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7 Tips to be Productive Everyday When You Work For Yourself

If you’re currently making the leap into the self-employed digital nomad world, or you’ll be doing so soon, it’s important to make sure you have all your ducks in a row. I’m not talking about the obvious things like budgeting and taxes. There are many intangible elements of working from home that you need to get prepared for or else you will fail. Do you have enough self-discipline to be productive every day? That’s a question that you need to ask yourself. At your typical 9-5 job, productivity is required (or else you would be fired)! You have deadlines to make and a boss breathing down your neck to make sure you get your work done. So what happens when you try to be your own boss? How can you set yourself up for success as a self-employed digital nomad?

Here are 7 simple and effective tips to stay productive every day when working for yourself.

1. Always wake up on time – with purpose and routine

You should always follow a morning routine! This means getting up at a set time every day and getting ready like you would for any other regular job. Humans are routine-oriented and keeping a habit of preparing for your working day will help a lot with getting yourself into a working mentality. Get right up when you hear that alarm and get going with your morning coffee, breakfast, shower and daily grooming. The trick here is to find a morning routine that works optimally for you

I know for myself, I wake up and head into the kitchen to drink a large glass of water and to start my coffee maker. While the coffee is brewing, I brush my teeth and hop in the shower. I get dressed and head back into the kitchen to enjoy that yummy hot java while I make myself a legitimate breakfast. After breakfast I often pour myself a second cup of coffee and I sit down to read or watch the news. At this point I may be starting some “light” work – perhaps checking emails on my phone or scoping out my to-do list. When the news or sports highlights are finished, I turn everything off and perform 5 minutes of clear-minded body stretching. Then I go for a brisk walk to my mailbox on the corner of my street and back home to check my mail. Now it’s time to work!

You can see how detailed my morning routine is. I’m constantly tweaking and optimizing it, making sure it gives me enough time to do what I need to do before work. I know exactly how long my routine takes (1hr and 40min) and I know what time I start “on the clock” with my work, which means I know what time I need to set my alarm to wake up. You may be thinking that having a routine this rigid is dumb, and to that I say: If you’re going to be rigid with only one part of your day, it’s best to make it the morning. A well-structured morning = a well structured day.

2. Always get your to-do list ready the day before

I’m a big believer of following a concise and specific, daily to-do list. I also believe that you shouldn’t try to come up with your to-do list on the morning of. Our brains aren’t always firing hot in the early mornings. It can be easy to forget what exactly needs to be accomplished when your mind is slow and groggy. If you create your to-do list the day before, you can easily articulate what needs to get done tomorrow. The last 5 minutes of your working day is the best time to schedule your tomorrow. 

Think of the to-do list as instructions to your day. If you complete these instructions, you will have a productive day. So with that in mind, you better make sure the instructions to your day are short, easy to understand and to the point. Some people think that you should write down more things than you can complete on that day and end up with leftovers. I tend to disagree, because I think you should only write down the 3-8 items that you know you should complete if you spend your working time wisely. You end up with no leftovers (or very little) and if you find yourself with extra time after you complete your to-do list, great. Either find more work to be done or take the rest of the day to do whatever you want outside of work. Afterall, you have to take advantage of the benefits of working for yourself sometimes, right?

3. Always start your day by getting something completed

If there’s one rule that has the most direct impact on how productive your day will be, it’s this one. Always, always, ALWAYS start your working day by getting something tangible completed. The first item on your to-do list should be one thing that you can complete in 30min or less with nothing other than a small amount of effort and focus. This can be as simple as changing the layout of a webpage you’re building, writing the introduction to an article you’re writing or sending an email to a prospective client. Exercise your willpower to get started with this task and follow through to complete it. You’ll get a tremendous sense of accomplishment to start your day that carries forward. Just that little bit of work ethic and willpower will provide you with enough momentum to keep pushing through the rest of the tasks on your list. This also prevents you from falling into the procrastination trap that often spirals out of control. Get something done. Feel good. Keep it rolling.

4. Make your home workstation comfortable and distraction-free

This is probably an obvious statement, but it’s an important one. Find a designated spot in your home to get work done. Preferably a desk, table or a full-blown office. Your bed won’t cut it – at least not if you want to optimize your production. Get a comfortable chair (not a lazy-boy), a good light and a solid, flat surface for your computer and books. Take pride in your work space. This is the spot where you go to get serious work done. Which means you shouldn’t be doing any extra curricular activities here (Eg: no video games on your desk). Distractions are your enemy! So take care of the things that need to be taken care of before you start your work. Things like feeding the dog, feeding yourself and feeding your addicting desires. Get that stuff out of the way before work or put those things off until after work (or during your break times). Obviously, we all have complex lives and it’s impossible to avoid every possible distraction, but we can make it easier on ourselves.

