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Habits

Why You Should Prepare Your To-Do Lists the Night Before

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Why You Should Prepare Your To-Do Lists the Night Before

To be on top of everything, having a set morning routine and night routine that you follow religiously is very important. A routine makes sure that you do all the necessary tasks to ensure that your day running smoothly. The habit of making to-do lists and following it is one of the beneficial habits you can cultivate in order to get all your work done without being overwhelmed.

Many people wonder if making lists at the end of the day is better than making a list in the morning or vice versa. While in the morning, you might be fresh with a fresh outlook toward the day, chances are that making a list in the morning isn’t the best way to ensure productivity. Making a to-do list isn’t enough, knowing how to tackle it needs some planning.

When you wake up and get through your morning routine, it can be difficult to sit down to plan the day. You want the morning to be light and filled with little tasks that are more about self-care than business. The serenity of the morning is the perfect time to be looking after yourself. If someday you happen to wake up late, all your planning will go askew if you leave making your task list to morning.

Why You Should Prepare Your To-Do Lists the Night Before

At the end of the day, you know what tasks you have managed to complete, and what areas of work needs your attention next. This makes it easier to create a to-do list for the next day because you will be making a list on the data from the day. While you can do the same in the morning, the urgencies of certain tasks aren’t going to be that fresh in your mind. 

You also have the opportunity to sleep on your list and then revise it in the morning with tasks that would need more attention. Before bed is the best time to create a game plan for the next day. It’s like getting a head start to your day because you already made a plan the day before. 

When you make a list at night, you already know what you need to focus on first the next day. What’s your MIT (most important task) and what work you can fit in, considering your schedule. You don’t have to wake up to the task of planning and can use your sharpness in the hours of the morning to actually getting work done. 

“Setlists are tough because you come up with this structure of how the songs are going to go from one to the next, but at the same time, you have to be spontaneous and take requests and change the setlist at the drop of a hat.”

-Billie Joe Armstrong

You can put indicators to tasks that are priorities, urgent, or can be put-off, and then in the morning, you can prioritize them with more vigilance. This is something that will help you go about your day as soon as you wake up because you will have a direction to follow. This particularly helps if you have too much on your plate and you are overwhelmed by the amount of tasks that need to be done and feel clueless. With a to-do list prepared, you will wake up with a mission and that will help you feel motivated.
While I am an advocate for waking up early, I know not everyone can afford to. Many of us work lates or have some weird working hours because of international businesses or just because of personal preference. If you are not an early riser, then making a list in advance will let you know at what time to wake up to keep your day running smoothly.

Why You Should Prepare Your To-Do Lists the Night Before

For me, I make a list of my three MITs (Most Important Tasks). I always advise to make a list of 2-3 MITs and try to achieve them as soon as possible, they are critical tasks that yield the most significant results. Once you achieve the most important and difficult tasks, you already have a sense of accomplishment and achievement that will help you get to other not so important tasks throughout the day without worrying constantly.

Having the most important task out of the way gives you an opportunity to be actually present in your workday and work for other things without the constant pressure of this looming task that you will have to get to eventually. You get to give your 100% to everything you do because you are sorted by working on tasks based on your priority.

“I made a huge to-do list for today. I just can’t figure out who’s going to do it.”

-Anonymous

That being said, while lists can be a huge help in giving you direction, in the end, you are the one who has to follow them to get the work done so don’t make your lists overwhelming. I understand the urge to fill up our lists with all the tasks that are swarming our minds, I used to do that. I made mile-long lists but never could complete it in the day and that discouraged me.

Then I learned the importance of being smart and setting realistic goals. I started making a master list in which I jotted down every task that entered my mind and then segregated them daily. I focused only on the tasks that were on my today list. Having put the other tasks on another list made me not worry about them and I could focus on my daily tasks better. 

“People are remarkably bad at remembering long lists of goals. I learned this at a professional level when trying to get my high-performance coaching clients to stay on track; the longer their lists of to-dos and goals, the more overwhelmed and off-track they got. Clarity comes with simplicity.”

