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5 Pieces of Practical Advice You Should Take to Master Anything

5 Pieces of Practical Advice You Should Take to Master Anything

If only the life goals we dream about could be easily achieved in the physical world, there would be a world full of successful people. While getting advice on achieving our dreams from a friend or reading it around the web is a great start, today we will focus on the practical advice we should take to master anything.

It’s really strange to think that we all live by the same ticking of the clock. All around the world people are using the same number of seconds as you and me and manage to make more or less of them than us. However, the only difference between you and the 7 billion people around you is that we all have different mindsets and we use time differently.

These five pieces of practical advice will shift your paradigm on using your time more purposefully and will make you think more clearly about the things that happen every day.

1. Start early

If you analyze successful people, almost all of them start their day early — with the rising sun or, as they say, “with the peacocks.” I’ve read a few interviews in which successful people have said that they only sleep four to six hours a day. While that’s not really healthy long term, it’s also a technique for doing more in a day.

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If we want to use our seconds better than the rest, we shouldn’t sleep more than eight hours. I myself do with six hours sleep a night because that’s the best timeframe that fits my needs and body. But, as a rule, you should get no less than six and no more than eight hours of sleep a day. Grasp this habit and you are on the first step to becoming a success.

2. Organization

While getting up early cannot guarantee your success, your to-do list can do the rest.

By getting up early and having a precise, achievable list of things we should do, we organize how we should spend our day. The more you can do in one day, the better, and getting up early helps that.

Make a plan in the morning. Take a pen and a paper and write down your plans when you finish your morning routines. Never leave something until tomorrow if it’s already on your to-do list. This will also teach us that sometimes we need to give ourselves a little boost, even though we think we can’t seem to manage.

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3. Focus

Waking up early and fresh immediately gives you sharper focus on the things that await your actions. Organization is the second step to narrow your focus, but it doesn’t guarantee that you will have your focus set at the highest level possible. To narrow our focus we have to visualize and keep our minds on one task at a time.

For example, if your focus is on a  project for which you have to write a business plan, you will have to fill your mind with all the parts in the project — the regulations, products, fees, etc. Narrow your vision down to your tasks and finish them with the power of your mind.

4. Persistence

“Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.” – Bill Bradley

Have you ever considered that if you hit the wall next to you with a hammer, even if it takes a thousand hits, it will eventually fall down? I really think that sometimes achieving success can be compared to the stupidest of examples like this one, even though it looks a lot more complicated from the outside.

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Persisting even when our emotions or fears block our way will guarantee our success sooner or later. There isn’t a successful person on this Earth who didn’t persist, even to the point of stubbornness. Edison famously claims it took him 10,000 attempts to invent the light bulb. I mean, can you even count to 10,000? Sometimes that’s what it takes to be a genius. It’s always impossible without persistence.

5. The key to infinite persistence

My personal key to persistence is my mantra I tell myself every morning and every night. It has nothing to do with religion, but with my personal attainments that I want to see in the future.

If we keep telling our mind something positive every morning and every night, it will become an obsession. But sometimes our thoughts can be toxic for us and we poison our minds with them. Keep your mind filled with the positive things you want to attain in the future and you will be astonished how they become like a prayer you repeat every morning.

Take a pen and a paper and write down the things you want to achieve and what you want to become in six months to a year’s time. However, also write down the steps and efforts you are going to take to attain those goals. Don’t set an impossible goal, but write something attainable. “I want to become a billionaire by March 2015,” is not realistic in the timeframe. But be aware that it’s not impossible eventually, because everything you can imagine is possible.

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Instill these five key pieces of practical advice into your day-to-day routine and you will ease your way to a better life.

Featured photo credit: Career Advice No. 3: Psychoanalyst/@fgr62 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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