No matter what your dreams in life are, we could all stand to be more productive from time to time…and I believe that with productivity comes health and happiness (and vice versa!). These are my 10 tips for feeling healthier, happier, and more productive:
1. Figure out when you should be waking up.
I have always naturally been a morning person, but lately I’ve been really reveling in getting up early. I’m not talking 4am early, because I’m not crazy, but I am talking sunrise. I wake up everyday at 6am. That’s just when my body says EXCUSE ME PLEASE WAKE UP! And so I do. But lately I’ve been taking advantage of the unusual happiness and energy that radiates from me in the mornings. I wake up. I drink a big glass of water. I go outside to watch the sunrise while stretching and doing yoga. Afterwards, once the the sun has peaked, I sit and “meditate”. And so, onto number 2!
2. Guided daydreams.
I usually don’t say “meditate” for fear it will scare people off. Truth be told, I’ve never been taught meditation, I don’t totally understand what it is, and I’m a bit sad to admit that. However, I do something for myself which I assume is quite similar. I go on guided daydreams. After my morning exercise I sit and daydream. I force myself to clear my mind and simply let myself have a big, meaningful, fairytale-filled adventure in my mind.
For example, yesterday I imagined myself running across rolling green hills and then climbing a tree so tall I sat above the clouds and looked down at a village below.
Another day I daydreamed I was swimming in a vast ocean with hot air balloons floating near the surface.
And another day, I imagined myself on top of a glacier overlooking an expansive land with a beautiful hot pink sunrise.
It doesn’t matter what you think about, just that you are exercising your mind in a creative way and allowing yourself to go to that place that you envision. It helps to clear your mind of stress, think creatively, and relax.
3. Challenge yourself .
I work on goals, I always have and probably always will. I love to set myself deadlines and see if I can complete them. So each morning I define what is most important to finish, and I choose a time to finish them by. Usually between 12pm and 3pm I start to get restless and need some outdoor fun, so I typically choose a time in between there.
But let’s go further. Don’t just challenge yourself with everyday tasks…have an ADVENTURE. Go out and do something completely unique and memorable. Create a life not just worth living, but one that you feel fortunate to call your own. Do something outrageous. Do something silly. Do something that will make you laugh or cry…or both. Seek adventure.
4. Reward yourself.
Once you’ve completed those tasks, big or small, reward yourself! It is okay to pretend you’re a dog playing dead to get a treat…because really, we aren’t that different! We want to feel good after completing a task, so why not reward yourself with something fun. Examples are a walk, a snack, a TV show, a hot bath, etc.
5. Make friends who will hold you accountable.
You don’t have to believe me, but I hope you will…there are people out there, all over the place, who are willing to be your friend. What I have learned about any type of creative individual is that there are more out there. We are all unique in our own ways, and yet there are many of us. Find a friend who is into the same kind of thing you are. Push each other, and challenge each other. And most importantly, let them know what you’re up to so that you have someone to encourage you when you’re feeling low.
I am very lucky to have many of those people in my life. I have my husband to make me do the business-y things I don’t like doing, like taxes and email organization and so forth. I have my best friend and now assistant Kelly to keep me on top of important tasks. And I have countless creatives from ALL over the world who I can count on instantly to give me the motivation to push further and harder.
6. Create a routine.
I am really big on routines. As you can probably tell from my morning routine, I think that it is important that we have some sort of order in our lives. I am all about being nomadic and traveling and being free-spirited, but at the same time we need to have order, even if it is chaotic order, to feel organized. I feel more productive and a lot happier when I understand what has to be done, when I’ll do those things, and how long they will take me.
When I am home, my routine is to go through my morning ritual, work from about 7am-3pm, take a break to go on a walk or hike, make dinner, and enjoy that time with family. And then I usually do more work in the evenings.
7. Don’t beat yourself up for “off” days.
You can’t move at 1,000% speed all the time. You are human, and its okay to feel like a human! You are allowed to be sad for no reason, happy for no reason, disorganized or overwhelmed or stressed. But know that it will pass, and let yourself have those days that might just have to be relaxation days. Sometimes, when we feel emotions for no apparent reason, it’s our bodies telling us to slow down and focus within.
