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24 Best Habit Tracking Apps (2018 Updated)

22. February 2018 - 12:00

Everyday our lives are governed by habit. These habits are the little routines and small ways of doing things. Most people are unaware or are only slightly aware that they’re doing them.

Some habits, like smoking, can have harmful effects on your health; others like procrastination can affect your work and career.

Therefore it’s important to take back control. This can be extremely hard, some habits after all are so ingrained that we do them without thinking. Luckily there are many habits tracking apps available especially designed to help you tackle your bad habits.

1. Momentum Habit Tracker

This app has a number of great features which makes it ideal for keeping track of habits and routines.

One of the most interesting features is that with Momentum, you can import your data into an Excel document, which allows for cross platform viewing of your progress. On top of this you’re able to set weekly targets and take notes allowing you to easily take control of your habits.

But unlike many apps on this list, Momentum is optimized exclusively for apple devices and as such, you won’t find it on Android which is unfortunate. However a benefit of this exclusivity is that your profile on Momentum can be easily integrated on the iCloud.

Download: iOS

2. Habitica

Habitica is extremely creative in its approach to tracking and maintaining good habits. It is inspired by RPG video games, each task you complete will level up your customized avatar giving you an extra incentive to stay motivated.

Its unique video game inspired design makes keeping track of your habits and goals fun.

The app isn’t limited to just habit tracking, but with it you can join your friends and complete quests and missions. It’s not just video game inspired, but is a game in itself.

But those who aren’t interested in video games may not prefer Habitica.

Download: iOS and Android

3. Productive Habit Tracker

Productive’s simple, but well designed interface makes keeping track of your habits simple. It is intuitively designed, with it, you’ll be able to starting planning in seconds.

Though it is simple in its design, it is full of great features, and best of all. The app keeps track of your successes, meaning you’ll be able to measure your continuing improvement and stay motivated.

Download: iOS

4. StickK

StickK was developed by behavioral economists at the prestigious Yale University. On signing up, you create a commitment contract with yourself and the app to reach your goals, you can even bet money on yourself.

For added motivation, you can assign a friend or family member to check your data to ensure you’re on your way to reaching your goals.

The unique commitment contract idea could be a brilliant way to stay motivated. This aspect is backed by great research, the app is based on the principles of Thaler’s nudge theory

On top of everything, the app has an eye catching and interesting layout.

Download: iOS and Android

5. Habitshare

Habitshare blends a social networking site with a habit tracker, allowing you to grow habits with friends.

The social options are well done and relatively uncommon, and unlike others with a social networking options, there is a messaging options allowing you to communicate with friends in real time. This allows you to motivate your friends, or be motivated by them, with it your goals become team efforts. You can also disable the social aspect and keep things private.

However, Habitshare doesn’t allow you to schedule tasks to be done on a monthly basis, which may be useful if you usually schedule monthly bill paying.

Download: iOS and Android

6. MindSet: The Good Habit App™

Mindset, has a warm, friendly layout that is easy to understand and use.

Though many apps have a journal system, Mindset brings it to the front and center which is useful if you know that there will be many things to remember.

Currently the app is only available to registered users of Mindset which is offered with membership to certain groups and organisations.

Download: iOS and Android

7. Streaks

This apple design award winner is built around encouraging you to maintain a 12 day streak of a good habit, as such it is a great way to stay motivated.

The interface is extremely customizible, as such, you can make it suit you and your tastes.What’s more it can be easily integrated with Health app, one of the most popular apps on the IOS. Used together, you’ll be able to develop healthy habits with ease. If you’re falling behind, the app will send you a reminder, and keep you on target.

Download: iOS

8. Habit List

Habit List is all about developing and maintaining a streak of beneficial habits.

It is great at tracking your habits over a long period of time, enabling you to easily make sense of your progress in a way that is easy to read and understand.

If you have a complicated schedule, or want to complete specific tasks on specific days, you can easily set a calendar of activities to complete, and view them accordingly.

Download: iOS

9. Balanced

Balanced is designed to help you keep track and measure your sleeping patterns, your exercise, and time you spend sitting, encouraging you to develop healthier habits.

Unlike many apps, Balanced is completely focused on healthy habits. It gets you to be concentrated on only three activities at a time so you won’t be overwhelmed.

Download: iOS and Android

10. Simple Habit Tracker

Don’t be fooled by its name, simple habit tracker is one of the more interesting habit trackers and is packed with interesting features.

If you’re looking for inspiration, the app comes with over 200 pre-designed habits to get you started. One of the most appealing things is the s beautifully designed and eye catching interface.

Download: iOS

11. Habitbull

Habit-bull is one of the most feature-rich habit tracker apps and it’s detailed recording system means you’ll be able to get detailed information about your progress.

If you’re aiming to increase your fitness, Habitbull can be integrated with GoogleFit.

If you’re worried about losing your data, don’t worry it can all be backed up on the cloud, meaning you’ll never need to worry about losing track of your data.

But anyone who’s looking for a more simple habit tracker may find this one complicated.

Download: iOS and Android

12. Strides Habit Tracker

Strides Habit Tracker is a good all rounder, with all you expect from a great habit tracker and more.

The app is quick and easy to use, so you’ll be able to start developing great habits right away. If you plan to complete a set number of tasks for a specific date, the app calculates if you’re on track to complete it on time, enabling you to tailor your habits around your goals.

Download: iOS

13. Coach.me

Coach.me comes with all you might expect from a quality habit tracking app, with the extra unique feature of being able to hire either a habit coach or even a leadership coach for extra costs.

The coach hiring feature, if you can afford it, has the potential of having a radical impact on your goals and productivity. There are two options, leadership coaching and habit coaching, so you’ll be able to get the training you need.

Download: iOSAndroidWeb Browser

14. 42 Goals

42 Goals is quite simple in its design, but comes with many of the features you’d expect. Unlike many similar apps, it is optimized mostly for web browsers. The website has an online community allowing you to share your progress with friends.

Currently it is neither on IOS or Android, but they are in development, so stay tuned!

Get started: 42goals.com

15. Habit – 21 day routine

Habit – 21 day routine is built around the principle that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, as such, it encourages you to maintain a new habit over 21 consecutive days.

The app’s layout is beautifully designed. The idea that it takes 21 days to form a new habit is supported by research, as such it is possible you’ll find it extremely beneficial.

The app limits you to one habit at a time, with extra costs attached to additional habits. And at the moment there seems to be no free version

Download: iOS

16. Chains.cc

Chains.cc is fairly unique in its approach, each time you stick to your habit, your chain grows, helping you stay motivated.

The app has a beautiful and intuitive interface. Most importantly, it can be used both online and off, allowing you to keep track of your habits wherever you are

This is not a free app but it is relatively inexpensive.

Download: iOS

17. Done

Done gives you the ability to track an activity multiple times a day, on top of this, the app is full of the features you’d expect from a great habit tracker.

With the app, you can easily track habits you want to build up, and ones you want to slowly eliminate. Unlike many other apps, it features a number of customization options making it suit your tastes.

The Premium version (paid) even allows you to export your habit data as a CSV file or on Dropbox.

Unless you upgrade to premium, you can only track 3 habits on the basic version.

Download: iOS

18. Good Habits

Good Habits offers many great ways to track the progress of your habits thanks to its smart design.

The app enables you to look at the precise data of your habits and chains. Enabling you to check your progress with ease (paid version).

It can be used with Apple Watch and the Today Widget for extra usability.

Unfortunately, there ultimately is not too much to set it apart from other apps. But if you like the way it looks, you might have a great time.

Download: iOS

19. Habitify

Habitify is bold in its design, and is both sleek and easy to use, and complicated and detailed.

Habitify allows you to keep focused boy showing you the habits and jobs needed to do sooner first, making it ideal for busy people. Detailed graphs and statistics show you all you need to know about your progress and your habits.

It can also be seamlessly synchronized across all you iOS devices.

It is relatively low on customization options, but if this isn’t a problem for you, you’ll find a lot to love

Download: iOS

20. Sessions

Sessions is a well designed app great for timing your activities and habits.

It is visually pleasing to look at thanks to its uncluttered interface. It allows you to set specific amounts of time to perform each activity, you’ll be able to carefully plan and structure your day and routine. You can also track your progress as you develop your habits and routines for maximum efficiency.

Download: iOS

21. Morning Routine Habit Planner

Morning Routine allows you to focus on one habit at a time, ensuring you stay focused.

It can be used in conjunction with Siri, for hands free use, a rare and useful feature.

The app includes inspiring advice from influential and successful people, which is a great motivator.

Download: iOS

22. Persistence

Persistence has many ways to make you stay motivated. The app tells you when you are on or off target for completing your goals enabling you to correct yourself and succeed.

Being able to quickly tell when you are off and on target is extremely useful, ensuring you’ll always know when are where to push yourself or relax. As well as this, there are numerous other options and ways to track your goals.

It also allows you to enter notes about your progress and habits to ensure you remember all you need.
It has a $1.99 price tag with no free version. But it’s still less than a cup of coffee!

Download: iOS

23. Rabbit, Habit Reminders

Rabbit is a way to set yourself regular reminders to help you maintain your good habits and routines. If you are looking for a simple way to set reminders, you’ll find a lot to like here.

However, it lacks many of the features common in other habit tracking apps, such as the ability to make notes and keep a log of your successes or failures making it difficult to tell how you are progressing.

Download: iOS

24. Way of Life

Way of Life advertises itself as the “ultimate habit building app” and you can see why. It comes laden with features to ensure you are in control of your habits and routines.

On first use, users are presented with an interactive tutorial, to ensure they quickly know how to understand and use all the key features, including: the ability to share your progress on your social media profiles, export your data as an Excel file or CSV file, archive your completed goals for a full record of your success.

Some may find the layout complicated, however this is mitigated thanks to the tutorial.

Download: iOS and Android

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Leadership vs Management: Is One Better Than the Other?

21. February 2018 - 12:00

Being an excellent manager doesn’t make someone a strong leader. We’ve all run into someone who uses the titles interchangeably, and it can be frustrating.

Knowing the difference leadership vs management helps you understand your role in your organization. By recognizing the difference, you can sharpen your abilities so that you can reach your fullest potential. Knowing what separates managers and leaders can also help you figure out how to achieve the best balance of leadership and management qualities.

In this article, I will explore the similarities and differences between leaders and managers, and help you figure out how to get the best of both worlds.

What are leadership and management?

A leader’s power comes from their ability to get buy-in from others. They use their influence to challenge norms and guide innovation. As Drucker implies, leaders sometimes bend the rules to spur change. Peter Drucker aptly puts it:[1]

“The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers. To gain followers requires influence but doesn’t exclude the lack of integrity in achieving this.”

Managers ensure that employees conform to standards and adhere to policies. They make sure that the goals of their leaders are carried out. They are capable and responsible, but their contribution to organizations is strictly by-the book.[2]

Key differences between leadership and management Focus on goals and vision vs. Focus on tasks

Leaders are oriented toward their company’s vision and goals. They look at the big picture and come up with new ways to actualize their vision.[3] When leaders try new things, they always tie their ideas back to the company’s mission.

Managers are task-masters. While they may care about an organization’s vision, their job is to stick to policy. Managers carry out the big ideas for their organization’s leaders.

Sell it vs. Tell it

Since leaders are always on the cusp of innovation, they have to convince others that their ideas are worthwhile. Remember, they gain their authority by encouraging others to buy into their line of thinking.

On the other hand, managers don’t have to sell an idea because their role is to enforce policies. If someone steps out of line, they can fall back on procedures. Employees do as their managers tell them.

Take risks vs. Minimize risks

Anytime you try something new, you must take a risk. Leaders take risks by default because they often push for change.

Managers are put in place to keep risks to a minimum. They make sure that workers are doing what they’re supposed to do in the manner the company tells them to. When problems arise, a manager may take the problem to leadership to amend policies.

Encourage vs. Instruct

The lines between management and leadership blur here depending on how the manager approaches their duties. Ultimately, leaders offer encouragement to employees to think outside the box and see the big picture.

Managers usually have clear guidelines about different aspects of their workplace. They may provide encouragement, but their main job is to tell you how things are supposed to be done. They’re the person you turn to when you want to figure out the best way to do your job.

Go against the grain vs. Go with the flow

Leaders need to challenge the status quo or else their organization risks stagnation.[4] They try new things to see if they can be more effective. They work to align company policies with the company’s vision.

Managers, on the other hand, maintain the status quo. They’re doing their best work when they are enforcing the guidelines set out by the leaders.

Motivate vs. Approve

When you try new things, your risk of failing increases. Leaders must be motivated, and they’re great at keeping others motivated. They tie everything they do back to the company’s vision. When a company has a strong vision, a leader can use it as a rallying point for inspiring employees.

When you’re managing people, your main objective is to decide if something passes muster. Managers look at their subordinates’ actions and determine whether they meet the standards set out by the company.

Break the rules vs. Follow the rules

Leaders have to play fast and loose with the rules to get ahead. Rules are often too rigid to allow for innovation, which means that leaders frequently bend them. When a company or organization is badly broken, leaders may disregard the rules entirely.

If a manager wants to keep their job, they stick to the strategies set out by superiors. Bending and breaking the rules undermines their position, which can weaken the company.

Inspire trust vs. Expect control

When someone is guiding you through uncharted territory, you must have a certain level of trust in them. A strong leader is excellent at inspiring trust to take people to places they’ve never been.

Managers’ authority rests in their ability to have control outright. You don’t have to like or trust your manager to do what you’re told. Managers expect and need control to do their job well.

Foster ideas vs. Assign tasks

Leaders thrive on making improvements by trying new things. They foster new ideas and free thinking because this supports their aims. They know that if they can encourage more people to think outside the box, the collective brainpower of the group will drive more innovation.

Managers can’t encourage free thinking because they wouldn’t be able to fulfill company expectations. Telling people what to do is the only way they can ensure that employees will do what they’re supposed to in the way they’re supposed to do it.

Is one better than the other?

As you may have noted, there are some stark differences between leaders and managers, but leadership and management are complementary.

Leaders are risk-taking, innovating, game-changers. Managers are by-the-book maintainers of the status quo. That doesn’t mean that it’s better to be one or the other.

Companies need managers and leaders to run smoothly. A lack of management puts organizations at risk for falling out of compliance and not meeting goals. A lack of leadership leads to a stagnant and uninspired workforce.

Leaders and managers may exist at opposite ends of a spectrum when it comes to authority, but they’re on the same team. A leader can have a grand vision, but without managers to carry it out, the vision won’t be realized. Managers have to adhere to standards, but if they aren’t inspired by leadership, they won’t be able to share their vision with the workforce.

How to strike the balance between leadership and management

There’s a happy medium between leadership and management. In some cases, you do need someone to perform as strictly one or the other. The best authority figures know when to apply leadership and management to greater and lesser degrees.

When to use leadership skills:

The degree to which you’re able to use leadership skills depends on your workforce and your company’s way of operating. If your members are clear about the team’s vision and goals, they’re more likely to be inspired by a leader.

For an authority figure to lean more toward leadership, they need to be able to trust that workers are already fully aware of and compliant with company policies. If you constantly have to babysit your team members to perform basic tasks, it’s going to be difficult to encourage free thinking.

When a team is made up of dedicated individuals who understand their roles, you have more leeway. They’ll be able to handle innovation and creativity while keeping up with their responsibilities. When a leader can enter into a dialogue with workers about company policies, they can come up with new ideas together.

When to take on the role of a manager:

When you’re new on the job, you need somebody to tell you how things should be done. Managers are an absolute necessity when your team members are new. They can help workers figure out how to do their jobs in the most efficient way possible.

