Research tells us that willpower is like a muscle. You can work on making it stronger, but you can’t keep it flexed forever.
In other words:
Willpower is a limited resource.
There’s no better use of one’s willpower than on forming the right habits. The right habits serve as the bridge between where you are and where you want to be. Once those habits are formed, you don’t have to exert willpower on them anymore. Your journey towards success is effectively put on autopilot.
Try and adopt at least one of the following six productivity habits and reap the fruits of increased happiness and fulfillment.
1Join the 5 a.m. club
“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”
– Ben Franklin
Waking up early is a habit common among the world’s highest achievers. Theodore Roosevelt, Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway, Immanuel Kant and Thomas Jefferson are all examples of men who were early risers.
Several studies have correlated waking up early with success.
In a 2008 Texas University study, college students who woke up earlier earned a higher point than those who study and sleep late (3.5 vs. 2.5).
Also, Harvard biologist Christoph Randler found that early risers are more proactive and more likely to respond positively to statements like “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself” and “I feel in charge of making things happen.”
And if that isn’t enough, psychology research also tells us that early risers are happier and healthier than night-owls.
When you wake up early, there are less distractions and more time for you to focus on planning your day and doing what needs to get done.
Check out this actionable guide to discover how to burst out of bed every single morning.
“The thing about meditation is: You become more and more you.”
– David Lynch
After interviewing more than 200 world-class performers like Jamie Foxx, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Amelia Boone for his podcast (The Tim Ferris Show), Tim found that the most consistent habit among his guests was some form of daily meditation or mindfulness practice.
Meditation is a practice that is a thousand years old. Only recently has science begun to discover the profound effects that it has on the brain.
A group of Harvard-affiliated researchers reported that, over time, meditation can increase the brain’s gray matter. This is the region of your brain associated with decision-making.
What is life but a sum total of your decisions?
If something as simple as 10 minutes of daily meditation can improve the quality of your decisions, imagine what it can do for your overall quality of life.
Meditation has also been shown to reduce stress, improve concentration, increase self-awareness, slow down aging and increase happiness. It’s a habit that can improve every area of your life.
Don’t know where to start? Check out this beginner’s guide to meditation.
3Read for 30 Minutes Everyday
“Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.”
I compare reading to taking the red pill because it’s what snapped me out of the matrix of societal conditioning. Reading the works of great men and women showed me the extent of what’s really possible.
When we hear about Richard Branson in the media, we see him as the cool and suave, self-made billionaire. However, when you read his autobiography, you’ll learn about the mistakes he made, the obstacles he overcame and the lessons he learned. It has a sort of humanizing effect on him and you’ll realize that what one man can do, another can do as well.
Expose yourself to a wide variety of books and ideas to develop a dynamic and empowered perspective on life.
Need help getting started? Check out this step-by-step guide on how to read more.
“Gratefulness is a higher organ of perception, through which you can accurately appreciate a fundamental truth: the universe works in mysterious ways, and you’re the constant beneficiary of its generosity.”
– Phil Stutz
Practicing gratitude teaches us to love the life we have while in pursuit of the life we want.
It’s human nature to compare ourselves to those who have more than us. But, when we realize the simple miracles of everyday life (e.g. access to clean water, the ability to walk, a warm bed to sleep in, etc.), it puts things in perspective.
The power of gratitude has been demonstrated in multiple studies. Here’s one that I like in particular:
Researchers brought participants into a lab and asked them to write a few sentences each week focused on a particular topic. One group wrote about the things they were grateful for while the other wrote about daily irritations or things that displeased them.
After about 10 weeks, the participants that wrote down what they were grateful for were more optimistic, felt better about their lives, exercised more and visited their physicians less.
Practicing gratitude literally changes your brain and makes you a happier and more fulfilled person. Make it a habit to write down 5 things that you’re grateful for every single day.
“Since I’ve started intermittent fasting I’ve increased muscle mass, decreased body fat, increased explosiveness, and decreased the amount of time I’ve spent training.”
– James Clear
This habit might come as a shock to you. After all, we’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This idea, however, is quickly being laid to rest as the benefits of intermittent fasting have become too many to ignore.
Did you know that digestion is actually one of your body’s most complicated and intensive functions? That’s right.
By skipping breakfast, you extend your overnight fast and allow your body to focus its resources on other important tasks, like controlling blood sugar and facilitating cellular recovery.
Furthermore, a short-term fast can boost testosterone and growth hormone levels. These two factors can seriously enhance your progress when trying to lean down.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is not a diet. It is a pattern of eating. To get started with IF, you only have to follow one rule:
Eat within a 6-8 hour window.
So, if you wake up at 8 a.m., simply skip breakfast and have your first meal between 12-2 p.m. Have your final meal between 8-10 p.m. It’s as simple as that. For a more intensive resource for, you can check out James Clear’s guide.
Since adopting IF, my productivity has also shot up. My body is not involved in digestion and I find myself more focused on work. By the time I have my first meal, I’ve already gotten so much work done that the rest of the day is pretty much just a bonus.
6Make Your Bed
“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”
– U.S. Navy Adm. William H. McCraven
Making your bed in the morning will set the tone for the rest of your day. As the first task of the day, it will set the momentum for your next set of tasks. By the end of the day, it will be like a domino effect that has carried over.
As McCraven mentions in his University of Texas commencement speech:
“Making your bed will reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made – that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”