Whenever I write about using productivity to achieve your goals and become successful in different areas of your life, I focus on various tools, methods, and techniques that I’ve experimented with, that have drastically increased my productivity.
That’s is all nice and dandy, but as I was going through my articles, I noticed that I hadn’t placed enough emphasis on this one crucial thing because I assumed that we all know it’s important.
Which goes to the old quote:
“Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups” — Unknown
People who personally know me are probably rolling their eyes at this point, as I’m the first person to settle on my hours of sleep, or for preparing meals, to make sure I squeeze out a couple of extra hours which I can dedicate to important projects.
Of course, I don’t consider this settling but rather optimizing.
You see what I did there?
I only fooled myself.
Before you call me a hypocrite for writing this piece, know that I’ve decided to write it for myself as much as I am writing it for you.
I need this public reminder. Maybe you do too.
Before I continue and suggest a couple of things you should have in mind to fix this problem, we briefly need to reflect on the main reason why we do this.
The main reason why we continue to neglect our health is that we don’t see the consequences right away. After all, we’re too busy to make a proper meal or sleep for 8 hours at night.
If you were to get diabetes, cancer or heart disease three days after neglecting sleep or food, you wouldn’t let even one full day pass without making up for the sleep, or eating a veggie.
Since we don’t see a serious consequence right away, or even in a weeks ahead, we are more likely to continue doing it.
So, instead of showing you another tip on performance or productivity that gave me results, today will be a bit different.
First, you need to make a deal with yourself that no matter what happens in your life, health comes first.
And when I say this, it means that you take care of yourself first, before you engage in anything else. Just like in the airplane, you should place the oxygen mask on yourself first, before anyone else.
I’ve divided this into three areas you can focus on:
- Sleep Quality
- Physical Exercise
1. Sleep Quality
I won’t tell you to sleep for 8 hours every night. Or when to wake up. That’s entirely up to you.
Instead, your goal should be to find the right time to go to bed and the right time to wake up, so you get enough rest and feel energized.
Take into account your current circumstances and lifestyle.
For me as a single guy, living alone, who has his own online business, compared to someone with a family, with careers, it’s completely different.
Personally, 6–6.5 hours of sleep, plus a 30–60 minute nap during the day works just fine for me.
If you haven’t slept well today, do yourself a favor, and go take a brief nap (if you can), just to make it up, at least a little.
Now that we have that taken care of, here are some other tips that you should have in mind:
Stop the stimulants
At least four to six hours before you go to sleep, you should stop drinking coffee and alcohol, because it will mess with your sleep.
Drink 16oz (500mL) of water
Since you are about to sleep for 6–8 hours straight, your body will need a lot of hydration; that’s why you should drink at least one glass of water before bed, and one when you wake up. If you have been drinking, make that two glasses.
Avoid eating big meals
They’ll burden your digestive system and lower your sleep quality.
Instead, have a small snack, like nuts and glass of milk, so you don’t wake up hungry.
Limit exposure to technology
Exposing yourself to blue light from the majority of devices (your phone, computer, tablet) has a negative impact on your sleep quality.
Set the right conditions
Find a quality mattress and pillow. Sleep in a dark and silent room (you can wear a sleep mask and have Melatonin as a supplement).
And pay attention to the room temperature, preferably you would want to sleep in a colder room.
In case you didn’t know, word DIET doesn’t mean food you need to eat to lose weight, it just the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism.
I don’t know what your goals are, but just make sure you don’t have disbalance in your eating habits.
An example would be:
Skipping breakfast and being in a rush, so you eat something sugary which elevates your energy, and then you have a sudden drop so you reach a point of decision fatigue.
Smaller, balanced meals throughout the day should provide you with enough energy and help you maintain your health.
That should be the primary goal of your diet, not a six-pack.
As a tip, I suggest that you remove anything that doesn’t support your health from your environment. And replace it with things that do.
Instead of having candies lying around, get some baby carrots. Make it easy for yourself.
Also, place a water bottle in front of you and try to drink 2–3 liters (60–100oz) a day.
You can even add slices of lemon, cucumber, pieces of ginger (the spice, not the person) and mint — this will speed up your metabolism and clear your skin.
3. Physical Exercise
The sedentary lifestyle is slowly killing us. And we are not even noticing it.
Try to add a physical activity (if you already don’t have one) in your life.
It doesn’t have to be a gym or running. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
It can be pilates, yoga, jogging, walking, cliff climbing, hiking.
Ditch the TV and Social Media, download a podcast and go for a walk.
You can make it a habit to go for a walk and hit a certain number of steps in a day, trust me; you will thank yourself.
You will hit two birds with one stone.
That’s it. Just a couple of reminders.
I’m not a health and fitness guru who will advise you to become a raw vegan and devote your life to staying fit and healthy.
These are just the basics any human needs to know if they want to keep their body and mind in a good shape.
Worry not, after this article I will go back to my regular hacking of performance and productivity, but I wanted to make sure that this doesn’t go unnoticed because it’s the most crucial thing you can do for yourself and by default the goals you want to pursue.
It’s easy to get side-tracked and neglect yourself.
But it’s also simple to keep this on the mind if you build a simple system that works for you.
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” — Jim Rohn
Your health > Everything else.
Hungry for more?
I’ve created The Ultimate Productivity Cheat Sheet to share practical techniques you can use to take control over your time, build useful habits and systematically achieve your biggest goals in life.
It’s currently available for a FREE download, and it comes in both PDF and MP3 version.
Originally published on Medium.
Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.