If these sorts of mindset tasks and life hacks are something you find useful then I would definitely recommend Tim Ferris’ Tools of the Titans book which is jam packed with small tips from billionaires, athletes and military leaders. If you don’t like reading, then get the Audible Free Trial.

Some of the more successful posts on this website have been less about practical business advice and more about mindset tactics to ensure that you succeed. I think the good reason behind this is, as we mentioned in our recent post about applying Apple’s strategies to your own success, that everyone has their own path to follow. As such what works for you will not necessarily work for anyone else.

That being said, there are some commonalities between all of the people that are highly successful and although they aren’t the reason these people are successful, these key stone habits definitely contribute to their success.

What is a keystone habit?

A keystone habit is one habit you can add to your day which in turn triggers other habits to form, the idea is that by doing one specific thing every day it will trigger you to automatically change other aspects of your life which can have a positive effect on your productivity and more importantly, health and happiness.

Waking up Early

One of the biggest things I’ve changed over the past year is waking up earlier. I used to wake up after 8am every morning and this was one area which you hear everyone talk about when it comes to ultra successful people. This is something I decided to try, I went with 5am but even 6 or 7 can make a difference.

This keystone habit alone has had a positive effect on my life for the following reasons. The first is that I’m up before external stress has a chance to effect me, by waking up at 5am I am up before any client or outside influence can give me bad news or issues to deal with.

This means that by the time the work day really begins at 9am, I’ve already checked off two or three items on my to do list and I’ve formulated my day plan, which then makes me more likely to have time to exercise, get things done and say no to anything which doesn’t fit my formulated plan.

Waking up early is really difficult for a lot of us, so a few tips I would offer to do this are the following, use a regular Alarm Clock, like the one linked, which will wake you up more gently and put it on the other side of the room beside some water. This will cause you to drink the water and wake you up slightly, it also stops you from looking at your phone which can cause distraction or stress.

I would also suggest laying out your work out clothes and having a prepared list of the one thing you want to get done, so you get out of bed and straight to work.

This simple couple of extra hours in the morning will start your day right, put you in a better mood and start making you automatically more productive throughout the day.

It will also cause you to get a better sleep routine, sleeping earlier and you’ll start looking into healthier pre-sleep habits. Automatically.

Exercise

This is one of those things that we all should be doing, but most aren’t, by waking up early I then started being able to fit 30 minutes of exercise into my day, which has now turned into 90 minutes in just a few months. My advice for this, is when you get up put your exercise clothes on, do some work from 5/6am until 7:30 and then go do your 30 minutes of exercise before you shower and change for the work day.

This will leave you feeling amazing as by 9am you’ve already done some of your work and you’ve got in exercise. This is a massively important keystone habit as you will find that after exercising you’re more thoughtful about the rest of your daily decisions.

As an example, I now eat a healthier breakfast every morning and I’ve stopped smoking because after exercising I’m more conscious about what I put into my body.

If you’re a person who never exercises I would recommend that you start slow, go for a short run or a long walk and then build on that.

If you want a pro tip, I would say add a punching bag to your daily routine, less than $50 and a great way to exercise and get out anger.

Journaling

This one is really simple and will allow you to plan out your day, reduce anxiety and focus on what is important each day instead of getting dragged into the noise. It does’t mean keeping a feelings journal and getting sucked into writing your feelings out every morning.

It is really simple, take a blank page and write down the following:

  • 3 things you want to get done today
  • for each of those things, what needs to be done, why and how it would make you feel to get it done
  • Finally write down quickly what is causing you stress and why.

This will focus your mind on what needs to be done that day and will allow your mind to start focusing on solutions to these areas and problems that you are having.

Sometimes simply getting something off your mind and onto a page can make all of the difference.

Let us know in the comments what other keystone habits you use to make your day flow.