Striving to achieve more at work and in life can be a daunting task - but it doesn't have to be. Here are three simple things you can try today to help you achieve more with your day.
Don't read the news
Many highly regarded people have written about why reading the news is terrible for you, including Rolf Dobelli in the Guardian, who says:
“In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognised the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body.”
News is deeply habit forming - and for good reason - the publishers need us to keep coming back for more so they can continue to profit from advertising. But given that reading the news is an ingrained daily habit for some many of us - when did YOU last get VALUE from reading the news? When did something you read during your daily news binge improve your life?
A news habit is time consuming. Most people with a news habit start the day reading the news and “check in” on the news throughout the day, easily adding up an hour or more. When you give up the habit the positive impact of suddenly reclaiming that time can be dramatic - there are so many things we all do to try and save ourselves a little time, yet this is one of the simplest!
The human brain has a limit to the amount of information it can process at any one time. In simple terms, it’s hard for us to think about multiple things at once. When you fill your head with news (often global, normally full of doom and gloom) it directly prevents you from focusing on the things that are really important to your day to day life - your goals perhaps or maybe your health.
Channel your inner lazy
“Human nature is above all things lazy.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Most of us work very hard at what we do - but we’re all capable of being lazy. Left unchecked, laziness can be extremely destructive. It can be the thing that stops us progressing - preventing us from putting in the effort required to achieve our goals.
As a result of the downsides of laziness, many of us work hard to manage our inner laziness at all times - staying active, motivated and busy.
But what if our inner laziness could benefit us?
The non-lazy approach to completing tasks in your business is to do all tasks yourself and work very hard on each task until it's complete.
It's what most entrepreneurs do but it leaves us stuck - working on the small things in our businesses out of a sense of work ethic and duty rather than the big and important things that can get us closer to achieving our goals.
If you replace that hard-working approach with laziness something incredible happens.
Instead of forcing yourself to do that bookkeeping that you know you need to catch up, you look at it and think “I can’t be bothered to do that - it’s boring and time consuming”.
Under the normal rules we’d never allow ourselves to think that - we’d just press on and get the bookkeeping done, no matter how time consuming or tedious it might be.
By allowing yourself to act like you're lazy you are left with only ONE option - get someone else to do the bookkeeping - leaving you free to do something more important.
Try channelling your inner-lazy today and see what happens!
Check your email only twice today
“One look at an email can rob you of 15 minutes of focus. One call on your cell phone, one tweet, one instant message can destroy your schedule, forcing you to move meetings, or blow off really important things, like love, and friendship.”
Be honest - how many times in the last week have you been distracted by an email you’ve received during your working day? How many times have you felt stressed as a result of an email you’ve received?
It seems that most of us have formed very strong and ingrained habits around checking our email throughout the day - with 40% of us checking our email between 6 and 20 times a day.
For most of us email acts as a work generation system - always ensuring that we have plenty of distracting, potentially stressful tasks waiting to be done throughout the day.
When you allow email to be a central part of your day, it’s very easy for your plan for the day to be forgotten as you deal with the issues, tasks and responses in your inbox.
Try setting yourself a rule today that'll you'll check your email once at the start of the day and once at the end - avoiding it for the rest of the day. See what happens when you're not distracted by emails every few minutes. Explore how much focus you can regain by staying away from email.