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Enhance Your Life: Going Beyond What’s Important to What’s Crucial

Enhance Your Life: Going Beyond What’s Important to What’s Crucial
    Climb past what’s important to discover what’s crucial in your life

    When taking on the project of improving your productivity, you’ll undoubtedly come across two words that go hand-in-hand with the practice: important and urgent. These two words often intertwine depending on what your priorities are and how well you’re keeping up with what you’ve got on the go.

    Knowing what the difference between important and urgent is a challenge for many, but once you’ve been doing it for a while it gets easier. It may not get easier to get the important stuff done before it turns into something urgent, but that’s a whole other matter. Another challenge is to remember that this is your time being spent, whether it is on a project or a task. How you plot out what each tasks means to you and to your time is worthy of strong consideration because if you simply jot things down without contemplating how they’ll be impacted by the time you have to offer and how they’ll impact the time you have to have available, you’ll end up in a state of overwhelm — and a very long to-do list.

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    Categorizing the levels of importance and urgency is another necessity. There’s no definitive way to organize these thoughts, but a common method is to use Stephen Covey’s Four Quadrant Matrix.

      Stephen Covey’s Four Quadrants

      Covey’s matrix is still a resource for many who are trying to decide how and where to spend their time. But considering that it appeared in the book First Things First back in 1994, back when time management and productivity strategies didn’t have the benefit (or informational overflow) of the Internet, it could use a retooling. That may sound bold, but while the idea of Covey’s matrix still has some merit, the problem lies in the words used in the matrix itself.

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      The Problem with Important

      The problem with important these days is that it is thrown around with little regard to what it means. In fact, it’s used so much that the word itself doesn’t seem to be as, well, important as it once was. Things that are important often are just things that have to get done, but have little resonance beyond that – they aren’t attached to anything deeper or more meaningful in the greater scheme of things. Anything with the word urgent attached to it will always feel stronger because of the need for it to be dealt with sooner rather than later. Even in passing, when someone says the word “urgent”, it creates a feeling or sense of immediacy. Unless someone is looking you straight in the eye, is genuinely in the moment and says the word “important” can it even come close to having the impact intended. The only way it gets closer is if you feel that what they are attaching to the word important to is actually important to you as well.

      The word crucial, however, doesn’t get thrown around as much. Better still, when someone uses the word in the same manner as they used important as mentioned above, the ability to feel how much it matters to them all the more. When something is said to be crucial, it means that it is “of great importance” by definition alone. It’s possible that the other manner is which the word crucial is used – decisive or critical, especially in the success or failure of something: i.e. negotiations were at a crucial stage – adds instant power to the word it wouldn’t otherwise have, but the effects are still the same. When something is said to be crucial, you know it’s important. When something is said to be important, well…results may vary.

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      The key to really doing what matters on an overall scale – using David Allen’s Horizons of Focus as a measuring stick – you need to first earn to separate the urgent from the important and then curate what’s important to what’s crucial. Everything you do should lead to the great goal of what is crucial to you living a happy life. The amount of things that need to be done that are urgent should be minimal, because they generally serve to keep you occupied from what’s crucial to your overall goals in life. The amount of things that are important should be examined to separate what is important over the short term versus the long term. You may find that what you thought was important really isn’t at all. Often, these things are just things that will become urgent if you let them slide for too long, but they aren’t of any overarching importance. It’s those things that are crucial to you getting to where you want to be that will define your outcomes far great than anything else you do. You need to be clear on those so that you can map out how you’re going to achieve your goals – and your dreams.

      A New Productivity Paradigm

        Covey’s matrix with a “Crucial Cube” inserted

        Rather than use a quadrant to look at how to measure your actions and projects going forward, I suggest you do what I’ve done, and place a box in the dead center of the diagram. It’s what I call a Crucial Cube.

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        Sure, it isn’t exactly a cube (but Crucial Square doesn’t sound as appealing), but by adding it to the diagram the focus shifts to what’s crucial to you overall rather than what isn’t. Placing it in the centre draws focus, allows you to start there and finish on the outer realms or vice versa. The key is it gets you looking at what you really want to achieve and still displays the supporting things you can do to get there. The Crucial Cube feeds off of the remaining quadrants and the quadrants are fueled by what’s in the Crucial Cube.

