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Productive Mornings: 12 Reasons the Early Bird Gets the Worm

Productive Mornings: 12 Reasons the Early Bird Gets the Worm

I think we’ve all heard the saying, “The Early Bird Gets The Worm”. I’ve spent most of my life as a proud Night Owl. I was always looking for new ways to enhance my productivity; ready to put in the hours when others weren’t willing…or so I thought. It wasn’t until about 6 months ago that I began to take an interest in the age-old “Bird vs Owl” debate. Long story short, I’m now a passionate member of Team Early Bird. There’s a number of incredibly beneficial things I’ve discovered, just by choosing to rise before the sun.

It’s no secret, time is our most valued commodity. We’re all given the same number of hours, but it’s up to you when and how you spend them. By choosing to wake up early, you will experience a drastic change in your quality of life.

I Get Prepared.

Make a habit of going into each day with a list of items you will accomplish. Some say to set these goals the night before. Others claim it must be done first thing in the morning. I don’t care – just do it. The task is simple and very effective. Don’t over thing this. Keep the list short and sweet (3-7 items). Make it your mission to cross these things off throughout the day. Some say to start with the most challenging. Others say you need to start with the easiest and work your way up. I don’t care – just start it. This will do wonders for keeping yourself accountable on how your time is being spent. Believe me, it feels good to cross things off the list.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”Benjamin Franklin

I Get Creative.

After you wake up and get moving, you’ll find that the process of creation flows a bit easier in the mornings. Your mind is well-rested and ready to create. Many of us consider ourselves creative, but it wasn’t until I started waking up early that I was really able to see a difference in the level of quality that was output. Futhermore, when you start your mornings with this mindset, it will set the standard for the rest of your day.

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I Get Exercise.

A lot of people have excuses about how they don’t have time to work out. Yet all of these people spend their morning hitting the snooze button, creating obnoxious 10-minute sessions of half-sleep. You will experience a greater quality of life by choosing to workout, it’s just science. Wake up and make the time.

This doesn’t have to be complicated. Most people think to “workout” you’ve got to go buy a gym membership, a new wardrobe and a bunch of fit gadgets. Those won’t hurt, but why not start with what’s going to give you the results – the workout. Even small things can yield noticeable results.

I Get Healthy.

Start making healthy decisions in the morning and set the pace for the day. When you wake up and make time to prepare a proper breakfast (and maybe even a lunch for later), you’re much more likely to keep on track with your remaining meals. A study at Northwestern University showed that night owls consumed nearly 250 more calories, twice as much fast food and half as many fruits and vegetables than their early bird counter parts. This eventually attributes to a noticeably higher average BMI.

I Build Momentum.

When you make the choice to wake up early, you’re already ahead of most of the world. You can get more done before lunch than most people do all day.

It feels good to be ahead, even if it is just for the day. I love going to Starbucks early in the morning; I’m often the first one there. I’ll sit working for hours before the morning rush starts. I can’t help but realize how much I just got done while these people were busy dragging out their sluggish morning routine. Start each morning with purpose and you’ll stay ahead each day.

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I Get Focused.

After only a couple days of committing to these early mornings, you’ll notice a new clarity that comes to whatever it is your spending your time on in the morning. It’s fairly simple: there are typically less distractions and more silence, which means better focus. Wake up, while the world is still sleeping.

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” — Jim Rohn

I Get Better Sleep.

We spend almost one-third of our lives asleep. Getting up early doesn’t necessarily make your days longer, just more effective. Be sure you’re getting enough time asleep, so that will make your time awake, worthwhile.

Waking up early will allow you to ultimately sleep more soundly. This can take a couple weeks to get used to, but it’s certainly worth making the adjustment. Start slowly by just setting your alarm and extra 15 minutes earlier everyday, until your find your sweet spot for kicking off your morning.

I am Optimistic.

Who isn’t happy getting ahead in life? So, why not make this part of your daily mantra. Make the commitment to get up early every morning. You will experience the continued satisfaction of being that much more ahead of everyone else that stayed up binge-watching some Netflix.

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“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.Eleanor Roosevelt

I Have Easier Commutes.

I don’t always commute…but when I do, I leave early. You can seriously cut down your time in the car, by simply choosing to leave early. The average person can cut their commute in half by avoiding the rush hour scene. By the end of the week, those hours start to stack up.

No, you don’t have to go to work early, if you don’t want. Just leave home early, and consider going to a coffee shop near work. Use the extra time out of the car to do something meaningful to you. If you do go to work early, you can look forward to saving even more time by missing the rush hour coming back home.

I Have More ‘Me’ Time.

I’ve always been a fan of the “work hard / play hard” model. When you choose to start your day by accomplishing everything you need to, you’re often left with guilt-free evenings to spend the way you want. Make it your daily priority to cross everything off your list, so you can spend the remaining time each day doing whatever it is you love to do.

I Have a Fresh Perspective.

This one is a little different for everyone, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. There’s a certain energy that exists early in the morning, which helps you to see things in a new light. It’s hard to explain, but If you’ve ever watched the sun rise or been in a place that’s typically crowded, with no one around, you might get it. Grab a coffee and enjoy the view.

