If I could pick the top seven things that have most impacted my life in the past few years, it will be the ones I’m about to discuss with you.
To be honest, I wish I had known them 10 years earlier.
I never learned them from any productivity guru. And I’m not giving you prescriptions for any problems.
I learned them through a cycle of trial, error, and desperation. And if I could give anyone daily practical habits they could easily implement to transform their lives and make 2023 their year, it will be these:
1. Time-blocking apps can change your life
Tiny distractions accumulate into hours of wasted time every day.
And you’ll be amazed at how much mental clarity — and productivity — you can have daily if you just used a time management app to structure your day.
I see people trying to use ‘willpower’ to prevent themselves from using social media.
I tried that for a long time and it didn’t work.
Even willpower is depleted when it’s stressed out by too much temptation. All it will take to get you hooked on a dopamine-reward loop is just one notification from TikTok.
The best way to truly have a workflow or productive time void of distraction is to use time management apps.
There are tons of them out there. And they are designed to suit different purposes.
If you’re trying to cure yourself of social media addiction — or the internet in general — some apps will allow you to block all your social media apps from morning till afternoon or evening.
And you’ll need the permission of your accountability partner to undo this change even if all you want to do is access your social media account.
You could even go monk mode and not access your social media accounts for months, specifically telling your accountability partner not to allow any changes until the number of months you’ve agreed.
I doubt if you’ll be that enthusiastic to get back on social media after you’re done with the challenge.
2. Actively dedicate time to finding out things you don’t know
I built this habit without deliberately trying to. It was out of pure curiosity and desperation.
But I’ve found it to be one of the most important things I do.
Almost every time I go into a platform like YouTube, I just randomly search for things related to my business. It could be how I can expand it, tricks to make more money from it, how to do more with fewer resources, etc.
Sometimes I find repeated useless information. A few times I stumble on gold. And over time, the useful information I’ve come across with these random searches is priceless.
Here’s the thing:
The major difference between each of us is the things we know or don’t know. That’s it.
The more you know, the farther ahead you are from the next person. Just one valuable piece of information could unlock a new chapter of your life. This isn’t just some cliche BS. What you know — or don’t know — could lift you or keep you down. I know this from experience.
Before I came across Medium, I never knew anyone who wrote there. I just discovered it from one of my random searches. And it has been one of my major streams of income for two years now.
Actively dedicate time to finding out things you don’t know. You’ll be amazed at what you might stumble on.
3. Find an obsession
To be honest, I haven’t seen any remarkable person who wasn’t obsessed with something.
It could be psychology, mathematics, physics, kickboxing, writing, painting, history, human behavior, etc. They all have something that gets them excited to get up in the morning.
When they’re brushing their teeth, they’re thinking about new strategies to hone their craft. They’re excited merely thinking about how much improvement they’re making. They find meaning in what they do.
I should mention that your obsession doesn’t have to be your source of income. Not everyone is that privileged.
However, anyone who’s going to enjoy their time on earth, and live an interesting and remarkable life, must have something that means something to them.
Show me someone without any obsession and you’ll most likely be looking at someone whose life is void of meaning.
Your obsession motivates you, shapes your thoughts, challenges you, boosts your self-confidence and gives you a circle of friends you love.
4. Have a morning ritual
The reason why making your bed every morning is so important is because it’s an easy way to set a good tone for the rest of the day.
When you make your bed right after waking up, it looks great. You’ve already accomplished something remarkable right there, and the day hasn’t even started. It’s easy, and that’s exactly the point.
Once I wake up and brush my teeth, I write an article immediately. Then I can go do other things.
The reason this routine works for me so well, as I’ve come to realize over time, is that writing one article first thing in the morning makes me feel so good that it’s very difficult to have a bad day after that.
Everyone has different things that work for them.
For some, it’s simply reading a few pages of a book to get that creative juice flowing. Find your shtick and use it.
If you can learn to consistently get your morning right, you won’t recognize yourself in a few months.
5. The unsexy habit of single-tasking
Single-tasking is boring to most people. They feel they’re not being productive if they’re not juggling multiple things at the same time.
When I first started writing, I’ll take short breaks in between a few words and go on social media to cool off.
The process of going back and forth made me feel busy and productive. But I’ll take two to three days to finish an article of just 1500 words. That’s not productivity.
Besides the fact that I was taking too long to write, the quality of my writing was also wack.
When I finally dared to try the highly unsexy habit of ‘Deep Work’ I couldn’t believe what I was able to achieve.
I wrote two to three articles of over a thousand words every day.
Then I realized almost every single person who has ever done something remarkable understands the idea of deep work.
If you can’t stay on a single task, without any distraction, for a long time, it’s almost impossible to reach the peak of your creativity.
6. A social media detox
We all think social media is necessary until we put it away. Then we realize how much other things need our attention that we couldn’t see.
The problem with people who waste too much time on social media is that they think they have time.
But a tool as addictive as social media isn’t just about looking at some pictures and videos and looking away.
Firstly, more time on social media means less time on important stuff.
Secondly, social media often leads to a loop of time-wasting behavior. It starts with just a notification from Instagram. Before you know it, you’ve seen a nice picture of a high school friend who appears to have a better life than you.
Now you’re depressed. This means you’re going to waste the next couple of days angry at yourself and giving a toxic attitude to those around you.
As several studies have confirmed, high use of social media is linked to a higher rate of depression and lower self-esteem. And it’s no wonder why.
Think about what could happen if you channeled your social media time to doing something productive. It’s not just your time that you’ll be saving, it’s also your mind.
7. Be deliberate about self-care
Rule 2 of Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life says,
“Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible for Helping.”
So many people think they love themselves, but they don’t.
You can tell if you love yourself through your actions, not your beliefs.
I’ve seen people who believe they’re religious but their actions say the opposite. What we truly believe speaks in what we act out.
If you say you love yourself but don’t see reasons why you should go see the doctor when you’re noticing changes in your health, then maybe you don’t care about yourself that much.
If you know that you stay indoors too much, are immobile, and don’t think you should exercise at least once a week, then that’s not self-love — no matter how much of it you preach on social media.
To care for yourself means to treat yourself like someone you’re responsible for helping. It means you observe yourself, negotiate if necessary, and think of the best things you can do to have a better you.