Tag Archives: habits

Things to do While Walking

Whether you’ve been participating in National Walking Month 2016 or just do a lot of walking in general, we thought we’d give a few suggestions of things to do while walking.

As we listed in our Mental Health Benefits of Walking article, walking is an easy, cheap exercise which is excellent for both physical and mental health.

Listen to something

Music (whether it’s the tunes you love or something new) is the obvious choice here, but podcasts, newspaper articles, and audiobooks are excellent for longer walks. Podcasts on many subjects are easy to find from various sources, and a directory of free audiobooks can be found at the Open Culture website.

Link [via Open Culture]

Call someone

Walking time can also be a great time to catch up on family or friends. They can provide virtual company which helps to pass the time, and conversation with good friends is an excellent way to maintain good mental health. If you can talk for a long time with people on the phone, then they may also be good walking company if you want to invite someone along.

Take a photograph (or ten)

Depending on the time of day you go for a walk, you can have plenty of opportunity for taking photographs. You can challenge yourself by limiting yourself to just one photograph, or just go for it and take pictures of anything that takes your interest. These photos can act as a chronicle of your walks and the progress you’ve made.

Play a mental game

From playing a simple game of observance (“how many red cars will I see on my walk?”), to practising mindfulness, playing mental games whilst physically exercising is a great workout for body and brain.

Go on a tour

Depending on where you live, your town or city may have walking maps of local areas which can be found online, in tourist-friendly places (such as museums or art galleries), or in a local library. If such maps are not available to you, pick a landmark/spot you’ve seen from a distance or wanted to visit and go there.

Make plans

As with mental games, making plans whilst exercising can be an effective and beneficial use of time. Whether it’s a daily, weekly or general plan, thinking about which priorities to tackle once you get back home can give you a better perspective then thinking about them at home or at work.

Break it up

Whether it’s going down a street you’ve always wanted to explore, or aiming for a completely new area, anything that prolongs or varies your walk can help keep things fresh and interesting.

If you’re wanting to use technology to log your travels or get ideas for new routes, we suggest you check out our guide to walking apps:

Walking Apps – What’s Available

App Asks for GPS Art, Community Responds

National Walking Month 2016

May is National Walking Month 2016. UK Organisation Living Streets is using the official event to launch its #Try20 campaign, which is tasking people with getting out and about for at least 20 minutes a day.

The campaign is highlighting the mental and physical benefits of walking. The website even has a “Walking Bingo” card to print out and use.

Living Streets has also teamed up with Westfield Health to run a #WHWalkingLunch challenge, which encourages workers to “reclaim their lunchbreak, get active and try to walk for twenty minutes in the middle of the day.”

National Walking Month 2016 [via Living Streets]

Walking Lunch Campaign [via Westfield Health]

If you’re wanting to use technology to log your travels or get ideas for new routes, we suggest you check out our guide to walking apps:

Walking Apps – What’s Available

Further Reading: Boost Your Productivity

Boost your productivity with these useful links and inspiring stories.

Know your work

Knowing the difference between “deep” and “shallow” work can help with structuring your day around what needs to be done. Not replying to emails immediately, or going out to lunch may be seen as lazy by some, but as this article argues: “If you’re driven to produce things that matter, then you need to put deep work at the center of your professional life.”

Link [via 99u]

Revise your to-do list(s)

It’s easy to fall into bad habit with to-do lists: vague goals, mixing of short and long-term goals, and making the distinction between tasks and projects are amongst some of the factors explored in depth in this handy article.

Link [via Smart Productive Work]

Change your routine

Google employee Jake Knapp took a long, hard look at his daily routine and made changes to get the most out of his work time, restore his work-life balance, and enjoy both in the process. The result was a “sprint” system which encourages approaching tasks in 5-day chunks.

Link [via Fast Company]

Take a break

Napping is a great way to take a break and boost your productivity. If you find yourself tired, but need to finish a task, a quick nap can give your body and brain a quick refresh. To learn more about the power of napping and most importantly, how to nap, check out our guide below.

Further Reading: The Power of Napping


How to Improve Critical Thinking

Knowing how to improve critical thinking skills is an excellent place to start if you want to form better opinions, make better decisions, and approach problem solving in new ways.

Conversationally, critical thinking doesn’t mean being critical in a literal, or even negative sense. At its best, critical thinking allows you to analyse information from a more impartial stance in order to judge exactly what is being said and how you feel about it. This leads to gaining better understanding of your own opinions, biases, habits and instincts.

In terms of decision making and problem solving, critical thinking can help you approach problems from new angles, increasing your chances of finding an appropriate solution.

There is some training involved if you want to improve critical thinking ability. Skills website Lifehacker has put together a comprehensive guide to the process which incorporates: attention to details, asking questions, phrases to listen for, knowing your biases, and tips for practising.

It’s an intensive rundown of all you need to know to train your brain into a better way of thinking which can be of benefit in many ways.

How to Train Your Mind to Think Critically and Form Your Own Opinions [via Lifehacker]

Further Reading: The Power of Napping

As important as a good night’s sleep is, the power of napping is undeniable when done right. Due to a pervasive 24-hour culture, napping has an unwarranted social stigma and association with laziness, which can lead to guilt and burnout. However, done the right way, a nap can be an essential boost to your day, helping you both mentally and physically. We’ve compiled some of the best tips and interesting facts about napping to help guide you to the land of quick nods.