8. Give yourself dedicated time off.
I always give myself dedicated time off. When I started working for myself I realized quickly that the whole WORK ALL THE TIME thing wasn’t working at all. My husband and I thought it would be great because we’d be together all the time, but what we found was that we worked constantly and never truly saw each other.
Now, we eat every meal together at the table. We cook together. We go on a walk together once a day. And we pick full days where we go out and have adventures. You need to schedule down time because it is the only thing that will keep you going strong when you are working.
9. Begin to let everyone around you know that you are not a work horse. You will work when you have time because health is your priority.
Let people know that you are going to do the best you can when you’re working, and when you aren’t working, you aren’t concerned about it. I started to realize that the more I put myself out there, the more people expected from me. I started getting emails without a polite word in them demanding that I write back and answer all of the questions contained within. I started realizing how valuable time is, and I started to do something very important: I used my time to give to others as often as I possibly could, and when I just couldn’t do it anymore, I didn’t stress over it.
Do as much as you can, but don’t over-exert yourself. You will be giving everyone less than 100%, and no one wants that at all.
10. Cut the people out of your life who don’t make it better.
There are people who will lift you up and people who will bring you down. Make changes in your life to be less influenced by those who will bring you down, and surround yourself with those who lift you up. That is one of my main motivations for starting this blog. Those of you who comment are always so uplifting, and it is one big blog hug of wonderfulness for me. I surround myself with you because it makes me feel elevated, and I believe that one person lifting another elevates many.
So, in the words of Radiohead, what will you do to be “FITTER, HAPPIER, and MORE PRODUCTIVE”?
Martin - Wow, this hit me at just the perfect time. Thanks. You are a gift.
brookeshaden - Aww thank you Martin, I am so happy to hear that!
Gerson Lopes - So so good!!! Thank you for sharing this video Brook!!! Really excited to find a more balanced life, and your tips are a great start for that.
Katrin Auch - You know how sometimes you hear things just when you need to? Well I needed this right now. I have had times in my life when I have been on a schedule/routine and it has really helped me and made me feel better. But then something throws me off—a trip or a deadline, and I have a really hard time settling back in. Having moved to a new city, I feel like I have to figure out what my new routine will be. Brooke, thanks so much for sharing yours, it is very inspiring. I am curious how your sugar purge is going (gone). Did it make you feel better?
brookeshaden - Oh Katrin I am so happy to hear this was helpful! Where did you move to? As for the sugar – oh yes yes yes! I feel so much better. I didn’t think I would. I went vegan 2 years ago and never fully understood why people said they felt so much better, but it was because of all the sugar I was eating I think. I am a big junk-food addict. I love cookies, what can I say? But after 2 weeks of doing this whole foods diet, I feel so much happier. Not even just healthier, but overall like I can do anything. I love the energy. I think more people should try cutting out so many sugars. I’m sure I’ll go back to eating an occasional treat, but I really like the discipline it requires too.
Katrin Auch - I moved from LA back to the SF Bay Area. I will miss some things about LA (Katie Johnson in particular), but I am happy to be returning to the Bay. It feels like home. I have often thought about cutting out sugar. My mom and dad went wheat-free a couple years ago and it has made large improvements in their lives.
And yes, this has been a total inspiration to get off my ass and make my routine. That and my birthday is next week—that is always an inspiration for change.
brookeshaden - Ooh I love the Bay area!! That is great 🙂 I miss that girl too 😀 Happy early birthday, and I know it will be a magical, healthy one!
lovelyn - Great advice. I don’t know anything about meditation, but I find that daydreaming helps me tremendously when it comes to being creative.
The thing you said about cutting people out of your life really resonated with me. I have people that I should cut out of my life, I just find it so hard to do that.
brookeshaden - Yes I too have a hard time with it…and for most situations, I think it would be strange to have an easy time of it! But in the end, our wellness will help more than just ourselves <3
Lynda Adlington - Hi I had just gone to FB while I was downloading a video of yours on Creativelives as it was buffering all the time and there you were again with this lovely video. Totally agree with all you said and have always felt more productive early in the morning but have forced myself to work in the afternoon. No more, I am going to try the 6am routine. Also did the No10 a few years ago and made a world of difference. Enjoying your workshop on Creativelives and have loads ideas from it. x
brookeshaden - Lynda that is wonderful! Glad to hear you’ll try an earlier routine. It works wonders for me. I have much more energy that way, and then I can spend the time when I’d normally be crashing from too much work to do something fun, and I feel invigorated all over again. I hope it helps! And thank you so much for your support in watching the creativeLIVE videos!
