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    Self-Optimization — beating bad habits

    How to Stay On Top of Your Game During the Global Lockdown

    How to Stay On Top of Your Game During the Global Lockdown

    Every year, right after Christmas, we all experience an event that we share commonly with every other person on earth. We celebrate the new year. It is a rarity in life to experience something which is shared by the entire world. Ushering in the new year is a truly global experience.  

    Ushering in the New Year is a global experience.

    Pandemics are global. They don’t discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, gender, language, ideological preference, or national borders. They take lives, upend commerce, and cast their shadow of mayhem over everything and everyone indiscriminately. 

    Covid-19 has conquered humanity in a way that none of history’s great conquering generals could. This microscopic substance, only three ten-thousandths of an inch wide, has brought the world’s routine to a screeching halt.  

    Covid-19 is now a fact of life. It is part of the world’s given. Until we can produce medicines to fight it, and vaccines to protect against becoming infected by it, we will have to continue to live with it. We must accept the reality that the way we live our lives in the future will be different. Our routines must change.  

    But what about us? What about our own personal habits and routines? What about our commitments to growth and development? What about our desire to remain active and productive?  

    Every challenge we face in life is an opportunity in disguise. Challenges offer us the chance to test and strengthen, both personal and professional commitments. Nothing in nature is as adaptable as we humans. We can stay true to our values and goals, regardless of the changes and modifications necessary to fight the spread of the virus.

    Adapting to Change

    Humans are social animals. We love to connect with other people; friends, family, and co-workers. We also love to be a part of a big crowd; an audience member of an artistic performance or sporting event.  

    Humans are social animals and love to be part of a big crowd.

    This desire to socialize will probably be impacted more than any other aspect of our essential nature. Social distancing is necessary at this time. It will be necessary for a while. Social distancing helps to slow down the spread of the virus, helps keep people healthy and alive, and buys us time so that effective medicines can ultimately be developed.  

    Staying Productive

    If you’re not a worker in an essential industry, you’re most likely at home. Even at home, you can continue to be productive.

    Discuss the situation with your employer or manager and see if you can identify work-related tasks that can be completed from home. Maybe your employer has some ideas for projects which have been sitting on the ‘back burner’. Nearly every company has worthwhile projects that get preempted by work that requires immediate attention. Now might be the perfect time and opportunity to tackle one of those projects.    

    If it isn’t feasible for you to do professional work from your home, you can still remain productive. If you take some time to think about it, you can easily come up with a list of important projects that you’ve been putting off (because you didn’t have enough time).

    Now, you have the time. If you can’t come up with any ideas, and you’re married, your spouse will definitely provide you with some ideas. It’s especially important now to stay active, to have some work to absorb your attention and your energy.  

    Your New Routine

    Okay, you’re stuck at home. So, let’s craft an at-home routine that keeps you on top of your game. Here are some thoughts for that new routine. 

    Sunlight

    Get outside in the sun and enjoy our native star. And while you’re at it, soak in your daily dose of vitamin D. Your immune system will thank you.

    Get out in the sunlight and soak in your daily dose of vitamin D.

    Exercise

    It is extremely important to do physical exercise during this lockdown. If you normally devote ten hours a week to exercise, now you should be devoting twelve or fifteen hours. Exercise supports every aspect of our being; mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.  

    Cardio exercise is any exercise performed over a sustained period of time that elevates your heart and breathing rate. Since Covid-19 attacks the lungs, it is especially important to work your heart and lungs. Maintaining a healthy heart and lungs during this coronavirus pandemic is essential. Examples of cardio exercise include aerobic activities like dancing, biking, swimming, walking, and running. It could even include working out in the garden or around the house.

    Cardio exercise can improve brain function, like cognitive skills and memory. Your elevated heart rate causes an increase of blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which causes the production of hormones that support the growth of new brain cells, especially in the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory [1]. Cardio exercise also improves mood, reduces depression, anxiety, and stress by increasing the hormones dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins [2].  

    Cardio exercise also supports heart health. There is a large body of scientific evidence that shows that it helps regulate cholesterol levels and blood pressure. It also helps reduce inflammation.  Inflammation triggers the production of white blood cells, which in turn contributes to the build-up of plaque in our arteries [3].   

