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How to Better Yourself One Day at a Time

How to Better Yourself One Day at a Time

    There are so many things in your life that you want to get better at, but for some reason you keep falling short of your own (an other’s) expectations. Why is that?

    The problem is that we tend to try to better ourselves all at once, rather than concentrate on one important thing at a time, allowing ourselves to build up momentum over months and years. One day at a time turns into a lifetime of change and getting better. We can eventually become a better overall person if we have a day to day plan and stick to it.

    Here is how to better yourself, one day at a time.

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    Identify your strengths and weaknesses

    First, to better yourself on a consistent basis, you have to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you are awesome at working out or getting some exercise everyday, but your eating habits need a makeover. The idea here is to look at yourself realistically. Only from a realistic outlook can you create new habits and small changes in your life that will eventually stick.

    Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. This will be a great list to use while you better yourself as well as something to look back on after months and years of life changes.

    SEE ALSO: 42 Practical Ways to Improve Yourself

    Pick a topic to work on

    Now that you have a list of things that you are strong and weak at, go through the list and choose one simple thing you want to get better at. I suggest something that won’t take too much effort or time at first. This is because you want to set yourself up for success, at least initially, when it comes to bettering yourself.

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    A few good “starter” topics would be:

    • Do a light workout 3 times a week for 20 minutes each
    • Cut out one or two bad foods in your diet in the next 30 days
    • Drink 8 cups of water every day

    These topics are good because they don’t require too much effort and are trackable. Remember to only pick one. We will be working on this for some time, so you shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew.

    Wake up early

    There is no better way to start the process of geting better at something than to wake up earlier. Getting up early has a ton of benefits. It’s quiet, dark, and peaceful. You can be by yourself and you can truly concentrate on the change you want to make one day at a time.

    Become mindful and aware of your topic

    The more mindful we are of what we are trying to change in our lives, the more stock and momentum go into changing it. To become aware of what you are trying to get better at you can make small reminders throughout your day with a few reminder apps or just post a few sticky notes in certain strategic places that will remind you of the thing that you want to change.

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    Shining light on the topic you want to get better at is the best way to become mindful of it and actually make the change.

    Be accountable

    Being accountable to yourself and others around you is a tactic that many miss when trying to better themselves. Let your friends and family, your social networks, and sometimes even your work buddies know about the change you are making.

    This will help you become more serious about your daily change, and could even prove to be a benefit for others around you as they may decide to join you in the topic that you have chosen. It’s not a bad thing to have a workout buddy!

    Track your time and actions

    If you can’t track something, you can’t manage it. In the process of bettering yourself you should track the days, hours, or minutes spent on the life change that you are making. This gives you data to look at during your review that you can use to decided if you are

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    Write and review

    The only way to become better at something, day-in and day-out, is to stay on track. And you can’t do that without some sort of daily or weekly review. If you are a GTDer, than this will fit in perfectly with your weekly review that is already in place. If not, just set a time every day or week where you can write about and review your successes in making the change that you have set out to make.

    By doing this review, you will be able to tell where you need to improve as well as when you are actually “done” making the change.

    Rinse and repeat

    Now that you gotten better at something, there is no need to stop at just one thing. Take out your strength and weaknesses list and identify something else you want to get better at. Maybe this time you will choose something that is a little more difficult, like playing guitar, learning German, or running 10 miles. Whatever it is, you now have the framework in place to better yourself one day at a time.

    (Photo credit: Man jump through the gap via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    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 July 8, 2020

    What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero

    What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero

    Ah, Inbox Zero. An achievement that so many of us long for. It’s elusive. It’s a productivity benchmark. It’s an ongoing battle.

    It’s also unnecessary.

    Don’t get me wrong, the way Inbox Zero was initially termed is incredibly valuable. Merlin Mann coined the phrase years ago and what he has defined it as goes well beyond the term itself.[1]

    Yet people have created their own definition of Inbox Zero. They’re not using it with the intent that Mann suggested. Instead, it’s become about having nothing left in immediate view. It’s become about getting your email inbox to zero messages or having an empty inbox on your desk that was once filled with papers. It’s become about removing visual clutter.

    But it’s not about that. Not at all.

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    Here’s what inbox zero actually is, as defined by Mann:

    “It’s about how to reclaim your email, your atten­tion, and your life. That “zero?” It’s not how many mes­sages are in your inbox–it’s how much of your own brain is in that inbox. Especially when you don’t want it to be. That’s it.” – Merlin Mann

    The Fake Inbox Zero

    The sense of fulfillment one gets from clearing out everything in your inbox is temporary at best, disappointing at worst. Often we find that we’re shooting for Inbox Zero just so that we can say that we’ve got “everything done that needed to be done”. That’s simply not the case.

    Certainly, by removing all of your things that sit in your inbox means that they are either taken care of or are well on their way to being taken care of. The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is often applied to clearing out your inbox. But unless you’ve actually done something with the stuff, it’s either not worth having in your inbox in the first place or is still sitting in your “mental inbox”.

    You have to do something with the stuff, and for many people, that is a hard thing to do. That’s why Inbox Zero – as defined by Mann – is not achieved as often as many people would like to believe. It’s this “watered down” concept of Inbox Zero that is completed instead. You’ve got no email in your inbox and you’ve got no paper on your desk’s inbox. So that must mean you’re at Inbox Zero.

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    Until the next email arrives or the next document comes your way. Then you work to get rid of those as quickly as possible so that you can get back to Inbox Zero: The Lesser again. If it’s something that can be dealt with quickly, then you get there. But if they require more time, then soon you’ve got more stuff in your inboxes. So you switch up tasks to get to the things that don’t require as much time or attention so that you can get closer to this stripped down variation of Inbox Zero.

    However, until you deal with the bigger items, you don’t quite get there. Some people feel as if they’ve let themselves (or others) down if they don’t get there. And that, quite frankly, is silly. That’s why this particular version of Inbox Zero doesn’t work.

    The Ultimate Way to Get to Inbox Zero

    So what’s the ultimate way to get to Inbox Zero?

    Have zero inboxes.

    The inbox is meant to be a stop along the way to your final destination. It’s the place where stuff sits until you’re ready to put it in the place where it sits until you’re ready to deal with it.

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    So why not skip the inbox altogether? Why not put it in the place where it sits until you’re ready to deal with it? Because that requires immediate action. It means you need to give the item some thought and attention.

    You need to step back and look at it rather than file it. That’s why we have a catch-all inbox, both for email and for analog items. It allows us to only look at these things when we’re ready to do so.

    The funny thing is that we can decide when we’re ready to without actually looking at the inbox beforehand. We can look at things on our own watch rather than when we are alerted to or feel the need to.

    There is no reason why you need an inbox at all to store things for longer than it sits there before you see it. None. It’s a choice. And the choice you should be making is how to deal with things when you first see them, rather than when to deal with things you haven’t looked at yet.

    Stop Faking It

    Seeing things in your inboxes is simply using your sight. Looking at things in your inbox when you first see them is using insight.

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    Stop checking email more than twice per day. Turn off your alerts. Put your desk’s inbox somewhere that it can be accessed by others and only accessed by you when you’re ready to deal with what’s in it. Don’t put it on your desk – that’s productivity poison.

    If you want to get to Inbox Zero — the real Inbox Zero — then get rid of those stops along the way. You’ll find that by doing that, you’ll be getting more of the stuff you really want done finished much faster, rather than see them moving along at the speed of not much more than zero.

    More Productivity Tips to Get Organized

    Featured photo credit: Web Hosting via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Merlin Mann: Inbox Zero

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