“To get better at doing hard things, you need to do hard things… You take one step. You challenge yourself a little bit more the next time, and a little bit more the next time... And that truly is how you build up what is essentially a muscle for grit and resilience. And it’s absolutely something that is accessible to every single one of us.”

– Former Army helicopter pilot Shannon Huffman Polson talks to HBR about how to develop grit.

Wellness Tip

Set A “To-Bed” Alarm

“Deep within your brain, you actually have a master 24-hour clock,” says sleep scientist Matt Walker . “It expects regularity and works best under conditions of regularity.”

Do you know what that means? Yep, that you should go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Weekends included (sorry).

Research on college students found that regular sleep patterns were related to better health, happiness, and calmness.

Other studies show that irregular sleep schedules lead to double the risk of cardiovascular diseases as well as increased risk of metabolic disorders (in fact, for every hour you vary your sleep time, this risk increases by 27%!).

While giving up the late-night Netflix and Sunday morning sleep-ins may seem too great a sacrifice, regulating your sleep schedule will make you happier and healthier in the long run.

Of course, it’s up to you to find your own balance.

One thing you can try? Setting a “to-bed” alarm on nights that you’re home.

“Many of us use an alarm to wake up but very few of us use a to-bed alarm, and that's something that can be helpful,” says Walker.

How regular are your sleep times? Will you give this idea a shot?

Productivity Tip:

Declutter Your Workspace (Using These Strategies)

You’re not imagining it. The clutter on your desk really does make it harder to focus.

That means one thing: Declutter your workspace, and you’ll declutter your brain.

Tidying up sucks and it’s hard to know what to get rid of, so here are three strategies that can help:

  • Clean the slate: Take everything off your desk. Only put things back on as you use them. Anyt
  • Use the three boxes: Sort all items into three boxes or piles – keep, recycle (or trash, if you must) and donate. Then go through the ‘keep’ box and work out where to put the things you’re left with.
  • Go digital: Get rid of all those unruly papers by scanning receipts, using apps for to-do lists and notes, digitizing contacts from wayward business cards, downloading electronic versions of manuals, and so on. Bonus points if you can create paperless systems that cut out the need to scan stuff at all.

Getting rid of clutter really can make a difference in how you feel when you work. What are your best decluttering tips? Let us know!

Routine Breakdown

David Kadavy, Designer, Author & Podcast Host

David Kadavy – a best-selling author, award-winning designer, and host of the Love Your Work podcast – says he’s not a morning person. Which is exactly why mornings are his most critical creative time.

“Research shows that your off-peak times are the best for insightful thinking, so my one goal in the morning is to make the most of that still-slightly-groggy time,” he says . Here’s his routine:

  • Wakes up naturally at 8 am.
  • Meditates for about 10 minutes.
  • Sets up his computer on a standing desk.
  • Spends the first hour of his day working on his most important project.

Why it works:

  • The more you wake up at the same time every day (which is a good thing, remember?!) the easier it will become to wake without an alarm.
  • Just 10 minutes of meditation a day has been shown to improve cognitive function.
  • The jury’s still out on standing desks. While they’re not a magic solution for burning calories, they may help with blood pressure, back pain and, well, just getting you to stretch and wake up in the morning.
  • Ask any productivity expert and they’ll tell you to tackle your most important task first. You have more willpower in the morning, it’ll give you a sense of accomplishment, and you won’t have a chance to put it off.

Something most of us struggle with is actually taking the time to think about our priorities and make sure we’re working on the tasks that contribute to our long-term goals. That’s why prioritization is a key element of every Panda Planner.

Have you tried listing down your priorities each day and tackling the most important one first? If not – why not give it a try? We’d love to hear about how it works for you.