Warming Up

There is an issue I have been dealing with for a while now. I often find myself having trouble getting to work. I get up on time, wash up, get breakfast but when I try to get to work, I can’t do it. It’s been going on for a months now but today I figured it out and it wasn’t what I had expected. You see, in between all of these activities in the morning, there is one thing I fail to do that affects my work, warming up.

Warming up? How? Well it’s very simple; in everything we do, warming up is very important. It’s our way of preparing our bodies and our minds for the task ahead. Runners start with a jog around the field and at the gym most people start with some stretching or a jog around the field. The only place where people don’t really warm up is in the classroom and the results speak for themselves. Most people report not being focused, attentive or even interested in the subject matter, why? Because they jumped right into their work without warming up, without preparing for what was coming and so when all this information started flowing their way, it overwhelmed them.

With this in mind, how exactly can we warm up before we do anything at all. How do we warm up for breakfast, or even lunch. Do we even have to warm up for such simple tasks like eating and drinking? Obviously not, but if you are having some trouble at work, school or even at the gym, it may be time to consider a warm up routine. How many times do people report to work and jump on to the heap of paper work waiting in their desks only to end up feeling tired and overwhelmed a few hours later. How many students walk into class and start revising only to get bored minutes later? It’s quite a number of people and the unfortunate part of it all is that they usually blame themselves for the lack of productivity yet the solution to their problems is very simple and efficient.

Next time before you jump on that heap or paper work, peruse through it and know what kind of work you will be dealing with, take a few moments to take a breath and relax then start your work. In school, before you start revising for that exam, think about the subject matter for a few minutes and try to understand it rather than cram it all. Next time you are about to start a project like me, take a few moments to think about what you are about to do and its significance, make sure you are ready for what is coming so that when it does come, you are ready. In whatever task you are about to do, make sure you warm yourself up, you won’t regret it.

 
Have nice day 🙂

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The Compounding Effect

Back in high school we learned about compound interest. The way it worked is that after you deposit some money into your bank account,  it earns some interest at the end of every year. If you deposited 1000 ksh, at the end of the year, you get an extra 100 ksh with a 10% interest rate. While this may seem small, over time this amount of money will keep accumulating until after 10 or 20 years where it will double or triple the original amount.

The compounding effect works more or less like compound interest in the bank. For every task that you do consistently, you get better, or you gain more of that specific skill. If you are a dancer and you dance an hour a day, with time you will start to get better and this works for everything we do. Think about your first day on the job and how you are today, if you are a freelancer think about your first job and client and where you are now. Think about athletes’ who wake up every day to run getting ready for the Olympics, or a student at school who starts revising weeks before the exam a day at a time. These people, at the end of the day, get what they want and it happens because of the compounding effect.

The compounding effect implies that for whatever task you do, you will get better at it as long as you do it consistently. And this effect applies to everything we do. For me as a blogger, the compounding effect makes me a better blogger with each post I make. For the guy at the gym, the compounding effect makes him stronger and makes his muscles larger. It may not be obvious in the beginning but over time this effect delivers on whatever you invest in it.

The thing I found interesting about this effect is that it applies to anything that we do. Think about people with weight problems. First they started eating something unhealthy. The effects could not be seen then but over time as they indulged in their unhealthy eating habits, the fat content in their body compounded and now they want more than anything to lose weight. Think also about drug addicts. I don’t know of anyone who starts doing drugs with the intent of being an addict but it happens any way, why? Because for smokers, they started with one cigarette a week, then two, then three, then one cigarette a day until now a few months or years later, they need a pack to keep them going. The thing about this effect is that while it’s very significant in our lives, we rarely take the time to observe its changes and that’s why the changes catch us off guard, because they took place one small effect after another over a long period of time.

Now, with this in mind, can we use this effect to our advantage? Yes we can. A popular piece of advice given to those who want to be successful is start small. With the compounding effect, this advice works very well. Want to get fit? Instead of rushing for that gym membership, start with simple basic exercises. Start by walking every day, then start jogging, then do some basic exercises at home and in with time you will notice the difference. If you want to eat healthier, instead of changing everything all at once, start small. Start with a fruit before every meal then start taking out the foods you know are not good for you and with time you will be looking and feeling better. This effect works for anything you can think of including addictions, the only thing to note is that you have to be consistent for this to work. So for whatever you do or are doing, remember that this effect is in play. Put in the right set of actions and you will reap success at the end of your day.

Have a nice day 🙂

Being Proactive

If you are a fan of motivational speeches or quotes, then you have noticed that most of them have one basic theme, to be successful you have to make things happen. You have to do things and take initiative so that you can be the person you want to be tomorrow and in the future. But how do you ensure you keep moving despite the obstacles that you will encounter along the way? Well, it’s very simple; you need to realize what kind of a person you are. In today’s article I talk about two kinds of people, the proactive and the reactive and I give you some tips on how to be more proactive so that you can be the kind of person who makes things happen and not the person who things happen to.