The power of napping and sleep cycles

Napping has huge benefits to both brain and body, including (but not limited to): memory, mood, learning ability, alertness, productivity, blood pressure and even weight management. However, the timing of naps has to be considered in order to get the best results by working with humans’ natural sleep cycles and therefore avoiding oversleeping and drowsiness.

Link [via io9]

The benefits of a quick nap are generally determined by the length of the nap. Shorter naps are best for staving off tiredness, whilst longer naps can give a longer boost to your day. Knowing sleep cycles is an important way of determining the length of time for a nap.

Link [via The Art of Manliness]

Knowing how and when to nap

Not everybody needs to nap, and if you are needing the type of sleep which naps cannot fulfil, then you may need to examine your sleep patterns and habits in more depth rather than papering over the cracks by napping.

Link [via Time]

Once you’ve familiarised yourself with sleep cycles and whether you need to nap or not, it’s time to settle down and get ready to get the most out of your nap. Whether it’s a one-off or habitual nap, preparing the right environment for a nap is crucial to experience its benefits.

Link [via Lifehacker]

Napping in history and around the world

The most famous type of nap is most likely the siesta. This habit has a long and fascinating history, which stretches far beyond Spain and far into our ancient history.

Link [via Slumberwise]

Further Reading: Do New Year’s Resolutions Work?

Do New Year’s resolutions work? We’ve talked previously about forming new habits and quitting bad ones. The New Year is generally a time when there’s plenty of conversation about resolutions being made, kept, or broken. We’ve found some of the best analysis for further reading and inspiration whether you want to make a big change at New Year’s or any day.

Failure – psychology, statistics and reality

If you’re wanting to make your New Year’s resolution work, then it’s worth thinking about whether you’re setting yourself up for failure. Though a New Year’s resolution may seem no different from one made any other time of the year, there is a distinct symbolism that can add to unrealistic expectations and backsliding on resolutions. Understanding these factors in your own mentality is an excellent first step in making a change that lasts.

Link [via Psychology Today]

If raw statistics are your thing, then The guardian has just published results of a poll for private health care provider BUPA on British New Year’s resolutions. The results cover types of resolutions made, and the duration that people kept them.

Link [via The Guardian]

Whilst psychology gives a good overview of how New Year’s resolution work (or don’t), going into detail with finance, time and social factors are equally important. Breaking down and exploring these factors are a great way of owning your resolution.

Link [via Shape]

Changing through smart resolutions

Once you have an understanding of the “failure factors” of New Year’s resolutions, you can start thinking about how to make a realistic resolution and the steps needed to stick to it. Knowing yourself and why you want to make a certain change is an important first step.

Link [via The Guardian]

Honesty can make a New Year’s resolution work. Taking a good look at your friendship circle, triggers and current levels of willpower with the things you want to change can help you set realistic goals.

Link [via Time]

Whether you’re making change for the New Year or any day, we hope these links are useful in helping you make the right change.

Further Reading: Quitting Bad Habits

Quitting a bad habit can be just as valuable as gaining a good one. We’ve collected information on the latter in our Further Reading: Forming New Habits, so it’s time to look at the former.

Idea collective

There are many different methods to quitting bad habits, and Lifehacker’s top 10 in an excellent place to start for inspiration. Each of the ideas are backed up by an additional article for more reading, and the user comments are very helpful, too.

Link [via Lifehacker]

Habit replacement

Quitting bad habits is an excellent opportunity to replace them with a good one. Habit blogger James Clear has written this excellent article on just that. Full of good observation on factors such as triggers and stress, his blog in general is an excellent resource on habits and their formation.

Link [via James Clear]

Mindfulness and quitting bad habits

In 2015, Psychiatrist Judson Brewer presented this TedMed talk about using mindfulness to help with quitting bad habits. He explains the way the brain works in establishing a bad habit, and then how the very same process can used in conjunction with mindfulness to retrain the brain.

Further Reading: Forming New Habits

The time it takes for forming new habits is something that’s been up for debate for quite a while now. We’ve compiled some of the best reads out there on the subject.

The history of habits

19th-century Psychologist William James was one of the leading modern researchers into habit, and its relationship with character and personality. His insights into “habit loops” and the process of acquiring new habits were pioneering for the time, and still relevant today.

Link [via Brain Pickings]

No easy answers

Recent research has found that there is no magic time scale to forming new habits, either. In fact, the idea of 21/30/90 day solutions is down to historical misunderstanding rather than fact. The truth it is, forming a new habit takes as long as it takes.

Link [via James Clear]

Insight into the mind

Forming new habits is a mixture of routine, willpower and reminders. Psychologist and owner of Psyblog Jeremy Dean published Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick in 2013.  It’s an excellent and approachable exploration of the psychology of forming new habits.

Link [via Amazon.co.uk]

Personal experience

While overviews of psychology and history are interesting and helpful, personal experience can’t be overlooked. Here’s one person’s story of how they trained themselves to be a (very) early riser in order to live a healthier lifestyle. Getting up at 05:00 may be a bit extreme for some, but this person’s story show how the right triggers and motivation can help fuel willpower.

Link [via Smart Productive Work]