By making small changes to your day-to-day routine, you'll set yourself up to achieve your professional goals -- and perhaps even exceed them.
If you think bigger you will go further.
Our blog showcased just a few of the exceptional individuals who did this and pushed STEM further.
You may think that these kinds of innovators come one in a billion and they are unique in the way they think so how is it possible to think as big as them? Although talent, timing and opportunity is involved with these big breakthroughs, we are all able to be more like them.
Big thinkers often have daily habits in common, therefore, if we adapt our behaviours and make minor adjustments and additions to our routines, we will start to think bigger, then go further.
In 1989, the publication of ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ sold over 30 million copies, popularising the idea of creating personal success through small changes in behaviour. These days, the worldwide use of social media, truly global trends, fads, fashions and the ever-expanding community of influencers with their tips and tricks for self-development is colossal and ever-changing.
Understandably, it’s difficult to recognise what healthy, realistic methods to take onboard.
By looking at the daily habits of innovators, we can spot the small changes that can have big impacts. Here are our top, easy habits to work into your routine:
1) Stop hitting the snooze button
The process of thinking bigger may begin as soon as you wake up, literally.
Benefits of waking up early can be split into two rough groups. Firstly, you can be more efficient, time effective and organised with your whole day. Productivity wise, there is simply more time in your day to do more, you begin the day by planning and preparing for upcoming tasks and meetings, as well as react to the most urgent tasks or begin tackling any problems.
Alternatively, you are also able to do some life admin by ticking some chores off your to-do list as well as making sure you have breakfast! You will get more done at work and should be able to more easily ring-fence time for your personal life too.
Secondly, is how you can use this time to get in the right headspace, look after your mental health and take the opportunity for some self-care. Early morning is most likely going to be the quietest, calmest part of your day with the least amount of people and distractions around. As such, this can be an ideal time to relax, reflect or even meditate all of which are vital for balanced mental health. A study from the NCBI highlights the value of using this time when things are most silent as it helps with:
On top of all the above, Professor C. Randler of Heidelberg University found that people who are more proactive in the morning perform better at work.
The current CEO of tech giant Apple, Tim Cook, kicks the day off at 4:30 am to exercise, have breakfast and make sure he gets some peace and quiet before the day really takes off.
Benefits of rising early include:
- Increasing oxygen levels in the brain
- Reducing blood pressure
- Lessens migraines and headaches
- Boost mental health wellbeing
A no-brainer, really.
2) Get a move on
We all know to exercise in order to keep fit, but what is lesser known is how good it is for your brain. Ensuring your weekly routine has scheduled, frequent exercise will help unlock your thought potential. A study at Stanford University demonstrated that short walks can boost creativity, a vital ingredient of innovation.
Productivity can also be boosted with exercise; two essential factors are high energy and a positive mood. A University of Glasgow study showed that exercise can increase both areas for a full day. It also benefits brain performance, in a clinical trial run by the Body-Brain Performance Institute in association with Swinburne’s University, there were clear links between high physical fitness, brain function reduced stress levels at work.
Alan Turing, creator of the Enigma code breaker and considered the father of modern computing, was a talented and passionate long-distance runner. He was known to run the 40 miles from Bletchley Park to London to attend meetings regarding his work…
It can feel like a lot of effort to make exercise a habit but only a small amount is necessary to start reaping the rewards. You can get more exercise into your routine without going too out of your way, simple things such as walking to more places instead of driving. One study showed that if you exercise at work you will increase performance straight away, so no extra time allocation may even be required!
3) Plan, plan, plan
Whether you plan the night before, at the breakfast table or just set out your project plan before diving straight in, getting your ship in order makes it more likely that you will succeed. A study from the Dominican University of California revealed that people who wrote down their goals daily were 43% more likely to accomplish them.
Not only this but keeping clear plans means you can keep track of progress, your time management and you have a record of what you have done. Big thinkers always need to show what they have done and how they’ve done it, not only to share innovations and ideas but also to remember what hasn’t worked.
4) Be a bookworm
Reading is a powerful tool for brain development, health and overall brain function and memory.
This is because reading involves several different brain functions, including visual and auditory processes, fluency and comprehension.
Research at Haskins Laboratories for the Science of the Spoken and Written Word indicates that reading, unlike screen and audio media, allows our brains more time to pause, think, process, and imagine the content we are taking in. This increased mental activity sharpens memory and improves mental performance, just as weightlifting keeps muscle tissue strong and reliable. In addition, a study at the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation shows stimulation from reading also protects memory and thinking skills.
The engineer and technology entrepreneur Elon Musk is a notorious reader. In grade school, he read ten hours a day and apparently, a full BASIC programming language manual in three days, which was supposed to take six months. By 1984 standards, this would have given him a strong understanding of the most advanced programming at the time. See his favourite books.
5) And relax…It seems a little exhausting trying to fit in all these habits. So, you’ll be glad to hear that relaxing is vital! If you take breaks from work you are able to recharge energy and motivation to use when you go back to it, in turn increasing your focus and attention thus upping productivity.
Relaxation brings other benefits, including lifting your mood by making sure you socialise to absorbing ideas from films, games and books. As an example, meditation improves concentration and attention, a study found that a few weeks of meditation helped focus memory by 16% when tested before and after the period.
Moreover, a 2010 study in Consciousness and Cognition Journal, showed that meditation improves mood and mindfulness but crucially reduced fatigue and anxiety. A brief meditation programme significantly improved mental processing, working memory and function.
It can appear hard to fit more time in to relax in the hectic lives we live but there are some easy, surprising ways to do this. Simply leaving the office on lunch to eat in a nearby park, going to a yoga class on Sunday mornings, reading before bed instead of watching that next episode on Netflix to having a bath instead of a shower are just a few ways to do this.
Take the next step
These few habits can have massive benefits on the way your brain works, how you think, and the ways in which you view yourself and abilities. As a result, they will naturally enhance your ability to think bigger which will make you go further.
To take the next step in your career, apply for our STEM job opportunities.
Explore more from our Think Bigger, Go Further series.