Self Help

Self Help

Don’t Be Late for Your Funeral

Sometimes it feels impossible to get it together. You dash through getting dressed only to still arrive for work five minutes late. That movie you wanted to see with friends was great; only you showed up halfway through the previews. You’re always rushing, but you never quite get anywhere on time, and it’s leaving you feeling dragged out, overwhelmed, and maybe even a little like a failure. And you can’t figure out why the rest of the world seems to have no trouble at all with being on time when you would likely be late to your funeral.

So how do you change from always being the last one to arrive at being on time?

1. Acknowledge the problem. It’s so easy to make excuses for being late. But there comes a time when you have to realize that that’s all they are – excuses. If you’re frequently running behind, then you’ve got a problem. The first step then is to accept that, so you can move on and do something about it.

2. Ask yourself why you’re late. Are you trying to avoid something you don’t want to do? Do you maybe like people waiting for you to get there? Are you always trying to do that ‘one last thing’? Knowing why you’re late will help you identify the triggers and then move past them. For example, if you’re avoiding something, then maybe that’s something you shouldn’t have committed to in the first place.

3. Stop trying to do so much. Grabbing that last errand, that last chore, or doing that last thing will derail you every time. Multitasking never works. Let the little things go. You can always grab them later.

4. Plan for the future. Lay out your clothes for tomorrow. Set out your gym bag if you want to exercise in the morning. By preparing now, you won’t get caught in the trap of hunting for things when you’re already short on time. If you’re ready tonight, then you’re set to go tomorrow.

5. Expect things to go wrong. Build extra time into your appointments. What if there’s traffic or something else that delays you? Having more time than needed is always better than not having enough time right from the start.

6. Get real. Honestly, how long does it take you to get to the airport? Don’t underestimate the distance you need to travel, or the time it’ll take to get there.

Time management doesn’t have to be impossible. With a little planning and a different mindset, it’s fully possible to change ‘late’ into ‘right on time.’ What’s the worst that can happen? You might wind up with time to wait if you’re early which you can use for something else – like reading or just gathering your thoughts for what comes next. That’s a win-win situation for sure!

6 Ways to Trick Yourself into Drinking Enough Water

We’ve all heard it already: the key to good health lies in drinking enough water. Chances are, at some point in the last year you might have made a goal to do just that. But no matter how enthusiastically you started, you soon lost interest or found yourself falling back into your old habits.

The problem is, we need water. Dehydration leads to a whole plethora of health concerns that goes far beyond a dry mouth. When you’re not drinking enough water, you can experience a racing heart, headaches, low blood pressure, and fatigue.

How much water should you drink? The simplest equation is to take your weight (in pounds) and divide that number by 2. The resulting number is how many ounces of water you should be drinking every day. If that seems like a lot, then chances are you aren’t drinking enough. Thankfully it’s pretty easy to trick yourself into drinking enough throughout the day.

1. Add water into your routine. When you wake up, drink water. When you get a snack, drink water first. When you go to bed, drink water first. Look for stop points in your day to add water in.

2. Have a water bottle you love. Sometimes drinking more requires nothing more than a pretty water bottle, that’s easy to carry with you. Want to up the ante? If your water bottle is clear enough to see your water level through the plastic, then mark the outside with time goals. So maybe your halfway point (depending on the size of the water bottle) is noon. That helps you to see easily if you’re on track.

3. Make it fun. There are apps out there to help remind you to drink water. Plant Nanny allows you to grow a virtual plant with every glass of water you drink.

4. Set your timer. Use your smartphone to set alarms to remind you that it’s time to stop and drink.

5. Make it something more. Adding in a spritz of fruit juice, or a slice of lemon goes a long way toward making water less boring and more interesting. Consider freezing bits of fruit in ice cubes to use in your water to make it more special.

6. Try eating it instead. There’s a lot of fruits and vegetables that are rich in water. Grabbing a healthy snack like some watermelon or slices of cucumber can be used to replace some of that water intake, and also solve that midday munchie craving at the same time.

