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We’ve established that taking care of your health and cultivating healthy habits is an important part of success in all areas of your life. Where it will make a huge impact that has a direct influence on your financial and business success is in the area of focus and productivity. Getting healthy and setting yourself up for the healthy pursuit of success doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. Small changes that lead to healthier habits are all it takes and set you up for years of happy and healthy success to come. In the coming pages, I want to share 17 simple tips with you that you can start to incorporate into your workday and your life. I recommend you pick one healthy tip and work on making it a habit before moving on to the next. Use the information in the next chapter to track your progress and set personal goals for yourself.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Let’s start with something that may seem a little counter-intuitive, but will have a huge impact on your productivity and how much you are getting done on a given day. I’m talking about getting enough sleep. It’s tempting to start burning the midnight oil when trying to get things done, but that doesn’t work in your favor. Yes, there are situations where cutting back on sleep will help you meet a tight deadline. We’ve all done it to finish a paper for school or wrap up a client project on time. It is however not something you want to do regularly. Cutting back on sleep every night to “gain” an extra hour or two to work on your business isn’t helping you get more done. It may help you get more free time than if you’d slept longer, but you won’t be as productive or sharp. Each task will take longer, and you’re more prone to make mistakes. Sleeping enough actually helps you work more efficiently, make fewer mistakes, get more done, and come up with better solutions to any problems that pop up. While there is no set perfect number of hours of sleep as it varies by person, most people should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Having an uninterrupted sleep in a cool and dark environment is best. Having a set sleeping and bedtime routine is also helpful. Not only does it make falling asleep easier, but it also helps you cycle through the different stages of sleep more efficiently, giving you a better rest and more energy and drive the following morning.
2. Stay Hydrated
Water is essential to every system in your body including the heart and the brain. Every single cell and organ needs it to function properly. It’s no surprise then that staying hydrated should be at the top of your list of healthy habits. One of the signs of mild dehydration is brain fog and an inability to focus. That’s the last thing you want if you are working hard at growing your business or impressing your boss. Staying hydrated isn’t hard or complicated. It simply needs to get yourself into the habit. The best place to start is to have a glass of water next to you while you work. Make yourself drink a small glass before you sit down at your desk. Fill it again and sip on it throughout the next hour or so. Get up and refill it regularly. Play around with the container you use. Some people prefer a large water bottle that they fill and drink twice a day. Others prefer smaller containers or a cup with a straw. When plain water gets boring, add a little lemon or try some seltzer water. Above all, work on getting into the habit of drinking a few glasses of water throughout the day and one with each meal. You’ll start to feel a lot better for it.
3. Keep Healthy Food In The House
Eating healthy isn’t easy. It gets even harder when you have plenty of unhealthy food around that looks more appealing, or when getting a healthy lunch means a trip to the store first to buy the ingredients. Set yourself up for success by keeping healthy food in the house. Start by making up a quick meal plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Keep it simple and stick to the foods you enjoy to help you create a new habit of healthy eating. Head to the store and stock up on enough healthy ingredients to make it through the next few days. Include a few snacks and treats like fresh fruit, raw veggies, dark chocolate, nuts and seeds and the likes. Keep the healthy food handy and prep as much of it as you can when you get home from the store. Each morning, think about the healthy meals you want to have throughout the day and put them on the calendar or meal plan. Prep and prepare as much as you can ahead of time, so you have healthy food ready to eat when you get hungry.
4. Skip The Snacks
We’ve become a society of snackers in the past generation or so. We eat continually throughout the day and are surrounded by plenty of snack options at home, in the office, and while we’re out and about. We grab for a sugary snack to go with our coffee when our energy dips and a salty snack when tensions are high, and we try to calm our nerves. While those snacks help temporarily, we also pay the price for them. Problems are not just the obesity epidemic and the various health concerns that come up with the increased weight, diabetes, and hypertension they cause. When you grab a snack to keep you going, you will feel better and more energized for a little while. Then you crash and find yourself more tired and sluggish or more stressed out than before. Sticking to three to five healthy meals a day that provide your body with the nutrients it needs to perform well and stay healthy will serve you much better. Work on getting out of the habit of snacking and train yourself to grab a glass of water, stretch, go for a walk, or just take a short break to let your mind rest instead.
