Distractions are a part of life. When your neighbour says hi while you are in the middle of a complex calculation and you stop to say hi back only to find that you have forgotten what step you were on and have to start again from the beginning, that is a distraction. It is impossible to eliminate distractions from your life. You can’t stop your friendly neighbour saying hi when you’d rather work in peace. You also can’t predict when your children will try to get your attention with the latest picture they have drawn. What you can do is choose how you manage distractions.
Broadly speaking, the distractions we have to manage fall into two categories: internal and external. An internal distraction is you suddenly curious to find out the year popcorn was invented while doing your business accounting. An external distraction is that phone call from your friend while you are in a meeting.
Raise your hand if you use a to-do list. You’re my best friend if you do. To-do lists are a great way of capturing tasks you need to get done. The satisfaction of crossing off items on your list as they get done or the ding you hear after marking a task as completed on your digital list motivate you to start working on the next task so you can get another feel good hit as soon as it’s completed.
Happy New Year. This is that time when many people create a to-do list for the first two weeks of the year. I have written earlier about why New year’s resolutions are generally a bad idea for most people. Instead of creating a resolution, I advocate writing a personal development plan for the year. It takes longer but is more actionable than resolutions and you will achieve better results.
2019 was a very productive year for me. When I first thought of starting Amir Writes, I was not in a very good place emotionally. I had experienced a very challenging ordeal in my personal life and was looking for a way to forget my pain. Writing was something I enjoyed and I hadn’t been doing enough of it. I also had an interest in personal productivity. I decided to start a personal productivity blog.
This was the first time I had decided to take blogging seriously. I set up a website and committed to a weekly schedule. I learnt on the go and had an awesome support network. Friends like Lammy (Hexal Queen) supported me. If you ever need bulk sms services, please check out her awesome platform. Looking back at all that has happened in 2019, I am not sure I would have come so far without encouragement.
Many people feel they would achieve more of their goals if they could only stay motivated long enough to work on them. Motivation, they say, is that silent factor that determines how productive they are. The problem with that kind of thinking is that it is easy to procrastinate on important tasks because you are waiting to feel motivated. A classic example of this fallacy is the all popular “writer’s block.” The thinking goes, the most successful writers are able to somehow find inspiration all the time and that is why they are able to churn great works of literature. The truth is successful writers are successful because they do not wait for their muse to tickle them. They wake up everyday and commit to writing for a few hours even if what they turn out is trash.
“And that’s what youth is all about: a chance to make all the mistakes you can and get them out of the way.”
Mistakes are a part of life. They are the only way growth happens. How many of them have you made recently? If you are like most people, the answer probably is “not enough.” We work hard to avoid unfamiliar situations because we don’t want to make a mistake and look bad in front of others. We fail to try new experiences and acquire new skills because we know we will make mistakes and fear we will not be good enough.
A popular misconception about productivity is that productive people get more done because they work 20 hours a day. I don’t know about you but I don’t know anybody that can function on that little sleep everyday. Richard Branson, the Founder of Virgin airways is famous for being up with the sun. He likes to get an early start. At first glance, this looks like he only gets a few hours of sleep each day. However, he is also consistent about going to bed every night at 11pm. He leaves the curtains open so he can feel the rays of the sun striking his face. That’s when he knows it’s time to wake up. This means on average, Richard Branson gets six to seven hours of sleep per day. No one can call him unproductive.