15 ways to make the most of every day
Health and wellness expert Pat Divilly shares some simple suggestions on how you can maximise every minute of your life - by taking some easy steps such as banning your phone during dinner or keeping a gratitude journal, you can enjoy each day to the fullest
1 Begin your day with an active morning
A short walk, before checking your emails or social media feed, is a great way to take control of your morning and, in turn, take charge of your day.
On your walk, set an intention for the day and think about what you are grateful for. This is an amazing start to the day that takes you from a reactive to proactive frame of mind.
2 Take the time to have a proper breakfast
In a bid to save time, many people reach for a sugary breakfast snack in morning, but this inevitably leads to a slump or crash a short while later. Incorporating slow-digesting carbs, such as porridge, or proteins and healthy fats (for example, eggs and nuts), into your morning meal can actually save you time in the long run as these foods are fuel for sustained energy, which helps to increase productivity.
3 Take control of your commute
Whether you get to work by foot, bus or car, your commute is the perfect time to listen to podcasts and audiobooks. Find a subject you're interested in and which is inspiring, educational or entertaining. By choosing to tune out the other noise around you, you are taking control and will begin to look forward to that part of your day.
4 Remember to be mindful
Mindfulness is something to be practised throughout the day and often is most beneficial when you feel you least have time to engage in it. Throughout the day, take five intentional breaths: breathe in for three seconds through the nose, hold for three seconds and breathe out for three seconds through the nose. This will ground and centre you when the outside world gets chaotic. It is particularly beneficial in stressful environments, such as at work, and helps you to refocus.
5 Acknowledge your colleagues
A third of our lives are spent with the people we work with, so taking the time to acknowledge them, know them and interact with them leads to a more harmonious and positive relationship. Take an interest in what they do, pay them a compliment and make an effort to be friendly.
Workplace disputes and arguments can happen but if they do, let go of them at the end of each day. Start each day as new and leave yesterday's disagreements in the past.
6 Have Good lunch habits
If you can, prepare your meals in advance. It is more conducive to a healthy lifestyle but it can also be a time-saver. When making your dinner, double the portion size so that you have enough for lunch the following day. Healthy veg and protein-filled stir-fries and curries are ideal as they can easily be re-heated.
Also try to get away from your desk at lunchtime, whether that's sitting at a different table or taking your lunch box outside to get some fresh air. When we eat at our desks we are doing so because we believe we are too busy to get up but, in reality, this is counterproductive. Getting away from the noise will boost productivity and creativity in the afternoon. In other words, slow down to speed up.
7 Get up, stand up
From the breakfast table to the office to the couch, we spend most of the day sitting down, which has resulted in 80pc of people having back problems. Take the time to stretch every hour or if you can, use a stand up desk. If you need to make or take a phone call do it on your mobile and take a walk while doing so. If you need to chat to a colleague, ask them to take a walk around the block with you. Getting up and moving helps to prevent injury and increases alertness.
8 Bookend your day
There is always a temptation to take work home and a tendency to continue to think about and talk about work, well past the end of the working day. Accept that there is always more to do, but also accept that there are a finite amount of seconds in a day, so choose to switch off once work ends. Try to make it as black and white as possible. You have a start time and an end time that bookend your working day. When you're working, you're switched on to work and when you're not working, you're switched on to other areas of your life.
9 Check in with loved ones
The journey home from work is a good time to check in with friends and family. A quick phone call to say a quick hello or just for a chat is a great way to let someone know you're thinking of them. It increases your connection to that person and prevents the feelings of guilt that we have all experienced for losing touch with a loved one.
10 Make time for exercise
Interval training is a time-efficient way of burning fat and increasing fitness and can be done from home or in the gym. If that's not your thing, find something you do enjoy. If you don't enjoy it, you won't stick to it so incorporating a social element is a good idea for some.
CrossFit and boot camps have become increasingly popular as there is a community feel with like-minded people coming together.
11 Mealtime phone ban
When you're eating your evening meal, make an effort to turn off your phone or leave it in another room to avoid the temptation of checking it and to ensure you're not distracted from company. Be present and make the person you are with feel like the most important person in the world.
Living busy lives means we sometimes don't get to see our friends and families as much as we'd like to, but when you are truly present, you are making every second count and can deepen relationships. If you are eating out, leave all phones upside down on the table and the first one to turn theirs over buys dinner!
12 Practise meditation
Meditation is not difficult and it doesn't have to look a certain way so don't be intimidated. A simple 10 minutes of meditation a day, just sitting in silence with time away from distraction, re-energises and reinvigorates the mind and body and helps you to become more grounded and better able to handle stress.
13 Three Action Steps
Write down your highest priority tasks for the next day. People make to-do lists that are really long and then are racked with fear and guilt having not accomplished all that is on that list.
Identifying just three to five priority tasks is less intimidating and more accessible. Do this brain dump before bed to get these tasks off your mind and onto paper. Once in the habit of doing so, your subconscious will get to work while you sleep and you can jump out of bed the next day, ready to make every second count.
14 Switch off electronics
Try to switch off all electronics at least half an hour before you go to bed. To your brain, the artificial light of mobile phones, tablets and TV screens is the same as sunlight and so the brain then doesn't want to go sleep.
Powering down electronics helps your body to get where it needs to be hormonally and greatly aids a good night's sleep.
15 Be grateful
All throughout your day, remember gratitude. Try writing down a minimum of three things every day that you are grateful for. It can be anything.
Most people spend their lives living in expectation of what they want, but successful and happy people spend their lives in appreciation for what they have.
■ Pat Divilly has teamed up with Berocca to help people find ways to Make Every Second Count. Find out more at Facebook.com/BeroccaIreland
Health & Living