Managers are also excellent at figuring out how much employees are capable of. They know that giving them too many responsibilities can have a negative impact on their performance and morale. They safeguard employee productivity by understanding how each person works and responds to stress.

Organizations always need managers to help employees with uncertainties that they may have about their work. The manager is the person who can show you where to find a procedure in the handbook. They take the mystery out of the work so that employees can meet company expectations.

Running a company made only of leaders would be like herding cats. Having managers run the show means that you’ll get a lot done, but you’ll never get better. Organizations need managers and leaders to reach their full potential. You can’t have one without the other.

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference [1] ^ Lund University: Leadership vs Management: A Business Excellence / Performance Management view [2] ^ EBA: The Leadership versus Management debate: What’s the difference? [3] ^ go2HR: Understanding the Differences: Leadership vs. Management [4] ^ Wall Street Journal: What is the Difference Between Management and Leadership? function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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Achieve Inbox 0 To Increase 100% Team Efficiency

20. February 2018 - 16:00

Founders and CEOs are always short on time, and their plates will never be cleared. But in order to succeed long-term, all leaders have to decide on strategic things they cannot let slip. These bottom lines form the rituals that help leaders make key decisions to help their teams get work done. It’s proven time and again that founders like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg need to have a ‘superhuman’ work ethic[1] to stay on top of their businesses.

Whether it’s wearing the same clothes like Obama, Zuckerberg, and the late Steve Jobs does, or setting fixed times to finish all your tasks, having an anchor ritual is key. When leading a company, a leader’s most critical role is decision making. You do not want to become the bottleneck[2] that’s holding your awesome team members back.

To help your business grow, you must achieve inbox 0. By ensuring that you’ve addressed all messages at the end of the day, your team will be able to hit the ground running tomorrow. Below are the ways I do it.

Turn off all notifications

First, turn off all your notifications. The cost of task switching[3] can break your train of thought and becomes a complete diversion. As tempting as it is to think that you must pick up those phone calls or respond to a direct message, don’t. Instead, by creating a response time buffer to protects your focus. You are giving yourself the space to return to only the important items later on. Read here to see why multi tasking isn’t as good as you thought it would be.

Set times to check messages

Give yourself two or three fixed times throughout the day to clean your inbox and other apps such as Slack, Hipchat, Pipedrive for sales and even Git if you are technical. By giving yourself a block of time to respond to messages, you are also giving more time to give thoughtful responses. Messages often fall into the problem solving or planning[4] type of work that is a different mindset from procedural tasks.

Use Automation tools so nothing slips through

Use a tool to help you collect all your messages in one place, such as Franz. Even more simply, bookmark all your messaging platforms (e-mail, Whatsapp, Trello, Asana, Missive, or Pipedrive) in one browser folder and open them all at once. Automate tasks like these so that you don’t have to spend time thinking about which platforms or channels to check every day.

Don’t give yourself tomorrow

“I’ll check that message tomorrow” is a luxury you can never allow yourself. That one message will quickly become two, three, and a hopeless pile by the end of the week. Productivity is the mentality of holding yourself to a standard. If you are staying up too late to clear your inbox, think about optimizing your schedule in other ways. For example, can you delegate some decision making tasks to team leads? Another way is to rearrange your social schedule or finding the most optimal times during the day to work on different tasks.

Give yourself a basic Yes / No question

Finally, learn to prioritize instantly by screening messages with a yes/no question. When scanning a notification, ask yourself: will this take less than 2 minutes to address? If yes, clear it now to reduce your task list. If it will take longer, then create an item on your favorite to-do app. Also consider importance and urgency. Is someone dependent on your answer? If yes, and your response only takes one line, then provide an answer to allow your colleague to continue their work.

As a leader, your responses are essential to guiding your company. By doing small behavioural changes, you can achieve inbox 0 by screening message priorities and scheduling dedicated time slots to respond.

Reference [1] ^ Business Insider: The unorthodox productivity hacks of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg [2] ^ Medium: How I attracted awesome team members as an introverted founder [3] ^ Fast Company: Worker, Interrupted: The Cost of Task Switching [4] ^ 99u: The 5 Types of Work That Fill Your Day function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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5 Ways To Increase Your Productivity To Match Your Business Growth

20. February 2018 - 14:00

Growth is a happy problem for any startup. You know your company is on the right track when you need more people to meet sales demands and have the budget to hire. But just growing your team or adding more hours alone isn’t enough. You and your team will need to optimize your productivity as well.

The initially harder, but smarter, way is to change your habits to regain your time[1] and grow your business.

I founded a company to keep my freedom to work on, work with, and work when I like. As I’ve grown my company from a 3-person team to over 50 people in two cities, I’ve learned the importance of work-life balance[2] to avoid burnout. Even if your workload grows, as an entrepreneur you need to protect your time. A successful business is one that improves its sales without sacrificing it’s teams’ quality of life. After experimenting with a range of productivity hacks and tools, below are the 5 most effective habits I’ve developed.

Keep your morning routine within a reasonable timeframe

How you wake up is even more important than when. A morning routine[3] is critical for starting on the right foot each day and most successful business leaders use early mornings to send e-mails.[4]

Whether it is making your cup of coffee, hitting the gym, or sending e-mails, do it every day. Also give yourself a fixed time to complete the routine. For example, I wake up at 8am and send e-mails until 9am. The ones I haven’t finished will be addressed during my two other scheduled e-mail checking sessions later in the day.

Track your time to instantly cut distraction

Use a time tracker without being OCD so that you can learn about how you are using your time (rather than how you think you are spending it). Find a time tracking tool such as Timing App,[5] which automatically detects what software you are using and what pages you are browsing to log what you did. The app removes the need to do manual time tracking, which means you won’t have gaps in your tracker. You do not need to be “OCD” because you can leave the time tracker on while taking breaks and counting it towards the task. After a week, you will probably notice where chunks of time disappear. For example, you may find you are spending three hours responding to only a few e-mails and remember that you tend to click on links or browse news simultaneously. For more time tracking and management tools, read here.

Simply by tracking your time, you are holding yourself accountable and it will motivate you to focus. Give yourself a target timeframe for responding to e-mails and you will naturally try to reach that goal with your time tracker turned on. With the focus, you may find yourself getting out of the office earlier than you used to!

Delegate your hours (and don’t give yourself extra time)

Plan your hours and stick to them. Bill Gates and Elon Musk divide their schedules into 5-minute slots.[6]

Planning out your days keeps you focused on priorities and protects your down time. When scheduling your waking hours, you force yourself to consider your whole day, including off hours. By giving mental space to your personal schedule, you will give yourself time to do errands, see friends and family, or just read a book, to recharge.

Do not let your tasks spill over. If you find a task, such as a product meeting, consistently takes longer than you wanted, adjust your estimation. Another effective approach is to schedule another fixed time to finish outstanding items. Knowing you have a deadline keeps you motivated to optimize your minutes.

Breakfast & Lunch meetings

When you want to spend dinners with friends and use office hours for work, what time do you have for meetings? The answer is breakfast and lunch. Everyone has to eat, so why not make that time more productive with discussions?

Having breakfast meetings catches people at their most productive[7] before other things take up their mental energy. In addition, scheduling meal meetings reminds you to eat, which is healthier and improves productivity.[8] Meetings with meals can be limited to one or two hours. Lightening up your meetings with food gives you a change of scene and your mind a break, which is important for avoiding burn out.

Ignore phone calls and call back while commuting

Lastly, reduce interruptions. I turn all my notifications to silent and check my phone when I am ready. This gives me control of my time and places calls into a time block, like e-mails. In addition, you will only return calls if they are a priority, which means you won’t be caught by ad hoc casual chats.

I make this doubly productive by returning calls only while commuting. Making a call while on the train or walking puts a time limit and focuses on the essential points. I am able to recapture lost productivity during commutes by discussing things when I cannot work on a keyboard.

Take a step back

While it is tempting to squeeze in those extra hours to help grow your business, it’s important for entrepreneurs to take a step back to work smarter. Managing a fuller plate for the long term requires developing habits that reduce distractions. Learn where you can make efficiency gains, stay healthy, and give yourself personal time.

Reference [1] ^ Entrepreneur: How I Regained My Time — and My Sanity — and Still Grew My Business [2] ^ AIB: 3 Reasons Why Work Life Balance Is Important [3] ^ Forbes: 6 Morning Rituals That Will Make You Productive All Day [4] ^ Business Insider: 21 successful people who wake up incredibly early [5] ^ Timing App [6] ^ Business Insider: Bill Gates and Elon Musk share a daily scheduling habit that helps them tackle their busy routines [7] ^ Everwall: Why a Weekly Breakfast Meeting Can be Good for Your Company [8] ^ SMH: 10 healthy eating habits for a productive work day function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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74 Healthy Habits That Will Improve Your Overall Well-Being and Make You Feel Good

20. February 2018 - 12:00

Poor health and low energy levels can negatively impact every part of your life. Your creative spark can be destroyed, leaving you with zero inspiration and ideas. Work would become tedious and hard going, and your social life would become a shadow of what it used to be.

Life for you would no longer be fun. It’s a sorry state of affairs.

What you need to transform your life is a healthier lifestyle. One that will bring back your natural energy and zest for life.

By learning the best healthy habits to take and following the tips in this article, you’ll be able to get back to this optimum state.

What makes a healthy habit?

You may be surprised to learn that more than 40 percent of the actions you perform every day aren’t actually decided by you. They’re actually habits. Habits dictate how we live, how we perform, and the results we achieve in life. This is why it is so important to have strong, positive habits.

In case you’re wondering what habits consist of, think of them this way: something that you regularly do without having to consciously think about.

According to Medical Dictionary, a healthy habit is

“a behavior that is beneficial to one’s physical or mental health, often linked to a high level of discipline and self-control.”

Positive habits are the basis of your success, while healthy habits improve your overall well-being and make you feel good. Good habits include things like regular exercise, a balanced diet, punctuality, keeping promises, etc.[1]

Positive habits make it possible for us to do things without spending exorbitant mental effort. For instance, instead of thinking how to walk down the stairs in a morning, this is taken care of by your subconscious mind which has learned the habit of walking safely down stairs. You don’t need to think about moving your legs, and controlling your balance, etc.

74 healthy habits to improve your overall well-being

Now you understand what habits are, and the benefits positive habits offer, let’s take a look now at 74 healthy habits you should adopt to transform your life. These habits are broken into three sections:

  • Habits to build a healthy body
  • Habits for a healthy mind
  • Habits for healthy relationships
Habits to build a healthy body

A healthy body is the fundamentals to achieve anything you want. While it’s so important to maintain a fit and healthy body, many people are tempted to eat unhealthy food, skip exercises and lead an unhealthy lifestyle.

Here’re 20 healthy habits you should start to take for a fitter body:

1. Make sure you chew your food well 

Most people gobble down their food, and don’t take the time to chew or enjoy it properly. If you’re one of these people, try slowing down your eating by chewing your food longer than you would normally do. You’ll enjoy the taste of your food more, and you’re likely to eat less too.

2. Stock up on healthy food

At home you snack on what’s in your cupboards, refrigerator and freezer. If all you have in there is ultra-processed foods like fries, chocolate and ice cream, then you’ll find yourself snacking on them (not a good idea). To break this habit, make sure you have loads of healthy foods in your home like dried fruits, seeds and nuts to help satisfy your hunger cravings.

3. Aim to do 10,000 steps a day

Sounds like a lot? Well, it’s actually the minimum amount recommend by fitness experts. It’s not too difficult to reach 10,000 steps in a day. Simply walk in the park in the morning and evening, and take the stairs instead of the elevator at work.

4. Take a walk at lunchtime

Lunchtimes don’t need to be just for eating. You can use the time to get some valuable air, light and exercise. I usually walk for half of my lunch break – the other half I leave for eating.

5. Freeze your fruits and veggies

This is a great thing to do, as freezing these foods means they’ll last until you’re ready to eat them. And of course you can freeze them when they’re at their peak, so they’ll taste great when defrosted and/or cooked. This technique is also a superb way to enjoy healthy fruits and veggies outside of their normal seasonal availability.

6. Focus on colors, not calories

Too many people put their health and diet focus on how many calories they are consuming every day. But a healthy diet is not just about calories.

For example, there is a big difference between eating a handful of raw nuts and the same calorie amount of cake. Sure, the latter may taste better to you – but the nuts will always be the healthier choice.

7. Add an extra serving of greens to your plate

One simple way to boost your intake of healthy foods is to add an extra serving of greens to each of your meals. If you normally eat burger and fries (not recommended!), start adding a portion of peas or a green salad to your plate. Over time, you can start increasing the greens – and reducing the junk food.

8. Be active outside the gym

I’m sure you’ve spotted people at work who go to the gym most morning. They certainly know how to start their day well, but watch their habits after that. Often they sit down all day at their desk, and no doubt go home and chill out in front of the TV.

While going to the gym is commendable, don’t make it your be all and end all. Get out in the fresh air and natural light and move your body the way nature intended – by walking and running.

9. Eat carbs every day

From time to time, carbs go out of fashion. We’re warned their bad for us, and we should avoid them. However, no-carb and low-carb diets usually end up as fads. That’s because carbs are actually are an excellent source of energy for our bodies.

Of course, our ancestors lived and thrived on carb-heavy diets for thousands of years. Just make sure you’re choosing healthy carbs, such as: wholemeal breads, oatmeal and sweet potatoes:

10. Choose healthy fats

Not all fats are the same. Some are good for us, some are not. Which are the healthy fats? If you stick to cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and avocados, you’ll be getting the essential nutrients you need – in the healthiest forms available.

11. Don’t eat until you’re full

A healthy person’s stomach is the size of a fist, while an unhealthy person’s stomach can be the size of a football. It’s a shocking fact. The cause of the grotesque stomach expansion is overeating. When this is done regularly, the stomach starts to stretch. Consequently, the person needs to eat more and more to maintain that full, satisfied feeling.

How to avoid this? Always eat a little less than you think you need or would like. This will keep your stomach at its natural size – and your body at a healthy weight too.

12. Avoid over exercising

People who over exercise tend to age quicker than they should.[2] Most things in life come down to balance, and exercise is no exception. Over exercising for months and years will deplete your body of its vital energy – leaving you drained and feeling out-of-sync.

13. Swap soft drinks for water

Soft drinks are typically full of sugar (or artificial sweeteners), coloring and other nasties! They may taste good, but they’ll leave you feeling bad. Instead, ditch the soft drinks and switch to drinking mineral water or filtered tap water. Your body will thank you.

14. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual

In today’s age of Netflix and YouTube, it’s all too easy to find yourself watching just one more video. Pre-internet, you’d have probably gone to bed two or three hours earlier than you currently do. My suggestion? You have an alarm to wake you up in the morning. How about setting an alarm to notify you when it’s time to turn off the TV and get yourself to bed.

Sleep is a powerful restorative – so make you’re getting an adequate amount of it.

15. Stop weighing yourself

This ties in with my earlier comments about calories (see No. 6). Some people – perhaps including yourself – are fixated on their weight. They weigh themselves every morning and every night. If they lose weight, they’re ecstatic. But if they gain weight, they can quickly sink into depression.

Now, please don’t get me wrong, you certainly should be aiming to have a healthy weight. However, this will be a natural consequence of eating healthily and exercising regularly.

16. Cut down on your meat intake

Have you heard of meat-free Mondays? This is exactly as it sounds, no meat eaten on every Monday. If you’re a big meat eater, then meat-free Mondays are a great way to immediately reduce your meat intake. And it will also introduce you to the delicious flavors available in vegetarian and vegan meals.

17. Choose enjoyable exercise

You might be putting off exercising as you don’t like going to the gym or running in the cold weather. Instead, why not choose fun exercises like dancing, yoga or a team sport? When exercise is fun, you’ll have much more motivation to do it regularly.

