How You Think Has A Big Impact On Your Productivity.
Positive thinking and affirmations used to be the realm of self-development gurus and over-enthusiastic managers. However, in recent years, in books such as Mindset by Carol Dweck, and Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth, there is now scientific evidence to back up many of these theories.
The way you think, particularly about yourself, has a giant impact on your outcomes in life.
From a time management and productivity perspective, this equates to how you feel about what you are attempting to accomplish each day. For me, it’s about beginning the day knowing what I want to get accomplished and being sure I will do it. I don’t let doubt enter my head.
It’s that certainty that stops procrastination and distractions in their tracks.
In my previous life, where I had no objectives each day, and I never knew, with certainty, what I should be working on, I would find myself picking the easy tasks. These had no real value, and I welcomed any interruption or command from another person because it gave me an excuse not to continue attempting to decide what I should do next.
But this life was leading me nowhere. On the contrary, it left me feeling busy and anxious, and I was always complaining about not having enough time to do my work.
It’s laughable now when I look back, but when I do look back, I ask what changed? Why do I now religiously look at my task list and calendar before I close down the day?
There came the point in life where I was aware that it would lead me nowhere if I continued down the road I was on. I was on the road towards dissatisfaction, unfulfillment and the stereotypical grumpy old man syndrome (complaining about everything). That shook me. That was the polar opposite of the identity I had for myself.
Even in those distant dark days, my identity was a person who was focused, energetic, positive and driven. Unfortunately, the road I was on was none of these. It just wasn’t the person I saw myself being.
That’s when I began reading self-development books. I wanted to learn more about the mind and about being driven. I read biographies of successful people from Sir Richard Branson to Ian Fleming. I studied people like Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn and Brian Tracy. I wanted to know how these people did what they did with so much passion and energy.
I learned that the most significant common denominator in successful people is that they know exactly what they will accomplish each day before the day starts. Each day has a purpose if you like, and that purpose is connected to what they want to achieve in life.
The interesting thing about having a set of targets or objectives for the day is you no longer find yourself procrastinating or allowing distractions to enter your world. Instead, you become more focused, and it’s that focus that drives you forward.
When I was around fourteen years old, I remember watching a documentary on Olympic champion Sebastian Coe. The documentary followed him for several months in his preparations for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. It was inspiring to see him beginning each day knowing what he would do and why he was doing it. Whether it was a long slow run, or an intense speed endurance session on the track, no matter how hard the session for that day was going to be, you could feel the energy and excited anticipation Sebastian Coe had. No matter how tough the training was going to be, he knew it needed to be done if he were to win a gold medal.
There is nothing extraordinary about successful people — they are not superhuman in some way we are not. The difference is in the way they think and see the world. If you are alive, you can think, which means you too can change the way you think.
If you think you are destined to be a failure, you will be correct. On the other hand, if you feel you are destined for greater things, the chances are you will achieve remarkable things.
But thinking alone is not enough; you need action. You require focus, and you need a plan each day.
I have a goal to be the fittest 52-year-old on the planet by the end of this year. A lofty goal and one that will be practically impossible to measure. However, that’s not relevant. What’s important is this lofty goal will influence what I do each day.
If I am to become the fittest 52-year-old on the planet, the one thing I must do is exercise each day. I need to run, jump and lift weights and these things have to be carried out consistently each day. So one day will be weights, other days will be running.
I also have to think like the fittest 52-year-old on the planet, which means being aware of the latest scientific research on fitness in the over fifties.
Now, let’s imagine you want to become better organised and more productive. How do you do that? Well, you need to get organised and stay organised. That’s a non-negotiable task. So how will you achieve that? What can you do each day to make sure that happens?
To become more productive, you must have a plan and execute that plan each day. How do you do that? You make sure you start the day with a clear set of objectives to accomplish that plan.
To achieve these, you must think like you are an organised and productive person already. This will drive you, energise you and ensure you are consistent and prevent you from skipping the planning sessions.
If you think you are a procrastinator, you will be a procrastinator. If you think you are disorganised, you will be disorganised. It comes back to the way you think about yourself.
If you want to change and become better organised and more productive, flip your thinking. Tell yourself you are organised and productive, and you do the necessary work to be organised and productive. You always plan the day and clear things away when you have finished with them.
It’s not difficult; you just need to commit yourself.
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