Becoming great is hard work but these tools make the process easier.
Becoming the best version of yourself is hard. There is are endless obstacles stopping us from getting where we want to be. You need the right tools help you get past or even destroy those obstacles.
There are three things that often limit your personal development. More specifically it’s the lack of these three things that is the problem. They are:
There are only so many hours in a day and we have to spend a chunk of them eating and sleeping. This makes the hours we have left extra valuable.
Toggl is a tool designed for recording the time spent on projects or certain business tasks. Even thought it’s designed for business, it can be used very effectively to track and optimise your personal life too.
This article demonstrates how tracking your time can result in massive boost in productivity. The author reduced wasted time by 46%, increased income 27% and boosted revenue per hour by 238%!
To do this you need to track everything you do, how long you spend emailing, working on projects or having “5 minute social media breaks”. With all the information you gather, you can see where you can save time and what you need to spend more time doing.
Combining this with income information for each of those activities can highlight where your time would be most effectively spent.
Music Speed Changer
The average CEO reads 50 books a year. How do they have the time?
Audio books are a great way to “read” whilst commuting, exercising or doing other menial tasks. This is a great way to get yourself closer to that 50 books a year target.
Unfortunately some of them are LONG. The Steve Jobs biography is over 25 hours! That would mean listening for over 3 and a half hours a day to hit 50 books a year. This is where Music Speed Changer comes in.
This smart little app allows you to speed up or slow down music. Whilst it’s fun listening to your favourite song at 250% speed, it comes into its own with audio books. Increasing the speed can save you hours of time whilst still being easy to understand.
Play the Steve Jobs audio book at 150% speed (comfortable for most people) and save yourself almost 8 and a half hours. Bumping that up to 180% and you’re saving over 11 hours. You can try 200% or higher if you can cope but I find that 180% is a good balance of saving time and maintaining clarity.
The Music Speed Changer app links in very nicely to this section. A lack of general knowledge or specific knowledge about a topic can limit your personal and professional growth.
One reason that CEOs read so much is to increase their perspective on the world. This allows them to better understand other and their points of view.
While audio books are great, they can still take a week to listen through and finding great audio books can be hard.
Blinkist is an app that allows users to listen to or read 15 minute summaries of a huge range of books. The best part is that they let you listen to a free book every day. They select the book but this is a good thing.
I recently listened to Ikigai — the Japanese secret to a happier and healthier life and Buddhism is True — the science and philosophy of meditation and enlightenment. I would never have listened to or read either of those books if I could choose from their library, but I’m very glad I have done. They’ve expanded the breadth of my knowledge and perspective.
The great thing is if you find a book that you really like and want to learn more, you can then go and buy it. Get books you want to read, not just the books that everyone suggests.
This is another great way to increase your knowledge in a short period of time. Almost all of the posts are less than 10 minutes and are on a massive range of topics. This means that you can read a full article whilst you on the bus, drinking a coffee or in the bathroom. Reading something in 3 sections is never as enjoyable.
You can find everything from art to project management tips, travelling stories to how-to guides. This means you can sharpen the skills you already have or learn about something new.
Focus is a broad skill, varying from focusing intensely for 5 minutes, having a focus for the day to focusing on lifetime goals. Unfortunately focusing becomes harder the larger the time span. These tools aim to make focusing easier.
This is the most basic tool on this list but may be the most effective. Keeping a daily diary can help you prioritise your tasks, organise your schedule and make sure you’re making progress towards your life goals.
There are loads of diary methods out there but this is the one I use. It is a very basic bullet journal but the simplicity ensures you don’t spend more time preparing and organising than you do working.
- Write the days of the month, one on each line. Put in key events or things to remember.
- Monthly review — review how the last month went, what the highlights and lowlights were and what you’ve learnt and will do differently. Then write 2–3 personal and 2–3 professional goals for the next month.
- Weekly review — review of the last week, but slightly shorter. These are more about tracking the last week than reflecting upon it
- Daily Log — the date and 2–5 key tasks that you want to achieve that day with boxes next to them.
Each morning I write my daily log and fill in the boxes as I complete them throughout the day. If I have any empty boxes from the day before I can either move them to today or decide that it doesn’t need doing.
Habits are one of the most powerful forces in our lives. This tool helps you stick to them by clearly tracking them. Once you’re on a streak, you will work really hard to make sure not to break it. The psychology is that it takes 66 daily repetitions of a task for the habit to become natural.
You should use these kinds of tools carefully, introducing one or two small habits at first and then more complex habits as you go. If you add one new positive habit a month then it adds up. If each habit makes you just 2% better, after a year you’ll be 26.8% better, after 2 years it’s 60%.
This exponential increase of efficiency is because the benefits stack. The better you become, the easier it is to become even better.
There are tools to help you save time, increase your knowledge and boost your focus. Using these tools will allow you to maximise the potential you have and achieve much more than you thought you could.