18. Halve your sugar intake

We all know that sugar is bad for us, but yet, most of us still consume masses of it every single day. The problem of course, is that sugar tastes great. So good, in fact, that we literally become addicted to it.

Now, if I told you to go ‘cold turkey’ and cut out sugar completely from your diet tomorrow – you almost certainly wouldn’t be able to do it. That’s why I recommend a reasonable and attainable goal of halving your sugar intake. You can do this through simple steps like: reducing or cutting out sugar in tea or coffee, stopping adding sugar to your cereals, and choosing healthier snacks (see No. 2).

19. Buy a reusable water bottle and keep it on your desk

I used to come into the office and drink tea or coffee all day. I never thought about drinking water. Then I started to notice that some people brought in large, reusable water bottles that they kept sipping from throughout the working day. I decided to give this a go, and I was amazed by how easy it was to drink in excess of 500ml of water every day. And the best thing? I noticed that I felt more hydrated, more focused – and definitely healthier overall. Try it for yourself, and I’m sure, like me, you’ll never come to work without your water bottle.

20. Turn off technology from time to time

Technology is a great thing. It enables me to type these words – and for you to read them. But let’s be honest, it’s all too easy to become addicted to our TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. The majority of people are staring at one of these devices for most of their morning, afternoon, evening and beyond. It’s a non-stop world of emails, SMS messages, news feeds, social media updates, etc.

My advice? Make sure you step out of this cycle of distraction by having regular breaks from your devices. For example, why not switch off all of your devices when you’re eating with your friends and family. Make conversation be your focus, instead of being absorbed by online stuff.

Habits for a healthy mind

Forming healthy habits for our mind is essential for our happiness and wellbeing. Here are 24 positive habits you can incorporate into your daily life to increase your mental wellbeing:

21. Spend time in nature

Being outside has found to have a profound effect on your mental wellbeing mainly due to exposure to sunshine increasing your serotonin levels. Research has also found that spending even a short amount of time around nature boosts your mood. Imagine spending a day in a place like this:

22. Have something to look forward to

Being in a state of positive anticipation and expectancy can increase your happiness level according to study published in the Official Journal of the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies.[3] Planning something you enjoy and take comfort in, whether it’s a trip, a planned run, meeting friends or curling up with that book you’ve always wanted to read can keep you from dwelling on any negatives.

23. Meditate

Meditation is probably the most talked about concept in the happiness camps and it has good reasons to be synonymous with good mental health. Studies have shown regular meditation practices reduce stress, anxiety and health issues. The main reason is it can help reduce overthinking and create a more mindful mindset. It can come in the form of just sitting quietly, yoga, prayer or purposeful breathing.

24. Move your body

Endorphins are the chemicals in the brain that basically reduce the perception of pain. When you move your bodies, these are released and essentially tell your brain that all is well. Even if it’s just getting up from your chair, dancing around when doing the housework or taking up a regular exercise routine, these actions can increase the feel-good chemicals and elevate your mood.

25. Learn something new

People who continue to learn into adulthood have greater overall wellbeing. This could be because the brain is constantly being refreshed and rewired but also the sense of achievement, optimism and distraction it creates. In other words, it gives you purpose and focus increasing the ability to cope with stress. So learn a new language, take up painting or enrol in a course you’ve always fancied doing to create more mental wellbeing.

26. Do something nice for someone

Kindness may be seen as just good manners but being genuinely kind towards others increases your own happiness as well as theirs. Positive social interactions, no matter how small they may seem, boosts your feel-good vibrations. Giving compliments with pure intentions, holding a door open or offering to pay for a stranger’s coffee will keep you feeling good for the rest of the day. Do this on a regular basis and you’ll keep your positive mindset topped up as well as creating happiness for someone else.

27. Re-evaluate toxic relationships

Sometimes people’s mental wellbeing declines because they get used to being around people who bring them down. This can damage their self-esteem and self-worth but they often don’t associate this with others. You are the sum total of the five people we’re around the most. Ask yourself are these five people supportive, kind and fun to be around? If not, it may be time to rethink your relationships.

28. Detox digitally

The dangers of too much social media is commonly said. The comparison game can cause you to feel deflated and like failures if we’re not living how others are currently living. This in itself is reason to have a period of detox from your phone or computer. The digital world, as much as it enhances our lives, can take away our present moments and allows us to miss what’s really going on around us. Detoxing will give you that sense of freedom of time to do other things that will boost your mental health.

29. Sleep more

Sleep often gets ignored when we’re living busy lives but that’s no excuse. Getting adequate sleep is paramount to an optimum healthy mind. Sleep deprivation causes mood swings, irritability, health issues and all-round disfunction that affects how we think and causes us to react negatively to things happening in our daily lives. More sleep equates to a sense of peace and motivation through your day instead of stress and anxiety.

30. Do things by yourself

Low self-worth or self-esteem can cause people to believe that they can’t do things by themselves. The need to always have someone to do things with can create a sense of neediness and lack of self-love. Going off and doing things by yourself builds confidence and a sense of freedom.

Don’t be afraid to be alone and make time for yourself; it’s a wonderful way to really reflect on yourself and have a breather away from others.

31. Express gratitude

Gratitude has been found to increase happiness and reduce stress creating a more positive mindset. People often get caught up on what didn’t go well in their day even if the majority of what happened was positive. A good habit to start is to think through your day and note everything that was great – from the straight-forward commute to work, a smile from a stranger, the delicious food you had for lunch or a text from your friend.

32. Sit and stand up straight

Body language is tightly connected to our mindset. When you slouch, it subconsciously creates the overall feeling of hostility, sluggishness, and negativity. When we sit or stand up straight it creates the feeling of power and confidence.

33. Find something to laugh about

Laughter is powerful as it reduces stress levels, improves mood and even short-term memory. Laughing together with someone is probably the best kind of laughter but just watching a funny TV show or even laughing by yourself can do the trick.

34. Write things down

Writing things down is very powerful because in the act of writing, the brain processes what’s being written down more slowly and so it becomes a kind of therapy. It can help you process emotions and identify difficult areas or limiting beliefs that continuous overthinking makes worse. Writing down goals and dreams can bring about a positive boost and making lists of past achievements can help show you successes in your life.

35. Spend time with your pet

Any loving animal can increase your feelings of positivity in small and meaningful ways. They decrease loneliness, get you active, create loving bonds, keep you present in the moment and give you purpose.

36. Change your routine

While routine can keep us comfortable, it also creates a sense of mundane life and can result in depression. Making just small changes in your routine can trick the brain into thinking you’re doing something completely different. It could be taking a different route to work, walking instead of taking the bus, going somewhere different for lunch or getting up slightly earlier in the morning. Changing things up creates variety and opens you up to different experiences and opportunities.

37. Explore your city or town

Being a tourist in your own town or city is not something people tend to consider. Pretend you’re visiting for the first time – what neighbourhoods would you visit? Where would you eat? Doing this can help you appreciate where you live and gain a different perspective to a familiar place which helps open up the mind.

38. Practice forgiveness

Forgiveness can be a hard concept for many. But a lot of our angst is caused by our inability to let things go and move on. This doesn’t mean condoning what someone has done but just dropping the negativity around it and moving forward. Studies have shown that forgiveness protects against stress and forgiving yourself is important too in order to release any baggage and self-hate and create a happy life.

39. Connect with someone

As social beings, we thrive on connection. When you’re feeling depressed, the last thing you want to do is talk or reach out to others. Keep in mind that talking to people, even just short conversations with friends or in support groups, can repair your sense of disconnection immensely. Relationships with others builds a sense of belonging and self-worth so make time to connect with someone.

40. Spend a day being mindful

This is a great way to examine how you move through your day. How does your breakfast taste? How do your legs feel when you’re walking? Where did the ingredients for your lunch come from? What emotions are you feeling in each moment?

Don’t judge yourself but just be in each moment. Bringing your mind to the present moment can help reduce depression in the process.

41. Consider a more positive perspective

A negative mindset creates a negative life. If you’re in this category of seeing the glass as always being half empty maybe question why you think this way. It could simply stem from beliefs you’ve picked up but understand there is always a choice in how you see things.

Choose to consider a different, more positive perspective next time. Doing this regularly will slowly help change the way you look at the world around you.

42. Stop taking photos of everything

While it’s great to take photos for keepsakes, spending too much time taking the photo rather than enjoying the moment can decrease our happiness. Psychologist Maryanne Garry of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zeal has found taking endless photos “manipulates both our memories and subjective interpretations of lived experiences,”[4] meaning we end up remembering less and don’t fully appreciate the moment.

43. Smile (even if it’s fake)

Genuine smiles portray our inner happy feelings but research has found even fake smiling tricks the brain into thinking we’re happy.[5] So even if you’re in a quiet room by yourself, smile and you’ll notice overtime, it creates a sense of mental wellbeing.

44. Do something that’s out of your comfort zone

One of the main reasons people can become depressed is their need to stay comfortable. Blame this on the brain; it’s doing all it can to stop you from doing something fearful because it’s a survival mechanism – if you’re comfortable then you’re safe.

Breaking out of comfort zones is never as scary as your brain imagines it to be and it creates confidence, wellbeing and opens up new and exciting possibilities.[6] The result? Better mental health.

Habits for healthy relationships

Being connected to others is crucial for our happiness.[7] Keeping strong connections with your family, friends, and your significant other can radically reshape how you view the world.

These are the top 30 healthy habits that can strengthen your bonds with the people who matter most in your life:

45. Respect your loved ones

The foundation of any good relationship is the level of respect within it. Being honest, avoiding gossip, and valuing your loved ones for the unique individuals they are sets the tone for all your interactions.

46. Thank them

Showing gratitude can be as simple as a verbal “thank you” or a short note, but the effects are far-reaching. Whether your partner just did a load of dishes or your friend swooped in at the eleventh hour to save the day, don’t miss the chance to say thanks.

47. Express yourself

If you really love someone, don’t be afraid to let them know. Say, “I love you,” often, and when you say it, mean it. Tell your significant other, friends, and family how much you care about them. Be generous with your affection.

48. Take a walk

Taking a stroll through the neighborhood is a great way to reconnect with your friend or partner. These walks are a great chance to get some fresh air and catch up on life without having to spend an arm and a leg.

49. Make each other laugh

Humor is a powerful way to bond with one another. Never miss a chance to make your loved ones laugh. Be a goofball, watch a comedy, and don’t be afraid to crack a joke at your own expense occasionally.

50. Set goals together

This habit is especially important for romantic relationships, in which you’re operating as a team. When you don’t set goals together, you risk sabotaging one another. Uniting to overcome a challenge is a powerful way to bond.

51. Take up a new hobby

Nothing kills friendships and romances faster than boredom. Don’t let things stagnate. Pick up a new hobby that you’re both interested in every now and then. Challenge one another to perfect your skills, and reap the benefits of growing together.

52. Do something nice “just because”

A great surprise requires thoughtfulness. It can be as simple as showing up with a cup of coffee or picking up your partner’s favorite treat on your way home. Send your mother a bouquet of flowers at random, or offer to help your friend with a project. You’ll make their day and show them how much you care.

53. Relax together

It’s not necessary to turn every moment together into an elaborate outing. Friendships and romantic relationships with staying power are those which can thrive in everyday situations. Learn to love watching TV together, going for walks, or sharing simple meals.

54. Take time for yourselves

Even the closest couples and friends need time to explore their individual interests. You don’t have to like the same things to get along. Your individuality is likely part of what drew you to one another. Make sure that you and your loved ones get time to nourish their talents and interests.

55. Reconnect on a regular basis

Texting and calling 24/7 isn’t a healthy habit, but touching base is great for a romantic relationship. For friends and family, it isn’t necessary to send a message every day, but connecting periodically gives you a chance to share your lives.

56. Do chores together

For couples, working in the house together prevents one party from feeling resentful toward the other. A 2007 study found that 62% of couples believe that sharing chores leads to a successful partnership.

57. Take time to snuggle

Physical contact influences how you feel about your significant other. The act of cuddling causes your bodies to release oxytocin, a hormone responsible for bonding. Hugging also causes the release of oxytocin, so this healthy habit applies to non-romantic relationships as well.

58. Tell them what you love about them

Saying, “I love you,” is great, but sometimes it’s nice to back the sentiment up with some examples. Let your friends and partner know what specific attributes you love about them. This confidence boost helps them weather whatever storms come their way.

59. Pay attention

Asking thoughtful questions and responding may seem like common sense, but many friend, family, and love relationships lack attentiveness. Listen deeply. Make eye contact. When a loved one talks to you, they should feel that they have your undivided attention.

60. Figure out their love language (and speak it)

The 5 Love Languages: Secrets to Love that Last, tells us that there are five main ways that people give and receive love. Knowing your significant other’s love language helps you learn the best ways to show your love based on their needs. It’s worth noting that the love languages are not limited to romantic relationships.

61. Ask about their day

This is a great way to start any conversation, whether your chatting with your dad or talking to your best friend. You’ll get a ton of information that can help you be present for them, and you’ll show that you’re genuinely interested in their life by asking this simple question.

62. Be honest

Honesty is critical for any relationship. When you care about someone long, you must be able to tell them the truth. They’re counting on you to be someone they can trust. Besides, it’s kinder than lying, and you never have to worry about them finding out that you fibbed.

63. Be their cheerleader

We all encounter challenges, but having someone who can cheer you on your worst day is a real gift. Be the person who can give them the encouragement they need to face whatever is in front of them. Sometimes your loved ones just need to know that you believe in them.

64. Unplug to reconnect

You can’t have quality time if you’ve got your heads buried in your phones, video games, or laptops. You can certainly enjoy those things with one another, but commit to spending some time together screen-free as well. If you’re out to lunch, make a no-screen policy so that you can actively listen to one another.

65. Show that you’re loyal

Fidelity is a no-brainer in a romantic relationship. Fidelity isn’t the only way to show loyalty, though. In all your relationships, be sure to shut down gossip and stand up for loved ones even if they can’t stand up for themselves.

66. Be the person they can count on

Your partner and friends should know that whether they had a bad day at work, or they’re sick, you are always ready to jump in and help. When things are going poorly for your family, your parents and siblings, know they can turn to you. You’re there on time every time they need you to be, and you mean what you say.

67. Pull your weight

It’s unfair to expect one partner or friend to shoulder the burden for everything. You don’t have to split every responsibility down the middle, but you do need to reach an agreement so that neither of you carry the load alone.[8] This applies to things like household chores, but it also relates to things like deciding where to eat or choosing an outing.

68. Make time for them

Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People once said:

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

If you want your relationships to last, you have to make them a priority. Schedule “appointments” with loved ones if you have trouble making the time to connect with them.

69. Love without judgement

Unless their behavior is a deal breaker, re-frame how you think about the other person’s flaws. To have real love, you have to love the real person. To see who someone truly is, they have to feel safe enough to show you without feeling judged. Your family, friends, and significant other should know that you love them, warts and all.

70. Forgive their mistakes

You aren’t perfect, and neither are your friends, your partner, or your family. When someone you love messes up, put yourself in their shoes. If it’s not worth ending the relationship over the mistake, forgive the person.

71. Be vulnerable and accept vulnerability

Being vulnerable can require practice in friendships and romantic relationships. With friends, this is your chance to show them who you are, and it gives them permission to be more open with you. With your partner, vulnerability with one another builds trust.

72. Start the day with them

For couples, beginning each day with your partner is a show of solidarity. Even if you work opposite schedules, you can find ways to share the beginning of a new day together. Write a note or spend a few minutes in the morning seeing them off.

