Category Archives: Uncategorized

5 Steps To Mindful Time Management

An important step in becoming more productive is being mindful with basic time management.

You won’t be able to enhance your time management skills or effectively practice time management activities until you have the basics nailed down.

And in many cases, people who get competent with the basics find it enough to experience a significant positive impact on life. So much so that they find no need to go to an intermediate or advanced level.

We are all victims of the modern digital world dominated by technology.

To put it into perspective, the rate of technological advancement in the most recent 25 years has grossly exceeded the amount of technological advancement in the 2500 years before then.

And being human, we are not adapting fast enough with the changing needs of technology and how to live with it efficiently.

This make people like me prone to checking my emails every half-hour or so, checking my social feeds every now and then, checking if I have any miss calls or messages every so often, etc.

It’s a complete waste of time.

These little acts can seem like just a few seconds. But they can add up BIG time if you don’t put a stop to it.

I recall the movie Up In The Air starring George Clooney where he mentioned something in the lines of “If you don’t pack your luggage properly, you waste as much as 2 weeks each year repacking them”.

That’s really an eye-opener. 2 weeks is 336 hours! Imagine the amount of stuff you can do with that time.

While there are no scientific research conducted in a lab to verify the facts behind that, as a regular person, I can agree and make sense out of that statement.

Here’s 5 steps to becoming more mindful with your time.

1) Figure out where you time goes

You should spend anywhere between 1 to 3 days to tabulate your time log. Write down what you did during the day and how much time you estimate to have spent on it.

While it is best to undertake this task as meticulously as possible, do practice pragmatism. Instead of being compulsive and refresh your log every minutes, you might want to input your records every 1, 2, or 3 hours.

You can use a sheet of paper. Or better yet, a note taking app on a smart device.

Be sure to record write down the micro activities like:

  • Checking your emails
  • Phone calls
  • Texting
  • Social media
  • Browsing the internet
  • etc

Once you have tabulated your time log, sit down and review the stuff you have spent on those activities.

Do you think you have wasted time? Could any of those activities be merged together? Were you doing things that were redundant? Could any of those activities be forgone and it wouldn’t make a difference?

2) Figure out why you want more time

Because a part of you find time wastefulness an indulgence (whether you are aware of it or not), you need to convince your mind that you actually need to free up more time for stuff that really matters.

This would serve as a motivation to your conscious self, and a shining light to your unconscious self.

Some powerful reasons why you’d like more time is as follows:

  • To spend more quality time with family and friends
  • To get more done at work (career advancement)
  • To have more time at the gym (lose weight)
  • To pursue a hobby
  • To travel around the world
  • To have more rest that is overdue
  • etc

Think deeply about your reasons. The more powerful they are the less barriers your mind would put around you.

3) Figure out what you want to spend less time on

Both adults and teenagers have certain expectations and responsibilities put on their shoulders.

Some things just have to be done whether you like them or not.

While the reason why you want more time as listed earlier serves as a powerful motivator that urges you to act. Knowing what you’d like to spend less time on can be useful too.

  • Household chores
  • Errands
  • Laundry
  • Browsing the internet
  • Watching TV
  • Doing homework
  • etc

Often times, pain is a more powerful motivation than pleasure.

At this stage, you should have a clear idea of what you would like to spend maximum time on,, and what you would like to spend minimum time on.

4) Stop and think before doing any of the things in #1

You should have realized by now that a lot of the things you do daily are a total and utter waste of valuable minutes.

And since you have now recognized them from step #1, make it a point to “stop and think” before reaching for any of them.

In fact, make every time you lift your cell phone screen to face you a cue to stop for a moment and think whether you should waste that time.

This could be a tough thing to practice when starting. But as time goes by, you would find it easier and easier to say “no” to yourself and what you are about to do.

When you cultivate an awareness of how you are using your time, and how it is being wasted, it should arouse an instinct within you to reject what you are about to do.

5) Ask yourself why

If you are unable to block out all the time wasting with the previous 4 steps, go a little deeper and a little more brutal with yourself.

For example, it is 10pm at night and it is your usual web browsing session for the next 2 hours. You know you need to spend less time on your computer, yet cannot convince yourself to let go.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Is there really something you want to find on the internet?
  • Are you only doing it because of boredom?
  • Is it your way of procrastinating?
  • Are you making yourself busy so that you don’t need to do something you actually need to do?
  • Are you home alone because you are too lazy to go out with your friends?
  • Is there something better and more enjoyable which you can do now?

