We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle.
And Aristotle is quite right: a successful person is built around good habits. It’s inevitable for you to become a winner if you have the right habits. But it’s not something you can do from one day to the other. It takes time, effort and commitment to create these habits. Here are a few of my favorite to get you kick started.
I recommend you to work just with one every month. If there’s something that helped me achieving all what I did, it’s focusing on these:
1- Having a Low Information Diet.
To start a low information diet has been one of my best decisions. It’s a great relief and a huge time saver. It’s really something that can change your life. Breaking it up to the essentials, it means to batch email, stop reading the news and to stop pointless social media surfing.
By doing this you’ll get rid of the biggest time wasters of our era. You’ll avoid interruption and will be able to exclusively focus on getting your most important tasks done. If you want to multiply your productivity, this is the way to go.
The benefits of having a low information diet far outnumber the potential and so threatened negative consequences. I don’t check emails more than twice a day, don’t read newspapers (just business stuff once a week) and so far no catastrophe has happened. If I’m dying to do so (which hardly happens) I do it after finishing with all my tasks for the day.
2- Exercise 20-30 Minutes Every Day.
I have been going to the gym ever since I was 13. I hate it since day one. But, want it or not, it’s good for me. I’m proud of having a good body, of being healthy and of being fit to do any activity I want to. Yet, every time I had to sacrifice something to save time for study, work or something else gym was first on the list. If I had to quit something, I would quit the gym.
That’s really bad. My body has never lost shape, but it could certainly do if I stay out of exercise for long. What do I do, then? First thing in the morning, before doing anything, just after eating a couple of fruits, I go out and run. Not that much, really. Maybe 20 minutes, no more. And then I make another twenty minutes of exercise outside, at home or, maybe, in the gym.
Like it or not to stay healthy is important and I can’t just skip it. By doing all exercise first thing in the morning I make sure I won’t. After all, the temptation not to go running or not to lift weights multiplies as time goes by. Do it whenever you want to, but do it.
3- Write Down Your Three Most Important Tasks (MIT) Every Day.
First thing in the morning take a notebook and write which are your three most important tasks for the day. Don’t do less and don’t do more: three is the right number. What these tasks are depends on you, but they should be something outside of your routine.
If you are studying, it could be to read X pages of the books and write the highlights on your notebooks. If you are working it could be to complete a project or advance with some other. If these three are the most important things you have to do that day all your effort should be focused on completing them. Once you finished you can move to something else.
Make a habit of completing all these tasks. It’s no use if you constantly write them down and never accomplish them. With that in mind, start small. Focus on tasks that you can, with a decent amount of effort, surely complete. Once you are getting good with it, move on to more demanding projects.
4- Read One Book Every Week.
Reading is a very good habit. Books will flow your head with ideas, thoughts, culture and more. So take a few hours out of your TV and Internet routines and spend it reading.
Read nonfiction to learn, to have new ideas and to expose you to the thoughts and teachings of remarkable people. The potential is gigantic. There are surely dozens of high quality books on any topic you have interest about: be it work, projects or just for fun.
Work your way to read one book a week. On this article Steve Pavlina points out the great benefits of doing so. But the highlight is that when you read a new book every week, you condition your mind to keep taking in new knowledge. You’ll have new anecdotes and stories to share, new perspectives and ways of thinking. It’s really worth it.
If you just don’t have physical time to spend reading, multitask. I always have a book in my bag, wherever I go to. Also, I hear audio books when I’m exercising or moving around the city. I also have programs to hear while I’m driving. It’s great from any side you look!
You may ask yourself: but doesn’t he get bored of reading? Absolutely not. I read or hear programs about subjects I’m passionate about (and so should you). There’s no way I’m going to get bored. Plus, all this reading means at least an hour a day of new ideas that will flow my mind. I love it.
Finally, I also keep reading fiction books. I read at least one or two chapters of fiction in bed just before sleeping. This way I engage my imagination and abstract myself from all the thoughts about the future, about planning my tasks or about worrying about the future. Helps out for that and there’s nothing like a very good fiction!
5- Be Nice To Everyone.
It’s amazing how much can you achieve just by being nicer than you normally are. Take a few extra seconds (or minutes) to make people feel great around you. Make them feel important, ask them questions, how they are doing and never forget the magic words “please” and “thank you.” It takes almost no effort and the benefits are spectacular.
When you buy something, ask for it kindly and with a smile. When you meet someone, ask them how they are and compliment them. Be all about positive energy. People will then want to meet you, become closer friends and will do you favors.