To start us off, it is important to understand that success on any level will be influenced by our day-to-day lifestyle. All of the events and features of our life are interconnected insofar as they impact on how we think and what we think about, both of which deeply impact on our productivity.
Now I must emphasise that these are ideal scenarios. Like most of you I will fall short in seeking perfection. Please do not let this discourage you, for even aspiring to commit fully to these lifestyle choices each day had a beneficial impact on my living standard and academic performance.
Also make sure that you adjust this to what suits you. I merely provide these examples to show how I adjusted my living habits to optimise my living standards.
- Work out your peak hours
We all have times of the day when we work at our best. Were we feel more relaxed, and able to focus and comprehend complex information and create our best original insights.
When you want to work hard it can sometimes lead to hours of working during your bad hours when you feel like you’re banging your head off a brick wall, because even the hardest working and most ambitious person needs a decent sleep (ideally 8 hours) to rejuvenate our creative spark.
As I am a morning person I adjusted my schedule towards getting into the library between 8:00 – 8:30 every morning, and set my hardest tasks first in the schedule. This was difficult considering that I habitually watched YouTube until 1 – 2 in the morning. So I would switch off all electronic devices before leaving the library to stave off the YouTube and Facebook craving, and I would only switch them back on to set my alarm when I was finally relaxed enough to sleep, which was usually about 9:30.
I would then pack my bag for the next day, pile up the clothes which I would wear, pack a bag with my lunch (with fruit and water) and leave it in the fridge.
The whole purpose of working out peak working hours and setting up a routine for the beginning and end of the day is to remove unnecessary chaos from our lives, so we can focus on what matters most.
Have you ever found yourself feeling completely restless, unable to concentrate on your work, and taking break after break simply because you feel so uncomfortable sitting down. Then you are in need of exercise.
At the same time that I was conducting research for my dissertation and other subjects, I was training for the Great Scottish Run half-marathon. This allowed me to stay focused and gave me a reason to go running regularly.
However, the most important criteria for exercising is realising when it would be helpful. Just like when you work out your peak hours, you should try to be aware of what times of the day you feel restless and unable to concentrate fully on your work. At this time you should try different types of exercise to see what suits you.
Whether it is a 15 minute walk outside the library, or a long run, or training with a sports team, it will benefit you in so many ways to burn off some physical energy and refocus your mind.
- Bring healthy food to the library
During my last all-night writing session for my final 4000 word essay, I had a remarkable déjà vu moment. Opposite me was a 2nd year with 3 empty and 3 full cans of red bull – a traditional fuel for staying awake for long hours.
I on the other hand brought a bundle of 7 bananas. I had begun bringing fruit for study ever since I drunk 5 red bulls in my 3rd year only to find that I still couldn’t resist napping, and when I did work I couldn’t articulate or process information well enough to produce high-quality work.
Bananas on the other hand gave me a longer slow-release burst of energy, which was for more suited to a late night or all night work session.
In addition to fruit, it is important to keep hydrated by drinking water.
An occasional caffeine pickup is still acceptable. If the coffee shops have all closed, and you don’t like what the close machine gives you, then invest in a flask. I paid as much for one flask as 2 coffees from Starbucks would have cost me, so the financial benefits should act as an extra incentive.
- Alter social media habits
I used social media every day during my final year at University. So I am not going to lie true my teeth by telling you to give it up. Instead it will benefit you if you alter your social media habits so that they do not distract you during your peak working hours.
In the morning, I would not check social media at all, so that I was not dwelling on it during peak working hours. I would just check my emails, they were often concerned with work and would put my mind at ease once I had dealt with them.
In the afternoon, during my lunch break, I would then answer all my social media messages and check my updates, because it was a good way to zone out of work for 45 minutes.
- Use a calendar:
Time management can be a super-power for an ambitious and successful individual. To maximise what you accomplish over the course of any period of time, using a calendar will give you the ultimate control to make sure nothing is missed and every task you face can be optimised.
Using a calendar for time management allows you to ensure that you can record opportunities at a future date, space out that tasks in front of you so that they can be realistically accomplished, and put your mind at ease if, like me, you crave control in the different aspects of your life.
I always used the android calendar app, because it would remind you even if you forgot to check your schedule, which made it better for me than a paper calendar or diary.