10 Unexpected Ways to be the Most Productive Person You Know


At LightArrow, we’re all about productivity. Getting things done is embedded in everything we do. We often share productivity tips on our blog, Twitter and Facebook. Today, we compiled a collection of our favorite, counter-intuitive tips. Enjoy!

1. Ditch the Late Night Emails

Does your boss send you late night emails? Studies show that answering email outside of work on your smartphone or tablet, especially late at night, makes you less productive. Here’s the science involved. The pineal gland, which is located in the brain, releases melatonin a few hours before you go to sleep. However, if you’re playing games or using tablets and smartphones, the blue light that these devices emit can prevent the gland from releasing the melatonin you need to get to sleep.

But before you completely unplug, ensure you understand your boss’s expectations and that you know when immediate responses are necessary. Or perhaps, you’re the boss. Keep in mind that your employees feel obligated to respond, which sets them up for poor sleep and less productivity. Keep your employees happy and healthy by reserving the late night emails for emergencies.

2. Smile More

Have you ever spent a day dwelling on a negative event? Do you remember the impact it had on your overall productivity? Examine the things that make you happy and learn to gravitate to those places, people and things. When you’re happy, you’re naturally more productive and creative. Numerous studies have been conducted that link improved job performance and productivity with overall happiness. So don’t be a “Debbie Downer” and be afraid to share your happiness with everyone around you. Your smile will certainly be contagious!

3. Put a Plant on Your Desk

A little greenery can go a long way. Adding a plant to a sparse office space can surprisingly increase your productivity. According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, plants can increase productivity up to 15 percent!

In addition, plants can remove air pollution from your environment that negatively affects productivity. According to NASA Clean Air Study, a variety of plants can reduce benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene and/or ammonia. I personally prefer Boston Ferns because they’re relatively easy to take care of and they’re not toxic to animals according to Mother Nature Network. Whatever plant you choose, it will beautify your surroundings, clean the air and make you more productive. It’s a gift to yourself that doesn’t stop giving!

4. Take Restorative Breaks

After working several hours on a difficult task, you can feel drained and lose concentration. Recharging is necessary to regain your energy and concentration. You’ve probably heard that taking breaks increases productivity. However, when you take a break, ensure that the activity you choose during that break does not impact your concentration. Playing a game on your smartphone is not the best choice when recharging. Instead, take a walk, stretch, do some yoga poses, eat a healthy snack or talk to a friend. Sometimes, a change of scenery is all you need to recharge.

5. Eat Dark Chocolate

Now this is a tip you can sink your teeth into. Eat Dark Chocolate! Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and caffeine, which are proven to improve mental focus and alertness. In fact, according to WebMD, researchers believe that chocolate can enhance neurotransmitters which can help with sleep and mood.

6. Just Say No

Don’t try to do too much. Ruthlessly prioritizing is the key to achieving your goals and dreams – with the key word being “YOUR.” When you’re pulled in multiple directions and have conflicting priorities, you never achieve the things you really want to achieve. Just say no to someone else who’s trying to push his or her agenda onto you. Decide what’s important and urgent. Record your goals and build a tangible plan with broken-down tasks to get there. Check in with yourself. Review these goals often. Always clearly explain to others why their agenda is not your priority.

7. Don’t Work So Much

Have you ever noticed that your productivity declines on Friday afternoon? You’re gearing up for the weekend, losing focus, and burned out from a long week. According to Hudson Research, employees who have a relaxed Friday environment “go into the weekend feeling positive about their working environment.” A flexible schedule goes a long way with most employees. Researchers from this study believe that the “feel good factor” can have beneficial effects.

Don’t feel guilty. If your employer allows it, work when your energy is at its best. Take advantage of the times when you feel focused and take some time off when you believe you’re not doing your best work. The result will be better output and a recharged mind and body. It’s a win-win.

8. Exercise

Time and time again I hear, “I don’t have time for exercise” or “I’m too tired to exercise.” I believe most of us don’t have time to NOT exercise. Exercise supplies more energy to your brain, and it also enhances mental capabilities.

Whether you have a busy work schedule, small children or school is taking over your life, there’s always a way to make time to be healthy. You don’t have to join a gym or jump onto the latest hardcore workout trend. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity. That’s only 30 minutes five days a week. Worried about childcare? Take a walk with your kids so they can also enjoy the benefits of movement and activity.

9. Write More

Writing can have many benefits. Writing helps you organize your thoughts, stay on schedule and release feelings onto paper. In fact, just the act of writing helps us to remember things. Do you make to-do lists? Just the process of making a to-do list helps you to remember all the tasks that you need to complete. Writing lists makes everything more manageable and makes you feel less out of control.

10. Focus on the Moment

How often do you try to plow through your to-do list and thoughts start creeping into your head about the test you need to study for or phone calls you need to make? To get things done quickly and efficiently, focus on one task at a time before moving onto the next task. For example, imagine you’re writing a term paper, but you know you have six loads of laundry waiting. Instead of breaking up your thought process, focus on your term paper for 90 minutes before shifting to another task, such as your laundry. You can easily set a timer with your smartphone or alarm clock to keep you focused.

Your Turn

What is your favorite unexpected life hack for making you more productive? Please share!

8 Common Myths and Fallacies About Productivity

LightArrow Questions

What if I told you that the things you think are true about productivity are actually detrimental to getting things done? Let me guess. You’re doing all the right things that you believe will help you get the stuff done that you really want to do, but it’s not happening. You’re frustrated, burned out and simply tired.

If you’ve been following the rules outlined below, consider shifting your perceptions and adjusting your work habits. These different ideas might enhance your productivity in ways you never thought were possible.

1. Myth – It Pays to Work Hard – Keep Your Head Down

Do you believe that working harder, better and faster is the Holy Grail for getting things done? Do you think that if you could just focus better, keep your head down and “push through” then you’ll magically produce more and more each day? If you believe that you’ll be an instant success when you eliminate breaks, get to work earlier and stay later, you’re fooling yourself.

Are you the person who realizes that after a long day at work you sat at your desk or in meetings all day and never took a bathroom break? Admit it, we’ve all done it. If this is you, keep reading. Working harder and “pushing through” is a vicious cycle that leads to burnout. It takes a toll on you emotionally, psychologically and physically. Recently, a tweet caught my eye that compared prolonged sitting to cigarette smoking, stating, “Sitting is the new cigarette.” This is a powerful statement that led me to research how prolonged sitting affects the body and mind.

