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5 Steps to Pushing Boundaries and Growing

5 Steps to Pushing Boundaries and Growing

You know that I like getting my ideas from non-traditional sources. I was speaking with an incredibly talented video producer and actor yesterday about her show, Galacticast. It’s a sci-fi comedy series available as a podcast, and catching fire on the internet among folks who love catching the references. We talked about quality.

The thing about Casey and Rudy are that they are producing for a medium that currently accepts the absolute worst content as well as professionally-crafted stuff. Go to the Apple iTunes Store and look at their podcast options, and you’ll see Jack Black’s Nacho Libre mingling with “My Cat is Cute” or similar. The barrier to entry is some inexpensive, simple technology, and even the frailest of ideas. (See YouTube for lots of that). And yet, the folks who do Galacticast are putting their hearts and guts into it. Why?

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Casey says it’s because she feels it’s always important to develop your boundaries of quality. Pushing yourself a little bit further each time is a method for building value back to what you’re doing. This clearly can apply to how you choose to hack life.

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  • Know Your Current State– The only way to seek personal improvement is to take an honest and fair assessment of your talents. Feel free to poll others, if you are worried you won’t be honest. But get a sense of how you stack up in the qualities you think might matter to what you’re hoping to accomplish. (This, in itself, is a bonus hack. Looking at what skills you need will help you understand what you can develop next).
  • Describe the Ending– Dr. Stephen R. Covey says to think about what you’re hoping to achieve. To improve your quality, you have to know what end goal you have in mind. Casey McKinnon from Galacticast clearly wants to push the boundaries of new media entertainment by doing what she calls “Sci Fi / Lo Fi.” It’s a great way to rise above the scores of amateurs just throwing stuff at the screen.
  • Make Reasonable Stepping Stones– If you’re still a file clerk and your plan is to be CEO, don’t make your next move, “Apply for CEO role.” I’m thinking it won’t work. But you might put down, “get some books on leadership,” and “attend local business socials.” And don’t forget: people around you that know you tend to view you as who you HAVE BEEN to them all along. Don’t let that dissuade you. In fact, spend time around strangers, and you’ll see what your potential new roles feel like when reflected by these new people.
  • Check In, Re-Assess, Be Open– Often times, if the journey you set yourself upon is truly going to make a difference in your life, you might find yourself heading in a direction you hadn’t intended. Be open to going with it. But don’t just jump down new roads willy-nilly. Check in with your plans and stepping stones. Ask yourself whether these new thoughts or ideas are a surrender, a retreat, or a re-imagined possibility. If it’s option 3, consider branching off the path and seeing what that does for you. Warning: too many branches and you’re likely avoiding something instead of trying new things.
  • Reward Yourself, but Keep Going– When we’re successful at smaller things, there’s a great sense of accomplishment and pride. Rest on that step in the journey instead of seeing your goals met, and you’re setting yourself up to quit the full plan. It’s just too easy to be pleased with yourself, and quit there. Surrender the dime for the dollar, friends. You’ll be much happier in the end.

Developing yourself is a scalable asset. It brings more to your business, your personal life, and all avenues you choose to pursue. By living consciously, and by holding yourself to standards that you choose to improve, you find within you the potential to develop and grow beyond your current situation. It need not be an endless loop, and finding satisfaction and happiness with who you are and where you are in life is another matter altogether. They’re not exclusive. My point is merely that all life requires growth. Trees don’t stop. You shouldn’t either.

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–Chris Brogan writes about self-improvement and creativity at [chrisbrogan.com], when he’s not watching Galacticast and forgetting to be productive.

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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