8 habits that are better for success than burning the midnight oil

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As cliche as it may sound, success is about working smarter, not harder. 

This is a philosophy that, from my thirty-plus years of existence, I can certainly attest to. 

Unfortunately, we live in a time where the toxic “grind” mindset is often glorified. 

The truth is slaving away to oblivion at the office can actually be counterproductive, compromising your overall well-being in the process. 

In this article, I’ll take you through habits that are better for success than overwork. 

Once you get the idea, you can make the necessary adjustments. 

Let’s get into it!

1) Prioritization 

Remember exam time in high school? 

With the obvious time limits, you’d have to approach the test methodically, by not dwelling and getting stuck on one question, which could compromise your ability to finish punctually. 

So when it comes to work, focus on the bigger picture–honing on what’s really essential. 

If you run a business and often get caught up micromanaging employees rather than focusing on vision and development, this could eventually be detrimental to the company as a whole.  

Try to prioritize what’s worth your time, what aligns with your goals, and setting aside what doesn’t. 

2) Taking regular breaks 

When you work non-stop without taking the necessary breaks, this almost always compromises your productivity. 

More conventional bosses frown on the concept of the break, perhaps harboring the prejudiced notion that their employee is slacking off (a mindset that can ultimately ruin morale.) 

The truth is taking a short break every now and then is essential. It allows you to refresh your mind, enhance creativity, and discourage burnout

For me, as a writer, taking regular breaks isn’t just a bonus, it’s critical to my performance. 

When I’m working on a project or article for too long, I get so immersed that I begin to lose objectivity. 

I can miss obvious flaws. 

Taking breaks, perhaps by going on a walk, getting fresh air, or even watching some Netflix helps solve that issue. 

I come back to my laptop with a fresh perspective and fresh eyes, spotting discrepancies and making improvements that I likely would’ve neglected without a break. 

3) Continuous learning 

I’ve seen a few viral posts about decades-long fast-food workers who, for their loyalty, are cruelly “awarded” gift certificates and company merch from their multimillion (or even billion) dollar employers. 

If not for the ensuing GoFundMe campaign funded by anonymous good samaritans, this type of scenario would be completely tragic–and proof of the ruthless insensitivity of some of these big corporations. 

But also, in a perfect world, the latter employees would take more precautions towards protecting themselves so they don’t have to be completely dependent on those capitalist overlords. 

With the internet, we have countless educational resources at our disposal. 

In your free time, invest time in free courses, take in knowledge from articles and academic journals, or attend seminars that promote new perspectives–ones that can maximize your work potential. 

With a bit more awareness, the possibilities are quite literally endless. 

If you’re not learning, you’re not growing.

And unless you are content with staying in a stagnant job and likely being taken advantage of by your superiors, it’s wise to start developing versatility and skills in life. 

4) Setting boundaries 

When you let people walk all over you, specifically co-workers or bosses, you’re setting yourself up for long work hours, burnout, and plenty of resentment. 

Sadly, some people will not hesitate to take advantage of you when they sense weakness. 

Hence, learning to put your foot down and set boundaries between your work and home lives is essential. 

This will give you the necessary time to rejuvenate and recharge those batteries. 

So after work hours, start setting that Slack status to ‘do not disturb.’ You owe it to yourself. 

5) Maintaining physical health 

Having a healthy lifestyle won’t just make you lose weight or look better, it’ll improve your cognitive function and mood as well. 

So start prioritizing things like regular fitness, a nourishing diet, and an ample amount of sleep, among other things. 

When you feel good, you tend to work better and more efficiently. This isn’t just common sense, it’s science too.

Sometimes, when I’m excessively sedentary, my work suffers. But after a session at the gym, my perspective and coherence are palpably and instantly enhanced. It’s amazing really. 

So if you hit a rut in your work, it’s worthwhile taking a deeper look at your habits. Chances are, you’re a few lifestyle adjustments away from increased productivity. 

And on that note, I think it’s time for my daily jog. 

6) Mindfulness and meditation 

This is no longer some new-age psychobabble, it’s scientifically backed: practices like meditation, deep breathing, and journaling can work wonders for your concentration levels. 

The latter, in turn, means more efficiency, reduced anxiety, and enhanced decision-making skills. 

If haven’t already, give meditation a try. It’s time to let that skepticism go. 

7) Networking

You may think of yourself as a one-person wrecking crew, but the truth is that everyone needs support at some point. 

Deprive yourself of that and risk being left behind. 

So take this as a cue to start building stable professional and personal relationships. 

By being diplomatic and making the right connections, opportunities will invariably open up. 

This means potential collaborations, fresh insights and perspectives, and other things that can reduce your workload. 

Maybe you own a small business. In the beginning, you might be overly idealistic, thinking you can successfully run it alone, with minimal help. 

Unless you’re superhuman, you’re setting yourself up to fail, or at the very least become unsustainably stressed out. 

But if you get a partner, then you focus on the tasks you’re more skilled in, while they can take care of other facets. 

Sure, your shares on paper might be a little smaller, but your business and revenue will likely thrive–with fewer work responsibilities for you. 

Think of the bigger picture. It’ll pay off. 

8) Setting clear goals 

When you know precisely what you want to achieve, you tend to waste a lot less time. 

Your focus is more laser-sharp and therefore you don’t dillydally, you don’t get sidetracked by BS. 

You constantly have your eye on the prize. 

And with a defined and concentrated set of tasks, comes far greater efficiency and high-quality output.

Final words

A successful life is all about balance. So if you’re clocking in too many hours, then ask yourself if it’s really worth it. 

Working harder than everyone else doesn’t guarantee good fortune. 

In fact, as you know now, it can backfire. 

Trust me, burnout is no fun. I’ve been there, and my mental health took a major blow. 

Hence, prioritize your own well-being above all else. 

Learn the value of self-care. 

Once you find this common ground and adopt wiser work habits, there will be no stopping you. 

Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Hack Spirit! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

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