The beauty of living a routine life is that most of the time you don't even realise you're in it. Eat, sleep, wake, repeat. But the downside of this day to day cycle is that sometimes routine can be a one way ticket to complacency. Repetition breeds familiarity, which can breed bad habits. Not only can these be hard to kick, they can hinder progress we might be otherwise making.
The good news is that a few tweaks on the routine front can help you be the best version of yourself -- something that's likely to be on your radar over the New Year. The good news is, sometimes a small -- and simple! -- change can have a big impact.
Read on for eight helpful hacks that will increase your productivity, health and happiness!
1. Write Your To Do List The Night Before
Getting on the front foot is a sure fire way to beat task related anxiety, so jotting down your to-do list the night before is bound to improve your chances of a productive day. "Everything is written down, so you wake up and know what you've got to do, you're not behind the eight ball from the get go," said Stephanie Chan, life coach and qualified neuro-linguistic programmer.
"In the short term you'll sleep much better because you've taken your thoughts out of your head and in the long term it lowers your stress so you can get into your day quicker," Chan said.
Warning; the following information may cause you to immediately begin crying into your cappuccino. According to the experts, that extra cup of joe is actually big no no if you want to ensure your day is productive.
"High frequency use of caffeine increases stress hormones, so a second cup means you'll be more anxious and less productive," said Robbie Clark, nutritionist, exercise scientist and founder of The Health Clinic, "So if your body is producing too much of that hormone eventually you'll crash."
Cutting out your second latte also has long term benefits too. "Long term you'll actually decrease your tolerance of caffeine, so therefore you'll get more benefits out of your one cup," Clark said.
3. Drink a Litre of Water First Thing In The Morning
Water accounts for 70% of our bodies, so it's no real surprise that sipping on H2O is your ticket to improving your day.
"If you drink a litre first thing in the morning, you'll be amazed at how much it increases your energy during the day," Chan said. Meanwhile, health and hydration go hand in hand according to nutritionist, Robbie Clark.
"Drinking water first thing will immediately reduce risks of cramps and headaches and in long term you'll have better skin, digestion and it's great for weight maintenance," Clark said.
4. Get a Standing Desk
Sitting down for long periods is doing bad things to your body. But those who work at a desk all day -- which lets face it, is plenty of us -- have a simple solution. A standing desk.
"We're not designed to be sitting down all day. So by standing -- even occasionally -- it will improve your posture, core strength and energy," Clark said.
"It's also an investment in your long term future as standing up burns more calories [than sitting], so it will have a positive impact on your weight."
Sometimes to be productive, it pays to be a little bit unproductive. We're so task driven these days that even in our free time we feel obliged to be ticking things off -- but it's time to let that go. In fact, personal progress can actually be helped by switching off and doing something just for yourself.
"Leave that mentality behind and do something just for the enjoyment of it," said Chan.
"It will give you instant gratification in the moment, but in the long run you'll remember how to enjoy your down time."
6. Prepare Meals The Night Before
Convenience is king these days, with most types of food available to us at any time, but that's not necessarily a good thing. Planning your meals is the perfect way to increase your positive habits during the day.
"The biggest thing is that it puts into practice mindful eating, so you're thinking about what you're fuelling your body with," explained Clark.
"Eating out means you're more likely to buy something unhealthy and it's time spent away from the office, deciding what to eat, lining up to buy food." It's also a smart way to develop healthy eating habits and behaviours.
"Learning to be responsible for your own meals is an important step to being a well rounded individual," Clark said.
7. Do All Your Tasks in Threes
When it comes to list making -- three is the magic number. Rather than writing a long and overwhelming list -- that can causes anxiety and stress if you're not ticking tasks of fast enough -- make mini to-do lists.
"Write three things down on a piece of paper and carry it with you and make sure you complete those three tasks," Chan said.
"It'll increase your productivity because it reduces anxiety, you won't procrastinate as much and you'll get more done!"
Everyone knows what it feels like to feel chained to your desk, watching the clock tick as the hours drag on. So take the time to step away from your desk -- however briefly -- and reap the benefits of your decision.
"Even if it's only 5 or 10 minutes get out, get sunshine on your skin, breathe deeply and take a walk," Chan said. "You'll come back with better energy, more mental clarity and the vitamin D will help you relax." Improving your day really can be that simple.
At Johnnie Walker, we love sharing stories of personal progress, innovation and spirit. And why wouldn't we? Our own story is one of a pioneering spirit passed on from generation to generation. It's this belief in the philosophy of perseverance and progress that allows us to continuously share inspiring stories to all.
In this series, we are shining a light on people who approach life with this same philosophy – one of a humane, resilient and optimistic mindset, especially in the face of adversity that enables them to Keep Walking.