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“The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.”Mark Caine

I am Aligned with Bright Minds.

As you begin to follow successful people and their habits, you’ll notice a common thread amongst this tight-knit group. Nearly all of them start strong, early in the morning, and move through their day with intension. This concept has actually been a part of some of the earlist inspirations to our modern culture.

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” — Benjamin Franklin

It’s not just the moguls that are set on starting their day early. A Texas University study concluded that college students, claiming to be early birds, held a 3.5 GPA on average. The same class of students, that considered themselves night owls, held a 2.5 GPS on average. This isn’t a coincidence, it’s a truth that has been consistent from the beginning.

Why Do Productive People Wake Up So Early? Here’s Why.

Are You Ready To Start Being More Productive?

I know the idea of changing your daily routine can seem overwhelming. We all wish there were some magic solution to making this happen, but there’s not. The truth is, you just need to start. This might be the only thing I would recommend starting tomorrow, just because you’re already awake today. Commit to getting up early and make the most of your precious time. This may not be as glamorous as some new-fangled fad diet or experimental energy pills, but this works.

Featured photo credit: Morning Grass in Forest by Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

The end of the year is the time when everyone tries to give you advice on how to live healthier, look better, and earn more money.

It’s understandable if you find yourself lost among all the tips and opinions. Sometimes you no longer know what you truly want to achieve next year – and what’s just imposed by society.

To help you out, we’ve made this article about the things you should remove from your new year’s resolution list – instead of adding to it – to make your daily life more harmonious and peaceful.

So just make sure you cross these off your New Year’s to-do list – your body, mind and soul will be thankful.

1. Stop Buying Meaningless Gifts

We all know the sense of obligation – when we have to buy a gift for an event or celebration that’s already tomorrow, but we still have no idea of what to give.

Take these tips close to heart for all upcoming holidays, including birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.:

Stop focusing on the material objects

Instead of focusing on what material object to give, think about the emotion you want to evoke[1] in the gift recipient, and then pick a symbolic gift that can support or represent that emotion. For example, you can gift coziness by presenting a “comfort set” with warm socks, tea, candles, etc. Or give motivation by presenting a beautiful planner or notebook.

Plan gifts in advance

We know this is easier said than done. But if you try to plan which gifts you’ll need in the upcoming months (try making a list three or four times a year), ideas will more likely come to mind and you’ll avoid that last-minute shopping. Not to mention, you’ll be able to keep an eye on sales to get the best prices.

Suggest a better way

If you’re tired of exchanging gifts for birthdays and holidays, initiate a different approach. For example, draw names among family members and agree that each one only buys a present to that one person they got. Alternatively, you can agree not to share gifts among adults, and only give presents to kids of the family. Or, ask friends to donate to charity instead of buying a gift for you.

Go for common experiences instead of exchanging gifts

You can agree (with your partner or the extended family) to go on a common trip, dinner or another activity, instead of spending money on gifts.

Sometimes you’ll have to be the one who initiates breaking the rules that have been accepted in the family for years. But if you suspect that you’re not the only one in the group who’s tired of gift-hunting, you’ll surely find support for your suggestions.

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2. Don’t Exaggerate with Diets and Fitness Resolutions

It’s no secret that TV shows, article headlines, and ads (not to mention our healthy diet-obsessed friends) make us feel like we need to look better, slimmer and younger than we actually are. But going on yet another diet or starting a fitness plan with the wrong motivation rarely leads to great results.

If you are like many people, you have probably signed up for an annual gym membership at least once in your life – only to drop it one month later.

How do you balance a good resolution for a healthier life without pushing yourself into commitments that won’t last?

Here’s what you can do:

Set a healthier pattern

For example, do meat-free Mondays or reduce meat consumption to three days per week (less saturated fat for you and better for the environment). Or choose to eat only healthy food at least three days a week or only on weekdays (e.g. make sure your meals contain vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products, and protein). This way you’ll already have a healthier diet while still being able to treat yourself with a snack on weekends or parties.

Get a fitness watch

Fitness watches like Fitbit or MiBand are tiny accessories that will count your steps, calories burnt and will serve as an excellent motivator to move – or to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Find a physical activity that you enjoy

Even if you are not that fond of doing sports, you can definitely find an activity that you’d do with pleasure. Think about what you’d like – from taking up Nordic walking to pilates or even exercising at home.

Try intermittent fasting

This is an alternating cycles of fasting and eating. For example, stop eating at 8 pm and restart not sooner than 12 hours later. This approach has been proven to have numerous health benefits, in addition to weight loss.

Skip cabs or driving to work and opt for cycling or walking instead

You’ll burn calories, breathe some fresh air, and save money – win-win!

3. Put a Cap on Your Daily To-Do List

In today’s busy world, planning your day in a stress-free way is actually an art in itself. It’s natural to want to be a loving parent, a diligent employee, an active member of the local community and probably several other individual roles.

But playing all these roles requires energy and meticulous planning. How not to lose yourself amidst all the appointments and responsibilities? And – most importantly – how to still find time for relaxing and recharging yourself?

