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How To Be In The Right Place At The Right Time More Often

How To Be In The Right Place At The Right Time More Often

    Ever wonder how some people seem to have all the luck? Whether or not you believe in luck, there’s something to be said for being in the right place at the right time. For example, say we were walking together and saw a sign offering $5,000USD to any responder who could write a 250-word article on a topic revealed at the start of a 20-minute time window.

    We’re both decent writers and the price is right so we follow up on the sign. Within minutes, we’re each sitting before a computer. The monitors blink on, the countdown starts, and our assigned topic is displayed. “Write about the development of cold-hardy peach varietals.” I stare at my monitor, deflated. I type a few lines about liking peaches but that’s it. Today wasn’t my lucky day.

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    Your story is different though. You know the guy who developed the premier cold-hardy strain of peach tree. You know enough about the topic to produce a satisfactory article in the given time and walk away with a check for $5,000USD. It’s your lucky day! But it wasn’t really luck, was it? We were both in the same place at the same time with the right skills to make the most of the situation. You just happened to have that extra bit of information that allowed you to succeed while I lost out. Why does that happen? How was it that you had the right information at the right place and at the right time? Why were you lucky?

    Your good luck, as well as the luck enjoyed by most successful people, can be attributed to the combined force of three simple elements:

    1. Proximity

    “You cannot catch a fish without being near the water.”

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    The people you think of as lucky often put a lot of effort into being near as many pertinent opportunities as possible. In my example, we both had a shot at getting lucky because we weren’t just two idiots reading a random sign. We were skilled writers looking at a writing opportunity. We were both close to the opportunity. Not just in skill or location but in timing as well. Most of life is less random than my example. You can put yourself in the right place at the right time more often by identifying an area in which you have the necessary skills and knowledge to capitalize on sudden opportunities.

    Questions: What are you doing to make timing right for you? What area have you put yourself in a position to “get lucky” in? Is there a skill you can improve for knowledge you can gain that will allow you to better capitalize on opportunities you discover?

    2. Practice

    “The fish not caught on the first try is larger when finally caught.”

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    Ask any professional athlete about a shining moment in their athletic experience and they’ll tell you that “luck” came only after long hours of practice. Wide receivers practice catching the ball thousands of times for every touchdown catch they make. Web developers create hundreds of applications before bringing the perfect one to market. And you? You read (possibly) millions of words before arriving at this article. In every case, the practice that precedes the instance of “luck” is just as important as the crowning moment itself.

    Questions: Have you given up on practice only to wonder why you’re not improving in your field and experiencing the same luck as others? What steps can you take today in order to hone your senses and polish your skills so the next opportunity can be turned into a lucky moment?

    3. Persistence

    “If you do not fish often, the fish have little chance to bite.”

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    One sad truth of existence is that most people give up long before they should. Being in the right place at the right time involves being in a lot of places at a lot of times that might seem inconvenient or even painful. You’ve heard that luck favors the well-prepared but what about luck favoring the tenacious? Ever successful (you might say “lucky”) person I know has come very close to giving up many times. They’ve looked failure directly in the eyes and said, “not yet.” Sure, they’ve closed businesses, lost clients, and left relationships. But they never stopped trying. They never gave up.

    Questions: Do you have a tendency to give up on things too early? Think of the last project you gave up on. What might have happened had you stuck with it? Are you currently giving your everything to the project or relationship at hand?

    Ever wonder why some people seem to have all the luck? By paying close attention to your proximity to opportunities and following through with practice and persistence, you may soon become one of the people we look at and wonder how you got to be in the right place at the right time. Just luck, right? =)

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    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”.

    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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    The power of habit

    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 six 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.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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