Svenlovesflo - Hi Brooke…I love that you posted this…I have a routine and I usually get up before the sun…do yoga meditate and give thanks…and your favorite is my least favorite…to let go of people in your life can be tough…especially if it is family…but I think I need to take on the challenge your friend gave to you…and that is no refined sugar…it is such an addictive drug…sometimes I feel like Little Chrissy in John Waters movie…Pecker…thanks for giving me a little boot to get me started on this. Namaste
brookeshaden - Aww love that we have such a similar routine. Letting people go is very hard, and sometimes the most difficult things make the biggest impact. But only if we choose wisely. Definitely try out the no refined sugar! It is working wonders 🙂
Lenore - I love taking new classes and experimenting with what will eventually become part of my routine. I recently started Tai chi and I realized how poor my body awareness is. I now take it as a challenge to pay attention to how and where my body is moving as much as possible.
How did you give up sugar? I find that inspiring!
brookeshaden - That sounds so amazing. I know I could use the same thing – more body awareness! Maybe I’ll give it a try!
For the sugar – I started looking at how much sugar was added to different foods, and I gave up most refined sugar as well as processed foods. I’ve been eating only whole foods (and natural sugars found in fruit) and feeling wonderful! I was already vegan so it wasn’t too much of a stretch.
sarah hoey - these are great ideas!! 🙂 a few things I’m working on getting back in to the habit of, are working out(Fitness Blender has some amazing stuff for getting in shape!), cooking nice dinners that aren’t just frozen pizzas, and pushing myself to be better with my art, and happier with it. 🙂 it’s hard to get a set routine when my work schedule is so erratic, but I’m trying to get in some sort of routine with my day. ha. 🙂
brookeshaden - I love your ideas Sarah! One thing I love doing is cooking, so every night I try to make healthy meals that I actually enjoy. Last night I made vegan stuffed shells (made with cashew ricotta cheese!) and it was wonderful…such a comfort food. I hear ya on the routine thing – it can be hard when it feels like nothing stays still…but we find ways 🙂
Paulo Carvalho - Indeed, You are a fantastic human being. The sky may have many stars to shine, but it is right here with the feet firmly on the ground that a star shines the most. I think like you. I love making friends, because I believe in people. Build a reciprocal friendship is what feeds my soul. I always have time for them and they for me. I also wake up early to meditate and running in the park before going to work.. For a productive day at work, nothing beats a physical and a revitalized mind. And then, nothing is better than small acts like lunch and strolling with the person we love and who love us. I love having time for her and see her hapiness stamped on her smile. Beijinho.
brookeshaden - Paulo, you are seriously an amazing individual. Every time you leave a comment I am inspired!! I love that you pay so much attention to your own happiness and that of those around you. That is truly selfless and beautiful.
Paulo Carvalho - Thanks for the nice words, but I just try to be a good and happy human being surrounded with good people like you. I try to be the best friend I can be, because friendship is a beautiful gift that I can give, at Christmas, birthday or in a single day like today. And best of all, I do not spent one penny to buy this gift. It wells up inside of me …
Nikki Mulkern - The timing of this blog is perfect. I was having such an off day yesterday, I don’t think I am fully “back to normal” today. I have been doing so much thinking and need to decide what is best for me, my family and business. I looked at my calendar and didn’t realize just how crazy the next 3.5 months is going to be with sessions, there is a huge amount that I look forward to, fundraisers that I do in memory of my Mom. But otherwise I feel like I am not being able to create what I want, there doesn’t seem to be enough time, and that needs to change. I am realizing that I need make some very hard choices and start doing what I truly, truly love to do! It is scary as heck though,lol.
