Schedule tasks, especially new skills you want to make progress on at the time of day where you can be your most creative and energetic.
The strategy of scheduling is also powerful against ‘tomorrow logic’. You always seem to think that the ‘you of tomorrow’ will absolutely feel like going for the run or reading the course material despite the ‘you of today’ not being in the mood. When the activity is scheduled, you have a much greater probability of committing to it.
You can even label the calendar entry something like – ‘Time to build future me’. Choose something that you can laugh at and remind you why you have to be one step ahead of yourself.
The last reason why scheduling your new skill is so powerful is this – when you choose to block out time from 8 AM to 9 AM for writing, you are consciously choosing to say NO to everything else. Once you give that time away, it’s gone. Your time is a gift, don’t take it for granted and spend that hour watching cat videos or scrolling the socials.
You also don’t want to give those precious minutes to someone who will willingly waste them on futile meetings. Block out your calendar with the label ‘Meeting with EXCO’. If someone does try to book your diary, they won’t expect you to cancel the EXCO meeting. You are the Executive Committee – you are leading yourself.
Principle 2: Planning Is Key
“Your evening routine is about taking decisions out of your morning routine.” – Jim Kwik
We talk about having a disposable income where you make vigilant decisions on where that money goes. Similarly, you don’t have a lot of disposable time. That means you need to be incredibly deliberate about what you choose to do with that time. Once you have made the decision on the type of skills and habits you are developing and the time is scheduled, it needs to unfold with precision.
You can’t show up to the slot and then figure out what you want to do. By the time you finally have what you need, the slot is over and you have made zero progress. Use your evening routine to take the decision-making out of the morning (or whenever that slot appears in your calendar). This could mean leaving the specific clothes out or preparing your shake ingredients. It could mean having the book, specific link and exercise app ready so when you want to begin your session, you can just press play and begin.
Plan where you may sabotage yourself and make a contingency plan. If you have sat down to write or create something and you find yourself surfing the internet for ‘research’ purposes instead of doing the coding or writing, then have the self-awareness to realize it is a sophisticated form of procrastination. You don’t need a false sense of permission to do the task in question. Just start.
If you can relate to this, then plan ahead and close all notifications on your laptop and even disconnect from your internet connection. Take away the temptation so you don’t need to waste any more mental bandwidth.
Principle 3: Define Identity And Values
“Creators create. Action is identity. You become what you do. You don’t need permission from anybody to call yourself a writer, entrepreneur, or musician. You just need to write, build a business, or make music. You’ve got to do the verb to be the noun.” – Chase Jarvis
Behavior change is not about willpower or motivation, it is about identity change. You need to be willing to let go of the old version of yourself that is not serving your future goals and ambitions. You may have adopted a particular habit a few years ago which worked then but maybe hamper you to achieve your new goals.