Investing doesn’t always have to be about wealth or money. IMHO, the best investment would be to invest in yourself so that you have a fulfilling life, and that would possibly help you earn as you as want to.
What it means to “invest in yourself”?
The past year threw curveball on many of our plans and dreams. And for many of us (including me) it has been a drastic wake up call. I realized that my life could turn upside down in a day and I was not anywhere closer to whom I wanted to be, if and when that happens.
The gap between the person that I am currently and the person that I want to be is quite huge. And I consider anything that I do to fill that gaping hole is an investment in myself.
Why investing in yourself matters?
AKA what are the primary benefits in making a bet on yourself or by making an investment on you as person, not your job or business?
Investing in yourself:
Makes us grow into a better person
Helps us to build self confidence
Opens avenues for financial and career development
So what do you think are that areas that you can work on to start investing yourself?
1) Set SMART goals
Knowing where you want to go in the next 1, 5, and 10 years will give a great start in helping yourself reach there. This applies for both personal or business/professional growth.
And not just any goal or target, but set a SMART goal.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time bound
Setting a goal and a plan to achieve those goals is the critical step towards your dreams.
2) Develop your skills
Many a times, developing your skills or even learning a new skill can boost up your resume and open new avenues in terms of your career. But there are quite a few skills that help you to lead a better life in general.
Enrol in a few free webinars or workshops
Youtube and TED talks are also great resources
Advance your education through certifications
Stay on top by subscribing to publications and blogs
3) Read read read
You knew I was going to say this, right?
Reading is the best and most economical way to invest in yourself. The reading habit gives you a second hand view into lives of others and a chance to learn from their experiences. It also gives you a glimpse into their perspectives and way of life.
If you are newbie, here are few non fiction titles that are short and can be a good a good starting point.
If you are into fiction, these books are a good for a kick start.
4) Find a mentor/coach
Your path to success need not be always alone. Finding a role model or a mentor for yourself can have a huge impact, both in your personal and professional life.
A mentor can help you navigate the hurdles along your career path. You can find a business coach and even a life coach who are willing to share their experiences and knowledge, online.
5) Manage your life better
One of the best ways to invest in yourself is to spend time to organize your life and manage your time better.
A simple time audit exercise might go a long way to know where you spend your time and efforts on and then if they are worth it. I never knew how many hours I waste deciding which book to read next, rather than reading itself.
Planning your week and days ahead and creating routine for yourself may seem complex at first, but once you have tried it you will never go back to being a “unplanned chaos”.
6) Put your health first
More often, in the pursuit of success and wealth, we put our health on the backseat.
Investing on yourself means keeping your body and brain healthy. Put in some time to exercise or some physical activities in your new routine.
I know most of us run on caffeine but replacing that with just water. Include greens and other healthy choices in your daily routine.
These small habits affect our mood and happiness, and thus increase our productivity as well.
7) Choose to be happy
Speaking of mood and happiness, make a conscious effort to keep yourself positive and cheerful.
I know with all that is happening around the world, it is definitely not easy to be light and happy always. But it is ok to step back when it gets overwhelming and choose to be happy.
“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”- Abraham Lincoln
8) Get rid of toxic relationships
As a step towards choosing to be happy, get rid of those negative and toxic friendships from your life.
We are made of habits that we pick, subconsciously or not, from our surrounding. It goes without saying what happens when we are staying in an environment that is not conducive to our growth.
If you want to invest in yourself, invest in choosing positive and supportive friends, and getting rid of those who are not.
9) Find a community
Surround yourself with people with whom you belong and those who travel in a path similar to yours. The more social relationships you have, the better your mental well being will be.
You don’t have to go out of your way to build a community, just look around (and online) based on your interests.
The book twitter fam would be a great place to find your tribe, if you are a bookworm like me.
Make some time to create and cultivate new relationships, so that they add meaning to your life. And maybe they will create new opportunities further down in the future.
10) Give space for your creative process
While creating your new and improved schedule, ensure you have some creative space for yourself. Creative space may mean different to different people.
I can’t do without some quiet time during the mid day. Usually, I need some white noise and maybe a power nap to get through my second day, especially if it is hectic. That never fails to help when I am too distracted and can’t churn out a 1500 word article immediately.
My friend does mandala art or Zentangle to keep her thought spirals away. There are few more who swear by early morning meditation.
It doesn’t always have to art or painting, it can be anything that makes you think differently than usual.
Find out what your creative outlet is and OWN IT.
11) Give yourself a break
More than everything, please be kind to yourself. Be conscious about how you speak to yourself. Ask if you will say that to your friend. If you won’t, then why are you so hard on yourself?
It is okay if everything doesn’t go according to your plan. Forgive your mistakes, acknowledge that you can do better and work on it. No need to pull yourself down, especially when the world is so hard you as well.
