More tips for improvement

The previous post I wrote about becoming a better sysadmin, covering general points and tips for self improvement turned out to be more popular than I thought it would be (okay not really, but for me it was at least!).  So I decided to write a little bit of a follow up post in regards to general improvement and subsequently have decided to focus more of my time and effort on including more posts related to that type of content.  I find the topic of self improvement to be interesting and would love to write more about my findings, so I will be experimenting a little bit with these less technical pieces a little bit more I think. I would also like to hear what others have to say about these posts and the topic of self improvement so let me know.

While this post is primarily focused on self improvement this can easily be adopted to anybody in the IT industry that is just looking for a way to improve themselves and get better.  So while the hard skills (certifications, books, blogs, anything that specifically relates to a specific area) are incredibly important, why not throw in these general and well known strategies to help with your improvement?  I think the positive benefits will heavily outweigh the negatives in this scenario.

General Tips for improvement

These simple tips can go a really long way.  I read threads all the time about how to get better and how to improve mental capacity, blah blah blah and the following suggestions always seem to pop up.  What I have found to be true is that there is no magical instant way to improve yourself, I am learning that the hard way.  To me, the best way to see results and really work on yourself starts by changing your habits, working hard and being consistent.  That might not be what you are looking for, but trust me, these small tips can go a long way in becoming better at what you do.

Exercise - Time and again I hear and read about the massive benefits of proper exercise.  I did not take this advice seriously until just recently and can say that it has made a huge difference in the way I think and the way I feel.  I used to always feel beat down and terrible after work until I started exercising so those times of the day where you feel a lot slower are lessened.  I wouldn’t recommend starting out by completely changing the way you live your life.  Something simple to start with.  This summer I started running again, I made a routine out of going out for a run after work, and just kept at it until I started seeing changes.  I gradually increased the period of time and distance of my runs, then I added in weight lifting and other types of exercises gradually. By no means am I a hardcore athlete now but I do believe in the importance and benefits of exercising and working your body regularly to improve your mind.

Sleep - This is probably the most important thing to remember when you are trying to work on hacking your mind and improving yourself.  8 hours of sleep seems to be the general rule of thumb, and it should not be overlooked when you are evaluating yourself and your goals for getting to where you want to be.  If you want to wake up early, you need to go to sleep early, it really is as simple as that.  It is also important to be consistent on your sleep schedule so your body can get used to when it should slow down and when it should speed up (even on weekends!).  For example, getting in a routine of winding down at a certain time, say 9 pm  every night by reading a book for an hour to train your body that it is time to sleep.  Read until say 10 pm every night if you want to wake up at 6 am to get the sleep consistency your body needs, also giving your body enough time to repair and heal itself to get up and going.

Diet - Also important.  I realize that everybody is different and I don’t want to speak as if an authority on the subject so please take this advice at face value.  The point I want to make though is that diet isvery important in improvement.  Again, I do not want to encourage anybody to go all out and completely change every eating habit they have at once.  You will crash and burn like many others, it make work for some but generally you will be safer and more likely to make an impact if you take things slowly.  Work on one thing at a time and gradually make the changes to improve your diet and health.  As an example, start by cutting out something small, like cutting out a particular type of food that isn’t exactly healthy.  For me it was soda, and once I had that under control I was able to cut out (for the most part) fast food, etc.  Not entirely, I wouldn’t advocate that but cutting back is a good first step.  Basically doing something is better than doing nothing.

About the Author: Josh Reichardt

Josh is the creator of this blog, a system administrator and a contributor to other technology communities such as /r/sysadmin and Ops School. You can also find him on Twitter and Google+.
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