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Small habits for successful days

23 May 2017   Lifestyle

How to build routine habits into your day to achieve career success

Do you wonder why some days are great while others are blah? Often, it’s not about the day itself — it’s about how you approached it.

The secret to making every day a success is having a routine of small habits that give it structure and purpose. Just how to do this has been the subject of many books, videos and websites. Steven R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is worth a read if this topic interests you.

However, if you’re chasing some simple, effective and actionable tips you can implement today, read on.


5 simple tips for building successful habits into your everyday

  1. Wake at the same time

If you can train yourself to have a consistent wake-up time, your body clock will thank you. You’ll be more refreshed, alert and calmer than if your sleeping hours are haphazard. Ideally, you’ll wake up early. Research shows that people who get up early are better at achieving their goals. For an added bonus, they never experience the stress of being late for work.

Being an early riser also allows for ‘me time’. To get off to a good start, establish an early morning routine where, as well as showering and having nutritious breakfast, you focus on yourself. This might mean yoga or mediation, running or walking the dog — activities that are good for your health and your mindset.


  1. Prioritise your day

Getting an early start also means you have time to plan your day and set goals. This will make you feel in control, and set you up for a successful day.

We all have busy lives, so prioritise your action list. To paraphrase Mark Twain, ‘Eat the frog’. Focus on your most difficult tasks first and get them out of the way early. As emails continue to roll in, it’s too easy to be reactive and do whatever task presents itself at the time, at the expense of things that add the most value. By triaging tasks, you can concentrate on those that support your main goals for the day.


  1. Focus on completing tasks

It may seem self-evident that you need to finish one thing before starting another, but even seemingly organised people can become so overwhelmed by ‘busyness’ that they don’t finish anything at all. Start by turning off social media and email alerts and focus solely on the task at hand. The finished product will be better, and you’ll complete it quicker. Done is better than perfect, as the saying goes.

Multi-tasking only works if the tasks in question will help you reach your day’s goals. If they won’t, you’ll end up overwhelmed and disappointed. Work through your list methodically and focus on the most important items. Still stuck? Try the Pomodoro method; 25 minutes uninterrupted focus on one task, followed by a 5-minute break. Sounds simple but it’s incredibly effective.


  1. Take regular breaks

It may seem counter-intuitive, but taking the time for breaks will make you more productive. Make sure you have a proper lunch hour so you can eat something nutritious instead of grabbing fast food; your stomach and energy levels will be better off. Award yourself bonus points for squeezing in exercise and fresh air — getting the circulation going stimulates your brain and makes you feel rejuvenated.

You’ll need mini-breaks too. Every couple of hours, make a herbal tea, walk around the office, stretch your legs, give your eyes a rest from the computer or chat with a colleague. You’ll be revitalised when you return to your desk.


  1. Celebrate wins

It’s the end of the day now, and you’ve knocked some big items off your list. Take a minute to take stock and appreciate what you’ve achieved. Allow yourself to bask in success and share your good news with colleagues. It will put you in a positive mind frame and encourage others to succeed.

There you have it. Five quick tips for building small habits into successful days. It’s a fact that success breeds success, so you can go to bed tonight knowing that tomorrow will be just as good — as long as you don’t sleep in!