In spirit of the beginning of 2017, I believe that it would be beneficial to go over resolutions, or rather daily schedule changes, that have worked for myself as well prominent figures like Socrates, Marcus Aurelius, Benjamin Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt. A critical trait of resolutions is that they are to be performed and tracked on a regular basis, whether weekly or daily.
This is a very simple activity that you may think would be more of a waste of time than a routine that would boost your productivity. There are many different ways you can go with journaling. You can go the route of scheduling out the day ahead of you in the morning or you can just journal what virtues you would like to emulate and record how you fared at the end of the day.
By writing out your schedule for the day you create a tangible object thus making you more likely to follow it since it is no longer easily forgettable being in the back of your mind. You can get as detailed as you like in scheduling your day, even down to every ten minutes. Many of these schedule templates can be found by a simple web search. A great way to schedule out the day is to do it in a way that would actually stretch you out thin if you were to do everything. You will notice, day by day, that you get closer to achieving everything in your journal.
Another way to journal is in the fashion of Benjamin Franklin. He would ask himself at sunrise, “what good shall I do this day?” then “what good have I done today?” before going to sleep. Below you can see his format, it embodies both examples of journaling that I have described.
I have listed journaling first because if you are like most people, you have multiple goals for the year. This is the best way to organize them and make sure you stay on task with each of your goals. If you find that you do not have enough time in the morning to write out your day, I suggest rising earlier, which leads to the next resolution.
2. Become an Early Riser
You may be wanting to get more done but think you do not have the time to. You can give yourself more working hours by not sleeping your day away. Your waking hours are where you can either get more tasking chores out of the way or spend these hours relaxing by yourself thinking introspectively as Marcus Aurelius frequently did.
In order to ensure you are not sluggish when you first start trying to wake up early you should first make sure you are not exposing yourself to blue light at night. There are many apps now that will turn down the blue light on your laptop and cell phone. My personal favorite is f.lux. It is free and you can adjust the blue light for the day and night.
Meditation is a powerful tool to increase your daily productivity. If done in the morning, it is an effective way to internalize your goals for the day and start the day off with laser focus. If done at night, you will enter a deep relaxation preparing yourself for a good night’s sleep.
For anyone who is a novice at meditation I strongly recommend downloading the app, Headspace. Its free version has ten 10-minute long guided meditations so you know what to do to clear your mind. The man behind this app is Andy Puddicombe and he has a Ted Talk describing just how easy it is.
Your mind is the most remarkable machine. With more capacity than any computer, why give it minimal information to process when it has the potential to process so much in so little time. This is why I suggest reading. Even if you don’t consciously remember everything you read, your mind will keep it locked away until the end of time. With more books under your belt, your brain will be able to connect the dots between them and create more synapses which will allow you to think of solutions to problems at a much quicker speed than your peers.
This does not have to be a pricy hobby. You can search for your nearest library on your phone and check several out at a time. Many older books/essays can even be found online as pdfs completely free. I must stress, you should not read a book just because a friend or superior suggests you to. As Roosevelt simply said in his autobiography, “A book must be interesting to the particular reader at that particular time.” It must be noted that this man read up to three books a day. If he can read 10,000+ books in his lifetime and find them all interesting, then you can not excuse a lack of reading by simply saying that you found no book interesting.
“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” -Socrates
This is a resolution that you will want to spend money in order to achieve for a man can only achieve so much through calisthenics and cardio alone. I understand everyone has their own goals in terms of physical fitness but no harm can ever be done by resistance training. If you are just beginning and want strength, I recommend using the 5×5 program. It is great to ease into because it only requires 45 minutes of your time 3 days a week. If you’ve been on and off with training and are past the beginner phase of weightlifting I recommend trying the P.H.U.L. workout routine. It focuses on training for strength for two days then hypertrophy for two, about one hour spent per workout.
Whatever you choose to do for exercise be sure to just stay consistent. If you take too many days off it is extremely easy to fall back into a sedentary lifestyle. With humans being obsessed with instant gratification, you may find exercise unsatisfying. I implore you to be very strict at least until you start to noticeably feel and look better. From this point on you will want to work out and it will seem more like a hobby than a chore.
6. Change Your Diet
I will not tell you to do a paleo, vegetarian, or vegan diet. I am only going to suggest what you shall not ingest and what you should limit.
Do not consume:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup: This can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, and insulin resistance.
- Processed Meat: The World Health Organization has classified this as a carcinogen. This includes hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausage, and some deli meats.
- Red Meat: There has been evidence that it increases your risk of colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer. This includes beef, pork, lamb, and goat.
- Oils: The leading cause of death in America is heart disease and oil is known to be a culprit. That being said, try to stay away from fast food, which is cooked with excessive amounts of oil.
- Dairy: Bone fracture and osteoporosis rates are actually higher in dairy consuming nations.
7. Learn Something New
Lastly, in pursuit of being a lifelong learner, you should learn something new that interests you. This new hobby should be something that tasks you either mentally or physically.
- Learn to code: Codecademy is a great website with over 20 courses to learn HTML, CSS, Java, Ruby, and more for free. Since it is free you are only going to be learning the basics of each. Lynda is great if you have a little bit more experience but it requires you to pay $29.99/mon after a ten day trial. This one is great for things other than learning to code and it will allow you to quiz yourself. The most in depth resource you have for learning code is Treehouse. This one allows you to practice coding through quizzes and interactive code challenges. This one cost $25/mon but is definitely worth it if you are serious about learning how to code.
- Learn a new language: Duolingo is a free resource to learn a language from their options of 25+ languages. Once you have completed the skills it is best to move on to “immersion” where you translate articles from the language you are learning to English. This is not the end all be all to learning a language however it is a great starting point.
- Learn to get over your fear of public speaking: Toastmasters is an excellent non profit organization that allows you to practice your public speaking skills. The cost of membership is $45 every six months with a one-time $20 new member fee. All you need to do is first find a club near you. Then, sit in to see if you’d like to join, ask the vice president for an application, and wait for your new member kit.
There are many other hobbies you can start, like archery, dance, etc. This is all up to what you want to learn, so long as you learn. The moment we stop learning is the moment we start dying.
By journaling, waking up early, meditating, exercising, and eating right, you will have a good start at boosting your productivity. It is up to you to stick with these resolutions throughout the year to ensure you are in peak condition mentally, physically, and spiritually. This is the year you make something of yourself.