Imagine this. You’re twenty years something and you’re going to university during weekends, you’re having a week job, you’re constantly checking on your cat because he has been sneezing for the past few days and you read that this might be a side effect of so many cat diseases. On top of this all, your mother keeps calling and complaints that you don’t haven’t checked in in weeks now and you barely see your boyfriend because you’re both workaholics. That’s intense, isn’t it?
In an attempt to get back at least part of my life, I have recently looked into what are the ingredients of a successful person (in life and not only). It looks to me that the key is having a system in place, a set of flexible (or not) rules, patterns, habits. That is again a little overwhelming but we’ll make it work.
I heard somewhere that in order to carry out the best experiment, you must do it on yourself. So, I have decided to follow these 5 rules for the next 2 weeks and let you know if there is any change in my life at all. Interesting? I’m terrified.
- Turn off distractions
It’s very easy to distract my attention because of the constant interruptions. Someone messaging me, the urge of checking insta stories for the rest of the day, the huge amount of emails I get are just a few of the things that threaten my productivity for the day.
In the past, I have tried shutting my phone down while I’m working but it never lasted for too long because I managed to find excuses to use my phone just for a few seconds, minutes, hours! Well, this won’t be the case this time. For the next 2 weeks, I will turn off my phone for at least 2 hours a day during which I will do my uni work, read, have a walk in the park, cook something and so on.
- Plan your week ahead
Amanda from Advice from a twentysomething put in place five steps to plan your week ahead. Check the article here as it is the first one I find to be so relevant. In short, the steps to follow are:
Step 1 – Plan your non-negotiables
Step 2 – Plan your most important
Step 3 – Plan downtime and sleep
Step 4 – Plan everything else
Step 5 – Make sure your plan is achievable.
I am already a planning obsessed person, but I always lose track in between as things that I did not consider keep popping up. Well, for the next 2 weeks I’ll use my Planner religiously. I’m actually very curious about how many things will be completed off my never-ending and forever old ‘to do list’.
- Give yourself rewards for jobs well done
That’s tricky. I’ve always been my worst critique. I know everything can be done in better shape, form or way – I just need to find it next time. While I believe that this is the attitude which got me where I am today, this is not always the softest approach when high standards and expectations are met with disappointment. Trust me, feeling disappointed in a job well done is something that I’ve always been fighting with. Of course, this makes me always hungry for more work and I never get the time to pause and be grateful for what I have and what I’ve achieved so far.
In order to deal with this, I’ve decided to do two essential things for my own well-being:
- A gratitude journal. Every day there are good and bad things happening in my life. Sometimes more of one and less of the other, but nonetheless I live both experiences within 24 hours. However, I only focus on the bad ones, as these are the ones I can fix, and I rarely give thought to the good things. Not anymore! Things like that morning coffee and the receptionist’s smile in the morning are more powerful than assholes ruining my day. Putting down all good things that happened during the day will make me more aware of these and keep me mentally sane in order to deals with the assholes.
- Give rewards to me. For the next two weeks, I will think of two ways or gifts to reward my inner child for all the hard work done in the past few years. Maybe for my birthday (coming in March 😊), I will finally do something different than going out drinking with a bunch of friends. I think I deserve it, right?
- Stay aware
I’m subscribed to a dozen websites and blogs which fill my email inbox every day. I never have time to go through them all even though most of them are really interesting. Don Yaeger, award-winning motivational speaker and an 11-time New York Times Bestselling Author, explained that it is very important to keep feeding your mind –
‘But by that, I am not talking about what successful people eat or drink. I am talking about what they feed themselves through what they, read, what they listen to, who they talk to and what they watch. In every day, the truly great ones I have had the chance to work with use a piece of that day to feed themselves something that will give them an inspirational advantage over those they’re competing against. Whether it is looking for inspirational quotes, watching videos of people offering lessons on excellence, or reading a chapter in a book that will help them in their journey, there is a piece of every day that is committed to growth.’
As explained above, I just don’t have the time to do any of the above during the day. As such, I’ve decided to wake up an hour earlier than usual (at 7.00am) and spend an hour reading through my emails while drinking a cup of coffee every day. Apparently, nearly 50 per cent of the self-made millionaire got out of bed at least three hours before their workday actually started (see here ). I’m not a morning person, but I am looking forward to drinking my coffee so let’s call it a compromise.
- Make exercise a priority
I’m going to the gym once a week on Fridays afternoon with my Personal Trainer. While I do enjoy my session, I feel like doing it only once a week it’s losing its spirit. I also read that billionaire Richard Branson’s morning routine of waking up at 5am each day to play tennis or bike has doubled his productivity. (see here). Once again, not a morning person but I am willing to try going to the gym or doing home exercises every day for the next two weeks.
Well, that looks like a hell of a challenge for me given that most of the things above are against my long-established principles (like waking up 15 minutes before work). But that’s what makes it fun! Or I hope so.
If you want to take up this #successfulchallenge, please leave a comment below and let me know of your progress. If you want to follow my progress, follow me on Instagram – @diannaapostol.
I’ll come back in two weeks with my thoughts on whether my productivity has increased.
In the meantime, keep going. You’re doing good. I’m proud of you!