        Getting clear on what’s crucial is the most beneficial thing you can do to enhance your productivity, your balance and your life. Doing so could be the productivity wake-up call you need, the jumpstart to getting where you know you can be – and want to be. Moving beyond the word “important” and making a conscious choice to use the word “crucial” instead will power up your life in a simple, yet profound way.

        The Crucial Takeaway

        Adopting a new habit is never easy, but with focus and perseverance, it can happen a lot faster. Take some time to really look at how you’re managing your time and your life, as well as what words you’re using in the process.

        • Understand urgency and how to deal with it.
        • Investigate importance so that you can separate what is from what isn’t, bringing power back to the word by doing so.
        • Cultivate what is crucial and you’ll enhance your life.

        Give the diagram above a try. Write down what you feel is crucial to (and for) you inside a Crucial Cube. Then build the matrix around that, allowing the items inside to feed off the cube’s contents and vice versa. Let me know how it worked for you in the comments.

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        Mike Vardy

        A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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        Last Updated on January 24, 2020

        10 Good Habits To Have in Life To Be More Successful

        10 Good Habits To Have in Life To Be More Successful

        Habits are behaviors and patterns that you showcase by default. They enable you to carry out crucial activities like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, getting prepared for work.

        Interestingly, you follow this routine every day without considering them. Your unconscious habits create room for your brain to perform more advanced activities like problem-solving and choosing what book to read.

        Everyone has habits, and several of those habits are activated every day. I would classify them into three groups:

        • The first category includes the habits that you hardly notice as they have become a major part of your life- such as brushing teeth or wearing clothes.
        • The second category comprises good habits to have to be more successful-like eating healthily, exercising your body and reading books.
        • The last group consists of those habits that are harmful-like procrastinating, smoking or overeating.

        Habits are fundamental to becoming successful in life — or probably ending up a failure. Yet, as significant as habits are, some lack the knowledge of their capabilities.

        Habits are default activities that you engage in without giving an afterthought. They are automatic behavioral or mental activities. They help you carry out some actions without exerting too much energy. They simplify your life.

        Several people aspire to break bad habits. For instance, some people diet to stop overeating. They exercise to reduce obesity. Habits can hinder or impact your performance and productivity.

        That’s why I would share 10 good habits to have to be more successful in life.

        1. Begin Your Day with Meditation

        I recommend mindful meditation early in the morning. This practice helps you to be in the present moment. Consequently, it enables you to be mindful of challenging situations during the day.

        Different stressors may trigger as you go through the day; meditation helps you to remain calm before taking on the challenges.

        Personally, it helps me to devise strategies and think about ideas. Meditation is a good habit to have if you want to be connected to what’s significant in your life.

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        2. Be Grateful for What You Have

        Sometimes, you waste time thinking of what’s not enough. You become immersed in those daunting challenges. However, challenges justify the presence of hope. When you have life, you have expectations. You will be free from challenges when you are six feet under. The only strategy you have to stop focusing on your problems is to focus on what you have.

        Gratitude is a time-tested pathway to success, health, and happiness. It redirects your focus to what you have from what you lack. Here’s what James Clear does every day,[1]

        “I say one thing I’m grateful for each day when I sit down to eat dinner.”

        3. Smile

        Can you pause and smile before you continue reading this?

        Now here is what just happened based on research conducted by the Association for Psychological Science; you set a pace for living a happier life when you smile. A genuine smile or what’s called a Duchenne smile is a good habit to have if you want to find spiritual, emotional and mental peace of mind.[2]

        Smiling induces the release of molecules that function towards fighting stress. The physiological state of your body determines the state of your mind. When you slouch or frown, your mind takes cues relating to unhappiness and depression. But, once you adjust yourself by putting up a smile, you begin to feel a new level of excitement and vibrancy.

        Can you smile again?

        4. Start Your Day with a Healthy Breakfast

        Starting your day with a healthy breakfast is a good habit to have and forms a crucial part of your life. Nevertheless, about 31 million Americans skip their breakfast each day.[3]

        If you are fed up hearing that breakfast is a crucial component of your day, you are only fighting the truth. If you want to become more successful, you need to ‘break your fast’ with healthy foods every morning.

