One of my all-time favorite aphorisms is that Victorian era gem that shines from its facets of order, efficiency, and thrift:
A place for everything, and everything in its place.
I consistently use this idea to recalibrate the way I see my home and studio. My wife and I are work-from-home freelancers; we're in our house 90% of the week and share it with our very active toddler and three cats, working and playing and cooking three meals a day, so we make a lot of mess. Without direct intervention, entropy reigns supreme, with total anarchy its final goal. Thus I constantly ask myself when I put something down: Is that where it lives? If the answer is no, put it away for real.
Well, let's piggyback off the idea of "a place for everything" to deliberately use our physical space to make good habits.
In order to be your best, you need to make the most out of your mornings. More than anything else, how you begin your day sets the template for how the rest of it will go. Here are nine things you can, and should, do every single day to be your most productive self.
1. Make Your Bed (2:oo)
When this becomes first thing you do after you wake up, you accomplish so much more than flat blankets and straighten pillows. First, you immediately achieve a goal; the very first thing that happens during your whole day is a success. Secondly, though it might sound dramatic, you've ordered chaos. What was a mess is now straight and clear
Dirty dishes in the sink. Putting your clean socks away. Replying to that one email that's been sitting at the top of your inbox for longer than you'd be willing to admit out loud.
We all have that small handful of tasks and chores that weigh the heaviest on our souls and our to-do lists. Most often, they're the things that occur multiple times a week, so that when you look at them, you think, "Didn't I just do that? And doesn't it take forever?"
And that's where our brains lead us astray. Because, although, yes, you did probably just do that – no, it doesn't take forever.
When I think back to my first office job, I learned two key takeaways: 1) always share your process and thinking with your supervisor, and don't hold out til the end to show them the completed project and 2) drink a bunch of liquids all day long so you'll have to get up to go the bathroom.
Seriously. Moving about the office gets you up and out of your seat, your eyes off the computer screen, and the ability to mingle a bit with your coworkers. And while we recommend switching to water after 11:00am, it's nice to enjoy a few small personal mugs of coffee vs. a huge thermos. It always stays hot, and remains fun to sip the whole morning
Fact: the physical space that we inhabit on a daily basis, especially our homes, is an extension of our minds and attitudes. Your thoughts influence your actions, your actions influence your environment, your thoughts respond accordingly, and so on.
I don't need to offer a strong argument that the passive life—that is, the life where other people and random events have determined your course—is no life at all. Bearing that fact in mind, your surroundings shouldn't be an afterthought, but a map of the deliberate decisions you've made to make the best use of your time, energy, and resources.
I recently wrote about how you can hack your habits by deliberately organize your home; this is one specific application of that precept. The goal here is to reduce clutter, and the tool is a simple, easy-to-memorize maxim:
For those of you who have mastered denying the temptation to pick at procrastination's bountiful buffet, this article will be a waste of your time. I'd suggest moving on to something else—this handy jazz album primer, how to turn an old shirt into a pocket square, or this awesome list of 14 burger recipes.
But for those of you who find it difficult to resist the siren song of putting stuff off until the last minute, or who (worse yet) willingly delay working until the 11th hour, let's take a moment to examine the evidence that procrastination is a horrible idea.
If you’re looking to make your leather work look a little classier, one of the easiest ways to do it is by adding padding.
Think of the watches you own or have seen that have a leather strap. Those straps will either be flat and made up of two pieces of leather glued together, or padded made up of two pieces of leather stitched around a thinner piece of leather, creating a raised looked in the middle. Almost always, the padded strap will look more refined.
This leather mouse pad is an excellent way to figure out how to add padding for the first time. And, what’s more, you’ll end up with a classy leather mouse pad to keep or give
I'm not a multitasker. At least, I shouldn't be. And when I am, I'm not at my best. I won't go into a whole thing about the distractions of the internet and multiple browser tabs and social media and our whole plugged-in life; you've read those articles, and you believe them, or you don't.
These aren't ideas to get more stuff done. They're ideas to get good stuff done, and get it done more quickly and with less stress. If that frees up time for you to try more things, that's great. If it only helps you meet your goals without feeling insane, that's good enough.
Do you spend much time behind a desk during the day? Here's a healthier way to clock the hours with a few standing desk projects you can do this weekend.
In our elementary school days, packing your bag was easy: books, folders, pencil, lunch bag, done. But, as grown-ups, especially for those who work in a non-traditional office setting, making sure you have all the goodies you need for the day or a work trip can be tough - do you have all the right power and syncing cables
We love biking, and I'm guessing a lot of you do as well. Over 800,000 Americans currently commute to work via bicycle and that number just keeps climbing as people are realizing the physical, emotional, and environmental benefits.
Guess what. Being at the office all the time does not impress your managers. In fact, it's exactly the opposite: getting away from work can actually increase your chances of a raise or a promotion. Truth.
Look, sometimes Bill from work gets outta hand and you need to up your game. If the whole Office Space smashing the printer thing, isn't exactly an option, why not opt for the more practical pen-firing crossbow made from simple office supplies? Everyone will know you mean business.
Phiske, a leather craftsman and the artist behind Cachicamo Leather Works, details the steps towards making this beautiful, custom leather briefcase that is certain to last a few lifetimes. The best part? The design includes a hidden compartment in the bottom for your extra valuables and/or secret spy documents.
There was a time when the professional man had but one look, and when he was dressed for work, things were clear. Along with the suit and topcoat, there was the standard briefcase - the hard, angular, leather box, with bright, shiny metallic accents.
Now, with the traditional office dissolving and the 9-5 work week being constantly reimagined, it's time for a new briefcase: one that will still look professional, just not like Gordon Gekko.
Time management is unbelievably important essential for any man trying to be his best. That doesn't mean you have to fill your day with as many tasks as you can or build out your schedule with nothing but hustle. It means that in order to be the guy, the husband, the friend, the father, the boyfriend, the employee, the maker, the athlete, the citizen, the artst, the buisness owner, the scholar, the volunteer, the brother (you get where I'm going...), you've got to create the balance that allows you to fit in all the tasks and roles you've incorportated into your life.
And a great way to create that balance? Be mindful
I'm typing these very words at a local bookstore/coffee shop. Whenever I have "just-computer" work to do, I try to get out of the house/workshop as much as I can, and often, those days are my most productive of the week. (Provided the wi-fi is reliable). For me, working in public provides just enough distraction: the low din of coffee grinding, the unique and often boring conversations, moms trying to keep their kids from screaming or getting them to eat lunch.
Turns out, there are lots of folks just like me. The Atlantic reports that while telecommuting is a relatively new phenomenon, the need to write and get work done away from the office is not. The author states,
No matter what your medium - art, illustration, sewing, knitting, soldering, voodoo doll making - you gotta have someplace to do it. Many of us work in basement, garages, offices, closets, kitchen tables, and from boxes in couches.
But, as I've advocated before, a designated workspace to store and organize your supplies, whatever they are, can help one be more productive and inspired.
I'm really digging this design by Randofo, which was built, in his words, as a
"simple work table for my home studio so that I could have a surface upon which to work and document projects. I tried to keep the design as simple as possible as I only have a limited arsenal of power tools, a small vehicle for transporting materials and little patience for woodworking."
I especially like the white surface - which is great for documenting and taking step-by-step photos. I wonder if the effect could be recreated with a secondhand, white dry-erase board supported by 3/4" plywood.