Drinking more water doesn’t have to be complicated. Think outside of the box a little, and make drinking water not just fun, but something you look forward to having. When you’re well hydrated, you’ll find that you have more energy, can think better, and are better able to manage your day. So, drink up to your good health!

Create an Evening Routine to Be More Productive

Did you know how you go to bed at night will influence just how productive you are the next day?

Invariably a night of tossing and turning makes you lethargic at work the next day. Even when you think you’ve had enough sleep and the right kind of sleep, you could be mistaken.

The right kind of sleep that leaves you rested is the deep REM sleep. But things like worry and stress keep you from reaching REM. And then, typically what little benefit you did have from the sleep you got, is stripped away by the way that you rush around trying to get a handle on the day come morning.

1. Start with letting go of the day properly. Being able to look back and acknowledge that you’ve accomplished things in the day goes a long way toward helping you to shut down your mind come bedtime. Typically worrying about what was left undone and whatever perceived failure of the day will keep you from solid rest. That’s why it’s so important to let go.

2. List what you need to do tomorrow. This exercise is part of that “letting go” process. By relegating the unfinished business to your To-Do list, you’re forcing it out of your mind and into tomorrow – where it belongs.

3. Give yourself time to wind down. Studies show that we need two hours to clear our heads so that we’re ready for sleep. That means no work and nothing that’s going to engage you profoundly before bed. What that means is going to vary from person to person. For some, watching TV before bed is how they turn their minds off and gear it toward sleep. Others will find their brains become more actively engaged by TV and will need to do something else (like read a book) before bed. Whatever is right for you, take the time you need so you don’t compromise your ability to get that REM sleep.

4. Optimize your sleep environment. Now that you’ve dealt with clearing your head, how about your space? The ideal environment for sleep is absolute dark and a space cool enough to sleep comfortably. Make sure that you’re not using your bedroom as a workspace as doing so keeps your mind keyed up and focused on other things when you’re trying to retire for the night.

Establishing a solid sleep routine is essential for proper rest. With only a small amount of preparation, you’ll sleep better, making for a more productive tomorrow. Sweet dreams!

Easily Make Exercising Daily a Habit

We all know we’re supposed to stay active, but how many of us have struggled with making exercise a daily habit?

When we exercise throughout the week, we build our bodies, keeping our energy levels high, which makes for added productivity. But exercise is also good for us in other ways. Exercise helps you to sleep better and keeps you generally healthier as you age. Exercise not only keeps your body in top form but leads to better moods and overall mental health.

So how do you make exercise a daily habit? Follow these step-by-step instructions, and you’ll be on the road to building this healthy habit in no time!

1. Set time aside in your schedule. Being deliberate about when you exercise means that it’s more likely to happen, even when life is busy. Also, it trains your body that it’s time to move at a specific time each day. Before long, you’ll find yourself craving movement and the many benefits it offers.

2. Use your smartphone. Set a reminder on your phone for when it’s time to exercise, so you don’t forget.

3. Prepare yourself. Lay out your exercise clothes and gear the night before so you can’t use the excuse that you don’t have time to find everything. Keep your exercise bag right near the door and ready to go.

4. Just leave when ready. Is it time to go? Don’t overthink it. Just go whether you feel like it or not. Your body will click into gear once you get started.

5. Take baby steps. By starting small, you won’t overwhelm yourself, or worse, do damage to a body not ready for a heavy workout. You can always increase your time/reps later when you become fitter.

6. Keep it fun and interesting. Noting screams boredom more than the same routine day after day. Mix up what you’re doing – run a new route or try a new exercise machine at the gym. Adding new types of exercise also makes sure you are working all your different muscles too.

7. Take a break – occasionally. As you build your new healthy habit, you don’t want to skip days. Consistency is key. However, it’s good to have the occasional lighter exercise day when you’ve recently upped your game or when you are especially tired or sick.

Once you make exercise a daily habit, you’ll come to look forward to it. You won’t even think about it; you’ll just do it. With so much benefit, it’s obvious that keeping a daily exercise habit is essential to a happier and healthier you!

Develop the Growth Mindset Habit

When deciding what new habit to pursue, it’s easy to look at all the things we shouldn’t do as a place to begin. We want to stop smoking or stress eating. We want to learn how to say ‘no’ or to quit spending so much time on social media.

