8 Ways To Make Your Life More Efficient
Life advice from a 20 something who, like you, is just trying to figure it all out
Think of the most productive, ambitious and efficient person you know. Is it a friend? Your Mom or Dad? A fellow colleague or superior at work? After answering that, think about what habits or characteristics this person posses. Are they well dressed and well versed? Do they articulate themselves well? Are they well-read? Do they posses a certain aura?
Now, let's take an even deeper dive. While all of the answers to the questions above are interchangeable, one things that's not is (unlike Beyonce) that person in fact, did not "wake up like this." Instead, through their habits, and internal motivations that person trained themselves to be that way. Yes trained.
While your training can come from external sources like where you grew up and styles of parenting, it more importantly comes from your own internal source. How bad do you want that thing you say you want and what are you willing to do to get it? What are you willing to sacrifice and what do you hope to gain? Hand anyone all the external resources in the world and it'll mean nothing if they do not posses the internal desire to LEARN and to GROW. While I'm still very new to the self development game and have a lot to learn (though learning should never stop) I'm going to share a few valuables I've subscribed to over the years.
1. Your Habits Reveal Your Identity.
If you haven't read Atomic Habits by James Clear please do so now. While the book is great at outlining make or break habits, its most prominent theme is the idea of not just SAYING who you want to become but BEING who you want to become. It's easy to say "I want to lose weight," but do you identify as a healthy person?"
More importantly, do you posses the diet and exercise habits of a healthy person and do you do them daily? Do you drink water, take your vitamins, and avoid alcohol? Or do you hit the gym once a week and order takeout every other night? Do you even know what all the habits of a healthy person look like? Being healthy is merely just a formulation brought to life. Insert anything "X" and then ask yourself if you do"Y?" Your habits make up your identity, so before saying you want to be something ask yourself do your habits align with that identity.
2. Habit Stack.
Following up on the above. Say you're trying to build your savings account; placing $5 to the side for one day is not only severely underwhelming, it does little to move the needle. But putting $5 to the side everyday for year means you've gone from $1,845 by years end. Small change, BIG impact. Your habits are the same. Journaling for 20 minutes for one day might not provide much insight, but journaling for 5 minutes everyday will yield a year's worth of insight.
A habit isn't merely something you do for a long time and don't do again for a month, it's something you do in small doses for a big impact. Start small so you can end big.
3. Workout Early And Often.
My research (and own experience) shows the most effective leaders lead an active lifestyle. They typically wake up between 5am and 6am each day, and they do some form of a workout; cardio, a run, strength training, yoga, or even mediation. Then they answer emails and get to work.
Working out early accomplishes 3 things: It wakes up your brain and body which boosts your metabolism throughout the day aka it gives you ENERGY. It affords you time to yourself to sort through your thoughts before tending to the demands of others, and it gets the job done and out of the way so you can focus on other things. As someone who works out around 6:30am 5x a week, I feel drastically different when I skip a day. Not only am I tired, but I'm sluggish, and I'm not nearly as sharp. Again, this is about building habits; commit to waking up early 2x a week and slowly build from there.
3. Eat Right Stay Sharp
Yup, this is another tell age tale of what a proper diet can do for your body; but the truth is, your body is a machine and you have to maintain it. You wouldn't put bad oil into your car and expect it to still run smoothly would you? Well, the same goes for your body. Putting highly processed foods and sugars into your body is like putting bad oil into a car. It will cause you to break down and deteriorate over time.
Now, I'm not saying to deprive yourself of life's greatest edible creations, but it's all about balance. Eating a healthy amount of proteins, fibers, carbs and fats on a daily basis with an occasional treat will literally do wonders for your body. In turn your heart, mind, and body will thank you.
4. Identify Your Shortcomings Then Work Through Them.
This one might take a little help from family, friends, or even a therapist, but you NEED and I repeat NEED to identify what your shortcomings in this world are. Once you've got a grasp on them, you have to pay attention to how they affect things like your relationships, friendships, and work ethic. If you can come to that point of discovery (which many won't do) then you can begin to research tools or, again, seek a therapist / life coach to help you implement ways to strengthen them. This process is one of the most difficult things one can do but don't be discouraged, the other side is 75 degrees and breezy. It's also rewarding as ever.
As your life evolves, you'll be faced with new things your bad at, but by that time, you will have gained invaluable reference points that you can always return back to.
5. Elevation Requires Isolation.
By isolation, I should add strategic isolation. So no, do not in fact go to your room, lock the door and throw they key away.
Strategic isolation means knowing when to silence the world so you can hear your the beat of your own drum. Is it quite and serene? Or is it loud and noisy? Strategic isolation also means knowing when to say no. One of the greatest benefits of strategic isolation is learning what will and will not work for you and having the courage to stand strong on it. If that means saying no to brunch, or social outings with friends for a period of time to lock in and focus then so be it. I'm not saying turn down every family party and invitation with a response of operation isolation, but keep in mind, elevation requires some form of isolation.
6. Read Well and Often.
Reading, similar to diet and exercise seems like an intimidating task until it isn't. It's all about A. building the habit and B. putting yourself in the right position to nurture it. You don't have to block out hours of your day to sit at your window and ponder how the sunlight covers the trees to read and understand a great book. In fact, you really don't have to block out much time or open a book at all. Listen to the audio version while folding laundry or cleaning the house.
Commit to 10 minutes a day and do more if you can. If books really aren't your thing, choose a great podcast or read the morning headlines. Reading in this sentiment is synonyms with learning. Commit to learning each day and watch how life changes.
7. Know Your Tribe.
You cannot elevate alone. It WILL take a village, and every village has a tribe. If you take a look to your left and right, are you surrounded by like-mined people? By people you can depend on? By people who can elevate you? My tribe contains a slew sorority sisters, sister-cousins, close friends and a mother who all hold me accountable daily and they're always ready to provide professional as well as personal advice.
While it's up to you to put in the work, you have to know your tribe. If you don't have one, that's okay, but use your resources to begin building one.
8. Know Yourself.
In conclusion, Drake was running through the 6 with his woes, but you should be running through your mind with a fine tooth comb. If there's any one thing these points allude to, it's giving yourself an opportunity to learn who you truly are, for better or for worse.
Relationships aren't just figments of imagination, but rather, they're built over time by two people getting to know each other. The relationship you have with yourself is no different. Your evolution is dependent on not only how well you know yourself, but how much you're willing to build off of what you already know. So when you think back on that person in the opening paragraph, think about how much time that person spent getting to know themselves, and then do what you have to do to follow suit. This is a marathon not a sprint, and only those with proper training make it to the finish line.