5. Don’t always work at home

If you do feel like you’re getting too distracted when trying to work at home and you can’t concentrate, consider packing your belongings and heading to your local public library. This is a nifty little trick that I do as much as 2-3 days every week. Something about being seated at a quiet desk, surrounded by other people who are quietly working, makes me want to get my work done. A product of my environment I suppose! There’s also the change-of-scenery aspect of it as well. The repetition of working at home every day can dry out your brain real quick. To this extent, I suppose anywhere with wifi and a space to lay out your work necessities would be a suitable spot. But remember, you’re trying to erase all distractions, so a busy place like Starbucks might not be the ideal venue for you.

6. Take care of your body – exercise frequently

Exercising has profound positive effects on your health, which has a trickle down effect onto your ability to be productive with your work. This happens in multiple ways including an increase in brain power. When you work out, your heart pumps more blood, which means your brain gets fed more blood. More blood to the brain = sharper thoughts and more energy. Exercising also relieves stress, anxiety and tension, which is something we can all benefit from. Even just a spry 15 minute walk before work can clear up your cloudy brain and make you feel invigorated to get to work. 

I recommend taking multiple little walks during the day when you’re feeling restless or distracted. It’s ingrained in our DNA to move around frequently, so it can be difficult to sit in a chair for multiple hours straight. Which is why I also recommend frequent stretching. Stretching your legs, feet, arms, shoulders, back and core everyday will loosen your tight and tense muscles and tendons. It can relieve back pain and random leg cramps. It can make your chair feel much more comfortable. Simply put, if you take care of your body, you will feel more energetic, clear-headed and comfortable – ready to tackle your work.

7. If you’re not feeling it, do a hard reset

It’s okay to feel like not wanting to work sometimes. What you don’t want to do is turn those feelings into a common occurrence – that’s when your work really starts to suffer. So to not make a habit of slacking off, it’s best to just nip it in the bud when it happens. Take some time off – a few hours might be enough. But when you do this, you have to make a commitment to yourself that you will come back at X time and get right back to work, free of all distractions. Sometimes you might even need to take the full day off, or even longer. It’s imperative, however, that you understand that you are taking this time off to recharge your batteries. Consider it a “feel better” day or a mental wellness day. Use this time to do what you feel like you need to do. Maybe you need more sleep, maybe you need to catch up on some errands that you’ve been putting off, or maybe you just need some “me” time. Listen to your body and mind and do what it takes to balance it. I advocate for meditation and mindfulness training – a way to restore balance and inner peace. It can assist you in finding your harmony and getting back to being super productive.

Self-discipline is everything when working for yourself

All 7 of these tips involve the personal component of self-discipline. If you can’t hold yourself accountable, you will struggle to succeed on your own at home. Take responsibility for yourself and make a commitment to find success with your business. Just remember not to sacrifice your happiness in life along the way.

5 Reasons Why Hiking Improves Your Overall Health

“Fit Culture” is trending. Over the past few years, more and more people have been actively engaging in activities that promote a healthy lifestyle. Activities such as weight lifting, crossfit, HIIT (high intensity interval training) and yoga have exploded in popularity. On top of all this, mental health awareness has also really taken off in popularity. It’s great to see the break down of the stigmas that are often associated with mental health issues.

The truth is, physical fitness and mental health often go hand in hand. Working on your physical fitness can very likely improve your mental well-being too. In my own personal quest for mental and physical prosperity, I’ve found hiking to be one of the most powerful activities to engage my body and my mind.

Here are 5 reasons why you need to get out hiking this year to improve your overall health.

1. Hiking Gets You Outside

Let’s start with the most obvious one. Hiking is all about being outside – trekking with, against and through all that nature throws at you. There’s something to be said about breathing in nature’s fresh air and absorbing all of the peaceful sounds that being out on the trail provides. Then of course, there’s the views. Oh, the views! In my opinion, this is the best part about hiking. There’s so much to explore on this beautiful earth. Looking at some nice pictures or videos on your phone or TV doesn’t even compare to seeing it first-hand with your own two eyes. Cliffside outlooks, deep valleys, crystal-clear water, lush green moss, trees that are 100 years old. The variables are endless and are sure to take your breath away. And if I haven’t convinced you to go outside yet, consider this: it’s in our DNA to be outside. We often lose sight of this because of our impressively built modern civilizations. But for most of our ancestor’s history, we were hunter-gatherers and effectively lived among nature. So it’s time for you to escape the prison that is the four walls that you currently sit inside and get back to your roots. Go outside!

