Achieving a heightened sense of personal and professional well-being comes from more than just effective use of your time. Setting goals, tracking your progress and tuning into your physical and mental health are all key components that contribute to your overall well-being.
Choosing the right environment
It’s often said you’re a product of your environment. Nature versus nurture has been debated for centuries. And while the debate over which one matters more rages on, there’s no denying that your environment does have an influence on you.
Choosing the right startup or organization to work at is one of the most important pieces of developing your professional well-being, as much of your opportunity for development will depend on your employer’s ability to shape its culture and processes to facilitate your growth.
You’ll want to look for flattened structure, openness to 3rd party tools and commitment — of both time and finances — to skills development. These are just a few mandates a company can leverage to facilitate steep professional trajectory for employees.
Extending to the personal sphere, startups should also be supporting programs to drive physiological, social and, of course, financial growth; paid attendance at industry events, the option to work from home, gym memberships and complimentary access to healthy food in the office to name a few.
No organization will have every base covered, but find the ones prioritizing the “perks” that make the biggest impact on your well-being and you’ll know you’re working somewhere that values you as a person, not just as a worker.
At the end of the day, however, the biggest shifts in personal success and well-being will come from your own initiatives. Your own perspectives and your own private dedication to healthy behaviors will ultimately determine the majority of what you do accomplish, what you don’t accomplish, and how you feel about yourself during and after either outcome.
I recently posted a piece about 5 analog tactics everyone should adopt to maximize productivity. I believe that large gains in productivity and well-being can be made outside the digital sphere. That being said, we should never ignore technology or its ability to help us achieve more.
Here are three health and well-being applications I recommend downloading and trying out for a few weeks to help you form better habits, achieve deeper mindfulness and boost your vitality.
App Name: Balanced
Theme: Goal Achievement & Habit Formation
As their marketing states, this app is designed to help you “Get more out of life” by helping you track and achieve the things you wish you did more often, while eliminating the things you should do far less.
You start by creating a list of healthy habits; they can be selected from a pool of recommendations or created by you. You then specify how often you want to exhibit those behaviors. Each time you do one, you swipe it and the app records the event. It also records when you miss an event.
For each habit / behavior the app provides a summary with insights into how successful you have been in maintaining that habit relative to all your other habits. It also provides a colour-coded timeline to illustrate your overall patterns of getting “Done”, being “Skipped” or coming in “Late”.
Balance comes from work, effective management and honest, quantitative tracking. This app can help you get there and stay there.
App Name: Headspace
Theme: Meditation & Mindfulness
Maybe it’s not “all in your head” — but most of it is. You cannot overstate the importance of self-awareness, a calm and balanced perspective, and the skill of focus. Meditation may not be your thing now, but I promise you, give it a real shot and there’s a good chance it will be. I hear it time and again from high-performing individuals who begin mindfulness initiatives.
This app is great for beginners and people who aren’t looking to make a move to monk-status right away. Ranging from 2 to 60 minutes, Headspace offers “bite-sized” guided meditations optimized for different mental goals: creative performance, relationship growth, focus, happiness and more. It also offers unguided meditations and more robust “courses” for those seeking a deeper integration with the practice.
The app is either $12.99/month or just $94.99 for an entire year. When you consider how far-reaching the positive effects of mindfulness can be, less than $100 annually is a steal.
App Name: Sworkit
Theme: Custom Time-Sensitive Exercise Routines
It’s widely documented that regular physical activity is one of the most effective methods of decreasing your chances of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and even certain types of cancer. It is also associated with improved mental health, which can help you maintain a positive outlook and improve your focus. If you don’t have a regular exercise routine, you really should start incorporating this into your weekly schedule. Even 20 minutes a day makes a HUGE difference.
There are plenty of exercise apps out there, but this one is best suited for people who have hectic schedules and don’t want to deal with gyms, trainers and equipment. Every exercise routine from this app is custom, depending on how much time you have and what you feel like doing.
You select the kind of workout you want: Strength, Cardio, Stretching, Yoga or Pilates. There are even sub-categories like, “Rump Roaster” and “Core Strength”. Then you tell the app how long you want to work out for. It could be 1 minute or it could be 60. It’s entirely up to you. Using instructional video, countdowns and a built-in timer, the app will then guide you through your own time-optimized work-out.
The Lite version is free with an option to upgrade to the Pro version which provides additional functionality like saving custom workouts, adjusting interval lengths and reviewing workout history.
Your smartphone doesn’t have to primarily serve as a distraction. It also has the power to drive personal development and, as cheesy as it might sound, drive a deeper, healthier connection to your own thoughts, goals and mental well-being — which all boost your productivity.
It doesn’t get much easier and healthier than this.