HOW THESE ROUTINES HAVE BENEFITED ME
I have become more productive, less stressed and internally happier by realising that less is more and more is less effective.
MAIN TAKEAWAY POINTS
- You cannot be busy and productive at the same time.
- Minimalism is a way to go!
There are four new routines I have tried in the past few months that I believe have contributed towards my productivity: my sleeping routine, food timings, regular movement and balancing my personal and work life. Feel free to download my cheat sheet:
BLAH-BLAH & SOURCES
My sleeping routine
I have realised that when I try to go to bed earlier, at around 10 or 11pm, I am able to wake up much sooner (as soon as 5am!!! - not bad for a night owl if you ask me!) and my body only needs 7 hours of rest. This triggers a chain of the whole lot of other positive events starting right from the moment I wake up and it sets a positive tune for the day. For instance, I am able to find time for things I never have time for - a quiet meditation, playing the piano, reading a book, visualising my goals, learning a language and planning my day. Those extra two hours make such a big difference in my life! It takes away the stress of the day and puts me on the right track the first thing in the morning. Besides, not only does my early sleep allow me to stretch my day, my body also benefits from it; falling asleep before midnight seems to bring about the most powerful repair to the brain and body cells. In fact, one research shows that it restores your body so much that every 1 hour of sleep you get before midnight is worth 3 times as much and they have also found out that there is a 25% decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease in people who go to bed before midnight. Now I know I am not perfect at waking up just yet, but I am slowly starting to give up my night owl routine after all those years as I have found something that actually serves me better and promotes peace and productivity in my life.
P. S. AN INTERESTING OBSERVATION: Did you know that even an innocently small glass of wine can make your 5am wake-up call IMPOSSIBLE? Don’t say I didn’t warn you! :D
I don’t have time to track my food so I have found a perfect method to simplify this part of my life. One word - fasting. While I am not going to get into any numbers or research studies, I will tell you that it has changed my energy levels and therefore it has had a big effect on my life and losing kilos is just a nice bonus. You can regulate the intake of the food and track timings yourself, depending on what you actually want from it; you don’t necessarily do fasting in order to lose weight. My aim was to ditch just a couple of kilograms and gain energy and strength and overall cellular recovery and while I haven’t asked my cells yet, the rest of my goals were achieved! Before you roll your eyes, know, that fasting DOES NOT mean not eating - it just means eating in little time frames. I get to eat what I want and how much I want without an everyday exercise and calorie tracking! Well, partially, I lied, as you don’t get to eat 5000 calories or eat ten chocolates per day, but here is how it works for me:
✓ I hate counting calories so I just don’t.
✓ I also hate weighing myself and while I do it when I feel I have gained a bit more weight to stay on track, I more value the mirror and the muscle tone rather than the scale.
✓ I eat what I want (carbs, protein, sweets) in my chosen eating window, but of course, I am choosing healthy foods and follow certain rules, for example, I don’t break my fast with carbs, but with protein and healthy fats instead. I have a glass of wine or a bar of chocolate without problems. I do not deprive myself from my guilty pleasures if I don’t want to. There!
✓ I eat how much I want, or to put it more accurate, my body does not ask for 5000 calories in that little eating window so I don’t have to worry. I physically cannot eat that much since my body got used to fasting routine. I actually seem to be burning calories even when I have my ‘’naughty’’ days which is insane!
✓ I am NOT hungry. The first three days were a challenge, but I got used to it pretty quickly. Plus, by drinking black coffee and delicious lemon water during the fasting window, I do not think about food. Sometimes we don’t realise that our hunger is just the thirst in disguise.
✓ Another plus is that you do not have to think about food and the times, you know exactly when to eat and when to ‘’behave’Ó. It again takes away the pressure of planning the next lunch and dinner and redirects your focus on the things that matter.
ANOTHER AMAZING SIDE EFFECT: You are basically getting younger and healthier. Instead of overloading your body with calories 24/7, if you choose to give it a break from time to time and fast, whether it is once a week or every day, you will see the change in your energy levels and your overall health. What is happening in your body is that your cells literally start renewing themselves as long as you give them a chance. Our body is a machine - it tries to process whatever you give it, but I have a feeling that when I feed it with three meals per day plus some snack in between - it never has a chance to rest. At the end of a day, we should eat to live, not live to eat.
