When I started freelancing, I had plenty of free time. I would work for two or three hours, then hang out with the family. As I began upping my game, I was adding more clients and more research. I expanded my skills to what clients needed, and every step of the way, I was giving up more of my life.
At first, it was great. I began giving up vices, drinking less, quit smoking, and I quit around the city looking for entertainment. Then I started getting rid of other things, stopped drawing, stopped making great meals in favor of fast food, and quit listening to music in favor of Youtube training videos.
Now I am at a point where I am trying to return to a more balanced life, the #Hustle culture is not for me, as 90% of people who try it learn within a year or two. Here is a list of some things I have learned along the way to have a more balanced, happier day.
1) Cut Out The Busywork
Many people have stressful days because they either try to get too much done or worry about not getting everything done. This is first on my list because it is a problem I always have myself and still struggle with.
There is always tomorrow. You do not have to get everything done today. Also, are you really making the most of your day? If you really bear down and get uninterrupted work without social media distractions, small talk, checking email, making personal calls, you can probably double your output.
Rather than spending 10-12 hours a day in distracted piecemeal work, spend a little more time getting ready for your day. Make sure your initial distractions are covered. Use the restroom, finish your coffee, have a snack, make your phone calls then set yourself down to 4 hours of uninterrupted work. Do not stop to check emails, answer any calls or texts, nothing—just 4 hours of solid work. You will be amazed at how much you will manage to get done.
2) Accomplish One Big Thing
This is key to have a good day. You want to start your day off with a sense of accomplishment. If you choose one crucial task and immediately get to work on finishing it, you will have a sense of accomplishment to ride you through the day. This works!
Once you have finished one project, you will feel energized and ready to do more! If you spend a few hours tinkering around and not really getting anything major done, this sets a pattern for your day. Next thing you know, your day is half over and nothing is done. This can not only make you feel upset at getting nothing done, but this sets the tone for the rest of the day and possibly the week.
3) Get Outside
One almost sure-fire way to improve your day is to get outside. Go for a walk, find a park. Getting out and getting some sunshine is refreshing and gives you a break from your tasks to rest and feel better. Also, stepping away from your day, even just for 15 minutes, provides you a reset to get your head back in the game if you had a rough start to your morning. Did you not get that big task done right away? It’s ok. Walk away, take a break and reset, then get back in there and get it done! It is never too late to start your day. I felt plenty of days as if nothing was accomplished all morning, so I left for lunch, went for a walk, and then from 1-5PM finished an entire day’s worth of work!
Meditation is one of the single most important tools I have for improving my day. Don’t just try it one day and see. Try it for a week then look at how you feel at the end of the week.
My plan is to get my primary task done, go for a walk, have lunch, then meditate before returning to work. I take about a 2-hour break in the middle of my day to do this and feel optimal, I return to finish off my day recharged and ready to accomplish. I know most people do not have this luxury and have to break things up, but even when working a retail job, you often get 2 breaks and lunch. You can take a walk outside for one break, have lunch then do a quick meditation on your second break. It can be done.
5) Happy Music
I doubt there are many people for whom this is a surprise to hear: Listening to music that either relaxes you or brings back positive memories is almost always a winner.
Personally, I like to listen to music that brings back fond memories in the morning when getting ready.
Another time to listen is while working. Relaxing music is useful for maintaining calm and concentration. Video game music is made explicitly for concentration. While I am working, I prefer calming music such as that or classical. I try to avoid music with lyrics, as songs with lyrics tends to get me paying attention to the lyrics rather than my work.
6) Stop Everything For 30 Minutes
This used to be known as a lunch break. In todays’ hustle and grind’ culture, many people are obsessed with non-stop working. This may work for some people, but for the vast majority, it does not work. You need to step away from your job for a bit. What you do at this time is not really important. I personally like to take a break to eat and meditate, but I also need to add going for a walk and getting some sun to that break more often.
Take a break. Your productivity will likely not suffer, but be improved!
7) Improve Something
Get something accomplished.
It doesn’t matter what.
Organize a shelf in the kitchen, hang a photo, improve something at all. Even just sweeping the floor(While listening to great music, of course!). Go for a walk and pick up some trash in the park (combine with points 3 or 6!). Improving something will give you a feeling of making your world a better place and accomplishment.
8) Enjoy Your Family
Yes, I know, not everyone is close to their blood relatives. Especially people like us seeking a more positive and meaningful life. But we all have a family. A best friend, your gaming community, even people in a Facebook group can be considered family.
If you do have a blood family, then, of course, spend more time with them. Few things are more rewarding than spending time with a husband or wife and children. So many of us, myself included, do not make enough time for our children.
Taking time out is something that seems less pressing but is always worth it when you are done. One thing I have learned is that we take our family for granted. There is always later until there isn’t a later. Once that time is gone, it is gone forever.
Cherish your time with your friends and family, and enjoy it.
9) Let Go Of The Small Stuff
This is both the most straightforward and most challenging thing to do. You don’t have to buy anything, go anywhere or do anything special to let go of small things. You just have to will it, which can be challenging. It takes practice and determination.
When problems arise, we need to stop and think, “Is this worth my time and frustration?” Usually, it is not. Try this exercise: try to write down everything that annoys you throughout the day. The next day, look it over. If you write everything down, you will be amazed at how many things frustrate you. You will also realize only maybe two or three of them really matter.
Save your anger and frustration for the things that deserve your attention. The vast majority of the things that made you angry will be totally forgotten a couple of days later. If they are not memorable, they are not worth getting mad about.
10) Less Social Media
Being a social media manager who has a presence on social media for this page, this makes me somewhat of a hypocrite. I will clarify using less social media if it is wasting time or making you angry. Arguing with strangers online, commenting on every friend’s status, none of this is helpful. Social media is an excellent thing, connecting people and businesses worldwide. Still, it is very easy to abuse, so try to not abuse it.
Now, if I was to make a comprehensive list, there would be hundreds of ideas, and there will be more coming in the future. This is actually my second post on this topic.
The first is in a now-deleted Medium account (Medium was part of my number 10, a hostile place wasting time). One doesn’t have to be fiercely loyal to this list and do everything but feel free to choose 2-3 things on this list that are manageable and implement them in your life and note the benefits.
Becoming a happier person is a process, it takes lifestyle change and a lot of work. I hope you do decide to try to improve your life and become a happier person today.