Millennials, want to catch a 🆓 version of the personal finance class your Boomer parents should have made sure was available to you when you were a kid? Click here to register for the class happening Thursday, July 1sy at 8 PM EST.
Chances are you’ve come up with some pretty elaborate plans to trick yourself into being more productive.
Have you considered the role your surroundings play in your everyday life? It turns out that one of the easiest ways to bring about change in our lives is actually to change our environments. This is one of the first areas I thought of when I first started E-Class Ventures all those years ago. As a youth I often tried to change my room (as much as I was allowed) to improve my mood with varying levels of success. It ranged from constantly rearranging (pre feng shui craze) to try the make the most of very limited space to painting in perhaps not the best color palette for an already cramped room. All of that to say environment impacts your mood, productivity and this overall wellness.
What if the layout of your bedroom or the distance from your desk to the kitchen was impacting your productivity and decision making? There’s plenty of room for each of us to improve. Here’s how and why making some changes to your environment works.
Your brain is efficient Making decisions is draining. (Heard of “decision fatigue”? It’s real!) We can only make so many choices per day before we start to run out of steam and need a rest. But we’re faced with countless choices every time we wake up! Should I go back to sleep? Should I shower or brush my teeth first? What will I wear to work? Should I try out that new shortcut to the office? It can become stressful for your brain to struggle with a choice every time one of these little prompts presents itself. That’s why we rely on decision shortcuts called habits.
A habit is just a routine that you regularly perform. Most of the time we don’t even notice that we’re engaging in a habit because it’s second nature to us. And there’s a reason for that. It’s your brain saving energy by going on autopilot to perform an action without having to make a decision. That way you can use the bulk of your mental power on unique and important problems that might pop up during the day, not on thinking about when you should brush your teeth!
Trick yourself into making wise decisions What does your brain’s love of shortcuts have to do with your environment? Let’s look at an example.
Your alarm clock is right next to your bed. It goes off every morning at 7:30am. It doesn’t take you long to figure out that you can smack the snooze button and go straight back to sleep with hardly any effort. Before long you’re hitting the snooze button every time the alarm goes off without even thinking about it. You’ve trained yourself to sleep in later by making your alarm easier to turn off. But what if your alarm was on the other side of your room? What if to silence it you had to stand up, walk over, and hit a button? That simple change could give you the jolt that you need to wake up and get your day started on time!
Take a look at your surroundings and ask yourself what kind of behavior it encourages. Is it more convenient for you to grab a soda from the fridge or fill up your water bottle? When you work at home, are you in the middle of distractions like the kids playing or too close to the TV? At work (aka as home for a lot of us since the pandemic), does your office layout lend itself to productivity or socializing with your co-workers?
It might take some legwork to get started, but try to arrange your life in a way that makes wise decisions easier. You might be surprised by the results!
What’s one thing you’ve done to change your environment this year that has had a positive effect on your life? How are you going to continue our improve upon that charge for 2021? Share it below.
Absolutely loving the blog post Losing Wait from Mary Kay’s CMO Sheryl Adkins-Green! Obviously she’s not talking about the weight that most people resolve to lose every new year, but the “wait” she mentions is just as if not more important.
I’ve decided to replace my “wait” with “S.T.A.R.T” also, but before I do for one last time…
• “S= Start smaller to achieve bigger. In other words, I break my goal down into manageable and achievable segments, instead of a big chunk that will overwhelm me.”
Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, developed a great tool for doing this called a dreamline. As I tweeted, I finished my most recent dreamline a few weeks ago and have already started the steps towards reaching some of them. It’s a great tool because it forces you to dream big and then you go back and consider the financial costs involved in reaching those dreams. Too often we let the money stop us from dreaming instead of realizing that we find money to do things that we are passionate about and truly want to do.
• “T= Target a specific time each day to work on my goal, even if it’s only 30 minutes. I literally schedule it. I make an appointment with me and I keep it!”
•” A= Ask for help and accept help. So often, we’re so busy doing for others that we feel that we can’t or shouldn’t ask for help. Yet we all have at least one friend or family member who is willing and able to support our goal. We just need to ask!”
• “R= Reward my progress. It’s important to celebrate each success along the way, no matter how small. Plus, who doesn’t love a reason to get a new pair of shoes?”
•”T= Treat time as my most precious resource and make every minute count.“
I am a professional in my entrepreneurial pursuits and in my day job but so often find that my time is not being respected as a higher paid professional’s time might be. Remember no matter what your job or lifestyle, your time is yours and you have the final say in how it will be used. Don’t allow others to waste your time because it’s the one resource you have no way of recovering. So lose the “wait”.
What are you going to “start” when you lose your “wait”?