“A joyful life is an individual creation that cannot be copied from a recipe.”
– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
Take a Catnap
Hard to believe, but there was a time when you were a child and hated taking naps. Not now! As adults, we mostly see naps as a guilty pleasure.
But what if naps were great for our health? Could we indulge without worrying that we’re squandering time or failing to be ‘productive’?
Well, the research on naps is in our favor. One study assigned people to take either 45-minute or 2-hour daily naps. Both groups increased their total sleep time and showed significant improvements in cognitive tests. On top of that: “Napping increased the time spent in slow-wave and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, which are thought to play important roles in restoring the body and brain.”
Other studies on napping point to benefits like improved memory, improved physical stamina, and better daytime alertness.
Want to give it a shot? There’s no real consensus just yet on what nap length is best (sleep inertia is, unfortunately, a thing) – so you might need to experiment to find the ideal catnap for you.
How do naps make you feel?
Ever heard of Parkinson’s law? It goes like this: work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
In other words, give yourself an infinite amount of time to do something and… you’ll probably never get it done. Sound about right?
Enter deadlines. Those dreaded yet highly useful things that make our goals feel more concrete and keep us accountable to what we set out to do. Deadlines can be hard or soft (aka, fixed or flexible), self-imposed or externally-enforced. And research shows that they work. They stop us from procrastinating
How to set effective deadlines? Make them specific, realistic, and meaningful. Writing down your deadlines is ideal (hello Panda Planner!) as it makes them more meaningful and concrete.
It also helps if you break bigger goals down into smaller tasks and set deadlines for each one.
For example, rather than vaguely setting the goal of writing a book, set a deadline for writing one page by 5 pm today, and mark it into your planner. You’ll be far more likely to get it done.
Ready to give it a shot? Set yourself some deadlines today and see if it helps you meet your goals!
Mark Cuban, Investor & Entrepreneur
It’s gotta be a busy life when you’re a billionaire investor, entrepreneur, TV personality, and father of three. Here's what the routine of Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban looks like:
- Wakes up and checks his email. “Whatever the stressful things are, I try to get those out of the way in the morning.”
- Eats breakfast and drops his daughter off at school.
- Sleeps in his gym clothes so he can be active in the mornings, and plays basketball at least three times a week to keep fit.
Why it works:
- Getting difficult or high-priority tasks out of the way immediately (sometimes known as 'eating the frog’) is a great strategy for preventing procrastination and ensuring a productive day.
- Family interactions are influential to our wellbeing
- Exercise has countless benefits for both body and mind, and waking up already in gym gear not only saves time, but it also makes the decision to workout easier (thus avoiding decision fatigue).
Cuban’s habit of tackling the most stressful tasks first is worth paying attention to. Here’s author Brian Tracy in his book Eat That Frog! :
“Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. Your ‘frog’ is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.”
Have you ever tried the frog-eating method? In the morning, single out your highest priority task (even if it’s not fun) and work on that first. Odds are you’ll feel accomplished for the rest of the day. Why not try it tomorrow, and let us know how you do!