Welcome back to Blog with Friends. This month's topic is Self Improvement.
I used to looooove to browse the self help section at book stores. It made me feel like I invested into my development just by reading titles on how to become more effective, successful and happy.
Sometimes I would even purchase one of these best sellers, but guess what, theory and practice? Two very different animals! We'll get to them in a minute.
Change is hard, and it requires a lot of discipline and overcoming obstacles. And who is it that has to apply all that energy? Right, you are.
In today's post I am going to touch on topics that are central to my daily life. You have all seen my schedule; I need every hack in terms of
Productivity, Time and Self Management ✅
I can get!
Before we dive into it though, let me start by telling you my favorite Elephant and Mouse Joke:
The Elephant and the Mouse decide to catch a movie. Unfortunately it's pretty crowded, and they can't find any seats allowing them to sit next to each other, so the elephant sits directly in front of the mouse, who, of course can't see squat. After intermission they switch seats. As soon as the movie resumes, the Mouse turns around and whispers: "Hey Elephant, isn't it annoying to have someone blocking your view?"
By the way, I have point. We'll meet again the Elephant and the Mouse later in this post.
Now let's get to work.
|Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash|
Have everything ready and avoid running around looking for tools, information, equipment...
It's called mise en place from the French chefs who make sure their ingredients and cooking tools are prepared so all they have to do is putting it all together.
I often mention when I became a (working) Mom I started to do what I never thought I would: lay out my clothes for the next morning. To this day I still force myself to do it, and it honestly saves me time and trouble the next day.
Work smarter, not harder
Everyone has the same 24 hours at their disposal. Don't do more, make more use of your time. Prioritize your time by using the Eisenhower Matrix:
- If you're spending a lot of your time doing things in quadrant important and urgent reactively, you may have procrastinated for too long and are now forced to put out fires and trouble shoot. It may also contain stuff that has been dumped on you last minute. Hate when that happens.
- Instead you should have tackled these important tasks while they were still in quadrant important, not urgent: planning, preparing, networking, learning - helping you to do a good job long-term, avoiding the crisis.
- Urgent, not important: e-mails, people dropping in asking for your help, some meetings... they may be a welcome change in pace, will, however, eat a lot of your precious time. If you can, delegate some of it.
- Not urgent, not important: They are usually "escape activities", browsing social media, responding to e-mail of people you like (vs whom you should be sending a document that you still haven't finished), arrange and sharpen your pencils, listening to lengthy voice messages, eating snacks...
If something is important to you, you will make time.
If it's not important to you, you will make an excuse.
Put your phone away, use the forest app and plant a tree!
it keeps your from accessing your phone, haha! No quick checking of e-mails, no playing Words with Friends just because a notification told you user so-and-so is waiting for your move.
For an amount of time that you determine yourself, the app tells you not to touch your phone but to focus on your goals. By doing so you're giving a virtual tree time and serentiy to grow. Nice, huh?
Focus on the task at hand and get into the flow, don't switch context, getting back to what needs to be done, will use too much brain power, time and energy .
What are the things that keep you from doing your job, what's holding you back?
Find out what type of procrastinator you are. Actually do it later. Keep reading. Focus, remember?
Play study music, light a scented candle...
If you feel like too many things are keeping your mind busy, write them down, clear your head so you're ready to focus on the job at hand. I like the expression "do a brain dump" ;-)
Looking at what you have to to, might get you anxious because it's so much!
- Decluttering the entire house?
- Cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for 30 people?
- Studying 1,000 pages of French vocabulary?
This is where the elephant comes in:
How to eat an elephant: One bite at a time. Take small bites.
You face a huge project, and it's intimidating. Divide the gigantic chunk into smaller units, and within the units, create manageable tasks.
Ask yourself: what is the smallest, easiest step I can take towards the first task?
So in terms of organizing the mess in your house: start with one drawer in one room. Move on to the next drawer, maybe tackle the shelf...
Or you need to write a blog post: open that new file and type the title, type the end credits, and little by little you're building momentum, get into the zone and come up with content to fill the middle!
As an alternative: set the timer. Tell yourself you'll only work on it for 15 minutes. Surely that's not too bad, right? Once you're in the flow state, you're gonna wanna keep working. You're welcome!
First things first
Effective vs efficient
Do the important, hard things vs doing a lot of unimportant, easy things that someone else could do for you or don't need to get done at all.
If you want to achieve perfect results, you may procrastinate for a long time because you always wait for that really large chunk of time allowing you to do a thorough job, but you'll probably never finish.
Once you actually start, chances are that the quality of your work is pretty decent already.
It's called the Pareto Principle: in any pursuit, 80% of the result will come from 20% of the efforts.
I was talking of that moment you'll finally have sufficient time to tackle your entire project at once: it literally may never come. So use small time increments:
Be like Speedy Gonzales. (You guessed right, this is where the mouse finally comes into play.)
Your washer needs another three minutes till you get to transfer the laundry to the dryer.
What are you gonna do?
Geting lost on social media?
How about getting rid of some clutter lying around in the very laundry room instead? Or running down to the basement to get that frozen chicken out of the freezer so it can thaw until dinner prep?
Did you know it takes less than five minutes to unload your dishwasher? Just get to it.
Do sprints, not marathons: get things done in a short amount of time
When I started to work part-time I realised how inefficient full time jobs can be - not saying it's true for everyone though.
Here's why: if you have a full day at your disposal, you'll drag out things you don't like to do. There's always time after the meeting, after lunch, before you go home. If you work till noon, and you won't be back until the day after tomorrow, there's no way around it, you need to get it done now.
Share your commitment
Tell somebody you trust what you're up to. Text them "hey, I need to finish that paper. Ask me around lunch time how far I've gotten." If there is a friend or family member who will hold you responsible, you will think twice about slacking off.
Before I leave, it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway:
Keep a to-do list (and cross off these items)
Do you practice any of these tips? Are they helpful? What are you're tricks to be productive and effective? Share them in the comments below.
Before you leave though, lease visit my fellow bloggers' posts:
Karen at Baking in a Tornado's idea of self improvement is to make a Berry Pie Crisp and it it, too!
Tamara at Part-time working Hockey Mom tells you how to get more sh** done ✅
Sarah of the crazy Mama Llama says don't mind me - I'm just home schooling
P.J. at A'lil Hoohaa's post is simply called Self Improvement