In a perfect world, I bet we’d all love to try new things, accomplish new goals, and check everything off of our to-do list, all with ease. Well, we may not live in a perfect world, but when it comes to personal development, I just may have a few success tips to help you become near-perfect at creating new habits.
I have to admit, I used to have a hard time staying focused on one task or project, especially in the time building Mind Movies.
It was hard to create new habits I knew I needed to be more successful in building our business. Getting overwhelmed and bogged down by anxiety often led to me just giving up instead of pushing forward. And no matter the amount of life advice or inspiration I received from those around me, I soon understood that it was really about what I needed to do to master new habits and skills for success.
So if you are struggling to stay focused and want to learn how to be more successful at, well… just getting things done, I have some practical advice to help you on your way. And this isn’t one of those everyday how-to blogs, because this time, we’re going to dig deep into some concrete ways you can implement success-driven habits into your life right away.
Make a list (and check it twice)
“Hey, Natalie! What’s the most useful thing you use to stay organized and on top of your work?”
Well, there happen to be two…a pad of paper and a pen! If you know me, then I’ve probably already mentioned how much I love writing out my to-do list on a pad of paper. It may seem old school, but the act of writing out my daily tasks has helped me tremendously in staying productive. Studies show that physically writing out notes, like the in the form of a to-do list, actually helps you retain the information better than just hearing or reading it.
And it’s not just making a list - that’s the easy part - it’s more about using the list as a guide throughout the day and making it a point to cross off items as they get done. I first like to write out my tasks for the day, including the really small ones, and leave it near my workspace. This way, it’s always there in my peripherals as a visual reminder throughout the day.
Then, at the end of the day, I review my to-do list to see exactly what I was able to accomplish. I had to train myself to get into the habit of checking my list both at the beginning and end of my day. The small act of holding myself accountable - just like an employer or manager would - soon turned into a highly beneficial habit for me because I was actually seeing results. Consistently managing my to-do list has become the conductor of my motivation train, allowing me to always keep moving forward.
Understand “the why”
Okay, now that you can see the benefits of list-making, it’s time to break down that list and get a better sense of how you are utilizing your time.
Let’s say you have three items on your to-do list and you were able to complete one, but not the other two. For all three, you’re going to write down the resolution to the task - whether you were able to complete it or not. And, most importantly, the reason why you were or weren’t able to complete it.
Again, this is an excellent habit for keeping yourself accountable. Making notes on what worked and what didn’t is an easy way to get insight into your process and work ethic. So instead of just settling on the fact that something didn’t get done, you are making a conscious effort to understand exactly why.
Let’s say the reason you weren’t able to complete a task is that you ran out of time that day. So going forward, when you attempt the task again, you know to give yourself a little more time, yielding a more successful outcome. Or maybe you weren’t able to complete a task because you were distracted by something in your work environment. With this information written down, you know for next time, you may need to adjust or change your environment to get this task crossed off your list.
And for the task that you were able to complete, maybe the reason you got it done is that you planned ahead and carved out plenty of time. So acknowledge those small wins too by making a note of it. Being open and honest with yourself about exactly how you are working is going to create tremendous adjustments in your productivity. When you are mindful of this, it creates a habit that becomes less of something you just “do everyday” and more of a part of who you really are. So no more guessing or putting things off for later because you are essentially tracking your formula for success.
Don’t take on too much at once
A huge reason why it’s hard to stay focused and push through challenging tasks is that sometimes we just have too much on our plate. And trust me, I get it, life is happening all around us with no plans of slowing down. So when you see that you have a lot to do, you may have already conditioned yourself to procrastinate or just save it for another time. To break this habit and turn your gut reaction into tackling your to-do list head-on, you’ve got to break things up into digestible chunks.
Lists are great but when there’s just way too much, understand that we’re all human, so you’ve got to be prepared for potential obstacles and setbacks. I used to believe that I had to get everything done right away simply because it was on my list, but I found that a great way to cut down on obstacles is to section off time. When I have a handful of projects, I take a look at everything and determine what I can get done in exactly one week. Seven days is a substantial amount of time to get through a single project and also just the right amount of time to deal with delays or setbacks. I also make calculated decisions to schedule specific projects or tasks for the following weeks to come. So start to get better acquainted with your calendar, because spreading out tasks week to week is going to tremendously cut down on overwhelm and procrastination.
“I get to [fill in the blank]”
Early on, I had to start getting in the habit of using “I get” statements. Similar to affirmations, “I get” statements have really transformed my overall mindset to embrace all of the amazing things, projects, tasks, etc., “I get” to do. It’s easy for frustration to creep in when you look at new projects or items on your to-list as things you have to do. When you make it a habit to reference your tasks as things you “get” to do, this increases overall alignment with your intentions, making it that much easier to get things done. For example,
“I get to host a weekly conference call.”
“I get to run a training session for my employees.”
“I get to travel for work.”
Now imagine replacing “I get” with “I have”:
“I have to host a weekly conference call.”
“I have to run a training session for my employees.”
“I have to travel for work.”
Well, those sound more like chores to me…so understand the power of simply changing a single word to completely shift your vibration. When you use “I get” statements instead, you are telling the Universe that you are grateful for your life and have no problem at all getting things done.
Lasting change requires forgiveness
If something didn’t get done, that’s okay because you must learn to forgive yourself. You see, a big reason why we may want to wave our white flag is because we beat ourselves up over not getting things done the right way or at the right time. But when you forgive yourself, you are allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes, so there are fewer going forward. Learning to forgive yourself is all a part of moving forward, so getting frustrated or giving up without trying is not going to be the best use of your time. And that’s exactly why I’d like to share with you a FREE copy of my book, Never In Your Wildest Dreams. Writing this book took me along a journey to recapture the inspiration and self-love I needed to live my greatest life, and that’s exactly why I want to share it with you. You’ll see the exact steps you can use to learn to forgive yourself, rise above your limiting beliefs, and elevate you to your limitless potential. Remember, lasting change requires the unlearning of bad habits and the relearning of good ones, including forgiveness. So let’s uncover that together when you grab your free copy of Never In Your Wildest Dreams. Here’s to creating new habits toward your greatest life!
Natalie Ledwell is a best selling author, speaker and successful entrepreneur. She's passionate about helping others to achieve their greatest dreams and ambitions through her personal development programs and her online TV show, The Inspiration Show.