5. Slow Down On The Caffeine
Along with the snacks, most of us have developed a bad habit of drinking plenty of coffee and caffeinated sodas throughout the day. Yes, it keeps you going for a while, but again, it is no replacement for adequate rest and hydration. I’m not saying you need to give up coffee… that would be crazy. Recent studies suggest that moderate caffeine consumption is healthy. It’s the excess of caffeine and combining it with lots of sugar that’s not good to you. Start by giving up soda. Both regular and diet soda aren’t good to you. You know this. Why not use this healthy success makeover to motivate you to give it up finally. Cutting out soda alone could cut a lot of caffeine from your diet. After that simply start to pay attention to how much coffee and caffeinated tea you drink. Try to back it off to no more than the equivalent of 3 to 4 cups of coffee. Stick to black coffee or tea, adding a splash of milk or cream if needed.
6. Move Around Throughout The Day
So far our healthy success habits have focused a lot on nutrition. The second part of the equation is of course exercise. The chances are that you spend a big chunk of your day in sitting in front of your desk, only to move to the couch before heading to bed. It’s important to move around more and turn this sedentary lifestyle into a more active one. Start by simply making yourself get up and walk around more. Find little excuses to get up and stretch or go for a short walk. Park a little further away, take the stairs instead of the elevator. What else can you do on a daily basis that will help you move more and sit less? Every bit helps.
7. Take A Break And Stretch
Just as important as generally moving around is taking breaks and stretching. If you struggle with this and find that you carry a lot of tension in your back and shoulders, start getting into the habit of getting up every 30 minutes or so to stretch and give your mind a little break. It doesn’t have to be a long break. Spending a minute or two to stretch out your shoulders and back is all it takes. To work on this habit, get a kitchen timer, or grab your phone and set a 30-minute timer. Work fast and furious for that time, then as soon as the alarm goes off, get up and stretch. Find a few back, neck, and shoulder stretches that you can do anytime, anywhere. Work through your stretch routine before resetting the timer and getting back to work.
8. Try A Standing Desk, Or Even A Walking One
Another great way to move more and spend less time sitting is to use a standing desk. You can quickly and easily do this by moving your laptop over to the kitchen counter, or add a box or a few large books to your desk to turn it from a regular desk to a standing one. Start there and if you find that you like working at least part of the day at a standing desk, then consider investing in a dedicated standing desk. You don’t have to spend all working hours at your standing desk to benefit from it. Start slowly and play around with it until you find a rhythm that keeps you alert and productive without getting too tired or giving you back or leg pain from too much standing. An interesting alternative that gets you moving, even more, is a walking desk. If you have a treadmill, you could add a shelf over part of the handles to create a simple desk. Walk at a slow pace while you go through email, work on typing up a proposal, or watch a training video. See what types of tasks you can do while you walk on the treadmill. If the desk shelf isn’t comfortable, see how much work you can get done on your smartphone, while you walk slowly.
9. Make Time For Exercise
You know you should be working out. Find a couple of activities you enjoy that will get you moving and out of the house. The activities could be swimming, riding your bike, going for a hike, playing basketball, going through a workout video, or hitting the gym. Create a list of exercises that you enjoy and then put them on the calendar. Joining a group activity or finding a workout buddy helps keep you accountable and helps you stick to the new plan until it becomes a habit.
10. Get Outside Each Day
When is the last time you were out in the fresh air and sunshine? It does amazing things for both your body and mind. Make an effort to get outside for a bit each day, weather permitting. It doesn’t have to be the perfect day. If it’s cold and wet outside, dress appropriately. The next time you’re feeling stuck or frustrated with work, head outside for a few minutes. Take some deep breaths and enjoy the sunshine on your face. The extra oxygen and vitamin D will do wonders for your mind and your productivity. I find this more effective than a cup of coffee and a sugary snack to get me through the afternoon slump.
