How we spend our days, is of course how we spend our lives. — Annie Dillard
Traveling means continuous change. Change in the environment I stay in. The people I meet. The things I eat. The places where I sleep. Besides I like being flexible and use it to my benefit, it also helps to have somewhat of a structure. As having routines provides something to hold on to.
The lesson I learned: The rhythm of your day — and the things you do daily — make for how productive, successful, and happy you are.
Inspired by Joel Gascoine, (CEO of Buffer) I started experimenting with my daily routine about two years ago.
The question I asked myself: Besides the regular ups and downs everyone experience, are there habits, routines and rituals I can teach myself to turn everyday into a success?
The result: Five habits I strive to do daily.
1. Make a Top Three
Every evening, I write down the three most important to do’s for the next day. The next morning, I start with one task of my Top Three. And I make sure, whatever happens, that by the end of the day I have completed all three tasks.
– By starting the day proactive, you take control over your day instead of becoming reactive and only do what others find important.
– If you complete three important tasks every day, you make daily progress.
– Three is doable. Three always works out. Succes guaranteed!
Sidenote: If I did finish my three tasks, but I’m not satisfied with the work I did? Chances are I didn’t prioritize right. It’s not that I didn’t work hard. A nice, helping thought.
2. Help someone else
We are social animals. And I can’t think of much that gives me more satisfaction than helping someone else.
When we help someone our brains produce the hormone ‘Oxytocin’. This hormone provides the feeling of trust, appreciation and human connection. The feeling. Not the thought. That’s why you feel the difference when someone genuinely helps you. Or when someone helps you because he or she wants something in return. You just feel it. And it’s hard to explain why. More on this here.
So every day I try to help someone else without expecting anything in return. Just because it feels good.
3. Exercise daily
Recently, someone told me: “For the last 30 years, I have been running every Saturday morning.” When I asked why, he said: “When I leave the office on Friday, I have ten concerns. After completing my usual running trail, only one or two are left. And I can deal with those on Monday easily!”
It resonated. I use exercising to clear my mind as well. His story got me thinking — Why is this?
The answer is another hormone: ‘Endorphins’. Endorphins are released during physical activity — exactly, also during sex — and their a natural anti-depressant. They help to relax. Things that seem enormous and threatening in times of stress, actually are very well manageable. You just don’t see it.
Exercising daily obviously has other benefits. You can figure those out for yourself.
4. Learn something new
For work or something completely different. For me, learning new things to develop myself is one of the most important reasons why I do what I do every day.
Learning something new provides a challenge. A challenge gives a goal. Do, learn and figure out things you could not do, did not know or had not figured out before, gives a feeling of pride. It also mixes it up. That’s why I did an English writing course, learned to play the guitar and got my PADI open water diving certificate.
Every day I learn a lot. After meeting someone, giving a keynote or doing my regular work I write down the most important lessons learned in my notebook. It’s one of the reasons I started writing in the first place. Greg McKeown (author of Essentialism) has a brilliant blogpost on this.
5. Enjoy and appreciate
Now and always. Enjoy the moment. Right now is all you have. Just then has past, and later still has to come.
I started meditating —using Headspace— about a year ago. To practice living in the moment as much as possible. Which is difficult at times. For example, I try to give my attention to the people I’m with, instead of staring at my smartphone.
Without acting touchy-feely, I find it important to recognize and appreciate the small things. Being happy with what you do have.
To remind me, I always have a printed copy of the Holstee Manifesto with me in my Moleskine.
How do these five habits help me turn every day into a succes?
In a busy, often times hectic world, these habits give structure, guidance and peace of mind. While at the same time ensure diversity. If I focus on these five habits every day, I get my work done, I exercise enough, I help others and develop myself. The only thing left, is to enjoy and appreciate..
At the end of the day I check how well I did. Mostly I score five out of five: A brilliant day! Sometimes I score less. Which is fine as well: There is always tomorrow.
How about you — What habits help you?
Share your habits, thoughts, tips, questions in the comments below or send me a personal message