What I wish I knew before University (3): Daily habits

1 – Design your morning

Our days are simply better when we are energetic and refreshed. Throughout my days I really underestimated the impact of our mornings onto the rest of the day. Going relaxed into the day clears the mind and energises us up until we sleep again. A chaotic morning however can ruin much of what is coming after. I recommend preparing your morning the day before. For example, I prepare my clothes and pack my backpack at night, and I make sure I’ll have enough time to take a brief, cold shower and eat some healthy breakfast without rushing. 

2 – Build Routines

“Rome wasn’t build in a day” is an old saying that applies to nearly everything. If we really want do something great, most of the time we need to continuously work on it. Whether it is that you want to write a book, learn a language or an instrument, master a career related skill or build something. The list is endless, and chances are high that you got something on your mind, too. Routines support us to go through that lengthy process by turning it to a habit you don’t want to miss, and that makes it a whole lot easier. And sometimes it is just nice to break the habit, so we can explore life. 

3 – Make space for things

In the same manner as above, good things need adequate space to grow. For example, when I learn vocabularies for a new language I take at least one hour for that. Not because the process needs one hour, but if I have only half an hour I will not be able to focus on learning the new vocabularies. Instead, most of the time my thoughts are already running on what is afterwards, and I will start to feel stressed over having reserved so little time for the task at hand. But if I want to repeat the vocabularies the next day on the train 10 minutes are fairly enough though. The same goes for example in human relationships: If I’m on a hurry somewhere I’d better signal that while I appreciate the company at that moment I simply cannot really sync with people, because my head is not free Identify what takes space in your head and give it to what needs it. Similarly, take non-repetitive tasks you can do off your list, that will lift weight off your shoulders immediately. 

4 – Spend your money consciously 

My entire life I was told to simply save money. Not a word on how to do so. This led me to try budgeting, saving as much as possible and so on, with a lot of failed experiments, missed opportunities and money I had no idea about where it actually went. The trick is setting priorities: Know what is important to you, know what is not, and then spent on the things you care about and save where you do not care. I really recommend reading I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi. It has a lot of region-specific content, but still proves rich regardless of your geological status. 

5 – Write a diary

Time is the essential theme throughout our journeys. In the end our life was simply a string of how we have spent our time (which is the sum of our decisions, says Jim Kwik). With time passing by I realised I would lose a lot of time by simply rushing through, and I implemented some mechanisms to decelerate. One of the major things here is my diary I’m writing before going to sleep. Not only does the diary help me retain my memories for longer and make me feel like I’ve got more out of my time, it also helps me train my memory and speed down my day and be more conscious about every moment. I get more out of my time while I spend it and more out of it retrospectively.

6 – Be mindful

This one is obvious, since everybody is talking about it. I want to mention it for completeness though. You won’t have much out of your life if your mind is always where it does not belong. Be that the past, the future or other plans. Getting the mind straight into the moment is a trainable ability, and it gets lost when we are constantly in a rush or don’t give ourselves the time to digest things properly. Some mindful habit such a meditation or Yoga can help, sometimes just conscious breathing in a break on the train or at work. In any case, its importance cannot be overstated, you simply will get much more out of each day and moment (or on the contrary find yourself you missed out somewhere in life). Don’t let that be you.

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