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How to Better Yourself One Day at a Time

How to Better Yourself One Day at a Time

    There are so many things in your life that you want to get better at, but for some reason you keep falling short of your own (an other’s) expectations. Why is that?

    The problem is that we tend to try to better ourselves all at once, rather than concentrate on one important thing at a time, allowing ourselves to build up momentum over months and years. One day at a time turns into a lifetime of change and getting better. We can eventually become a better overall person if we have a day to day plan and stick to it.

    Here is how to better yourself, one day at a time.

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    Identify your strengths and weaknesses

    First, to better yourself on a consistent basis, you have to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you are awesome at working out or getting some exercise everyday, but your eating habits need a makeover. The idea here is to look at yourself realistically. Only from a realistic outlook can you create new habits and small changes in your life that will eventually stick.

    Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. This will be a great list to use while you better yourself as well as something to look back on after months and years of life changes.

    SEE ALSO: 42 Practical Ways to Improve Yourself

    Pick a topic to work on

    Now that you have a list of things that you are strong and weak at, go through the list and choose one simple thing you want to get better at. I suggest something that won’t take too much effort or time at first. This is because you want to set yourself up for success, at least initially, when it comes to bettering yourself.

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    A few good “starter” topics would be:

    • Do a light workout 3 times a week for 20 minutes each
    • Cut out one or two bad foods in your diet in the next 30 days
    • Drink 8 cups of water every day

    These topics are good because they don’t require too much effort and are trackable. Remember to only pick one. We will be working on this for some time, so you shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew.

    Wake up early

    There is no better way to start the process of geting better at something than to wake up earlier. Getting up early has a ton of benefits. It’s quiet, dark, and peaceful. You can be by yourself and you can truly concentrate on the change you want to make one day at a time.

    Become mindful and aware of your topic

    The more mindful we are of what we are trying to change in our lives, the more stock and momentum go into changing it. To become aware of what you are trying to get better at you can make small reminders throughout your day with a few reminder apps or just post a few sticky notes in certain strategic places that will remind you of the thing that you want to change.

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    Shining light on the topic you want to get better at is the best way to become mindful of it and actually make the change.

    Be accountable

    Being accountable to yourself and others around you is a tactic that many miss when trying to better themselves. Let your friends and family, your social networks, and sometimes even your work buddies know about the change you are making.

    This will help you become more serious about your daily change, and could even prove to be a benefit for others around you as they may decide to join you in the topic that you have chosen. It’s not a bad thing to have a workout buddy!

    Track your time and actions

    If you can’t track something, you can’t manage it. In the process of bettering yourself you should track the days, hours, or minutes spent on the life change that you are making. This gives you data to look at during your review that you can use to decided if you are

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    Write and review

    The only way to become better at something, day-in and day-out, is to stay on track. And you can’t do that without some sort of daily or weekly review. If you are a GTDer, than this will fit in perfectly with your weekly review that is already in place. If not, just set a time every day or week where you can write about and review your successes in making the change that you have set out to make.

    By doing this review, you will be able to tell where you need to improve as well as when you are actually “done” making the change.

    Rinse and repeat

    Now that you gotten better at something, there is no need to stop at just one thing. Take out your strength and weaknesses list and identify something else you want to get better at. Maybe this time you will choose something that is a little more difficult, like playing guitar, learning German, or running 10 miles. Whatever it is, you now have the framework in place to better yourself one day at a time.

    (Photo credit: Man jump through the gap via Shutterstock)

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    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

    More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

     

    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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