“Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.” – Benjamin Franklin
Those who know me well, know that I’m a man of habits. My mind can be quite chaotic and, without my daily structure, I probably wouldn’t get a whole lot of things done.
Over the years I’ve wrestled with implementing all kinds of habits into my life. I cannot overstate how important this process has been for me. Crafting your life in a way that promotes health, joy, creative output, and energy, can truly transform your existence.
Whether you like it or not, there is a certain oscillating element to your life. Doing something a certain way increases the probability of doing it like that again. Your days are full of habits, even when you’re not aware of them.
Unfortunately, many such habits are often not actually aligned with who you want to be. Therefore, I think tuning your life’s habits to your values is highly beneficial and a worthwhile pursuit for anyone.
Think about it: maybe the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is turn off your phone’s alarm, and then scroll through Facebook for >15 minutes. That’s a habit. And you can easily exchange it for something more valuable, like writing in your journal or practicing meditation.
In this article I will provide a brief overview of eight habits that have stimulated productivity and contentment in my own life. I think they can be useful to just about anyone.
Keep your bedroom offline
Really, try this.
Instead of watching TV, browsing the Internet, texting your boyfriend, or checking for likes on your newest foodgasm Instagram picture, leave all of that outside when you enter your bedroom. The time before and after you go to bed can be sacred, and used to nurture yourself or your relationship with whomever you may be with.
So try reading books, keeping a journal, listening to calm soothing music, meditating, having tantric sex, whatever you like. It will give your sleep a greater quality and promote a peace of mind.
One of the best habits you could possibly adopt. I can honestly say that it has changed my life for the better.
Meditation gives you a chance to get to know yourself, increase your capacity for concentration, learn to sit and deal with the whole spectrum of human emotions, and has a large variety of health benefits. For more reasons to try meditation, see here.
Not everyone likes to write, but if you do I think journaling can be a great investment. I personally journal in both the mornings and evenings. It helps me to stay focussed on the things that matter to me, as well as reflect on them.
Journaling also allows me to learn about my thoughts and emotions, and gives me a place to store them. Finally, it helps me be grateful for the small things in life that I would otherwise easily forget about.
My journaling process is as follows:
– Morning: Free writing / define three most important tasks for the day / affirmations or daily mantra (like: “take things one day at a time”, “be a good friend to …”, etc.)
– Evening: Free writing / reflect on day / write down 5-10 things that I’m grateful for today (usually things that happened, like an unexpected interaction or a beautiful sunset)
Be active every day
I try to work out every day. I usually take one day off but then I still try to take a walk, bike, or whatever gets me moving.
Physical activity is amazing for your physical as well as mental health and should not be overlooked. Furthermore, sports are a great way for me to meet up with friends and do something bonding that isn’t just talking. Not to mention that doing sports can really improve your confidence in yourself and is a great way to exercise your willpower as well.
It really surprises me that not a lot of people are still reading books. Reading a book is not the same as quickly scrolling through an article you found on Facebook. It requires concentration, a capacity for being bored/”under-stimulated,” and teaches you something that you couldn’t get from simply reading a summary.
What many of us do now is equal to watching a single scene and then feel like we’ve seen and understood the whole movie. The whole often truly is greater than the parts. Finishing a book can be extremely gratifying and can give you so much in addition to a simple blog post like this one.
I’d recommend that you create an account on GoodReads, make a list of books you’d like to read, and start from there.
Plan tomorrow today
Always have a realistic plan for tomorrow so that you know what you’d like to get done. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the things you still have to do, yet to somehow expect that you can do all of them “tomorrow”. It’s important to have realistic expectations so that you don’t get discouraged while optimising what you actually can get done.
Do something creative
Whether you’re writing something, producing music, practicing some instrument, dancing, or creating things with your hands, I think creative output is a great way of communicating your feelings without language. It’s a means of sharing your unique personality with the world and creating value that is not easily replicated.
It can also really deepen your appreciation for a particular domain of art. Ever since I started learning how to play guitar and tried to understand it, music seems to have gotten a new dimension. I can now hear the different instruments and appreciate complexity. Playing guitar has definitely improved my experience of listening to music.
Work without distraction
I mentioned Deep Work on this blog before and I think it’s one of the best ways to go about your work, especially if your tasks require a lot of thinking.
Distractions like checking your email while you are programming, studying or writing mess with your concentration in ways that you wouldn’t believe. If you want to optimise work efficiency you HAVE to get this down. I highly recommend that you pick up Cal Newport’s book on Deep Work.
Alright, these were some of my most useful habits. I hope they can serve you as well as they have served me!