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5 Daily Habits Of High Achievers

5 Daily Habits Of High Achievers
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2016 is going to be your year. It’s going to be the year you finally achieve those big, hairy, audacious goals you’ve been thinking about for many years. It’s going to be your breakout year.

You believe in yourself.

Of course, there’s a massive difference between believing and achieving.

If all you do is believe in yourself, you’ll end up with a lot of self-esteem and very little accomplished. So, how do you make the leap from big believer to big achiever?

You practice these 5 habits — Every. Single. Day.

1. Find And Focus On Your Peak Performance Times

It’s tempting to think that all hours are equally valuable. This is patently false. Depending on your body makeup and energy levels, some hours are far more productive than others. Some people find themselves most productive before dawn. Others find themselves cranking through mountains of tasks in the quiet hours after the kids go to sleep.

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It’s not better to be a morning person or night owl. What matters is determining when you’re most productive and then working on your most important tasks during that time window.

As Daniel Threlfall says:

“Productivity is more than the sum of your time management techniques. Productivity requires that you discover the blend of your resources — time and energy — that allows you to reach maximum productivity. In order to successfully manage time, you must also competently manage energy.”

And so the question arises: are you focusing on your most important work during your most productive times, or are you wasting time with Facebook or fantasy sports? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with skimming social media or watching stupid cat videos on YouTube. But, if you want to be a high achiever, you’ll spend your peak hours on your most important tasks.

2. Be Ruthless About Distractions

It’s no secret that multitasking kills productivity. There is no way to make significant progress when you’re getting blasted by text messages, Facebook messages, emails, and Skype chats. Your brain can’t constantly change gears. Every distraction means less achievement.

High achievers are absolutely ruthless about eliminating all distractions from their lives. They put their phones on mute or turn them off all together. They block social media. They completely shut down their email, or even set up an auto-response to tell people that they won’t be getting back to them immediately.

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Distractions can be appealing. They are a break for the brain. But few things kill achievement faster than distractions.

Will you be ruthless about eliminating distractions this year? Will you do whatever it takes to kill those things that keep you from achieving your goals?

3. Crush Your Most Important Things First

When you sit down to work, it’s tempting to start on easy things — emails, quick phone calls, or social media replies. Getting a few of these things done may give you a sense of momentum. It feels good to get some things checked off your list.

But what sets high achievers apart from the rest is that they always do the most important things first. Productivity expert James Clear says:

“If you do the most important thing first each day, then you’ll always get something important done. I don’t know about you, but this is a big deal for me. There are many days when I waste hours crossing off the 4th, 5th, or 6th most important tasks on my to-do list and never get around to doing the most important thing.”

You have to ask yourself: Do I want to get more done or get the right things done? You can technically get more done by doing easier tasks first, but that’s a losing game in the long run.

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In 2016, will you focus on getting the most important things done first? Will you always ensure you’re making progress on your most important tasks rather than focusing on your easiest tasks?

4. Become A List Master

The highest achievers always know exactly what they should be doing next, and they know this by maintaining detailed lists of all their tasks. They don’t float aimlessly from task to random task. They don’t do whatever they feel like at the moment. They keep a laser focus on their task list.

The power of lists is that they keep you on track. Without keeping a proper series of task lists, it’s easy to do whatever you feel like. But with the power of lists, you can attack your day instead of having your day attack you.

As productivity expert Paula Rizzo says:

“When you’re juggling a lot of tasks, things will fall through the cracks, and lists are amazing for keeping yourself on target and getting things done.”

If you need to track lists, apps like Omnifocus, Things, and ToDoIst are great options.

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5. Be S.M.A.R.T. About Your Goals

Setting goals is good, but you should be very specific about how you set your goals. Most goal-setting experts recommend using the “S.M.A.R.T.” method. Goals should be:

S – Specific. Wanting to do more exercise is a good goal. But there’s a much better chance of you achieving your goal if it’s more specific, like: Run 200 miles in 3 months.

M – Measurable. You can’t track your progress if your goal isn’t measurable. Instead of saying, “I want to lose weight,” say, “I want to lose 15.5 pounds.”

A – Attainable. Every goal you set should stretch you, but every goal should also be attainable. If you never exercise, you won’t be able to run a marathon within 2 weeks, but you could run 5 miles.

R – Realistic. This is closely tied to attainable goals. All goals should be realistic given your circumstances. They should take your limitations into account, while still stretching you to new heights.

T – Timely. Every goal should have a start and end date. If you don’t know when you want to achieve something, you’ll never know if you’ve actually met your goal.

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Conclusion

2016 really can be your year if you’re willing to follow these 5 habits. They won’t necessarily be easy, but the results will be incredibly satisfying. Being a high achiever isn’t just for the elite. Anyone can be a high achiever if they’re willing to do the work!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via static.pexels.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.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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