I needed to read something like this today so badly! Thank you so much for this, your posts always seem to hit home with me.
brookeshaden - Nikki I am so glad to hear that you are wanting to make changes. It sounds like your life is very busy, and it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am also guilty of this – scheduling too much and then have some trouble living it! But I have a very good feeling that you’ll be back up on your creative feet in no time. The first step to doing what you love is to identify what that is and then making very small amounts of time for it. You will have a wonderful year, I know it!
Siyana Kasabova - You are truly amazing, Brooke! 🙂 Thank you for this post.
I cut refined sugar a while ago and many more things with it, and I am definitely feeling better. I am still quite struggling with waking up early though 🙁 I would love to get into a routine where I can get up around 7-7:30, but it’s so difficult for me to go to bed before 1a.m 🙁 Any advice on how to do that?
Have a lovely week ahead! x
brookeshaden - Hi Siyana!
I think that is amazing that you eliminated refined sugar!
Now as for waking up early – a friend put it to me this way last week – it isn’t necessarily about waking up early, it is about identifying when you personally are most productive. My husband, for example, works best in the middle of the night and prefers smaller naps to one night of sleep!
But if you desire to wake up early, I suggest a better ngihttime routine – purposeful relaxation (a movie?), drinking a warm drink (I always have tea before bed), and guided daydreams at night with your eyes closed. As for the morning – set something for yourself to do that excites you! Prepare an awesome smoothie the night before that you can drink in the morning, or plan a hike that you love, or challenge yourself that you can only do some of those things IF you get up and are productive early on. xoxo!
Tom Newforge - I need a new routine. I used to go trail running everyday at 4pm no matter what. It was like my church. I’d take my phone to listen to great music and snap pics along the way. (Why I got so hooked on Instagram;).
Then an old back injury from a former life came back to haunt me. It’s been no fun. The doctor literally told me that I cannot run anymore. It’s sorta killed my routine. I really miss it. I’ve tried swimming, etc but it’s just not the same as being out in nature and I get bored of it pretty quickly.
I have started doing pre-dawn hot yoga with a friend of mine. We do it 2 days a week. It’s definitely helped my back issues. Still can’t run but I can function normally at least.
My new thing is to drive out to my favorite sections of trail with my camera. Semi therapeutic for me but I have ten tons of images I’ll never use. Haha.
Glad your feeling good though. If your not already doing it I’d also recommend doing a smoothie/cleanse thingy once a day as well. They always make me feel great. I’ll do like a handful of kale, 1/2 lemon, two limes, a shake of cayenne pepper, two tablespoons of real maple syrup and some ice in the blender. Always makes me feel like a million bucks.
Ok have a great day.
brookeshaden - Oh no! I’m sorry to hear about your back problems! That is a quick way to kill a routine! But it sounds like you are very focused on wellness, and I love your idea for the cleansing drink! I will definitely give that a try and see how it goes. I am all about trying new things like that. Thank you for the tip. I’m still trying to find a friend (just one, really now!) who will get up early with me. They all treat it like the plague 😛
Andrea Gore - Brooke I love this post! Routine is so important. I crave my routine. I am still working a full time job while getting started on my fine art journey. That basically translates into 12-14 hour days. I always start my days the same way. I wake up meditate and do yoga. While in warrior pose I make sure to recognize out loud what I am thankful for that morning, even if it is small like my warm bed. Itry to go into that pose five separate times so I make myself find fob things to aknowledge. I find this gives me smiles in the face of a long day. I also reward myself with detox baths. I love them! If you haven’t ever tried it you should! Thirty minutes of a nature pandora station, incense and a bath full of natural minerals and herbs makes my heart happy. Thanks for this post Brooke I love everything about it. Bravo on the sugar. I am my sure I could hang there. I have a sever addiction to peppermints 🙂
brookeshaden - I think it is wonderful that you are pursuing what you love while working another job! And how wonderful that you have a routine that leaves you feeling so energized and grateful. I love it, and it inspires me!