73. Call it a day together

You don’t necessarily need to be on the same sleep schedule as your partner, but winding down together is a healthy habit. This act builds trust, and it gives you one more chance to reflect on the day.

74. Make decisions as a team

Independence is great, but when a decision you need to make will have a serious effect on your family, friends, or partner, it’s best to include them in the process. Remember that you’re in it together, and take time to establish how your team will communicate about major life decisions.

Taking up the healthy habits

To take up these healthy habits, pick one from the list and focus on that first. Check out our step-by-step guide on How to Build Good Habits and start leading a healthy lifestyle.

When you put in the time to develop these 74 healthy habits, the effort that you put into your body, mind and relationships will come back to you many times over.

Featured photo credit: Free-Photos via pixabay.com

Reference [1] ^ Medical Dictionary: Healthy Habit [2] ^ Web MD: Exercise Addiction in Men [3] ^ Springer: Vacationers Happier, but Most not Happier After a Holiday [4] ^ Mic: Psychologists Say Taking Too Many Photos Could Be Affecting Your Brain [5] ^ Psychology Today: Smile: A Powerful Tool [6] ^ Psychology Today: Breaking Free from Your Comfort Zone [7] ^ Greater Good Magazine: Happiness is being socially connected [8] ^ For Every Mom: 25 Good Habits for the Art of Friendship function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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How to Hack Your Brain and Reprogram Your Habits (Like a Computer)

16. February 2018 - 12:00

Do you struggle with overcoming bad habits? Do you find it difficult to stick with an exercise routine and constantly find yourself back where you started? If so, what would you think if I told you that you could reprogram your bad habits similar to how a computer programmer programs code? Sounds crazy right? Yet, it’s not.

Similar to programming computer code, it is possible to reprogram deeply ingrained habits. Computer coding is a perfect metaphor for writing, hacking, or reprogramming our own instructions. We see this when we compare computer coding to habit formation. Think of trying to break bad habits and form new positive habits. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit remarked,

What we know from lab studies is that it’s never too late to break a habit. Habits are malleable throughout your entire life. But we also know that the best way to change a habit is to understand its structure – that once you tell people about the cue and the reward and you force them to recognize what those factors are in a behavior, it becomes much, much easier to change.

So what exactly is computer coding, habit formation, and how can we reprogram our deeply ingrained habits?

What is Coding?

Coding is a finished set of instructions known as a program. We must write a code in a specific way for the program to work. In essence, we must write code in a language for which a computer can understand it. Many different computer languages exist, such as: HTML5, CSS, C, C++, Python, and JavaScript.

Think of our life as a finished set of instructions. In order to reprogram it, we must write our own code in a way that will change our bad habits. Essentially, we must find a reward system our mind and body can latch on to.

Vomputer code is similar to human DNA and it operates exactly like the code in computer software. Juan Enriquez informs us,[1]

Sequencing DNA decodes its programmatic intentions through its relationship to a combination of four letters of our alphabet: A, C, T, and G.

DNA is a self-replicating material present in all living life-forms and carries our genetic information. Tom Bunzel demonstrates the similarities in his book DNA is Software, Who “Wrote” the Code?  by placing a sequenced genetic code side by side with Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), which is the code for a web page.

Coding as a Metaphor for Writing Instructions for Life

My intent here is not to ask who or what wrote our life code (or even how it is done). My intent is to demonstrate that computer programming language (code) is a metaphor for life. The computer program is our life, where the computer code is our habits.

We can change our habits and switch genes off and on through epigenetics. We know that contemporary geneticists are able to switch genes on and off using DNA internal software. Essentially, they are copying and pasting code.[2]

Moreover, coding is writing instructions for computers, where a finished set of instructions is a computer program. Life is no different. Just as coding is writing instructions for a computer, our daily actions and habits are writing instructions for life. Learning to code will create a better computer program, so why not learn your code to build a better you?

Coding (Habit Breaking) Instructions

Charles Duhigg writes that every habit starts with a psychological pattern called a “habit loop” which is a three-part process.[3]

First, we find the cue or trigger informing our brain to go into automatic mode. Second, we identify the routine, which is the behavior itself. Third, we identify the reward, which is the thing that makes our brain remember the “habit loop” in the future.

Let’s examine how Duhigg used the “habit loop” to break his habit of going to the cafeteria and buying a chocolate chip cookie every afternoon.

Step 1: Identify the routine

Similar to understanding the structure and components of computer code, Duhigg writes that we must first understand the components of our loop.

Step 2: Experiment with rewards

We use specific inputs when we code, so why not change the inputs to see if we get a different output. Similarly, Duhigg experimented with his reward by adjusting his routine to see if it would deliver a different type of reward. For example, instead of walking to the cafeteria, he walked around the block.

Step 3: Isolate the cue

Duhigg says that we can ask ourselves (and record our answers) five things the moment an urge hits us in order to diagnose our habit. These questions are key to hacking our code (habits).

  1. Where are you?
  2. What time is it?
  3. What’s your emotional state?
  4. Who else is around?
  5. What action preceded the urge?
Step 4: Have a plan

Duhigg found once we figure out our “habit loop” we can shift our behavior. This is similar to rewriting code.

“Put another way, a habit is a formula our brain automatically follows: When I see CUE, I will do ROUTINE in order to get a REWARD.” – Charles Duhigg

Following Duhigg’s advice, we can reprogram or hack our code (habits) by actively making choices. We do this by making plans and a great strategy for this is through implementation intentions.

If-Then Strategy

An “If-Then” strategy is no different than computer language. IF you write a code, THEN you will get an output.

This is where the computer coding // human life metaphor makes the most sense to me. For example, let’s first imagine we are born as a blank smartphone.

Now let’s visualize two different outputs for a sprite or image on our phone (representing us). This image represents two possibilities for our future life. We can become a healthy and fit person or we can become an overweight and depressed person.

We must learn to code or write instructions in order to become the healthy and fit person. Essentially, we must learn to reprogram (or code) our life.

We can write instructions for our finished program (our life). I have identified specific instructions coded for my life in the image below. These instructions can also be imagined as habits.

Let’s examine some of the larger blocks of code I have built (where the output has created a healthy and fit person): morning routine, exercise, nutrition, water, knowledge, education, family, spirituality, and employment.

Essentially, IF we following a morning routine, we can THEN jump start a healthy morning workout.

IF we exercise, hydrate and eat right, we can THEN look and feel better.

IF we strive to improve our knowledge and experience a close relationship with our family, THEN we can live a happy and healthy life.

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference [1] ^ Ted Talks: Juan Enriquez The Life-Code that will Reshape the Future [2] ^ Graham Hancock: January 2017 AOM If DNA is Software, Who “Wrote” the Code [3] ^ Charles Duhigg: The Power of Habit function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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How to Have a Great Dining Experience the Budget-Friendly Way (From a Restaurant Insider)

15. February 2018 - 12:00

You know that you have total control over the ingredients, the preparation, and the portions when you’re preparing food at home. It’s the safest option. It’s healthier and cheaper than eating out too. However, sometimes you find yourself eating out due to necessity or just because you want a nice night out.

There are so many great restaurant options out there now that target very specific dietary requirements, from vegan to paleo. Once you’ve settled on a place that looks good, how do you get the best experience from the restaurant?

Along with working in fitness and nutrition, I’ve spent years working in restaurants, so I’ve seen a lot along the way. Let me share seven great tips to get the most out of your dining experience.

1. If you want a table for two, book a table for three

Every square foot in a restaurant means money. Tables of two can be stuck anywhere and tend to be pushed to the side or lumped all together. If you’re looking for a comfortable and more private night out for the two of you, reserve a table for three. It will get you a better location and more room.

2. Look for these first two indicators of a good restaurant

I’ve worked with secret dinners and one of the big ones on the list is the bathrooms. This will give you a good indication of not only the cleanliness of the place but the attention to detail. Washrooms should be spotless. If you see a messy and dirty bathroom, I can promise you the kitchen is in a similar condition. A dirty kitchen ends up serving dirty food.

The next indicator of a good place is the type of bread and butter, or free starters that come out. How often have you had a rock hard roll and frozen butter that tears it apart when you start to spread? I’m pretty sure the rest of the meal was nothing to write home about.

A good restaurant should serve warm, fresh and ideally baked in-house that day bread with soft spreadable butter. Bonus points if they serve butter with grain mustard or an assortment of oils and balsamic kinds of vinegar. This is a good sign that they take pride and care in the preparation of their food.

3. Look out for the decoy effect

If you’re a wine drinker, purely for the antioxidant benefits.., look out for what’s called the decoy effect. The decoy effect works like this: If there are two wines on the menu for $9 and $16 which would you choose? There’s honestly not a huge difference price wise and not a huge scale of reference. Now if you add a $47 wine into the mix most of the time people will go for the $16 one. The perceived value has changed and something you may not have bought because it seemed too high now appears as inexpensive and good value.

Wine lists will always have a few of these very expensive decoy wines at the top of the list to make the other ones appear cheaper. The trick is to have a few favorite wine and get familiar with the pricing and look for those ones whenever you dine out.

4. Have them make your own salad dressing

Any restaurant worth its salt should be making everything in-house including sauces and salad dressings. Even though they are made from scratch, many salad dressing can be high in fat and even sugar. If you’re in a chain restaurant, ditch them all together as you’re guaranteed to be getting a dose of trans fat *cough* Caesar salad *cough*.

Instead, ask them to make you a simple olive oil and red wine or balsamic vinegar dressing to come on the side. It’s the healthier option and you can control the amount you use.

5. Ask your server what they eat

I do this everywhere I go. After a while of working in a restaurant, all the dishes and items tend to just become products to the staff and they’re probably bored of most of them. If you want to find the best stuff on the menu, ask your server or hostess what they eat when they’re there. It’s a good way to find the really best stuff on the menu.

6. Avoid ice in your drinks

O.K time to get a little gross. Ice machines are not regularly cleaned, trust me, it’s a pain. This leads to a lot of bacteria growth that ends up in your drink. Six out of ten restaurants have been found to have more bacteria in the ice than in the toilet water.[1] This is because the toilets are more regularly cleaned than the ice machine. Even though it’s cold, bacteria still grows.

7. Avoid fruit in your drinks

I’m a very clean person and am aware of keeping my hands clean. But when I was a bartender, it was pretty impossible. Hands used to grab dirty glasses are then grabbing fruit that goes into your drink. A lot of the time, the fruit at the bar is never washed and is easily contaminated by whatever else the bartender has touched from dirty dishes and utensils to the rims of glasses other people have drunk out of.

Just to concern you further on this fruit issue The Journal Of Environmental Health took samples of lemon slices from 21 different restaurants and found 70% of the samples to contain twenty-five different microbial contents.[2]

Everyone loves a good meal out and it’s always a great eye opener to see what real chefs can come up with using simple ingredients. I’m sure you’ve had good restaurant experiences and plenty of bad ones too. Hopefully with some of these tips, you’ll be able to set yourself up for some more good ones.

Just don’t forget to check the bathrooms…

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference [1] ^ Mail Online: Ice in six out of ten restaurants has more bacteria than water from toilets [2] ^ Cleveland Clinic: What You Should Know About Dirty Lemon Wedges at Restaurants function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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How to Explain Difficult And Abstract Concepts (The Smart Way)

12. February 2018 - 12:00

Albert Einstein said,

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

But a lot of times, we struggle about how to explain some difficult, or even abstract concepts to others.

In this article, I will provide you with a solution: metaphor. Explaining and examining concepts using metaphors improves our thinking.

Metaphorical thinking is a great way to analyze and synthesize abstract concepts such as cyber security. In a report issued by Sandia National Laboratories for the U.S. Department of Energy, a research team explored metaphors for cyber security. By thinking metaphorically, they found it improved their thinking and discussion of cyber security in four ways:[1]

  1. They gained a clear understanding of the value and limitations of cyber security concepts.
  2. Using less common and new metaphors sparked their imagination.
  3. Metaphors that work well might be developed into new models for approaching cyber security problems.
  4. Metaphors serve as a heuristic purpose, bringing a clear understanding of abstract concepts from the field of cyber security into domains with which the non-specialist may be more familiar.
What exactly are metaphors?

Before we examine some metaphors, let’s first define what a metaphor is. In Metaphors We Live By, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson define metaphor in this way:

Conceptual metaphors are grounded in everyday experience. They are abstract. Our conceptual systems are not consistent overall, since the metaphors used to reason about any concept may be inconsistent. We live our lives on the basis of inferences we derive via metaphor.

On the other hand, Zoltan Kovecses defines a metaphor in Metaphor: A Practical Introduction as:

Metaphor is defined as understanding one conceptual domain in terms of another conceptual domain. Examples of this include when we talk and think about life in terms of journeys. A convenient shorthand way of capturing this view of metaphor is the following: conceptual domain (A) is conceptual domain (B), which is what is called a conceptual metaphor. A conceptual metaphor consists of two conceptual domains, in which one domain is understood in terms of another.

Metaphors = High Definition Thinking

Let’s examine some metaphors to help with the understanding of cyber warfare and cyber security. My inspiration for the creation of the format for my ideas that follow came from Bigthink.com.

Cyber Warfare // Wei-Chi

For more information on this concept, read In Athena’s Camp.

Cyber Warfare // Pests

For more information on this concept, read here Lessons from pest control: Why the popular metaphors in cybersecurity are broken.

Phishing // Fishing

Malware Scan // Health Screening

Worms or Virus // Infectious Disease

Thinking about concepts using metaphors leads to a deeper understanding of an idea and leads to new and creative approaches. They are a way for us to fill in the gap and create connections in our mind regarding a concept.

Using the ideas above, what are some metaphors you can think of for difficult and abstract concepts?

Featured photo credit: Kaboompics via kaboompics.com

Reference [1] ^ Karas, Moore, and Parrott: Metaphors for Cyber Security function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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How to Stop Procrastinating (A Step-By-Step Guide to Boost Productivity)

7. February 2018 - 12:00

If you have so many things to do that you often find yourself struggling to finish projects and tasks and move on to other stuff, you’re certainly not alone. Studies show that over 20 percent of the adult population put off or avoid doing certain tasks by allowing themselves to be overtaken by distractions.[1]

What about the rest of the population? What do they do to prevent procrastination?

In this article, I am going to explain to you why procrastination is so difficult to beat and how you can stop procrastinating once and for all by following a step-by-step guide. But first, you need to understand how procrastination happens.

What is procrastination

Piers Steel, the author of the book The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done, defines procrastination in this way:[2]

“Procrastination is to voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay.”

In other words, procrastination is doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones. The end result is that important tasks are put off to a later time.

This comic is one of the typical examples of procrastination:

Why stopping procrastination is difficult

Human beings have limited self-control. Dr. Roy Baumeister, a psychologist from Florida State University, has been studying self-control and he has found that just like any muscles, human’s self-control is a limited resource that can quickly become exhausted.[3] When self-control is close to being depleted, human tend to choose what’s more pleasurable– the immediate procrastinated tasks instead of the actual works.

At its core, procrastination is an avoidance strategy. Procrastinators choose to do something else instead of doing what they need to do because it’s much easier to choose pleasure over pain.

In short, procrastination is so difficult to beat because it is a battle against human’s natural enemy, a human weakness that is in-born.

A step-by-step guide to stop procrastinating

Despite the fact that it’s human nature to seek for immediate rewards and procrastinate, here I have a step-by-step guide for you to follow so as to stop procrastinating.

1. Identify your triggers: the 5 types of procrastinator

Identifying the type of procrastination you personally experience is an essential step for you to fix the problem at its root.

