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How to Make Every Day More Productive (and More Meaningful)

How to Make Every Day More Productive (and More Meaningful)

I don’t need to tell you you’re busy. We all are, and while there’s much to be said about making time to relax and implementing ways to manage stress, we can’t just ignore our to-do lists, right? We’ve all got a lot on our plates, and we’re all doing our best to juggle responsibilities carefully and keep all balls in the air. It logically follows that it would behoove us to find a way to work more efficiently in order to get a ton of stuff done in a day.

But why stop at getting a lot of things done? Why not map out a strategy that ensures you’re getting a lot of high-impact, purposeful things done as well? It sounds like a lofty goal to aim for oncelet alone dailybut with a little planning, it’s relatively easy to ensure you’re spending your time wisely every day. Here’s how:

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Determine When You’re at Your Best

Consider your typical day, from the time you wake up to the time you fall asleep—when are you on your A-game? Most of us are naturally more energetic, creative, motivated, etc. at a specific time of day than any other, and it’s a predictable time slot because it’s the same over and over again. Some of us do our best work immediately upon waking, while some of us need coffee and a bit of time to wake up to get cranking at full speed. Others don’t hit their groove until the afternoon or evening hours, and, of course, the night owls among us pump out masterpieces while the rest of the world sleeps.

Knowing when you’re most productive is fantastic self knowledge to have, and you should be taking steps to maximize the potential this block of time affords. This change alone can have a significant impact on your daily output.

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Outline & Prioritize Your Goals

In an overall, big-picture sense, what are you trying to achieve? It’s best to consider your long term goals—as opposed to small, daily to-dos—to make the very best use of your time. Why fly through your list only to realize you’ve made very little progress in the areas you truly care about?

A one-year timeframe might work well here in choosing the right kind of goals to focus on. Examples of aspirations that fit with this exercise would be scoring a promotion at work, making progress in a fitness or weight loss pursuit, or getting some creative projects into production.

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Once you’ve identified what you’re shooting for, you’ll need to prioritize, and rank your goals in order of importance.

Plan Accordingly

This is as simple as matching your best self to your most important goal, and repeating the process until you’ve structured your most productive day. Let’s imagine your goals rank like this: 1) weight loss 2) creative projects 3) promotion at work. Let’s also imagine you’ve determined you’re at your very best in the morning, after you’ve had some time to wake up.

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Your re-worked schedule might look like this: Wake up extra early, have some coffee, and spend some time reading, listening to music, or whatever gets your creative juices flowing. Once fully awake, hit the gym and give it your all (best self). Afterward, spend an hour or two on creative endeavors (second best self) before heading into work (third best self).

This is a basic, yet often overlooked practice to put in place, and it’s easy to see how doing so can help you squeeze the most out of your day.

Do you structure your day mindfully? What else can we do to hack our schedules?

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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