Productivity Tip #8- Small Steps to Big Dreams
November 4th, 2013
No matter how efficient you are there will never be enough time for absolutely everything. My last productivity tip is to seize every opportunity. The key is to be as efficient in the time you have so you are better prepared to deal with whatever comes up.
I learned this first-hand when my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was the most difficult time in my life and almost everything fell by the wayside as we tried to enjoy her last few months. Having been on top of things previously and having some productivity systems already in place helped me try to keep up with my medical practice and practice some self-care as well. It reinforced again the need to focus on the truly important things in life.
Even with no huge stressors and well-planned out days, there still isn’t likely to be huge periods of time for you to go after your big dreams and goals. But the key is to stop waiting for an hour of uninterrupted time and the perfect quiet setting to start.
In my experience those hours of free time hardly, if ever appear. When we want to accomplish something big we must work at it continuously as we have time. For some people this might mean writing or working on something 10-15 minutes a day.
While we can get discouraged about our lack of time remember that the small moments add up. If you can spend 10 minutes a day on something, that is over an hour each week and more than 50 hours in a year. You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish in 50 hours.
Did you know that J.R.R. Tolkien took 11 years to write the Lord of the Rings series? He had some health problems, was working and had the usual distractions. On average, he produced less than a page a day but the end result was well worth it.
Even if it takes you more than a decade, don’t let that stop you from creating your own masterpiece.
It may help you stay consistent if you can commit to taking a small step every day towards your goals. Jerry Seinfeld had a system for coming up with material for his stand-up comedy consistently. Every day he would write jokes and then place an X on the calendar for that day. After doing this for several weeks he had a long chain of Xs and he knew that if he stopped for a day he would break his chain. It’s easy to allow yourself to skip a day if there are no consequences but knowing that you would have to start the entire chain over again can be that extra motivation to practice consistently.
This system can be used to help you write a book, go to bed at a certain time or practice a skill. It should be a specific goal that can be done daily. If you commit to writing 100 words a day it isn’t an overwhelming task and you’ll often find that once you get started you’ll write more than your goal.
You can use this system with a traditional calendar, an online calendar or an app. (See my productivity report for app suggestions)
Another way to seize the day is to listen to podcasts during your commute, lunch break, or while exercising. Listening to podcasts during my commute gives me an extra two hours a day of learning and inspiration. Listen to podcasts from inspirational leaders, on subjects you are studying and general fiction. Surround yourself with material in your area to inspire your work ethic and creativity.
You’ll also find inspiration in your daily life and might have an “aha” moment while you’re engaged in a completely different task. When your brain is distracted, it can be more creative and come up with new solutions.
The key is to jot down all your aha moments. Have a notepad beside your bed for the times you wake up in the middle of the night with inspiration and for the mornings when clarity hits. Have another notepad in your car to write down ideas after your commute or use a voice activated app on your smartphone to record your ideas.
Brainstorm while you wait in lines, outline while you sit in waiting rooms, and write when you get to work 5 minutes early. If something is important to you, you have to take time wherever you find it. Don’t fall into the trap of perfection and wait for the perfect conditions or mindset.
One final caveat: Don’t multitask during important moments. If you’re at your child’s soccer game, give them your full attention. Be in the moment with your spouse and give yourself some downtime as well. While we should be continuously going after our big goals, we must learn to be in the present as well. Learning to be in the present will help you develop focus for when you have actual free time.
I hope you have found this productivity series useful and are implementing the suggestions to help you move closer to your ideal life. What I’d really like to encourage you is that life is not just about surviving but thriving and following your heart. What do you want to do to leave your mark on the world? Being efficient and productive is the best way to help you serve your greater purpose in the world.
If you have and specific questions please comment below or contact me at email@example.com. I do my best to reply to all my readers.
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