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The Highest Leverage Activities That Are Best for Ensuring That You Have a Good Life

The Highest Leverage Activities That Are Best for Ensuring That You Have a Good Life

There must be a way to optimize what activities we perform that have the highest impact on our lives in a positive way. This answer in Quora by Visakan Veerasamy points out 5 main activities that provide the most highest value to ensure that that you have a good life.

The highest leverage activities in my life have been:

1. READING

I believe that any advantage I might appear to have in computational ability, imagination, perceptiveness and expressiveness- ALL OF IT is a consequence of the vast amounts of reading I did as a child. Reading expands your mind. It gives you new and interesting perspectives to work with. Reading exercises the mind, it gives you new possibilities, it allows you to learn from the minds of others.

I believe that the benefits of reading have compounded effects- when you have had your mind expanded, you approach the rest of life with a more open mind, you’re more perceptive to little details, you pay more attention, you get more out of every subsequent experience. This compounding never truly goes away.

Read a chapter a day (any book!) for a great life.

2. EXERCISE

Physical fitness is vastly underrated by anybody who isn’t physically fit. There are very strong links between the body and the mind. Sometimes you can get upset, lethargic and frustrated simply because you’ve been too much of a slob too long.

The long term health benefits of exercise cannot be ignored. I know some old people who are haggard, frail and struggle to walk. I know others who are springy, fit and independent, with sparkles in their eyes. The difference? Usually exercise.

This point is meant to focus on the physical, but there are all sorts of other exercises to consider. Reading is a mental exercise. Compassion is an emotional exercise. Whatever it is that you care about, use it or lose it. Play chess, play guitar, play. Exercise.

Exercise for 20 minutes every day for a great life.

3. INVESTING IN RELATIONSHIPS

We can’t make it on our own. We are inherently incapable of fully understanding ourselves without the valuable perspectives and insights of others. We can try to be as independent as we possibly can, but we will still always need shoulders to lean and cry on, people to nourish and motivate us, to teach us.

My new favourite soul-enriching thing to do is to Private Message(PM) people on Facebook. We can post on their walls, sure, but there’s something very public about that in a way that forces superficial interactions. PM them, ask them how they’re doing, ask them how they’ve been feeling. Sometimes me and my wife send each other lengthy emails even though we see each other all the time, because quiet moments of introspection and thoughtfulness yield different (and, in my opinion, superior) interactions.

Of course, there is no substitute for human contact. I try to have coffee with my mates at least once a week, and it is enriching beyond measure.

By the way, don’t neglect yourself. You are the one person you can neither leave nor escape, so invest in your relationship with yourself. Take yourself out for coffee, sit yourself down and get to know yourself. What do you care about, what are your dreams, what sort of novel would you write? How are you doing, how have you been feeling? These are important questions.

Spend a few minutes a day with your friends and loved ones (including yourself) for a great life.

4. SLEEP.

Whenever I sleep well, life is awesome. I’m  bright and clear. I make good calls, and sometimes I even come up with interesting and creative solutions to everyday problems, in startlingly quick time! I get my reading done, I get my exercise done, I enjoy my conversations more. I pay better attention and I speak more lucidly, with clearer thoughts.

Whenever I neglect my sleep, I notice myself making worse decisions, being more lazy, lethargic, passive, irritable and less cognizant, less in-control. I complain more. I am more susceptible to spending too much money on unnecessary things, more susceptible to losing my temper and generally behaving in ways in which I do not deem fit.

Sleep well every night for a great life.

5. MINDFULNESS/CONVERSATION.

I define conversation as the meaningful clashing of ideas and perspectives. You don’t need to be talking to someone else- you could explore your own mind, or the natural world, and that would be a form of conversation- anything that leads to insight and understanding. Mindfulness.

Exercise can be a kind of conversation you have with your body- if you’re not listening, you could get injured.

Reading is, ideally, a conversation with other human minds, past and present.

Your relationships grow the most in moments where you are paying the most attention to one another.

Passive, thoughtless routines will not do in this pursuit. Pay attention. Give a damn. Care. Listen. You can differentiate all great experiences and mediocre ones by assessing the mindfulness/thoughtfulness present in a process. Steve Jobs was a mindful, thoughtful guy with regards to his work. Buddha was a mindful, thoughtful guy. So was Jesus. All good artists, all great anything- be mindful, pay attention, have a great conversation- with yourself, with each other, with the world. Devote yourself to learning and understanding new points of view, so that you better understand your own.

Pay attention and be engaged for a great life.

 

Featured photo credit:  group of young people having a good time outdoors via Shutterstock

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Hoi Wan

Hoi is a mobilist who blogs about technology trends and productivity.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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