    Regular exercise affords many benefits. It will help you:

    • Live longer - according to a report, published by the Dept. of Health and Human Services, regular exercise reduced causes of mortality by up to 30% for men and women [4] 
    • With weight loss or help prevent weight gain [5] 
    • Develop healthy muscle and bone tissue [6] 
    • Increase your physical energy and fight off fatigue [7] 
    • Lower the risk of developing chronic diseases, like type II diabetes and high blood pressure [8] 
    • Relax and sleep better [9] 
    • Control chronic pain, including joint and muscle [10] 
    • Improve your sex life [11] 

    Do Your Push-Ups

    Strength training is also important to protect your heart and lungs. A 2019 Harvard Medical School study demonstrated that the more push-ups a person can do, the less likely they are to develop cardiovascular disease [12]

    The more pushups a person can do, the less likely it is that they’ll develop cardiovascular disease.

    If you can do at least ten, your risk is lower. If you can do forty, your chances of developing heart disease are very low. 

    Push-ups, and similar upper body exercises like bench pressing, work the muscles in the chest, and increase blood flow to the heart and lungs simultaneously. So, do your push-ups. If you have trouble doing military-style push-ups on the ground, modify the exercise by supporting your lower body weight on your knees, or do them against a table or chair.

    Diet

    If you’re experiencing stress and depression right now, you’re not alone. During times of stress, there is a temptation to eat…eat too much that is. And not just to eat too much, but to eat the wrong things. This is not the time to be experimenting with every type of cookie you can find on the store shelves. This is a time to stick to your dietary disciplines. This is a time for protecting your body from this virus by maintaining a high nutritional level. We’re at home and we have total control over what we eat. Take advantage of this with healthy dietary choices.

    Supplementation

    The immune system is on the front lines right now. It is an army of organs, tissues, and cells and this army may be called upon to fight this virus. Armies run on their bellies, and like any army, the immune system needs to be fed. Some excellent choices for dietary supplementation are:

    • Vitamins D, C, and B6
    • Zinc
    • Green Tea Extract (EGCG)
    • Liposomal Glutathione
    • Quercetin
    • Cistanche

    Meditation

    There are many styles and techniques for meditation. Find one that appeals to you and devote some time each day to its practice. If you don’t already have a meditation technique that you like, here are two methods you can try.

    1. Third Eye Focus – Many teachers of meditation, both past, and present, have taught their students to concentrate and focus their attention on the ‘third eye’. The so-called third eye is a center of energy in our foreheads, between and slightly behind our two eyebrows. It is also the location of our pineal gland. Focusing on this energy center helps both mind and body to relax and refresh. Sit for twenty minutes or so in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and focus within. While practicing this way, try to see within. With your eyes closed, focus all of your attention on seeing. Focus your inner gaze in the middle of the field in front of you with pin-pointed concentration, but in a way that does not put any tension on the eyes or forehead.
    Many teachers of meditation have taught their students to focus their attention on their third eye.

     

    1. Affirmations – Affirmations are positive thoughts or statements that we can use as a ‘mantra’ to help attract some beneficial reaction. Dr. John Diamond is a U.S. psychiatrist that has integrated Western psychology with Traditional Chinese Medicine. The principal objective behind TCM is to ensure the optimal flow of life energy within the body’s subtle meridian system. We have twelve meridians. Dr. Diamond has developed a series of affirmations that address the emotional characteristics associated with each meridian. The affirmations for the heart and lungs are:

    Heart – “I am full of love, I have faith, courage, trust, and gratitude.”

    Lung – “I am humble, I am tolerant, I am modest.”

    During this pandemic, these two affirmations can go a long way in improving the flow of life energy to the heart and lungs. They can be repeated with the tongue of thought, over and over again throughout the day. They can also be repeated out loud while standing in front of a mirror.

    The heart affirmation is the most important of Dr. Diamond’s affirmations because it addresses the four essential qualities of love; faith, courage, trust, and gratitude. 