Andrea Gore - Sorry for all the typos. I am in my phone and auto correct is not my friend 🙂
Gerri Bird - I startered letting my intuition lead me after I had some sort of spiritual emergency at Christmas. I’ve never been more scared, or more sure and free. I spend most days working through a lifetime of insecurities and doing a really great job of it I must say. Some days I fear I’m becoming crazy but the joy I feel keeps my demons and inner critic at bay. I have likely distorted my career (don’t care) and created the greatest work of my life. I weep with joy when I think of what it has helped me learn and create in my life and myself. Thank you for this brilliantly written list, and I concur with all. Thank you for some really great tips on organization, scheduling and rewards. (You might giggle at my reward). This had been the scariest, most amazing months of my life and I owe it to these very simple truths that you have shared. Namaste my sister.
brookeshaden - Gerri, I think there is nothing more inspiring than making changes, sticking to them, and allowing yourself to be open to inspiration and passion all the while. It sounds like you have made some amazing life changes and I am so happy that you are feeling them in a positive and impactful way. <3
thomas miles - i think i will start eating healthier, Ive had so much chocolate today XD and maybe go outside more, I spend so much time inside and get so uncomfortable and stuffy that that breather helps me to relax and re-adjust. Thank you for saying all that, todays been an off day, but you saying that makes me feel a lot better, hopefully tomorrow will be a better day 🙂
brookeshaden - But chocolate is soooo goooood 😀 I mostly don’t eat chocolate anymore, and always dark chocolate if I do, which can be wonderful for you 🙂 I know you’ll have a better day tomorrow, your spirit always shines through!
Leanne - Hi Brooke,
I would just like to say thank you for this post, it has inspired me in many ways. As a mum of two, wife, full time student studying photography AND running my own photography business I find it extremely hard at times to be productive. I will most definitely be taking on board some of your suggestions.
I already do number one and two heehee x
brookeshaden - Wow Leanne! You have *so* much going on! I don’t know how you handle it all. But balance is key, and I hope you continue to find health and happiness at every turn.
Linnea Holbrook - Thank you so much for this blog post. I just moved to a new area and I’ve had trouble creating a routine and I’ve been beating myself up a lot about it. I also haven’t been challenging myself in any aspect of my life. You have inspired me to take control and make the decisions that will make me happy. Thank you!
brookeshaden - Linnea, I am so happy to hear that you’re going to work toward some changes. I am always seeking them out and trying to add new elements to my routine. I know you will find happiness in whatever you choose for yourself!
Lisa Bonowicz - Having FM, I have been an insomniac for years. But miraculously, I have been waking up just before sunrise for months. And what a difference that makes not only in my day, but also my outlook in general when dealing with health issues. I have added a (mostly) daily 3-mile walk to my routine to try to get fit. I have also stopped carrying my phone, literally, everywhere I go because I was at the point where I would carry it from room to room inside the house. I was beginning to feel like a ‘slave’ to social media. It is a double-edged sword… we work hard to get our names out there to promote our business, but then there is no ‘down’ time or ‘escape’ from it. Limiting my time on the PC has helped as well. Gives me back the time that I originally had to shoot new work, explore and actually experience life in the present moment and not *only* through my lens. 🙂
Kelsey - After leaving a very pragmatic field (forensic psychology) I have decided to pursue my more creative interests (photography and fashion design) and can often feel the overwhelm of “what now?”. I am starting to implement many of the things you mention here and am finding them helpful- but most importantly I need to set a creative routine where I schedule time during my day to be “creative”. I had a misconception before that creative people are just always “on” (and therefore categorized myself as not creative) but I’m coming to find out it is hard work, dedication, and routine- just like anything else. Thank you times a million for your inspiration, seeing your work has reminded me of my passion for photography and creativity and has nudged me to pursue it more seriously.
dayle ann clavin - Hi Brooke,
Wonderful to read all your paths to being healthy. I have been TRAINING myself to avoid all foods with processed sugar and limit myself to fruit and honey. It feels very good after the first difficult effort. I also walk everyday without a destination or intent and just move through beautiful landscape regardless of the weather( Austria!).That is my way of meditating and noticing details and being open for whatever comes my way. I am a classical flutist as well as photographer, so I play music.. a lot of Bach and Mozart and French music. When I play music I see it in color and texture and stories and this fuels my photographic images. When I photograph I usually see my composition in terms of phrases, rhythm, accents harmony and dissonance. One is visual and the other audio but the foundation is the same. So I think mixing art forms is very good for being creative and feeling great. And learning from people like you Brooke is so inspiring that it makes me feel healthier. like eating spinach for the heart… would have liked to join you in France for your workshop but just missed the closing date by a day! Next time, I hope!
