What is the common pattern between all these questions that stops you from doing great things? Well, it’s simply yourself.
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But you know what?! we all have 24hours but the way each person use those hours can be completely different. Since we found the source of the problem (yes, it’s you who read this article), we can continue with the solution. I am going to share my favorite tips and tricks on finding the time to develop yourself while staying concentrated on your tasks.
1. Specify goals
Be specific and realistic on the things you want to achieve. You cannot build a fully functional mobile application in a couple of days, but you can build some features for the app. Be realistic about your knowledge, some people tend to overestimate their skills while others do the opposite. For example, I know that I cannot program at a high level using Java just because I did a course at the university. Be pragmatic about the time it will take you to accomplish a task, some tasks will need a few minutes while others will need days. Αn extra tip is to break the big task into subtasks, this will help you with time management but also with your psychology.
2. Set up your priorities
You have defined your goals and that’s great, but you won’t have time to do everything at once. The key here is to prioritise and my advice would be to combine: duration and importance. If a task takes less than 2 minutes, do it before anything else, if something is important then start working on it immediately. Sometimes you won't be able to estimate the duration, in these cases, give it a guess. For everyday little things, you should be able to define the duration. As time passes, your goals and priorities may change and that’s ok, don’t be too hard on yourself although you should push to finish a task before starting anything new.
3. Plan your days ahead
Not only should you be planning your day but also the week ahead. To do that you'll need a couple of things: a to-do-list and a clear mindset! The to-do-list can be pen and paper or the coolest app you can find out there. Personally, I use a notebook to keep my daily and weekly tasks organised, and for things I want to schedule in the future, I'll use notes on my phone or Trello on my laptop. An extra tip is to stick to simple solutions (like pen and paper) as it’s easy, quick and free. As for the mindset, visualise your next day before going to sleep, and then take a few minutes in the morning to appreciate what you already have but also think your goals and how you can achieve them.
4. Find your motivation
Motivation will differ from person to person, maybe your motivation is getting a promotion, landing a job at Google or making time for your friends during the weekdays. Find your motivation and stick to it. I have to warn you though, your motive will eventually faint. Don’t get discouraged, there is a solution and it’s called: determination. Be determined to work towards your goals and then enjoy the fruits of your labor. There’ll be times you’ll feel tired, sleepy or think it’s not worth it, but it is worth it and you can do it, and you’ll prove to yourself and to others that you’re capable of accomplishing your goals no matter how crazy or stupid they sound.
5. Eliminate distractions
I cannot stress how important is to eliminate all the distractions before you start working/studying/coding etc. Surveys show that you need almost 15 minutes after you get distracted in order to focus back on your work. My working solution: keep your phone away, set it to silent or airplane mode. Disable notifications from electronic devices, unplug or turn off anything with sound or anything that is being visible from your sitting point. Keep your working space clean. Let your family/roommates/partner know that you are working and you’ll need x-minutes to finish, after that time you’ll return to them. If you think you cannot concentrate for long periods of time then I would suggest using the Pomodoro technique where you basically set up a timer for 20 minutes, and work as hard as you can, then you take 5 minutes break and eventually you repeat this cycle as much as it needs.
6. Learn how to say ‘no’
A lot of people, especially women, can’t say ‘no’. Learn the power of ‘no’ and start applying it. I used to say ‘yes’ to everything, I was working, studying for my masters, freelancing, volunteering, creating content (videos and articles), I was saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity. But was it really an opportunity?! Was I working because I wanted to or because someone else wanted something from me?! I didn’t have time to see my family or hang out with my friends. Eventually, I started saying ‘no’. I got more relaxed and I could concentrate more easily on important tasks. My tip is to keep what offers you more value and push away everything else.
A few last words, it’s ok to redefine your goals and priorities, people change, life happens. Don’t be too hard on your self. Work, study, read, learn, but also: sleep, cook your own meals, appreciate what you have, stay humble and help others. We are humans, we are going to make mistakes and we will fail.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
Please remember: You got this. You can do it.
Change your thoughts:
"I shouldn't do this." → “Heck yeah, I’m going to do this.”
"I'm not good enough." → “I’ll prove you how capable I am in just a few days .”
"People are going to judge me." → “They see me rollin' they hatin'.”
I hope you found these tips useful and that you will be able to implement them into your daily work routine or that I at least inspired you to find your own path.
Thanks for reading, have an amazing and super productive day ahead.
Eleftheria is on Twitter as @BatsouElef