An article from the Mayo Clinic indicates that adults in a study that spent more than four hours a day sitting while watching a screen, had a 50 percent increased risk of death from multiple causes and a 125 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease. If this doesn’t convince you to get up and moving, then my message isn’t compelling enough. Keep reading.

Earlier I wrote a post about Ultradian Rhythms and the science of why taking breaks enhances productivity. Taking breaks is truly a little known and surprising method for boosting problem solving, creativity and productivity. Set a timer for 90 – 120 minutes. Then, take a 20-minute break after that time period ends. Experiment with this method and observe if you’re achieving the productivity benefits you’re hoping for.

2. Myth – Procrastination is Bad

I’m certain that during your life, you’ve come to the conclusion that procrastination is a trait that’s considered undesirable – an unwelcome guest that sneaks up and steals your productivity right out from under you. Change your perception about procrastination. Make it your friend, but not your BFF.

The key to making procrastination work for you is to first recognize it for what it is. Is there a task that needs to be done, but you’re dreading it so it’s been put on the back burner? Is there a daunting project looming that you don’t have the time or energy to complete? Consider how important and urgent this task or project really is. Rank it in importance of all the other projects and tasks that are present in your work and life. How will avoiding this task or project affect you?

Align your goals, tasks and priorities. If the task you’re putting off isn’t going to move the needle toward your most important goals, then put it aside – go ahead and procrastinate and stop feeling guilty. It’s not worth your energy. If you simply don’t have time given the other priorities in your work or life, set this task aside, outsource it or delegate it. As long as your making progress on what YOU believe are the most important or urgent tasks, then you’ve mastered the art of procrastination.

3. Myth – All Multi-tasking is Harmful

In the recent past, multi-tasking was considered a trait of highly effective people. It was a characteristic to brag about to friends and coworkers. Recently, productivity experts and researchers have flagged multi-tasking as a habit that reduces productivity and impairs intellectual ability. I agree, rapid multi-tasking is detrimental to productivity. If you’re shifting back and forth from many tasks or getting frequently interrupted, you lose focus and ultimately efficiency suffers.

On the other hand, I never believe in extremes. A limited amount of multi-tasking can make you more efficient, depending on the type of tasks you’re executing. For example, imagine you’re a teacher and you also have children who play baseball or soccer. While you’re waiting at their practice, spend time grading papers and you’ll have more quality 1-on-1 time with your kids when you return home. Discover which tasks don’t require a lot of thought and those are the tasks that can be done in the background. Think of your brain like a computer. If you have too many processes going, it will eventually impair the performance and sometimes it shuts down. You know your limits; use common sense when it comes to multi-tasking.

4. Myth – Paper Lists Work Better Than Digital Lists

LifeTopix ToDo List

LifeTopix App

I’ve heard time and time again that many of you are unconvinced that a digital to-do list has its productivity advantages over old-fashioned sticky notes or a moleskin day planner.

With an old-fashioned paper to-do list you’re required to erase items when you re-prioritize or make errors, which is arduous. With a digital list, re-prioritization is usually as quick and easy as a tap and drag action. It’s nearly impossible to share a paper list with someone who’s not at the same location when you’re delegating or sharing tasks. It’s challenging to save and reuse a paper list; these lists inevitably get thrown away or lost. Completed tasks or to-dos that are written on paper or whiteboards cannot be searched for history purposes. Your smartphone is compact, always with you — and ready while on the go. Save your time and some trees; a digital productivity app can boost efficiency and productivity with several benefits over paper methods.

5. Myth – You Must Get Up Early to be Productive

Most of us have heard the old idiom, “the early bird gets the worm” – meaning those who rise early reap the benefits. Do you believe if you rose earlier you would accomplish much more? This is another myth that needs busting.

Everyone is different. Some of us do our best work in the morning, while others flourish at night. In fact, researchers at Germany’s Aachen University determined that early birds and night owls may have structural differences of their brains.

Don’t focus on switching your natural rhythms. Learn your natural tendencies by listening to what your body is telling you. Log the times that you get the most done and feel you have the best focus. If getting up early depletes your energy and your schedule allows the flexibility of starting your day later, then go with the flow. Take advantage of when your energy is at its best and schedule your most difficult tasks during those times.

6. Myth – Caffeine Makes You Productive

It’s a proven fact that caffeine increases your alertness and may help you focus. However, becoming reliant on a caffeine boost to increase your productivity might be a crutch worth kicking.

Ultimately, caffeine can affect your wellness in ways that can be detrimental to productivity. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. In fact, it increases catecholamines, which trigger changes in our bodies that allow us to prepare for flight or fight responses. Catecholamines increase our heart rate, blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

Have you ever consumed too much caffeine to keep you awake so you can study for a final or finish a big project and it left you with a sleepless night? The result – you’re too tired to perform at your best. Or have you ever stopped drinking caffeine for a few days and felt the pain of a headache resulting from withdrawal? Caffeine withdrawal can include other symptoms as well, such as lack of concentration, depression and muscle pain. These withdrawal symptoms can result in days of lost productivity.

A great strategy for caffeine use is to limit it to the times you really need it, instead of making it a habit. And consider your caffeine source. Green tea is a great source because it also contains EGCG, which researchers believe can improve cognitive function. If you’re thinking about kicking your caffeine to the curb, there are many brain foods you can try to boost concentration. Blueberries, avocados, fatty fishes such as salmon, flax seeds, nuts and foods rich in B12 are good choices to boost energy and/or concentration.

7. Myth – Social Media is Killing Your Productivity

Pro.Inbox App

Pro.Inbox App

Social Media can destroy your productivity. However, it depends on how you use it. Do you check social media several times a day? Do you spend endless hours looking at your friends’ photos on Instagram or Facebook? Do you read every article that pops up on Twitter? If this sounds familiar, you might rethink how you’re consuming social media information. Scheduling a few minutes each day on your calendar to check social media during breaks can actually be a great way to recharge. You just need to use an ounce of self discipline.

Social media is valuable for finding information that you’re researching. It’s also valuable for keeping up with friends and business associates in one central location. For example, consider LinkedIn. Before LinkedIn, you might have spent endless hours collecting business cards and putting information into a Rolodex. Now, all your business contacts are found in one central location – just a few clicks away, which is an amazing productivity booster.

Social media is incredible for locating and collecting information when researching any subject. There are several apps and applications that help you locate and curate this information. For example, our app Pro.Inbox is a great app for this use.

