Here’s the truth; I don’t have it.
I don’t believe anyone holds the “secret.” Actually, YOU do.
Before you give me that look and bounce, keep reading and I will show you some ways how you can affect your happiness and productivity. If you talked to a number of successful and productive people you’d realize they do a lot of things differently yet they all get a lot of things done (while also enjoying the journey; more about that later…). This is actually a good thing.
Before I explain why, first let me confess something.
I have been reluctant to write a productivity post because even though I get a ton of things done, I feel like I’m not the most efficient person in the world. I’ve definitely improved leaps and bounds over the years but a big part of my “formula” has been hustling hard and putting in the hours.
Not efficiency. That is, until the last 3 months.
I realized to get more things done with higher quality, I needed to “hack” my lifestyle and improve efficiency to be more productive as well as happier in the process of working on a number of big projects.
I’m not saying you can just eliminate all stress and make everything smooth because that is pretty much impossible if you’re pursuing big dreams and taking on big challenges. But being stressed out all the time and not having rituals and the right environment is guaranteed to make you inefficient and stop you from doing your best work.
Personally, I’m all about doing my best work!
I speak from my own experience as well as studying and being around some extremely productive people that there is a common denominator when it comes to being productive and lowering stress.
We are the products of our environment – sight, smell, sound, and touch.
If you stop and assess your environment right now, how is it treating you when it comes to being positive, productive and efficient?
When you wake up and get ready for work, what is it like? What do you wake up to (music that you love, noises that stress you out, kids, etc)? What do you smell, what do you eat? Do you rush?
On your way to work, what do you listen to in the car? A play-list that fires you up, makes you happy, audio’s that help you develop a skill/positive mindset?
How is your office at work set up, what do you have around you? Maybe you work from home; do you have a ritual that gets you in the work mode and keeps you creative?
During breaks, are you around people that stress you out and if so, what can you do to change that?
Do you schedule your training every week and stick to it? What about a massage, getting a pedicure, etc.? List of things that make you feel good and happy, how many of them are you doing (most of the things that make you happy cost nothing)?
Do you have pictures or objects from past relationships around you that unknowingly stress you out?
Do you have art or other design elements around you that make you feel good? Did you de-clutter (contrary to belief, having a clean space does not always make you more efficient…but if it does, then do it)?
I hope you see where I am going with this.
All of those things, and more, are a part of your environment which will not only determine how your day goes, how much you get done, and how happy you are while you’re doing it; it will also create habits, good or bad, that will determine the outcome of your future.
There are many things we can’t influence but environment is something we can change now. Today.
By shaping our environment we take control of our life.
It can start with little things that make a big difference. No need to get stressed and overwhelmed thinking you need to do a “makeover” in a week like you see on TV shows.
WE can shape our environments easily.
You can do it a couple steps at a time. Regardless of how many steps you decide to take, you need commit to them fully (more about this later).
In the past 3 months I have made changes to my environment that have made a significant effect on my productivity as well as lowering stress and making me happier in the process.
You may not have your own business or work from home some of the time but I challenge you to look at your own life, work and environment and see how you can make changes that will improve the state you are in to be more productive and happier.
Here are some of the changes I made to my environment…
Cleaned up my apartment and organized all the books into bookshelves and eliminated a ton of clutter a long with a bunch of clothes I didn’t need (if you haven’t worn it in 6 months it has to go). My goal was to have a “wooosssaaa” moment when I wake up or come home rather than stress looking at things being unorganized. This was a crucial first step for me!
I wake up with a natural wake up light and soothing music instead of annoying alarms (this helps me get up more naturally and not have to press the snooze button)…
I run through a 5-10 ritual including things that wake up my nervous system, breathing drills, mobility and activation that make me feel good right from the start of the day. Small investment for how much better I feel (happy people are productive people!)
Once I get up I listen to some motivational audio’s or read 10 minutes of book that gets me into the right (read: positive, abundance) mindset for the day. I make myself tea in my Teavana Perfect Tea Maker while I’m listening to the audio’s or reading. The ritual of making the tea calms me down and I take my time with it.
I go for a 30-minute walk on the lake (with a notepad in my pocket since its when I get some of the best ideas). Some days I do sprints as part of my training. Either way I’m doing something.
I do 3-4 hours of work on content in my home office (I set timers for each thing I do so that I get mini breaks built in. If I’m on fire though, I just keep it pushing because creativity is on a high it would be a shame to waste it), which I’ve set up to be calming with no distractions and efficient for work.
This is my new ritual most days till around noon and the environment I’m in.
There have been changes in environment made throughout the rest of the day too but it is a process, and I’m adding little by little. Think of it this way, inch away towards your optimal environment for happiness, productivity and health; small changes over time compound into huge shifts.
I’d be lying if I said I decided to make these changes one day and just made 10 new habits the next. It’s highly unlikely you will either.
I’m not being negative, it’s the exact opposite; this is advice to help set you up for success.
Set out only one or two habits that you will change in the first three weeks (most people will do best with one). Once you are comfortable with it then ad another habit, maybe you can even handle a bit more.
Everyone is different.
If you pick just one habit to change it seems much more manageable and once you complete it you feel successful. Most people try to change ten habits and end up changing one, maybe two, yet feel like failures; this leads to quitting since the thought becomes “it didn’t work, I missed the goal by sooo much.”
“Focusing on less helps you achieve more”
Here are a couple more snapshots of great tips on habits from Leo Baubata (the author of “Power of Less”). Print it out and keep it in front of you as a remind to take on less for more success.
There is no changing your environment without talk about changing lifestyle habits. With that said, I’d be doing you a disservice getting you “pumped up” to make a ton of changes when I know this is not the solution.
Less is more.
And you will see amazing things happen with your happiness and productivity.
Whether you actually do any of the above is pre-determined by one thing – a decision.
You have to decide.
We don’t realize the force of change that a committed decision creates. The problem is that for so long most people have used the term “decision” so loosely that it’s come to describe a wish. Instead of making true committed decisions, we keep stating preferences.
The word decision comes from the Latin roots of de, which means “from”, and caedre, which means “to cut.”
“Making a true decision means committing to achieving a result, and then cutting yourself off from any other possibility.” – Tony Robbins
A decision is “information acted upon.” With that said take this information and act on it now. Not later. Or tomorrow. Now!
One more thing (I figure I’d finish like Steve Jobs)….
Never leave the scene of a decision without first taking a specific action towards its realization.
Observe your environment
Ask yourself what changes you need to make to improve your environment and be happier and more productive
Start with changing one habit at a time<
Truly decide that you will make a change
Don’t at least one action step towards the realization of your goal before leaving the scene of the decision