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The 5-Minute Habit That Can Change Your Life

The 5-Minute Habit That Can Change Your Life

In today’s world, it’s incredibly easy to get sidetracked from doing what truly matters to you. Every day, we are bombarded by distractions from all directions. Being able to minimize these distractions and focus your time on what’s important to you will greatly influence your entire life.

When it comes to being productive with your time and focusing your days on what really matters to you, there is a 5-minute habit that can have a significant affect on your life. It’s very simple: You must tell your time where to go.

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Taking 5 minutes every day to write down your schedule for the next day can help you stay on track toward your goals, decrease time wasted on unimportant activities, and help you make sure you are spending your days doing what matters most to you.

Here are some tips to maximize the power of writing down your schedule.

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1. Set aside time to do something you love

Every day, plan some time to do something you love, even if it’s for just 5 minutes to start. When you take time to regularly do the things that light you up, your life will change and so will the people around you. If you’re not sure what you love, check out this free workbook.

2. Make sure you’re living your top priorities

Writing down your schedule can help you stay focused on what’s truly important in your life. As you write down your schedule, make sure you’re spending time on your top priorities. If you notice that month after month, you’re neglecting what’s important and filling your schedule with junk, it’s time to re-evaluate yourself. By consistently writing down your schedule, if you discover that you’re not living your top priorities, dig deep and be really honest with yourself about what your priorities are, and re-evaluate your life and schedule so you can truly live your priorities.

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3. Group similar tasks together

When you write down your schedule, consider batching tasks together that are similar or that require you to be in the same location. This can help you minimize time spent transitioning from one activity to the next, which can help increase your productivity. Think about your daily tasks and group them in ways that allow for seamless transitions.

4. Give yourself deadlines

Deadlines are very powerful, as they can help us significantly increase our effort. When you write down your schedule, put time limits on your tasks. When you feel like the task must be completed in a certain amount of time, it can help you avoid procrastination and take immediate action. One way to maximize your use of self-imposed deadlines is to use the Pomodoro technique. This very simple technique can significantly help you to focus during your time allotted for each task.

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5. Include a small step toward a big goal on your daily schedule

In order to make regular progress toward your big goals, commit to taking a small action step every day. Each day, write out the action step you will take the next day to move yourself closer to your dreams.

I hope these time-management strategies help you as much as they’ve helped me. Writing down your schedule is a very simple exercise, yet it can be life-changing. When you tell your time where to go, it helps you focus your life on what truly matters to you. This will enable you to live a more fulfilling life. As you develop the habit of writing down your schedule, I’d love to hear how your life changes as a result. Writing down your schedule is a very simple, yet amazingly beneficial, life hack.

Featured photo credit: Stacy Spensley / https://flickr.com via flickr.com

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Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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