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Personal Productivity, Productivity & Lifestyle, Uncategorized

If You Want To Be Successful, You Can’t Be Too Busy To Exercise

“I’m too busy to exercise.”

It is the ultimate excuse. When you are are working crazy hours or running your own business, you’ve got a family to feed and places to go, exercise can easily slide to the back burner. The importance of exercise is pushed into our faces by online articles, social media, and our overachieving marathoning friends all the time. But we’ll need more than that to motivate us to throw our sneakers on and head to the gym.

Study after study about exercise have been conducted, each revealing greater benefits than the last. Some recent discoveries include (but are not limited to):

  • Decreased risk of alzheimers by 50%
  • Strengthened bones and muscles
  • Regulated appetite
  • Decreased risk of diabetes
  • Reduced risk and treatment for dementia
  • Decreased risk of heart disease
  • Decreased risk of stroke by 50%
  • Improved immune system
  • improved blood lipid profile

Apparently impending stroke and heart attack aren’t concrete enough to push the majority of us to the gym. While the benefits of exercise are well-known, a new government study estimates that 80% of Americans are not meeting recommended exercise goals each week. We all know that exercise is helpful, and yet the excuses continue to ring.

“I wish I could exercise, but I’m too busy.”

You may be too busy to exercise if all it means is living a happier, healthier, longer life. However, just remember that the benefits of exercise do not end with weight-loss and personal health.

The truth is, exercise is just as important to mental health and cognitive function as it is to health and physique. Without exercise, you cannot work at peak performance. In fact, so much research about the importance of exercise for productivity has been amassed in the last few years, that entrepreneur.com recently posted an article about how “Exercise isn’t just good for you. Your start up may depend on it.”

You see, exercise gets your blood flowing. Improved blood flow results in your body creating more blood vessels. More blood vessels can then penetrate deeper into tissues, increasing the speed of oxygen flow to the brain. The more oxygen you can get to your brain, the more efficiently your brain works.

John Medina makes a compelling argument for exercise in his book Brain Rules. He says that in over 18 studies of adults, exercisers out-performed couch potatoes in numerous tasks important to good business, such as long-term memory, problem-solving, abstract thinking, and reasoning. It turns out that exercise improves many of the skills you need to be successful.

Wouldn’t it make sense to make the time to exercise if it gives you more time to live and helps you to use your time more efficiently?

To summarize, this actonthis.tv infographic pulls together the link between fitness and career success:

Fitness-Career-Success-Infographic

Business, Freelancers, Productivity & Lifestyle, Uncategorized, Work & Office

You Need To Know That The World Needs Your Idea

You have a great idea. You are willing to give it time, money, and emotional stamina because you see a problem that doesn’t have to remain. You see an innovation that could change how people do things forever.

Your idea is all you want to talk about at get-togethers with old friends. It drives you to work late into the night. It wakes you up early in the morning. Things are going well and then BOOM.

One day you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, forget your coffee, and begin to wonder, is it worth it? The cloud of self-doubt overshadows you. You are doubting your idea. You are doubting if it is possible. Even worse, you are doubting whether or not it was even necessary in the first place.

self-doubt

PC: f3fundit “I Feel Like A Fraud”

I am here to tell you, the world needs your idea.

Whatever it is, from small niche to audacious new enterprise, the world needs it and the world needs you to make it happen. It is the innovations of entrepreneurs like yourself that really change our world.

Every election year, presidential candidates juggle smooth slogans and catchy sound bites about changing the country and the world, but how much can they really do? Our country was designed with built-in gridlock. Our founding fathers didn’t want governmental change to be easy or fast. They worried that people might be stirred up by events to make big changes with long-term problems. As a result, change in government is slow and gradual, baby step after baby step, with a few leaps backward along the way. Innovation is almost impossible.

Big businesses are often too afraid of risk. This hinders them from pushing the limits of science, technology, and what people have tried before.

You, on the other hand, do not have a speed limit. If you believe wholeheartedly in your idea, you can take a great leap forward that nobody else can. Think of how much our daily lives have been changed since the recent invention of the iPhone and Facebook. People like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg have had ideas, executed them, and actually changed the world within their lifetime.

Entrepreneurs are uniquely placed to make big changes and execute big ideas. They can find problems and solve them far quicker than those working through the baby step system of government and/or big business. You are needed because you can take risks. You are not afraid of failure.

Entrepreneurs find problems and solve them. Whether you are working directly for a ‘good cause’ non-profit organization (DuoLingo, Khan Academy), or fixing a problem to make a profit (AirBnB, Apple), either way you have the ability to change the world for the better.

Maybe your idea seems arbitrary to some. Entrepreneur.com recently published an article about why the world needs more brilliant stupid ideas. The article charges entrepreneurs to look at the world through a “stupid filter” and see all the potentially lucrative albeit dumb sounding projects. For example, doggles, fashionable sunglasses for dogs, may at first glance sound like just about the dumbest thing ever. But doggles is a real company that makes over 3 million dollars a year.

