5 Ways to Create Happier, More Meaningful Days
Originally appeared on Huffington Post
We do our best work, when we love what we do. As the owner of a online marketing and publicity firm that helps authors promote their books and brands, I’ve had a lifelong love affair with books. Helping authors share their message is my passion. Reading just one book (okay, even just one powerful sentence) can change your life.
Recently I read Are You Fully Charged? The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life by Tom Rath* and watched the new documentary Fully Charged, and I immediately made some tweaks in how I go about my day. I read Tom’s book StrengthsFinder 2.0 many years ago and it helped me uncover my individual strengths. His new book and documentary focuses on small changes we all can make to create better, healthier, and more meaningful days.
Success happens when you do both: identify what you’re good at, then interact with others in a constructive way and take care of yourself. As Tom puts is, “The actions you take throughout every single day accumulate to shape your years, decades and overall life.” Here are five of his principles that I am using to enhance my days. I hope this tips will improve your day as well.
“Trying to do a little bit of everything leads to doing nothing of substance.” – Tom Rath
1. Focus on less and do more. If we try and divide our time and attention into too many different directions, we get wrapped up in being busy rather than being productive. Multi-tasking isn’t an efficient use of our time, because we lose time and concentration every time we switch tasks. Now I work one hour on email and one hour off to prevent distractions. This strategy allows me to stay focused on the projects and priorities that are most important for the day. I have found that starting my day with the question: What do I need to accomplish to make today happy and productive? is a great way to focus on less to finish what matters most.
“The food you eat every day not only influences your energy levels, it also affects your mood.” – Tom Rath
2. Choose your food wisely. Every food choice you make is important. I try to choose real foods and avoid highly processed foods to feel my best. Many of Tom’s suggestions were in sync with how my family already eats, but they were great reminders. Consider eating more foods like egg whites, berries, lean meats, salmon, nuts, seeds and vegetable-based smoothies. Spend most of your time shopping in the produce aisle and reduce the amount of added sugar you consume.
“Sitting may be the most underrated threat of this generation. It subtly erodes people’s health over time.” – Tom Rath
3. Move more. Sitting at your desk at work seems harmless, but sitting is actually harmful to your body, especially when you do it for prolonged periods of time. I now try to sit less and stand at my standing desk more. I pace during phone calls or try to have walking meetings whenever possible. The more movement you give to your body each day, the better for your health and your energy level. Even just standing up to stretch for a few minutes is beneficial. I love how Tom puts it: “You simply think better when you move.”
“Every hour of sleep is an investment in your future, not an expense.” – Tom Rath
4. Sleep. I love my sleep but recently I have been struggling with my routine. I am a natural night owl, so I love to burn the midnight oil working.
However, I just moved to California and have been struggling with living on the West Coast while working with East Coast clients. Tom’s perspective has helped me shift a bit on how I view sleep. He reminded me that sleep is critical to everything else we do. If we view those hours of rest as investments in the quality of our days, we will view sleep as enhancing our productivity and not taking away from it.
“The social relationships we take for granted profoundly shape our lives.” – Tom Rath
5. Cultivate relationships. The connections we make with people are the most important assets of our life. Our relationships give our lives meaning, but we can sometimes get lost in technology and forget to be present with the people in our lives. I believe it’s a privilege to talk to people. Tom reminds us to make our relationships count by minimizing distractions during conversations and cultivating relationships with the people who matter most to you. We have a no phone during meals rule and it helps us connect with each other.
In our family, we give each other “adventure fund” as presents rather than things. Who needs more stuff? Tom reinforced our choice by showing through research that experiences provide much better value for money than “stuff.” In our family the person getting the “adventure fund” can use the money on any experience, big or small, and then has to share it through photos with the rest of us. It’s been so fun. We enjoy our own adventures and also the adventures of others. It was a small change, and has brought great happiness to all of us.
Sometimes the smallest changes can have the greatest impact on our lives. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard.
* Full disclosure Tom Rath is a client of FSB Associates
Fauzia Burke is the founder and president of FSB Associates, an online publicity and marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. She’s the author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors (Berrett-Koehler, Spring 2016). Fauzia has promoted the books of authors such as Alan Alda, Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Melissa Francis, S. C. Gwynne, Mika Brzezinski, Charles Spencer and many more. A nationally recognized speaker and online branding expert, Fauzia writes for the Huffington Post, MariaShriver.com and MindBodyGreen. For online publicity, book publishing and social media advice, follow Fauzia on Twitter (@FauziaBurke) and Facebook (Fauzia S. Burke).