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Want To Improve Yourself 10 Times Faster? Master These 4 Skills First

Want To Improve Yourself 10 Times Faster? Master These 4 Skills First

Do you wish you were a better person? Self-improvement can be a slow process, and it’s easy to get disheartened when you feel like you’re not moving forward. Luckily, there are four skills which are guaranteed to help you improve yourself faster, and they’re all really simple. Whether you want to become better at work, increase your grades at school, or master a new skill, these four techniques will help. Once you’ve learned these skills, you’ll be a better learner for the rest of your life, so it’s a worthwhile investment.

1. Be more productive using the Pomodoro technique.

The Pomodoro technique [1] is a simple trick which involves using a timer to improve your focus and productivity. It’s named for the tomato-shaped timer that the developer of the theory used, but any old timer will do.

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Here’s how it works: decide on a task to complete, set your timer for 25 minutes, and get to work. If you find yourself becoming distracted, write down the distraction. For example, “Checking Facebook,’ or “Looking out of the window.” Once you’ve written down the distraction, get back to work immediately.

Once 25 minutes is up, you should take a five-minute break and relax completely. It’s important not to get pulled back into work, as this is the time to give your mind a rest and get ready to concentrate again – no sneaky checking emails! Keep a tally of how many 25-minute Pomodoros you’ve completed, and give yourself a longer break of 15-30 minutes once you’ve done four. This prevents you from getting burnt out or tired.

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You’ll be shocked at how much more productive you are using this technique, and may find that you quickly run out of work to complete.

2. Retain knowledge by writing down what you learn.

Have you ever left a lecture or finished a book feeling like you didn’t remember a thing you learned? This is all too common, and happens when we don’t take enough time to digest information.

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By writing down a summary of everything you learn, you’ll be able to retain much more knowledge. You’ll also have handy notes to refer back to if you do forget, so it’s a win-win. It’s been shown that hand writing notes are better for learning and memory, so ditch the laptop and grab a pen [2].

3. Increase your self-awareness for greater success.

If you want to be successful, it’s important to be able to view yourself and your work objectively. If you think you’re amazing at everything you do, you’ll never have the drive to improve, and you won’t be good at taking constructive criticism on board. Equally, if you view everything you do in a negative way, your confidence will suffer and you could miss out on great opportunities.

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You can develop self-awareness by reflecting on yourself daily, asking others for honest feedback, and considering what motivates your behaviour [3].

4. Practise speed reading to take in large amounts of information.

There are so many wonderful books, blogs and articles being published every day that reading as much as you want to can feel impossible. While you’ll never be able to read everything, learning to speed read will allow you to read much more.

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Practise using your finger to guide your eyes while reading, and increase the speed as much as you can. Instead of focusing on one word at a time, make use of your peripheral vision to take in whole chunks of text at once. You should also try downloading a speed reading application, which will present you with one word at a time, meaning you don’t need to move your eyes at all [4]

If you want to improve yourself ten times faster, focus on developing these four skills. You’ll be more productive, better at retaining information, and more self-confident – attributes which will help you no matter what your final goal is.

Reference

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Eloise Best

Eloise is an everyday health expert and runs My Vegan Supermarket, a vegan blog and database of supermarket products.

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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)

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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