12) Catch up on your sleep
Finally, the most important one. Do not mess with your sleep cycle! Try to go to bed at reasonable hours and wake up refreshed. Put your screens away before you hit the bed.
Consistent sleep pattern can be the best investment you can make on yourself and your physical well being.
A well rested person can be more productive, more creative and more happier than others who are on constant sleep deprivation.
The key to investing in yourself is patience. None of these tips would make you a different person overnight. You keep practicing them daily and in the long run you will see the change in yourself professionally, mentally and emotionally.
As many techniques and hacks you learn to improve our productivity and life in general, it more or less boils down to one thing: are you motivated enough to follow them? So here are some motivational quotes about productivity and time management to kick your butt nudge you in the right direction.
These quotes are from well known productivity pundits as well as highly renowned leaders in their field. Some of my all time favorites are in here too.
So ready to check them out?
Motivational quotes about productivity and time management
Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. – Stephen King
Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else. – Peter Drucker
Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before. – Franz Kafka
If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done. – Bruce Lee
Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade! – Tony Robbins
Focus on being productive instead of busy. – Tim Ferriss
Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all. – Peter Drucker
Efficiency is doing better what is already being done. – Peter Drucker
If there are nine rabbits on the ground, if you want to catch one, just focus on one. – Jack Ma
Don’t confuse the urgent with the important. – Preston Ni
Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort. – Paul J. Meyer
Never mistake motion for action. – Ernest Hemingway
Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week. – Charles Richards
It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about? – Henry David Thoreau
Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks. – Warren Buffett
Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest. – Leo Babauta
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. – Walt Disney
You don’t need a new plan for next year. You need a commitment. – Seth Godin
Do you have any motivational quotes that you love? Maybe about productivity and time management, or anything else? Let’s talk.
How often do you find yourself losing track of time, only to find that you have run out of time in a day? Saying we need more than 24 hours in a day is no longer a joke, since everyone is feeling that these days.
And it is called time management for a reason, because no matter what we say there are only so many hours in a day. Measuring is the first step to managing your time. Without understanding how and where we are spending our time, we can’t try to control it. And today, let us talk about how to find more time in a day by doing a time audit, to track our day.
As someone who works from home, on a computer and a phone all the time (read as on the couch, in front of the TV) I know how easy it is to get distracted and lose track of time. One minute you are allowing yourself to watch ten minute of Friends re-run and before you know it is dinner time. With a bunch of deadline reminders.
Happens to all of us. But it is time to take control of our 24 hours and manage the heck out of it.
What is time audit?
Time audit means we are gonna track everything you do in a day down to the T and understand where your time flies, as we keep saying. We are going to find out what is your most time consuming activity and what is your optimized schedule like.
How to track and manage your time?
What are planning to do is: track your activities every thirty minutes every day for a week or two. You don’t have to change a thing about your schedule, but just note down what you are doing every 30 minutes.
Sounds interesting? Let us dig ahead.
Setting up a system to track
Setting up a time tracking system is not difficult. While there are numerous (free and premium) apps that would help you track your day for you automatically, I prefer a more mindful approach.
In the first columns, write down what your standard day looks like. Again, it doesn’t have to be your 100% productive day, but it has to be achievable regularly.
Estimate the number of hours you plan to spend working and sleeping. Give yourself breaks and pauses to breathe.
Make it easier to track
Okay, so the goal is simple. Stop whatever you are doing and check in every 30 minutes or so to write down what you were doing. Also take “stop whatever you are doing” with a salt.
You don’t have to pause cooking in the middle but you should be noting mentally how long it takes for you to cook. Note what you are doing every 30 minutes and write them all down on the sheet as a batch.
Use your discretion
And when I say write everything down, you can be as specific as you want. Do not forget to fill in your meal times, coffee breaks, commute, and other regular activities.
You probably will be tempted to say ‘blogging’ but it is better if you write down ‘Writing post for Friday’ or ‘graphics for Friday post’. So now you will be able to see how long it actually takes for you to create a Friday post from coming up with the idea to actually scheduling or posting it.
At the same time, use your discretion when it comes to using acronyms and batching things. ‘Emails’ sounds good enough for me, rather than writing ‘replying emails and emptying inbox’. But you do, you.
Analyze the results
Here comes the most interesting part of the exercise. The result.
While it is good to wait till the end of the week or time period you have chosen to audit yourself, it is quite natural to take stock of your activities by the end of each day. It is a good way to plan for the next day, right?
