Is your life moving in the direction you want?
Are you not attending all aspects of your life?
Do you need some tips to take back the control?
Well! I have got just what you need. Below are 3 practical tips for you to take better control over your life.
But before you can utilize these tips, there is something critical you need to develop — Awareness!
Yes, awareness about yourself , about the environment and about the people around you.
How to do that , you ask? Here is a quick tip : Just be alone for 9 mins without any distractions (not even your phone) and observe activity both within and without. You will soon find yourself more aware about everything around you.
Now that you have some awareness , let’s begin how to use this awareness in your day to day life.
Step 1 : Declutter your mind — write your worries!
“Everything you’ve told yourself you ought to do, your mind thinks you should do right now”
— Dave Allen, Getting Things Done
In essence, what Dave meant to say in his popular book, Getting Things Done, is that your mind is NOT meant to save information — use a hard drive instead. Your mind is meant to think about problems and come up with solutions to them. If you unnecessary load your mind with all the information to remember and tasks you need to attend to in future, its core performance will reduce just like your computer gets slow.
So just think, what are you stressed about in this moment?
How many of those stress-giving tasks do you plan to finish today?
The idea about decluttering the mind is pretty simple. You know you cannot finish all your unfinished tasks in a single day, so why do you keep all your tasks in your head where you are most likely to forget the task. Even if you don’t forget the task, it will keep stressing you throughout the day because our mind does not know if the task you have in mind is for today, tomorrow or next month. If it’s there in the mind, it will get busy to solve it and keep sending reminders to you unless you solve it.
This is the reason why a to-do list is such a popular tool for productivity. But most advise would be to make a to-do list on a notebook at start or end of the day. What i propose is a to-do list on wheels, that is you should be able to edit your to-do list on the go and whenever you feel necessary. And don’t worry if you can’t carry a pencil and notebook everywhere you go. You already carry a very powerful tool that can increase your productivity if you use it properly — yes, mobile phones!!!
Open a note-taking app and jot down your plans, tasks, things you are afraid you will forget by end of the day and then keep adding tasks as you go about your day and keep crossing each task off your list as you finish them.
By the end of the day, you would have collated all the important things for the day and by the end of week you would all the things you wanted to capture in one place. By the end of the month, you will notice most of tasks that you were worried about are captured in your note-taking app and thereby you can pick them at your comfort and cross them off the list and when you find time to focus on them.
Now that you have freed up your mind from having to save so much task related information and don’t have to keep reminding yourself of the unfinished task , your mind will be much more relaxed and will not keep thinking about the possible solutions to all your problems at the same time.
Instead, you can now use your brain power , to solve tasks of your own choosing and at your own pace. You will be amazed at the speed of your brain at solving such problems when it does not have to think about 100 other items and keep a reminder on 24X7.
Just give it a try now before reading any further!
Step 2: Decide your priorities — think about impact!
“Every minute we spend on something useless is a minute we lose working on something useful.”
— Chris Bailey, HyperFocus
Once you have the list of your important tasks from step 1, the next logical step is to identify your high impact tasks. Read the book HyperFocus if you want to understand this idea in detail.
How do i know which tasks are most impactful?
Well to begin with, I first choose the tasks that I am really really stressed about as completing them give me a sense of accomplishment and calms my brain to focus on other tasks. It’s easy to identify such tasks as they your mind often end up worrying about them while doing other tasks.
From the list of remaining tasks, I choose the items I find are the most important for my long term goals like health, career or productivity in general.
For you if personal growth is what you care about, you can get started on that. If doing something for a family member or friend is important for you this week , you can choose that item and ensure you make your loved one happy.
Make a note to always add specific actions in your list. When the item originally came to your mind, it may a bit vague as you may not have time to think about it. But when you are reviewing your list to pick up the task for the day, give some thought to the process required to complete the task. Ask yourself questions like:
How will you achieve this task?
What all do you need to do before you can mark this as complete?
What specific impact will this task create?
Think about these actions and come up with a specific action you must take to make progress on the task. Sometimes, you may have to add more details (sub-tasks) below the original task. Do so without any worry. It will help you track the performance and another thing you don’t have to remember and worry about.
I usually mark in bold my 2–3 important tasks — a mix of both professional and personal which if completed by the end of day , I consider my day as successful. For the tasks which can’t be finished in one day and leads to other tasks , I make sure to mark the first steps as complete which in itself is a sign of progress.
Step 3: Deliberate action — do the task!
“The best way to avoid work is to finish it.”
Once you have identified your high impact tasks, the only thing left is to take the action as per the priority set by you. Do not waste any more time thinking on how to do it. All the thinking is to be done in Step 2. Step 3 is pure deliberate action. Now is the time to turn into a machine and just follow your own specific plan of action you chalked out in Step 2. Do these tasks consciously and fully knowing that these tasks are the best way to spend your day on.
I find it useful to immediately get started on tasks which takes less than 5 minutes. More you finish such tasks, they give you confidence and sets the momentum for bigger tasks. Believe me, this momentum is very powerful. It can help you take on the biggest and most complex of tasks.
In case you get distracted, then just try to bring your attention back to the task at hand. This is why awareness plays an important role — sooner you realize you are distracted, sooner you can come back to the original task.
Follow the above 3 steps for next 5 days and you will see change in your daily routine. You will find more control in your life, less things to worry about and more clarity about your daily goals and more focus while working on the task. Most importantly, you will utilize your mind well to solve your problems and focus only on the task at hand and not stress about everything else.
These tips from these awesome books have helped me improve my life and take back the control. I know it will help you do the same.
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© 2021 Gomzi
Gomzi (author) on July 29, 2021:
Thanks. Appreciate it!
OLUSEGUN from NIGERIA on July 28, 2021:
This summarizes what man can do that will continually bring him progress. Good work here.