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Micro-productivity: Accomplishing Major Goals With Minor Effort

Micro-productivity: Accomplishing Major Goals With Minor Effort

    When I’m not writing for Stepcase Lifehack, I spend my time crafting microfiction. I am the author of a 365-part fiction serial running at MargeryJones.com, and I have a piece of microfiction being featured in an upcoming HarperCollins fiction anthology on sale this June.

    So I know a little something about getting a lot accomplished in a short amount of time. For example, sitting down and creating a novel is intimidating. But by focusing my efforts into writing a daily serial, I’ll have a novella complete by the end of the year with very little time invested per month. Some of the precepts of writing microfiction can easily be applied to any situation to help you reach a major goal or milestone.

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    I’m not the first person to write about this kind of “micro-productivity”. The Friendly Anarchist wrote a blog post about making the most of those 5-minute windows of time we all have in our day. He suggests that when you have a spare couple of minutes with nothing to do, you should use it to do something worthwhile, something productive: “Create cool stuff: Edit some photos, skribble some sketches, jot down an outline for your next essay, write a haiku.”

    He argues that we sometimes psyche ourselves up when reaching for major goals or blocking out time for creative pursuits. By working in small chunks of time, “your old buddy procrastination has no chance to hit, if all you got are five minutes. And who knows, maybe…you’ll get an effortless 20 minutes of action, without even having to struggle.”

    So, if you’re interested in accomplishing big projects with just a little bit of effort, here’s the basic process to follow.

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    1. Set a major goal

    This is the time to dream big. Maybe you want to write a novel, get in shape, or earn some extra income with a side business. Decide what major life goal you have been putting off for years, and make a commitment to make a dent in the work required to make that goal a reality.

    2. Break down that goal into micro-tasks

    Say your major goal is to get rock hard abs by the end of the year. You might decide that the way for you to accomplish that goal is to do 100 crunches a day. If you’re committed to writing a novel, break down the work of writing into a set number of pages, chapters, or words.

    The important thing isn’t how you break down the work leading towards successful completion of your goal, but rather that you break down the work into small, manageable micro-projects. Think about what you can conceivably get done in a 5 or 10 minute period of time, or what you can do over several such blocks of time without major fits and starts.

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    3. Set a schedule

    For example, say you’re still planning on working on your abs, and want to do 100 crunches a day. You break down those 100 crunches into 4 groups of 25, making your goal easy to achieve during the commercial breaks of an hour long TV show.

    Or maybe you’re dead-set on finishing a novel, so you dedicate three of your coffee breaks at work each week to scribbling a few passages into a notebook.

    4. Get ahead of schedule

    How do you do that? Simple. Just make an effort to use any 5-10 minute chunks of free time that you would otherwise “waste” to work on your project. I mentioned working your goals into TV commercial breaks above. Other great places to sneak in a little productive time include your morning commute (assuming you are a carpool passenger or subway rider), or while you’re making dinner (while waiting for water to boil or the microwave to ding).

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    And when you’re ahead of schedule (which is easy to do when it only takes 5 minutes to make progress), you’ll find that your this boosts your confidence. And when you feel good about your project and your goals, you’ll be more motivated and more productive.

    Conclusion

    Obviously you shouldn’t use every spare 5-minute chunk of your day towards your goals. Everybody needs a little down time to veg out and recharge their batteries. But by making a conscious effort to spend a few minutes per day working towards a major life goal, you will make slow, measured progress that might not be possible otherwise.

    And even if you don’t have a major goal you’re working towards, using several 5-10 minute blocks of time towards a productive goal each day can really do wonders for both your personal and professional life. In an older post here at Lifehack.org, Leo Babauta wrote a great list of ways to make productive use of these small chunks of time. Those tips included balancing your checkbook, networking with your professional contacts, or even earning extra money by freelancing on the side.