By confronting tough questions regarding the specific activity that you are doing, it makes it more difficult for you to go into auto-pilot and continue your unhealthy habits of wasting time on unproductive behavior.

This awareness can play a critical role in motivating you to spend your time wisely on more productive and rewarding activities.

How Does Exercise Help Depression?

Believe it or not, exercise is actually one of the most recommended ways to fight depression.

Although for severe cases of depression, exercise isn’t enough to completely manage it, it can still be extremely helpful.

According to Dr. Craig Miller, a professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, for more mild cases of depression, exercise can be as helpful as antidepressants.

But, this begs the question of why exactly?

Depression is a mental illness; so why does exercise, which is meant to help you physically, seem to help with depression?

Well, scientists have discovered a couple of reasons why exercise is helpful for fighting off depression.

In this article, we will go over those various reasons and explain them in a bit of detail.

Exercise triggers the release of feel-good endorphins

Various kinds of exercise, especially high-intensity exercise, trigger the release of endorphins into your brain.

Endorphins are chemicals that essentially make you feel good. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but for many, the feeling is downright addictive.

When the endorphins are released, you feel energized, confident, and happy. Many of you have no doubt heard of the concept of a “runner’s high” before.

Well, there is a reason they use the term “high” to describe it.

The flood of endorphins that runners experience is unlike anything else and many do actually get addicted to the feeling.

Long-term exercise can actually heal and improve your brain

Endorphins can help with depression, but the feelings caused by endorphins do wear off eventually; so, they represent more of a short-term aid for depression.

However, exercise does have long-term, positive effects that can help with depression.

Scientists have found that regular exercise done over a long period of time (months, years, etc.) triggers the release of “neurotrophic features.”

These neurotrophic features actually make your brain healthier and help fight against a variety of mental illnesses, including depression.

It’s a distraction

Depending on the type of exercise you do, it can be a very effective distraction.

Things like stress, anxiety, and depression will always be there, but it’s helpful to have something to distract yourself during particularly rough periods.

Exercise, especially things like weightlifting, aerobics, yoga, and other exercises that are intricate and require focus are great ways to distract yourself during rough periods.

These are three, scientifically backed ways that exercise can help you and others fight back against depression. It may not be a cure in and of itself, but it’s certainly very helpful.

How Does Exercise Affect Your Mental Health?

We hear about the benefits of exercise all the time, whether it’s a new workout programme being rolled out at the local gym, or our parents telling us we need to exercise more for the sake of our health.

However, apart from the physical benefits of toning up, losing weight and improving your heart health and various other organs, there are also psychological benefits that make exercise all the more worthwhile.

Reduce stress levels

It’s true that exercise can help you to become more stressed.

This is partly due to the fact that you feel like you’ve achieved something during the day and you feel like you’re being kind to your body.

When you exercise, your body releases more norepinephrine, a hormone which combats stress and helps you deal with stress and tension in the future too.

Feel happier

Working out for just half an hour a day can help you to feel much happier than you currently do.

Exercise releases endorphins which is the same hormone released when you hug the people you love or experience something that makes you very happy.

It’s scientifically proven that exercise improves the way you feel.

Get more creative

You might be surprised to hear that exercise can boost your creativity levels for around 2-3 hours after you’ve finished exercising.

If you’re desperate for some inspiration, whether it’s for a poem, an invention, a painting or a song, you might find that hitting the gym will do just the trick!

Improve self-confidence

Have you ever spoken to somebody who said that they felt worse about themselves after regular exercise sessions?

Working out on a regular basis will help you to feel better about yourself, not only because you’ll be improving your physical condition but you’ll also be helping your mental health too.

Sleep better

With better sleep, so many things in your life will start to improve. You’ll feel more focused and more concentrated and able to tackle anything that comes your way.

However, if you’re struggling to get to sleep, this could become a massive problem.

There are ways to combat sleeping issues, and the first thing you should try is regular exercise.

Don’t worry if you’re not doing an intense workout at the start – you can always build this up and even just a little bit at the start will help you to snooze easier and better.

How Exercise Can Help You Sleep Better

Are you tired of waking up every morning exhausted because you didn’t get anything close to a decent night’s sleep?

Are you afraid of taking sleeping pills or other risky medications to try and get a good night’s sleep? If so, there is a potential solution to your problem, exercise.

That’s right, exercising regularly can not only help you get to sleep easier, but it can also improve the quality of sleep that you get.

In this article, we are going to explore the connection between exercise and improved sleep quality.

