Each January, there’s always all this commotion about having a new year’s resolution. It’s a cultural norm in the same way fireworks are associated with July (at least here in America). Unfortunately, most of the time, these goals fizzle out before reaching a single month. If you don’t believe me, check your local gym in February. Before you get too discouraged, let me share with you three simple ways I’m convinced can make this year your most productive year yet.
1. Own your time!
It all starts with time management. This is the most prevalent pattern I have seen in the lives of those who are most successful. They all have learned how to make their time count. One of the biggest lies that anyone can accept (this especially pertains to us creatives) is that “I don’t need structure”. Have you ever heard someone say something along the lines of “routine just isn’t my thing” or “my creative side tends to flow around 2 am”? I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past. The truth is while sometimes we hit a lucky chord while wandering aimlessly, this is no way to arrange your life, or to consistently make progress.
I was just reading today about how “quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort”. These words by John Ruskin remind us of the importance of intentional living. If you want to take control of your time in 2016, you have to own your time. Get in the habit of living a routine (as unappealing and unsexy as that sounds). Even if you don’t have a traditional day job, or don’t have the position you desire yet, give yourself structure as if you did. I’ve heard stories of how great entrepreneurs would schedule a room at their library, or start each day at their local coffee shop and arrange meetings before they had an income. Start and end your workday at the same time each day. This will force you to be productive in those hours without the option to procrastinate. This will also allow you to definitely say yes to other plans outside of your work hours without feeling the guilt that you should be working instead.
2. Plan tomorrow today.
You’ve gotten in the rhythm of scheduling your time, great! Now you must learn how to maximize that period. A trick I’ve learned is to plan tomorrow today. Don’t wake up directionless. Give yourself the advantage of knowing the game plan before its time to execute. By planning tomorrow today, you can stay ahead of the curve and not waste time in the morning trying to come up with a strategy. You’ll notice two patterns in life. Those who flourish are always thinking ahead, and those who do not are always catching up.
3. Take baby steps.
Often times when looking at world leaders in different fields, people assume they “got lucky” or “made it over night”. This is almost never the case. It’s tempting to think in leaps and bounds. “If only I win this major competition, I’ll get noticed”. “If only this single project takes off, I’ll be an instant success”. There’s danger in craving instant anything. As Bruce Lee said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
Masters aren’t born overnight; they are formed over years paved by persistence. It’s essential to be thinking of the big picture, but remember that a jigsaw puzzle is comprised of a bunch of small pieces. Instead of starting the day with five separate vast desires, focus on one small goal and get it done. These baby steps add up over time.
By owning your time, planning tomorrow today, and constantly taking baby steps you’ll be off to becoming the productive individual you’ve always wanted to be. Here’s to your best year yet!
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