To Boost Your Productivity 1,000 Percent, Practice This One Habit Daily for One Year
If each day, for an entire year, you woke up an hour earlier than needed and invested that time in yourself, my experience shows your productivity would jump by 1,000 percent.
In that hour, you can do whatever you want, as long as it is self-focused and involves activities you wouldn't typically do during the workday. Each day's hour can also be different. It should just be working toward becoming a better-functioning, more thoughtful, livelier and more positive person.
The following are key themes of how you can spend that time to yield the best results.
Prepare for the day or week ahead.
This habit, by itself, can yield tremendous benefits. You will get each day or week off to a better start when you're prepared for what's coming. Instead of running from one thing to the next with your mind in a whirlwind, you'll have much more focus.
This will not only make the experience more enjoyable and less stressful, but it will also allow you to take better advantage. Instead of trying to figure out what happens next in the brief periods of time between activities, you can calmly move to the next. This will give you much-needed mental breaks and allow you to prepare for what's next. That will lead to heightened levels of presence in each activity and, consequently, higher output.
Plus, having an idea of what's coming will mentally orient your days. Knowing in the morning that you have a full day but will have to file your taxes when you get home makes that task much easier than getting home tired and suddenly remembering.
Invest in independent learning.
Waking up early is also a great time for independent learning; you can spend the time reading or learning a new skill.
Reading, on its own, is very enjoyable and rewarding. It can also give you a big productivity spike because the content you consume can often be applied to daily life. Even when they might not seem relevant, books have a funny way of being applicable. A novel about a man who ran away with the circus, for example, may help you find a way to handle an out-of-control employee.
New skills, on the other hand, can come in many different forms, and you can choose to improve in areas you've been yearning to delve into. You could become a better coder or designer or even learn how to juggle apples. The point is to do something that stimulates your brain and triggers your enthusiasm.
Independent learning not only has a physical benefit, but also a psychological one. We're happier when we're learning and growing. After finishing school, we often don't stretch our minds in the same way. Getting into a routine where you're consistently doing so, once again, pays enormous benefits.
Start a new habit.
You could take a portion of these mornings to work on developing a new habit as well. This could be a daily blog (or vlog!) post. It could be taking a photo, emailing one person to connect and so forth.
Giving yourself this time and space to get into routines will also pay long-term dividends. Habits aren't valuable for what they add in a day or two; they're worthwhile when they persist over time.
Imagine emailing a new person each day for a year. Even if you end up talking with just 20 percent of them, that will lead to 70 new conversations with whomever you choose -- and likely a lot of new opportunities or insights.
Even 15 minutes of body workouts can help you stay healthy and get fit. If exercise is part of your typical routine, including it in this hour shouldn't count. On days when you know you won't have time and want to get your heart pumping, however, a quick workout can be extremely useful.
Exercising first thing in the morning is also a great way to jump-start the day and feel productive throughout.
This is another extremely high-impact activity we don't do enough. Reflection is not just an opportunity to be more internally focused and spiritual, but it can also add significant practical value.
When we don't reflect, we tend to go through life without considering our actions. We don't think enough about how certain activities make us feel, nor do we think about the lessons we gain from what happens to us.
This, consequently, leads to mistakes being repeated when you don't consciously recognize, consider and internalize them. It also leads to making larger choices that don't coincide with your goals. Without time to reflect and think, society has a larger influence on your decisions.
It's challenging to truly think about whether you want to take a certain action. It requires time, reflection and mental energy. When you don't make this a priority, society can dictate your choices. It's easier to ask whether others would approve of the choice as opposed to whether you, specifically, should take it. That means you end up doing things that might look good externally but feel terrible for you as a person and as an entrepreneur.
Reflection will allow you to mitigate these times and make better choices, as well as capitalize on what you're learning each day.
This hour can pay extreme dividends. All it takes is one hour, every morning, for a year to truly boost your productivity by 1,000 percent. You will be able to accomplish an enormous amount, set good habits and put yourself on a path toward happiness and success.