Exercise improves your sleep quality

In order to feel truly rested, you have to get a certain amount of hours of really good quality sleep.

More specifically, you have to get at least a few hours of what is known as “deep sleep.”

Deep sleep is the stage of sleep that comes after REM sleep (which is when you do the majority of your dreaming).

It is the stage where your body does the bulk of its resting and recovering.

Study after study has shown that exercise increases the amount of time spent in this deep sleep stage, which in turn results in you feeling more rested the next day.

Exercise can increase the amount of sleep you get

Another benefit of exercise is that it can increase the amount of sleep you get.

The reasoning behind it is fairly straightforward. Exercise expends excess energy, enabling you to get to sleep faster.

Even though a lot of people feel exhausted when they come home after work, they still actually have a lot of pent-up energy in their body.

Exercising helps burn off that last bit of energy that can make going to bed on time a hassle.

When to exercise

Knowing when to exercise is important if you want to improve your sleep quality.

See, if you exercise too close to your bedtime, you will end up making it even harder to go to sleep. This is because your body produces adrenaline when you exercise.

So, if you exercise then hop into bed, you are still going to have all that adrenaline running through your body.

Ideally, you want to exercise roughly 2-3 hours before your desired bedtime.

Likewise, don’t make your exercise too rigorous.

Rigorous exercise also produces a lot of adrenaline. Light cardio is the best exercise to do if you want to fall asleep easier.

Save the weightlifting and sprinting for another time.

5 Ways To Improve Your Listening Skills

Unless you are a naturally world-class listener, you’d probably have had experiences where people caught your mind wandering off while you were supposed to be in an engaged conversation.

It happens.

You might make a joke out of it or dismiss it as nothing.

But imagine how you would feel if you were sharing some deep emotional stuff or critical business information and the people who were supposed to be attentive were not listening.

We are all naturally inclined to “want to be heard” whenever we are talking. The tough part is that the mind tends to drift off whenever someone talks for more than 14 seconds.

Being a good listener can really put you on top of someone’s list of people he likes. And depending on what type of relationship you have with that person, it could mean a lot of good things going your way when you have been tagged as a good listener.

The irony is that you don’t really have to be a good listener in order to reap the rewards of being one. You can also pretend to be one and get the same results.

Here are some tips you can use to train yourself into a better listener or at least be perceived as one.

1) Make a commitment

Granted. Important discussions and casual conversations that require you to really listen does not happen all the time. But when a time comes where you know that you have to get in gear, make a mental commitment to listen.

While we are incapable of giving interactions total focus all the time, we can DECIDE which conversations to activate the attention switch.

Don’t get distracted by anything around you and attempt to give 100% focus.

Imagine if your smartphone suffered a hardware problem and you decided to get the spare part and replace it yourself. You would undoubtedly give your phone surgery 100% attention and focus while doing the task.

If you are able to do that, you can do the same with listening.

2) Look the part

There are some instinctive reactions people make when truly listening. You can copy these behavior to at least make it appear like you are listening.

The talking party would absolutely love it 😀

  • Nod
  • Frown
  • Smile
  • Laugh
  • Raise eyebrows
  • Use affirmations like “Yes”, “Alright”, “Go on”, etc

3) Offer feedback

Giving feedback as a response is one of the most effective techniques to ensure the speaker feels listened to.

How else would you be able to do that unless you were listening?

3 types of feedback are known to be able to achieve this effect.

  1. Practice empathy
  2. Paraphrasing
  3. Repeat the last sentence as a question

Let’s use this sentence as one said by the speaker, and use examples of all 3 ways to respond.

“It’s 9pm and I can’t believe that I’m still in the office! This job is shit!”

  • Empathy: Wow I would be livid if I was still working at 9pm.
  • Paraphrasing: Still in the office at this time. That’s a demanding job.
  • Repeat: 9pm and you are still in the office?

Giving feedback don’t just enable a speaker to feel listened to, it also encourages him or her to talk more and elaborate on the topic. This why listening skills is a key trait of great negotiators.

4) Never talk over the speaker

Interrupting and talker over someone else can be a useful tactic in school debates and fierce negotiations. But it is never a good thing to do when you want to the other party to find you as a good listener.

I understand that sometimes, a comeback has to be inserted into a conversation in order to achieve the best desired effect. So you need to make a judgment call on this one.

If in doubt, let the speaker finish before your comeback or rebuttal.

Sometimes a speaker is building a story towards a climax. And with your interruption, he is unable to tell a story the way he wanted to. This can leave him feeling disappointed that what he spent hours rehearsing fail to come to fruition.

