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“I don’t have time to __.” You probably could figure out what your blank answer to that statement is. For me, my list of excuses were these:
“I don’t have time to…”
- start a YouTube channel
- to exercise
- to learn the guitar
- to learn Spanish
Well, after months of excuses, I finally figured out a way to actually make time for those things while being a full-time college student and working in a part-time job. After reading “Make Time” by Jake Knapp, I discovered that we can intentionally prioritize what matters to us and stop feeling powerless in our days. So I’ll share with you guys the strategies that have worked for me personally.
Your highlight is a single activity that you need to choose to prioritize and protect on your calendar.
It starts with asking yourself, “What do I want to be the highlight of my day?”
When considering our highlight, we can use these three components to help us:
- 1. Urgency. “What’s the most pressing thing I have to do today?”
- 2. Satisfaction. “Which Highlight will bring me the most satisfaction?”
- 3. Joy. “When I reflect on today, what will bring me the most joy?”
After figuring out your highlight, then you need to protect it at all costs. The tactic that worked for me were these:
- Time blocking. I reserved 60-90 minutes for my highlight particularly in the mornings because that’s when I had the most energy and it allowed me to feel accomplished for the rest of the day. Nothing would be allowed to disturb my highlight time. Unless my mom bribed me with food. I’ll drop anything for food.
- Flake it till you make it. If I find myself falling behind on my highlight, I will try to postpone activities on my calendar. Obviously, I don’t recommend doing this too often or else you’ll have the reputation of a flaker. No one likes a flaker. That’s why I use this as a last resort or try to give notice as early as possible.
- Nighttime preparation. I can’t stress how important it is to prepare your day the night before. I have a nighttime ritual that consists of me planning my meals and clothes, time blocking for the next day, journaling about the day, and shutting down tech to read before bed. So try thinking of what you can plan and prepare the night before.
This is the ability to get into the flow state or stay laser-focused on your highlight. The way to do this is to set barriers against distractions that may hinder your focus on your highlight.
One of the steps is taking control of the greatest source of our distractions. Mankind’s worst focus enemies. The phone, the TV, and our email inbox. Here are some tips that have worked for me personally:
- Turn off notifications. No more ding ding! Just peace and quiet.
- Clear your home screen. I only place the apps I use on a regular basis on the front screen. My home screen is cleaner than my actual home.
- Leave devices behind. During my walks outside, I do not take my phone with me. So if I don’t answer, it means either I’m taking a walk or a killer is after me.
- Make TV a “sometimes treat.” I started only allowing TV with friends, family or on self-care days.
- Cancel streaming subscriptions. I don’t have any TV channels or subscriptions. Just Netflix. My kryptonite.
- Don’t watch the news. The news just ruined my mood and made me angry. Seeing all those Karens. Glad to say I’ve detoxed from the news for almost a year!
- Be slow to respond. I usually give it 1-2 days before I respond. I mark the email as “unread” and go back to it later.
- Schedule email time and deal with it at the end of the day. I schedule and time block email time only for 12pm and 5:30pm. All other times is a no-no.
- Create a deadline. I have a calendar that keeps track of all my projects and I also set an early deadline. This makes sure I get myself together.
- Play a laser soundtrack. I have a “productive playlist” that consists of classical music and lo-fi music. Or, both.
- Use a visible timer. I like to use the app “Forest.” A tree dies if I give up a focus session. This is a motivator. I don’t want to be a plant killer. I’ve killed enough already in my home.
Reflection is a way to ensure greater success by reflecting on failures, successes and how to systemize everything better. Here’s an example of my reflection process:
- Observe what’s going on.
I’ve been applying this process by first journaling about my day. I recap my day, going in-depth about my successes and failures. I journal that today I had success in sleeping earlier. But I failed to exercise.
- Guess why things are happening the way they are.
I make predictions about the reason behind those things. My success in sleeping earlier could be due to my shut down routine. My failure to exercise could be due to me overbooking my schedule too much.
- Experiment to test your hypothesis.
I repeat my success which was my shut down routine. But I try to lessen my workload on schedule in order to prevent the same failure.
- Measure the results and decide whether you were right.
I repeat these steps again by journaling on my day to see if I was right or not. And to decide my next action steps.
- 1. Highlight. An activity you need to protect at all costs on your calendar. You can use time-blocking, postpone something or prepare the night before.
- 2. Laser. This is the ability to stay laser-focused on your highlight. You need to block out distractions especially the phone, the tv and your email inbox.
- 3. Reflect. This ensures greater success with the reflection on your own failures and successes in the day and to plan your next action steps.
I know I threw a lot of information at you guys there. If you’re feeling an error in your brain, then it’s better to just choose 1-3 tips from here rather than attempting to do it all. Remember that some of these that worked for me may not work for you. Everyone is different. So just have fun and experiment to see what works for you!! If you want more tips on this, I highly suggest for you to either read the book or check out Dan Silverstre’s summary here!
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