2. Hiking Teaches You to Challenge Yourself

One of the great things about hiking is that anyone can do it. As long as you can walk, you can hike. And with great tools available such as the AllTrails app, you can find a trail near you that will challenge you just the perfect amount. Whether you’re looking for a relatively flat 1km loop, or a 25km up and down out-and-back trail, you can find exactly what you need. This is where you can use progression to challenge yourself. Start with a trail that you know you can conquer. From there, you can start working your way up to the longer, more rigorous routes. And let me tell you, struggling to hike up a steep, heavily rooted trail in the hot sun is a challenge worth doing. You see, most of us don’t get enough challenge in our lives. Sure, we all face problems that we have to overcome in our day-to-days. But our minds and bodies need to feel a struggle. We need to feel resistance. Because when you finally reach the top of that steep hill, that triumphant feeling is unbeatable.

3. Hiking Connects You to Others

Whether we want to admit it or not, humans need a certain level of connection with each other. That’s why we build relationships with those who we feel the closest to. These relationships have a profound impact on our mental and emotional well-being. Hiking is an activity that’s perfect for fostering these emotional bonds. Trust me, when you take your best friend, son or daughter, or significant other out on a pristine summer day to enjoy some challenging trails, your relationship will feel invigorated. It’s fun to challenge each other’s pace and push for more. You can talk about something that you’ve been meaning to talk about, or just hike in silence and take in the pure, natural wilderness together. The hiking community is also quite vast and it’s not uncommon to meet someone new on a hike. In fact, this is one of my favourite parts of hiking. Stopping to talk to someone you’ve never met before, who is out there hiking for all of the same reasons you are. Human connection is a powerful thing.

4. Hiking Combats Depression, Anxiety and Stress

This is probably the number one reason why I hike as often as I can. Hiking is about getting away, escaping all of the usual stresses and circulating thoughts that life routinely throws at you. When you’re out hiking, your senses are all consumed by what is going on around you. The trees swaying, the river rushing, the animals moving, the grass blowing. The sights, the sounds, even the smell of nature is intoxicating. It feels so pure to just forget about whatever has been eating up your mind lately. You are one with nature. This isn’t just word mumbo jumbo either. It’s been proven that being outside and exercising releases endorphins in the human brain. Endorphins are responsible for the feeling of “happiness”. This is something I experience every time I go out for a hike. That endorphin release is a natural process and it sure is addicting.

5. Hiking Improves Your Physical Fitness Level

This probably goes without saying, but hiking is great for your body. Who knew?! Well, it’s not only true, but it might be understated. Hiking is a robust cardio-vascular workout. This translates into lowering your blood pressure, reducing your blood sugar levels and ultimately reducing your risk of heart disease. On top of all this, hiking builds muscles in your core and legs. There’s nothing like coming home after a long, rigorous hike and feeling that tired, burnt feeling in your legs and torso. Aside from the cardio and muscle building aspects, hiking also helps improve your balance and flexibility. Depending on the trails you hike, you might be stepping over roots, climbing over boulders, crossing beaver dams or scaling a steep, rocky mountainside. Because of the various situations that you might encounter when hiking, your body will be forced to go outside of its comfort zone to overcome those obstacles. The total result is you end up building a fit, strong and balanced body. It’s a workout that’s impossible to replicate any other way.

There’s No Better Time to Start Than Now

New decade, new you. Start the decade off with a hike. You never know what might come of it. Perhaps in 2030 you will look back on how much your life has improved simply because you took that first dirty, rocky step. And if I haven’t convinced you to get out hiking yet, consider this:  hiking is free! All you need is a solid pair of shoes and the possibilities become endless. It’s time to stop procrastinating and hit the trails!

CBD as a Sleep Aid? Yes, You Heard That Right!

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – a lot of people struggle to get adequate sleep every night. In fact, it’s now estimated that as many as 1 in 3 people don’t get enough sleep every night. For some, this happens only once in a while. For others, this is a recurring issue that seriously negatively impacts their health. Aside from the health repercussions, it’s also just difficult to have a productive and fulfilling life when you’re constantly tired. So you can understand why people are always on the lookout for any sort of sleeping aid (one that actually works). 