So what is being proactive or reactive? This two are opposites of each other. A reactive person is a person who does not take initiative. These kind of people let the environment determine how they feel and how they will act. As a result, they are tossed and turned by the tides of life and most of the time life catches them by surprise. They do not plan for the future so when the future does take place and they are not ready; they scramble to react to it just to stay afloat.

A proactive person on the other hand is one who takes initiative. They own their life, their mistakes and their problems. They rarely make excuses and are busy fixing their problems. Unlike the reactive person, the proactive person adapts to the waves of life and isn’t caught by surprise when the unexpected takes place. They not only plan for the future but anticipate it to ensure that nothing catches them off guard.

So with this in mind, what makes these two types of people so different? The answer lies in how they perceive life and their way of living. For example, reactive people do not see the point in learning while proactive people always keep learning no matter the place or age. In a work place environment, reactive people will do what they are told and wait for more orders while the proactive will look for improvement and an opportunity in the work that they are doing. They are more likely to get promoted at work while the reactive stay in the same position at work. When it comes to change, reactive people will opt to stay in the same old routine. Change for them is unpleasant and uncomfortable while proactive people will embrace the change since it means that they are moving forward.

In a nut shell, reactive people deal with things as they come. They come unprepared and as a result two things will happen to them; they will waste time on unproductive activities and they will often feel overwhelmed by things. This is as a result to not having planned before hand. Proactive people on the other hand are organized and tend to project themselves into the future instead of focusing on what is happening to them in the moment.

So how do you become a more proactive person? First make your own luck. Luck is said to be where preparation meets opportunity. Take steps on a daily basis to become a better version of yourself than you were yesterday. Set out milestones and timeframes and make sure you attain the goals you set for yourself. Be consistent. Success is not about getting everything right, it’s about consistency. Ensure that you are consistently taking steps on a daily basis and steadily moving towards your goal. The steps do not have to be big, small steps compounded overtime will move you further down the path to being successful in what you do.

 

Find the right people. You are the average of the five people you hang out with. Imagine being in a room where people are just watching movies, playing games or taking naps, do you think you will be able to make actionable plans to improve your life? Of course not. Surround yourself with people who are driven and effective so that their energy can rub off on you as well. You have to choose between driven people and people who are just going to drag you down; you can’t have both and expect to succeed. Lazy people are like quicksand, they hold you down without you knowing it until one day when you realize that you have been consumed by laziness.  Surround yourself with people who are taking initiative and be motivated to take charge of your life.

Finally be honest with yourself. Look at what you are doing and how you are doing it. When something is not working, be honest with yourself instead of making excuses. It’s easy to stay busy and think you are making progress and harder to acknowledge that you are not actually making progress. You will not get better by telling yourself it is okay because it is not, if something is not working out, be honest about what it is and make the necessary changes.

These are not the only tips on being proactive but they are a good starting point for anyone who feels they want to change and start making progress. Look at them as steps to transforming yourself into the kind of person who can build the kind of future you aspire to have. Take initiative and take charge of your life.

Have a great day ahead 🙂

 

 

 

Building Strong Habits

When it comes to success in any activity, investing in habits is a great way to getting more done. Think about the last time you thought about brushing your teeth or even washing your face in the Morning when you get up. you probably think that its customary to wash your face immediately you get out of bed but it’s not; you got so used to doing it, you think its procedure.

The great thing about habits is that they need less thought to get things done. Thinking about doing things or making decisions leads to decision fatigue. Decision fatigue is the state of mind where you’re so tired from thinking all day, you can’t think about anything else. For most people, decision fatigue is experienced in the evening after a long day of work.

With habits however, the situation is different. Since with habits you need to think less, it means that at the end of the day you will have done a lot of work and will still be in a position to get some more work done. But habits are not just about what we do on a daily basis but also how we can add new activities into our day. The less we think about an activity, the easier it will be to do.

The thing that’s challenging, however, is forming a habit. It’s easier said than done. It’s easy to want to go to the gym but harder to actually go. It’s easier to want to read but harder to actually take a book and read. One of the reasons this may happen has to do with how we start. Imagine  going to the gym and starting with the heaviest weights, or reading three chapters of a book for the very first time. Remember, first impressions matter, and if you perceive a new activity as hard the first time you do it, it will be harder for you to do the same thing next time.

