I have recently started listening to audio books and feel that I have broken into a secret world where books get started and then actually finished! It's a revelation! I have always loved reading and was a bit of a bookworm when I was little. In school summer holidays my friends and I used to devour reems of Sweet Valley Twins and then pester our parents until they would take us back to the second hand bookshop for the next instalment. Right through school I always found it a great way to relax and vividly remember the feeling of being completely engrossed in a fictional world.
I always feel surprised when I remember things like this so vividly and then have the realisation that this was in fact nearly 20 years ago! As I got older, went to university, started work and now live in a modern ever-hectic lifestyle I find that the thought of spending a whole day reading a novel feels too indulgent, a ridiculous notion of course! But more realistically, with a 1 1/2 year old child I rarely have a whole day to myself and when I do I usually sacrifice reading for a day in the hills.
So, yes, audiobooks. I drive for at least an hour most days and so have swapped out the radio for my recently downloaded 'audible' app. I'm careful that it doesn't take my concentration away from driving of course but it has completely changed my mindset from seeing the driving as an inconvenience to me actually looking forward to it and having a bit of 'me time'.
Another telling part of how my life has changed is that the book I have chosen feels a far cry from the careless days of Sweet Valley Twins! This one, entitled 'How to Have a Good Day' is all about creating a mindset and associated habits that help you get the very best out of your working day. It was a fascinating read which I would highly recommend to anyone looking to get the most out of their day.
I don’t want to spoil it, but as a taster these were my key take aways:
Create a morning routine
This doesn’t need to take hours, but just a few small things to get you off to a good start. It might include 5mins of yoga or meditation, some exercise, drinking water, setting intentions for the day.
Create an evening routine
This should help prepare your body for rest and help you reflect on your day. It might include journaling, a daily gratitude log, a nice soothing hot drink, it should definitely not include screen time of any sort!
Stop trying to multi-task
This is one that I really need to work on! Numerous studies prove that complete focus on one task at a time is a much more effective way to get things done than dedicating only part of your concentration to several tasks at once. To do this effectively might require you to switch off your emails, social media notifications, or just move to a quieter setting where you are less likely to be interrupted.
Celebrate your achievements
These don’t need to be major milestones, just small things that for whatever reason feel like an achievement to you. It’s easy to by pass the and just move onto the next thing, but recognising a job well done will make you more likely to want to do it well again in the future.
Get enough sleep / food / water
I know that I am definitely most irritable when hungry and tired. When you are feeling hangry try asking yourself whether one of these things might be the real cause of your frustrations.
Consider a different viewpoint
Rather than worry about how someone spoke to you or the fact that they haven’t replied to your email, consider that the problem may in fact lie with them and not you. Maybe they are just tired, or hungry, or just short on time.
Become an email ninja
Accept the fact that one more day is not realistically going to change your response. By the time you have reread an email several times, that time would have been much better spent constructing a response and the recipient will most likely appreciate the prompt response. This doesn’t mean you need to be on your email constantly but do set aside dedicated chunks of time each day.
Avoid unnecessary decisions
Your brain has a finite capacity for deliberate thinking and so you want to put this reserve to the very best use. I have the same thing for lunch nearly every single day and I used to feel bad for that, boring even. And then this book pointed out that whilst President, Barack Obama only ever wore a navy or grey suit so as to keep his decision reserve for more pressing issues. And after that I thought, I can totally justify having the same lunch every day.