Hey, what is going on, guys? So, we are right at the first time of January right now. And what I wanted to do is give you guys 10 ideas for starting out more productively. And, you know what, I don’t think we really need a whole lot more preamble than that, so let’s get started.
Tip #1, Try using a habit tracking app.
And, there are a ton of these out there. My personal favorite is called Habitica because it basically turns habit tracking into an RPG-like video game where you get stat boosts and weapons and gear and go on quests. And, you can even partner up with people who will keep you accountable.
But, there are also a bunch of decidedly less nerdy options out there including Momentum and Today which are both on iOS and Loop, which is an Android exclusive. I find that using a habit tracker is really useful for me because the act of marking down when I actually do a habit creates a streak. And, when I look back on that streak, I don’t want to break it.
As Peter Drucker once may have said, “What gets measured gets managed.”
Tip #2 Create pre-planned blocks of study time in your schedule.
Now, we’ve talked a lot on this channel about the power of focusing on one task for a long, uninterrupted period of time. But a lot of times it’s really easy to convince yourself that more urgent, but easier tasks or less important tasks should be done right now.
So, if you start your week, or at least your day, with a plan that I’m gonna, say, do my homework from two to six pm, and do nothing else. Then you’re more likely to do it, and you’re more likely to focus only on that task, which is difficult.
Tip #3, Start an accomplishment journal.
This is exactly what it sounds like. You’re keeping a simple record of everything that you’ve done, either on a daily basis or maybe on a weekly or longer basis depending on how much effort you wanna put into it.
But, I find this practice to be really useful because as you get older and as you get into more of a schedule whether it be with school or work, the days can start to blend together, everything becomes a routine.
And, when this starts to happen, you can start to feel like you haven’t really accomplished anything in a while. Because your brain has sort of filed it away. And, that could demotivate you.
But, if you have an accomplishment journal to look back on, you can see that, yes, you actually have accomplished a good deal.
Now, My Impossible List is a form of an accomplishment journal. I basically mark off any time I achieve something really big that I set out to do.
But, my suggestion here is actually that you try doing an accomplishment journal on a daily basis. Essentially, as you finish tasks during the day, write them down in a note on Evernote or your note-taking app of choice or on just a scrap of paper. And then at the end of the day, or possibly at the end of the week, review them and see what you did.
And this can actually have benefits beyond just looking at the checked-off items on your to-do list.
Because as you probably know pretty well, a lot of times, tasks come up in the middle of the day and interrupt you and things that you didn’t anticipate just happen.
So, by keeping a record of all these things, you’re gonna have the more accurate picture of what you were actually able to accomplish.
And, when you’re going through your review sessions, that more accurate picture is gonna enable you to make better and more intelligent changes to the way that you work.
Tip #4 You should make a lot more time for exercise.
And, yes, this is a pretty cliche tip, but a lot of people don’t prioritize exercise especially when they’re ambitious. Their work takes up all their hours and they just don’t make it a priority.
Now, it’s also true that when a new year rolls around, a lot of people get it into their heads that they are finally going to exercise consistently this year. And, maybe you’re thinking that.
My one recommendation here echoes what I talked about last week. Start small, restrict your timescale, and don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Because when you start the new year, you have a lot of motivation and you might not have a whole lot on your plate, so it’s really easy to stick with a goal.
But, later on down the line, when stuff starts to get into your way, your schedule starts to get a bit busier, that’s when your self-discipline is truly tested.
So, if you set a goal that stretches your capabilities and challenges you a bit, but it’s still doable within your schedule, even at its most challenging points, you’re going to stick with it.
One additional thing that I’ll mention here is that if you wanna exercise more regularly, it can be very helpful to sign up for a class at your school or your rec center.
And, this could be a class that teaches you a new sport you haven’t tried before, which can be really fun and which I did with ice skating, or it can just be a workout class.
In either case, signing up for a class gives you, one, a community of people who are doing the same thing as you, which is a lot of fun, but, two, an obligation that doesn’t exist just in your head.
You’re not relying only on your self-discipline. You now have other people who are expecting you to be there.
