Author: Elizabeth Matsangou
3 Mar 2015
Wake up early
Having an early night and getting up early can drastically impact what can be achieved each day. This is largely because productivity and energy levels are much higher in the morning and progressively ease as the day goes on. According to research carried out by biology professor, Christoph Randler for the Harvard Business Review, morning people are more likely to feel in charge of making things happen and are better at anticipating problems and solving them.“There is a correlation between early starts and success, though this is mostly about the way society is set up. Schools and offices tend to start early, so people who can be coherent in 8 a.m. meetings have an advantage. There’s also the reality that children tend to wake up early, so parents who prefer to stay up late will be chronically sleep deprived,” says Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.
Start the day with focus
Having a list of daily goals can allow individuals to fully utilise the most precious commodity there is: time. Busy schedules can sometimes mean that tasks that are important for professional development are left by the wayside, but focusing on a plan can prevent this from happening and enhance one’s efficiency. “Time passes whether you think about what you want to do with it or not. Making a plan increases the chances that time is spent mindfully on things that are meaningful or enjoyable to you and the people you care about. The plan doesn’t have to be minute-by-minute, but successful people generally do start the day with intentions, and hold themselves to those”, Vanderkam tells European CEO.
Exercising on a daily basis can encourage optimal results in the workplace by preventing stress, depression and burnout. Furthermore, the benefits to one’s overall wellbeing can reduce absenteeism and health problems. According to Vanderkam, “People know about the health benefits of exercise, but there are mental benefits too. It gives you more energy, and increases your ability to focus. This means you’ll be better able to solve problems and deal with crises when they arise. I found many executives start the day with exercise, mostly because it’s the most convenient time to fit it in. But there’s another upside: exercise can give you quiet time to yourself to figure out what you want to do with the day, before everyone else’s priorities start invading”.
Many successful people swear by acknowledging what they are grateful for each day. Doing so puts things into perspective and generates a positive mindset that influences activities and interactions for the rest of the day. Writing or saying things to be grateful for is a pillar of Rhonda Byrne’s worldwide phenomenon, The Secret. According to Byrne’s book, “Gratitude brings solutions to problems, and the opportunities and wherewithal to realise your dreams.” The benefits have also been supported by Robert Emmons, psychology professor at the University of California, whose research showed that practicing gratitude can increase happiness by around 25 percent, thereby making it an invaluable instrument for promoting a successful and long-lasting career.
Winding down is particularly important for those in high-pressure roles so as to prevent burn out. According to research published by Health Psychology in 2013, there is a direct link between mindfulness meditation and reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Additionally, meditating, or using other methods of relaxation, can bring clarity and improve sleep patterns, thereby encouraging people to tackle daily challenges more effectively. Overall, meditating allows individuals to apply themselves fully and achieve their daily, as well as, long-term goals.
Successful people read every day, whether it is a book for leisure or keeping abreast of the latest developments in their industry. Reading every day improves analytical skills, memory and focus; all vital tools for personal development and career progression. Furthermore, according to a study carried out by Mindlab International and the University of Sussex, reading was found to be more relaxing than listening to music or going for a walk – thereby making stress-relief another beneficial by-product of the habit.
Spend time with loved ones
This may seem like a difficult task for busy individuals and workaholics, however, it is vital for increasing levels of happiness and therefore efficacy and creativity. “Spending time with loved ones makes us happier. Happier people are more productive. Or to put it in a different way, people who never see their families tend to become unhappy and resentful at work. Mornings are a great time to invest in the people you love. Family breakfasts are often easier to make happen than family dinners,” comments Vanderkam.
Making connections on a daily basis is vital in any career. When people expand their professional and personal networks, they open themselves up to more opportunities and potential partnerships. Networking is easier now than ever before due to social media platforms and LinkedIn in particular. Whether it’s used as a means for recruiting new customers, job seeking or simply exchanging information, making new contacts is valuable at any stage of a career.
Work on a personal passion project
Working on a personal project allows people the opportunity to stay true to themselves and achieve greater fulfilment. Going beyond the daily requirements of a job can also present new opportunities and bring about success in unexpected ways. “Personal passion projects remind us that we have identities beyond being parents and workers,” says Vanderkam. “Hopefully your work taps into some of your passions, too. But even people who love their jobs often have other things they want to devote time to (exercise, reading, a creative hobby, volunteering). You don’t necessarily have to do these things every day, but making time for them in your life will increase the chances that you feel like you are in charge of your time and your life. That sense of self-efficacy has wonderful effects on well-being, and your career growth too”.