Identify your goals by breaking them down: The macro vs. the micro.
Where do you see yourself in 1, 5, 10 years? Where do you wish to see yourself in 1, 5, 10 years? If your answers to those questions are different, have you identified your goals and dreams? All of us are born with the ability to dream big, and all of us have the same 24 hours of the day. Take away time for sleeping, eating, socializing, hygiene/bathroom visits, home care, and you are left with somewhere around 12-16 hours, depending on the factors within those necessities above. For this example, let’s say we have 14 hours of “utilization time”. Most of us either go to school or have a full-time job, if not both. Give 8 more hours to that. that now we’re down to 6 hours roughly of “free time”. How do you spend it?
As children, we play with toys and games outside of our mandatory time expenditures (like school and chores). As we progress into middle school, high school and then on to life, our responsibilities thicken and our time to squander seems to shorten. For those of us who are aware of the long-term, strategies, and planning for how to provide are devised during the years before venturing off and applying skills learned during adolescence. If you were like me as a teenager, you probably spent hours playing video games, watching tv and Youtube videos, or scrolling through social media. Essentially, I was chasing tiny little dopamine fixes now, as opposed to building something that could lead to larger, more gratifying and universally beneficial rewards later. I was not goal-oriented and did not utilize effectively the time I had to spare.
Now that I have come to the realization of how short our time alive is, along with responsibilities I was mostly emotionally unprepared for, I now have created habits that are goal-oriented. I exercise daily, eat healthy in the mornings (as well as throughout the rest of the day), journal daily, as well as read. I have larger goals in mind as well as on paper, such as weekly, monthly, and yearly. It is not a perfect system yet, nor will it ever be, but I have seen a vast difference in my mental state as well as the quality of my life in general since this shift.
Start your morning off right by creating viable habits and utilizing your time effectively.
The first 60 minutes of our day is vital. It can determine how the rest of the day goes. Looking back on bad or even not so good days, I can see that rushing out of bed straight to the shower, cramming in a quick breakfast and running off to wherever I had to go usually resulted in a frustrating day. I would set my alarm to the last possible moment so that I could stay up late and sleep in. Years of this did not help my mental, emotional, or physical well-being, and only in the past few months have I been actively trying to change my morning routine. I am not fully comfortable with it, but the schedule is coming together.
Our pineal glands are responsible for our day and night cycle and reside in the center of our brains. From here all our being is created, and thus our lives. For more suggestions about taking care of this little kingdom, check out this review here. I have learned that I need to give myself 2 hours in the morning to get everything in order. The very first action is writing down the dreams I just awoke from. From there I get up and stretch, and do a light exercise before showering. Then breakfast, while scrolling through social media (in the process of controlling/eliminating this habit, replacing with light reading or news browsing). This usually takes an hour to an hour and a half (yes, punctuality and accuracy are important), and following this I will finish exercising (maybe), get my books together, and help my father with his business if he needs it.
I have not fully organized my morning routine, but this is a lot better than how it was years ago. The goal is to complete my exercise routine before showering, read in my current selection of nonfiction instead of social media, and going on a 10 minute or so walk. I like to prioritize the activities for today the night before, however, I have heard that doing this in the morning is ideal. When it comes to prioritizing daily tasks, make it simple, and utilize your energy and time. Writing down or whiteboarding 1-3 tasks is optimal, with no more than 5. I usually try for 3. Today my priority list went like this: finish my A+P lab homework, start on my A+P outline, and write this article. I did not get to the outline, but instead spent time with my family, watched several digital marketing videos, and cleaned the house a little. Plans are guidelines to execution but are not set in stone.
Concentration and distractions are huge factors in achieving goals.
One of the biggest deal-breakers for doers and talkers (aside from simply doing) is how well they concentrate. A good portion of my life was spent in “ADHD” mode (not actually diagnosed) jumping from one thought to another, usually speaking or acting them out. I had great difficulties paying attention in school, to conversations, and just about anything. Pitching during baseball, and reading fiction stories were the only areas in which I was completely immersed. As this journey continues, I will share some of the trials of error and how I overcame them.
Changing my diet, posture, exercise routine, social circle, and sleep habits have greatly improved my ability to focus. I have just recently discovered two very helpful tips in managing my time effectively by the ways of Tim Ferriss, which include the RescueTime application, as well as the Pomodoro Technique. I am using the free version of RescueTime, and have a 30-minute sand timer from Walmart for the Pomodoro Technique. A big key to concentrating on one task without getting distracted is A) being aware of your actions in every moment, and B) taking short breaks every so often. Hence the 30-minute sand timer. I’ve mentioned many things that I have learned from multiple sources, or I have already touched on them. Multiple links to the same place throughout an article are quite annoying, so I’ve refrained from doing so.
If you are a creator, One of the recommendations by Tim Ferriss (if you haven’t noticed, he is a huge influence on my productivity and happiness) is to set aside blocks of uninterrupted time for 2-4 hours. During this time, do your writing, drawing, video creation, dance routine, music composition, whatever it may be. Along with this, find when this time is best for you. Right now in my life, I get a lot more writing accomplished in a shorter time span when I write from 8-12 pm. It usually ends up taking me under 2 hours. On the days that I have started writing in the afternoon or morning, it took much longer, and I was much more distracted. Know your body, and learn how your time can be used wisely.
Tim has this awesome book that I recently reviewed, called the 4-Hour Workweek. Yes, it is possible, and he shows you exactly how to do it.
We get out of life what we put into it; what we do today creates the habits of tomorrow.
Of course, it is extremely difficult (and maybe impossible) to discipline ourselves to that of Ip Man or a Buddhist monk in one day. One of the biggest lessons I have learned in my quest for an honest and fulfilling understanding of the universe is to love the process. When I am more focused on the results of my work rather than my effort itself, the results are much less satisfying, and the quality of my work is more often than not less than gratifying. The journey is where the real satisfaction comes in. I get more enjoyment, learning, and growth from writing these articles than from seeing how many liked it on social media.
One of the lines in the first paragraph that really hits home: we all have the same 24 hours. If you don’t have enough time, you don’t have priorities. If your day is filled with job and school, look for the small chunks during those activities where the time others are using (or buying) isn’t being taken. Every second of downtime you have can be spent working towards the life where you create your own schedule. Eventually, your hard work will pay off.
I’d like to end this article with a quote from Steve Jobs, one of the biggest creators of all time. He said the following: “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”