With Pro.Inbox, you can create information feeds from Twitter and Facebook and customize these feeds with keywords for any subject for which you’re interested. For example, imagine you’re focused on finding information about Clutter, CRM, Goals, GTD and other subjects. You can simply create feeds for all of these subjects and find all relevant information quickly and efficiently. Furthermore, you can convert the tweets or posts you discover to notes or calendar items to ensure that you have a record of an article or other information for your research. Converting posts and tweets to calendar items is an excellent time-saving method. When you’re ready to follow up, you’ll easily be able to find the saved information. And, in fact, if you schedule these items on your calendar, you certainly won’t forget about them.

8. Myth – Socializing at the Office is a Waste of Time

Have you ever got the stink eye from your boss when you were discussing important things at the office such as the latest episode of “Game of Thrones?” Many managers believe that socializing and laughing at the office is a huge time waster. In some cases, your boss is right; socializing can be a time suck.

But, with a little common sense, socializing can also build friendships, which can lead to better team relationships. When you have good relationships with co-workers, they’ll enjoy working with you. And perhaps, help you out when you need it. We spend 40 or more hours a week at our jobs. A happy worker is a productive worker. Go ahead, find some friends and laugh a little. Just properly manage your priorities and don’t overdo it.

Your Turn

What common productivity myths would you like to bust? Please share in the comments below.

Reducing Stress and Anxiety – 3 Things That Work For Me

Over the years, probably brought on by being a startup junkie and always having poured myself unreservedly into work my entire professional life, I’ve developed several bad habits or things that are harmful to health, and perhaps also to relationships.

On the one hand, there is this insatiable passion and seemingly endless energy to take on challenges, get stuff done, being an engine that is always on. Sadly, on the other hand, there is fatigue, irritability, loss of focus, and low quality sleep. Undeniably, according to both ancient wisdom and modern medical know-how, the latter set of things affect one’s health dangerously. And with equal importance, the closest relationships are exposed to occasional bouts of irritability and other forms of negative energy. Broadly speaking, there is a general feeling of stress and anxiety as a result.

Three things I have either changed or started recently are personally helping me a lot without taking away from my productivity, and seem to be helping cut out the bad set of things.


1. Turn off all audible alerts and lock-screen notifications on devices. (Except calendar reminders and text messages.)

This was a surprisingly welcome change. Sounds simple, but do you really need to be suddenly interrupted from your flow or zone, with a ding and a lock screen message that “Your Facebook friend so-and-so just joined Pinterest.” – and other irrelevant, unnecessary crap? I started going into my iPhone’s Notifications setup each time anything came up (Mail app alerts, Google alerts, Facebook, Twitter, CNBC alerts, and perhaps 10 others), and turning them off. I left Calendar and text message alerts on as I control the reminders I put on my calendar items, and also I am not a defocussed incessant texter – especially when I work, so most texts I get are important. On the same note, during work hours, I only make myself visible to the group of people I am working with on messaging apps. I still check my email and look at my agenda frequently, but on my own schedule, when I am in-between focussed tasks – kind of like waking up in sync with natural sleep cycles. Which leads me to my second thing – sleep.

2. Sleep well. Instead of an alarm clock, use an app like Sleep Cycle.

I started using this about a couple of months ago instead of using a regular alarm. It is ingeniously simple. You turn it on, put it next to your pillow facing down. It tracks your sleep cycles, duration and quality by tracking motion (whatever it detects from your tossing and turning, etc.), and perhaps from movement noise since it asks for access to the microphone. You can configure a window of time to wake up in, and it detects a stage when you are either awake or your sleep is in the waking part of the cycle during that time window, and wakes you up. Also, it measures your sleep quality and gives you a score and a graph of sleep level over time – that way you can correlate various pre-sleep activities with quality of sleep – for example, does sipping some tart cherry juice an hour before going to bed actually help with sleep, does deep breathing right before sleep give you some golden deep sleep cycles, etc. As my friend Chip had said 20 years ago: you should measure things that you care about. Inducing positive energy and a calm disengagement via pre-sleep deep breathing, and cutting out sources of negative energy seem to help in my case – which takes me to the third point.

3. Add positive energy (many choices). Cut out negative energy (namely TV news channels, and social media complainers).

Points 1 and 2 take zero time investment and give heavy positive returns. So that’s golden for the ROI (return-on-investment) fanatics. Point three is also a net positive – consuming about 30-60 minutes of time every day for adding positive energy (meditation / deep-breathing / quiet-time / simple yoga / reading / praying / reflecting / being grateful – look up Positive Psychology when you have a minute), but freeing up much more than that by subtracting sources of negative energy that steal time both directly and indirectly, and negatively affect every aspect of life. I am talking primarily about TV “news” folk, political talking-heads and other assorted villains – kings and queens of ignorance on TV and the internet constantly furthering their narrow agendas by stepping on your gentle minds. They come from the right and the left – ignore them, and instead look straight at what you value – there’s much better stuff there. The negative energy sources are plentiful in our social circles, in person, and more so on social media since it’s a much larger set. Cut. Them. Out. Hide them from your feeds, unfollow them, walk-away, change the topic, do whatever it takes to cleanly disengage. There are always tons of important things that require immense energy, constructive debate, championing ideas, defending values, and much effort without all the shallow and shrill things stealing our precious time. Any issue that is important to you can be engaged with constructively without subscribing to a buffet-line of fast-food class negative sentiments. That frees up more time to embrace positive things. Things you admire. Things you learn from. Things that leave you positive. Spend time with people that enrich you, and take a vacation every now and then!

What are some of your favorite positive energy sources? What kinds of negative energy sources have you successfully cut out? Please share.

Eight Surefire Methods to Increase Your Productivity

How often do you complain that there’s not enough hours in the day to get the things done that you want to do? Do you feel like it’s constantly “crunch time” and the result is overwhelming stress? Take note of the following strategies to improve your performance and efficiency, which will lead you to a more relaxed, successful, and enjoyable life.Productivity

1. Surround Yourself With Positive People

The people you surround yourself with can affect your level of happiness, your productivity, your passion, and your well being. Associate yourself with people who are go-getters, engaged, productive, smart, and have good attitudes.

Spend some time evaluating the success, positivity, enthusiasm, level of engagement, and optimism of the people you spend your time with. Are they people who you aspire to be like? Are they role models or mentors? Do they encourage you to be the best you can be?

There’s lots of ways to connect with motivational people. Find groups of people with similar personal and professional interests utilizing tools such as Meetups. At school, seek out clubs and organizations. At work, seek out positive people and remove yourself from those who drain your energy. Think of these people as your “dream team.” Leverage these relationships and cultivate a mutually supportive environment.