Take a look at this flowchart here to find out what type of procrastinator you are:

Which type of procrastinator are you? Let’s take a look at the triggers for your procrastination type:

Perfectionist

Being perfect is the pleasure perfectionists want. But often this leads to them being too scared to show any imperfections. Because of this, they frequently fail to complete things, as they’re forever seeking the perfect timing or approach. Tasks end up never being completed, because in the eyes of the perfectionist, things are never perfect enough.

Instead of finishing something, perfectionists get caught up in a never-ending cycle of additions, edits, and deletions.

Ostrich

An ostrich prefers to stay in the dreaming stage. That way, they don’t have to work for real, or deal with any negativity or stress.

Dreaming gives this type of people a false sense of achievement, as in their minds, they envision big, ambitious plans. Unfortunately for them, these plans will most likely stay as dreams, and they’ll never accomplish anything truly worthwhile.

Self-saboteur

A self-saboteur has bought into the line that ‘by doing nothing, bad things won’t happen.’

In reality, self-saboteurs have developed a fear of making mistakes or doing anything wrong. Their way to avoid these mishaps, is to do nothing at all. In the end, they may make few mistakes – but they also see few accomplishments.

Daredevil

Daredevils are those who believe that deadlines can push them to do better. Instead of having a schedule to complete their work – they prefer to enjoy time doing their own thing before the deadline comes around.

It’s most likely an unconscious thing, but daredevils evidently believe that starting early will sacrifice their time for pleasure. This is reinforced in their minds and feelings, by the many times they manage to get away with burning the midnight oil. Often they sacrifice the quality of their work because of rushing it.

Chicken

Chicken lack the ability to prioritize their work. They do what they feel like they should do, rather than thinking through what they really need to do.

Prioritizing tasks is a step that takes extra time, so chicken will feel it’s not worth it. Because of this, they usually end up doing a lot of effortless tasks that don’t contribute much to a project. They’re incessantly busy on low-impact tasks, but seem oblivious to urgent, high-impact tasks.

2. Face your triggers and get rid of them

Whether it’s fear of failure, overwhelming feelings, avoidance or convincing yourself you’re just too busy to get something done, you can improve your ability to be productive by eliminating your procrastination triggers.

For Perfectionist, re-clarify your goals.

Much of the time procrastination tendencies form simply because we’ve outgrown our goals. We’re ever-changing and so are our wants in life. Try looking over your goals and ask yourself if they’re still what you want.

Take time out to regroup and ask yourself what you really want to achieve:

  • What steps do you need to take?
  • Is what you’re currently doing reflecting what you want?
  • What do you need to change?

Write things down, scribble them out and rewrite.

For Ostrich, do the difficult tasks first.

Even if you feel you’re not a morning person, the beginning of the day is when your brain is most productive. Use this window of time to get the more difficult stuff done.

If you leave your difficult tasks to later, you’re much more likely to put it off because you’re tired and lack motivation.

Finishing lots of simple tasks at the beginning of the day such as reading all the new emails only gives you a false sense of being productive.

For Self-saboteur, write out a to-do (and a not–to-do) list each day.

Writing things down is powerful and psychologically increases your need to get things done.

Each day, make a habit of creating a list of the tasks you know you’ll try and avoid. By doing this, it brings these ‘difficult’ tasks to your mind’s attention instead of keeping them locked away somewhere in your avoidance mode.

Remember, think how satisfying and productive it feels to cross of a completed task.

For Daredevil, create a timeline with deadlines.

It’s common to have a deadline for a goal which seems like a good idea. But this is basically an open invitation for procrastination.

If it’s a self-created deadline with no pressure, we tend to justify pushing it back each time it comes into sight and feel we haven’t yet done ‘enough’ to get there.

Create a bigger timeline then within that, establish deadlines along the way. The beauty of this comes when each deadline completion is dependent on the next. It keeps you on track and keeps you accountable for being in alignment with the overall timeline.

For Chicken, break tasks into bite-sized pieces.

A lot of the time procrastination comes from overwhelming thoughts.

If something feels too big to tackle and we don’t know where to start, it feels like a struggle. This is also true if our goal is too vague and lacking direction.

Break down larger tasks into smaller ones and turn them into daily or weekly goals. Smaller steps may seem like the slower approach to achieving a goal, but it often leads you much more quickly to where you want to be due to the powerful momentum you get going.

3. Take planned breaks

Human brain isn’t designed to work continuously on the same task and this could be a reason for procrastination.

Make sure you take regular, structured breaks away from your task so that you can come back refreshed and ready to be more productive.

A break as short as 5 minutes is enough to keep your mind sharp and wards off fatigue. I recommend you to use the Pomodoro Time Tracker. It is a great tool to help you take breaks at set intervals. Simply start the 25-minute timer, and follow the prompts.

4.  Reward yourself

It’s important to acknowledge and reward yourself for achieving even the small tasks. It creates a sense of motivation and releases those feel-good, productive emotions that spur you on to achieve even more.

Make your reward proportional to the task you completed so getting a bite-sized task done gets you a cup of your favourite coffee or snack. Then plan a weekend away or fun activity for the bigger stuff.

Personally I try to make staying focus more fun by using the app Forest. It turns productivity into a game. In the game, you can plant a virtual tree at the beginning of your work time. If you maintain focus for the duration of the timer, you’ll grow a tree to add to your forest. It’s rewarding when you can eventually grow a forest.

5. Keep track of your time in a smart way

If you want to prevent the bad habit of procrastination from coming back, keep track of the time you spend every day.

By having a clear idea of where you spend your time, you can always review your productivity and know which areas to improve.

It’s not easy to keep track of every minute you spend throughout the day so I recommend you to use the app Rescue Time.

It gets you a categorized breakdown of how you spend your time and helps you to find out how much time you’re really on-task. You can even label activities as productive and non-productive so as to block your biggest distractions.

Procrastination exists for many reasons and only you know for yourselve what these triggers are. Understanding the source of your avoidance tendencies is important in moving them out of the way and help you start the productivity momentum.

Reference [1] ^ American Psychology Association: Psychology of Procrastination: Why People Put Off Important Tasks Until the Last Minute [2] ^ Psychological Bulletin: The Nature of Procrastination: A Meta-Analytic and Theoretical Review of Quintessential Self-Regulatory Failure [3] ^ Cal Newport: The Science of Procrastination: Researchers Tackle Willpower and our Ability to Control it function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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Can Body Training Be Pain-Free?

5. February 2018 - 13:00

A friend and I had a discussion some years ago. We were complete beginners to strength training. He had started to develop some wrist pain after his workouts and asked me if joint-pain is just a necessary part of getting in shape. I agreed, as I suffered from shoulder pain myself. I then proceeded to tell him, that having pain in your joints is simply a toll, that every person needs to face when getting the body they want. I’ve never been so wrong in all my life.

Some years fast forward and I’m completely pain free. I didn’t achieve this state by following a crazy and new workout schedule. I achieved this state by simply following the basics that I will lay out to you in the following article.

The Fundamentals to Stay Pain-Free

Removing pain from your workouts is not rocket-science. But if you’ve never been to a gym all of these 3 rules might be completely new for you. Remember to keep your workout as simple as possible. Ask for a coach to take a look at your workouts so you’re being aware of blind spots. The 3 rules to staying pain-free are as following:

1. Move Often

A good friend of mine, Daniel, is a passionate long-distance runner. He plans to run 60 consecutive miles this year. He told me that his joints have never felt better since he started running on a regular basis. Daniel is not an isolated case. Remember that your joints need movement to function properly.

The saying ‘Use it or lose it!’ holds true for most parts of your body. The human organism has evolved to save energy over time. We’re basically survival machines. Survival machines can’t waste energy on things, that give no value to them in return.

Your joints, muscles, ligaments and bones are all made to facilitate movement. Your joints get nutrients and deposit waste with the help of the synovial fluid. But here’s the catch: Synovial fluid only gets secreted by mechanical stresses, aka: movement. While high stresses on your cartilage may decline your joint health too, lack of physical activity is a big factor in the formation of joint pain.

2. Have The Correct Form

Crossfit has risen in popularity over the past few years. While one of the biggest strengths of Crossfit is their fun workouts – I’ve tried them some time ago – there’s nonetheless a high chance for injury. Crossfit exhausts you and forces you to push beyond your limits. While pushing your limits, you often neglect having a proper form.

Having good form is crucial when it comes to keeping you injury free. A small error in your training style can accumulate over the long-run, leading to stress injuries. A small bending of your wrist when doing the bench press or a slightly rounded spine while deadlifting may accumulate and leave you with great pain. Focus on the details in your form.

3. Train Your Whole Body

I manage a fitness center for a big chain in Switzerland. Recently a new client asked me for more chest exercises. He’s already doing 5 exercises for his chest only. His workout plan consists of training his biceps, abs and chest. His plan is not balanced, and therefore will lead to injuries.

A better way to structure your workout plan is to train your whole body. Your body is a system and your muscles are connected with each other. A dominant chest with neglected back muscles will lead to a slouched posture. Dominant hamstrings with underdeveloped quads will lead to knee problems.

If you’re a beginner, I suggest you to train your whole body in every workout. You can still implement 2-3 extra exercises for specific body parts that you specifically want to focus on. This is more than enough for you to get a great training stimulus. Arnold Schwarzenegger trained for years with a full body workout.

Training doesn’t need to hurt your joints

Training in the gym is healthy for your whole body, including your joints. Keep training pain-free by focusing on these 3 rules that will keep your joints healthy for years to come.

Remember to move often, move well and train your whole body. Don’t hesitate to get help from a professional or ask a competent friend. Your body is worth it, trust me.

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Why Forming a New Good Habit Is Easier Than Breaking a Bad One

5. February 2018 - 12:00

We’ve all got a few bad habits. No one’s perfect. Whether it’s eating too much candy, leaving everything until the last minute, watching too much TV, skipping workouts, or letting e-mails pile up at work, we all do things that go against our best interests.

So why don’t we just drop our bad habits? Every year, millions of us make New Year’s resolutions in a bid to change. Unfortunately, as you know, it’s not that simple. Our bad habits become a regular way of life. We start to say things like, “Oh, that’s just how I am!” and “It’s just what I do.” It can feel impossible to break a habit once and for all. In fact, the more you try to resist a habit, the more it can stick.

The science behind bad habits

We all repeat things that feel good, even if we know that they won’t help us in the long run. This is because bad habits such as drinking alcohol, eating too much sugary food, and spending too long in front of the TV trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain.[1] When your brain learns that a particular action makes you feel good, it compels you to repeat it in the future. Your bad habits serve a purpose. Although you might not like the end result, they give you a positive outcome in the moment. This is why they are so hard to kick.

If you develop the habit of slumping in front of the TV as soon as you get in from work, you will probably start skipping workouts, which becomes another bad habit. You might also start to snack in front of your favorite shows. Suddenly, you will have slipped into not one, not two, but three bad habits!

It’s human nature to seek out rewards, even if they harm us. For instance, 70% of smokers say that they would like to quit but cannot do so, despite the fact they everyone knows that smoking is terrible for human health.[2]

What should you do instead?

Quite simply, you need to start building better habits and stop wasting time and effort trying to break free from your negative behaviours.

Stop judging yourself

You’ve probably already tried telling yourself to just stop with the bad habits and do better in future. Unfortunately, berating yourself only leads to a negative self-image and self-doubt. This kind of negative thinking can become a bad habit in itself.

Thinking about your own faults isn’t much fun. You may have noticed that when you try to break a bad habit, your mind comes up with all kinds of justifications as to why you should carry on doing the same old thing. Habits make you feel comfortable, remember? It’s hard to give that up. Moreover, if you’ve been engaging in the same old habits for months or even years, they will be firmly entrenched. This makes them hard to shift.

For example, let’s say that you want to cut down on the amount of alcohol you drink each week. One of your bad habits is to have a large glass of wine every night just before you sit down for dinner. You could try scolding yourself, reading up on the dangers of drinking too much, and telling yourself sternly that you are “going to stop this week.”

Unfortunately, the most likely outcome in this situation is that you will feel uncomfortable at the prospect of giving up your bad habit, and possibly guilty or ashamed of having the problem in the first place. So how do you deal with these feelings? By carrying on drinking, of course!

Change your focus

You need to take a new approach. Instead of beating yourself up, it’s time to think about developing behaviors that can provide you with a sense of comfort without damaging your physical or psychological health. If you know that your new habits will help you feel better, you will be motivated to start them! This is much easier than trying to break a bad habit.

When identifying your bad habits and adopting new, positive behaviors, you need to think like a detective or scientist. Take a step back and look at the situation from an objective point of view. If this is difficult for you, pretend that you are trying to help someone else. This can provide you with a clearer perspective.

First, think about the root causes of your bad habit. Why did it start, and what triggers keep it going? For instance, if you have fallen into the habit of eating high-fat microwave dinners after work, this may be because you went through a busy time in your life where you didn’t have the energy to cook a healthy meal in the evening. At the time, prepackaged microwave dinners may been an adequate temporary solution.

The next step is to devise new habits that will give you the same level of comfort. Ask yourself how you can make it simple to start putting your new habits in place.

Check out this guide for lots of tips on how to make a new habit stick.

Get into the habit of building better habits

We all know that bad habits are comfortable, but you can change!

Remember, habits become more engrained over time. The more often you repeat an action – whether good or bad – the more likely it is to stick. This also goes for the habit-building habit too.

Once you’ve mastered the art of squeezing out bad habits with more positive behaviours, it will get easier and easier to build the life you want.

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference [1] ^ Truthhawk: Why Do We Have Bad Habits? [2] ^ News In Health: Breaking Bad Habits function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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Access Over 100,000+ Car Listings With This App

2. February 2018 - 14:00

Buying a car is the second biggest investment that most people will make throughout their life and finding the right car is really important. To ensure that you are able to find the right car for you there is a need for you to be able to do much research.

These days the Internet is the best source for information on vehicles and especially for those available for sale. Whether you are looking for a new or used car, getting as much information on the car will go a long way in helping you decide which vehicle is the best one for you. The Edmunds App is a powerful tool and anyone looking for their next vehicle should have it on their Apple smartphone or iPad.

You Now Have Access to Millions of Vehicle Listings

The Edmunds App is an extremely powerful app designed for mobile devices that run on the Apple iOS-like iPhones and iPads. With it, you have access to millions of listings for new and used vehicles, reviews, pictures and detailed specifications of all make and models of cars, trucks, and SUVs. Putting all of that information at your fingertips will make your next vehicle a lot easier and nearly guaranty you will be able to find your next vehicle.

All You Need To Make A Successful and Safe Car Deal 

View car and dealership reviews – Having access to what other people are saying about a specific make and model of vehicle and details about the dealership at your fingertips help to make it easier to come to the right decision.

Comes with a car payment calculator – The built-in car payment calculator is extremely handy with the ability to know what your payment would be before you even arrive at the dealership to talk to a salesperson about the vehicle.

Comprehensive Search Functions – Having multiple search functions and being able to tailor your searches in our to get the best possible results makes the app very beneficial to anyone looking for a new vehicle.

Enables you directly text a car dealer – The app makes it possible to text the dealer directly from within the app in order to inquire about any special deals that could be available for a specific vehicle listing.

Let This App Do The Job

Buying a vehicle can be very stressful for the many considerations that need to be made in order to come to a final decision on which one that is right for you. So, if you have the right tools at your disposal you are far more likely to be able to make the right decision. One of those tools that you should have on your Apple smartphone or iPad should be the Edmunds App.

This is an extremely powerful app that puts everything you would need in order to find the vehicle that you are really wanting. The features of the Edmonds App helps to bring things like multiple search functions, full-color pictures, detailed specifications and reviews of both vehicles and dealership.

If you are in the market for a vehicle new or used, you really should go to the Apple App Store and download and install the Edmonds App. To see more information and to find where to go to get it, just click here.