    Journaling

    If you enjoy writing, and you keep a journal, this is a great time to record your thoughts, observations, and feelings. We are experiencing an unprecedented world event, and you will one day want to read these entries and contemplate how you experienced it and what you learned from your experience.  

    Beware of Creeping Bad Habits

    Researchers have concluded that it takes about sixty days, on average, to form a new habit. The lockdown is going to last just about sixty days, depending on where we are and how the stay-at-home order is lifted in our area. You must be extra vigilant with your daily routine and make sure you don’t develop any unwanted habits during this lockdown. Here are some things to watch out for.

    1. Set your alarm and get out of bed at the same time you normally would when you go to work.
    2. Make your bed.
    3. Each morning, go through your typical routine of bathing and eating.
    4. Get dressed. Nix the PJ’s. You don’t need to put on a suit and tie, but at least go with casual Friday.
    5. Have your day planned out like it was any other day. If you’re doing work for your employer, focus on it and get it done. If you’ve got a personal or family project to attend to, focus on that and complete it.
    6. If you have children, recognize what a wonderful opportunity this time is to mentor them and give them your love and attention.

    We’ll Get Through This

    We need to continue to remind ourselves that this is temporary. We’ll get beyond this. Hopefully, this global exercise of cooperation and mutual support between peoples and nations will somehow make this world a better place than it was before the pandemic. In that same vein, hopefully, we will also become stronger and wiser from the experience. We can become better workers, friends, lovers, and parents. The choice is ours.


    References:

    1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24379659
    2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23630504
    3. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-019-0633-x
    4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632802/#B17
    5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9049471
    6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28029078
    7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18277063
    8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241367/
    9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25596964/
    10. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-019-0633-x
    11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S073510971938369X?via%3Dihub
    12. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2724778?utm_campaign=articlePDF&utm_medium=articlePDFlink&utm_source=articlePDF&utm_content=jamanetworkopen.2018.8341

    14 Productivity Hacks to Optimize Your Workflow

    14 Productivity Hacks to Optimize Your Workflow

    At the end of your day, do you feel like you could have gotten more done? Maybe you could have completed more tasks if you cut out distractions or implemented efficiency tactics.

    After a long day’s work, you should feel satisfied; a sense of accomplishment and completion. These feelings can become the norm through a few productivity tools and hacks.

    Most of us are well-trained and skilled in our job duties and tasks, so we normally don’t bother to explore ways to improve our productivity, although some of the things we do could be done better.

    You can use these productivity tools to enhance your ability to get more done throughout the day.

    Focus on One Task at a Time

    This is sometimes known as the Pomodoro System or Pomodoro Technique. It consists of breaking down your tasks into 25-minute intervals and taking short breaks in between tasks. In this way, you concentrate on one task. You abandon the idea of multitasking. You are focused on the singular task at hand and completely in the zone.

    You also have a sense of urgency when you’re on the clock and you forget trying to fine-tune your work. Stress levels are also reduced because you focus on one task at a time instead of trying to get everything done at once.

    Mobile Apps for Increasing Productivity

    There are a variety of apps on the market that can increase your productivity, whether for handling your emails, notes, financials, reading, etc., and many are free to download. For example, there are apps for grocery shopping, writing, notes, banking, and other mundane tasks.

    You can really take advantage of technology to increase productivity whether you’re in the office or somewhere else.

    Here is a list of some free apps to explore, which can increase your productivity:

    • ‘Todoist’ - a great to-do list manager
    • ‘Keeper’ - a password manager
    • ‘Shoeboxed’ - for expense tracking
    • ‘Evernote’ – Evernote is essentially a second brain. You can record ALL of your notes on Evernote, whether it’s a thought you’ve been pondering, or notes on a book you’ve been reading, or perhaps for one you’re thinking about writing.

    The “Two-Minute” Do-It-Now Rule

    There are many tasks that pop-up during your day and they eventually begin to stack up.

    Before you decide whether or not to complete a task, ask yourself, “Can it be completed in two minutes?” If it can be completed in two minutes or less, do it now! If the task will take longer than two minutes, add it to your to-do list but make sure to prioritize it appropriately.