The possible solutions to getting a deeper, more fulfilling sleep seem endless – prescription drugs, supplements such as melatonin, vigorous exercise, sound-proof and darken your bedroom, drink and eat less before bedtime, meditation. Often times these solutions will work for a couple of nights, or even a couple of weeks if you’re lucky. And then you fall back into the same tossing-and-turning, mind-racing, choppy sleep pattern as you’ve had for as long as you can remember. Is there any hope? Of course there is – look no further than supplementing with cannabidiol, also known more simply as CBD, to improve your sleep issues.

CBD is something of a mysterious super compound found in marijuana and hemp. When extracted, it can be ingested in its purest form. It’s similar in chemical structure to THC (the stuff that makes you feel high when you consume marijuana). CBD, however, doesn’t cause any psychoactive effects on our bodies. What CBD does do, is it interacts with our bodies and brains at a cellular level. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence, as well as some scientific evidence of CBD helping with relief of anxiety, pain, degenerative brain disorders and even helping treat cancer. There’s still a lot more to be studied about cannabidiol, but it’s important to know at this point that it’s safe to use.

Why people struggle to get a good sleep

To understand how CBD helps with sleep, you first have to understand why most people have issues sleeping. Most of the time, it all comes back to stress, anxiety and restlessness. People have a lot on their minds and it can be difficult to wind down after a long day. Things like melatonin or prescription drugs can help people’s minds slow down, but these substances can often leave you feeling groggy when you wake up. In some extreme cases, they can even be dangerous.

Some people also struggle to get a good 7-8 hours every night because they are in pain. Back pain, joint pain, headaches – they are not fun when you’re supposed to be in your most relaxed state – sleeping peacefully. There’s other factors too, of why people struggle with sleep, but stress, anxiety as well as general pain are a couple of the biggest reasons.

CBD diminishes stress, anxiety and restlessness

There are studies that strongly point to CBD helping reduce anxiety and stress. This research states that CBD positively interacts with GABA and serotonin receptors in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that allows the brain to calm itself down – providing relief from restlessness. Serotonin receptors are what control your mood and anxiety. When these receptors are restored to balance, you feel that inner calmness that you desire before you sleep. All of this means that CBD is an effective treatment for insomnia and other sleep issues.

While there is still much more to be determined, one such study stated:

“On average, anxiety and sleep improved for most patients, and these improvements were sustained over time.”

 (Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in anxiety and sleep: A large case series. Perm J 2019;23:18-041. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/18-041) 

Do you suffer from some sort of pain? CBD helps with that too

Various forms of body pain are also something that many people have to deal with as they struggle to get a good night’s rest. When the nerves in your body are firing off pain signals to the receptors in your brain, you can imagine how difficult it is to shut your brain down for the night. Whether it’s pain from stubborn arthritis, agonizing migraines, or just general, chronic pain, finding a consistently effective remedy for your pain can be next to impossible. Here’s where CBD comes in – CBD has been observed to alleviate multiple different forms of pain.

A direct quote from one such study:

“Data from clinical trials on synthetic and plant-derived cannabis-based medicines have suggested that they are a promising approach for the management of chronic neuropathic pain of different origins.”

It continued:

“..the potential of a therapeutic strategy centered on cannabinoid system appears really quite attractive.”

(Natascia Bruni, Carlo Della Pepa, Simonetta Oliaro-Bosso, Enrica Pessione, Daniela Gastaldi, Franco Dosio. Cannabinoid Delivery Systems for Pain and Inflammation Treatment. Published online 2018 Sep 27. doi: 10.3390/molecules23102478)

More is yet to be determined with this super compound

As more of these types of studies are completed in the future, we will learn more about the true power of CBD and its interactions with the human sleep system. In the meantime, you can go ahead and experiment with CBD as a sleep aid for yourself. There’s nothing for you to lose and lots for you to gain (how about 8 peaceful hours every night?).If you need one more fact to prove that CBD is safe for you, listen to this – CBD is a naturally occurring compound in the human body. You wouldn’t be intaking some dangerous or synthetic chemicals. There are no known ill side effects of CBD. You can rest easy now!

Binance has Become the Gold Standard of Crypto Exchanges

Most of us crypto investors don’t just buy and hold Bitcoin – we trade into altcoins. From there we either hold those coins, or keep trading them in an attempt to increase our satoshi or fiat values. Trading crypto is not a new concept – however, up until recently, it has been a shaky endeavor due to the poor quality of exchanges available to us. Which platform are the majority of cryptopians flocking to for trading these days? Look no further than Binance.