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Razor-Sharp Thinking: the What-Why Method

2. February 2018 - 12:00

Charles Mingus once said, “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” As a society, we typically make the complicated commonplace. This is particularly true in regards to problem-solving as we add to the puzzle of complexity daily. My proposal is to introduce a new method combining elements from two simple (yet powerful) techniques to create an awesomely simple, yet effective problem-solving and explanation method.

First, Terry Borton’s Development Framework (What – So What – Now What) as the logical explanation tool. Second, the 5-Why technique used in root-cause analysis (RCA) as the simple problem-solving tool. Using Occam’s razor as my underlying principle, I propose a new method called the What–Why Method.

Crazy Simple!

Using the military as an example, we find that numerous problem-solving methods exist within the U.S. military. In the U.S. Army alone, we have a smorgasbord of options to select from. From the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) to the Army Design Methodology (ADM) to Lean Six Sigma (LSS), we are not short on options. However, if we follow the philosophy of Occam’s razor, we will find that we can slice through the clutter and identify one simple method.

Suppose you have two possible explanations for a problem, Occam’s razor demonstrates that the simplest option is typically the best option.[1] Occam’s razor has two parts which serve as the underlying principle of my What-Why Method.

  1. The Principle of Plurality. Plurality should not be assumed as a fact without necessity.
  2. The Principle of Parsimony. The scientific principle that things are typically connected or behave in the simplest way.
What – So What – Now What

Developed in 1970 by Terry Borton, Borton’s Development Framework provides us a straightforward and easy to understand approach to anything.[2] This simple framework involves only three questions, which can easily explain any concept. The questions follow the concept of Reflective Practice, which is the ability to reflect on your actions to engage in the process of learning.[3] Reflective Practice holds three components: Experiences (what happened to you?), Reflective Process (what enables you to learn from the experience?), and Action (what new perspective do you now possess as a result of your reflection?). Borton’s Development Framework possesses the following three questions:

  1. What? The experience.
  2. So What? Analysis of reflection or process of reflection.
  3. Now What? Synthesis and new perspectives from reflection. This is where you determine what to do next and what your next action will be.
5-Why Technique

Metaphorically speaking, if we want to kill a weed, we must first find the root. A root-cause is a factor causing nonconformance and should be permanently eliminated. The root-cause is essentially “the evil at the bottom” that sets things in motion causing the problem.[4] Let’s quickly look at the structure of a problem and break down the definition of root-cause via Asq.org.

Root-Cause Defined

  • A factor that caused a nonconformance and should be permanently eliminated.
  • A factor that influences a result or outcome.
  • Must be completely eliminated or removed.

Let’s now turn our attention to root-cause analysis (RCA). RCA is a collective term describing a wide range of approaches and techniques utilized to discover root-causes of problems. The 5-Why technique is one in which we were all experts at when we were children. Essentially, the 5-Why technique is an iterative interrogative technique used to determine the root-cause of a problem by repeatedly asking the question “Why?” The technique was formally developed by Taiichi Ohno and was highly utilized at Toyota. Furthermore, the “5” in the name comes from an anecdotal observation on the number of iterations needed to resolve a problem.

Simple Approach for Thinking

By using my What-Why Method, we also find that we are able to move through Blooms Classification of Thought Process (otherwise known as Blooms Taxonomy), where we can quickly understand and describe a problem or topic. Additionally, my method takes us through the Hierarchy of Learning along with Blooms Taxonomy.

When we bring it all together, we find that we now have a way to quickly solve a problem and quickly present or brief information. It also offers us a way to logically and easily categorize and present information, especially if we are posed with a difficult and impromptu question.

Easily Explain Anything

Let’s see how my method works using an example from the foster care system (visit my website for more information on the foster care system). By moving through the questions in the image above (What-Why Method), let’s see what we uncover.

What?

So What?

Now What?

Lastly, John Driscoll matched Borton’s three questions to the stages of the experiential learning cycle and added trigger questions.[5] By linking trigger questions to Borton’s framework, we are able to produce a clear description of the event, an analysis of the event (critical thinking), and synthesis of the event (creative thinking). Combining the What – So What – Now What framework with the 5-Why technique essentially creates the simplest form of problem-solving in existence. As Wilfred A. Peterson said,

See it big and keep it simple.

Using the What-Why Method allows us to just that… See it big, yet keep it very simple!

Reference [1] ^ Harold Lambert: How Occam’s Razor Works [2] ^ Physio-Pedia: Borton’s Development Framework [3] ^ Skills You Need: Reflective Practice [4] ^ ASQ: What is Root Cause Analysis [5] ^ Driscoll: Critical Reflection function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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Do You Need to Train like a Bodybuilder to Look like One?

1. February 2018 - 13:00

I remember back when I was getting my certificate to be a professional fitness coach. Just for fun we had to pick one exercise from a popular fitness magazine and implement it in our training. My friend and I picked an exercise for the biceps, where we had to do over 20 sets with a total of 200 repetitions. An inhumane high intensity. This exercise was recommended from a popular bodybuilder to get the best muscle growth for the biceps. We spent over 30 minutes doing that exhausting exercise. Our biceps were burning. I could barely move my arms for a week.

Monkey see, monkey do

If you’re ever planning to climb up Mount Everest, you would need to have a coach. In the months prior to your climb, you would scan the Internet for competent trainers. In a coach you would look out for:

  1. Ability to communicate and coach
  2. Matchability (Gut feeling)
  3. Prior experience (Preferably of climbing Mt. Everest)

We as humans like to get information from people that are walking the walk and leading by example. The origins of the ‘Train like a bodybuilder to look like one’ -myth are easy to find. As a beginner you go into a gym and instinctively ask the biggest person in there, how he’s able to build muscle. This is a big mistake.

The biggest person will give you, most likely, an unfortunate and only partially honest answer. The meathead will tell you his exact workout schedule. But the big elephants in the room will not be addressed: Experience, Knowledge Gap and most likely: Steroids.

Imagine you’re finding the ideal coach for your Mt. Everest climbing adventure. Yet the coach seemingly needs an extreme short recovery time and gets great results, with workouts containing an inhumane high intensity. You as a hobby climber might try to follow his advice, but the chances are high that the ridiculously high intensity schedule will catapult you into the hospital.

The Mt. Everest coach didn’t exactly lie to you, yet your baselines are simply on completely different levels.

Building your fundamentals

If you want to be the best tennis player in this world, would you immediately start training like Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal? No, you would focus the first few years on building up your fundamentals. This is the same thing that you have to do in the gym. Somehow people believe that the gym is the big exception from all the other physical activities. Yet you will need to have a foundation where you can build upon. Focus the first year on building up this foundation to be injury free. The results will be better and longer lasting.

Most people start lifting weights while completely neglecting the stability factor of your body, which is crucial in injury prevention. Your body needs to adapt to the stimulus that you put himself through. While the muscles are able to adapt fast, your bones and ligaments usually need way longer. Because the bones and ligaments are less supplied with blood, and therefore with oxygen and nutrients.

How to train instead?

I fell prey to the do-or-die mindset before. As a natural athlete, I followed a 5-day split training once. I trained every muscle group hard, but only one time per week. It was frustrating. I didn’t see the muscularity in the mirror that I did expect. Not only that, I also started experiencing wrist and shoulder injuries. I felt betrayed from the advice of the fitness models on Instagram. If you want to structure your training productively, there are three things that you need to consider:

1. Build a great foundation

At this very moment I’m not suffering from any injury. I’m reasonably flexible, my strength is on point and I’m able to run 10 kilometers without feeling the need to amputate my lower limbs. I took my time to build a great foundation, and so should you.

Implement a low-intensity endurance training in your workout schedule, on separate days from your strength workouts. Stretch after your full-body after your workouts or sign up for yoga classes.

2. Train with full body routines

On my strength training routine, I’m either following a full-body workout or a basic upper and lower body-split. This way I’m maximizing my muscle protein synthesis and therefore my muscle gain.

Bodybuilders have been training with full body routines for ages. It was not until steroids came into the scene, that split training truly became a thing. Steroids decrease your recovery time, increase your training intensity and your muscle protein synthesis.

3. Increase the level of difficulty gradually

Don’t fully exert yourself in the first year of your training. Your bones and ligaments need to adapt. From a scale on 1-10, your RPE (rate of perceived exertion) should never go to 9/10 during a workout set. When you stop the set, you should be able to always do 1-2 repetitions extra. If you fully exert yourself, you’re risking injuries.

Take home message

If you’re a bodybuilder and got angry at me for writing that article, note this: the saying ‘Train like a bodybuilder to look like one’ is correct, in some way. Bodybuilders are not stupid, if it wouldn’t work they wouldn’t do it.

Hard work and training. There’s no secret formula. I lift heavy, work hard and aim to be the best. – Ronnie Coleman, former world class bodybuilder

As a beginner though, you have a vastly different baseline than a bodybuilder. You will naturally lack experience, knowledge of the training and your own body – and will not consume steroids. You also most likely have different goals: a bodybuilder wants to be in world-class shape on stage, while you might be training to get in decent shape for your beach holidays.

I don’t eat for taste, I eat for funciton. – Jay Cutler

Stop spending 3 hours in the gym every day and don’t do 20 sets for your biceps if you don’t want to be a competitive athlete. Focus on building your fundamentals, structure your workout and train with a reasonable intensity.

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We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

1. February 2018 - 12:00

We all know what a bad habit is. Smoking, eating unhealthy foods, excessive alcohol consumption and living a sedentary lifestyle are just some of the things that are drummed into us as behaviours we ought to avoid in order to increase our overall well-being.

Yet a study by scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in the year 2000, avoidable behaviours such as poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking and drinking alcohol were some of the underlying causes of nearly half of the deaths in the United States:[1]

  • Tobacco: 435,000 (18.1% of total US deaths)
  • Inactivity and bad eating: 400,000 (16.6%)
  • Alcohol consumption: 85,000 (3.5%)

If we know bad habits are so detrimental to our health, why do we continue to do them?

Why we can’t resist bad habits

We all indulge in behaviours that we know aren’t good for us and there are a couple of reasons why we continue these habits regardless.

Bad habits give you the comfort you need

The first is our need to feel comfort and doing whatever it takes to reach this state.

Every action you take has a purpose behind it, even if you’re not consciously aware of what this is and the most common hidden purpose is comfort. Our brains are wired to be reward-based and our ‘reward’ is the feeling of comfort that, in turn, triggers a release of dopamine or the ‘feel good’ hormone.[2] This causes us to crave more of it and so we associate this good feeling with the bad habit.

This explains why we continue to indulge in bad habits and find it hard to stop; it feels comfortable and we essentially get to exist in our ‘safe zone’. In other words, you get attracted to the reward despite knowing it’s bad for you.

Smoking that cigarette on your work breaks causes your brain to associate that habit with freedom from work and relaxing, or drinking alcohol may be associated with letting yourself go and having a good time after a hard week. The thought of exercising and making some kind of effort is overridden in the brain by the ‘easier’ thought of sitting on the couch and watching your favourite TV programme. So you can see how easily the habit is connected with reward.

Everyone else is doing the bad habit too

We also tend to rationalize our bad behaviours if society as a whole finds it acceptable. If a vast amount of people are doing the same thing, then it must be okay for us to do it too. It’s not difficult to find socially acceptable bad habits. Snacking, skipping exercises and even smoking are things that lots of people do.

This causes an inward rationalisation when it comes to unhealthy habits such as “just one more won’t hurt” or “I’ll do better next week, I’ve just had a stressful day today”. These in-the-moment justifications tend to be driven by the guilt of knowing we’re probably not making the best decision in the long run.

We also look outwards for examples that validate our bad habit decisions such as “my grandfather smoked every day and lived until he was 90.” Our minds love to find evidence that backs up our decisions, whether good or bad.

The consequences of continuing bad habits

Most people know the consequences of these types of habits. Warnings are plastered on cigarette packets about getting cancer. Governments beam healthy eating campaigns and the need to be more active through adverts and TV programmes. But what are the real long term consequences of constant bad habits?

  • Cancers, diseases and cell damage
  • Unhappiness and depression
  • Negative physical well-being leading to pain or lethargy
  • Increased physical problems in later life

Most of these can be subtle and gradual meaning we don’t notice them and easily dismiss our decisions in the moment. But being mindful of the decisions we make today can keep our wellbeing topped up and constant while investing in our future selves.

For more examples of common bad habits and how to should stop them, check out this article: 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

How to stop these bad habits

It’s hard to stop habits that are so ingrained in our daily lives. With stress sometimes being the main trigger to a bad habit, the solution lies with reprogramming our mind. I have covered this in my other article How to Program Your Mind to Kick the Bad Habit, here let me briefly talk about the solution:

  1. Frstly, be mindful of what these habits are and how often we do them. What exactly triggers the habit? Is it an unconscious decision to do it? Question why you have developed this habit in the first place.
  2. Secondly, make a commitment to yourself that you want to eliminate this bad habit. Now you understand what may be triggering it, can you find something positive to replace it? For example, you reach for the chocolate after a hard day. Can you find a healthier reward snack? Or reduce the amount of times you’re allowed to have chocolate? Perhaps if stress is your trigger, try going for a run and give the brain another reason to release dopamine instead.
  3. Thirdly, be consistent. The key to forming new habits is consistency. Yes, it’s hard for a while but your brain soon adapts to new ways of doing things until it starts to feel natural to you. Turn your reward system into a way to celebrate sticking to your new positive habits instead.

It’s all about conditioning yourself to a new, positive way of thinking.

Living a happier, more positive life starts with the habits we choose to form. Be mindful of which direction your habits are pointing and start changing your mindset to one of investment into your health and well-being. It’s not just for your future self but also living in the moment in a positive and healthy way.

Featured photo credit: freestocks.org via pexels.com

Reference [1] ^ The Jama Network: Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000 [2] ^ Neroscientifically Challenged: Know your brain: Reward system function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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Discover Over 100+ Volunteer Opportunities Around You With This App

31. January 2018 - 13:00

These days it has become the “in thing” to volunteer in one’s community or wanting to help out at one or more of the local nonprofits. Also, doing community service is also quite popular with some businesses rewarding their employees for doing community service projects.

Unfortunately, with the need for volunteers so great in many areas, it is not often easy to go about finding places that are really in need of help. This is where technology can help fill that role and provide a simple solution to the problem and it starts with your Apple smartphone or iPad and the Golden Volunteer Opportunity App.

Connect Yourself With Volunteer Events

The Golden Volunteer Opportunity App from 1 Inc. is a powerful app that is designed to help the user to connect with a local nonprofit that is in need of some help. This is especially helpful for the individual who works for a company that encourages its employees to do as much community service that they feel comfortable with. The app also makes it possible to sign up directly from the app instead of having to find out how to contact the organization.

Quick and Easy Access to All The Events Around You

Works with numerous local nonprofits – The app was developed to work with approximately 2000 different nonprofit organizations, which all have been vetted for their specific volunteer opportunities.

Customizable search filters – The filtering tools are designed to help make it easy to customize your searches by dates and times of volunteering opportunities. The app is a perfect way to find the most suitable ways to help out your community.

Sign up directly through the app – Once you are able to find the volunteering opportunity that sounds like a good fit for you it is really easy to sign up. You can easily sign up for any of the opportunities without having to leave the app.

Extremely easy to use – All of the powerful functions and even the built-in maps makes it extremely easy to use the app to find the best volunteering opportunities in your local area and helps you get there at your scheduled time.

Do Something Good For Your Community

The Golden Volunteer Opportunity App makes it extremely convenient to find and sign up to volunteer for the selected local nonprofit organization. The app is very powerful and includes features and functionalities that help to make it really easy to use. It is very easy to find at the Apple App Stores and it downloads and really easy to install the app. To see more information and to find out where you can get it just click here.

