Sunday Thoughts by Margaret Sulapas
The quality of your future depends on your daily habits. These are 7 life changing habits I learned in the last 8 years of working online. I don’t profess I am practicing all of these 100 percent since there are days I am not an “ideal” person just like anybody else. 🙂
1. Deep work.
In our Article and Design podcast episode 19, 7 No BS Productivity Tips for Filipino Freelancers and Business Owners, we have discussed this concept on how deep work can help you achieve maximum productivity. Have 4 hours of DEEP WORK every day. No social media, no emails, no phone, no music with lyrics, no cluttered desk. Staying focused and removing distractions is key if you want to accomplish more in less time.
You know the term active procrastination? I was like this before but it didn’t last. The more I use my adrenalin hormones, the sooner I get exhausted. You want to have a specific hour and dedicated hours of being productive and call it a day. Our brain can only do so much. Should you aim for a maximum of 4 hours per day? Not necessarily. What is important you can find a number that you can work with. It is your sweet spot.
I tracked my screen time 6 years ago using Time Doctor and I noticed I was spending (wasting) too much time on my personal Facebook. In the end, I quit Facebook. The one I am using now is for my business and community which is intentional.
2. Consistent and Repetitive Habits
One of the best examples of this is waking up and going to bed at the same time every day. Or working at the same hours every day e.g. 10am to 1pm of DEEP work. Cal Newport called this the Rhythmic approach. In exchange, it helps you build discipline and lets you use your energy wisely.
To improve this habit, I read the book Fast Asleep to help me get quality sleep so I can maximise my productivity.
There are a lot of great insights from the book but to put simply: 1-have a routine, 2-get a lot of sunlight, 3-get sunlight from sunset as well, 4-balanced diet, 5-control your caffeine intake, 6-lack of sleep makes us fat, 7-establish good time bed habits, 8-have a wind-down routine and a lot more. Common sense, right? But not common practice. So write these tips down and follow it.
3. Waking up earlier than what you are used to.
Where do I start? I am a night owl since forever. I started drinking coffee when I was 11 years old. I can remember the aroma of black coffee and the first time the hot liquid touched my lips — ahhhhh this is coffee okay. My family loves drinking coffee so it is one of our family bonding. I was introduced to it before I even hit puberty lol and I believe this has caused me to sleep late and wake up late.
Everything was changed last April 2021 when I had a short visit to Lorne, Victoria. Lorne is an amazing beach located in the Great Ocean Road in Australia. I wanted to make the most of my stay and take sunrise pictures, thus I set my alarm to 6am.
I woke up at 6am, change to work out clothes, grab a cup of black coffee, warm water and some banana and I started to walk/run and appreciate the view. After doing some cardio, I went back to the hotel and cleaned up. This trip was supposed to be a holiday but I still managed to do some work-related tasks for 3 hours. And before noon, I’m done with my things to do! I was surprised that I can finish every thing before I can even have my second meal of the day.
And this is when the #6amclub of Article and Design was created. It started as a personal challenge for myself and I shared it with the Article and Design community. I posted a 21-day challenge and anyone in the community can join me in waking up at 6am for 21 days.
And the #6amclub grew into a family.
I am still fighting my demons in going to bed late and waking up late. Of course, I sleep in during weekends, but I definitely wake up earlier now than what I used to. It helped me develop self-discipline and learned what to prioritise.
4. Don’t count your chickens before they hatched and Delayed gratification
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Margaret why are we talking about chickens?
I am going for an expression here.
The origin of the expression “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” is a direct reference to the fact that eggs sometimes fail to hatch, and reducing the number of live chickens. And if this is your livelihood, don’t expect sales until the chickens are hatched.
I learned to practice this habit in my business and freelancing career as well. I DO NOT COUNT on something that has not yet happened. I DO NOT MAKE PLANS based on something happening before it has actually happened.
I make it a point that I’ve done something before I even plan my life around it.
Same goes with delayed gratification. I am not watching a lot of TV shows and Netflix. I don’t play video games, eat junk food and comfort food before I accomplished something in my to-do list. Too much partying, TV shows, video games, unhealthy food, and the list goes on will ruin your motivation.
I shared my goal setting and productivity tip where it revolves around delayed gratification. You can listen to the discussion in our Article and Design Podcast episode called 7 Goal Setting Tips For Filipino Freelances and Business Owners with Jen Obenza.
Delayed gratification, again, helps you develop self-discipline and self-regulation.
To make sense of Delayed Gratification, you can read this Marshmallow Test showing why this habit is essential for our success.
5. Work out at least 3-4 times a week.
Here I go again. Margaret, your fitness guru. Haha. I wish I am the most fit person in the world, but I am not. I gained 8 kgs more of fats and not muscle in the past 4 years and I am still trying to lose it now. I used to train hard when I was younger. Swimming, Muay Thai, Running, Biking, Table Tennis and Boxing. I was also a vegetarian for almost 3 years. But you know life happens and you just got lazy.
However, training your body and your mind is equally important in achieving optimum productivity. Exercising regularly builds discipline, resilience and increases your energy.
The key is to be consistent with it and find whats working for you. I do not suggest strenuous workouts but I encourage everyone to do Mobility exercises. I am going back finding my mojo in working out, thus I am starting with 30 mins running at least 3 times a week. They operative word here is to start and do it 3-4 times per week.
Again, I am back to square one but I am sharing this to you now because this habit helped me a lot. And we are old enough to know why exercise is important. 😀
6. How you do one thing is how you do every thing in your life.
My client (now a business partner) shared with me this tip whenever we qualify businesses we want to work with. I also read similar tip in most productivity blog posts and books. They suggest the same mantra. And you know what? They are telling the truth! Your commitment says a lot about you. And this goes the same on how we approach our work and life principles. I realised this sooner since I am a person who gives my all in what I do (at least in my own standards). I exhaust all my efforts if I blocked my day to spend time with you. I give my full attention when I set a meeting with someone. I prepare and set aside EVERY THING FOR YOU.
I give my 100% and more when I deliver results to my client. I give more than I should when I do FREE live webinars. If I told you I am going to call you, I blocked specific hours for it. It’s not random for me, I planned and scheduled everything because I want to be my best self when I am with someone.
I want to give my full attention so I won’t go back thinking what could’ve been? What could you have done differently?
Say, if you don’t give 100% to your workouts, you’re not going to give 100% to your business and other aspects of your life. You will be complacent and okay with mediocrity. How committed you are into something reflects how committed you are to other things. Treat everything with excellence and see how this affects your life.
7. Give others your full attention.
This is related to number 6 habit. When I deleted my personal Facebook last 2018, I made some realisations. During that time, I learned the importance of being present, being mindful and giving others my full attention.
One of my biggest pet peeve is when I am having a conversation with someone and the other person keeps on looking at his/her phone. Or simply, when someone is talking to me while scrolling his/her phone.
If you want to ruin your connection with people (any type: romantic, platonic or filial), do this often. I dare you, it will mess up your relationship.
You can never connect with others if you’re too busy connecting with your stuff. Be mindful, pay full attention. Find interest in people. Humans are both amazing and cheeky and I find it amusing. 😀
These are 7 habits I learned in the past 8 years. It made life changing results to my growth. Again, your daily routine will predict your future.
You can try this or let me know what habit you practiced that changed your life? I love to learn new things and love to hear from you.
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