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These daily planning tips will help you have more stress-free days:

Leave bigger intervals between meetings

If you schedule too many appointments or chores in a day, you’ll probably end up late at some point, and as a result – more stressed. There are many different reasons why people are late, but poor planning is a major factor too.

Plan time to relax

As weird as it may sound, you should try and schedule your resting time. For example, if you only have one free evening this week, and a friend tries to squeeze in a meeting, feel free to say no. Don’t feel obliged to specify the reason for your refusal, just say that you are busy.

Try to be a little pessimistic

We’re often packed with plans or running late for errands because we tend to be overly optimistic – about the traffic, the time it takes to do things, etc. Instead, try an opposite tactic — assume you’ll hit traffic or the meeting will take longer.

Try waking up earlier

Sometimes even waking up 30 minutes earlier can give you the much-needed head start for several errands of the day. But remember to get enough sleep every night, even if it means going to bed earlier.

Plan your day the day before

Chances are your day will be much better organized if you pack a lunch and lay out an outfit before going to bed.

Designate a time for checking emails and social messages

If you start checking your messages between appointments, you risk getting lost in a sea of messages that need replies. Designate a time for this activity or do it in case you arrived early to a meeting.

4. Let Go of Unhealthy and Time-Consuming Habits

If there’s one thing we should get rid of in the new year, it’s the habits that steal our time, provide instant gratification but don’t offer any value in the long term. Or even worse, leave a negative impact on our health.

Here are some common (and pointless) habits along with tips on how to get rid of them:

Binge-watching TV series

Even if most online television platforms offer you lists of “Best TV Shows to Binge Watch”, being addicted to series is a major time-waster.

You can manage this addiction in several ways, for example, watch one episode per day (or a few per week) as a reward, only after you’ve finished an assignment or done a house chore. Or try replacing this habit with exercise or reading a book – this will be hard at first but should stick after a few weeks. You can also try to track how much time you spend on TV or movies – seeing how much of your life you are wasting might urge you to do something about it.

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Running on coffee

Being a coffee addict is kind of a stylish addiction nowadays, but it’s not that innocent as it may initially seem. Besides addiction being a problem in itself, drinking too much coffee (more than 500-600 mg of caffeine a day) may lead to nervousness, insomnia, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat, and even muscle tremors.[2]

As a solution, try switching to tea or edible coffee – a more sustainable, healthy, and productivity-enhancing alternative. For example, Coffee Pixels are solid coffee bars that generate a more even energy kick throughout the day without the coffee-induced abstinence and dehydration.

Procrastination

Fighting procrastination requires some serious willpower. If it is a problem in your daily life or work, try ”eating the frog” in the morning – get over your biggest or hardest tasks first, then tackle everything else.

Alternatively, use time tracking software to monitor exactly how much time you waste on unproductive actions, websites or apps. Once you know exactly how much time you’re spending unproductively, try to limit your time on social media, for example to just 20 minutes per day.

If nothing else works, try bribing yourself — promise yourself to do something fun or pleasant when you finish your assignment.

Whichever habit you want to give up, consider using some habits building tools to make a contract with yourself and reward yourself for milestones achieved.

5. Stop over-consuming

We live in the age of consumerism – huge manufacturers with their promise of a comfortable life on the one hand, and growing environmental threats – that are the direct result of our modern lifestyle – on the other hand. There’s only one solution – try to consume less whenever and wherever you can.

Before making additional purchases, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I really need it? Did I need it yesterday?
  • Can’t I buy it used or borrow it from friends?
  • Can I rent it?
  • Can I make it myself?
  • Am I buying the most sustainable version of this product?

For example, check if the brand you chose is conscious about the environment, for example, are the products they manufacture energy efficient? Do they try to use less packaging?

Also, if you often find yourself buying too many groceries, promise to buy only the amount that fits in one shopping bag (that you bring along). If you often forget to take your shopping bag with you, get yourself a 2-in-1 wallet with a built-in shopping bag for more eco-friendly shopping.

6. Learn to Unplug from Your Phone

Today’s world is crammed with information, and many people struggle to keep focus on what’s truly important. There’s just too much going on in the world – too much to read, to watch, to know, too many conversations to participate in.

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But how to refuse the temptation to check the phone and start using social media in a controlled, not a compulsive way?

Some tips for managing your phone-dependency:

Spend only a limited amount of battery per day

For example, start your day with 50% battery life, and manage your phone usage so that you’ll make it till the evening.

Block distracting apps and notifications on your phone and computer

Choose one-hour, two-hour or longer blocking sessions and enjoy the positive impact this will have on your mood and productivity.[3]

Set your phone on flight mode

When you start doing an important task that requires full focus, set your phone on flight mode so that nobody can disturb you.

Leave your phone at home or in the office when you go for lunch

You’ll see that the feeling of being unreachable for a moment is actually very liberating.

The Bottom Line

As a new year begins, we’re all excitedly looking forward to what adventures await ahead of us.

But this year, promise yourself this:

Instead of having a never-ending list of tasks and commitments, focus on the truly meaningful ones. And cross-out all the rest without feeling guilty.

Less is more. Make this year count. We’re all rooting for you.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Lark via unsplash.com

Reference

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