This is the 52nd weekly article that I create for my blog. And it feels surreal…
When I embarked in the process of writing my book, somewhere in Q4 of 2021, I created the blog and its articles as a way of testing the waters. You see, I’m a very pragmatic person who enjoys the beauty of an orderly, efficient process, so the saying “measure twice cut once”, fits me to a t.
Throughout this entire year of weekly articles (the first one took place on Tuesday January 4, 2022), I’ve not only learned what my readers like and dislike and in which type of content they find the most value, but I’ve also stretched my ability as a writer, engaged in more conversations with strangers than ever before (which for an introvert is a huge accomplishment) and strengthen my consistency muscle to level bodybuilder. I compounded so many articles that literally chunks of the blog went into my book.
The blog is part of my weekend ritual, something I enjoy creating because I know you’re on the other side expectantly waiting for it. I also love the concept of the pen-pal friendship it forges…specially when you take the time to write me back!
Writing truly fills my cup and having a specific audience for my writing makes it all more enjoyable, but I digress!
In leadership and in life in general, discipline, consistency and compounding our effort, always create the biggest results. So for the last article of 2022 and to welcome 2023 with open arms, I want to share with you 9 habits that can significantly improve your productivity, your physical and mental health and as a result, your leadership (both at home and at work):
1.- Wake up at 5:00 AM – it’s only hard if your go to bed late. Getting used to waking up early, as hard as it can feel, gives you a competitive advantage. You’re not only ahead of everyone who decided to snooze that alarm clock, but waking up early creates time for things like:
- Working out
- Planning your day’s must accomplish tasks
- Write about or read something your interested in
- Work on your business or hobby
2.- Journal before bedtime – keeping a journal may sound cliché, but the best, most sharpen minds know the importance of downloading their thoughts and ideas in the search for clarity and mindful rest. I don’t know about you, but I get my best ideas at 3:00 AM, so in lieu of improving my sleep so I can be more productive and present, not to mention to preserve my brain and prevent Alzheimers, downloading my thoughts has help me tremendously in the effort of closing some of the tabs my brain computer has open and running at any given moment.
Things you can journal al about:
- Your goals and ideas
- The things you are grateful for
- The things you can work on at improving
- Any lingering negative thoughts
- Dreams you’d like to accomplish
When I coach someone who’s feeling stuck, I always ask them to list: three things they are grateful for, three things they fell short and can improve on and three things they did that made them feel proud. This quick exercise provides us with clarity and perspective and promotes a more restful sleep.
3.- Develop a skill in 30 minute a day – one of my favorite words…compound. Setting up time daily (yes, blocking time your calendar) to learn a new skill will help you become proficient at it in less time than you think. The pockets of time we have in between activities, which are normally taken for granted, are priceless and if used productively, can become our best allies when we set goals. Work smart!
4.- Engage in daily physical activity – movement (or action) creates momentum. The more we move, the more flexible and active we’ll stay. Whether consistently hitting the gym or yoga studio or at least walking or jogging will help your body at staying active and properly functioning. If you get to exercise outdoors, it’s a double whammy of activity and connecting with nature, which will help you to stay grounded and reduce your anxiety.
And never underestimate the positive effects of walking. Researchers studied the effects walking has in the cognitive performance of a group of children.
And the results are truly fascinating…
Reading comprehension performance increased significantly after exercise. So did math and spelling performance; however, the results were not statistically significant.
The researchers conclusion was:
“Single, acute bouts of moderately-intense aerobic exercise (i.e., walking) may improve the cognitive control of attention…and further supports the use of moderate acute exercise as a contributing factor for increasing attention and academic performance…These data suggest that single bouts of exercise affect specific underlying processes that support cognitive health and may be necessary for effective functioning across the lifespan.”
So go on more walks…
You’ll improve your:
- Cognitive performance
- Mental and physical health
- Mood and reduce stress
5.- Plan 10 minutes of absolute silence and meditate or pray daily – more that ever before we are constantly bombarded by information. Emails, text messages, social media, meetings, virtual everything, create a constant flow of data coming our way at all times, it can feel as overwhelming as drinking water from a firehouse. So setting time aside in silence for reflection and gratitude, can transition us from the daily rush of things for a quick break of quiet contemplation and clarity, which works wonders for the mind and soul. It also reduces anxiety and stress and helps in regulating our systems, and it help us feel more centered and grounded. Practice some breathing exercises a few minutes a day or transitional breathing exercises in between meetings (inhaling in 3 counts and exhaling in 6 counts, repeating 4 times) and in no-time you’ll feel like a new you.