Have you ever considered the flip side of all that by building a habit that’s positive? What if the habit you formed was one of growth and personal development?

Having a growth mindset positively impacts your life in multiple ways, so it’s a great healthy habit to build into your life. What are the benefits of developing a growth mindset?

1. You keep learning. Learning is important as you not only discover new ways to do things, but by making a practice of constantly learning, you develop new ways of thinking, and new ideas. Learning connects you with more of the world and helps you see things with a deeper significance than you ever thought possible. But more than that, people who stop learning very quickly stagnate. Studies have shown that the practice of learning new things when you are older helps ward off problems related to dementia. In short, learning is good for your brain!

2. You learn perseverance. As we learn new things, we adapt and change how we think. That gives us the ability to see other solutions to problems that would have frustrated us in the past. By challenging yourself to grow, you learn how to push through obstacles and find new paths.

3. You learn how to embrace challenges. Growth can be challenging. But by pushing yourself to grow, that means you’re also pushing yourself to look at challenges differently. An obstacle now becomes an opportunity to learn something new and to do things in a way you haven’t before.

4. You learn how to embrace failure. When you’re interested in growing as an individual, you start to see failure differently. Everything becomes a potential lesson in a way that you didn’t think would work.

5. You become more open to criticism. By being willing to grow, you start to see that the input of other people has significance. You see their words not so much as something negative, but something you can use to develop as a person and learn something about yourself. You might not always like the lesson, but that’s part of growing too.

By embracing personal growth, you find the best version of yourself. You’re able to become more than you ever thought possible, and then you turn that around by finding out that you can become more still. You’ll find that the furthest edges of yourself are far beyond what you thought you ever could be.

Invest Time in the Self-Care Habit

Being productive is a wonderful thing, but too often we get so caught up in doing that we forget that the person doing the thing is every bit as important as whatever we’re trying to accomplish, if not more so.

For most people, this is a difficult concept. We tend to be results-oriented that we skip meals, stay up late, and work through breaks. We push to keep going, thinking that we’ll accomplish that much more if we do. The truth of the matter is, we’re not only hurting ourselves but reducing our output significantly.

How? It’s common sense when you think about it. If you’re exhausted, it takes longer to perform simple tasks. Low blood sugar makes for fuzzy thinking. And if you have too much on your plate, you’re not able to dedicate your attention to where it’s needed most. In short, you’re sabotaging yourself, which is why taking the time for self-care is so incredibly important.

Taking care of yourself is important, and you can start by putting a few simple habits in place.

1. Learn to say no. Setting boundaries are one of the most important things you will ever do to save your productivity – and your sanity. By knowing when to say ‘yes’ – and more importantly – when to say ‘no,’ you reserve your energy for what’s important. That means you’ll also free up some of your time to enjoy more self-care.

2. Remember to rest. Pulling an all-nighter is only cool when you’re young enough to snap back easily the next day. The hard truth? As we age, the quality of our sleep tends to go down, so you’re going to need more of it. Even more importantly, maximize the sleep you do have. A cool dark room is best for REM sleep, as is doing things to turn off your mind before bed.

3. Reward yourself but not with food. Sometimes we all need that little extra oomph to get us through that project. Rewards give a nice little bump of happiness to get you through the day. So treat yourself to a few minutes of that game on your phone or a movie out when you finish that big project.

4. Celebrate success. Recognizing your accomplishments gives a nice jolt in the self-esteem, right where you need it. So what if the project completed seems small? Every step forward is a step in the right direction and worthy of acknowledgment. Celebrate yourself and every little win.

5. Fuel your body. Eating well gives you the energy you need to get through the day. Add in exercise, and you’ll build that staying power you need to accomplish great things.

If you want to be productive, you must first start by making sure your body is capable of that productivity. Taking care of yourself is that first step toward a happier and healthier you. If you worry about taking too much time for yourself, remember that not taking care of yourself will make you spend more time on the projects you do have. Self-care is just that important.

Make De-cluttering a Fun, Easy Life Habit

Do you own stuff – or does your stuff own you?