-Brendon Burchard

A brain dump is essential to keep your brain from worrying about every little thing. So, make a main overall list and then your daily to-do list can be a subset of it. Every day when you make your lists in the evening or before going to bed, you can go through your main list and take that into consideration against what you achieved today. Based on both things, you can make a much more efficient list. This will help you work little by little to achieve your long term goals as well.

“Mostly I make lists for projects. This can be daunting. Breaking something big into its constituent parts will help you organize your thoughts, but it can also force you to confront the depth of your ignorance and the hugeness of the task. That’s OK. The project may be the lion, but the list is your whip.”

-Adam Savage

After doing a brain dump of all your ideas and worries, take things out from it to do each day, and do not look at the main list you made again while going about your day. This will free up your mind from the plethora of tasks that need to be done and will let you focus on what you can do now – making sure you give your best in whatever you are doing. There’s no point stressing over the bulk and doing nothing to make a dent in it.

You have to consider your strengths, your weaknesses, your schedule, the probability of last-minute tasks, the average time to get a job done, any kind of raw data that can help you get into the habit of making an almost foolproof plan.

If the list is overwhelming you and discouraging you, then you have to understand that it’s not the lists that overwhelm us, it’s what and how much we put on them. Ever heard about not overfilling your plate, this is exactly it.

Why You Should Prepare Your To-Do Lists the Night Before

There will be days when you won’t complete all the tasks on your list – no matter how hard you try, some days are just not helpful. The unfinished tasks will bother you – if they don’t, then you can use the same list, but chances are that they will. I suggest throwing away that list and start a new one every day. 

For most people, when they just add on to the existing list, they start the next day already feeling like having failed because they have tasks from yesterday to go through. No matter how much you do in the day, you will keep feeling unaccomplished because your mind will go in an ‘if only’ mindset where you will keep wondering that if you had finished those tasks yesterday then you could have done more work in the time it took you to get to them today.

This is not a healthy attitude to begin your day with. So, start a new list. Put the tasks again on the list. Now, it is a new list with all the remaining and new tasks together. It will make you feel like you have a fresh list instead of the feeling of working on a backlog. Whatever makes you feel positive about your workflow is what you are going to apply eventually – it is a process of learning and growing.

Final Thoughts

Making a good plan is half-battle won, that is why it is important to be prepared. To-do lists are your daily plans. If you prepare them smartly and then apply them to the T, you will realize that getting work done is easier than it always seemed. Making a to-do list the night before gives you the opportunity to start your day feeling prepared and ready to deal with anything that comes your way.

Habits

Why Too Many Self Help Books are Bad for You

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Self Help

Since you’re reading this article on this blog, you probably have a keen interest in self-betterment. You’re the kind of person who has a constant hunger to grow, develop personality and achieve great things. You probably have a full shelf of self-help books at home, and reach for a new one in airport book stores. 

Let’s take a moment to congratulate yourself on this. Not many people, definitely not the vast majority of people are genuinely interested in self-growth. However, like any good thing in life, there is a flip-side to immersing yourself in self-help content. It can severely impact the way you see yourself, and the world around you; sometimes for the worse.

The Heroes

It’s fairly common to read a self-help book and start valorising the writer. The requisite to write a self-help book or a how-to guide is often being successful first so that you then have the ‘right’ to preach to other people. That’s why many “successful people” write memoirs or how-to guides to spill their secrets and let others know how they made it. 

A byproduct of this is the audience begins to automatically consume everything that the writer tells them as the gospel truth. We don’t doubt the credibility of someone who’s made it big. We don’t ask for much scientific backing when these successful persons tell us their life story: one anecdote is enough. 

Of course, in any field of scientific research, a single anecdote is never considered to be scientific evidence alone. This is simply because one person can never be an unbiased narrator of their own experiences. We can’t weigh their words against those of others; verify their methods with a control group. 

This is not to suggest that all writers of self-help books are getting away with lying or false information just because no one’s cross-checking (although that could be the occasional case). 

