These 7 simple habits have made me happier and more productive; they might help you too

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These 7 simple habits have made me happier and more productive; they might help you too

Have you ever wondered if there’s a simple ‘secret’ to being happier and more productive?

Well, I have. I am always wondering. 

While I am far from perfect, through reading, and guidance from mentors, I’ve found a few habits that have been game-changers for me.

I wouldn’t call them ‘secrets’ but they have been instrumental in making my day-to-day better. 

It’s been a journey of trial and error, with plenty of strategies that didn’t quite hit the mark. But these seven?

They’ve transformed my approach to everyday life, bringing in a sense of joy and efficiency that was missing before.

They might just do the same for you. 

Let’s dive in.

1. Sticking to a routine

One of the most impactful habits I’ve integrated into my life is the art of sticking to a routine.

Being fortunate enough to have control over my schedule is a privilege, but it’s a double-edged sword. Without discipline, this freedom can quickly spiral into a pattern of laziness and unproductivity.

We all know that a schedule is good, but reading “Atomic Habits” by James Clear opened my eyes to the power of small, consistent actions in forging life-altering habits. Moreover, listening to Jordan Peterson discuss the importance of waking up at the same time each morning further solidified my belief in the transformative power of a routine.

For me, this habit is more than just about waking up early or following a strict schedule. It’s about creating a framework for your day that fosters productivity and wards off the aimlessness that can creep into unstructured time.

A well-defined routine sets the tone for the day, providing structure and a sense of purpose from the moment you wake up. It’s not just about what you do; it’s about when and how consistently you do it.

By embedding this habit into my life, I’ve noticed a significant boost in both my productivity and overall happiness.

It’s a simple step, but its impact is profound.

2. Making time for regular exercise

As a teenager, sports were a significant part of my life, a source of joy, and a channel for my energy. However, as I ventured into my twenties, this active lifestyle gradually took a backseat.

One day, it hit me—I was becoming less and less healthy, both physically and mentally. This realization was a wake-up call.

Embarking on a mission to reintegrate exercise into my life, I experimented with various activities. 

But it was when I rediscovered swimming that everything clicked. Swimming, with its rhythmic and meditative nature, not only rejuvenated my body but also brought a sense of calm to my mind.

This personal reconnection with exercise wasn’t just about regaining physical fitness; it was a journey back to myself.

The discipline of carving out time for swimming sessions, the dedication to push through each stroke, and the satisfaction of completing laps—all of these elements combined to reignite a part of my identity that had been dormant.

Regular exercise, particularly swimming, became more than a habit; it became a sanctuary. It helped me regain control over my well-being, enhanced my focus, and elevated my productivity. 

3. Taking  one full day off every week

On the surface, this might seem counterintuitive. We often think that maximizing our time working would lead to greater productivity.

However, my experience has shown that the opposite is true. Committing to a full day of rest each week has been a game-changer.

This isn’t just about not working; it’s about allowing myself time to recharge, to indulge in hobbies, or simply to do nothing at all. By giving myself this time, I’ve created something to look forward to, a weekly mini-vacation that keeps me motivated and focused during the other six days.

The impact of this habit extends beyond just a day of relaxation. I’ve noticed a significant increase in my productivity levels both before and after this day off. The anticipation of this break pushes me to be more efficient and focused in the days leading up to it.

Similarly, after recharging, I return to my tasks with renewed energy and a fresh perspective. It’s a reminder that rest is not just a reward but a crucial component of sustained productivity and overall well-being.

4. Journaling

In our distracted world, it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of daily activities and lose sight of our thoughts.

And while it initially sounded a bit new age for me, journaling has become my anchor, a haven for introspection and self-awareness.

As it turns out, it’s not new-age at all. Great men and women have been using it as a tool for centuries or even millennia. Think of the Stoics, Anne Frank, Da Vinci – there are so many. 

Anyway, every day, I dedicate time to sit down with my journal. This isn’t just a mere recap of the day’s events; it’s an opportunity to delve deeper into my thoughts, emotions, and reactions. Through this process, I’ve gained invaluable insights into my own behavior and identified patterns.

Journaling has become a tool for self-discovery, allowing me to process events and understand my responses to them more clearly.

This practice of reflection has also significantly enhanced my productivity. By regularly assessing my actions and decisions, I’ve become more attuned to what works for me and what doesn’t.

This understanding has been instrumental in guiding my daily choices and long-term goals, ensuring that I am consistently aligned with my main values and aspirations.