2. Get Enough Sleep

Anybody who’s suffered through a day at work or school after a night of insomnia understands that lack of sleep can take a toll on your productivity. According to the study, Frontal lobe function, sleep loss and fragmented sleep, “…experimental studies involving total sleep loss, sleep reduction and clinically related sleep fragmentation report impaired performance on tasks of frontal lobe or executive function, including measures of verbal fluency, creativity and planning skills.” Note that “Executive Function” of the brain refers to processes such as problem solving, planning, memory, and reasoning. Clearly, impairment of these functions through lack of sleep can negatively affect your productivity.

Our motivation and creativity is at its highest during the day and we need sleep to replenish it. So what can you do to get more sleep? If you don’t have a medical problem, you can try some of these techniques:

  • Turn off electronics 30 – 60 minutes before bed. Light exposure before sleeping suppresses the hormone melatonin which helps you sleep.
  • Keep temperatures cool. WebMD recommends to keep the room between 65 and 72 degrees.
  • Limit caffeine. The National Sleep Foundation recommends limiting the amount of caffeine you drink to one or two 8 oz. servings daily.
  • Wear socks at night. Cold feet can prevent a good night’s sleep.

3. Utilize Good Methods for Document Organization and Retrieval

Do you create and receive a multitude of documents, photos, notes, and other files? Finding the right files when you need them is essential for optimal productivity. In fact, according to the study I Can’t Get My Work Done! by harmon.ie, “users waste 30 minutes a day (16 days a year!) searching for documents, on average.”

If you’re anything like me, you’re tempted to toss your documents on your computer’s desktop or leave them in your email inbox and organize them later. Big mistake. Promptly organizing your files in folders in categories makes it easy to find your files later. If you’re using a Mac, your Spotlight search utility (the magnifying glass in the upper right or Command + spacebar) can be your best friend. Keep in mind that you can use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) with the Mac’s spotlight.

To help you get more efficient, do research on good ways to organize and tag documents so you’re not wasting 30 minutes each day, which could be put to better use, such as studying for exams or completing projects. Use note-taking apps and applications with tagging capabilities, such as Evernote, for easy note retrieval. Organize your documents by project, event, etc. so you can easily find them in context with your life’s projects.

4. Covet a Flexible Schedule

Some of the latest studies show that those who are allowed to work from home part of the time and have flexible schedules are more productive. These employees report that they spend the time that they would normally use commuting on doing their jobs. In fact, some companies report that employees are more engaged and committed when flexible corporate policies are available, which in turn, increases their productivity.

5. Minimize Digital Interruptions

How many times a day are you interrupted? According to the study I Can’t Get My Work Done! by harmon.ie, “45% of today’s workers can’t work more than 15 minutes without being interrupted.” The majority of these interruptions (57%) are the result of email, text messaging/chat, application hopping, and personal online activity (Facebook, etc.).

If you’re finding that you’re often interrupted by digital distractions, examine ways to maximize your focus. Check your email in chunks and then shut it down. Turn off notifications for email, chat, text messages, Twitter, and Facebook and check those services during regularly scheduled times.

6. Stop Procrastinating

We’ve all been there. You have a deadline looming, but can’t get motivated and focused to complete what needs to get done. We all have natural tendencies to avoid anything that seems like it could be painful, and we choose more pleasurable activities such as playing video games, chatting with friends, playing golf, or watching the latest cat videos on YouTube. There are several reasons that we procrastinate including overwhelm, inability to prioritize, fear of failure, perfectionism, poor time management — the list goes on and on.

Procrastination is one of the most difficult areas to combat. One of the best strategies is to find the root cause of your procrastination to end it. Identify when you’re procrastinating and record the reasons why. Be cognizant of your avoidance habits. When you recognize that you’ve developed a bad habit, learn strategies to break it. It usually takes about 3 to 4 weeks to break a bad habit or develop a new habit. When a project is looming, make an action plan. Break down the project into smaller tasks and prioritize.

7. Automate Repetitive Tasks

Perhaps someday we’ll be able to automate unpleasant and repetitive tasks such as doing our laundry or dishes, but until someone builds a better robot, we’re stuck with these chores. However, using clever web-based software and apps can automate some of the repetitive tasks that steal your precious time. One of my favorite automation tools is IFTTT. IFTTT is “If This Then That.” It’s a web-based service that performs actions based on your criteria. It sounds very “techy,” but it’s actually easy to use because there’s several “recipes” that others have created that you can use or modify. For example, if you’re a blogger, you can use IFTTT to instantly share your blog post to all your social media channels automatically. If you’re a Social Media Manager, you can save all your tweets to a Google spreadsheet so you can refer back to them later. If you’re a news buff, you can save popular news to read later in Feedly. How cool is that?

8. Choose a Career Path that is Personally Meaningful to You

Some of the latest studies show that those who are more engaged at work are more productive. However, it’s not always easy to be engaged due to the culture of your organization or a mismatch of your organization’s goals and your personal goals. This can lead to poor motivation and productivity.

Before accepting a position, ensure that the management can articulate the overall strategy and goals of the organization and where you fit in. Does the organization have an inspirational leader? Will you be empowered to do the job you’re being hired to do? Are the people at the organization engaged or “checked out?” These are important factors to consider when selecting a future employer.

If you discover that you’re “checked out” at your current job, discover what motivates you to succeed and seek out new challenges. Understand how you can positively impact the organization using your strengths. Seek out coworkers and leaders who share your motivation and support your goals.

Start a Conversation!

What are your strategies for supercharging your productivity? Please share your experiences here or speak up on Twitter, Facebook or Google +.

Guide to Using LifeTopix as a Quantified Self Tool

The Quantified Self is a movement that advocates measuring aspects of your daily life such as calories, blood pressure, exercise, diet, heart rate, and other metrics. The purpose of measuring these aspects of your life is to gain knowledge about yourself, which can lead to insights for improving your health and happiness and for reaching personal goals. Quantified Self is also referred to as self tracking or self quantifying.

Are you skeptical? Is the Quantified Self movement just a fad? Consider this. Would you make a serious business decision without data to back it up? So why not make decisions for your personal life based on analytical data? Data is POWER — however you apply it. Collecting data about yourself can empower you to make the right decisions in life.

Still doubtful? Watch this inspiring talk by Ari Meisel about how he was able to relieve his Crohn’s disease symptoms through analyzing his data: http://quantifiedself.com/2011/10/ari-meisel-on-curing-the-incurable-through-self-experimentation/ .