6.- Stick to a sleep schedule – our bodies are perfect machines that do so much for us and that truly appreciate when we reciprocate and create healthy routines to support and reward their hard work. Sleep is the most underrated success hack and we have it available at our fingertips. Going to bed at the same time allows the body to reset and the human growth hormones to activate and work its restoring magic. As you probably know, your body does most of its repair while you sleep. This is why getting adequate rest and at a consistent schedule is essential to good health. What you may not know is that HGH is primarily released into the bloodstream during deep sleep. But the key of HGH successfully doing its thing is not only adequate sleep but also the time in which we go to bed. According to an interview for the Huberman Lad podcast, a sleep expert from UCLA explains that going to bed 1-2 hours later than usual gets us none of the goodness of HGH for that night, even if we sleep in to “compensate”. So the time at which we go to bed each night matters tremendously. Remember that HGH also promotes a healthy metabolism, enhances our physical and mental performance, and helps us to live long and healthy lives.
7.- Develop a reading habit – bibliophile alert! reading will expand your mind, but it’s overwhelming the amount of people claiming they hate reading or to a minimum state that it’s boring so they fall asleep every time they try. But hear me out; reading can expand your knowledge bank exponentially, even if you’re reading a novel for fun, you’ll learn something new. I believe in my heart of hearts that if you claim to dislike reading, is because you haven’t found yet the book that makes you fall in love with book! Try by picking a great book and then set up the goal of reading a page every day, if the plot engages you, for sure one page won’t be enough and in no time, you’ll crave your reading time and your reading habit will start to develop.
8.- Replace listening to music or the news for a podcast episode or an audiobook during at least one way of your daily commute – it’s incredible the knowledge we get to consume nowadays even while driving. Remember that every single person has the same 24 hours every day, yet how we chose to use those hours is what can set us apart from our competition. Podcasts and audiobooks can expand our knowledge and help us to get better at our trade or develop a skill from scratch. Never underestimate or underuse the value of a traffic jam.
9.- Do something every day that scares you and something that adds value to others – challenging ourselves is the only way to grow. I love using the example of a baby figuring out how to walk. When we are born, we are completely unbiased about our abilities. So when a baby become mobile and starts to turn on his or her side and crawl, life gets more interesting (for both the baby and the parents who don’t get a minute’s rest). When a baby attempts to walk, they first stand holding on tightly to something and find a way to stabilize themselves. Then, they maybe achieve one step before falling flat on their butts. But that fall won ‘t derail the attempts, on the contrary, they will try again and agin until they get to walk. At no point they second guessed their ability to walk like the rest of the people around them, they never thought they couldn’t, weren’t capable, or were stupid to try, they just giggled and kept at it until they accomplish it…where along the line did we lose that ability?
Something similar happens with adding value to others, we (adults) tend to overcomplicate it, we tend to think it need to be something life altering and small things do’t count, because we forgot the basics like practicing kindness and not doing onto others, what we don’t like others doing onto us. Small acts of kindness and practicing gratitude with all the people around us, can really change their world, as well as ours. Never take for granted thee power of your words and actions.
A book that I treasure that one of my best friends gave me in high school is called: “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum. In it there’s the following creed:
“These are the things I learned in Kindergarten:
- Share everything.
- Play fair.
- Don’t hit people.
- Put things back where you found them.
- CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
- Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
- Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
- Wash your hands before you eat.
- Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
- Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
- Take a nap every afternoon.
- When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
- Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
- Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
- And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.”
With this creed I leave you for now, have a blessed 2023, dream big, plan accordingly, take the necessary rest and be kind to yourself and to others. Thank you for letting me into your screen every week and for reading the content I’ve created for you for an entire year.
I SEE YOU, I VALUE YOU and I’M GRATEFUL FOR YOU!
Have an amazing rest of your week, let the countdown begin and God bless,
What a great message to close out the year! Discipline is so important but so hard to really master. Thank you for this list, I am so grateful for your guidance.
It’s my pleasure and thank you for leaving your feedback. Knowing the content is helpful makes it all more significant to me 🙂 Happy New Year!