    Big goals are scary. You can easily get derailed working on major projects if you get frustrated or anxious about working on them. Working on a project for 5-10 minutes at a time can keep you from becoming your own worst enemy. And when you aren’t getting in your own way, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

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    Tucker Cummings

    Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

    The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity? The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It? How to Diagnose the “Phantom Cursor” Issue on Your Mac Extreme Minimalism: Andrew Hyde and the 15-Item Lifestyle 6 Easy Tips for Living with 100 Items or Less

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    Last Updated on June 19, 2019

    10 Websites To Learn Something New In 30 Minutes A Day

    10 Websites To Learn Something New In 30 Minutes A Day

    Learning something new is always an exciting endeavour to commence. The problem is that most of us get wrapped up in busy distractions throughout the day so that we can never find the time to learn the new skill we want.

    What’s worse is that some of us spend hours learning this new skill only to give up after a few months, which is precious time that goes down the toilet.

    Luckily, there’s a better solution.

    Instead of using our time to sit through long lectures and lengthy video courses, we can take advantage of all the amazing websites that can help us learn a new skill in 30 minutes or less.

    We’ve collected the best sites that teach a diversified list of topics and have decided to share them with you here today. Enjoy!

    1. Lynda

    Estimated time: 20-30 mins
    Topics: Business, marketing, design, software tools

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    Get access to 1,000s of courses with a 10-day free trial to develop your skills in business, photoshop, software, and much more.

    2. Skillshare

    Estimated time: 20-30 mins
    Topics: Cooking, design, software tools, marketing, photography

    Ten dollars per month gets you access to bite-sized, on-demand courses taught by leading experts like Gary Vaynerchuk, Guy Kawasaki, and more.

    3. Hackaday

    Estimated time: 5 mins
    Topics: Life hacks, productivity

    This website delivers tips to make your life better and more productive. Just 5 minutes a day is all you need to learn new life hacks to improve your lifestyle.

    4. Codeacademy

    Estimated time: 15-30 mins
    Topics: Software development

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    A gamified approach to coding, Codeacademy helps anyone build a website through an interactive learning method. Learn any programming language from HTML, CSS, Javascript, Ruby on Rails, and more by actually building instead of spending your time on theory.

    5. 7-min

    Estimated time: 7 mins
    Topics: Health & Fitness

    Do you have just 7 minutes to get in shape? Most of us aren’t in the shape that we want to be because of the lack of time we have. Putting our workout apparel on, driving to the gym, and driving back can take up a lot of our time in themselves.

    In just 7 minutes, this website will go through dozens of routines to get you in shape and ready for the day ahead. Time is no longer an excuse!

    6. Calm

    Estimated time: 10 mins
    Topics: Meditation

    Get guided meditations right to your screen. With Calm, you can learn different types of meditation where a teacher can guide you step-by-step through the process, even if it’s your first time trying meditation.

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    7. Highbrow

    Estimated time: 5 mins
    Topics: Business, creative skills, design, history

    Bite-sized email courses delivered to your inbox every morning to learn everything from film history, marketing, business, and more.

    8. Big Think

    Estimated time: 10 mins
    Topics: Technology, science, life

    Learn from the world’s experts about scientific breakthroughs, revolutionary business concepts, and more in short, chunk-sized videos.

    9. Khan Academy

    Estimated time: 30 mins
    Topics: Academics

    Recognized by Bill Gates as one of the best teachers online, Salman Khan breaks down complicated subjects into simplified concepts to help you understand them in minutes, not weeks.

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    10. Rype

    Estimated time: 15-30 mins
    Topics: Foreign languages

    Are you “too busy” to learn a language? Meet Rype, your personal trainer for languages. Get unlimited 1-on-1 private language lessons with professional teachers around the world. Each lesson is just 30 minutes, allowing you to fit learning a language into your busy lifestyle. You can try it free for 14-days and see for yourself.

    Over to you

    Which of these topics were your favorite?

    We’d love to hear from you, and please share this with friends who are also looking to learn something new!

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