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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)

    More by this author

    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 March 31, 2020

    Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes & How To Tackle Them

    Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes & How To Tackle Them

    Procrastination is something many people can relate to and I, myself, have been there and done that. Yes, I write all about productivity now, but when I first started out on my career path, I would often put off work I didn’t want to do. And most of the time I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

    So what changed?

    I thought to myself, “why do I procrastinate?” And I started to read a lot of books on productivity, learning a great deal and shifting my mind to the reasons why people procrastinate.

    My understanding brought me a new perspective on how to put an end to the action of procrastination.

    Procrastination slows your goals and dreams way down. It can create stress and feelings of frustration. It rears its ugly head on a regular basis for a lot of people. This is particularly apparent at work with day-to-day projects and tasks.

    But, why do people self-sabotage in this way? Essentially, there are 5 reasons behind procrastination. See if you can identify with any of these in your own work life.

    1. The Perfectionist’s Fear

    Procrastination is sometimes a subconscious fear of failure.

    If you put off a task enough, then you can’t face up to the potential (and usually imagined) negative results. If you’re a stickler for minor details, the stress of getting things ‘just right’ may be too much and cause you to delay continuing the task.

    Either way, fear is at the root cause and can sabotage your desire to move forward.

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    How to Tackle It?

    Try visualizing the completion of your task in a positive way.

    For example, you have a presentation that your boss wants you to conduct for a potential client. Visualize yourself standing in the meeting room confident, meeting the eyes of the client and seeing them light up as you explain the concept simply and concisely.

    Imagine your boss telling you how great you did and you were the best person for the job. Think about how it would feel to you and focus on this as you move forward with the task.

    2. A Dreamer’s Lack of Action

    This is a person who is highly creative and has many brilliant ideas but can’t quite seem to bring them to fruition.

    The main reason for this is because there’s usually no structure or goal setting involved once the idea has been created. This aimless approach ends up manifesting as a lack of decision-making and significant delays on a project.

    How to Tackle It?

    Write down a timeline of what you want to achieve and by when. Ideally, do this daily to keep yourself on track and accountable for progression. Creative minds tend to jump from one idea to the next, so cultivating focus is essential.

    If you’re designing and creating a new product at work, set out a task list for the week ahead with the steps you want to focus on each day. Doing this ahead of time will stop your mind from wandering across to different ideas.

    Learn about how to plan your time and take actions from some of the successful people: 8 Ways Highly Successful People Plan Their Time

    3. An Overwhelmed Avoider

    This is one of the most common reasons for procrastination; the sheer overwhelm of a daunting task.

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    The complexity of a task can cause the brain to lose motivation and avoid doing it altogether choosing instead to stay in its comfort zone.

    The search then starts for a more enjoyable task and the harder tasks are put off. This can cause stress and dread when the task inevitably comes up to be completed.

    How to Tackle It?

    Break the challenge down into smaller tasks and tackle each one individually.

    For example, if you have a project that has technical elements to it that you know you’ll find challenging, list each step you need to take in order to complete these difficult elements. Think of ways you can resolve potential hurdles. Perhaps you have a coworker that may have time to help or even consider that the solution may be easier than you initially think. Put each task in order of most daunting to least daunting. Ideally, try to deal with the more challenging parts of each task in the morning so that momentum is created as the tasks get easier through the day.

    A reward system will also help you stay motivated so, once completed, you can enjoy your treat of choice.

    If you want to know how to better handle your feelings and stay motivated, take a look at my other article: Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It

    4. The Busy Bee Who Lacks Prioritization

    Either you have too many tasks or don’t truly acknowledge the differing importance of each task. The result? Getting nothing done.

    Time is spent switching constantly from one task to another or spending too much time deciding what to do.

    How to Tackle It?

    It’s all about priorities and choosing important tasks over urgent ones.

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    Make sure to question the value and purpose of each task and make a list in order of importance.

    For example, throughout your work day, you can waste a lot of time dealing with ‘urgent’ emails from colleagues but, you need to ask yourself if these are more important than working on a task that will affect, say, several office projects at once.

    Help yourself to prioritize and set a goal of working through your list over the next few hours reassessing the situation once the time is up.

    In my other article, I talk about an effective way to prioritze and achieve more in less time: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    5. The One with Shiny Object Syndrome (Distraction-Prone)

    This is another common cause for procrastination; just simple distraction.

    Our brains aren’t wired to focus for long periods of time and it looks for something else. So throw in a bunch of colleagues equally looking for distractions or checking your phone mindlessly, and you’ve got a recipe for ultimate procrastination.

    However, this type of procrastination may not always be an unconscious decision to sabotage and put off work. It’s simply a result of your work setup or types of coworkers you have. Only you know the answer to that.

    How to Tackle It?

    Be mindful of your workspace and potential distractions. Schedule a specific time to converse with your coworkers, put headphones on to minimize listening to what’s going on around you, and switch your phone off.

    Aim to do this for 20-30 minutes at a time and then take a break. This will be a much more efficient way of working and getting what you need done. This is also why scheduling down time is so important for productivity.

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    Whether this type of procrastination is self-sabotage or being a victim of a distracting environment, either way you can take control.

    If you need a little more guidance on how to stay focus, this guide can help you: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    Bottom Line

    I’m going to be bold and assume you identified with at least one of these procrastination pitfalls.

    You could be trapped in the endless cycle of procrastination like I was, that is, until I decided to find out my why behind putting off tasks and projects. It was only then that I could implement strategies and move forward in a positive and productive way.

    I killed the procrastination monster and so can you. I now complete my tasks more efficiently and completely killed that feeling of stress and falling behind with work that procrastination brings.

    I know it’s not easy to stop procrastinating right away, so I also have this complete guide to help you stop it once and for all: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

    Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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