Lifestyle

5 habits I changed this year that boosted my productivity and happiness

by Michaela fong

Lifestyle

5 habits I changed this year that boosted my productivity and happiness

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I'm MICHAELA!

I am a small European town gal with big dreams who immigrated to Canada and built a multi-six-figure business from my living room floor and kitchen counter! I accidentally grew it into a small business community and became a small business educator along the way.

Now am here to empower, teach & inspire you to grow your business and create the life of your dreams with strategy, confidence & without burnout.

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Ever felt like the motivation to work on your business has run dry and you’ve hit a productivity slump? Yeah, I’ve been there too. 

In the past, I totally fell for the hustle hype, thinking crazy hours and sacrificing my well-being were the secrets to success. That, of course, isn’t true at all. The more you exhaust yourself, the less productive you are. But you probably already know that!

So, going into this year, I set a goal to create a better work-life balance and redefine “success” on my own terms. It’s led me to some intentional changes I’ve made over the past several months, and now, I want to share them with you! 

These changes haven’t just made me more productive. They’ve also helped me feel way less overwhelmed and find more joy as a business owner. 

Today, I’m excited to share these transformative habits with you! No matter how you’re feeling in your business right now, I hope these habits will be the extra nudge of motivation you need to keep going, so you can find joy in your business too.

01 – Create a morning routine that sets you up for a successful and productive day ahead

While we can’t predict everything that will happen during the day, we can control how we start the day. Whether you can spare just 10 minutes or wake up early enough for an hour of self-care, it will drastically change how you approach the day ahead of you.

When I first became a business owner, I didn’t realize how much social media was negatively affecting me. I’d spend so much time scrolling on Instagram, thinking I was doing research. When really, I was just distracting myself and had no boundaries to manage it. 

Experiencing burnout in late 2021 made me more aware of the habits that either energized or drained me. And it’s no surprise that social media was a big energy drain.

This led me to my first habit change of this year: I decided every morning, I wouldn’t check my phone until I conquered my first difficult work task of the day. To keep myself accountable, I turn on “do-not-disturb” mode before I go to bed. It’s practically a permanent setting for me, now!

I also place my phone across the room, not on my side table, to avoid the morning-checking temptation. This means if I want my phone in the morning, I have to physically get up for it. I even came up with a saying if I start to walk toward it: “This is poison. You don’t want poison.” I know it may sound silly, but it’s really helped me.

Now, let’s be real, I’m no saint. There are days when my mind tries to trick me, especially at the gym. I think, “Just a quick check won’t hurt, right?” But I’ve learned to recognize that slippery slope. I catch myself, stop, and realize that this habit won’t serve me well. Instead of diving into other people’s lives and thoughts, I choose to tackle my tasks, challenges, and get along with my day first. Even if you slide into the bad habit, instead of making yourself feel worse about it, you can just fix it and bounce back!

If you still find yourself scrolling through your phone in the morning, I genuinely encourage you to give this a shot. It’s one tweak to my morning routine that’s truly transformed how I begin my day and navigate challenges as they arise. Overall, starting your day with intention drastically improves how you handle the curve balls that come your way.

02 – Incorporate movement into your morning routine 

I used to be the person who’d always say “I’m not a morning person. I don’t have the energy to exercise that early.” The problem is, by the end of the day, I’d still be too tired to exercise. Keep in mind, I’m someone who genuinely cares about their wellness and knows how important it is to stay active. The fact I had no movement in my day at all was a huge detriment to my energy, my mood, and my health too.

I felt trapped in a frustrating cycle — I couldn’t find time to exercise during the day and I was too exhausted to exercise in the evening. Finally, I made up my mind that things had to change. That’s when I told myself that even if I don’t “feel” like a morning person, I’d learn to be active in the morning.

I started by setting my alarm just half an hour earlier than usual for a short walk on the treadmill or a yoga session. Once I got used to it, I gradually pushed myself to wake up a full hour earlier to fit in more extensive workouts. And I’ve got to say – I’m loving it!

If you make time to move in the morning, even when you don’t feel like it, it sets the tone for a better day. Plus, it fills you up with a “let’s-get-to-it” attitude and gives you a lasting energy boost. 

03 – Resist the urge to hit the snooze button in the morning 

I’ve been a dedicated snoozer for twenty years. I mean, who doesn’t love to snuggle in the cozy warmth of their bed for just a little bit longer?

But what I didn’t realize was how this little snooze button habit was sabotaging my productivity in a big way. Because when I hit the snooze button first thing in the morning, what I was really doing was postponing the uncomfortable. And that’s the kind of attitude I’d carry throughout the day whenever I tried to finish a difficult task later on.

The first day I didn’t hit the snooze button this year felt like a victory in itself. Let’s be honest — it’s hard NOT to hit the snooze button! The fact that I resisted the urge already made me feel like a champ. Then, that feeling would stay with me later on. What was once an internal dialogue of “I don’t want to do this” suddenly transformed into “I can do hard things. They aren’t as hard as they seem. I’ve got proof! I tackled a hard thing as soon as I woke up!” 

