What are the best ways to stay mentally and physically active throughout the day?
Originally appeared on Quora – the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Answer by Nela Canovic, Productivity hacker, writer, entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, on Quora:
Here are 5 things you can start practicing each day of the week that will give you a mental and physical boost:
- Get your mind focused on the day by asking yourself one question as soon as you wake up: What is the one thing I am committed to completing today? The benefits: you start prioritizing, you keep focused on personal goals, you make a promise to yourself to finish one thing that’s important to you. How can you do it? Write the question on a large sheet of paper, then hang it somewhere on a wall, so you see it first thing (in the bathroom or bedroom, for example). Ask the question out loud, and come up with an answer quickly.
- Work on the most mentally challenging tasks first. It’s called doing deep work(as opposed to doing shallow work, which can be anything from multitasking to letting distractions get the better of you). Devote your mornings to whatever needs most of your concentration, whether that’s reading, taking notes, coding or problem-solving. When is the ideal time to do it? The sooner, the better; research shows that our analytical brain starts functioning optimally around 2-4 hours after we wake up.
- Make it a habit to learn something new every day. Why? You feed your brain, create new neural networks, challenge your intellect, and take advantage of that amazing supercomputer of yours: your brain. How? Expose yourself to new topics in an online forum or a conversation with friends. Go to the library or a bookstore and browse books on a Saturday afternoon, when you have a few hours to devote to yourself. Watch history or science documentaries on YouTube. Ask an expert a question so that you can find out how to do something better or more efficiently.
- Make a short 10-15-minute workout part of your morning routine. The benefits? It will help you wake up faster, it can boost your mood, and it will help you with your work or studies. Where can you start? Before you shower and make breakfast, start the day with some morning yoga, a set of sun salutation poses, go for a short run in your neighborhood, or just crank up the volume on your hip-hop playlist and dance in your room. It will give you energy for the rest of the day!
- Get smart with your commute, your lunch break, and your downtime. All the minutes you spend on your commute, eating, waiting in lines, walking or sitting – they all add up. Why not think of clever ways to maximize your day to do something that benefits you? For example, listen to podcasts on your commute. Take advantage of your one-hour lunch break to take a walk and listen to an audiobook. Use the time while you wait in line at the post office to brainstorm and note down what you want to do the rest of the week. Instead of sitting down in front of the TV each night, pick something different to entertain yourself: learn to play guitar, start writing in a journal, get a friend to join you for a game of chess, or read a few chapters of a book somebody recommended to you (instead of browsing your Facebook or Instagram feed).