Tip #5 Redesign your room based on the 20-second rule.
If you haven’t seen it already, I did an entire video a while back on the 20-second rule.
But, essentially, the 20-second rule is all about increasing the difficulty and the time that it takes to get into the things that you don’t wanna do so often.
The bad habits, and reducing the time and the friction that it takes to do the things that you want to do more often.
So, if right now you play way too many video games, maybe put your game controllers in a drawer somewhere or maybe even take the cord out of your PlayStation and put it in a closet.
That way, it’s kind of a pain in the butt to set it up. And, on the other hand, if you wanna read more often or maybe practice an instrument, buy an instrument stand. Put your guitar right where you can pick it up and play it within five seconds.
Or put your book right on the table so you can walk in from class, grab it, and start reading for a bit. Anything you can do to reduce the friction between you and a good habit is gonna reduce the willpower required to remain consistent in doing it. And, the same is true of avoiding bad habits.
Tip #6, Automate or boost the efficiency or regular parts of your routine.
For example, I recently both of my credit cards to autopay so every month I no longer have to log in and pay them manually.
And, another thing that I’ve been doing on a regular basis is that when I start noticing that I have to go to a folder on my computer really, really often, I will pin it to my quick access toolbar so that way I can easily click it instead of having to navigate through the entire tree.
Now, one word of warning here. Not everything that you do is a candidate for automation or even more efficiency. And, actually, there’s a really good comment over on xkcd called Is It Worth The Time.
That essentially breaks down the threshold at which you should actually start thinking about spending time automating something rather than just doing it.
Though I’m gonna be honest, sometimes I just like to automate things for fun. And, if you find that fun, then do that.
Tip #7, Disable non-essential notifications.
In the past, I’d always unconsciously let apps have notifications turned on and they’d have badges turned on and eventually my home screen would turn into this mess of badges and little red numbers up in the corners and distractions.
And, I really don’t wanna be giving that much attention to my phone. It should be working for me, not sucking up all of my time.
So, at one point during this year, I went into my phone settings and I disabled basically every notification, every little sound and every little badge on the home screen that I could other than the ones that were completely essential.
Tip #8, Remove non-essential apps from your phone.
For example, my friend Martin actually went into his ad blocker settings on his iPhone and disabled basically every single site in the world except for language translation sites.
And, doing this eventually changed his brain’s automatic response whenever he got the urge to look something up.
Rather than getting distracted on Safari and probably clicking a bunch of links he never meant to click in the first place, he just made a voice reminder of it.
And, then later on when he was at his computer if it was still important enough, and it often wasn’t, he could look it up.
For a less drastic example, I’ve often had email apps taken off my phone, I’ve often had social media apps taken off my phone. In fact, there are certain apps that I only have on my phone when I’m traveling.
Essentially, I don’t wanna have access to those apps on my phone, because access to them while I’m trying to work represents a mental burden.
Tip #9, Replace zomie-mode browsing time with reading.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that most of you are like me and you have certain times of the day where you just automatically to Reddit or you go to Facebook or you go to Twitter.
And, these times are probably not all that “valudable”. And, you also probably don’t read as much as you’d like to. So, by consciously identifying these times and then maybe scheduling some reading time during the exact same times, you’ll start to avoid this unconscious social media consumption.
Tip #10, Prioritize your goals and know which are most important.
Doing this is absolutely crucial if you wanna remain consistent on those most important goals. Because, inevitably, you’re gonna run into absolutely chaotic days where you just don’t have time to do all of them.
And, when that happens, or when you’re feeling demotivated and you just don’t wanna do anything, you can think back to what you’ve prioritized. And, you can tell yourself, I’m going to do that no matter what and these things that are less important, I can let fall by the wayside.
That way, well, you may derail on certain things, and you can always get back on those things later, you’re always gonna remain consistent on what’s most important.
Now, one additional thing you should do this year while your motivation is high is established an online presence for yourself.
And, whether you’re looking for an internship or maybe a full-time job or applying for a scholarship or just looking for a place to build a portfolio for your art, the first step to establishing that online presence is eating cheese.