If your room feels cluttered, it might be time to take a good hard look – not at your stuff – but your habits. You can’t clean clutter, but you can dispose of it. But rather than go on a massive de-cluttering spree that takes all weekend, you instead need to focus on creating a new mindset entirely. One where de-cluttering becomes a fun, and even easy, life habit.

Where do you begin?

1. Make rules about new stuff – specifically if you bring one new thing into the house, to get rid of something else. That keeps you from keeping around a broken object once you buy a replacement. But it also helps out your closet. What if every article of clothing that you buy means another one has to go? Here’s your chance to finally get rid of those old jeans that were never going to fit again anyway – or if they are, are so out of fashion you wouldn’t want to wear them out in public.

2. De-clutter 15 minutes every day. It doesn’t take long to make an impact, and 15 minutes is just enough time to sort through a drawer or glance over a bookshelf or two. In a week, you’ll have made a significant change to your environment without even noticing that you’ve done it. By doing it at a set time (before bed, before work, after lunch…whatever works) you’ll also have built in a habit in no time at all that will serve to keep your environment under control.

3. Put that back! When you’re done using something, then take a moment to put it away. Don’t leave that decorative paper out after wrapping a gift! If you’ve used the scissors, you know where they go! By getting in the habit of cleaning up after yourself, you guarantee that you’ll never have that lost feeling again when you can’t find what you’re looking for.

4. Keep your hands busy. Before leaving a room, take a quick look around. Is there something there that doesn’t belong, that maybe needs to go to a different room altogether? By grabbing one item every time you leave a room, you begin a slow migration of things back where they belong.

5. Tidy up immediately after meals. By taking a moment to clean the kitchen before grabbing the remote and some time on the couch, you’ll find that you don’t dread your kitchen the next morning anymore. Even better, you’ll find you save a lot of time on your morning routine if you do.

De-cluttering doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By creating a lot of small (not to mention easy) habits, you’ll keep your space under control, and be able to enjoy the rest of your day better.

How to Make Meditation a Life-Long Habit in 2 Minutes a Day

Feeling stressed? Meditation might have the answers that you need.

Meditation has been practiced for centuries by people from all walks of life. And not just to relax, but to promote happiness, mindfulness, and to improve memory and self-control. But more than that, meditation has been found to have numerous health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and heart rate and has even been thought to improve metabolism.

With so many benefits, it seems meditation should be an easy answer to life’s problems. Why then do people avoid it? Mostly because they feel like it’s too much of a commitment. Or because they doubt that they can keep it up long enough to have any benefit. What most people don’t realize that is that meditating only 2 minutes a day is enough to not only see a positive benefit in your life but can be used to jump-start a lifelong habit that will drastically improve your quality of life. How?

1. Start with the commitment. You’re only meditating two minutes. Anyone can meditate for two minutes, so why not try?

2. Decide when you want to meditate. Don’t pick a specific time of day because that only sets you up for disaster. Instead choose a trigger time, like right after breakfast or before bed.

3. Find your quiet place. That is a space that makes you feel calm, where you’re not likely to be interrupted or distracted by a lot of noise. The nice thing? You can meditate anywhere so if you feel most at peace at the park, then go for it!

4. Sit comfortably. The last thing you want is screaming muscles telling you to stop because you have a charley-horse. You’re going to want to sit up nice and straight so keep that in mind as you choose your position.

5. Remind yourself it’s only for 2 minutes. You’re not running a marathon here. Just relax and accept that this time is yours.

6. Breathe In. Follow your breath and try to be aware of where it goes from nostrils into the throat and down into your chest. Remember to keep your back straight. Hold the breath there.

7. Breathe out. Release the breath nice and slow. Count to 10 if it helps. Follow it back out of your body and release with it all the tension and worries that have been plaguing you. That is part of the focus.

Repeat steps 6 and 7 for two minutes. If you find that your mind doesn’t want to sit still, accept that, but bring your focus back to your breathing as soon as you can. Let your thoughts drift. Focus on your breath.