So be it a week or month, once you have a list of activities and the time you spend on them on average available with you, identify the activities that are
They do absolutely nothing for you and you didn’t even know you were doing it. Well, what a waste of time. This is not to be confused with things that you do for fun (like those ‘Friends’ reruns) Example: mindless scrolling on social media, Waiting for a reply email
These activities may not give you much returns but you do them because they seemed like a good idea then. Or a great way to procrastinate what you ought to be doing. Example: Checking inbox or phone for mails and messages
Identify what kind of work or activity that you keep putting off until the last moment and why. Is it fear of failure or something else.
Involves deep work
These activities are best done when you have fewer distractions around. You can find out when you are at your best, based on your time tracking sheet.
How much ever you try, there would be some things that are unanticipated. Say, a new request in your work or a last minute change in your design, may have to be accommodated.
But your time audit sheet will help you know if it was becoming a trend. If so can you do something about it.
Identify the routine tasks and habits that work like a clockwork for you.
Often when we get into our to do lists and plans, we tend to forget the big picture about if we are working on the right direction and pace. Conducting an audit of our habits, routines and tasks in terms of the time spent is a perfect way to start taking control of our time.
Have you heard time audit as a time management tool? How do you track and manage your time? What are the activities that take most of your time? Let us talk.
Do you often start projects/habits/hobbies passionately, and then leave them unfinished and unforgotten? Been there, done that. But what matters is do you do this too often? If yes, what are you doing to finish what you start – be it a new personal project, a business or a hobby?
Why don’t we push ourselves to finish what we started?
While there are different reasons ranging from “I forgot about it” to “life happened” for each of us giving up on various things, the underlying reasons can be only one of these
Found a new shiny thing to do,
Realized it was harder (in terms of time, efforts or resources) than you assumed, or
Before starting a project, think through. Why do you want to do the project or start a new habit? Do you have the time to add in a new hobby to your life?
Envision your end result. What are you going to achieve through this additional project? Is it going to add to your portfolio or add in a new stream of revenue? Is it going to help you be a better you and if so, how?
Be choosy of your projects
Speaking of connecting the means to an end, if the project doesn’t add value to yourself, say no to it recklessly. This is very important when it comes to large projects.
For instance, a few of my friends wanted to started a podcast earlier this year. I joined them because, FRIENDS! We spent hours and days on perfecting it but eventually life happened and one by one we all dropped out.
The time, effort and resources we spent on it, could have better utilized elsewhere.
If you are accepting to do projects that you really want to finish, your completion will be higher.
Break into action plans with deadlines
Now that you have chosen what you want to do and don’t, let us break your large projects into size-able chunks.
You know what the end result of the project, say learning basic Korean in 60 days. Split the goal into action plans and assign timelines, say learning 50 new words each week.
You can go further and break it down to tasks for each day, if possible.
These weekly goals will help you assess your performance and change course of action. And mainly to keep you on track.
Estimate what you need to finish
Another main reason for people quitting new projects is that they grossly underestimate the resources in terms of money, effort and time the project will demand.
So even before you start a project do a deeper investigation into the requirements. Basically, do not be me while I was in the quick BuJo phase (and let us not talk about my shelves that are not filled with pens, tapes and notebooks).
Also if you think you will need help from or have to coordinate with someone else, ensure they are available and discuss your goals and timelines with them also.
Sometimes we lose motivation when we don’t see the ball moving. If our efforts do not turn into tangible results, why should we slog our asses off?
This is why I insist on tracking and rewarding progress towards a goal and just completion. Read 10 pages in a book? Give yourself a pat on the back, even if you have not finished the book yet. Now you have an incentive to read at least ten pages each day.
Announce your goals, or don’t
When you start a project, commit to completion. When that doesn’t seem good enough, get an accountability partner, maybe a friend, family or announce via social media.
Ask them specifically to hold you to your commitment by frequently checking on you.
But for some people, like me, just talking about their goals to others is enough satisfaction that they never go back to working on it.
Figure out what works best for you and use that strategy to keep yourself accountable.
Understand YOU play the major role
But understand that you are working for yourself. It is YOU who wants to finish the project. And it is YOU who wants to break the pattern of not finishing what you start.
And that motivation should be coming within YOU, not from others holding you responsible. Or the peer pressure about it.
Just think about how YOU would feel after you finish the project and how it would help YOU in terms of your larger goal in life.
Perfection is not enough
One excuse people often give when they don’t get to doing what they started is that they are waiting for it to be perfect or the fear that the result won’t be as perfect as they imagined it to be.
First of all, STOP THAT.
Realize while you are waiting for perfection, others are doing something about it and you are missing out on the lead.
And you can always edit, change and perfect it once you are done. All you have to aim is for “good”. It need not be perfect, right now.
Perfection is the enemy of the good!
Also, unless you keep doing good enough work repeatedly, you will not become best or even better.
It is okay to quit
When all is said and done, it is okay to fail and okay to let go.
Our interests change and our priorities shuffle. And it is quite normal to drop the projects once in a while. You are a mere human, for that matter.