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10 Time Management Tips Every Busy Parent Needs to Know

31. January 2018 - 12:00

I have three small children (a six year old and wild twin boys that just turned four), I am an avid writer, volunteer in the community, and actively involved in our church. A personal question I often get is “how do you do it all?” or “how do you get everything done?”

My schedule is active, yet I am not stressed or over worked. I get a great deal done because of my time management skills. These skills were not acquired overnight. It took time, study, and an objective awareness of my usage of time that led to a more organized, practical, and easy way of managing our household and my time. I want to share my tips with fellow parents so you can best optimize your time and in turn get more quality time with your family in the long run.

1. Know Your Hierarchy of Importance

What is most important to you in life? What is your priority? You need to decide what is most important in this life. Determine what you value most in life in order to filter obligations through your personal lens of what is important to you and your family. When you are presented with opportunities to sign up for another school committee, another group activity, or another opportunity to volunteer, you need to be able to assess whether the activity aligns with your values and priorities. You also need to assess whether the activity will take you away from some other activity that aligns with your values, obligations, and priorities.

When you say “yes” to one activity you are saying “no” to something else, because you can’t do it all. If you say “yes” to that new book club, you may be saying “no” to family dinners on that night. If your priority is to have family dinners together consistently, then the book club may not align with your values. You need to first decide what things are your priority and of highest value in your life. Then when you are presented with opportunities that take time, and they all do, you can be better equipped to determine what things you want to say “yes” to and which you want to decline.

It becomes easier to say “no” to activities when you have clearly defined values. Your obligation in life is to uphold those values and doing so will make you a happier person and better parent in the long run. If you are constantly saying “yes” to every opportunity that crosses your path you will become overworked, over-scheduled, and spread too thin. The result is a parent wound too tight and easily upset because they have to much on their plate.

2. Don’t Do Too Much for Your Kids

Many kids are involved in far too many extra curricular activities. If you value family and you want your children to develop strong family bonds with one another, it becomes challenging to make that happen when you have everyone in the family going in a different direction each night of the week. Don’t have things scheduled every night of the week. If you do, you are going to miss out on family time at home, dinners together around the table, and the down time that everyone needs.

Allow for at least several days a week where no activity takes place. You come together as a family in the home and spend time with one another. Not in separate room, but together doing things such as working together to make a meal, planning your weekends, playing board games, sitting down to dinner as a family, or just having conversations about life. Don’t miss out on life as a family by being an over-scheduled household.

If you find this season in life to be spent in the car taking kids to and from activities every single day of your life, then you probably need to assess which activities are vital and which are not. Is Suzy going to be a prima ballerina one day? Probably not, so maybe you can take a break from dance lessons for a while. She doesn’t need to be doing dance, music, karate, and a sport all that the same time. It creates too much pressure for kids and for ourselves as parents. We need down time and so do they. It is great to expose kids to different activities, but it doesn’t have to be done all at the same season or time of life. Spread activities and involvements out, so that your child doesn’t get burned out from too many activities. Every activity in which they are involved becomes your commitment as well because you are the parent. For your own sanity, don’t go overboard on extra curricular activities.

Yes, we all want our kids to be successful, but what about creating bonds and a connection within the immediate family that last a lifetime? The more time you spend just being together, outside of all those extra curricular activities, is time invested in being a family. Those bonds are so important if you want your children to have the desire to come home for the holidays as adults. Keeping them busy outside of the home is busyness that can impede on family bonding time.

I spend time with my children so that I can help teach them to be decent human beings. That is on my list of priorities far above them becoming great soccer players or accomplished piano players. Would I like the other things for them? Of course, but we only have so much time with our children in this lifetime. They become adults and move onto independent lives as adults. I want my children to be able to go out into the world and be good, decent, caring people who can make a positive impact on the world.

I work to prevent over-scheduling my kids so that we have time together as a family, so I can be the one who teaches them right from wrong, good from bad, and the life lessons that are most important to our value system. If you want to instill your values in your child, then you better spend time with them making it happen. It takes practice, repetition, and most importantly time invested in a child to make a positive impact on their character development.

3. Keep an Organized Home

Your home does not need to be perfectly well kept. Nobody has time for that. However, if you have an organized household you will find that life runs so much more smoothly. If you spend more than 10 minutes a day looking for something on a regular basis, then you are not organized enough.

You and your household need systems in place that help everyone keep track of their stuff, so it can be easily grabbed on the way out the door. Keep jackets and backpacks hung in the same place every day. Teach children that it is their responsibility to put these items where they belong from the moment they walk in the door. If they fail to comply with the rules then there should be consequences. An easy and effective consequence is losing time on their favorite form of technology. For my kids it means they lose time on their tablets for that evening.

Wallets, purses, and keys should have a specific place within the home. If they are plopped on the couch one day, on the counter another, and on your bed the next day, it becomes far too easy to misplace these items. You end up spending countless minutes searching for these needed items every day. If they are placed in the exact same place every day, then you gain back that time you would have otherwise spent searching. You also become a less frustrated individual. When you spend time searching for something you need and you are on a time crunch, it can be extremely frustrating and upsetting to not find what you need. You end up running late which sets the mood for the entire day. Don’t be the frustrated parent.

Implement a plan for where things will be placed within the home when each member of the family enters the home. Everyone enters the home and has stuff in hand, whether it’s a backpack, diaper bag, purse, coats, keys, lunch boxes, briefcases, or shoes. Think through all the things that are brought in and out of the home each day. Then pick a place for these items to be placed each day. You may need to create some organized space within the home to make this unloading each evening and reloading each morning go more smoothly. Our laundry room is our area. We utilize cubbies for each the kid’s shoes and then a coat rack for backpacks and jackets. Its not rocket science, but it will make your life much easier if everyone in the family gets with the organized home plan.

This also means the rest of your home is relatively organized. Every single thing within your dwelling should have its own home or place. For example, where are your flashlights, candles, or matches? Would you be able to easily find them in a power outage, or would you be searching through drawers? If you have a specific home for these items, for example, in a bin in your pantry that is labeled on the outside, it makes it very easy to find it when needed. When the items are used they are returned to their home after usage. For tips on implementing a bin method for organizing your home, please go to my article: The Bin Method.

Keeping an organized home is a great skill to teach your children. It takes practice, but don’t give up because you will all have a more sane and easily run household when you can find what you need when you need it. You will also save money in the long run because you aren’t purchasing secondary items because the first one is lost somewhere in some drawer or cabinet in the home.

For more tips and detailed instructions on how to live an organized life, check out 50 Ways to Make Your Home More Organized. Being more organized is the accumulation of habits and practices over time.

4. Let Go of Perfect

Too many parents put too much pressure on themselves and their children to live up to a certain standard. It’s good to have standards, but if perfect is your goal then you need to let it go. Trying to be perfect takes far too much time and energy. Sometimes getting the job done just good enough is all that is needed. Most of the time you are the only person that will notice the difference anyway.

5. Delegate

One of the biggest wastes of time in your household is you, as the parent, trying to do it all. You need to delegate. Children can be assigned chores from a very young age. If they can walk and talk, they are capable human beings. Making their beds, picking up their belongings, doing the dishes, taking out the garbage, sweeping the floors, dusting, are just some of the duties that very young children are capable of doing. If my four year old twins can do these things, then so can yours. Give them some credit. They are capable of navigating your smart phone, so don’t you think they are then capable of picking up a room of toys?

Make it clear what duties are expected from each member of the household. Post a chore chart for your children. It makes life easier for you as a parent when they can go through their daily chores and duties without you having to take the time to tell them each and every task that needs to be done. It takes time in the beginning to get them started with chores and teaching them how to do things correctly, but with practice they will soon be able to do these daily tasks independently from you. An allowance or reward system helps this fall into place more easily. Kids get with the program when they know what is expected and the rewards/consequences for completing or failing to complete their chores.

For every chore that another person in the household completes, which you used to do, is more time for you to do something else. Freeing up time is a gift to yourself. You are also investing in your childrebecome better, more self sufficient humans when they have a role and responsibilities in the home. Don’t take that away from them. Give them daily chores and allow yourself some flexibility to get other things complete in the meantime.

If you can afford hired help in one or two areas, such as some babysitting or house cleaning you are also delegating. Getting help is not a weakness, it is striking a balance to keep the household running smoothly and harmoniously. Look at how to best spend the money you have to delegate so that you are freeing up time and energy for yourself in the manner that best fits your needs.

6. Routines are a Must

Routines are the lifeblood of the household. If you have a daily schedule that is regular and consistent you will find that your household runs more smoothly and efficiently. When you create household routines try to stick with them. This will help your household in managing time expectations.

Kids have internal clocks. They can adapt to a routine and stick with it more easily when you are consistent with the schedule. Bed times should be the same each night. School days should also have a consistent morning schedule from waking up to getting out the door. If you feel rushed every morning, then you need to get everyone to bed earlier and get up earlier until you find the time that works best for completing all that needs to be done in the morning.

7. Work as Though Everything was Urgent

This is one of the best ways that I get things done in our home. I don’t complete tasks slowly. Once I set out to get something done it is done as though it needed to be done yesterday.

I often set a time limit for myself. For example, this evening when I go to clean out an attic space I will allow myself exactly one hour for the job. I will tackle the biggest messes in that space and get done all that I can optimally in that hour. If I don’t set a time limit, I can see myself opening up bins and sorting through old memories, decorations, and things that need more time than an hour to complete. The goal is to clean up the attic to make walking space. That can be done in an hour if I stay on task and work quickly during that time. If I take breaks, or deviate from the task at hand it won’t get done in that time period.

Setting the time limit and expectation with what exactly I plan to complete in that time limit gets me moving with urgency so that the job gets done efficiently.

8. Gourmet Meals are Taking a Break

Before my husband and I had kids we would leisurely make dinner together and the food was top notch. We would look up different recipes we wanted to try. We took the time to shop for special ingredients and make each dinner special and enjoyable. Things have changed now that we have three small kids. Most kids don’t appreciate gourmet anyway, so why waste the time, energy, or money. Our meals are quick, easy, and kid friendly. There are evenings when we feed the kids first and then enjoy a nicer meal after they are in bed.

However, most evenings we sit as a family and eat more basic meals. I buy bagged salads that require less preparation, meals that come in kits, and frozen meals that are simply put in the oven and baked. It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy doing gourmet meals for my family every night, it’s that I have decided it’s not a priority since the effort is basically wasted on the kids and I end up frustrated that they don’t appreciate the effort. Less effort means less frustration when they refuse to eat the meal and they end up with a bowl of cereal at the end of the night.

Doing easy, kid friendly meals does not mean you need to sacrifice quality or freshness either. There are plenty of home delivery options on the market today that will deliver pre-packaged meals with fresh ingredients making it easy to make a meal in under a half hour.

9. Be Honest about Time Waste

When you are sitting at a doctor office waiting for your appointment, how are you spending that time? Are you reading the latest gossip magazine or did you bring along some work to do while you wait? If you brought along work, you are winning! You can use that time to catch up on thank you notes, respond to emails, or update your to-do list, just to name a few good options.

Learn to take advantage of waiting time. Car line at school is another time when many parents have daily wait time. Make sure you have a plan for how to wisely use that time, so it is not wasted and then at 10 pm when you are laying in bed you remember several emails you forgot to respond to and you could have done so while in the car pick up line at school.

There are some ways that this era of parents is sucked into wasting time. How much time do you spend scrolling social media each day? Be honest with yourself and the amount of time you are spending online shopping, surfing the web, or on social media. We place limits on our kids with technology, why wouldn’t we do the same for ourselves so we too can optimize our time during the day?

10. Keep To-Do Lists and a Calendar

Keep a running to-do list that you carry with you in your purse or brief case. Keep it handy so when you think of something that needs to be done it gets added to the list. Things in life often don’t get done simply because they are forgotten. Life is full of a flurry of daily activities. We can only concentrate on what is in front of us. If you have a list, you can shift focus to do the activity later and it won’t simply be forgotten.

Don’t just write it down though. If it is a task that will require any substantial amount of time (even an hour or two), then schedule when you can get that done and block out the time on your calendar to get it done. Hoping that time will magically appear to get it done is not good planning, as hope is not a strategy. Write it on a to-do list and then schedule it on your calendar for completion.

Keep a calendar and take it with you wherever you go. Many people use their phone for keeping track of their schedule. I personally use a monthly paper calendar. That way I can see my entire month at a glance. When you are using your mind to keep track of your activities, it takes up too much time and energy. You are constantly trying to remember what you have planned for the day or in the next week. You have to mentally remind yourself about your activities so that you don’t forget anything important. Free up your mind for other things by using a calendar. Everyone needs a calendar, even stay at home moms. Keeping track of doctor appointments, birthdays, and household activities is important stuff. Don’t allow yourself to minimize your importance or the value of your role by not utilizing a calendar.

Featured photo credit: Unleashed Womens Network via unleashedwomensnetwork.com

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Science Tells You How Long It Takes to Break a Habit

30. January 2018 - 13:00

Habits arise through a process of triggering, actions, and rewards.[1] A circumstance triggers an action. When you get a reward from the action, you continue to do that.

If you aren’t intentional about actions and rewards, you’ll develop bad habits. These lead to self-sabotage, failure, and poor health. On the other hand, good habits enable health, happiness, and dream-fulfillment.

So how long does it take to break a habit? Some say 21 days, some say approximately a month. What is the real answer?

How long it takes to break a habit

There’s no magic number of repetitions that’ll get you to internalize the habits you want. Researchers have proposed several different ways of understanding habit formation.

The 21-day rule (or myth)

One of the earliest and most popular pieces of literature on the subject is Psycho-Cybernetics (1960) by Maxwell Maltz. Dr. Maltz who was a plastic surgeon wanted to understand how people viewed themselves. In particular, he was curious about how long it took for patients to get used to changes he made during surgery.

Based on observing his patients and reflecting on his own habits, he determined that it took at least 21 days for people to adjust. He used this information as the basis for many “prescriptions” in his self-help oriented Psycho-Cybernetics.[2]

Since then, self-help gurus have latched onto the idea of taking 21-days to change habits. People began to forget that he said ‘a minimum of about 21 days’ instead of ‘it takes 21 days to form a new habit.’

Give yourself a month?

Another popular belief in self-help culture states that habits take 28 to 30 days to form.

One proponent of this rule, Jon Rhodes, suggests:[3]

“You must live consciously for 4 weeks, deliberately focusing on the changes that you wish to make. After the 4 weeks are up, only a little effort should be needed to sustain it.”

This was a generally agreed-upon figure, but the 21-day rule popularized by readers of Maltz was more appealing to many people because it was easy to understand, and it was faster than the general 28-30 rule.

The time-frame for changing habits varies

While the 21 and 28-day rules appeal to our desire to change quickly, a 2009 study from University College London suggests that the window for change can be much wider. The research, published in The European Journal of Social Psychology, followed habit-formation in 96 people over a 12-week period.

The UCL study looked at automaticity, which is how quickly people engaged in the actions they wanted to turn into habits. Researchers explained:[4]

As behaviours are repeated in consistent settings they then begin to proceed more efficiently and with less thought as control of the behaviour transfers to cues in the environment that activate an automatic response: a habit.

The amount of time that it took for actions to become habits varied. Participants anywhere between 18 and 254 days to form a habit. The average number of days needed to achieve automaticity was 76 days.

Make habits to break habits

Understanding the connection between forming new habits and getting rid of old ones makes the process easier.

Dr. Elliot Berkman, Director, Social and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, states:[5]

“It’s easier to start doing something new than to stop doing something habitual without a replacement behavior.”

