“Start small and start immediately.”

- Cal Newport, author of How to Win at College and Deep Work.

Wellness Tip

Practice Self-Compassion

We fail, we fall, we do things we wish we hadn’t. That much in life is inevitable. What we do have some control over is how much we suffer. Because the more we beat ourselves up, the worse we feel.

This is where self-compassion comes in. Having self-compassion means accepting your imperfections, realizing you are only human, and treating yourself with kindness rather than criticism when you make mistakes.

Self-compassion is not the same as self-pity or self-indulgence. And it’s something that unites rather than isolates us as we acknowledge and appreciate the shared human experience.

It’s also incredibly valuable to our health and happiness. Says Psychology Today : “People who have self-compassion also have greater social connectedness, emotional intelligence, happiness, and overall life satisfaction. Self-compassion has also been shown to correlate with less anxiety, depression, shame, and fear of failure.”

There are a lot of ways to practice self-compassion. This website from Dr. Kristin Neff – the world’s leading researcher on the topic – has a great list of exercises you can do at home. Why not try a little self-kindness, and give some a shot tomorrow!

Productivity Tip:

Work With Your Peak Times

According to psychologist Ron Friedman, the first three hours of the day are crucial. “Typically, we have a window of about three hours where we’re really, really focused,” he says .

When we answer messages and emails first thing, we’re squandering that time by focusing on other people’s priorities instead of our own.

What to do instead? “Start with a brief planning session,” says Friedman. This allows you to schedule your day around your peak times. “Our energy levels fluctuate over the course of the day. We’re a lot sharper first thing in the morning… at 2 or 3 o’clock, we tire.”

Friedman suggests working on high priority tasks in the morning when we’re mentally sharper, and scheduling in some of the less taxing work – “the work that requires less will power, less concentration” – for during that afternoon slump.

Panda Planner is a perfect tool for this. In the morning, jot down up to five priorities for the day using the Priorities section, then use the Schedule to assign them to the best times. For example, you might work on your top priority tasks in those first focused hours, and schedule creative tasks for the afternoon (since creative thinking can actually benefit from fatigue).

How do you use your daily planner to schedule tasks? Have you tried using the above method? Let us know what works best for you.

Routine Breakdown

Sundar Pichai, Google/Alphabet CEO

It must be a tough gig heading up one of the biggest tech companies in the world. Sundar Pichai isn’t one for grueling mornings, however, preferring to keep things simple. Here’s what he does:

  • Wakes up around 6:30-7 am
  • Read a book or newspaper. In fact, Pichai says he reads “a physical paper every single morning.”
  • Drinks tea and eats an omelet with toast to get a boost of protein and energy.
  • Heads to work. "I'm not a morning person, so I need my time with my paper and tea to wake up and kind of get going," Pichai has said.

Why it works:

  • Pichai follows his natural rhythms and doesn’t push himself to wake up hours earlier than he feels is right for his body.
  • Reading is awesome for the brain (no surprises there). It’s been shown to increase mental flexibility , improve memory , and more. And comprehension is better when we read printed text over digital.
  • Meditation has countless benefits – see our tip on body scan meditations above!
  • Tea has research-backed health benefits while containing lower caffeine levels than coffee. Protein for breakfast has been shown to increase muscle mass, improve blood sugar regulation, keep you feeling satisfied for longer, and more.

Pichai’s routine got us wondering: when was the last time you picked up a physical newspaper or book in the morning? Reading even a few pages can be a great way to start the day – and it makes for a calmer alternative to scrolling through news feeds online. Try it tomorrow and see how it makes you feel!