1. Prepare and plan. Plan tomorrow’s agenda today. Create a daily schedule. Routine is very important for every entrepreneur. Without it, it’s just too easy to get off track. Set a few clear goals and the next day work on them with relentless focus until they are complete. Create a weekly schedule. This schedule lets the rest of your team know when you are available for in-office meetings, out-of-office meetings and when you are simply not available, for instance when you are working out at the gym.
2. Begin your day the night before. Every night before bed, I think about this question: If I live every day the same way I did today, what kind of future would I be creating? It forces me to constantly evaluate whether or not my actions are lining up with my priorities. The future is shaped one day at a time, and it's never as far away as we think.
3. Regular sleep schedule. Our bodies are systems of habit. We like to get what we expect. This goes for our physical body as much as for our mind. A regular sleep schedule with sufficient hours of sleep (six to eight is ideal) will do wonders for your productivity. If you want to reduce stress and feel better overall, get some sleep and get sleep regularly at regular hours throughout the week. Make sure you go to bed at the same time every night.
4. Go to bed early. One hour before midnight is worth 2 hours after midnight. I’ve come to realize that all eight-hour periods just aren’t created equally. Going to bed at 10 pm and waking up around 6 am is WAY better than going to bed at 3 am and waking up around 11 am, even though the number of hours of sleep is the same. I’ve tested this over and over again: I don’t perform well if I stay up past 10PM.
5. Sweet dreams. Too many people I know need to medicate themselves in order to enjoy a good night’s rest. Those drugs can easily be replaced with a few sleep habits. Try taking a walk in the evenings. Turn off the TV an hour before bedtime and read something positive. Studies show that exercising in the mornings can help promote better sleep at night.
6. Early to rise. Most people sleep 30 minutes too long every morning. Take time for yourself in the morning and be much better prepared for the day ahead. Early risers really do have a distinct advantage when it comes to mental clarity, acuity and energy. In simple words: waking up early works better than any other strategy for becoming more productive. But you have to make sure you get enough sleep to back it up. So get to bed!
7. Breathe. Take 10 slow breaths, think about your main objectives for the day, then get moving. This seems too simple to have an effect, but it’s not. If you’re used to getting up already in battle mode, then you’ve probably forgotten how it feels to have a moment to yourself. Deep breathing is also another anxiety reducer. Deep breathing is a key to meditation and other relaxation techniques.
8. Hydrate. Drink water, lots and lots of water – preferably at least half a liter at the moment of waking up and then another two liters throughout the day. Most Americans are chronically dehydrated.
9. Meditate. It isn’t just for yogis. You don’t need to sit cross-legged on the floor, but allowing your mind to clear itself is necessary if you want to push yourself to your limits. Your mind is the most important tool you have. Treat it right and it will treat you well in return. You need to control your mind and thoughts as much as possible or risk getting lost in your stress and unnecessary worries.
10. Pray. When you meditate, God speaks to you. When you pray you speak to God. If you don’t know what to say, start by saying "thanks!” If "thanks" is the only prayer you ever utter, it would be sufficient.
11. Read something educational. Make it a habit to learn a new skill every day. Never stop learning. Learn a new language. Learn a new computer program. Learn a new sport. Just don’t stop learning.
12. Read something inspirational every day to grow spiritually. Reading biographies can be very inspirational and encourage you to achieve greater things in life.
13. Keep a journal. Write something every day that you are grateful for. Make gratitude a habit. Record your experiences, your feelings and your thoughts.
14. Listen to podcasts. There some really great podcasts that can educate, motivate and inspire you while you exercise, run or even drive to work.
15. Revisit your goals, objectives and priorities. Regular review of your goals helps you stay focused and on track. If you’re not having fun you’re not doing it right. If you don’t love what you are doing you’ll never be a success at it.
16. Don’t just be grateful, be thankful. Express your thanksgiving in words. Silent gratitude doesn't do much for others, it only benefits ourselves. People like to be appreciated, and a bit of kindness can go a long way. I’m sure God feels the same way.
17. Spend 7 minutes stretching and cardio before jumping in the shower. Not all productive people are health freaks, but they do all understand that for the mind to work at its maximum potential, the body requires physical exercise. You don’t need to spend hours at the gym, but if you can get 30 minutes every day of either cardio or calisthenics, you will love yourself for it and you will gain massive improvement in productivity. Ride a bike to work for a nice change of transportation and added exercise.
18. Sing in the shower. I sing in the shower every morning. Singing has positive psychological effects on us. The act of singing releases endorphins, the brain's "feel good" chemicals. Singing can have some of the same effects as exercise, like the release of endorphins, which give the singer an overall "lifted" feeling and are associated with stress reduction. It's also an aerobic activity, meaning it gets more oxygen into the blood for better circulation, which tends to promote a good mood.
19. Take a hot-cold shower every morning. By doing 30 seconds of ice cold water, followed by 30 seconds of hot, then 30 seconds of cold water (always ending with cold water), I gain the energy and clarity to start my day feeling refreshed. To get started in this habit do a normal shower. Then turn the water as cold as it goes for 30 seconds. Then crank it as hot as you can stand it for 30 seconds. Then end your shower with cold water for 30 seconds. Vigorously towel yourself dry to get your blood flowing and you'll feel great!
20. Eat a hearty breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast provides you with the energy and nutrients that help you concentrate throughout the day. Studies show that breakfast can be important in maintaining a healthy body weight. Hunger can set in long before it's time for lunch, and many people who have not eaten breakfast snack on foods that are high in fat and sugar. People who skip breakfast are unlikely to make up their daily requirement for some vitamins and minerals that a simple breakfast would have provided.