This just makes sense - the energy you get after a physical activity is amazing! As I am a big fan of simplifying things, and because I do not have time in my life for two-hour gym visits five times a week, I have explored some more time-friendly options when it comes to exercise and I have three winners:
1. BEN GREENFIELD
I love Ben’s minimalist exercise routine idea and I have adapted it to my lifestyle. It allows me to incorporate exercise anytime during the day, depending on my activities without the whole fitness preparations routine, therefore maximising your time. No fitness clothes, no sweat, no hair and make up mess, no need for shower - can you imagine? It is a life-changer on busy days! It removes that pressure we have thinking we NEED to exercise now and it removes your mental blocks, too as there is literally no time to think about it once it becomes your routine. So how does it work? I do exercises that are effective and compound, but also comfortable for me, that I love doing. I have this rule of doing a certain number of push-ups, deadlifts, sumo squats and crunches every time I tick off the task on my to-do list. This is my way of celebrating it, rest from work and give my energy some boost at the same time. This literally takes me 2-5 minutes before going back to what I was doing. Between my activities I end up doing 200 of each every day, gaining strength and energy and maximising my productive time. If you want to explore Ben’s routine, check out his talk HERE.
Vince Sant and his exercise routine (I have not done his diet, just the exercise program!) is insane! In just 15-minutes-a-day-home workouts, and without needing any equipment, I have done his three month challenge and lost 5 kilos and shaped up like crazy! In fact, I saw results after only 6 weeks working out only four days a week (fifth day is an optional cardio, which I have chosen NOT to do) This is not any affiliate link, just my honest recommendation. Check his program out HERE.
I really love this application. You get to personalise absolutely everything. No equipment? No problem. You can choose your favourite fitness coach, styles of exercise and their length, intensity, which body part you want to challenge, change the music during your workouts, and it even has the recipe book where I have found the most amazing food inspiration and even desserts and snacks. Also, you can prepare your own daily/weekly/monthly routine to suit your needs and the app keeps the track of your entire progress and it motivates you by giving you rewards. It is very user-friendly and you can connect with your friends and support each other, too! You can add the routines you like to your favourites, join regular challenges, read advice from fitness experts and more. If you are a fitness freak, this is basically all you need when it comes to exercise and motivation! There is a free and pro version, both packed with an amazing value! (I am now sticking to Ben’s and Vince’s minimalist routines as I know exactly what results I am getting there, but I love using this app as an extra motivation and for healthy recipe inspiration!) Download it HERE.
Organising and balancing my personal and work life
Honestly, to know yourself and your desires, your goals and priorities is a necessary start. So many people have no clue what they want and then they are surprised they end up somewhere where they didn’t want to be… Only once I became clear on my life mission could I plan, recognise opportunities from time-wasters and know what it is I want to put in my life first. Secondly, I have been happier once I stopped chasing career literally 24/7 and made time for myself. It is important, necessary, and frankly, life-changing. So I guess it all comes down to separating your work and your personal space and putting yourself first. I now make sure I make time for my morning routine and I work on my goals and projects as a secondary priority because all we have is NOW. My future is important, but it is not real yet so if I didn’t enjoy the NOW, I would never get to enjoy anything I planned and what a waste of my entire time would that be! There are also two important tools I use that help me to wrap my head around the personal and work projects on daily basis and make space in my head for what really has to be there - my personal diary/planner and mind-mapping software to create mind maps for smaller or larger personal/work projects or ideas. I highly recommend 'Xmind' which you can check out HERE.
1. SET YOURSELF ONLY ONE PRIORITY TASK PER DAY AND START WORKING WITH THAT ONE TASK FIRST! EVERYTHING ELSE HAS TO BECOME LESS IMPORTANT.
2. APPRECIATE ALL THE THINGS THAT YOU HAVE ACHIEVED EVERY DAY INSTEAD OF BEATING YOURSELF UP FOR THOSE YOU HAVEN’T TICKED OFF YOUR LIST.
To wrap it all up, being productive is different for everyone, and so is the way we perceive the word PRODUCTIVITY, but being happy with yourself and WITHIN yourself is the best first step you can take. Because that genius-badass-productive routine is not created out there, it is built inside.