Most of us hate our jobs, get less sleep that we should, get stressed out easily and far too often. We work long hours, deal with long commutes and otherwise survive, rather than thrive. It's time to stop and change the tune. Here are the strategies I've found to greatly help get out of a rut and to maintain sanity and a grip on life, as well as to make sustained progress toward my goals.
1) Prepare beforehand - to avoid the stress and incompetence of the last-minute. Review your notes a few minutes before the big meeting. Look up the meeting participants on LinkedIN beforehand to remind yourself of who is who and what connection you may have to each. Read up on the subject matter in advance. Google whoever's involved. Prepare your lunch the night before to avoid wasting time on it in the morning. Prepare your work bag and keep it by the door.
2) Always be organizing your email, information flow, news feeds, work surface and home.
3) During or after every meeting, take careful notes, re-read them 45 minutes later, use in conversation for the next couple days. This way, you will actually retain the information and not forget it immediately.
4) Use good tools to organize your life and information flow. Evernote, IFTTT, Boomerang (email), Brewster, Mailchimp/Constant Contact, etc. Optimize your Facebook, LinkedIN, Pinterest and other information flows/news feeds by blocking people who cause you envy or jealousy or disgust. 'Like' publications you actually enjoy reading (that enrich your life) and follow the opinion leaders in your field and many other fields who help you see the world in a different light.
5) Learn to make decisions quickly and according to a blueprint that fits with your values and priorities. To develop said blueprint, think long and hard about what your values and priorities actually are and in what order.
6) Minimize the number of decisions you have to make each day (AUTOMATE) - create a stable routine and follow it. Think about Zuckerberg's hoodie and Steve Jobs's black turtleneck every day. Each of us has limited bandwidth to tackle work and life's challenges and surprises, so the fewer decisions we have to make through the day, the better.
7) Outsource your decisions when possible - think about where your valuable time is spent best. Perhaps a personal or virtual assistant or concierge is worth the investment.
8) Leave room for variation from your routine - take a different road home, try a new chocolate truffle or coffee drink, get flowers for your special someone for no particular reason, go to explore a new neighborhood. Find a new favorite restaurant. Go to the bookstore and find a new book to read or have on your coffee table. Be open to new experiences. Read good (and long) stories every day. Get into the life of someone's mind regularly and develop empathy for others.
9) Write down your thoughts, impressions and new ideas every day. You'll thank yourself for the evolution of your thoughts and ideas over time and you will also find it has a therapeutic effect to tell your story, even just to yourself. Tell your stories to people who are sympathetic.
10) Value your time above all else, including money. It's your greatest and most limited asset, yet the one you waste with the greatest impunity.
11) Listen much more than you speak. But speak up often enough and at the right times or forever hold your peace. Don't be a wallflower, but also don't overshadow everything else.
12) Learn to say no. Have the balls and resolve to say no when people ask you to do something against your values or that clash with your priorities.
13) Don't compare yourself to anyone else. EVER, for any reason. You come with your own genes and upbringing and circumstances. Each of us has our unique mission and body and mind, capacities and limitations to work with in life. Just do the best with what you've got.
14) Get rid of negative people from your life. You are the average of the handful of people you spend the most time with. Choose them carefully.
15) Value experiences above things. Build memories, not resentment for others with more or better stuff than you. You most likely don't need 90% of the things you own. Extraneous "stuff" distracts you from essence - yours and that of others around you.
16) Meditate long and hard on your purpose in life. What are you here to do? Cut away all the useless crap and focus on two or three (at most) things that you enjoy doing in life. Even if you're poor and need the day job to support your passion, make sure to cultivate the passion even while maintaining the steady paycheck.
17) Learn to focus by getting rid of distractions. Outrun your temptations. Leave the phone outside the bathroom.
18) Live below your means. Set up your finances and learn to keep careful track of them, so that you pay your bills on time, don't overspend. Use Mint.com. Invest in low-fee ETFs and index funds for minimal fees (*not investment advice - this is what i do myself)
19) Meditate or pray every morning. Take stock of the past day before sleep. Remind yourself of why you go through the grind. Understand your role and your place in the universe. There is a purpose and a reason behind everything that happens to you. What is the lesson you have to draw from the bad (and good) things that happen to you? Connect them all to a unity. Zoom out from your own life to appreciate others in your life and other people in the world.
20) Stop and smell the roses. Create instant experiences for yourself. Look up from the street and see the clouds. Hear the birds. Walk through the forest in the rain.
21) Maintain physical activity throughout the day, not just before or after work. Stretch every 30-45 minutes and take at least three walks throughout the workday, even if it's to see a colleague on the other side of the office (but preferably in a park, with trees and oxygen).
22) Keep your home clean and organized. Your home is a reflection of your mind and lifestyle. When it's clean and orderly, it means you're on top of your game.
23) Be on time. Always. As a habit. Leave early to arrive early or at worst, on time. Be reliable and trustworthy. Good things will come your way.
24) Tell jokes to people who will appreciate them. Make others and yourself smile by sharing a pleasant experience or story. SMILE and LAUGH SINCERELY. You will only earn others' trust and create good impressions.
25) Build good habits for health and wealth to sustain your well-being. This doesn't cost you a penny in funds and requires no fancy device, diet or adviser. It starts with building mindfulness and focus (see 1-24 above), setting small and achievable goals with accountability from family/friends, regular small rewards for yourself for achieving milestones, tracking your behavior carefully and improving over time.
26) Forgive yourself regularly for mistakes, even while keeping focused on improvement. Forgive others for hurting you (but don't forget and don't get burned again).
27) Be kind to yourself and others. Life is too short and precious to beat yourself up and to complain constantly.
28) Stop complaining and be thankful for what you have. It shouldn't take poor kids in the Third World to make you count your blessings. Contribute only positive and constructive things to other people's lives.
29) Take a break from technology each evening and week. Digital Sabbath, actual Sabbath, Sundays off, whatever it takes. Turn off the phone at dinner. Don't start the day checking your phone. It can wait. Check email only 2-3 times during the day, not every 5 minutes.
Now get up out of that chair and go change your life for the better! Remember to start small and to go slowly. Rome was not built in a day.
May you be successful in your mission!
I'm rooting for you.
Do you have other strategies for surviving and thriving that have worked for you? Tell us in the Comments below. We would love to hear from you.
Yuri Kruman is a Healthcare Product Manager, a published author, blogger at BlueprintToThrive.com and health tech entrepreneur based in New York.
*The views expressed herein are his own*