Perhaps dog’s sunglasses aren’t fixing any huge horrible problem in our society, but it is providing jobs for hundreds of people. There are 202 million unemployed people today. As long as there are unemployed people, the world needs entrepreneurs to expand the economy and accommodate the increasing numbers of job seekers.

People will tell you that it is stupid. People will tell you to give up. No one else may believe in you, but you’ve got to believe in yourself. Turning ideas into reality is hard work. If you have a passion for your idea, that passion will become the intensity you need to travail until your idea is produced. No one else has the vision and passion to make your idea come to life.

Remember that in 1903 the president of a bank warned an investor against Henry Ford’s automobile by saying “the horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad.” The radio was poo pooed in the 1920s when potential investors said “the wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” And Walt Disney was once fired by a newspaper company because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

There will always be people to doubt you. Don’t doubt yourself. Only you can make your idea happen. So get back to work.

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas A. Edison

Freelancers, Life Hacks, Productivity & Lifestyle, Students

The President Whose Quarter Life Crisis Was Worse Than Yours

You’ve been working really hard for the past few years. You have pursued some of your passions and let others fly by. Now you look around and realize that time is marching past faster than you anticipated. You are not capturing each moment aggressively enough. Your golden youth is fading and you still don’t know what you are doing with your life.

If it is any comfort, I know a guy from small town Kansas who could tell you a thing or two about the quarter life crisis. At 30 years old this guy, let’s call him Harry, didn’t have much. He didn’t have a house, a car, or a job. The only thing he could really claim as his own was a cartload of debt from a failed business venture. He dropped out of college (due to lack of funds) and moved back in with his mom. He proposed to his long-time crush and she had completely rejected him, multiple times.

But you know the thing about Harry was, he didn’t let the loneliness and social pressure of his late twenties get him down. Instead he continued marching forward as best as he could, taking every new setback and strike of bad luck (and believe me, he had plenty of them) with a sideways smile and determination to recover. He kept on working hard, regardless of whispered snickers around him. And he kept on proposing to his sweetheart.

Can you guess what happened to Harry?

He didn’t fall into unrecoverable depression and spend the rest of his day’s in his mother’s basement. He did become one of the most influential presidents in American history. He did join Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in creating the treaties that ended World War Two. He did successfully lead the country through a post-war recession and issue the Marshal Plan to rebuild Europe. He did create the Truman Doctrine to contain communism during the cold war. He did oversee the Berlin airlift and assist in the founding of the United Nations and NATO. Oh, and he did eventually woo his stubborn country girl sweetheart and marry her.

Harry Truman

According to gumtree.com,  86% of the 1,100 young people they surveyed admitted feeling under pressure to succeed in their relationships, finances, and jobs before hitting 30. More and more 25-30 year-olds seem to be simultaneously battling increased social pressure and loneliness, a killer combo. The Depression Alliance estimates that a third of twenty-somethings are depressed.

However, although the quarter life crisis may be rampant, it does not have to be a negative experience. Dr. Oliver Robinson, from the University of Greenwich in London, studies the quarter life crisis extensively. His research has convinced him that it could have positive benefits. In fact, he thinks it may be a necessary part of growing up:

“The results will help reassure those who are experiencing this transition that it is a commonly experienced part of early adult life and that a proven pattern of positive change results from it.”

Alice Stapelton is a life coach who focuses on helping people undergoing the quarter life crisis. She told Forbes:

“The Quarter Life Crisis should not be regarded as a negative experience; it is about questioning what you have created in your life already, and asking yourself if you could achieve more by choosing different goals or career paths.”

The trouble is that social media makes it impossibly easy to compare ourselves to an unrealistic version of our peers. Social Media gives people the ability to portray themselves in an ideal way, or “put on their Sunday best” as Stapelton put it.

Imagine if Harry Truman had been on social media comparing his humble farming life to his friend’s brand new finance job and yellow mustang rather than following his own path and setting his own goals.

The trick to making the most of a quarter life crisis is to learn to set your own goals and stick to them. Stapelton puts it perfectly:

“Becoming an adult is about learning to set your own timelines, not trying to match your parents’ or friends’ achievements.”

We need to stop comparing ourselves to others and focus on who we are, what we want to do with our lives, and how we plan to accomplish those goals.

If you have to compare yourself to anyone, forget the glitzy friends of friends on instagram and remember Harry Truman’s humble roots. Through hard work and perseverance, you can propel yourself through the quarter-life slumps to a happy and fulfilled adulthood.

Life Hacks, Personal Productivity, Productivity & Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Essentialism

Author: Greg McKeown Publication date: 2014

Publisher: Crown Business

Length: 261

Rating: 5/5

As I pursue a life of maximum productivity, I’ve enjoyed reading as a way to decompress and learn from experts about how to make the most of my time.  One of the best books I’ve read about productivity so far, is Essentialism, by Greg McKeown.

