“All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way.”
– Marcus Aurelius
Improve Mind-Muscle Connection for Better Workouts
Maybe you’ve heard of mind-muscle connection. The concept is pretty simple: focus your mind on the muscles you’re using, and you’ll do a better job of activating them.
Take squats. You can bob up and down thinking about what’s for lunch, or you can think about squeezing your glutes like you’re trying to crack a walnut between your cheeks. 😆
If your goal is muscle activation, do the latter! Here are a few tips:
- Do warm-up sets. Get your form nailed first using lighter weights; that way you’ll free your mind from having to focus so hard on form, even during heavier sets.
- Use visualization. Imagine the muscle activating and growing.
- Slow down – especially during the eccentric (i.e. negative) part of a movement.
- Place a hand or fingers on the muscle you’re activating for sensory feedback (or get a workout partner to do it).
Read more on the science of mind-muscle connection here, and give it a shot next workout.
Use a Distraction-Free Writing App
Writing requires focus. That’s true whether you’re writing a book, a blog, a work report… anything!
Enter the age of the distraction-free writing app.
These usually have a clean interface, an immersive full-screen mode, and markup-based writing so you don’t focus a lot on layout and formatting while thrashing out your thoughts.
Here are a few to check out:
Each one is a bit different, so give them a spin to see which is right for you.
Have you tried distraction-free writing?
Lex Fridman, Podcast Host
MIT researcher and podcast host Lex Fridman has a really interesting approach to mornings that starts out with a structured “mantra” session. He:
- Runs through his personal rules (diet, exercise, and social media limits).
- Reminds himself that this might be the day he dies and gives gratitude for being alive.
- Reviews his short and long term goals and affirms them by saying them out loud.
- Visualizes how his day will unfold.
- Reads out his core principles. “They center around compassion, empathy, love, and on the other side of it is character, integrity and strength – both physical and mental.”
- At 10 am, he kicks off his first deep work session of the day.
Why it works:
- Lex uses his set of rules to rein in addictive behaviors and build good habits.
- Gratitude has many benefits while meditating on mortality is an ancient, Stoic-certified practice.
- Saying your goals out loud makes you focus on them and has a motivational effect.
- Visualization trains the brain for actual performance. Research shows it can improve motivation, confidence, memory, and motor performance.
- Affirming core values primes us for better self-control.
Notice that Lex’s routine really takes place in the mental realm: every step is designed to improve his mental fortitude and keep him achieving his goals. The rest flows from there.
We love this structured approach – it’s exactly how we designed Panda Planner! Using your morning to set a positive mindset is the most powerful thing you can do for the day.
We’d love to hear how your morning routine is going. Let us know!