Moreover, journaling offers a sense of tranquility amidst the chaos of life. It’s a moment of solitude where I can reconnect with myself, away from the distractions and demands of the external world.

This simple act of writing down my thoughts has been transformative, aiding in my personal growth and bringing a deeper sense of fulfillment and happiness to my life.

My journaling process is probably less than standard, but it works for me. If you want to find out more about this, you can check out my full post on it

5. Daily reading

 I’ve always been an avid reader, but making it a structured part of my day has opened up a new realm of benefits.

There’s something incredibly satisfying about quenching intellectual curiosity, and in today’s world, this pleasure is more accessible and affordable than ever.

Reading every day goes beyond just enjoying a good book. It’s an active step towards expanding my knowledge, perspectives, and understanding of the world.

Whether it’s fiction that transports me to different realms or non-fiction that offers new insights, each page contributes to my personal and intellectual growth.

One of the more subtle, yet significant, changes this habit has brought is the gradual replacement of ‘doom scrolling’ on social media with immersing myself in a book. While I haven’t achieved perfection in this swap, the progress is undeniable. Choosing to delve into a book rather than getting lost in the endless scroll of news feeds has been a refreshing change, one that has positively impacted my mental well-being.

To enhance this experience, I predominantly opt for physical books. The tactile sensation of turning pages, the lack of notifications, and the singular focus on the text help limit distractions. 

Daily reading, in this way, has become more than a habit; it’s a cherished part of my day, offering both an escape and an opportunity for self-improvement. 

6. Making a budget (and sticking to it)

Financial management is often overlooked in discussions about personal well-being, but I’ve found that gaining control over my finances has had a profound impact on my overall sense of security and peace of mind.

While I never had a lot of debt, I used to spend without much planning. I’d regularly end up with a, usually, unpleasant surprise when I’d check my account. 

Creating a budget helped this, of course. 

But it was more than just an exercise in number crunching; it was a step towards mindful spending and intentional living. By mapping out my income and expenses, I gained clarity on where my money was going and where I could make adjustments. This process brought a newfound awareness of my spending habits, helping me to identify areas of unnecessary expenditure and opportunities for savings.

Sticking to this budget required discipline, but the rewards were immediate and gratifying. I found that with a well-structured financial plan, I was less stressed about money and more confident in my financial future. This peace of mind translated into other areas of my life, allowing me to focus more on my personal and professional goals without the underlying worry of financial instability.

Moreover, adhering to a budget has taught me the value of prioritization and delayed gratification. By consciously choosing where to allocate my funds, I learned to appreciate the things I spend on and recognize the true value of saving for future goals.

Really, this remarkably obvious habit not only stabilized my current financial situation but also paved the way for a more secure and prosperous future. 

7. Focusing on my inputs, not immediate results

The final habit that has been instrumental in boosting my happiness and productivity is a shift in focus: concentrating on my inputs rather than obsessing over immediate results.

This is probably particularly relevant to all you freelancers and business owners out there. 

This mindset change is about understanding and embracing the process, recognizing that the journey is just as important as the destination.

Earlier, I would often find myself getting caught up in the desire for quick outcomes, leading to frustration and impatience when things didn’t materialize as rapidly as I hoped. This constant chase for immediate gratification was not only stressful but also counterproductive.

The pivotal shift came when I started to pay more attention to the effort I was putting in – my work ethic, my dedication, and the quality of my contributions.

By focusing on these inputs, I began to appreciate the nuances of my work and the growth that comes with it. This approach allowed me to relish the small victories and learnings along the way, rather than just waiting for the end result.

It’s a more sustainable way of working and living, where the emphasis is on consistent effort and improvement, rather than fleeting successes.

This mindset also fosters resilience. When you’re focused on inputs, setbacks become less about failure and more about opportunities for learning and refinement.

It’s a powerful perspective that keeps me grounded and motivated, knowing that as long as I’m putting in the right effort, I’m on the path to success, regardless of the immediate outcomes.

The bottom line

By opening up about these personal experiences and the habits that have profoundly impacted me, my aim is to offer a roadmap that might resonate with you on your own path to self-improvement.

It’s about sharing what has worked for me, in the hope that it sparks something in you – a desire to take control, to make that change, to strive for a life of greater fulfillment and productivity.

As you consider integrating these practices or others into your life, I encourage you to approach them with openness to learning. Your path will inevitably be unique, shaped by your own experiences and aspirations.

Anyway, I hope that in revealing my own path, you’re inspired to forge your own, discovering and honing habits that align with your personal goals and values.