The few people who are successful in their fields and occupy positions in the public sphere undoubtedly have more experience than you and me. However, even they cannot hundred per cent explain the reasons for their success. It is generally a number of factors that act together, right connections, right timing, right pre-dispositions combined with the person’s efforts that bring them success. 

For example, if a successful entrepreneur writes about how he built his own business empire, he could give you 10 methods, or tips and tricks that he followed to stay motivated and increase his productivity. What he cannot guarantee is that this will work for everyone. He also cannot guarantee that those 10 exact methods are what caused his success.

There are many self-help books that are abundant with real-life examples, scientific studies, and academic research. These are also, coincidentally the type of books where the author relies less on his own experience as the source of his advice. These are not just more useful books to read, they also are much more informative and entertaining than their monologue counterparts. 

Survivorship Bias

One of the other side effects of surrounding yourself with lots of self-help content is that you become prey to the survivorship bias. This means that you continually consume stories and experiences of many people that have succeeded. Once we start following ‘successes’, we begin to see them everywhere. 

Social media has a hand to play in this as well. Popular social media platforms have algorithms that create echo-chambers where you only see the kind of content that you like. So if you’re only reading about positive and uplifting self-betterment content, chances are you never come across stories about failures. 

This can make you feel that there is an enormous amount of people that are succeeding and doing what you want to do. The spotlight is on the 1%, while ignoring the other 99% in the shadow. 

You might wonder why this is a problem. Isn’t focusing on the positive success stories making it more likely that you will also be successful yourself?

Surprisingly, it’s not. It can be the real reason why it’s so hard to succeed, because you can follow all the hacks, tips and tricks, and methods that you read in self-help books and still have unique challenges to overcome. This is because you’re ignoring the data from the vast masses of people that tried the very same methods and failed. 

You must be thinking: well, I should be focusing on failure stories? That’s depressing!

No, you don’t! For one, they are difficult to find. Simply knowing the information about how often someone succeeds to the level that you want to can be your tool. 

For example, if you want to become a best-selling author, you should know that simply getting published has a 1% success rate while a best-selling author is probably closer to 0.001%.

This is not to discourage you from chasing your dreams, but only to help you bring a dose of reality into your pursuit of success. 

Final Words

Knowing that the advice you read in a self-help book is from a person part of the 1% rather than the 99% can stop you from being frustrated. Many people follow the methods and techniques suggested in these books and then expect instant success. 

So if you’re waking up at 5 AM for three months in a row now, and wondering why you’re not a millionaire yet: the story was never that simple! 

Congratulations to your brand new good habit, and pursuit of self-betterment, but know that there is a long way to go before we discover a complete formula for success

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Habits

The Science Behind Forming Habits that Last

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If you’ve ever tried to form a habit, someone’s probably given you the advice that it takes only 21 days to do so. 

The 21-day rule claims that one must only perform an activity every day, for 21 days, until it automatically becomes a habit and the person no longer has to put in the effort to do the activity.

And, if you’ve ever tried to test out this rule: you likely found that it doesn’t really work. 

Unfortunately, there are many more factors that come into play when considering why some habit formation happens in less time than others. 

I was told by a school teacher that it takes 21 days to form a habit and 90 days for it to become a lifestyle. During the lockdown, I tried to make it a practice to meditate every day for 10 minutes to meditate. I eagerly awaited the 21-day mark, expecting some kind of magical transformation to take place as soon as I awoke. 

There was nothing different about the 21st day (or the 3 months after that), and I didn’t experience any time-bound results. 

Where the 21-Day Rule Comes from

Interestingly, the 21-Day Rule isn’t so much a rule as it’s a misinterpreted observation. A plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz wrote a well-acclaimed book about human behavior. 

In his career, he noticed that it always took a minimum of 21 days for one of his patients to mentally adjust to the physical change in their body. He proposed that any sort of mental image adjustment requires a minimum of 21 days from this data. 

Now while this could be useful data for mental image adjustments, habit formation encompasses many more factors than that. 

Here are scientifically-backed factors that influence how strong your newly formed habit is and how long it will last.

