“One’s daily routine is a choice, or a series of choices. In the right hands, it can be a finely calibrated mechanism of a range of limited resources” – Mason Currey.
Whenever I’m a little down on motivation, I remind myself of one thing I learned early in life: no matter who we are, no matter how many billion we might have in the bank or the connections we have that enable success, we’ve all got the same 24 hours in a day.
Time is democratic, it doesn’t favour the fortunate or punish the meek, it simply exists- and allows us to do what we will with it… it’s what we do with it that separates the good, from the great.
I’ve found, over my more than two decades of working in the business world that it’s what we do with those 24 hours that matter far more than people give it credit. With that in mind, I thought we’d talk about how successful individuals use their time. With the recent events of the pandemic, a number of us have more idle time that should be channelled toward something constructive, that could hopefully spark a positive change in your habits, and lead to a more focussed, productive and motivated work-ethic.
While some of these points might be more relevant than others, keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to experiment with new tactics or activities in the name of sharpening your blade. As the quote we kicked off this piece mentions, it can be a choice, or a series of choices that lead you to becoming a calibrated machine for success. With that in mind, what are the best habits to change in your life, and pivot for success?
Wake up early
This might seem like a cliche, but the proof is definitely clear to be seen. Studies from the Harvard Business Review have found that “people whose performance peaks in the morning are better positioned for career success because they’re more proactive than people who are at their best in the evening,” and their goal-setting was much more inspirational than the other side of the coin. Waking up early gives you an opportunity to get a head-start on the day, and allows for you to complete the following few steps that you might not have otherwise had time for.
Now, before you get scared off by this point, you don’t necessarily have to spend hours and hours going within yourself to constitute meditation- you just need 10-20 minutes to clear your mind of distractions. If you do, you’re giving your brain the opportunity to calm your mind, and train your awareness and attention. When you rid your mind of menial distractions, you’re much more likely to have powerful, inspirational thoughts.
One of the most common tips I’ve heard from elite-level chefs is that it’s incredibly important to keep your knives sharp. In the exact same way, it’s essential that you keep the grey matter in your brain ticking along, and you’re saturating yourself with the lessons and words of prolific authors. You don’t have to be reading high-level material, either. It’s essential to familiarise yourself with the best business academics and authors out there, of course, but you can escape into a world of fiction, too. Such is the magic of reading, the simple exercise of doing it will work wonders for your brain.
State your priorities for the day
While you’re still in your early-morning-mode, it’s important to list out some of your key priorities for the day. The simple act of plotting out your daily agenda will help you prioritise which issues need to be addressed first, and where you should be turning your attention to. Even the most intelligent humans out there would be lost in an internal world of chaos if not for the simple act of setting out their priorities for the day.
If you have even the most rudimentary understanding of engines, you’ll know that they work best with high-octane fuel and fresh, high-quality oils. The human brain is a much more impressive feat of engineering, however, and it too appreciates when you fill it up with the right ingredients, so ensure you’re eating a healthy diet and giving your brain the fuel it needs.
Have an outlet
While it’s good to get your brain working hard, it also enjoys some peace and quiet, and you can’t expect it to top up purely with sleep; especially considering business leaders often don’t get enough of it. You should make sure that you have an outlet, something you genuinely enjoy that will take your mind off work, and alleviate your stress levels. Ideally, this should be in the form of exercise, but it can also be something creative and artistic, or mechanical. So long as you allow your brain to escape for a period of time, it can then return to the task at hand refreshed, and ready for action.
Actively practicing gratitude is one way to kick a positive psychological loop in your brain that is more accommodating to dealing with high levels of stress and being pushed to the limit on those long, strenuous days. It might sound a little bit spiritual in the context of business, but some of the world’s business leaders have said that meditation and practicing gratitude have helped them immensely.
Read the news
It’s essential that you keep up-to-date on the world around you, particularly in terms of what’s going on in your industry. The world of business moves unforgivingly fast, and if you’re to succeed, you need to stay on what of the macroeconomic trends that might influence your strategy and decision making in the near future. Try setting up a series of Google alerts that are tailored to your organisation, and your industry. That way when something important happens, you’ll be alerted.
Clean your room, house & office
This is something I’ve learnt recently from the work of Jordan Peterson, who writes that the first step toward becoming a more productive or successful individual starts with simple act of cleaning your house. Of course, there’s the psychological benefits of working in a space that isn’t cluttered and distracting, but there’s one more thing to take into consideration. How can you expect to change the world if you can’t first and foremost tackle the most mundane of tasks? Start small, and these stepping stones will take you to bigger, better things.
Thanks for your time, I’ll see you in the next piece.
Kobi Simmat, Director & CEO of the Best Practice Group.