Essentialism is more than just tips for being  productive. It offers a whole new outlook on life, work, and time management. McKeown’s premise is that being incredibly busy is not necessarily a good sign. In fact, a lot of the time we stay so busy doing nonessential stuff that we don’t have time for the things that are truly important to us.

Our current work culture tends to glorify those who seem able to handle a superhuman amount of work. However, just because someone is heading up three projects, starting a freelance business on the side, organizing a local running club, and volunteering as a little league coach doesn’t mean that said person is happy and productive. In fact, less could be more both for work and life. If we can learn to say no to the things that aren’t absolutely essential to us, we will have more time to focus on things that really matter. Essentialism is about doing less better.

One of my favorite parts of the book were the simple illustrations and charts inserted throughout the text. They broke up the pages and made the book fun and easy to read. Though the graphics were simple, the way he was able to represent his points visually was powerful.

essentialism

McKeown didn’t just study essentialism, while writing his book he practiced what he preached. A lot of business related books I read drag on way longer than they should. The actual juice could have been condensed into an 800 word blog post. It is frustrating to have to comb through a lot of unnecessary filler paragraphs to get to the value. Essentialism isn’t like that. I learned something new and was inspired afresh by each chapter and almost every paragraph.

sleepingbrain_wide-e40290d47221863e13990f78f86b983781d5673e-s800-c85
Productivity & Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Sleep is not a Luxury, Your Success Depends On It.

“Life is too exciting to sleep” – that is what Tim Armstrong, the CEO of AOL, recently told The Guardian. And indeed it seems many successful people seem to boast in their statements about sleep deprivation. Is it really true though? If you want to be successful, if you want to be the next Thomas Edison, Warren Buffet, or Donald Trump, must you give up the “luxury” of a good night’s rest forever?

Perhaps you have begun to envy your business buddy who boasts that he can work twelve hours a day and get just four hours of sleep a night. It does seem as if Americans are a bit obsessed with the idea that reducing sleep will make you a superhuman. Indeed Martha Stewart, Bill Clinton, Jack Dorsey and many other successful Americans boast about their ability to get by with 3-6 hours of sleep a night. It is hard not to glorify the idea of pulling ahead while the rest of the world is snoring.

The problem with this type of attitude is that it ignores the fact that while you sleep your brain is anything but inactive. In fact, some fascinating and extremely important things are going on. For one thing, our brain consolidates memories, turning short-term memories into long-term memories. This means that sleeping is an essential part of learning. Not only can sleep help you to confirm things that you are learning, but while you sleep your brain is strengthening and connecting memories in interesting ways. New studies link this process to better day-time problem-solving skills. So deciding to “sleep on a problem,” may be a very good idea after all.

As you slumber on, you are releasing toxins. Which means that a good night’s sleep can lead to better immunity and less chance of wasting time getting sick. Your brain also processes emotional memories while you sleep, so sleep can lead to better overall emotional health and help you to cope with hard situations.

So you see, nap time is not wasted time at all. In fact, your brain is doing amazing things while you sleep. On the flip side, sleep deprivation can lead to all sorts of problems.

  • Sleep time is the only time that that your body stops producing noradrenaline, a hormone linked to stress. Lack of sleep is directly related to stress.
  • Research is also beginning to show a strong link between sleep deprivation and anxiety.
  • Lack of sleep could be weakening your ability to think creatively and innovate.
  • Sleep deprivation has also been linked to poor decision-making and problem-solving.
  • Sleep deprivation is linked to poor social skills, as it affects your ability to think about how we affect others and how others affect us.

So how is it that some people can survive (and thrive) for long periods of time with little sleep? Well, in some cases, their boasts could be deceptive. For example, Thomas Edison claimed that he slept only 3-4 hours a night. He called sleep “a heritage from our cave days.” In a recent blog post, I wrote about Edison and noted that what he didn’t openly confess was that he had a curious ability to take power naps anywhere and everywhere, from inside the lab, to outside on the ground. He positioned napping cots throughout his property. A colleague of his once said that “his genius for sleeping equaled his genius for invention.”

I am not saying that every successful person who boasts about little sleep is lying or takes three naps a day. There is such a thing as the sleepless elite. New research indicates that 1-3 percent of people really can function normally with just a few hours of sleep a night. The problem is that way more people think they are part of this special group than really are. Psychiatrist Daniel J. Buysse told The Wall Street Journal that out of 100 people who think they need only six hours of sleep every night, only about five really can get by. The rest end up chronically sleep deprived. It is a dangerous assumption.

In the end, making sure you get adequate sleep every day is not over-indulgent. An estimated one-third of Americans get less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep a night. Sleep may be the very thing you need to set yourself apart from the pack and pull ahead.