Eight health and productivity habits you should change this week

The goal is not to simply eliminate the bad, which does nothing more than leave you with a vacuum, but to pursue and experience the best in the world. — Tim Ferriss

I’ve said before that the secret to success has as much to do with cutting things out of your life as with adding things in. But it’s also important to balance the two.

When you add things to your life without taking anything out, you get overwhelmed. When you cut things out without replacing them with anything, you create a void- and if you don’t fill that void, life will fill it for you.

To that end, the following eight habit changes are presented in pairs: four things to cut out, and four things to replace them with.

1. STOP: Mindless snacking

No matter what you want to achieve in life, taking care of your physical health is step one in making your goals a reality.

The number one reasons that people end up overweight and unhealthy is because of mindless eating. They snack throughout the day, unaware of just how many extra calories they’re putting into their bodies.

In order to take care of your body, you should always be mindful of what you put into it. And that means no absentminded snacking.

2. START: Cooking

In contrast to snacking, cooking is a mindful process. It requires you to be aware of what you’re doing, which naturally leads to healthier food choices.

Learn a few healthy recipes that are high in protein and vegetables, and low in sugars and starches. If you enjoy cooking, great. If not, cook food in bulkonce or twice a week and keep the leftovers in your fridge. But cook either way.

3. STOP: Phone and laptop use in bed

When it comes to staying healthy, sleep is a close second priority, just behind eating healthy food.

If you want to sleep well, you need to get in and out of bed at about the same time every night. Also, your brain needs to associate being in bed with sleeping- not with bright lights, TV shows, and work.

Therefore, few things can be more damaging to your sleep than habitually using your phone and laptop in bed.

4. START: Following a set pre-bed routine

While you shouldn’t be watching TV shows in bed, you absolutely should have a regular routine for helping you to wind down in the last 30 minutes before bed.

You’ll need to find a routine that works for you. Showering, putting on your pajamas, brushing your teeth, stretching/meditating/yoga, or reading a novel in bed are all good choices. Watching TV, playing video games, and working are not.

5. STOP: Drinking alcohol

Yes, alcohol is unhealthy, and we all know it. No, the tiny bit of resveratrol in red wine doesn’t make it healthy.

You don’t necessarily need to stop drinking for the rest of your life, but everyone should try giving it up for a few months. When you do that, you realize that you don’t need alcohol to relax, socialize, or have fun, even if you’re at a bar where everyone else is drinking.

After that, you’ll never again feel that you need to drink, and when you want to drink, you’ll be able to appreciate it more.

6. START: Planning your weekend byThursday

After a long week’s work, we all want to enjoy our weekend. And yet, too often we don’t get to enjoy it, because we spend half the weekend making last-minute plans.

Far better to have your whole weekend laid out before it starts. Get it planned by Thursday night so that you can spend your weekend enjoying yourself, instead of juggling invites or sitting at home because you couldn’t figure out what to do.

7. STOP: Getting distracted at work

In theory, people today should be more productive than ever. In practice, all too often we waste the day browsing Facebook, reddit, or news sites.

Successful people do whatever it takes to stay focused. Use a browser plugin to block distracting websites if you need to. Refuse to give in to distraction.

8. START: Using the pomodoro technique

Once you’ve cut out distractions, you have the mental space to make the best possible use of your time. The surest way to do that is to follow the time-tested Pomodoro technique.

The technique consists of alternating periods of intensely focused work with short rests to give yourself a mental break. A good starting point is to work for 25 minutes, then rest for 5 minutes. Rinse and repeat. Take a half-hour break every two hours or so.

Focus intensely on your work, limiting breaks to the times you have planned, and you can get more work done in a day than most people do in a week.

Commit to success

If you want to become more productive, get into shape, be healthier, and lead an all-around better life, read my Habit Change Cheat Sheet to learn the five best techniques for changing any habit.

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