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4 Things You Must Bear in Mind to Make the Most Productive Day

4 Things You Must Bear in Mind to Make the Most Productive Day
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Are you ready to unlock your productivity potential? As we enter the final quarter of 2015, it’s time to look back on the year. Have you accomplished at least 75% of the resolutions you made at the beginning of the year? If you haven’t, don’t worry; here are some tips on how to make your day the most productive.

1.You are in control

The first thing you need to keep in mind is that you are in control of your life.

The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Altshuler.

Mr. Altshuler was right. Time flies, and sometimes it flies so fast without you realizing it. What you need to remember is that everything in your life is dictated by the choices you make. So, begin each day by reminding yourself that you are in control and you decide what happens today.

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Only you can decide whether or not it is going to be a productive day.

2. Optimism is the key

Start your day with a positive mind. Not all tasks that you have listed are easy. This may include talking to your boss about a raise, tackling a complicated project — or even just going to the gym. You may start thinking that your boss will say ‘No’ or about all the obstacles you are going to face on the project. You might think going to the gym is too tiring and better not do it.

Abraham Lincoln said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

We just have to look at things differently. Perhaps your boss will consider that you have made valuable contributions to the team and agree that your request for a raise is justified. Look at a complicated project as a challenge that will help you learn something. Think of the benefits going to gym will give you. (If nothing else, think of a special treat you can indulge in once you have done your gym session.) Learn to be optimistic and good things will follow. On the other hand, if things didn’t go as expected, then always remember: When one door closes, another will open. The lost opportunity may not be for you but you are up for something much better.

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It is all about having the proper mindset. Be positive.

3. Procrastinate no more

As human beings, we think that we have all the time in the world to do the things we want and need to do. This is the reason we love procrastinating. We are always thinking that we have tomorrow to spare and we can just push to do things to another day. But what if you don’t have tomorrow?

Remember this Bill Keane quote, masterfully used by Master Oogway (the wise tortoise in Kung Fu Panda): “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.”

Today is something to be thankful for, so better spend it wisely. You’ll never know what is going to happen tomorrow. Do the things that you have set today right at this moment.

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Say “No” to procrastination and always say “Yes” to today.

4. Ignore the perfectionist in you

“Prolific beats Perfect.” – Daniel Priestley

I know that we tend to be our harshest critics and often times will keep fiddling with a project even when it’s good enough. While I am not advocating pushing out halfhearted work, I believe sometimes you have to accept good enough and move on. Spending too much time obsessing over tiny details means that you are putting in an additional amount of time to tweak something only 1% of people will notice. It also means you will get bogged down in the minute details and before you know it, the day is over.

Stop obsessing and start completing. Don’t let the inner perfectionist monster get the better of you. Work that is completed and pushed out on time is better than work that is perfect, but late.

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If you bear these 4 things in mind every single day, you will find yourself able to look forward to each day with a better attitude to getting things done. This will, in turn, lead you to getting closer and closer to your goals.

Say goodbye to the slums of yesterday…and hello to the most productive days of your life.

Featured photo credit: PicJumbo Designer Wooden Workspace via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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