple way. He plans out three things he wants to accomplish for the following day. That way, he can wake up in the morning, and get to work on his most important tasks, right away.

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This study from the early 90’s supports Chenault’s strange addiction with planning. Researchers followed a group of students from their high school years, until four years later at the end of their college careers. The researchers tested these students on their time management skills in high school, and when they caught up with those students four years later, they made a shocking discovery.

The students with better time management skills, had higher college GPA’s then their peers who had higher SAT scores. Basically, time management played a bigger role in their academic success than actual scholastic aptitude.

Featured photo credit: oninnovation via flickr.com

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Tony Robinson

Tony writes about mental strength, happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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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

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