“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”- Aristotle
For many years I resisted the idea of habit, routine, structure and all the restrictive words that would surely stifle my creativity. I started many businesses and never quite got them off the ground. I continued to be creative and full of ideas but success was always just beyond my reach.
I noticed that many successful people preached positive habits. So, I decided that if it worked for them, surely it was worth a try. One by one I adopted a new habit. Little by little life got better. I got more clarity, I felt more organised. I had more energy and as a result, I started to achieve my goals.
What I learned was that the quality of your life is determined by the quality of your daily habits and these habits can be classified into three groups; productivity habits, physical habits and mental Habits. Each one will improve your life but all three will supercharge your success and happiness.
Productivity habits are all the routines, processes and procedures you do to get things done.
Scheduling your work
I’ll start with the habit that has had the biggest impact on my life. Scheduling time for ideas and plans is the single most effective strategy to beat procrastination and get things done.
Use your calendar to plan your work and your personal schedule. It takes the onus off your mind to remember stuff and it ensures your full brain power can be used for creativity, problem-solving or strategic thinking.
A great habit to adopt is a regular declutter. Rather than the once‐a‐year spring clean, a weekly de-clutter will keep things organised. Set a time every week to declutter your environment, both at home and in work and you will feel all the better for it.
Have a clean desk policy. Make sure you have a place for everything and commit to putting things back in their place each evening. Physical clutter can affect your mental state and deteriorate your decision-making ability. Do the same for your inbox and desktop.
Use a Task Manager
A task manager helps you to categorise your to-do list into different projects, helping you keep track of what you need to do and when.
The physical habits you have are just as important as the productivity habits. If you plan your life well and organise your work in the right way, you’ll become more productive. But if you’re tired and sluggish from lack of exercise and poor nutrition, you’ll see the effects in your work.
We all know the benefits of exercise. It gives you energy, increases your happy hormones and keeps you healthy. Maintaining the habit of exercise is probably one of the things that will have the biggest impact on your ability to focus and get things done.
The right nutrients combined with daily exercise and plenty of water will give your body all the ingredients it needs to work at its best. Why is it the days we come home tired and stressed we make the wrong choices? We opt for beer and pizza when this is the time when we need good healthy food the most.
Planning your meals can help to make healthy eating a natural part of every day. If there is healthy convenient food in the fridge we are less likely to make bad choices.
Regular breaks help the body to re‐energise and renew. Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of conditions which include obesity, increased blood pressure, excess body fat and high cholesterol levels. Regular breaks also act as a great reminder to take some deep breaths and drink more water to stay hydrated and focused throughout the day.
The way you think about life and work can affect you. If you have a can‐do attitude, one where you expect good outcomes and want to have a positive impact on the world, you’ll undoubtedly achieve more in life.
It all starts with positive thinking. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. When it comes to friends, people often focus on the good points and drown out the bad. When it comes to enemies, they do the opposite. Some people choose to always focus on the negative, justifying their thinking by the fact that they’re being realistic.
But without optimism, you’d never start a business, get married or even have a child. Focusing on the positive is essential to achieve anything in life. So think positive and create the life that you want.
Living mindfully can greatly help you to focus and do your best work all the time. Create a reminder on your phone or in your calendar to ‘Focus on the now’. Set it for at least once a day to remind you to come back to the present moment.
If your current habits don’t reflect the life you want to lead, consider adopting one of the habits above. Start small and commit to regularity. It’s better to exercise for ten minutes every day than 60 minutes once a week. Focus on one habit at a time and when you feel like you have mastered that add another one. Success is just around the corner.
Ciara Conlon is a leadership and productivity coach, author of two books and an international keynote speaker. Ciara’s goal is to create more conscious leaders, people who believe in people, our planet and in being authentic.