How is data collected?

There are several apps and tools for gathering data manually and automatically. You can achieve automatic collection by using Wearables, which are devices that you wear that record various health-related analytics automatically such as calories burned, exercise, sleep, steps, or blood pressure, and sometimes they provide accompanying software. You’ll find several apps that allow you to to record these items both manually and automatically, but many are not flexible enough to record the items that YOU wish to record.

We take a different approach with LifeTopix (or the starter app My.Agenda) by allowing you to define the items YOU wish to record and log these items when and where you wish. This is accomplished through LifeTopix’s Log Forms and Multi-Topic Log Forms found in the Health + Activity topic.

The Power and Flexibility of LifeTopix

With LifeTopix, the power and flexibility is accomplished by allowing you to define what to measure with varying self-defined units. You’ll find out-of-the-box log forms including items such as Aerobics, Chores, Cooking, Family Time, Gym, Meditation, Reading, Body Fat, Blood Sugar, Breakfast, Dinner, and much more. However, if you want to track more complex or obscure items, such as happiness, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), C-reactive protein (CRP), sleep quality, hot flashes, supplements, etc. with LifeTopix, you can.

You can easily add, modify, or remove log forms to track any metric that’s appropriate for you. You’ll be surprised at the variety of units that we provide out of the box including: percent, calories, cups, days, grams, hours, inches, mg/dL, miles, minutes, mm Hg, on scale 1-10, on scale 1-5, pills, pounds, servings, sets, and times. Furthermore, we give you the ability to define your own units; therefore, you can essentially measure any metric you wish to measure.

One of our users provided us with the following screenshot of his log form, which measures his regular workout, including a full body stretch and cardio.


He’s recorded these items over a long period of time, which helps him to analyze at what times he’s more motivated to complete his workout and what’s going on in his life that affects his workout.

Another user chose to measure calories and aerobic activity for weight loss. The following image shows an example of the log form entries that this user built.


As this user logs their entries over time, she can view the following types of graphs (line, bar, and plot) to measure progress and trends and she can also view a list of entries.


This user can also view the statistics individually in a Log Form (as opposed to the multi-topic log form) if she wishes to analyze the data for one activity, health item, nutrition item, or other type of item as the following bar chart shows:

aerobicsAre you ready to try measuring life statistics for yourself? Watch the following video to learn how.

Tutorial – How Do I Create a Multi-Topic Log Form?

5 Popular Ways Mobile Devices Can Improve Your Life

With this week’s announcement of the iPhone 5c, purchasing an Apple smartphone is now more affordable than ever with prices ranging from $99 to $199 for first time smartphone buyers or for those who are eligible for an upgrade (plus the monthly fees).

According to a study by eMarketer, in 2012 there were 44.3 million Apple smartphone users in the US. This is nearly 14 percent of the US population. And overall, approximately 38 percent of the US population is using a smartphone. Are you one of the 62 percent who’s still on the fence about purchasing a smartphone?

Smartphone Use

What’s your reason for not jumping on the bandwagon? If you don’t believe a smartphone will enrich your life, keep reading to learn some popular ways that a smartphone can make you a more productive, healthier, and happier person.

1. Live a Healthier LifeStyle

According to the Food Information Council Foundation, “Nearly six in ten Americans believe that online and mobile tools can help them live healthier lifestyles.” This is a significant portion of Americans. So how do apps help? Consider the “Quantified Self” movement.

The Quantified Self is essentially tracking data about your life — daily. Keeping track of statistics about yourself, such as weight, heart rate, blood sugar, blood pressure, fitness levels, measurements, etc. makes you aware of your progress or lack of progress.

There are several apps that help you keep track of statistics about your health and life, and as apps evolve, you’ll hear more and more about “wearables,” which will automatically track statistics simply by wearing the device. All of this data can be particularly eye opening, and the data will help you achieve health and fitness goals that you never thought were possible.

For example, take a look at the following log form that keeps track of weight and running. You’ll see for this app user, as the running log progresses over time (green line), the weight drops (orange line). When you see the progress in this visual format, you’re more likely to stick with a plan.

Smartphone Use

2. Don’t Get Lost, and Find Important Things On the Fly


When you ask most smartphone owners about the apps that have enriched their lives, many start discussing the map apps — especially if they travel a lot. Let’s face it – getting lost is no fun.

For those who own a smartphone, perhaps this is not too surprising, but your smartphone can replace your car’s navigation system. And if you’re anything like me, you never update your navigation system maps, and you see a sad message on your dash when you fire up your car’s navigation.

For me, up-to-date maps is enough to justify my smartphone purchase. No more expensive map updates, outdated data, and driving around aimlessly wasting gas and risking a car jacking.

The default maps app that’s loaded on your iPhone 5 and the Google maps app give you turn-by-turn directions with voice commands and up-to-date maps.


And other apps go even further with location services to make your life more convenient. You can find doctors, hotels, deals, taxis, restaurants, shopping list items, and more by using apps that take advantage of location services — such as the apps shown below.


With livingsocial, you can find local deals and coupons; with My.Shopping you can create shopping lists, record coupons, and locate the items that you need to purchase on a map; and with Yelp you can find just about any place near you — and read the reviews.

3. Take Fabulous Photos and Store Them in the Cloud

Cameras can be expensive and difficult to carry around. And if you’re using an older camera phone, you probably don’t know what you’re missing when it comes to photo quality from the latest smartphones.

The iPhone 5 takes quality photos, but this week’s announcement from Apple details that the newer iPhone 5S has a five-element lens with f/2.2 aperture. Apple also explained that the sensor has a 15 percent larger area resulting in a better picture. The new camera also has a burst mode — allowing you to take 10 shots per second. While this new phone won’t replace your SLR camera, it might be comparable to your higher-end compact camera — eliminating the need to take the compact camera to your kids’ next soccer game.

Another problem that’s solved is getting photos off of your camera, which is usually a huge pain. What I love about taking photos with my smartphone is the ability to quickly upload them to the cloud. For example, with a Box or Dropbox account and the accompanying apps, you can easily upload your photos from your smartphone in a few simple taps, as shown below.


After setting up your Dropbox or Box account and installing the apps, you essentially tap the photos you wish to upload, choose a folder, and tap Upload. Very simple. Now the photos are accessible from your laptop, mobile device, or PC — and you can remove them from your device if you wish to free up space.