Quitting something cold-turkey is tough because you’ve wired yourself to want to do it. For example, quitting smoking is challenging beyond a physical nicotine addiction. The ritual of how a person prepares to smoke is another aspect that makes it hard to quit. In order to do away with this bad habit, the person needs to find something to fill the void left by the smoking ritual.

Look beyond time

There’s such a wide range in the amount of time it can take for someone to turn an action into a habit. That’s because time isn’t the only factor you have to think about when you’re forming new habits. Dr. Thomas Plante, Director, Spirituality & Health Institute, Psychology Department, Santa Clara University and Adjunct Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine explains:

“One important issue is how strongly do you really want to break the habit in question. Second, how established is the problem habit? It is easier to break a new habit than an old one. Third, what are the consequences of not breaking the habit?”

It’s one thing to make a generic goal to exercise more, but if you thoroughly enjoy being a couch potato, it’s going to be harder to get into the exercise habit. If you’ve had a bad habit for a long time, it’s much harder to ditch it because you’ve had more repetitions of that behavior.

If exercising more won’t do much to change your life, you might find it tough to be active. On the other hand, if your doctor tells you that you won’t live to see your child’s 18th birthday unless you start moving, you have more incentive to change.

Plante also notes that people who tend to be obsessive and those who struggle with addiction may have a harder time breaking habits than the average person.

Set aside time to change

The most powerful changes don’t happen overnight, and they probably won’t happen in 21 days. Set aside at least two months to change, but understand that altering habits is different for everyone. If you’ve had the habit for a long time, or you have to break an addiction or obsession, you may need more time.

We all make changes at different speeds based on lots of variables. The intention behind your actions, your ability to interrupt negative patterns, and the possible consequences of changing (or not changing) can also affect the time it takes adjust your habits.

Regardless of how long it takes, tackling bad habits and replacing them with good ones is essential for you to live your best life. Bad habits can keep you from achieving your full potential. They can make you sick, unproductive, and unhappy. The worst habits can even cost you your relationships and your life. Good habits set you up for success all-around.

Your health and wellness, your ability to connect with others, and your ability to live out your dreams start with good habits. If you’re ready to make changes, learn more about breaking bad habits by checking out How to Program Your Mind to Kick the Bad Habit

Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

Reference [1] ^ Habits for Wellbeing: What is a habit, how do they work, and how can I change them? [2] ^ Maxwell Maltz: The New Psycho Cybernetics [3] ^ Selfgrowth.com: Change a habit in 28 days [4] ^ European Journal of Social Psychology: How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world [5] ^ Hopes and Fears: How long does it really take to break a habit? function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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This is Where You Can Connect With All Top Recruiters

30. January 2018 - 12:00

There is nothing more stressful in your life if you are like the many who are looking for a job. The current job availability in many areas in the US are very slim, so this can make it very difficult to find the right job depending on the type of job you are looking too. Anything that can be used to make finding your next job will help to alleviate the immense pressure and stress you are feeling.

If you are having a bit of trouble finding the right job for you and getting more and more stressed out, you may definitely need a little helping hand. If you have an Apple mobile device like an iPhone or iPad, you could use the ZipRecruiter App to help you find listings of available jobs in your area.

You Don’t Have to Look Around Anymore

ZipRecruiter is the mobile version of the powerful job search service used by many of top employers and individuals looking for a new job. The app is filled with extremely useful tools for searching for a job opening, submitting resumes and applying for jobs. The app brings all of the benefits of the well-known job recruiting service to your fingertips. By downloading it to your Apple mobile devices such as the iPhone and the iPad so you can be sure to get your notifications quickly.

Job Search Has Never Been That Easy

Helps you to search hundreds of the top job boards – Use the app to search 100+ job boards which are used by the majority of the largest employers to post their open positions.

Receive notifications if there are jobs matching your wants – After you set up your account and profile which includes specifics about the types of jobs that you are looking for.

Send a resume and apply through the app – The powerful job search app makes it possible to apply for a position and either upload a resume or even import one directly from LinkedIn.

Get notification of your resume is read – After you submit your resume for consideration for a job you will receive a notification if at any time your resume is read by the prospective employer.

Open Yourself To More Opportunities 

At any given time of the day, there are tens of thousands of positions opening up at companies all across the country and these available jobs are frequently posted on job boards so that people can find them. The ZipRecruiter App was designed to help reduce the stress associated with finding a job by simplifying the job search process by using your Apple mobile device.

The ZipRecruiter App makes searching the job boards a much easier process, notifies you why any jobs fit your criteria that you established when you set up your account. You can also apply for a job and upload a resume or send it directly from your LinkedIn account.

If you are in the market for a new job and are getting stressed out because you are not having any luck, check out the  ZipRecruiter App here.

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How to Emulate Life’s Genius: Introducing Biomimicry

29. January 2018 - 14:00

Have you ever noticed the most effective and efficient human creations are modeled from nature? From buildings designed like termite mounds to self-healing buildings developed using bacteria in the concrete; biomimicry is phenomenal approach to solve problems in a sustainable way.

Biomimicry (also known as Biomimetics) was coined by Otto Schmidt in the 1950s and describes the transfer of ideas and analogues from biology to technology. [1] It is the imitation of models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems. Biomimetics and biomimicry derive from Ancient Greece: bios (life) and mimesis (mimetics) is imitation or to imitate.

Using nature to solve problems

Nature has already solved our problems for us. It is up to us to discover how. Nature is a fascinating source of inspiration. It demonstrates how every organism is unique and how it is able to adapt to its own environment. [2]

“Nature is imaginative by necessity and has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with today.” – Janine Benyus

Nature is able to respond to its own needs and find solutions that work. In doing so, nature evolves and lasts through countless generations. Furthermore, biomimicry can be applied to completely transform the way we operate, conduct business, and even communicate. Let’s take a look at how biomimicry can be applied on three levels: [3]

  1. The natural form of organisms are used for inspiration. For example, mimicking the structure of a seashell leading to stronger buildings.
  2. Natural process leading to more sustainable materials. For example, mimicking chemical processes such as photosynthesis.
  3. The ecosystem. For example, mimicking the functional principles of an ecosystem.
Run an organization like a redwood forest

Jay Harman writes in his book The Shark’s Paintbrush, that a business should be run like a redwood forest. Harman informs us that a mature forest is a fully self-sustaining producer of diversity and abundance. He says that,

“Many businesses function more like an invasive weed, where their strategy is to spread rapidly into an area, lay down shallow roots, and use more than their share of local resources.”

Essentially, we overwhelm and destroy our habitat. In her book Biomimicry, Janine Benyus outlines how we should run our company like that of a redwood forest. In the image below, I have outlined her thought process for running an organization like a redwood forest.

Benyus describes ten key ways to operate like a forest in order to create conditions conducive to further life.

  1. Use waste as a resource.
  2. Diversify and cooperate with other species to fully use the habitat.
  3. Gather and use energy efficiently.
  4. Optimize rather than maximize.
  5. Use materials sparingly.
  6. Don’t foul your nest.
  7. Draw up instead of down on resources.
  8. Remain in balance with the biosphere.
  9. Run on information.
  10. Shop locally.
Examples of biomimicry

Let’s take a brief look at some examples of biomimicry in action.

Gecko tape

The bullet train

Cement like corals

Passive cooling in buildings

Self-healing buildings

Harvesting fresh Water

A paradigm shift in how we think

Biomimicry offers us a unique way to see and solve problems. For example, by examining a forest, we find that a forest is actively communicating.

“Biomimicry is basically taking a design challenge and then finding an ecosystem that’s already solved that challenge, and literally trying to emulate what you learn.” – Janine Benyus

Similar to how the internet operates, fungal connectivity is taking place between plants. Yet, like the internet, it is also susceptible to cyber-crime, terrorism, and even warfare. [4]

So, why not examine cyber-crime by examining the threats of fungal connectivity? How could we do this? By using biomimicry as a problem-solving methodology. Let’s take a look at how this could be accomplished.

Biological strategies and inspired ideas

AskNature.org is a powerful and free resource to use to explore biomimicry. It offers a way to find biological strategies, inspiring ideas, and resources to problems using nature.

For example, let’s say we want to find solutions to cyber security. By simply typing “cyber security” we are presented with unique strategies using nature to solve the problem (see image below). One such strategy is to look at how glands in Sea Hares secrete two compounds protecting the organism from predators by reacting together to create an unpalatable mixture of hydrogen peroxide and organic chemicals. Let’s take a quick look at how this could work with cyber security.

Step #1: Clearly define the challenge we are trying to solve

Improve cyber security vulnerabilities.

Step #2: Search for biological analogies and/or metaphors

Step #3: Determine whether the problem is related to form, function, or ecosystem

Form follows function (hence, form always comes before function). Think of form as the design of a building, where function is how we use the building.

Step #4: Ask what plant, Animal, or Natural Process solves a similar problem most effectively

Using AskNature.org I was able to find the following potential solution: Sea Hare or Sea Snail.

Step #5: Map-out the biological model

Step #6: Design a solution

Using an abstract len, we could potentially use the sticky ink secretion of a Sea Hare as a cyber security protection concept that sticks to dangerous cyber intrusion and completely prevents it from infecting the network/system/device.

When we look to nature for solutions to contemporary problems, we find that biomimicry provides us a fascinating and unique way to truly improve everything around us. It offers us an opportunity to redesign everything in existence. In essence, biomimicry brings about answers because it forces us to ask the right questions.

Reference [1] ^ Julian Vincent, Olga Bogatyreva, Nikolaj Bogatyrev, Adrian Bowyer, Anja-Karina Pahl: Biomimetics its practice and theory [2] ^ Rasha Mahmoud Ali El-Zeiny: Biomimicry as a Problem Solving Methodology in Interior Architecture [3] ^ SlideShare: Biomimicry Civil Engineering Applications [4] ^ Timewheel.net: Plants communicate using an internet of fungus function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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 Herz fuehrt Verstand, dann kann nichts schiefgehen

Sie möchten weitestgehend frei über Ihre Lebenszeit verfügen und Ihre Fähigkeiten, Ihre Neigungen, Ihre Kreativität (Phantasie) und Ihre Gefühle bestmöglich ausleben?

Sie möchten Ihre eigenen Ideen realisieren, vielleicht sogar von zuhause aus arbeiten und sich ein Einkommen erwirtschaften, das Ihren Lebensunterhalt sichert. 

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Neben einer vereinfachten Lebensweise spielt dabei auch die moderne Technik eine wichtige Rolle.
Wir finden heraus, wie Sie einfacher leben und die aktuellen technischen Möglichkeiten optimal nutzen können.

Beispielsweise bietet sich zur Fortbewegung in den Städten das Car2go- oder Car-Sharing-Konzept an oder wie wäre es in Zukunft mit einer AllinOne-Solaranlage zur weitestgehend autarken Stromversorgung oder verbrennen Sie Biomasse (z. B. Kuhmist) und erzeugen Sie so Ihren eigenen Strom.

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Möglicherweise wünschen Sie sich insgeheim schon lange, so zu leben und entsprechende Erfahrungen und Erkenntnisse zu sammeln.

Ja, wie wäre es, wenn Sie Ihre Begeisterung für diese ganzheitliche Lebensweise sogar zu Ihrem Beruf machen und sie auf diesem Wege, Ihr Wissen mit anderen teilen und anderen Menschen helfen können, erfüllter zu leben.

Verwirklichen Sie doch Ihren Traum! Werden Sie ein ganzheitlich denkender Lebensunternehmer oder falls Sie das schon sind, geben Sie Ihr Wissen weiter und geben Sie so Ihrer Zukunft ganz neue Perspektiven! 

Verdienen Sie mit Ihrer selbst gewählten Aufgabe Ihren Lebensunterhalt.

Sie können als Lebensunternehmer-Coach Ihr Wissen weitergeben oder aber auch als Coachee, die ganzheitliche Denkweise der Lebensunternehmer kennen lernen.

Natürlich können Sie auch nur einzelne Schwerpunkte aus dem Lebensunternehmer-Konzept trainieren bzw. coachen, etwa den Workshop wo es darum geht für Berufsanfänger und Berufswechsler den optimalen Beruf bzw. die Lebensaufgabe zu finden.

Für die Teilnahme sind keine besonderen Schulabschlüsse oder Zertifikate erforderlich! 

Wichtig ist, daß Sie von Ihrem Thema begeistert sind und gerne lernen bzw. später als Lebensunternehmer-Coach Ihre Erfahrungen und Erkenntnisse leidenschaftlich gerne an andere weitergeben.

Ja ich möchte:

 

Erfahre mehr über das Lebenskonzept der Lebensunternehmer und die optimale Lebensumgebung dafür!

Im eBook-Shop gibt es dazu:

eBooks zu dem Lebenskonzept der Lebensunternehmer 

eBooks über eine sich selbst organisierende Gesellschaft, die auf der Eigenverantwortung jedes Einzelnen aufbaut (die optimale Lebensumgebung für Lebensunternehmer)

eBooks über Insel-Solaranlagen und Windräder und Solarkollektoren, die man umweltfreundlich und Ressourcensparend aus Schrott, Altmetall und Abfällen bauen kann

im eBook-Shop stöbern … 

Lebensunternehmer-ebook-Shop

 

bestimmte Inhalte gezielt finden

 

Mit der Suchmaschine können alle Inhalte zum Lebensunternehmer-Training und zur artgerechten Umgebung für Lebensunternehmer gezielt nach bestimmten Stichwörtern durchsucht und so die jeweils  relevanten Inhalte gefunden werden.

Besonders wichtige Stichwörter:
naturverbundenheit, traumberuf finden, selbstentfaltung, autodidaktisch lernen, urteilsvermögen, entscheiden, beteiligen, Verantwortung, demokratie, netzwerke, grundeinkommen

Geben Sie doch testweise die Stichwörter, die Sie besonders interessieren, in die Suchmaschine ein und schauen Sie sich die gefundenen Trefferanzeigen an!

 

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>> die Ideenwerkstatt der Akademie für Lebensunternehmer

hier geht es um Lösungen, Konzepte und Projektideen für eine sich selbst organisierende Gesellschaft, die auf unserer tagtäglich gelebten Eigenverantwortung basiert

Dazu gibt es: Workshops, Coachings, Videokurse und eBooks | wichtige Werte und Gewohnheiten für alle die ihr Leben unternehmen | die ganzheitliche Lösung für eine sich selbst organisierende Gesellschaft, die auf der Eigenverantwortung jedes Einzelnen aufbaut | eBooks für Lebensunternehmer | die Lebensunternehmer-Idee | eine FAQ zur Klärung vieler Detailfragen zum Thema "das Leben unternehmen" | der Lebensunternehmer-Blog | den Bauplan für eine neue Gesellschaft | die Projektidee zu einer Internet-Entscheidungsplattform | News zum Thema “gesellschaftlicher Wandel” | das Grundkonzept für ein neues Bildungssystem und vieles mehr

>> aktiv mitmachen

diese Site soll dich dazu anregen aktiv bei der Akademie für Lebensunternehmer mitzumachen

weitere Websites von mir:

>> die Akademie für Lebensunternehmer
das Leben unternehmen - wie geht das?

>> mach was du liebst
hier geht es um die Kernfrage: Wofür lohnt es sich für dich zu leben?

>> wachse und gedeihe
hier geht es um die Kernfrage: Wie kannst du dich optimal weiterentwickeln, also effektiv lernen?

>> nutze das Internet sinnvoll und hilfreich
hier geht es um die Kernfrage: Wie können dir die vielfältigen Software-Tools bzw. Internetdienste dabei helfen, daß du deine Tagesaufgaben einfacher und schneller lösen kannst?

>> nutze freie Energie
selbst Strom erzeugen und Energie sparen