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Why “How You Do It” is Not Enough

Why “How You Do It” is Not Enough

I like to optimize my working methods as much as I can. It’s really awesome when I can find even a small way to improve my working methods, thus saving some time while doing so.

One part of this process is learning new stuff about the productivity all the time. My preferred way of doing this is by reading books.

However, sometimes things didn’t work out as I hoped and this happened especially when I was implementing what I had learned in practice.

Naturally, this made me confused and sometimes even annoyed: I had spent time reading and learning something, which didn’t work in a real life scenario.

So the question was: Was I reading the books for nothing, if they didn’t work out the way I hoped?

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“How you do it” is only one part of the package.

What I realized was that I was seeing only one part of the “package.”

You see, I was emphasizing the “how” part of the solution. And although the “how” gives you the step-by-step instructions, it’s not enough: it’s just one part of the bigger picture.

I knew that in order to master a new technique, I also had to change the ways I implemented the technique in my everyday life.

I also realized that I couldn’t just extract the “how” out of the big picture and ignore the other important areas of the technique at the same time.

This would just leave me confused – and annoyed – when something promised wasn’t working.

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Are you too unfocused?

When I started to analyze why something worked and why something didn’t, I finally realized what was causing the unsatisfactory results: the focus.

First of all, my focus was too narrow, when I was just trying to implement the “how.” In the process, I had missed the other critical questions I had to ask myself when implementing the new way of working.

On the other hand, the lack of focus was also the reason why I wasn’t getting the results I was supposed to have: I let the distractions to overtake my concentration and this made it more difficult to implement the learned stuff in practice.

So, now that I knew the reasons – focus which was too narrow and lack of concentration. I had to find a way to fix the situation and rethink my working methods by asking two important questions.

Why it’s not enough to ask “how”?

Instead of just focusing on the “how,” I also had to know the “when” and “where.” I knew that if I was able to answer those three questions, I would be able to implement these new strategies successfully in practice.

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For instance, one of the great productivity techniques is to plan your day and your week in advance. Now, I could be just focusing on the “how” part, but without proper focus – by answering when and where – I wouldn’t be able to do this plan successfully.

If I would just try to do the planning when there is television making noise on the background, my son hanging on my sleeve or my wife talking to me at the same time, it would be obvious that I wouldn’t be successful with my planning.

On the other hand, if I took the time to figure out my “when” (when I do the planning) and “where” (in which physical location I do the planning), I would be more successful and I would be able to see the results that were promised (by a book, blog post, article, etc. …).

You should try this too: don’t just ask how to do something, but also, when and where to do it. This way you are able to see the bigger picture and you are more likely to succeed.

Asking the right questions – step-by-step

With the following steps, you are able to get better results and the time spent on reading a book or a post is not wasted.

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  1. See your current results. If you are not getting the results you want, it’s time to do analysis on what’s going on. Are you focusing on just the “how” part of the solution?
  2. Ask “when” and “where.” By answering to these questions, you are also focusing on more wholesome way than by just asking “how.” For instance, in my daily/weekly planning example, I know that the best results I get are when I plan my week when others were sleeping (during the early morning hours, on Sundays). I also know, that since it’s quiet in our home, I’m able to concentrate well enough on our kitchen table, where my laptop (temporarily) resided. However, you might find other options compelling as well. Maybe your “when” is sometime during the afternoon and your “where” is in the coffee shop, in a library or outside in the nature. Only you can answer those questions.
  3. Avoid the temptation to rush. I know that I’m pumped after I have read a book: I’m ready to put things into action right away! However, this is not the optimal strategy and other factors matter too. In my case, I like to find out the right time and place to implement the stuff I have learned.

You should do this too: Figure out the optimum time and place to implement what you have just read and learned. This way you are getting the best results – without frustration and distraction.

Conclusion

Learning new ways of working is fun. However, focusing on just the “how” part is not enough, you have to find the answers to questions “when” and “where” as well.

This way, you are more successful when implementing the new technique in practice.

Over to you: Do you ask yourself “when” and “where,” when implementing a new strategy in practice?

Featured photo credit:  Young student with thoughtful expression sitting at a desk on some books with tangled lines and symbols coming out of her head via Shutterstock

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Timo Kiander

Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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