A better way to go at it is to first start small. If you want to go for a marathon, start with a few laps on a field, for a book start with one chapter. Don’t do too much of the activity the first time so that you may have energy it for later. Make it fun and enjoyable and  get creative by finding different ways of doing the same thing. Finally try as much as possible to enjoy the process instead of focusing on the end  result. For example, why do we brush our teeth? For better dental health. But dental health is not a static state, it’s a continuous process.  So in the same way, when forming a habit, don’t be motivated by an end result, enjoy the process and learn from it. Remember, the more you do something  the better you will get. While reading fiction may not help you get certified or make any money, it will help keep your mind sharp which will help you study more effectively when the time comes.

Building habits is a great way to ensure you are constantly growing  and although the building process may be hard in the beginning, when you get through it, there will be more for you to reap from the whole process.

Have a good day 🙂

Ways to Boost your Creativity

Creativity is defined as the use of imagination or original ideas especially in artistic work. But if you go a little bit deeper into the definition, you will find the word original. Being original is about creating something unique. It is also about using material from numerous sources and combining them into one. Einstein says that creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. This implies that creativity isn’t something that can only come from within, it is a skill like anything else and with enough determination and time, we can get better at it.

People have different approaches to creativity. There is the first group of people who get an idea and work on it until it’s refined. They think over the idea for days or even weeks, trying to create a better version of the idea. Then there is the second lot who come up with many ideas. They write them down on paper and when there done, they sort through the list and pick the best ideas. You may think that the second group of people are more efficient but so is the first. Both approaches have their pros and cons but the thing they have in common is they both involve generation of ideas which is what creativity is all about.

There is no limit when it comes to creativity. Never has an artist been satisfied with their ideas, they are always looking for more and better ways to express themselves through their art. But as much as they may love what they do, some days may just be slow, with no source of inspiration or motivation.  If this is you sometimes, try out some of the tips below to help you boost your creativity instead of just sitting down waiting for an epiphany.

The mind is a vessel, just like a cup or mug, and just like any vessel, it runs dry from time to time. Some may assume that the information regenerates from within the mind but a better approach is to read more. Reading helps your mind relax and it also helps you get more ideas from the things you read about. Whether art or music, when our creativity is low, we can always learn more through reading.

Another way to boost your creativity is doing something new. In the article Out of the box thinking, I talk about trying new things as a way to enhance the way you think. The same applies in creativity. Going through the same things over and over can become boring after a while, if you want to stay motivated looking for ideas, then trying new things is just the thing for you.

I recall when I started this blog; I had so many ideas of topics I could write about on the blog. The only problem is that they were too many and I couldn’t attend to them all at once. If this happens to you from time to time, a great way to handle it is write everything down. Writing things down frees your mind and it also helps give you perspective. An idea may look great in thought but then you write it down and find out it wasn’t that great. This will help you sift through your ideas to create the best material you can.

After doing all the work, remember to rejuvenate your mind. Rejuvenating your mind helps you relax after a long day. It also helps you be objective about the ideas you have. When you have many ideas to pick from, write them down and take a walk. When you come back to your work station with a refreshed mind, you will be able to analyze the ideas more objectively and pick the ones that you will need and discard the rest.

Of course not every day will be your creative day. There will be days where even an idea will not be at your disposal. Instead of feeling bad about it or even feeling like your creative life is done, remember to stay positive. Positive moods have been found to help encourage creativity while negative moods tend to restrict it. Remember it’s all about attitude and a positive attitude will keep your creative efforts at their best.

I hope the tips above help you grow your skill of creativity and by applying them you will creative even better work for yourself than before.

Thank you for stopping by. Have a creative week ahead :).

How food affects your productivity

Food, like anything else, has its own way of affecting how productive we are. Food is considered fuel and fuel is essential for the body to keep running effectively. But how much impact does it have on our productivity? Well as it turns out, it has a big impact.

Think back to a day that you felt really productive, can you recall what you had eaten just some moments before? If you are like me, then the answer is unlikely. This is because you multitask as you eat; you either are on your phone, on your computer or doing something else while you eat. This multitasking tends to take your attention off the food you eat and sometimes the quantity but the effects of this hit you later in the day.

I want you to think about a particular week where you had an up and down kind of workday. One day was very productive while the other wasn’t as productive. You would be surprised to know that the difference in these days may just be the kind of food you ate before work and the quantity. You’ve probably heard of the saying we are what we eat, this means that everything we eat affects the way our bodies function and perform. When you eat a healthy meal, your body has enough nutrients to give it energy for the day. With an unhealthy meal, however, the body doesn’t get enough of the nutrients required leading low productivity.

But why is there such a difference? Well, it all comes down to how glucose is processed in your body. For example, a piece of cake may give you the glucose you need to be productive, but since it’s made up of nothing but sugars and carbs, you burn through it quickly and need another glucose fix to stay productive through the day. But with a meal like brown rice or oatmeal, the body takes longer to process the sugars giving you longer lasting energy without the crash that you experience when you use quick sugars.

