I’ve been an entrepreneur ever since I graduated from college. I have the tendency to find myself wanting to do more than I’m capable of. In addition to that, I’m the biggest procrastinator of all time.
Combining these two factors, I’m constantly looking for creative ways to get things done. This is how I fell in love with smart habits of… basically everything. Smart Habits of Life, Work, and Study. Tips on how to hack our life and productivity to do more with less. This article is an intro that I wish I had when I got started.
Smart Habits of Life
To start off, we know that not all smart people are born that way. I wouldn’t call constant work and improvement a coincidence. There is no secret to smart habits of life. You just need to start working on one thing and keep doing it, no matter what.
Smart Habits Pro tip: A good way to start is to use your existing routines and build new habits around them. Just grab a piece of paper and a pen, and write down your routines. Here is a few of mine:
- brush my teeth
- Check Facebook and Email on my phone
Now, let’s say I wanted to eat healthier. All I had to do is decide in advance what diet to do and just integrate it to my eating habits. The key is not wanting everything at once, but taking small steps. First, just don’t eat carbs afterlunch. Then divide meals into smaller portions throughout the day. Always, one step at a time.
Let’s grab another example. Let’s add reading to every day. I save every interesting article for later with getpocket, but don’t really follow up on them. But I want to. So, I wouldn’t start with an hour long reading time. On the other hand, adding this to my existing routine of checking Facebook and my emails seems easy. What I do is while loading my emails using Spark (spark.me), I open getpocket and read 2-3 articles. Then I open Facebook, waste my time for a few minutes, then go back. This way, I read articles for like 10 minutes. This is 10 minutes more than I used to. What I experienced after I got used to this, is that I could increase the reading time to 15-20 minutes, and then to 30 minutes. Nice hack, huh?
Smart Habits Pro Tip: you can use “audio reading” in getpocket.com. So you could listen to saved articles while you are commuting or working out, etc.
Whatever you decide to build, make it as fun and enjoyable as possible. Imagine people with smart habits. There is a trail that they prone to moments of idiocy too while delivering incredible results.
Shut your voice up.
Productivity is all about control. It starts with learning to control that little commentary voice inside your head, and try to find the zen. Just let your mind flow. A good way to reach a productive state is to spend a few minutes (I repeat, a few minutes, like 5 min) with meditation. There is no good or bad way of doing it. . Especially if you use an app like Headspace. It not only helps you to calm that voice, but this amazing mindfulness state also brings out the arguments you need to have with yourself. Needless to say, that awareness will lead to higher performance and better productivity.
Smart Habits of Study
Here, I’m not only going to give you some hints to study more effectively. But also, I’m also going to advise you on how you can use the world around you and your existing habits, to become a better learner.
“Most people don’t listen with intent to understand. They listen with an intent to reply”
Be present in the moment. If you are at a lecture, Google what it is about. When you hear something, make a quick Evernote. Even if you never will use it, it just helps you live the present. Let yourself just be. You are after class, caught in an interesting conversation, but want to talk to other people. Forget them and focus on quality over quantity. Don’t just small talk that you won’t even remember the day after. Have one or two good interaction that you will actually follow through.
As a child, everything was new to us. Thus, everything was outside of our comfort zone. Why not stepping outside as an adult as well? Most people regret what they have not done in their life, and are proud of the craziest things they did. “You cannot let fear run you.” – says Jennifer Dunphy. I love this quote! I always say, instead of resisting your fears, dance with them!
Focus on the world around you, not just you. Self-centered thinking doesn’t ignite smart habits, rather holds us back. Focusing on people around us creates opportunities. So listen first, act second.
I found that there are two reasons why people help others:
1) they want to give back and make a change;
2) actually they use it for their own purposes.
Smart habits pro tip: always look how you can be helpful. It is literally true, that the easiest way to be successful is actually to help others succeed”. You can start with small things like introducing people to each other.
If you want to be successful, help others and the magic will happen. Learn about Simon Sinek’s story (https://youtu.be/lmyZMtPVodo) on building a relationship with marines. He never asked for anything. When he did, they were eager to help him, since finally they could give back something to him.
Next time you are in a conversation try not to say anything, but be really interested and ask good questions. A pro version of it is that you can only say “yes?” or “no?”. Magic will happen. The other person will feel like you are their BFF☺
A smart habit to stay in a positive and productive mindset is to do something new every day. Or just look for it. To give you another example, you should do your homework. Know who is at a meeting or event and who you want to talk to, most importantly why. It puts you in the mindset of curiosity and will give you a boost in finding mutual small talk topics.
Now, the key to effective studying isn’t just memorizing or long study sessions. It is doing it in a smarter way. As with everything else, it is all about forming the right habits.
So how to learn effectively?
When it comes to learning – basically anything – the first thing we need to do is to find out what style works best for us.
Let’s start with the right mindset. Do you remember the feeling when you needed to force yourself to do something? It just doesn’t go that way. Actually in these times, avoid the tasks at all. Instead, find the positive in the situation, do positive self-talk. Don’t say “I can’t do this”, but rather “It is a challenge, but I’m doing it right now”.
Smart habits of Study is all about… Routines. Schedule the tasks and set goals..Think about them as you think about haits in general The more repetitive method you create, the easier it will get to do something. Combine things like the Pomodoro technique and the GTD.
Make it something that you can stick to and form to a habit. It is like what Ernst Hemingway said: write 5 pages every day and you will have a book in 3 months. It is even more important if you are part of a project group or study group. Lastly, knowing why you are doing something will keep your passion’s drive.
Smart Habits of Work
When it comes to productivity, Richard Koch’s book gives pretty good tips. “The 80/20 Manager” offers managers ten ways to become great at what they do. The book explains everything using the Pareto’s Principle, also called the 80/20 rule:
I strongly encourage reading it, but here are some quick actionable smart habits takeaways:
- Working less can result in achieving more. Put time pressure on yourself by limiting the amount of effort. Extraordinary things can come out of it.
- I’m in favor of Todo lists. Koch advices to find one thing each and every day to focus on and get it done! Once done, you can check the to-do list if you wish, but then… Just take the day off. Interesting, huh?
- Master the skill of distinguishing between important and unimportant.
Mornings are these miraculous things. I truly believe in waking up early. Although I hate it from my heart, I have to admit, early mornings create magic: by 9 AM you feel like you created more than others in a day!
You never want to be the smartest person in the room, rather the opposite. Curisosity leads to amazing things. Don’t try to act tough like you know everything. The moment you accept and empower that you don’t have the right answers to everything, you’ll start gaining trust. This is why you should question everything with an open eye, challenge the status quo. Even if you are not, act like you are curious. Bring out that childis wonder about the world.
Hang out with people you admire and learn their smart habits. Eliminate toxic people. You can start by reading the room, It means studying body language and creating eye contact. Just check out how people act. Pro tip: If two people are talking and they are facing each other with their foot, don’t interrupt. But if it’s rather a 45-degree angle, feel free to hop in with a good opener.
I truly believe that once we set long-term goals we need to focus on what we should do today and tomorrow. Not one year from now. As stupid as it sounds, focus on the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.
Smart habits of All
Perhaps the most powerful words you can use to increase your productivity are the words; “Do it now! Do it now! Do it now!” Whenever you find yourself procrastinating on an important task, repeat the following word to yourself – with energy and enthusiasm -, “Do it now! Do it now! Do it now!”