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How To Turn Your Life Around Before The End Of 2016

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How To Turn Your Life Around Before The End Of 2016

June is a particularly productive time for me to work on my dreams. Here in Australia it’s winter. It’s hard to get up in the mornings when it’s still pitch black outside (at its latest, the sun rises after 7:30 am).

The coldness spurs me on because I wake up and I’m immediately hit with discomfort. Pain and discomfort have always driven me to work harder.

I love my summer. The heat is great, nothing’s better than sweating it out, watching cricket with a nice cold drink in your hand at the end of the year (remember, everything’s upside down down under).

I can’t help but feel guilty though if I didn’t earn that privilege, which is why I work hard during the winter months.

A third reason that June is a good month for work is because it’s the half way mark of the year. It’s a time of introspection and seeing the progress you have made so far on your goals since the beginning of the year.

Like most people, I’ve tried to stick to certain goals, but I gave up a couple months in when I didn’t see results. Old habits die hard, unfortunately.

However, if you’re anything like me, you want to succeed eventually. You want put in some hard work and see progress. A few months is usually not enough to see tangible results. A year is too long, especially if you haven’t done anything for that long before.

That’s where I’d like to introduce you to the concept of the 180 Day 180.

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What is the 180 Day 180?

The 180 Day 180 was actually the subject of an email line from a marketing consultant based out of Chicago by the name of Perry Marshall. He’s written “80/20 Sales and Marketing”, which introduces how the Pareto Principle (or the 80/20 Rule) applies to sales and marketing. He’s also co-written the “Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords”.

He tells some fascinating stories of his time spent in the “Dilbert Cube” before he struck out on his own as a consultant. I’d thoroughly recommend signing up to his email list just for a good read landing in your inbox once in a while.

One of his emails is titled, My 180 Day 180. Around the middle of the year, he lands a new job (after being laid off the day before). He’s a salesperson who has had trouble making sales. He needs them fast, trying to keep a sinking ship afloat.

Unsure of himself and constantly fighting off feelings of inadequacy and self-loath, he’s got to make this job work.

He discovers direct marketing and innovates by applying its concepts to the industrial space. Six months later, he’s working over he’s getting the biggest commission checks of his life, he’s able to breathe again and is confidently jumping from strength to strength, cutting his teeth in the trenches.

His boss is telling him:

“Perry, what can we do to keep you around?”

The 180 Day 180 challenges you to knuckle down, do deep, focused work and only look up 180 days later.

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This may result in your life doing a complete 180 and going in the right direction.

I’ve used the concept two or three times, counting down the days and I’ve been able to:

  • save up cash and pay off my credit card,
  • start a blog and build a following,
  • find freelance clients.
  • I’m currently in the back end of one — it ends on July 30th — and am looking forward to seeing the results.

Benefits of working on projects 180 days at a time

I think the most exciting thing about these sorts of projects is that it’s very easy to visualize the end result. Being able to visualize where you want to be is a key factor that affects your chance of success. Not a lot tends to change within six months unless you’re actively trying to change it.

It’s also a comfortable length of time to manage. Six months is just two quarters. When you’re starting something, you can see significant results in that time. It forces you to evaluate your goal and see whether it’s realistic.

Some people intentionally leave their goals all airy fairy but don’t give themselves a concrete deadline or result. Building a blog with 1,000 readers a day within six months is more powerful than “become a popular blogger this year”.

Most importantly, it makes you familiar with the idea of working for extended periods of time on your goals. If you haven’t stuck with something for a year, it’s easy to get distracted.

That’s why starting with six months is good. It’s halfway and once you realize you can do six months, the second six months you do is a lot easier. Then before you know it, you have done a year.

1. Decide on start and end date

The easiest step. There’s no better time than today. If you like the days to line up nicely like I do, you might consider waiting until the start of a new month.

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2. Decide on goal

The great thing about doing a 180 Day 180 is that it forces you to realistically evaluate what you can achieve in that time frame. It also makes you ponder how much you want something.

If you really want it, then this step forces you to face yourself and evaluate your approach to achieving it.

For example, let’s say you wanted to be a millionaire by the age of 30. You define this has having $1,000,000 cash in the bank by your 30th birthday. It’s six months until your birthday, therefore, assuming your current savings are negligible, you have six months to get $1,000,000 cash.

You can either go two ways at this point:

Path #1: take a “realistic” route and alter your goal so that it’s in line with your capabilities. If you aren’t particularly entrepreneurial and have never run a business before, this goal might need to be revised to $100,000.

Path #2: stick with your goal and remodel the way you think to achieve this. You will most likely need a dramatic change of lifestyle. I’d imagine you would have to quit your job and take up a high risk, high reward career. Perhaps you could specialize in selling multi-million dollar penthouses. Sell a few and you will hit your goal.

Again, if you’re determined to take Path #2, you have to really want it. If you aren’t afraid of hard work, then this Path could work out well for you.

How much are you willing to change to take this path?

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3. Visualize goal

If you can believe it, you can achieve it. Cliched, I know, but it works. Let me tell you what I’ve found works when visualizing success:

for people who hit their goals, life doesn’t change that much. If you were doing the right things day in, day out, then the results of your hard work will come in due time.
with this in mind, instead of visualizing a “happily ever after” sort of goal,visualize — in detail — a day in the life of you post goal success. Get asgranular as you can. Which bed are you sleeping in? Are you in the same home? What day is it? What time do you wake up? What do you get changed in to? What’s for breakfast? Do it for the rest of the day.

Instead of visualizing material differences, visualize how you feel.Whether you’re aware of it or not, whatever we strive to achieve, we mainly do so because we want to change how we feel on a daily basis. Yes, we ultimately want to be happier, but how does the happiness manifest itself? Who does it affect?

4. Make milestones, work backwards

OK, so now we’re getting down to business. I have often talked about changing what you believe to never lose faith in yourself again. We’ll apply that mindset here now.

Let’s continue on with the previous example — you want to be a millionaire by the time you’re 30 and you have six months to do so.

If you approach this sensibly you would know that this sort of dream is what cripples everyone, since the result relies on criteria that is impossible to achieve. Refocus the goal on milestones that you have complete control over.

Instead of “have $1,000,000 in the bank by the time I’m 30,” change the goal to “meet a new CEO every day”. The assumption of course is that CEOs have the capacity to buy penthouses, network with other CEOs who may be looking to get into the market and so on.

5. Track progress

Finally, see how you’re progressing on a regular basis. Assuming your goal is framed in the right light, it should be challenging but not impossible for you to do.

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To kick up the difficulty a notch, be accountable online or to someone you trust. To have someone track your progress introduces an external perspective less likely to be subjectively impacted. For example, if you have a bad day, you might try and take a day off. A harsh but fair taskmaster wouldn’t allow that.

What if you had the courage to only do the work you love?

How much happier would you be? What separates the people who have the courage and those who don’t? Vulnerability. Accepting that they’re good enough to do the work that gives their life meaning.

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

“Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set Limits

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a Not-to-Do List

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be Vulnerable

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t Be a Copycat

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say Yes to Less

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn How to Relax

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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