21. Ask yourself one simple, yet very powerful question "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” If the answer is "Yes!” then go ahead with your plans. Focus on making a difference. If your focus is only on making money you’ll live a very empty life. Make an impact wherever you go so that people arriving there in the future will know that you were there ahead of them.
22. Start before you are ready. Determine to live with purpose. When you know what your purpose is, begin to move in that direction. You will acquire the skills and resoucres as you go. I call it the know-go-grow process.
23. Think big but start small. Begin now. Instead of putting off writing that book, start by writing out the chapter titles. The write one chapter at a time. Or even, one page a time. Set a big goal, break it down into small steps and begin today. That’s the key to getting things done.
24. Hug at least five people every day. Science has proven that even engineers need a hug from time to time even though they would never admit it. The benefits of hugging are many and the cost is zero. Never end your day without hugging at least one person.
25. Validate someone every day. You have a great smile. I like your suit. Great haircut! Everyone needs validation. You are the best! You’ve just been validated. Now go validate someone else.
26. Approach everything with confidence. You are better than you realize. You have more potential than you can imagine. Now look in the mirror every morning and tell yourself that you matter and that do are making a difference. Make it a habit to walk straight and stand tall. Imagining a hook in the top of my head works for me.
27. Learn to delegate. However, be aware that people don’t do what you expect, they do what they know you’ll inspect. Effective delegation isn’t just giving orders, it’s following up and inspecting what’s been done.
28. Spend less than your earn.Make it a habit to keep a current spending plan or budget. Sounds simple. Easier said than done. Everything is.
29. Seek to simply one thing in your life every day. A minimalist attitude can eliminate a lot of stress and increase your happiness. We don’t need „stuff” to make us happy.
30. Speak only positive words. Eliminate the words "bad luck" from your vocabulary. Don’t accept the words "it can’t be done" from anyone. If you can’t say something nice about someone, it's better to keep your mouth shut.
31. Make it a habit to focus on one task at a time. Stop multi-tasking. Learn to close your door. Turn off your phone. Unplug from social media.
32. Stay on top of your email. Whether it’s once every hour, or once every day, have regular times to clean out your inbox and stick to them. Turn off your notifications.
33. Make your workout times a priority and put them into your calendar for the next year. This is scheduling your priority, rather trying to prioritize what’s already on your schedule. If you don’t feel good nothing else matters.
34. Put a high value on time. Be fanatical about gaurding your time. Use tools like Asana to manage your team communications and projects. Make lists once. Stop re-writing incomplete tasks over to the next day. Use Asana to schedule create your to-do lists. It will bug you until you complete the task. Or, you can easily assign it to another team member.
35. Learn to say no. Running a business is a big undertaking. Successful entrepreneurs understand what’s important to themselves and to their business. They know how to say “no” to the things that are not going to take them closer to their goals. This doesn’t mean successful entrepreneurs don’t help people, it means that they understand their limitations and what they realistically should and shouldn't give their time to.
36. Show up on time. Be punctual. Successful entrepreneurs understand that everyone’s time is precious. They show up on time for meetings and expect everyone else to do the same. Punctuality is a sign of dedication, commitment and follow-through.
37. Take notes. It’s not unusual for people to request a copy of my notes following a meeting. Taking notes while someone else is speaking let’s them know you are taking an interest in what they have to say.
38. Remember to smile. Practise smiling as soon as you wake up in the morning. Then practise it throughout the day for others. Greet everyone you meet with a smile.
39. Think only positive thoughts. Refuse to dwell on negative thoughts. We become what we think about the most. Make it a habit to focus on what you want, not what you don’t.
40. Surround yourself with people on the same mission as you are. Make it a habit to hire slow and fire fast to make sure that you only have like-minded people on your team.
41. Have lunch at the same time every day. Regular times for meals helps your digestive system to stay regular. Eat more meals and smaller portions to help you lose weight.
42. Take a nap after lunch. A 20-minute midday nap is a habit I have gotten into in my 50’s but wish I had started much earlier in life. Keep your nap to less than 30 minutes or you will wake up feeling groggy.
43. Do a good deed every day. Practise generosity. Pick up hitchhikers. Hold the door for someone. Pay for the someone else’s coffee at the restaurant. Little gestures of kindness go a long way to may someone else’s day brighter.
44. Be friendly. Speak to strangers. Strangers are only friends you have not yet met. Make it a habit to say „good day” to at least one stranger every day.
45. Call or message someone every day. There are people in your life whose passing would most certainly cause you to shed tears. If you’ll cry when they die, why not give while they live? Give them a call. Tell them you appreciate them. Tell them you love them. Make your driving time your calling time. I call my mother at least 3 times a week.
46. Make dinner time your family time. Connect with family. Hold hands when you give thanks before the meal. It’s a sign of unity and sets the tone for a peaceful enjoyable meal. We do it before every meal time in our home.
47. Reflect on your day. Make it a habit every evening to reflect on the day. Were you a blessing to everyone you met? Did you stay focused on your purpose?
48. Turn off your TV. For the past 5 years we have not had a television in our home and I can truthfully say that I don’t miss it a bit. You can choose to be educated or you can chose to be entertained. Education has a much bigger pay-off.
49. Get a massage once a week. I love massages. I don’t always make time for a massage every week but I sure feel great when I do. Start with once a month to make this habit easier to adopt.
50. Rest on Sundays and spend time just thinking. Even God needed a rest on the 7th day. What’s make us think we can go without a day of rest every week. Take time to feed your spirit, rest your body and relax your mind. You deserve it!
Ben Kubassek is an international expert on social entrepreneurship, author, and speaker. He’s on a mission to help young people in developing countries launch their own businesses in order to create jobs and bring transformation to their communities.
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