4. Don’t Let Tasks Fall Through the Cracks

Nobody can remember everything all the time. That’s why a to-do list is one of the most effective methods for preventing items from falling through the cracks, which can result in negative consequences. Forming a habit of keeping track of to-dos and other events can help you improve your work habits, form better relationships, and free up your time because you’re better organized. There are a variety of apps and ways to track to-dos and plan your days, such as the My.Agenda app, shown below.


Some apps are as simple as the default Notes app on your device, and others are more sophisticated — allowing you to track everything from calendar events to shopping lists. Whatever apps you choose, make sure they’re flexible enough to grow with your organizational needs.

5. Keep in Touch with Friends and Family — Almost Face-to-Face

As of January 2012, Skype has over 31 million users, and 35 percent of small businesses use Skype as a primary communication service. While it’s difficult to take the place of true face-to-face communication, modern video conferencing options, such as Skype, can get you pretty close.

If you’re a frequent business traveler, you can easily use Skype or other conferencing options to read a bedtime story to your kids. Or perhaps you own a small business and you need to communicate with clients or agencies. You can easily save the travel costs and pop on a video call to better communicate with your clients, colleagues, and prospects. Choices for affordable video conferencing via your mobile device include Skype, Apple Facetime, or Google+ Hangouts.


Clearly, with nearly 2 million apps available at the Apple App Store and Google Play combined, there are several options for improving your life through technology. What apps have improved your life or helped you form good habits? Please share your favorites.


eMarketer. (Sept. 9, 2013). Android, Apple Continue to Consolidate US Smartphone Market. eMarketer.com. Retrieved from http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Android-Apple-Continue-Consolidate-US-Smartphone-Market/1010196

Food Information Council Foundation. (May, 2012). 2012 Food and Health Survey. Food Information Council Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.foodinsight.org/Content/3840/2012%20IFIC%20Food%20and%20Health%20Survey%20Report%20of%20Findings%20%28for%20website%29.pdf, page 39

Statistic Brain. (2012). Skype Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.statisticbrain.com/skype-statistics/

Your Family Calendar, All in One Place

Organizing your calendar and schedule is a big challenge when you have a lot going on — and most of us do. And if you’re a mom who’s organizing the whole family, it’s even more challenging. Learn how LifeTopix and our starter app, My.Agenda, come to the rescue.


Organizing your calendar and schedule is a big challenge when you have a lot going on — and most of us do.

And if you’re a mom who’s organizing the whole family, it’s even more challenging.

Between Zumba, baseball games, meetings, carpools, and clubs, you feel like your drowning and it’s practically impossible to keep it all straight.

This is when LifeTopix and our starter app, My.Agenda, come to the rescue.

LifeTopix is a central hub for your tasks, projects, shopping, events, travel, and more. My.Agenda is a starter, more economical version of LifeTopix that enables you to start small and expand as your organizational needs grow.

As the central hub of your life, LifeTopix works with all your calendars, including Outlook, Google Calendar, Yahoo Calendar, your device Calendar, and others. You just need to configure these items in your device’s Mail, Contacts, and Calendars Settings.

So Why LifeTopix?

You might be wondering why you would use LifeTopix instead of your standard device calendar or a free online calendar.

There’s lots of ways to justify it – with 12 big reasons. The 12 Life Topics, which are intelligently designed topics that manage more than just calendar events.

These topics are connected and in one place, which eliminates the app hopping that you do when you install a flock of apps to do many different, disconnected things.

For example, when your contacts and service providers are linked to your calendar events and other items, you can easily contact them if you’re running late in just a few simple taps. You never have to open your device’s contacts or search for an email address again.

And don’t worry about getting lost with LifeTopix’s location services, you can always view your destination on the map.

LifeTopix keeps the whole family on the same page because it uses cloud services such as Dropbox, SkyDrive, and Google Drive for device-to-device sync. Because of this, LifeTopix or My.Agenda becomes the perfect place to share your kids’ doctors appointments, playdates, sports, and other events with the whole family.

And LifeTopix gives you other options for sharing. You can share items via email, text, or social media with friends or family members.

Before you get started with Cloud Sync, all you need to do is go to www.dropbox.com and set up a free account for the family to share.

Once you’ve set it up, everyone in the family can point LifeTopix to the Dropbox folder using LifeTopix Settings.

Next, Voila, everyone can start using Dropbox sync.

You’ll find another video on our website or youTube channel that describes these steps in detail.

Now everyone can be on the same page about what’s going on from appointments, to checklists, to bill payments and more — we’ve got you covered.

Now that everyone’s sharing the same calendar, you can easily add all types of items to your family’s agenda without a lot of nagging.

And your weekly review is a piece of cake with this handy agenda view.

We know you have a lot going on, keep track of it and keep everyone in the loop while on the go with LifeTopix.

If you want to learn more go to www.lightarrow.com or find LifeTopix or MyAgenda at the Apple App Store in the Productivity section. Thanks for Watching.

More info at the Apple App Store:



7 LifeTopix Organizational Tips For Adults Living With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are complex and there can be many symptoms, but generally adults who are living with ADHD face difficulties staying organized and focusing on the task at hand.

LifeTopix and ADHD

Most experts agree that productivity apps or day planners can help those with ADHD manage their lives. The LifeTopix app is designed specifically for life management. It includes 12 life topics: Tasks + Projects, Shopping, Events, Travel + Places, People + Services, Health + Activity, Finances, Home + Assets, Education, Notes + Files, Media, and Bookmarks.

The simple routines and strategies I’ve outlined below can put those living with adult ADHD on the road to getting better organized and avoiding excess stress.

Being on Time

Those living with ADHD generally have difficulties being on time, whether it’s showing up or paying bills. Often they become distracted and lose track of time. This can lead to problems with relationships and difficulties at work because the perception is that the person is inconsiderate and disorganized.

A strategy for always being on time is to schedule every item to which the person has committed to on their calendar, and to make sure that audible and visual reminders are set. Add a buffer to each appointment. For example, if an appointment is at 12:00, schedule the prep time and the actual appointment on the calendar, as shown below.

LifeTopix Calendar ADHD

In LifeTopix, I’d suggest changing the settings so a reminder is triggered at the time of the appointment. For example, go to Settings and set Other (which includes Appointments) to Remind on same day as shown below. This way, the reminder will sound and display at the time of the appointment, which will trigger a prompt.

LifeTopix Reminders

Also, define how many days in advance that’s required to address paying bills. As soon as a bill is received, pay it or schedule a reminder for the payment in the LifeTopix Finances topic.

