A few months ago, I published a blog post titled: 10 Things I need to remind myself every day. I received a great response to this post and loads of people emailed me to say how useful the list was.
Here’s a quick summary of the list (you can go back and read the post to learn more about each):
- Slow down
- You don't have to do everything right now
- Remember how far you've come
- One day you'll be dead. Live life now.
- Remember what's really important
- Happiness is a choice
- Respond to hostility with kindness
- Everything will be okay
- Be present and don't use your smartphone to fill idle time
- People aren't really looking at you
A few months on, I thought I’d add to this list with 5 more things I need to remind myself every day (please share your own ideas in the comments below):
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1. Breath (slow and fast)
Each day I try and take at least one slow deep breath. This goes back to something I heard a few years ago (I can’t remember where exactly I hear this from):
“Take one intentional breath per day”
At least a few times a week I try and make some time to meditate for 10-20 minutes. During this time I like to focus on my breath and the relaxing sensation of air filling and falling out of my lungs.
But it’s not always easy to make this time every day. Taking one intentional breath is a very small and achievable goal you can aim for if you struggle to maintain a meditation practice.
Most of the time we take very shallow breaths. Reminding yourself to stop and take a few deep breaths, even if you don't meditate, is a great way to pause, relax, destress and find focus.
As well as taking a slow deep breath, it’s equally important to get your heart-rate going a few times a week. For me, exercise is a non-negotiable part of my routine and I love the feeling of putting my body under stress.
2. Say “no” to almost everything
We get attacked each day by requests from people who need our time. The truth of the matter is, most of the time, these requests are a distraction from your goals and priorities.
To avoid disappointing people, we often postpone these requests or respond with a “maybe” which is equally distracting and wastes everyone’s time.
Other people usually don't know what your goals are. They don't know what you’re working on right now or what a good use of your time is. For someone to ask you to prioritise their thing over yours is a big request.
Every day I have to remind myself to say “no” to incoming requests if they don't align with my goals or priorities. Learning to say “no” isn’t easy and it’s like building a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger the muscle will become and the easier saying “no” will get.
3. What you think is simple, others find difficult
This is something that comes up all the time in my VIP Slack group. As a group of consultants, a lot of us have to remind ourselves that what we find simple or easy, other people struggle with.
Even if you’re not teaching people about your area of expertise, this is still an important fact to remember.
Have you ever had a conversation where you feel like the person talking to you is overestimating how much you know? Maybe they’re using some industry jargon that’s over your head. This can make us feel embarrassed to ask questions out of fear of sounding dumb.
You may not realise but you’ve probably done this to someone else at some point.
Remind yourself that what you find simple, other people find difficult and put yourself in the mindset of a beginner. This makes it easier to communicate your ideas when you’re talking to someone outside your field.
4. Be still and find silence
Since reading Ryan Holiday’s new book, Stillness is the Key (affiliate link), I’ve been trying to find moments in my day to be still and find silence.
When you stop and think about it, very rarely are we able to find a moment of peace in our day. We check our phones whenever we’re waiting for a coffee. We listen to audiobooks or podcasts on our commute. And when we get home, we play video games or binge another TV show on Netflix.
Personally, I think this is why many of us are so impatient.
We never get a chance to stop and be alone with our thoughts. This means there’s no time to process ideas which hurts our creativity. It also means we feel a sense of constant busyness as we’re always doing something.
Now, I’m far from perfect. Lately, I’ve been trying to find moments to be still by:
- Not checking my phone while I’m waiting for something.
- Walking in silence instead of listening to a podcast (often I’ll do even just half my walk in silence and the other half I listen to something).
- Meditate a few times per week.
- Journal on my thoughts and what I’m currently feeling. This helps to process ideas and get negative thoughts out of my head.
Whatever you do, it’s important to remind yourself to find a few moments of peace each day.
5. Don't be “busy”
“Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.”
This is one of my favourite Tim Ferriss Quotes from The 4-Hour Workweek.
We often celebrate how busy we are when talking to other people because it makes us feel important.
I don’t like being busy. By saying “no” to all the stuff that normally wastes our time (as discussed above), this frees up our time so that when we have a really good idea or a more impactful opportunity comes along, we have the bandwidth to commit to it.
It’s funny, clients often say to me: “I know how busy you are”. This is a misconception. People think that because I’m booked up with client work 2 weeks in advance I must be really busy. This isn’t actually the case. Yes, I’m booked up but only as much as I want to be, which is generally for around 4 hours a day. For my own sanity (and to avoid being too busy) I don’t book myself up with back to back calls for 8 hours a day. I’ve built flexibility and free time into my routine so that I can work on other projects and respond to the unexpected. This is another reason I’m so passionate about time-blocking. It means I’m more intentional with my time. I can plan exactly how much I want to (or need to) work without over-committing and stretching myself too thin. It means I can end my day at 3:30 pm, go home and spend time with my family.
Being “busy” should not be a badge of honour. Remind yourself of this each and every day.
What do you have to remind yourself each day? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!