    Write Down Your Most Important Tasks

    Eliminate ambiguity in your workday. Ambiguity can be a productivity killer and a time waster. It has become increasingly important, in an age of perpetual distraction, to prioritize the most important tasks. Take some time in the morning to decide which tasks are the most important ones to your overall vision and address those first.

    This practice will help you overcome procrastination and take things off your mind while taking action on a more consistent basis.

    Create a Schedule to Check Emails

    It’s easy to get sidetracked checking your emails dozens of times a day, especially if you have multiple email addresses. Turn off your email notifications because if you log-in to your email, you’ll end up not only responding to one email but many emails and then you’ll begin organizing them. Instead, choose only a few, specific times each day.

    I recommend checking your email once in the morning, again before lunch, and another toward the end of your workday.

    Eliminate Website Distractions

    There are many websites on the internet that are so, so interesting, but very distracting.

    These sites can ruin your productivity. Block those sites on your work computer to increase your productivity level. You can find an effective website blocker if you simply “google it.”

    Practice Saying “No”

    For many people, it is difficult to say “no” to requests from certain people. Some people want to use or manipulate others. You must practice saying “no” sometimes. Otherwise, these people will kill your productivity.

    You can simply let people know that “you’re too busy now and that you’ll let them know if you can get to it later,” as an example.

    Listen to Music

    You can increase your focus, concentration, and productivity level by listening to certain types of music. It takes some experimentation to figure out what music works best for you since people react differently to different types of music.

    There are apps available that provide music that has been scientifically proven to increase productivity. One such example is Brain.fm.

    Use a Password Manager

    It’s easy to become overwhelmed trying to remember our passwords for the various sites we peruse.

    Download a password manager program like LastPass which will remember but encrypt your passwords to keep them safe. This way you can simply log-in without entering your password each time.

    Yoga or Meditate Each Morning

    Meditation is about concentrating or focusing on one thing and blocking out all distractions.

    Studies have shown that both meditation and yoga can decrease stress, enhance creativity, increase focus, and improve memory.

    You can begin by meditating or doing yoga for a few minutes each morning. As your practice becomes more routine, you can lengthen the duration of each practice.

    Natural Sunlight, Indoors and Outdoors

    Open your blinds first thing in the morning to get started with some healthy natural light.

    Natural light will improve your mood and your outlook throughout the day. You’ll find yourself being more productive while performing everyday tasks. Sunshine has been shown to facilitate better sleep and an overall better quality of life.

    If you live in an area with limited sunlight, remember to take a vitamin-D supplement. Studies show that only about 10 minutes of direct sunlight are needed for your daily dose.

    Read What Inspires You

    A great way to begin your productive day is to read something, or write something about a subject that you are keenly interested in or passionate about.

    You should choose something that you’re curious about and something which can possibly give you talking points with others throughout the day. Inspirational passages can give us the strength we need each and every morning to get through even the most difficult of times and encourage us to push forward when challenges arise.

    But don’t spend the entire day reading or writing. Invest 15-20 minutes and move on to the next task.

    Other Productivity Tools and Hacks

    • Don’t forget to put your laptop away for a few hours a day, if possible.
    • Take time to rest your body and mind.
    • Track your time and tasks with an app.
    • Intentionally plan your day in the morning.
    • Wake up a little earlier to get the most out of your morning between 6-9am.
    • Alter your environment a bit.

    There are many ways to increase productivity. Mold your productivity-enhancing activities according to what works with your body, mind, and schedule. Utilize the above productivity tools and hacks on a regular basis and you’ll see your productivity skyrocket.

    Feed Your Brain With Nootropics

    One of the most powerful and efficient tools for maintaining a high level of productivity is with a nootropic supplement like metaBRAIN.

    metaBRAIN is a three-supplement box designed for peak mental performance. The three supplements are centered around focus, memory, and drive, formulated with a total of 31 powerhouse nootropic ingredients.

    We created metaBRAIN® for the high-achiever like you looking to perform and feel their best each day. Whether you're an entrepreneur, college student, athlete, or professional gamer—metaBRAIN® can be the edge to dominate your competition, excel in your field, and take your life to the next level.