        This habit is not difficult to form if you usually rush out the door every single morning. You can wake up earlier to fix yourself a meal so you don’t break down during the day.

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        Get inspired by these 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time.

        5. Exercise Daily

        One of the good habits to have is to exercise your body and muscles every day. You don’t have to run a marathon or lift a weight. You only need to engage in less strenuous activities that oxygenate your blood and inject endorphins in your body.

        Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, classified exercise as a good habit to maximize his already jam-packed schedule.[4] He said,

        ‘I wake up by 5, meditate for 30 minutes, seven-minute workout times three, make coffee, and check-in.’

        He said on Product Hunt that he follows this routine every day as it gives him a steady-state that empowers him to be more productive.

        6. Manage Your Time as You Manage Your Finance

        Another good habit is the act of managing your time effectively. This goes a long way to impact your achievement.

        Time management is what separates the successful from the rest of the world as we all possess the same amount of time. How you leverage time determines your potential to succeed in life.

        So how do you manage your time effectively?

        Here’s Jack Dorsey’s recommendation in one of the Techonomy events;

        “I accomplish effective time management by theming my days and practicing self-discipline. These themes help me handle distractions and interactions. If a request or task does not align with the theme for that day, I don’t do it. This sets a cadence for everyone in the company to deliver and evaluate their progress”.

        And this is Dorsey’s weekly theme:[5]

        • Monday – Management
        • Tuesdays – Product
        • Wednesday – Marketing and growth
        • Thursdays – Developers and partnerships
        • Fridays – Culture and recruiting
        • Saturdays – Taking off
        • Sundays – Reflection, feedback, strategy, and preparing for Monday

        No wonder he was able to run two companies when others were struggling with one job.

        7. Set Daily Goals with Intentions

        Everyone has goals. It may relate to business or personal life. The truth is, we’re all tending towards a particular direction or another. Nevertheless, while long-term goals can offer you direction, it’s your daily goals that you establish that help you develop short-term goals that are essential for your success.

        Long-term goals may not give you the motivation you need to keep on. But when you implement your short-term milestones daily, you become fired up, and you can overcome the challenges that come with taking on bigger tasks.

        Here’s the main truth:Successful people don’t set goals without establishing their intentions. According to Jennifer Cohen of Forbes,[6]

        “What helps you to achieve your desired expectation is ensuring intentions accompany your daily goals.”

        Be intentional about your daily goals!

        8. Seek Inspiration

        It is usually difficult to be inspired for a considerable length of time. Sometimes, you become discouraged and feel like giving up on your goals when things are not working out as intended.

        A practical approach to stay on top of the situation is to inspire yourself each day. When you wake up in the morning after meditation, watch some motivational videos, and let the story of great leaders inspire you.

        Establish what Anthony Robbins called the ‘hour of power.’ Determine how many minutes you spend but make it count. Inspiration is the fuel for achievement because when you can conceive it in your mind, you can accomplish it.

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        Michal Solowow, an investor and the founder of Mitex, a construction company puts it this way,[7]

        “The problems I encounter in everyday life motivates me to find solutions. This is a self-propelling mechanism. becoming a billionaire was never a motivating factor.”

        9. Save Steadily, Invest with All Prudence

        I can exhaust the good habits to have without talking about saving and investing. Most times, you overlook the significance of saving for the future when you are living in your present moment. According to CNBC, a $1000 emergency will propel several Americans into debt.[8]

        However, it is not enough to save, and you must invest your fund and be wise with it. If you pay attention to this now, you will set yourself for a life of success in the future. Ensure you save at least six months in your emergency account so you can be prepared for any future emergency.

        10. Budget and Track Your Spendings

        Benjamin Franklin warned of taking the precaution of little expenses. He said,

        “A small leak sinks a great ship.”

        It is easy to discard little expenses, but the truth is they always add up. This happens when you fail to budget.

        Budgeting is a good habit to have, which can impact your financial life significantly. The money you spend on extravagant lifestyles can be saved and invested in your future.

        The Bottom Line

        Endeavor to cultivate these good habits to have to become more successful as you journey through life. The quicker you cultivate them, the faster you achieve your goals.

        More About Habits

        Featured photo credit: Andrijana Bozic via unsplash.com

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        Reference

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