Margherita Introna - Ah Brooke, thank you so much for this post <3
I have been somewhat out of sorts lately. My life has been topsy turvy lately due to so many sad events in 2013, that my life has changed in so many ways. With this so much of my routines and focus. Some has been a blessing, but others have left me somewhat lost. The last few days I have been feeling restless and just could not put my figure on why. Your post here just answered some of my questions. From the bottom of my heart, thank you <3
Lucy - I really needed to hear that this morning. Thank you, Brooke! So grateful for your messages. <3
Matt Urban - So, in the words of Radiohead, what will you do to be “FITTER, HAPPIER, and MORE PRODUCTIVE”?
Im actually working on this right now. Im doing project 365: 365 days of positivity which has changed and evolve as I’ve kept going with it. Started off with focusing on one person a day and saying something positive about them and can be anyone from close family, celebrities, friends, teachers and etc and I record it put it on a video then upload to my channel. As I’ve kept going I’ve started to do different things with it like saying what Im grateful for, mind over matter, and eventually it will evolve probably into doing more things to help this world like recording helping homeless people and etc. Also Im committing to working out more and try to do at least a half hour a day of working out. Small things lead to big results so I’d rather do show up for the process, do something small-big which I haven’t done before than nothing. 🙂
Carin - I will be made redundant from my day job at the end of this month. I’m going to make it a positive experience as I think it’s one of the things I need to shed to improve my mental health & overall lifestyle. I won’t be bogged down by worries which are not my own.
After reading about your routine I am keen on making a new one of my very own, one which will stimulate and motivate me to follow my passion in photography……..and hopefully give me the guts to do it and not talk about it lol. whoooo it’s gonna be one hec of a ride, and one I’ve been waiting to jump onto for a long long time 🙂
Lu - Brooke! I love this! I resonate so much with many of this points. Other things I do is eat healthy and home made. I am not vegan, vegetarian or any other label, I do like to eat food, real food mainly plants. I will adopt some of the things I am still not doing. You are so right about how we can overwork ourselves when you are your own boss, sometimes we forget that we need to take care and be kind to ourselves too.Wishing you a great day!
Julie Sidorak - Wow! I just realized the first time in my life I havent been alive and that Im a machine/ toaster. I live in my head so much I didn’t realize what was possible was possible. SO today I did something similar, I created in my mind an image of a family of toasters walking down a path… and so on. Im creating it this weekend!! Already found all the TOASTERS I need for the shoot too!! I want it to be really authentic but show motion and a bit of chaos. eeekk Im excited!
Gréta - Oh, Brooke, I must have downloaded this video and I’m going to watch it everyday in the morning to help myself keep the positive mindset I tend to lose during the day. I feel so grateful for the videos you post… You’re such and amazing being!♥
I also love the angle you chose when shooting this. The way you keep eye contact makes me feel like you”re really talking to me:)
Crystal Parker - It’s funny because I know all of these are true in my heart, but I’ve had difficulty with making the time to just relax and be with my family nowadays. Since my photography has gained such momentum I suppose there’s always this fear that it will end and I’ll be back at square one again. When I think about it, it’s quite irrational actually.
I can’t say I’m very good in having a routine, but I know it’s something that needs to be worked on and this blog post is reminding me how important it is. Even last night even I was feeling the weight of all my new found responsibilities and unable to simply relax (even though it was time to relax as I worked hard all day).
Thank you for the most generous reminder how important it is to slow down sometimes and take time for yourself. I’m not perfect at it, but I know I will get there and this helps give a little structure as to how I can do that. 🙂
Melodie Pue - Hi Brooke!
I am so happy you have made this blog and share so much–thank you! You have been and are continually a huge inspiration for me. I’m so glad for you and also very happy for you.
I love this blog regarding wellness, in and out. I have a tremendous issue with sitting at the computer. Working on composites for hours (I logged a 9-hour day this week!) kills my neck and back. I try to sit properly and consider ergonomics. However, it’s just not working out.
I can’t help but wonder what you do to protect yourself when you have to work many hours at your desk or computer?