Energy levels, however, aren’t the only thing affected when you don’t eat right. You may find yourself being more irritable when you consume processed foods. Overtime, bad eating habits may increase the risk of anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression make it hard to concentrate at work and in some severe cases; they may make it difficult for you to get out of bed in the morning. What we eat also affects our creativity so next time you can’t find some inspiration, check if you’ve had a decent meal, it may be the problem.

So with this in mind, how do we improve our eating habits to ensure more productivity during the day? Eat a healthy breakfast. Start your day with a good meal to keep you active through the day… or at least until lunch. Don’t be tempted to grab a piece of cake as this will work against you more than for you. Instead grab a fruit, an egg or drink some milk.

Avoid skipping meals. Some days may be busier than others and one may opt to skip a meal to get more done in the office. This may work for the moment, but could mess you up later by lowering your energy and overall productivity. Make eating decisions before you get hungry. Instead 0f waiting till the last possible moment to decide on what to have for lunch, plan it earlier in the day. Studies have shown we are better at resisting salts and fats in the future than in the present. This means that it will be easier for you to resist the urge to eat something unhealthy early in the day than when you are hungry.

Be mindful of what you eat. This goes back to the point I made in the beginning. Try as much as possible not to multitask as you eat. This will help you know when you are full so that you don’t over eat and end up sleeping through the afternoon. Another great tip is eating smaller frequent meals. Rather than eating three meals a day, try to eat something small frequently throughout the day. It may not be ideal for most work settings but if you can make it work, it is a great idea.

I hope this helps you change your eating habits and has helped you figure out how to make your day more productive.  Incorporate these tips in your day and become more productive.

Thank you for stopping by and have great day ahead :).

Keys to better Time management

When it comes to time management, there are many tips to help you become a more effective time manager. The most common tip is using a to-do list to keep track of your progress and to help you remember what needs to be done. A to do list is also a great tool since with everything written down, your mind can focus on the task at hand without having to struggle to recall the other important tasks of the day.

But while the to-do list is a great tool for productivity, it is not enough. The tasks outlined in it are also important since they determine if you are going to be more productive or less productive. In an ideal world, more work equals more productivity but in the real world it’s just the opposite. It is possible for someone to be busy doing nothing. A lot of times doing less is better, it helps you focus and it takes away the overwhelming feeling you get when you have an overloaded to-do list.

In this article I want to give some pointers on how to structure your to-do list for a more productive day and if you are not a fan of the to-do list, these pointers will still apply to ensure that you become a more effective time manager.

Time management is about having more control over your time. However, even with this being the case, you can’t use up all your time in the day. So it is essential to know your time whether morning or evening and use the pointers to help you get more work done. Let’s get started.

Do the important tasks first

If you are a student, then school work falls into this category. If you are working, then work projects fall into this category. Think of this as the biggest task for the day. By completing it, you take away the most stressful task of the day leaving you with the easy tasks to handle. It also helps you create momentum which will help you complete other tasks within the day.

Sleep

Some people may think that sleeping less may give you more time to get things done but in the end it works against them.  If you go for too long without rest, your productivity will decline. A good night’s sleep helps you stay focused and gives the body and mind the necessary rest to help it function optimally. So don’t underestimate the value of sleep, more on this in the article sleep the cornerstone of success.

Prioritize

It is said that if you don’t have time for something or someone, then they are not a priority. The next time you don’t feel like doing something, instead of saying I can’t do it, try saying it’s not a priority and see how this changes your perception of it. Something being a priority means it’s important. Imagine you are at the office working then you think about a photo you saw on facebook that you were tagged in. in most cases you would decided to log in to facebook as a “break” from work yet in real sense it’s just a distraction. Prioritizing in this case means continuing with your work and checking on facebook later.

Exercise

This doesn’t mean get a gym membership nor do some pushups at work. Stretching at this point is enough. Think about how much time you spend seated. After completing your tasks for the day or the hour, stand up and take a walk. Stretch to help you relax your muscles. This helps you become more relaxed as you prepare for the next task. Exercise also helps boost energy levels in your body and also clear your mind to help you stay focused through the day.

Do less

Like I mentioned in this article, it is possible to be busy doing nothing. Doing less means doing the things that matter. When you have a big list of things to do, analyze them and look for the things that may be important and need to be done. Do less to create more value rather than doing too much to no end.

At the end of the day, find some time for yourself and just reflect on what you may have achieved during the day. Find sometime for stillness and relaxation.  This will help reduce anxiety and make your work more pleasurable.  I hope the pointers above help you become a better and more effective time manager. So the next time you find yourself buried in work, list your tasks down and try to implement the pointers above to help you lessen the load for a more productive day.

Have a great day ahead 🙂