And you never know.

Maybe if you had allowed him to finish, you would not have made a comment that made you look stupid.

5) Practice

Becoming a good listener can take time. You need time and practice to hone your listening skills.

So don’t put the burden of instant success on your shoulders. That’s just brewing stress and anxiety.

Practice listening with the people around you.

  • Close friends
  • Family members
  • Colleagues
  • etc

Other than these sources, try listening when watching TV or when listening to the radio.

Listening is one of the most underrated soft skills.

For example, in many critical negotiations, it is seldom about how well you articulate. But more about how well you are listening to what the other party is ACTUALLY saying.

This is such a essential and yet ignored skill, that you might be able to get a competitive edge over a lot of people when you learn how to harness it.

So do make mastering it a goal in both life and career.

4 Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness is essentially the practice of focusing on your immediate surroundings.

It is associated with things like meditation, yoga, controlled breathing, etc.

When you practice mindfulness, you clear your mind and focus only on what is around you.

There are actually a lot of benefits associated with mindfulness.

In this article, you are going to be introduced to just 4 of the many benefits associated with mindfulness.

1) An improved ability to focus

One of the main benefits of mindfulness is how it teaches you to focus on what is in front of you.

A lot of people struggle with focusing on the task at hand, their minds wander.

This is understandable; after all, people in modern society tend to be overloaded with worries and things that they need to do.

However, being unable to focus can lead to problems in both your work and home life.

Mindfulness trains people to focus their minds on things like their surroundings, their own body, etc.

2) Greater control over their emotions

A major component of mindfulness is learning how to channel your emotions and feelings. Many people suffer from an inability to control their emotions.

They become frazzled easily and make bad decisions.

I am sure that if you think about your own family, you can probably identify several people who suffer from an inability to control their emotions.

Mindfulness requires people to channel their emotions.

Because of this, during highly stressful or otherwise emotional times, mindful people are able to take a few minutes, calm themselves down, and think rationally.

3) Reduced stress levels

One of the most useful benefits of practicing mindfulness is how it can alleviate stress.

Everyone has to deal with some level of stress, but for many, stress can be crippling.

Practicing mindfulness can’t make the source of your stress go away, but it can help you cope with it more effectively than other stress relief strategies.

You clear your mind and focus on things that don’t cause stress.

Since your mind isn’t clouded by stress, it gives you time to think about solutions to whatever it is that is causing the stress in the first place.

4) Better memory

Practicing mindfulness is able to improve your memory for two reasons. Firstly, stress (which mindfulness alleviates) can make your memory worse.

So, by getting rid of stress, mindfulness enables you to be able to focus and remember things better.

Secondly, mindfulness is like a workout for your brain. Your brain is like a muscle, by working out your brain, it gets stronger.

How to Make Time for Mindfulness

Mindfulness can help many different aspects of your life, and if you understand the benefits, it’s time to start thinking about how to fit it into your busy routine.

At first, you may feel like you’re already too busy and you can’t possibly find time to start doing something new.

However, finding time to be more mindful doesn’t have to be difficult, and here are some of the easiest ways you can incorporate it into your day.

1) Spend less time online

Think about the time that you spend online – like most of us it’s probably a fair bit of your day.

When you’re in bed at night, are you on your phone or playing a game?

When you finish work, are you watching movies or checking Facebook for the latest updates?

Before you log on, force yourself to take just 5-10 minutes to spend time being mindful.

This could be writing down some thoughts from the day, sitting down to meditate or practising a couple of new yoga moves.

2) Be mindful while you commute

If you commute to work every day, this is a great opportunity to spend your time doing something useful.

Many commuters spend around an hour or more per day travelling, whether it’s on the train, bus or in your car.

During this time, you can allow yourself at least a few minutes to practise mindfulness.

Think about how you feel in the moment, the people around you and what you think and feel about different things.

3) Wake up 5 minutes earlier

If you want to make sure you get something done, the best time to do it is in the morning.

Rather than setting your alarm for 7am, wake up at 6:55am and spend the first five minutes of your day meditating or being mindful.

Not only will this get your day off to a great start, but you’ll feel positive about the fact you’ve managed to do something worthwhile even before you’ve had breakfast!

4) Establish a routine

Rather than trying to find a new place and a new way to be mindful every day, keep the same routine.

If you decide to practise mindfulness when at the gym, try to do this on a regular basis.

If you want to wake up earlier to do it, establish a new earlier morning routine in order to accommodate this.