And I know this might happen after you have spent a considerable time working on the project, but all is not lost, right? Whatever you have worked on should have been a learning experience and who knows, maybe some day you might pick it up again.
But just ensure to study why and what made you leave the business unfinished, and that it is a rational decision.
Do you ever feel that you are working for such a long time but the work never gets completed? Or you wish you had 27 hours in a day just so you can breathe a bit more? If you are constantly looking to be more productive in life and getting things done you are in the right place.
And also I know that feeling and I use to run like a headless chicken trying get my things in order, until a year or two ago. But then I started doing a few small changes to my routines, and then some.
Okay, now I don’t want to be a brag but I have been posting consistently on my social media and blogs for a while, am I not? I am calling that a win!
How to be more productive in life
Here are few things that I have learnt during this journey and they have been working perfectly for me.
You guys know that I love my lists and I probably cannot get through a day without a to do list or two. And yes, those lists usually have about 10-20 things to do each day. Quite out of control, to be honest.
But then I made a small change to my to do list and that has brought a great change.
I started adding three most important things that I had to do, each day.
Basically if I am done with those three things, I can slack a bit. Usually that means I can binge watch Netflix just after I tick them off and get to those other things on my to do list at my leisure.
Guess what, I usually want to finish those three important things as the first thing in the morning, CUZ NETFLIX AWAITS.
You can not evade deep work
Speaking of most important things, make sure you are doing something meaningful in terms of your goal each day. It is easy to do 10 little things every day and still not moved towards your goals. Trust me, been there, done that.
Instead schedule an hour each day to work on things that are hard and demand your full attention- be it writing or studying.
Cut out all distractions, keep your phones away and focus on the work in hand.
Create a vision and break it to action plans
We all have too many things going on in different part of our lives and we are all running towards a lot of things. Sounds overwhelming right? Maybe this is the right time to be strategic about your long term goals.
What are your projects for, say, the month? Be it decluttering your closet or churning out that 5000 word post, either way you need to be S.M.A.R.T about the goals AKA Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant and Time bound goals.
So break that post into smaller sections and set a deadline to get that written. Mark on your calendar how long it is going to take for you to declutter each shelf and ensure you get it done by then.
Reward progress, not just completion
Your task is taking too long to complete in a day? That is okay, just recognize the progress you made today, instead of waiting for the completion of entire task.
You wrote five pages of you twenty page essay? Wowza, you did a great job and treat yourself with a cup of coffee or a ten min walk. Acknowledging and rewarding the progress and just not completion can act as a huge motivation.
Better your systems and environment
If something keeps tripping you from achieving your goals, check your system rather than being hard on yourself.
Are you filling yourself with junk food while you binge watch? Keep unhealthy snacks out of your reach aka near your couch. Now you have to walk all the way to the kitchen to eat anything which will automatically reduce your consumption.
Too many snoozes? Keep your alarm away from the bed. Hate the huge pile of clothes on your chair? Change the place of the chair.
Ensure your system is not failing you, despite your good efforts.
Another cool method I found to get things done, even tasks that you are not fond of is habit stacking, otherwise called as creating a routine.
The idea is to put a bunch of activities one after the other in a sequence. This way you can “hide” a habit you need to do but you are not interested to between habits you like to do anyway.
For instance, I love my morning coffee and posting on my Instagram stories, but I procrastinate clearing up my coffee table until it becomes an eye sore. So now, as soon as I fill my morning coffee cup, I clear my coffee table, which hardly takes 2-3 minutes. And then proceed to post on Instagram while I drink my coffee.
Pick coffee – clear table – post on Instagram- drink coffee. Habits stacked!
2 Minute rule for beating procrastination
As someone who is well versed in procrastination, here is a trick that has helped me time and again called the 2 minute rule.
While preparing the to do list, if you come across a task that takes less than 2 minutes, do not add it on your to do list, just do it right away.
Answer a mail in brief? Will it take less than 2 minute to send it? Do it now, don’t wait for later. At the least, your to do list will be under control, unlike mine.
Find yourself an accountability partner
When all else fails, do not hesitate to get a partner who will hold you accountable. That is right, tell someone what you will accomplish each day and then share what you have done.
I know it might sound weird at first but it is effective.
Charvi from Not Just Fiction and I do this quite regularly. We send each other our to do lists each morning and then assess our day before we go to sleep.
To be honest, just imagining how she might judge me if I don’t do at least half my to do list is what keeps me running most days. In her defense, she is the best and she never ever judges the weird things I put on my to do list.
These are some of the things that I learned out of experience and have made my life easier. If you feel them useful, I would appreciate if you could share the post on social media.
What are your tricks to be more productive in general and getting things done? Do you ever feel the slump and how do you get out of it? Let us talk