Meditation doesn’t have to be difficult, nor does it take a long-time commitment. Doing it for only two minutes a day will help you to build the habit. As time passes, you’ll want to increase your meditation time. Be patient with yourself and go gently. Your body and your mind will thank you.

5 Tips for Getting into the Single-Tasking Habit

For too long we’ve been conditioned to think that multi-tasking somehow equates with productivity. The truth is, multi-tasking leads to distraction which means each task takes longer and more effort to complete. And did you know that when we multi-task, we lose IQ points?!

With that in mind, maybe it’s time to get into the single-tasking habit. How do you get your focus back when you’ve become so used to constant jumping from item to item on your To-Do list?

1. Make a practice of having only one browser tab open at a time. If you’re reading this on the internet, then chances are you have several tabs open right now. The first step to getting your focus back is to concentrate on just one item at a time. Shut down those other tabs and take back your life!

2. One app at a time. This point follows the same principle as #1, in that you likely have several apps open at once. Limit the open apps to only those that you’re using at the time. Fewer open apps mean you’ll extend phone battery life, reduce data usage, and the phone will be more responsive.

3. Make a commitment. Whatever you’re reading or doing, tell yourself that you’re going to see it through to the end. Finish that email and answer it while it’s fresh. Or finish reading that article all the way to the end before exiting out of the news site. If you find a pushback in that you don’t want to finish reading the article, then maybe that’s your brain trying to tell you that you’re not all that interested. If that’s the case isn’t it time to stop reading and move onto something more productive? Why are you wasting time on something you don’t want to do?

4. Build your focus. Pay attention to the task at hand. Don’t let other thoughts creep into your consciousness. Being mindful means that you’re going to get more from what you’re reading or doing. You’ll also be able to put more effort into any project you’re working on rather than being distracted all the time.

5. Turn off the screens. If you’re finding that you’re too distracted by your electronics in general, then maybe it’s time to walk away completely for a time. Ask yourself – do you need to be so connected that you can’t shut down the internet for half an hour to get stuff done?

Follow these steps, and you’re going to find that single-tasking is addictive. With increased productivity, and better focus and concentration, you’ll not only feel smarter; you’ll be smarter. Now put that intellect to work on the next task.

Get into the Gratitude Groove

Want to change your brain for the better? Try gratitude.

The art of practicing gratitude is just that – an art. It’s not always easy to feel thankful, especially when things aren’t going your way. But oddly enough, an attitude of gratitude might be what the doctor ordered. Not only does being thankful lead to a higher rate of contentment in your everyday life, but it assures better sleep and even brings down levels of depression through the production of dopamine in the brain.

But rewiring brain neurons sometimes takes some effort, especially if you’re already having a bad day. How can you get into the gratitude groove when you’re not feeling it?

1. Appreciate the little things. When life is particularly overwhelming, sometimes the only gratitude that we can genuinely feel is for the small things. And that’s just fine. Taking time to be thankful for that cup of coffee, or that you got that great parking space might not seem like much but acknowledging them will do wonders for your mood. Spending your day looking for small things to appreciate has the interesting effect of making you notice the bigger picture items you can be grateful for as well.

2. Stop worrying about what other people have. If you feel like you can’t be grateful because someone else has it better, then your focus is in the wrong place. Who cares what your neighbor has? Be grateful for what you have.

3. Keep a gratitude journal. If you’re having trouble finding things to be grateful for, then make a practice of writing down the things for which you’re thankful. Why? First, by writing things down, you find them easier to remember. But second, you’re creating a record that you can look at to remind yourself that you do have many good things in your life.

4. Donate. Whether giving your time or resources, nothing makes for gratitude like helping someone else and seeing their appreciation. You might even find new things to be grateful about as well – like your ability to help, or perhaps you have a talent or skill you’re able to share. That makes this a win-win all the way around.

5. Make gratitude habitual. Try setting a time to be grateful. Before bed, you can list great things that happened today. Or maybe you’d prefer to start your day in gratitude. Whatever the case, getting into the mindset of daily gratitude will help you to keep on the lookout for things for which you should be grateful.

The gratitude groove is a lot easier to get into than you think. You start simply by being thankful for the things you have in your life, and the rest grows from there.