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The 3 Step Plan to Fall Behind in Style

The 3 Step Plan to Fall Behind in Style

    No matter how many self-help and productivity books you read and implement it is inevitable that you will eventually fall behind in your work and life. Falling behind can be a terrible experience; you can lose precious time catching up, stress yourself out, and the worst case being losing your job or money.

    But, you don’t have to be a horrible, unproductive loser when you fall behind in work and life. Follow these three steps to fall behind in style.

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    1. Stick to your system

    First off, falling behind won’t work if you don’t have a productivity system in place. It doesn’t really matter what system you follow, just make sure that you have some sort of framework to fall back on.

    The reason that you need your system when you fall behind is that you need a trusted place to put all of the incoming stuff that you can’t currently handle. Having a place to store this information while you get out of your little (or big) rut is important to keeping yourself somewhat on track. While you work through you projects and tasks backlog, keep all of the incoming information on a someday/maybe list and reevaluate it when you are out of your rut.

    Try very hard not to add more work to your current projects and tasks, unless you absolutely don’t have a choice. If you do have to add more work, then you may need to cut something you are currently working on (more on that in step three).

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    2. Get some backup

    When your work life is falling through the cracks it is almost impossible to get back on track alone. There is nothing better than having someone (or a team of people) to fall back on. I’m not saying that you want to make these people your scapegoats or give them all the work while you sit around and drink your Starbucks. I’m saying that you have to communicate with them and possibly offload work to them.

    Make sure that others that you work with know that you are behind and that you are concentrating on a few things to get back on track. If you are a pretty diligent worker to begin with, your coworkers will understand and most likely will give you a hand, that is, if they aren’t completely backlogged themselves.

    If you have some teammates at work that are really good at something you have to do, maybe you can delegate them some of your work so you can concentrate on the others things that you are better and faster at.

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    3. Revaluate your commitments and cut the fat

    One of the biggest reasons we fall behind in work and life is because we have committed to too many projects and cool ideas. Our minds are filled with glorious plans, ways to make money, killer startups, and projects that “need to be done” or are “no-brainers”.

    The reality of the matter is that we can only commit to so much in our lives. If we overcommit, we not only risk falling behind in our work, we risk completed projects poorly or not at all. This can be more detrimental than the initial stress from falling behind.

    What you can do is fall back on your system (you do have one of those, right?) and look at all of the projects you have committed to. Take the five most important projects and make them the only active ones you have. These will most likely be projects that are overdue or are on the brink of failure. Concentrate on these five projects and only work on them until they are completed. Then you can start to trickle in other “less important” projects.

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    You may find by reevaluating your projects that some of them are not worth your time right now or not worth any time ever. Get rid of them as you see fit. There is no better way to get ahead in work by giving yourself less unimportant work.

    One task at a time

    While getting destroyed by your work projects can be stressful and feel like the world around you is caving in, you don’t have to be a super productivity nerd to get back on track; just someone who is realistic with themselves and can set realistic expectations on their own work. All you have to do is follow these three steps to make falling behind in work and life look easy.

    (Photo credit: Office worker with a sign asking for help via Shutterstock)

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    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on September 24, 2020

    17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

    17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

    In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

    The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

    Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

    1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

    Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

    For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

    2. Use the Pareto Principle

    Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

    Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

    3. Make Stakes

    Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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    However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

    4. Record Yourself

    Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

    5. Join a Group

    There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

    6. Time Travel

    Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

    Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

    7. Be a Chameleon

    When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

    Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

    “Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

    Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

    8. Focus

    Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

    Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

    9. Visualize

    The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

    Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

    Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

    10. Find a Mentor

    Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

    Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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    If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

    11. Sleep on It

    Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

    Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

    12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

    Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

    His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

    Check out his video to find out more:

    13. Learn by Doing

    It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

    Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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    14. Complete Short Sprints

    Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

    One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

    15. Ditch the Distractions

    Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

    Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

    16. Use Nootropics

    Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

    Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

    Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

    17. Celebrate

    For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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    The Bottom Line

    Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

    More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

    Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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