Managing Finances

Managing money could be a post all by itself, but keep in mind, for those with ADHD, micromanaging budgets is the key to success. According to HelpGuide.org, “Start by keeping track of every expense, no matter how small, for a month (yes, thirty days). This will allow you to effectively analyze where your money is going.”

Living with ADHD can lead to impulsive buying so keeping track of even the smallest purchases keeps spending in check. With LifeTopix, those with ADHD can record expenses, schedule payments on their calendars, add accounts, track bank accounts, create payment templates, track charitable donations, track assets, and take financial notes. The following screenshot shows an overview of the Finances topic showing the items that can be managed.

LifeTopix Finances ADHD

Prioritizing, Starting, and Completing Tasks

Those affected by ADHD might have serious problems with prioritizing, starting, and completing tasks. It helps to have an understanding of the tasks’ steps so breaking them down into smaller tasks and recording them via a planner are both good strategies. It’s also difficult to stay focused for a length of time on large tasks, so breaking them down helps to achieve finalization.

Every day, most people have tasks that they need to complete. Some are transient, mundane, and routine — like making the bed or feeding pets. Others are more strategic, such as tasks that allow them to complete large home or work projects. LifeTopix includes the ability to record both through checklists (to-do lists) and tasks.

Checklists (to-do lists)

It’s important to make a list of the items that need to be completed each day. Establish a consistent time to complete these tasks so they become routine. The short, transient tasks can be recorded via LifeTopix checklists. These tasks include make beds, prepare lunches, lock doors, feed pets, etc. In LifeTopix, users can create to-do lists on the fly in their main Agenda view. A to-do list might look something like the following screenshot.

LifeTopix todo list ADHD

Projects + Tasks

Break large-scale projects into smaller units (tasks), such as planning an overall house de-cluttering project. This is a project that could take several weeks or months, depending on the home size and free time allowed. For a large de-cluttering project, breaking down the project into smaller tasks, such as 1) Install fridge bins, 2) Clean out junk drawer, 3) Install appliance garage, etc. paints a realistic view of the time commitment, breaks the project into manageable chunks, and allows the project to be completed over time.

LifeTopix projects can include associated tasks (and other items). To properly plan, tasks include description, status, priority, effort (time), started/finished date/time, category, location, and repeat options. These options help to establish a deadline and total amount of time to completion. Scheduling dates enable the tasks to be shown on the Calendar, ensuring visibility and accountability. The following screenshots show a LifeTopix project and list of broken-down tasks for the project.

Project and Tasks ADHD

Tracking Negative Behaviors

Adults with ADHD are more likely to abuse alcohol, smoke, or abuse drugs. Professional help is needed for those who suffer from abuse; however, tracking any undesirable behavior can be useful. For example, regular monitoring of alcohol consumption can detect binge drinking episodes.

The LifeTopix app includes monitoring through log forms. The types of items and units recorded are user configurable. The following screenshot shows an example of a log form and the log entries for alcohol consumption.

Alcohol Consumption and ADHD

Tracking Medications

Forgetting to take medications is a common complaint from those living with ADHD. It’s common to forget when medications were taken and at times a reminder is also needed. Taking medications can be part of a daily routine to-do list or device reminders can be used.

LifeTopix includes built-in functionally for logging medications such as the dose, frequency, and side effects. This provides patients and doctors with data that indicates whether the medication is appropriate. It’s possible to add any type of medication and log any side effect. Furthermore, graphs show correlations between medications and side effects that are tracked.

The following screenshot shows an example of a multi-topic log form with medication and a side effect on a scale from 1 to 10, such as anxiety.

ADHD App LifeTopix Med Logs

Implementing Healthy Routines

Good nutrition, adequate sleep, and exercise are important for everyone to achieve optimal health, but become especially important for those with ADHD. Research shows that some individuals have the ability to eliminate medications when they exercise regularly. And nutrition also plays in important role.

According to Additudemag.com, “Studies by Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientist Richard Wurtman Ph.D., and others have shown that protein triggers alertness-inducing neurotransmitters, while carbohydrates trigger drowsiness.” Moreover, according to Livestrong, “Harvard Medical School’s associate professor of psychiatry John Ratey explains that some people who show symptoms of an attention deficit disorder may still need medication even when they do exercise, but others may be able to stop using stimulants altogether with an increase of physical activity.”

LifeTopix multi-topic log forms can also be created for nutrition, exercise, sleep, and associated ADHD symptoms. The method in which these forms are created is the same as with medication logs and side effects (discussed earlier), and are managed in the LifeTopix Health + Activity topic.

Under Committing and Over Delivering

Due to impulsive behavior, those living with ADHD take on too many commitments and tend to over promise. Under committing and over delivering might appear to be dishonest, but for those with ADHD it can be used as an effective strategy. Consider the level of commitment before taking on a project or event. Before committing, let the requester know that consulting with a calendar or planner is necessary. Schedule a reminder to ensure the requester receives an answer in a timely manner. Review lists of projects, tasks, and to-dos to ensure that delivery is possible.

The LifeTopix Tasks + Projects topic allows users to gain awareness of the number of projects and the time committed. Also, the Agenda view (shown below) provides a high-level overview of the the current day, the next day, and the next seven days allowing the user to quickly evaluate the upcoming commitments and manage them as necessary.

LifeTopix Agenda View ADHD

Please let us know if you have any comments or questions, and please share your experiences about how you use LifeTopix to help you manage ADHD symptoms.

Six Good Life Habits and How to Develop Them

MOTIVATIONIf you’re like most people, sticking to good habits wax and wane over time. It takes discipline to stick to habits, and there are certainly periods of time that we’re more motivated than we are at other times. We even beat ourselves up over our inability to replace bad habits with good habits, which affects our self-esteem and further perpetuates our inability to break bad habits.

Consider that habits take time to create, and they can become quite established into our lives. In fact, according to research, learned habits (good and bad) change the neural patterns in a region of the prefrontal cortex of the brain (Kyle Smith Ph.D. and Ann Graybiel Ph.D. of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). In this study, the researchers interfered with the activity in this area of the brain in rats who had developed a habit of completing a maze to collect a chocolate milk reward. Once the researchers interfered, the habit was broken. However, they found that a suppressed habit can easily return with the proper stimulus.

Tips to Develop Good Habits

Below, I’ll provide tips that will help you learn how to stick to new habits. I’ll discuss the importance of establishing how the goal will improve your life; how to develop a new habit through repetition, and why you must document your progress.

Why do You Care?

