To be productive is to be successful. Stephen R. Covey expresses this exact thought in his bestselling book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His insights provide a step-by-step pathway for living with “fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity” – principles that give us guidelines for solving personal and professional problems.
As successful as this book was (it was written in 1989), times have changed. Fast-forward a few decades to the present, in a new era of internet, social media and advanced technology; it is safe to say we now live in a different world with a different job economy and lifestyles. Although these habits are great to refer to as a baseline, they may not address the new issues students and grads find themselves facing.
Highly successful people today have different habits, and work very hard to achieve their goals. It’s never a nine-to-five; it’s a 24/7. The best advice I can give any new grad entering the working world is to start picking up productive habits as early as possible, because once you fall into a pattern of unproductive habits, it’s hard to break out of them. The general rule to make something a habit is to do the task 20 days in a row. After the 21st day it becomes a habit. Easy right?
Whether you want to be productive in a creative or business world, these habits are sure to guide you on your path to success.
Daily exercise and healthy eating
Taking care of your body is probably the best thing you can do for yourself. Aside from all the physical health benefits of being fit, there are a number of mental and emotional benefits that come with it as well.
Healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables boost brain power, allowing you to think more creatively and logically. On the other hand, exercise releases a number of feel-good hormones that will keep you energized, happy and positive throughout the day. Try to put aside at least 20 minutes a day to run, walk, or even do some yoga.
Wake up early
Time is something that we cannot afford to waste. It is the one thing in life we can never get back. Falling into a regular sleeping pattern that allows you to wake up early each morning to accomplish tasks will help you become more productive. If you find that you’re spending over 10 hours each day sleeping, consider waking up at least one hour earlier each day. This will give you an extra 365 hours a year, or two weeks of your life back!
You are given the same 24 hours that Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce get; if they can do it, so can you!
Writing daily has proven to be a part of living a productive life. It provides direction, a sense of purpose and accomplishment and allows you to stay focused. First, write down your goals and the steps you need to take to attain them. You have a far better chance of achieving your goals if you take the time to write them down, rather than if you just think them in your head.
Why stop there? Here are some other writing suggestions that will keep you productive:
- Daily to-do lists: These create a need or sense of urgency to get tasks done.
- Personal journal: This helps you visualize what you want, where you currently stand, and where you are heading. It’s also very therapeutic.
- Things you are thankful for: Every day you should write at least one thing you are thankful for. Gratitude will boost your mood and allow you to approach life in a happy and positive way.
Learn something new every day
The more you learn, the more you grow. Just because you have your degree doesn’t mean that your time to learn has ended. We are living in a world that is always changing. If you don’t keep up with what is going on – not just in your industry, but globally – you will be left behind, or replaced. For most people, reading is something that keeps their brain active. This makes it easier for them to come up with new ideas.
Try new things
Life starts once you step out of your comfort zone. This doesn’t mean doing something crazy like jumping off a plane or deep sea scuba diving (although you should totally try it if you get the chance!). It means picking up the phone and contacting an influential connection in the industry you want to work in, trying a new recipe, or starting a new project. Failing at anything new you try will only give you an important life lesson and will help improve your skills. You literally have nothing to lose.
Falling into a productive routine can be difficult, especially if you have a number of bad habits you just can’t break out of. For instance, the following habits should definitely be cut if you want to be productive.
- Procrastinating. This is self-explanatory. By spending the day distracting yourself, you’ve wasted precious time.
- Staying up late. Is the time you spend in the evening productive enough to balance out the mornings you lose by sleeping in? Probably not.
- Unhealthy eating. By eating junk food, your body will feel heavy, full, and lazy. Opt for nutrient-filled foods like fruits and vegetables to boost your energy.
- Binge watching TV. Almost everyone is guilty of doing this every once in a while. But don’t make it a habit! Limit yourself to an episode or two a day.
The path to success will have endless obstacles for you to overcome. A number of factors will arise that can steer you away. However, by making these daily tasks a habit, you will find that your career goals will become easier to reach than ever!