Y Blog | Five Steps to Getting More Out of Your Day

Author | Giscard El Khouri, Language Program Supervisor with YMCA Newcomer Connections

In a world where we are always rushing to get things done, we most of the time find ourselves have accomplished nothing. We feel that neither the fight nor the flight mechanism is functioning, but more like frozen. 

How can we change that?

Time is a concept, and we are not all set up biologically the same way. We have to adjust to what fits our cycle. Studies show that there are early risers and night owls. Which one are you? Don’t get carried away by what you see or hear in the media- “early risers get the worm”; but night owls get to grab late opportunities. Opportunities, whatever they were, do not have a schedule. Did it ever cross your mind that you will miss these opportunities if you went to bed early?

Very rarely that we can make a change overnight. You won’t quit smoking on Sunday, and you won’t start a healthy diet tomorrow. Studies have shown that to ingrain a new habit in our system, our brains need that same action to be done repetitively. According to Lally et al.’s study of 2009, it takes between 18 and 258 days to create a new habit and 66 days after that to make that same habit automatic. My point here is not to discourage you but to ask you not to be frustrated if you feel that change is taking time — because it does.

Am I serious? Yes, I am!! The alarm is not my focus but what you are doing between the time you set it up and the time it goes off. Say it is 6 pm, and you decided to meet a friend at 8 pm, but you still want to watch that comedy episode. Well, you are watching and laughing, but you are also keeping an eye on the clock. What’s the issue with that? What you are thinking is “I don’t want to be stuck in traffic; make sure I remember to pick up my coffee before I head out; what if I miss the bus?” Looking at the time stresses you out. Let the alarm take care of it. Set the alarm up, and focus on the task at hand.

By your, I mean according to your circadian rhythm. Identify what and when you want to do something and plan accordingly. If you identify as a night owl, book your appointments in the second half of the day. If you were an early riser, then set up your appointments in the first half of the day.

Huh? That’s correct! Did you know that if you woke up an hour earlier a day, you would accumulate seven extra hours per week? That’s a whole workday schedule — and if you let go of the 10 minutes per hour checking social media platforms during your working hours, you have added a useful one hour and 10 minutes into your work schedule. Not so bad, eh?!

Finding What Works Best for You

There is no right or wrong. We are all different from each other and that what makes us human, special creatures. The good news is that we are creatures of habit, so find what works best for you and do it.