life hacks

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At HB HQ, one of our key principles is Kaizen, aka the Japanese term for continual self-improvement. Because at the end of the day, you very rarely hit a home run the first time around; you give it your best shot, and then you step back and work out how you can improve. But when it comes to life’s everyday tasks and worries, we rarely step back to look at the bigger picture to see where we can improve, we’re just too busy. So to help you improve in all of the little things, we spoke to global speaker, writer, life coach, and Founder of The Dreamwork Collective Publishing House, Kira Jean, for her top 7 life hacks that’ll help with concentration, efficiency, and just help you to be a happier, healthier, and less stressed person.

1. When you feel stressed or overwhelmed count to 120

We know this sounds a little silly – even we were slightly skeptical until we tried it – but we promise it works. Kira explains that “It’s difficult to relax when all you can think about is the stressor. Instead, focus on counting to 120 – this will give your mind something else to focus on and help you reset your nervous system. When we’re stressed our nervous system gets fired up and switched on. It can stay switched on, even if the immediate trigger (a worrying email or a looming deadline) is not actually present right now. That is, unless we pause, and take a couple of minutes to reset.” Simple yet SO effective. You’ll be surprised at what a HUGE difference this can make when you’re stressed or feel overwhelmed.

2. The 25/ 5 rule

Getting distracted is the easiest thing, but improving your concentration can help you to me more efficient and effective. Kira told us to improve our concentration we should aim to “Concentrate for 25 minutes and then have a 5-minute break. It’ll help renew and refresh your brain so that when you’re working you can concentrate more efficiently.” Kira told us that this rule is based on the “Pomodoro Technique, a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, and teaches you to work with time, instead of struggling against it.”

Kira explained that the reason why this technique is so effective is “Often we feel powerless and out of control, as though time is ruling us and we’re just trying to keep up. By implementing this practice we can start to take our power back and feel more empowered as we work through our to-do list.” Think about it, the more efficient you are, the earlier those late nights at work will get. We like to use timer-tab, to set our 25-minute timer, which makes doing this at work super easy.

3. Write a to-do list at the end of each day

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“One quick way to change your life is to notice what the first and last thoughts you have each day are, and to change them! Writing your to-do list the night before means you can wake up with space for new ideas, creative solutions, and thoughts that are uplifting and empowering,” Kira says. “It’s not to say that other things won’t be added to the list during the day, but you’ll be able to start your day moving straight into action based on the list you already prepared the day before, which will feel amazing.” We like to do this at the end of work every day (it makes us feel so organized and prepared for the next day), which also makes switching off easier. We also like to keep a notepad next to our bed as it encourages you to maintain this helpful habit, and it’ll save you from getting up when you’re tucked up in bed!

4. Prepare your outfit and work bag the night before

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This one’s for anyone who’s had a mini-meltdown in the morning over trying to decide what to wear. “The goal here is to reduce the amount of planning, thinking, and doing that happens at the start of your day – there’ll be a lot of that to come later in the day! By implementing this practice you’ll be able to start your day with a clear mind and a full tank, as you won’t have depleted your mental, emotional or physical energy on doing these little tasks in the morning,” Kira suggests. We also love that the panic of finding something to wear in the morning is taken away, so you can start your day in a more calm and positive mood.

5. Identify what type of communicator you are  

Kira confirms that “There are many different personality tests out there, but one I find very useful is learning about my own and others communication styles. We’re in a relationship with ourselves, others, and our environment every single day. Learning how we communicate can strengthen all of these relationships and help them to thrive more.” The four communication styles are:

Auditory: You learn best via verbal communication, for example, if someone is explaining something to you using words.
Visual: You learn most efficiently using visual aids such as charts, maps, diagrams.
Kinaesthetic: You learn best using tactile learning techniques like carrying out physical activities.
Digital: If you’re a digital learner, you learn most efficiently when you’re taught using technology.

You can find out which one you are by taking an online quiz or learning about the styles and asking yourself and others which one sounds most like you. Kira adds that “Often we are a combination of all of the types, and the goal is to develop our communication skills in all areas.”

6. Talk about your problem  

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We know that sometimes when you’re stressed about something the last thing you want to do is talk about it, but it does actually help. Kira says that “When you have a worry or a concern, talk about it aloud either to your friend or just to yourself in a small quiet room. When spoken aloud, you’ll be able to gain more perspective.” The reason why this is such an effective hack is that “Our mind is pretty clever and likes to be in charge. It replays certain thoughts over and over again to maintain its control – so sneaky, I know! Getting your thoughts out of your mind can loosen your mind’s grip and help you to gain clarity.”

7. Stand strong

Kira told us that “When you need a boost of confidence, adjust your posture – stand with your hand gently on your stomach, stood up straight with your knees slightly bent – this will help you feel empowered. When teaching body language for confidence, many experts will encourage you to pull your shoulders back, stand with your legs wide, and keep your arms down by your side. While this is one approach, for many it can feel unnatural and vulnerable. Instead, I would encourage you to stand with your feet uncrossed, your hands folded resting near your lower belly, your knees soft or slightly bent, and your head up straight. Keeping your hands relaxed in front of you will ensure you don’t feel too vulnerable. It is near impossible to feel confident if you feel uncomfortable or vulnerable! Breath into your lower belly where your hands are.”

Let us know if you guys have any other life hacks, in the comments below.