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How to Really Achieve Goals

How to Really Achieve Goals

Sometimes I wish I had a Life-GPS that would help me achieve goals. It would instruct me on my way, recalculate when I don’t take the suggested turn, and visually show me where I am all the time, including the distance left. Sadly, we usually don’t have the map of our lives, but there are important lessons to learn from that picture.

Life-GPS

What is the most important aspect of a GPS you may have in your car?

Think for a minute.

It’s telling you exactly where you are. You probably don’t even start driving without knowing your location. This is super important in our lives also. You can have a detailed map and a very clear goal in your mind, but when you don’t know where you are, you simply can’t get there.

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Before trying any goal-setting, motivational speeches and progress tracking, the most important thing is to sit down and honestly answer the question “Where am I right now?”

  • What is the vision for my life? Do I have it?
  • What do I have? What can I use?
  • What’s unique about me?
  • What’s important for me?
  • What are my priorities?
  • What strengthens me? What drains energy from me?
  • What habits do I have? What habits I would like to have?
  • What are my values?
  • What did I already try? How many times? (As Einstein said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”)
  • What aspects of my life are neglected?

When you are lost without directions, sometimes you need to look around, observe, maybe ask others to tell you, but without that knowledge you won’t get to your destination even if you precisely know where it is.

Goal Setting

When your internal Life-GPS is warmed up and you know where you are with some accuracy, you can precisely set your goal. There are three important aspects of goal setting that are described by Pareto Principle, Flow and SMART goals.

20% of your goals will usually define 80% of your outcome. This is why you need just a few clear, energizing goals. According to Wikipedia, Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.. You know it, right? And it is good to learn how to make that a conscious choice. SMART goals will help you being precise and avoid wasting energy.

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With that knowledge, you are ready to start your journey. You know where you are and you know your destination. Turn on the engine and start moving!

Hints on your way

Many things can happen when your journey has already begun. This is why you need signs and signals on your way.

Inspect and adapt. When there is “road construction” in your life and you can’t take the turn you wanted, don’t be angry. Simply “recalculate” and move on. Life is all about being flexible. Smile and just take a different road.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” wrote ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. It’s amazing that you can drive hundreds of miles during the night, when you only see less than 1% of the road in front of you. You don’t have to know all the details to start moving.

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Don’t hurry. It kills your creativity. And it drains energy from you.

Get rid of the garbage. In your computer. In your life. Habits. Relationships. Time. It won’t go away on its own. And it smells.

Don’t forget the fun. You are not a machine and you will achieve goals faster and with greater energy when you make things fun. Just an example how fun can change your behavior for better:

Fasting. When you take the same road over and over again, it starts to be boring. Also when you eat the same thing every day, you are losing the taste of it. Take breaks. Stop doing something—eating, drinking, reading, and meeting—for a period of time, just to get the fresh taste after the break. You will be more aware of where you are and will achieve goals faster.

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Turn off distractors. You can’t drive very fast and talk and text at the same time. If you want to be fast, you really need to focus. Your phone, social media and sometimes even other people can wait for some time. When you lose your focus, you need to slow down.

Be grateful. Another red light and you may start complaining. But do you do the opposite? If there is a series of green lights on your way do you silently say ‘Thank you’? Gratitude can open your eyes and you may fully enjoy the view while driving toward your goals.

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Piotr Nabielec

Author, CEO, Consultant

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity?

The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity?

If you spend any time at all researching life hacks, you’ve probably heard of the famous Pomodoro Technique.

Created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is one of the more popular time management life hacks used today. But this method isn’t for everyone, and for every person who is a passionate adherent of the system, there is another person who is critical of the results.

Is the Pomodoro Technique right for you? It’s a matter of personal preference. But if you are curious about the benefits of using the technique, this article will break down the basic information you will need to decide if this technique is worth trying out.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management philosophy that aims to provide the user with maximum focus and creative freshness, thereby allowing them to complete projects faster with less mental fatigue.

The process is simple:

For every project throughout the day, you budget your time into short increments and take breaks periodically.

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You work for 25 minutes, then take break for five minutes.

Each 25-minute work period is called a “pomodoro”, named after the Italian word for tomato. Francesco Cirillo used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his personal timer, and thus the method’s name.

After four “pomodoros” have passed, (100 minutes of work time with 15 minutes of break time) you then take a 15-20 minute break.

Every time you finish a pomodoro, you mark your progress with an “X”, and note the number of times you had the impulse to procrastinate or switch gears to work on another task for each 25-minute chunk of time.

How the Pomodoro Technique boosts your productivity

Frequent breaks keep your mind fresh and focused. According to the official Pomodoro website, the system is easy to use and you will see results very quickly:

“You will probably begin to notice a difference in your work or study process within a day or two. True mastery of the technique takes from seven to twenty days of constant use.”

If you have a large and varied to-do list, using the Pomodoro Technique can help you crank through projects faster by forcing you to adhere to strict timing.

Watching the timer wind down can spur you to wrap up your current task more quickly, and spreading a task over two or three pomodoros can keep you from getting frustrated.

The constant timing of your activities makes you more accountable for your tasks and minimizes the time you spend procrastinating.

You’ll grow to “respect the tomato”, and that can help you to better handle your workload.

Successful people who love it

Steven Sande of The Unofficial Apple Weblog is a fan of the system, and has compiled a great list of Apple-compatible Pomodoro tools.

Before he started using the technique, he said,

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“Sometimes I couldn’t figure out how to organize a single day in my calendar, simply because I would jump around to all sorts of projects and never get even one of them accomplished.”

Another proponent of the Pomodoro Technique is Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal. Shellenbarger tried out this system along with several other similar methods for time management, and said,

“It eased my anxiety over the passing of time and also made me more efficient; refreshed by breaks, for example, I halved the total time required to fact-check a column.”

Any cons for the Pomodoro Technique?

Despite the number of Pomodoro-heads out there, the system isn’t without its critics. Colin T. Miller, a Yahoo! employee and blogger, tried using the Pomodoro Technique and had some issues:[1]

“Pomodoros are an all or nothing affair. Either you work for 25 minutes straight to mark your X or you don’t complete a pomodoro. Since marking that X is the measurable sign of progress, you start to shy away from engaging in an activity if it won’t result in an X. For instance…meetings get in the way of pomodoros. Say I have a meeting set for 4:30pm. It is currently 4:10pm, meaning I only have 20 minutes between now and the meeting…In these instances I tend to not start a pomodoro because I won’t have enough time to complete it anyway.”

Another critic is Mario Fusco, who argues that the Pomodoro Technique is…well…sort of ridiculous:[2]

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“Aren’t we really able to keep ourselves concentrated without a timer ticketing on our desk?… Have you ever seen a civil engineer using a timer to keep his concentration while working on his projects?… I think that, like any other serious professional, I can stay concentrated on what I am doing for hours… Bring back your timer to your kitchen and start working in a more professional and effective way.”

Conclusion

One of the best things about the Pomodoro Technique is that it’s free. Yeah, you can fork over some bills to get a tomato-shaped timer if you want… or you can use any timer program on your computer or phone. So even if you try it and hate it, you haven’t lost any cash.

The process isn’t ideal for every person, or in any line of work. But if you need a systematic way to tackle your daily to-do list, the Pomodoro Technique may fit your needs.

If you want to learn more about the Pomodoro Technique, check out this article: How to Make the Pomodoro Technique More Productive

Reference

[1] Aspirations of a Software Developer: A Month of the Pomodoro Technique
[2] InfoQ: A Critique of the Pomodoro Technique

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