It’s important to understand why a goal will improve your life. If you don’t understand the benefits and there’s no reward, then you’re less likely to accomplish it. No matter what your goal might be, you must be committed and laser focused on the result. Take notes on the benefits that you’ll realize from the goal, and review your notes regularly.


What is a habit? Merriam-Webster defines a habit as “a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance.” Habits can be healthy or unhealthy. Through repetition, you can replace your bad habits with good habits, as long as the result includes a reward.

You’re probably wondering how many repetitions it takes to develop a new habit. Research varies on this subject. According to a study in the European Journal of Psychology, the days it took to form a habit ranged from 18 to 254 days with the average being 66 days, which indicates that it varies from person to person. Consider that the more difficult the habit, the longer it took to form it.

Documenting Your Progress

If you document and chart your progress, you’re more likely to succeed. For example, if your goal is to lower your blood pressure through exercise and nutrition, log your exercise sessions, medication, daily nutrition (especially sodium), and daily blood pressure. Identify any correlations between these items. When you see the results, you’ll be motivated to continue. If you’re not seeing results, you’ll understand that you need to make modifications in diet, medication or exercise.

Six Good Life Habits

The six good life habits that I recommend below are fairly popular among those who want to live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Of course, everyone is an individual and what you should focus on is what is right for you and what your personal goals might be — within limits, of course.

Before making a change, research how this change will benefit you — whether it’s for your health, your finances, your relationships or your general happiness. Keep in mind, you should always start small when replacing good habits with bad habits. Changing everything at once is a recipe for failure.

1. Be Social

Research indicates that those who socialize with friends and family are generally happier people. According to a 30 year study of almost 30,000 adults from John Robinson and Steven Martin at the University of Maryland, unhappy people watched approximately 20 percent more television than very happy people. They concluded that those who spent more time socializing, rather than watching television, were generally happier.

Perhaps you’re an introvert, and you’re questioning if socializing could make you happy. For some, socializing goes hand-in-hand with feelings of anxiety. However, studies show that even introverts can gain the benefits of socializing within limits.

Tips for being more social:

  • Have lunch or dinner with friends or family at least once a week. Don’t fall into the trap of eating at your desk every day at lunch.
  • Make an effort to schedule activities with friends or family instead of spending time alone.
  • Don’t bury yourself in your smartphone when you’re at the coffee shop or the local grocery store. Attempt to strike up a conversation or smile and make eye contact with someone you don’t know. Get to know your Barista and chat with people who talk to you.
  • Join groups, clubs or professional organizations with people who share the same interests.
  • If you don’t feel confident in social situations, fake it till you make it. What do you have to lose?

2. Keep Your Brain Active

According to a study, which was published in the Archives of Neurology, those who participate in cognitive stimulating activities throughout life lower their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Participants who engaged in activities such as reading, writing, games, and exercise have less buildup of beta amyloid protein in their brains. Beta amyloid is linked to the development of Alzheimer’s and neurological disease.

Tips for keeping your brain active:

  • Learn a new skill. Find something you’re interested in, such as playing the guitar, knitting, golfing or learning to sail.
  • Keep up-to-date about current events. Not only will this stimulate your brain activity, it will help you improve your social skills.
  • Play games, such as Sudoko or crossword puzzles.

3. Improve Your Nutrition

Countless studies have determined that your diet affects your energy level, your cognitive ability, and your appearance. Keeping a healthy weight for your age, size, and body type can boost your self esteem and lower your risk of developing serious health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Consequently, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding foods that are detrimental to your health will help you live a happier, healthier life.

Tips for improving your nutrition:

  • Work with a nutritionist or general practitioner to help you build a plan and set goals.
  • Track positive food consumption such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains which are essential for a healthy diet.
  • Track negative food consumption, such as solid fats, oils, alcohol, sodium, and desserts.
  • Plan meals ahead of time.
  • Eliminate junk food from your home to remove temptation.
  • Track the results (appearance, blood pressure, etc.) so you can see the reward.

4. Get Moving

According to a research review in Science Daily that summarizes 40 papers published between 2006 and 2010, regular exercise reduces several mental and physical health conditions and can decrease the speed at which we age. The review shows that exercise can reduce the risk of some cancers, dementia, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, and prostate cancer. The research recommends that, “Healthy adults aged between 18 and 65 should aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week, such as 30 minutes of brisk walking, five days a week. Those who undertake more vigorous intensity exercise, such as jogging, should aim for 20 minutes three days a week. Healthy adults should aim for two strength-training sessions a week that work with the body’s major muscle groups.”

Tips to get moving:

  • Exercise in the morning, and prepare workout gear the night before.
  • Keep in mind a gym membership or expensive equipment is not necessary in most climates. Walking and jogging outdoors provide health benefits.
  • Schedule your workouts on your calendar.
  • Track your workouts and the results (appearance, strength, cardiovascular improvement, blood pressure, etc.) so you can see the reward.

5. Learn Relaxation Techniques

Muscle tension can be a response to chronic pain or a generally stressful life or occupation. Many of us experience shoulder, jaw, and neck tension without even being aware of it, which can develop into constant issues. Relaxation techniques teach you to release the tension in your muscles. Techniques such as guided imagery, meditation, deep breathing, biofeedback, and yoga can improve your quality of life. Other benefits can include a lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, better sleep patterns, and improved concentration.

Tips to relax:

  • Seek out the help of a professional for advice on controlling stress through relaxation techniques.
  • Schedule your relaxation sessions to ensure you make these sessions a priority.
  • Log your stress levels and their triggers.
  • Log your relaxation sessions.
  • Track the results (less pain, lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, etc.) so you can see the reward.

6. Get Organized

When you decide to get organized, it seems like a lot of work. However, the results of getting organized are more time for yourself and with your family; less embarrassment from missed appointments and a messy home; lower stress levels; and a more sanitary environment. There are countless ways to get organized; however, below I’ll provide some of my top tips.

Tips for getting organized:

  • Use technology to help you organize your life, such as a personal organization app.
  • Make a daily to-do list.
  • Give everything you own a home. Searching for lost items is a huge time waster.
  • Schedule de-clutter sessions on your calendar.
  • Organize one room at a time. This way, you can see immediate results.
  • Don’t let junk mail into your home. Recycle it immediately and file away what’s important.
  • If something can be done in a few minutes, do it immediately.
  • When you buy something new, donate, recycle or throw away an old item.

We hope this helps you replace bad habits with new, healthy habits. Please share, and comment on your strategies for developing good habits — and what you consider to be the most important habits for a healthy and happy life.