How Big or Small it is

If your habit is something challenging to do, it will take a lot of willpower for you to drastically change your everyday routine to accommodate it. 

For example, if you work a 10hour shift and still want to workout at the gym for an hour a day, knowing it sacrifices your recreation time: chances are that this habit will be really difficult to form and sustain.

A small habit like making your bed, washing the dishes before you go to bed at night, or even self-affirmations in the morning: are all habits that can fit into a schedule without you having to sacrifice much. 

Starting with small habits makes it easier since you don’t need a lot of motivation to perform them. 

How Important the Habit is to your Self Image

Some habits we’re trying to form are more important to us than others. If you strongly believe that this habit will help you become the person you’re destined to be, you’re going to attach more value to carrying it out every day!

How Many Days you Skip

We’re often under the impression that all your progress will come crashing down if you skip a day. Thankfully, it’s been proven that even if you miss a day, there are no long-term effects on the habit formation itself. But it’s recommended that you never skip more than one day at a time.

How You Remind Yourself

When reminding yourself to perform the activity you’re trying to convert to a habit, it’s critical to piggyback off other existing habits. That means if you already have a habit of doing yoga and want to get into a habit of meditating, make sure that you meditate right after your yoga practice. One habit helps the other.

How Sustainable Your Pace is

If you’re working on forming a habit that needs to be built up over time, you need to make sure this pace is feasible for your current lifestyle. You know your life best, and if you know you’re going to have a significant life event and get busier soon, don’t have unrealistic expectations from your new habit!

Good luck!

40% of our day-to-day life is made out of habits. Forming a new habit can very realistically transform your entire life. I’m glad you’re on this journey to maximize your potential, and I’m sure you can do it!

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Habits

How Reading can impact your Day to Day Life?

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book read

Reading is a healthy habit, which, if practiced daily, can change your entire life around. Do you want to know why? Through Reading, one can not only gain knowledge but also stay acquainted with the outside as well as the inside world. The best thing about reading daily is to have an isolated place for yourself in your mind, where you can run off to. Most people don’t have the patience or intention to read, and that too, daily. Though this is a habit that takes time to settle in but trust me, once it does, you would never regret it. So, here is a list of reasons why you should read daily?

Why should you read daily?

  • To gain knowledge

Once you start reading daily, and by Reading, it can be anything – you can read few pages of a novel, or a magazine, or newspaper, or even poetry – you would notice within weeks how much your knowledge regarding the outer world has improved. Through Reading, one can have clear information regarding the current affairs, and hence, stay updated.

  • To improve your vocabulary

Through Reading, you can definitely learn new words and hence, improve your vocabulary. Most people make it a habit to learn a new word from the dictionary every day, but if you read daily, you are bound to get new words and make a list of them on a notebook with their meanings, which is definitely going to be helpful for you.

  • To have a make-believe world

The most beautiful consequence of Reading is having one’s own imaginary world, where one can live a life full of magic. This is the extraordinary superpower one acquires while reading. In this busy daily life of ours, we all look for a secluded place where we can feel the essence of peace. Reading can fly you off to the imaginary land of sunflowers, daisies, and cats who can indeed talk.

  • To become more attentive

Most people lack patience nowadays. Being impatient and restless has become a severe problem in today’s world. Here, Reading can help you calm your mind and improve your observation skills. It works like meditation. In no time, you would find your mind focusing on details and becoming more attentive to events, which used to go unnoticed.

  • To reduce stress

Reading is similar to meditation, and hence, it definitely helps to reduce your stress. Books always have a calming effect on one’s mind. It takes you away from daily problems and stressful situations and helps your mind to gain stability. Not only it helps in reducing stress, but it also helps to decrease the anxiety levels of a person. 

Everyone should make reading a daily habit. One should switch off the mobile phones, turn off the television and take some time out to read. It works wonders on one’s day-to-day life and changes one person’s entire personality. Though it can be hard at first, with time, you would cherish the moments alone, reading in a corner while your mind is flying off to Narnia.

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