This simple change in the morning has boosted my mood and productivity. And honestly, breaking free from the snooze button wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. 

All I did was place my phone across the room and told my husband the plan: when the alarm goes off in the morning the agreement with myself is to get up and turn it off, go to the bathroom to wash my face, then go to the kitchen for a glass of water.

Once I had a morning step-by-step plan in place, I didn’t have to think long and hard about what to do after I woke up — I would just follow through with the plan and move on. 
If you’re a fellow snoozer and you sometimes find yourself dragging your feet through difficult tasks, I encourage you to give this a try. And if you do, let me know so I can celebrate this win with you! 

04 – Have a 10-minute morning meditation 

You know how I used to think I wasn’t a morning person? Well for the longest time, I also used to think meditation wasn’t for me. That’s because I didn’t understand the whole point of it, or how it could actually help with your mindset, mood, and focus. The thing with meditation is, you don’t have to be “naturally” good at it. Just like with anything, you can get better with practice.

Meditation is powerful because it trains your brain to not get distracted by every thought or idea that pops up in your head. And as creative business owners — we have millions of ideas popping through our heads! Ideas that can usually derail us from important tasks at hand. 

By relaxing your mind and observing your thoughts at the start of your day, it builds self-awareness, fights rabbit-hole distractions, and improves your focus. At least, that’s what it’s done for me. 

My morning meditation routine is pretty simple. I find a comfy spot where the sunlight touches my face – that could be on the living room carpet or the sofa. Sometimes, I put a yoga block between my shoulders to open up my chest and breathe freely. Other I just get comfortable and lie there. Then, I turn on meditation music and set my intention for the day, and jot it down in my morning journal. There are days when I’ll even write my intention on a sticky note and stick it to my computer for the extra reminder.

If you find yourself falling down the distraction rabbit hole, take a moment, take a breather, and shift your mindset back to your original intention for the day. Who knows, you might end up really enjoying meditation – just like I do!

05 – Set your schedule around your priorities 

I used to create an impossible, never-ending to-do list that made me feel like I was always running on a hamster wheel. That’s partly because I wouldn’t take time to define my priorities for a given season in life and I’d try to pursue waaay too many goals at once. These simple changes in my scheduling completely changed how I get things done throughout the week:

Decide on the days you’ll be posting long term

In January of this year, I realized that in business I didn’t have to do it all anymore. That’s why I made the conscious decision to close down my product business. It was a difficult decision. But it was one that ultimately served me for the better, so I feel less spread thin. 

Whether you’re heading into the new year, a new quarter, a new month, or just a new week, think about your priorities. Are you starting a family? Moving across the country? Trying to transition your hobby to a full-time business? Whatever it is, don’t forget to set realistic goals around what you CAN do during a certain season of life. Setting realistic expectations leads to more genuine progress.

Ditch the never-ending to-do list for achieving 3 big tasks 

This has been a huge shift in the way I schedule my workload. Each week, I identify the 3 big tasks I need to make progress on, based on my monthly and quarterly goals. Then, I block off time for these specific tasks in my calendar to work on them. So instead of just having 20 things on my to-do list for the day, I focus on accomplishing 1-2 big things that really matter. 

Practice an end-of-day ritual 

This was something I learned from Michal Hyatt’s book Free to Focus. Essentially, every evening before I leave the desk, I’ll assess what got done and what didn’t so I can plan out the next day. This means the very next morning I start with a clear roadmap of what I need to tackle without getting distracted. And if something doesn’t get completed, no biggie. I simply move on and plan better for it next time.

Give yourself a weekly review 

And finally, there’s the weekly review – a chance to evaluate what didn’t quite get done and plan for the week ahead. It’s also a chance to create an ongoing list of “would be nice to do” action-items. These are lower-priority tasks you can easily tick off at the end of a day or simply find someone to help you with so they don’t dominate your focus.

Feeling overwhelmed with all these new habits? Start with this.

I know you’re probably thinking this seems like a lot. But these were all changes I made gradually over time. If you’re just starting on the path to making your days more manageable, calmer, and building that action-taking attitude, here’s your first step:

Track a list of all the things you do in a day. Take note of what drains your energy, what makes you feel empowered, and what genuinely brings you joy. 

After a couple of weeks, you’ll notice some interesting patterns. And from there, you can start asking yourself questions like, “What do I want to change?”, “What can I change?”, and “Where can I start today?”

Maybe it’s as basic as relocating your phone to the otherside of the room to stop snoozing. Or it’s replacing your morning Instagram scroll with a good book. You don’t have to do it all at once. Embrace the journey. And remember, big change always starts with small, gradual steps. 

Want to dive deeper into how these habits can boost your productivity and joy? Tune in and learn more in today’s podcast episode here 🎧.

Until next time, 

Michaela

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