11. Go For A Walk
Since we’re on the topic of going outside, why not take it one step further and combine this task with a little workout. Go for a walk during your morning break, before you sit down to work, during your lunch, or even as a healthy way to wind down and unplug after work. Your body will benefit from even a short fifteen to twenty-minute walk, provided you make it a daily habit. Getting outside and moving around will also help improve your sleep.
12. Take A “Mental Health” Day
As much as we’d like to be superhuman beings who can give 100% or more every day, we all have off days. We all get tired and burnt-out. Sometimes we need a break, and that’s ok. When you’re at that point, and you know you’re not going to get much of anything accomplished anyway, don’t be afraid to take the day off. Permit yourself to take a mental health day and spend it relaxing and recharging. You’ll find yourself in a much better frame of mind the following day and beyond. More importantly, you’ll get back to work the next day ready to go and will easily make up what you would have gotten done the day before and more.
13. Work On Improving Your Posture
I don’t have to tell you that pain is a big distraction and that it keeps you from doing your best work. That’s why it’s important to learn about and improve your posture. Working at a desk for 8+ hours per day takes its toll on the body, that together with bad posture can cause problems to occur quickly. Read up on appropriate posture. Speak to your physician, chiropractor, or physical therapist and get some advice on the posture you should adopt. Look into ergonomic desks and chairs that help you with your posture. Something as simple as checking in a few times a day to see how you’re sitting and if you’re slumping will help you adjust and improve. Make good posture a new healthy habit and see for yourself how much more you can get done when you’re pain-free.
14. Stand Or Walk During Meetings, Phone Calls, And Webinars
We’ve talked about the importance of sitting less and moving more a few times throughout this report already. An easy way to accomplish this is to find a few key activities in your workday during which you can stand up or even better walk around. A simple one is to walk or pace in your office while you’re on the phone. Anyone can do this. Even if you aren’t on the phone a lot, it will start to add up. Then think of other times when you can stand up or walk around. It’s easy to prop up your computer or grab your smartphone and stand or walk in place during a Skype meeting, conference call, or while you’re watching a webinar or training video. What other ways can you think of that enable you to stand more? Make a list, put a sticky note on your computer and start making it a new healthy habit.
15. Wear A Fitbit Or Similar Device
We often have the best intentions about moving more and going for walks. We do well for a day or two, and then old habits set back in, and we forget. What we need is a constant reminder, a way to track and see progress, and something that motivates us to reach our daily activity goal. A simple fitness tracker like the popular Fitbit works great. It even buzzes you every so often if you’ve been sitting too long. Try it and if you’re the competitive type, join the online community and connect with friends who have a Fitbit. See who gets the most steps in a day.
16. Stick To A Schedule And Include Non-Working Hours
Have you heard about the concept that work stretches to fill the amount of time you give it? Even if you haven’t, I’m sure you’ve experienced this. If you have all day to create a report for your boss or write a new blog post, it will take you all day. If however, you find yourself under a tight deadline then you can get the same thing done in just an hour or two. This idea or phenomenon is why it’s important to create some work schedule for yourself. A schedule is crucial if you work from home or work for yourself. If you don’t set work hours and non-working hours, you find yourself working 14 hour days, which isn’t good for your physical or mental health. More importantly, you won’t get any more done than if you set yourself 8 hours to do it. You just end up wasting six extra hours per day that you could use to workout, shop for healthy food, get some much-needed sleep, or just unwind and have fun. Try scheduling your work hours for a few weeks and see how you like. A schedule doesn’t mean that you can’t be flexible and move your hours around, or work a longer day now and then to finish an important project. Find something that works to you and evolve your schedule as needed.
17. Find Balance
At the end of the day, what you’re striving for is a balance. Yes, you need to put in long hard hours for business success, but doing it at the expense of your health can be more counterproductive than you realize. Spend some time thinking about this concept of balance and what it means to you specifically. The balance can and should change over time. Start by finding out what’s a good balance between taking care of yourself and taking care of business right now. Define it and then work on a schedule and activities that work well to you and your specific situation.