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30 Ways to Make August Simply Successful

30 Ways to Make August Simply Successful
Sandals

The month of August is often like the last fifteen minutes of a good TV show- you know that it’s about to end but just hate to see it go. Please know that if you were to take action on all 30 of the following suggestions, the last thing your life would be is simplified. The key is to pair back, do less and live more. Pick two or three, do them well and see what happens.

  1. Wear sandals. They’re cheaper than regular shoes and you can save on not buying new socks. Whenever bear feet are present, relaxation follows.
  2. Clean out your wardrobe. Do you really need 14 pocket books? Are 5 pairs of dress shoes really necessary? Cleaning out old clothes is good for your closet and even better for your spiritual well-being.
  3. Throw something away. Few things clear the mind like tossing something into the trash. Go with your gut and do what feels right.
  4. De-Spam with pleasure. Nothing says “ah” like getting a spammer off your back. Report them, block them and clear your in-box of those that would make daily life a living hell.
  5. Walk it. If you can add some free exercise into your lifestyle, why not walk it? Choose a farther parking space, go for a stroll at lunch or just add a brisk 10 minute walk to your after-dinner ritual.
  6. Trade it in. Many people don’t know that you can trade in your old cell phone contract, not to mention your phone. You can also swap a car, clothing and old appliances. If it’s been bugging you, act on it today. A good resource is www.freecycle.org for donating a lightly-used product.
  7. Upgrade your gear. Rather than be “that guy” who is always upgrading without actually learning the finer points of a PDA, GPS or software package, be a connoisseur of fine gadgetry and upgrade when you are ready. The right tool at the right time can make all the difference.
  8. Visit the doctor. Why not start the new year with a check up? It feels great to hear someone tell you that you’re healthy and fit.
  9. Put on your boots. When was the last time that you took a long, half or full day hike in the woods? August is the perfect time to get out there and have nature take your breath away.
  10. Play with dirt. Dig something up, plant something new and get dirty. Whether it’s power washing something dirty or digging a ditch for better irrigation, there’s a magical element to getting dirty and then getting clean afterwards. Take all that your yard has to offer and get dirty.
  11. Donate lavishly. Why not end summer with a final charitable gift? You could write a fat check or better yet, you could donate a generous amount of your time or expertise. Be on the lookout for someone who needs a hand.
  12. Do a good deed and don’t look for credit. Whether it’s as small as leaving some change in the Dunkin Donuts tip-cup or mowing part of your neighbor’s lawn, good deeds build character and social currency.
  13. Plan out your year. If you could accomplish two or three things by March of next year, what would you do, starting in September, that would get you there? Is there a habit that you could perfect or a tendency that you can overcome?
  14. Go for a new look. If you’ve always wanted a perm or buzz cut but have been afraid to go for it, use August as your last window of opportunity. For guys, the only difference between a good haircut and a bad one is about three days.
  15. Take a long weekend. Instead of a high-priced trip to someplace expensive, go for a long weekend to the beach or at a B&B. Sometimes a short weekend trip is as beneficial as the extended stay somewhere more expensive.
  16. Take the “By Christmas” test. Take some time, when you can get alone and think. Then write down a short list of items that you’d like to accomplish by Christmas. There may be someone in your family that you want to reconnect with or an objective at work that you’d like to meet.
  17. Take out the trash. This is especially important for those in high-delegation positions. I learned years ago that a leader or executive who is comfortable taking out the trash is probably humble enough to be an effective leader. Don’t’ do it for others to see you- do it to build humility and character.
  18. Kill your subscriptions. What newsletters, magazines, papers can you eliminate this month? Since so much is available online, do you really need a hard copy of each of those subscriptions?
  19. Weed out your RSS reader. If you are currently subscribed to 30 or more blogs and are having a hard time keeping up, pair it back to less than ten. It’s ok- give yourself permission to do it today.
  20. Pray for five minutes every day. Nothing says priority like a person in prayer. Take the time to cultivate this important habit each day.
  21. Write an old-fashioned letter. With so much junk mail, a real letter stands out above the crowd. Who will you reconnect with this month?
  22. Retool your first and last hour of the day. These all-important hours set the tone and bring closure to the other 22 hours. Use them well and appreciate the difference it makes in your day.
  23. Clear your conscience. Is there something on your mind that you know needs attention? Often conscience is that internal GPS, telling us to avoid the bad stuff and cling to the good.
  24. Clean your air. Having air ducts cleaned out is a great way to ensure that your family’s air quality is up to par. You may be surprised at how much dust builds up over time in your house’s duct-work.
  25. Get GLOCAL. If you’ve ever wanted to do something for someone around the world but didn’t know how, adopt the “glocal” mindset: do something locally for someone globally. You might enlist one or two friends to put together a care package for a soldier in the Middle East or write letters to victims of a natural disaster.
  26. Organize your planner. Clear out the excess papers and receipts and streamline for the Fall months.
  27. Do some list hygiene. If you have duplicate email and snail mail addresses in your GMAIL or YAHOO organizers, spend five minutes a day clearing out the junk.
  28. Share your lists. Know someone who can benefit from one of your contacts? Go ahead and drop them a line with the person’s name or email, discussing how they might want to connect with one another.
  29. Hone your habits. Which one habit, if done well and every day, could really benefit your life in a dramatic way?
  30. Read LifeHack every day. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist!

Mike St. Pierre is the creator of The Daily Saint, a productivity blog focusing on work-life balance. www.thedailysaint.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

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.

The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

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.

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.

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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.

How to Self-Taught Effectively

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

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

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.

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.

Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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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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