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20 Questions to Help You Reflect the Past Year

20 Questions to Help You Reflect the Past Year
Reflect

Now we are approaching the end of the year, and it’s the perfect time to reflect how we have done in the past year. We can then take some lessons for the new year. One good way to reflect, I believe, is using four facets of prosperity:

  1. Material prosperity
  2. Spiritual prosperity
  3. Physical prosperity
  4. Social prosperity

These four facets give us a complete and balanced view of prosperity. By reflecting on them, you will get a complete view of how your life as a whole progressed in the past year.

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To help you reflect, I’d share some questions you can ask yourself for each facet. By giving honest answers to them, you will be able to see whether or not you have progressed the way you wanted in each facet. For the questions to which your answer is no, you can also ask why to find out the reason behind it. For example, take this question:

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Did you achieve the desired net worth?

If your answer is no, you can then ask:

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Why?

The answer might be because you didn’t save enough, or there were unexpected expenses you weren’t prepared for. You can use such answers to better prepare yourself for the coming year.

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So, here are 20 questions to help you reflect the past year:

1. Material prosperity

  • Did you achieve your desired net worth?
  • Did you achieve your desired income level?
  • Have you built the habit of spending less than you earn?
  • Have you been able to eliminate debt?
  • Have you built the habit of saving?
  • Have your career progressed as you wanted to?
  • Have you reduced your spending on some unnecessary expenses?

2. Spiritual prosperity

  • Have you found your life mission?
  • Did you feel fulfilled?
  • Could you honestly say that you are happy?
  • Have you built the necessary habits for spiritual growth? The habits here depend on your belief. They could be meditating or reading sacred texts, for example.

3. Physical prosperity

  • Have you built the habit of exercising?
  • Have you built the habit of consuming nutritious food?
  • Have you had good rest?
  • Did you feel physically fit in doing your daily work?

4. Social prosperity

  • Has your relationship with your spouse been as good as you wanted to?
  • Has your relationship with your family been as good as you wanted to?
  • Has your relationship with your friends been as good as you wanted to?
  • Did you make a lot of new friends?
  • Did you get to know people from more diverse backgrounds?

While the questions listed here are not comprehensive, at least they can give some ideas about how your progress is. Besides, you will be able to see which facet requires the most attention. Since you should maintain the balance of all facets, the facets you lack most are the ones that you should pay more attention to.

The questions can also help you identify the specific actions you should take for each facet. For example:

  • If your answer to the question Have you built the habit of exercising? is no, then you should focus on building the exercise habit.
  • If your answer to the question Did you get to know people from more diverse backgrounds? is no, then you should focus on knowing people from different worlds.
  • If your answer to the question Have you found your life mission? is no, then you should focus on finding your life mission.

You can then prioritize the actions based on what will make the most impact on your life. All these, I believe, will help you set your goals for the new year. Your objective should be to have good and balanced progress in all four facets.

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Published on July 17, 2018

How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

I’ve never believed people are born productive or organized. Being organized and productive is a choice.

You choose to keep your stuff organized or you don’t. You choose to get on with your work and ignore distractions or you don’t.

But one skill very productive people appear to have that is not a choice is the ability to compartmentalize. And that takes skill and practice.

What is compartmentalization

To compartmentalize means you have the ability to shut out all distractions and other work except for the work in front of you. Nothing gets past your barriers.

In psychology, compartmentalization is a defence mechanism our brains use to shut out traumatic events. We close down all thoughts about the traumatic event. This can lead to serious mental-health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if not dealt with properly.

However, compartmentalization can be used in positive ways to help us become more productive and allow us to focus on the things that are important to us.

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Robin Sharma, the renowned leadership coach, calls it his Tight Bubble of Total Focus Strategy. This is where he shuts out all distractions, turns off his phone and goes to a quiet place where no one will disturb him and does the work he wants to focus on. He allows nothing to come between himself and the work he is working on and prides himself on being almost uncontactable.

Others call it deep work. When I want to focus on a specific piece of work, I turn everything off, turn on my favourite music podcast The Anjunadeep Edition (soft, eclectic electronic music) and focus on the content I intend to work on. It works, and it allows me to get massive amounts of content produced every week.

The main point about compartmentalization is that no matter what else is going on in your life — you could be going through a difficult time in your relationships, your business could be sinking into bankruptcy or you just had a fight with your colleague; you can shut those things out of your mind and focus totally on the work that needs doing.

Your mind sees things as separate rooms with closable doors, so you can enter a mental room, close the door and have complete focus on whatever it is you want to focus on. Your mind does not wander.

Being able to achieve this state can seriously boost your productivity. You get a lot more quality work done and you find you have a lot more time to do the things you want to do. It is a skill worth mastering for the benefits it will bring you.

How to develop the skill of compartmentalization

The simplest way to develop this skill is to use your calendar.

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Your calendar is the most powerful tool you have in your productivity toolbox. It allows you to block time out, and it can focus you on the work that needs doing.

My calendar allows me to block time out so I can remove everything else out of my mind to focus on one thing. When I have scheduled time for writing, I know what I want to write about and I sit down and my mind completely focuses on the writing.

Nothing comes between me, my thoughts and the keyboard. I am in my writing compartment and that is where I want to be. Anything going on around me, such as a problem with a student, a difficulty with an area of my business or an argument with my wife is blocked out.

Understand that sometimes there’s nothing you can do about an issue

One of the ways to do this is to understand there are times when there is nothing you can do about an issue or an area of your life. For example, if I have a student with a problem, unless I am able to communicate with that student at that specific time, there is nothing I can do about it.

If I can help the student, I would schedule a meeting with the student to help them. But between now and the scheduled meeting there is nothing I can do. So, I block it out.

The meeting is scheduled on my calendar and I will be there. Until then, there is nothing I can do about it.

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Ask yourself the question “Is there anything I can do about it right now?”

This is a very powerful way to help you compartmentalize these issues.

If there is, focus all your attention on it to the exclusion of everything else until you have a workable solution. If not, then block it out, schedule time when you can do something about it and move on to the next piece of work you need to work on.

Being able to compartmentalize helps with productivity in another way. It reduces the amount of time you spend worrying.

Worrying about something is a huge waste of energy that never solves anything. Being able to block out issues you cannot deal with stops you from worrying about things and allows you to focus on the things you can do something about.

Reframe the problem as a question

Reframing the problem as a question such as “what do I have to do to solve this problem?” takes your mind away from a worried state into a solution state, where you begin searching for solutions.

One of the reasons David Allen’s Getting Things Done book has endured is because it focuses on contexts. This is a form of compartmentalization where you only do work you can work on.

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For instance, if a piece of work needs a computer, you would only look at the work when you were in front of a computer. If you were driving, you cannot do that work, so you would not be looking at it.

Choose one thing to focus on

To get better at compartmentalizing, look around your environment and seek out places where you can do specific types of work.

Taking your dog for a walk could be the time you focus solely on solving project problems, commuting to and from work could be the time you spend reading and developing your skills and the time between 10 am and 12 pm could be the time you spend on the phone sorting out client issues.

Once you make the decision about when and where you will do the different types of work, make it stick. Schedule it. Once it becomes a habit, you are well on your way to using the power of compartmentalization to become more productive.

Comparmentalization saves you stress

Compartmentalization is a skill that gives you time to deal with issues and work to the exclusion of all other distractions.

This means you get more work done in less time and this allows you to spend more time with the people you want to spend more time with, doing the things you want to spend more time doing.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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