Binance is a crypto-to-crypto exchange, meaning you cannot exchange traditional fiat money for crypto coins. Do you want to trade Bitcoin for Ethereum? Or Neo for Nano? Binance is the perfect vehicle for this. Since its launch from Beijing in July 2017, Binance has been picking up steam in the worldwide crypto community at unprecedented rates. It now trades the second largest volume of cryptos per day among all exchanges in the world. So what makes it the best crypto trading exchange to date? 

Security

Phishing, hacking and other forms of scamming have long been an issue for crypto exchanges. Hundreds of millions of dollars of money and cryptocurrency has been stolen from many different exchanges over the past decade. Up until recently, this has been a fairly common occurrence – well over half of all exchanges have been infiltrated in one way or another. One that hasn’t? Binance. It’s not like the blockchain thieves haven’t tried either. 

Leading up to March 7th 2018, cyberpunks had spent weeks obtaining the login details of numerous Binance users by using a website that looked identical to Binance.com. Then, on that momentous Wednesday, the hackers pumped the price of VIA/BTC by over 1000% and used 31 accounts to sell at the top. How were these pitiful hackers stopped? Binance’s auto risk management system was alerted, and all withdrawals were put to a halt. Binance logged the APIs from these accounts, and ZERO funds were taken from Binance users.

This type of high-level security is unprecedented in the Crypto exchange universe. Some people complain about the high withdrawal fees associated with some of the coins on Binance, but this is what you’re paying for. Unparalleled security.

Edit: In 2019, Binance was breached and 7000 BTC were stolen which Binance paid back to its users.

Transparency

As the CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao is very active in the crypto community. He prides himself on being as honest and forthright as possible with regard to his customers. He tweets everyday about Binance news, updates and even lets users know about any potential security concerns as soon as they happen.

This type of transparency is something that investors crave so dearly. No one wants to be left in the dark when something questionable happens. Investors want to be given information as soon as it becomes available, and they want it to be truthful.

One more example of the honesty that Binance and CZ provide:

There’s no insider trading here! Looking at you, Coinbase.

Innovation

“One way to keep momentum going is to constantly have greater goals”. Never has a quote been more true than right now with Binance. Since their launch, Binance has produced a great website, a kick-ass mobile app, top level security features, and their own very useful utility coin, BNB. They have garnered the attention of investors worldwide. They are building a mountain of a system which individual traders are reaping the benefits of.

 So what’s next for Binance? A decentralized exchange called Binance Chain. Binance announced their newest project on March 13th 2018. Its release date is currently unknown, but there is speculation that it won’t be far away. 

A quote from Binance themselves:

As a public blockchain, Binance Chain will mainly focus on the transfer and trading of blockchain assets, as well as provide new possibilities for the future flow of blockchain assets. Binance Chain will focus on performance, ease-of-use, and liquidity. Binance Coin (BNB) will be upgraded to exist on its own blockchain mainnet, becoming a native coin. At the same time, Binance will transition from being a company to a community.”

Volume and Liquidity

What good is an exchange if you can’t buy or sell your coins? Binance has dozens of coins available for trading, with a high daily volume for each. While they do have some obscure and little-known coins, they do a great job of vetting which coins they allow onto their platform. They try to avoid what are commonly known as sh*tcoins and it has paid off big-time. There always seems to be a supply and demand to place your buy and sell orders. The same can’t be said about most other exchanges – often times there simply isn’t the volume available to execute the trade you want.

Intuitiveness and Aesthetics

Branding is huge for Crypto startups. If people are visually drawn to your website and app, they are more likely to invest time and money into it. The Binance site and app look spectacular. They have a bold set of colours, a sharp logo and a cool name. All of that is just dandy, but what good is it all if the site is difficult to use or the app constantly crashes? From my user experience, there haven’t been any random crashes on their platform. Their website is laid out nicely, and easy to navigate. There is an option to use a “basic exchange” or the more feature-rich “advanced exchange”. Both modes work exceptionally well, the only real difference being more depth of the technical analysis on the advanced option. The mobile app (iOS and Android) is simply amazing. It’s quick, intuitive and visually appealing. With one tap you can switch between the markets, your funds and trading.

Binance is the largest growing Crypto exchange in the world for all of the right reasons. The unrivaled security, complete transparency from the team, constant innovation, more than adequate volume and liquidity, and the aesthetics and intuitiveness of using the exchange are why it’s considered the gold standard of the Crypto exchanges. I’m very happy to be a user and I look forward to what comes next from Binance.

Want to try Binance? You can sign up here!

I’m currently a regular contributor over at Cansumer. You can find more of my work there.