3 Ways To Eventually Get Things Done

A few days ago I told you why I get nothing done. Writing this down I realized a recurring pattern: I’m too hard on myself. Tadaa! – Nothing new. However I won’t give up on changing this mindset. I do it by reprogramming my belief system, nurturing self-love on a daily basis, but also by classical change of behaviours. This article touches all of these ‘categories’.

A long time ago I shot off my first threesome about how to tackle procrastination. This is a good sequel.

1. Be realistic

I’m contemplating about writing since I’ve started writing – especially this blog. But only recently I had some major breakthroughs. I started to read a lot more about writing and – most importantly – about the people who write things I want to write.

Most of them don’t have this ‘regular life’ – whatever that is. Also they invested a lot of time in their work. And this made me realize: My goals are just unrealistic and this is why ‘I get nothing done’.

I used to think: “If I don’t publish an article today, I’m not a good writer.” Ironically this belief spirals me deeper into my negative thinking patterns instead of pushing my motivation. And isn’t this what I want to change with this blog?

What’s the point of publishing at all costs if I’m just ‘not ready yet’? If I do an hour of writing a day and afterwards I still think “I did nothing.” Come on, Uli, THIS is self-destructive. I will drop that from now on and instead cultivate healthy writing routines – no matter if I publish or not. This leads me to the next point:

2. Set the stage

Sometimes I’m ‘not in the mood’ to write. I don’t have a desk. I don’t have ‘inspiration’. I have people around, because I sleep in a hostel or or or. These things work as perfect excuses. What I learnt is to just ‘make space’ for my head.

If I don’t have the right setting to get work done and I’m not able to shut off the distraction, sometimes it is enough to just change the location. Either it is just changing the room or going to a café or a library. Other times I might have to improvise – change device or just hide in the forest with my notebook. Where there is a will, there is a way.

3. Take your goals seriously

This is a very personal advice. I notice over and over again how I downgrade my own priorities. For me writing is a really big part of my life. In the past I’ve always tried to ‘fit it in’ into my daily life. And a lot of times it didn’t fit in, because I replaced it with other – what I considered – priorities.

Of course, we have to work and sometimes we have to do things if we want it or not in order to make a living in this world. But if we don’t take our personal goals seriously there is not a chance to reach them.

This applies to any creative activity, but also to a change of diet, exercising, going for more walks, spending time with the kids or whatever. This fits into the category of self-love. Love yourself and do what you love! This should be the highest priority.

In one of my next articles I will explain why self-care is so essential for making the world a better place.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

Lao Tzu

 

Why Gratefulness is a Practice

… and three ways to practice it.

“You don’t know why you do it, but life will reward you. It’s like going to the gym.” Adriano is annotating my – at times exhausting – nomad life style. I still have to smile about the metaphor as my lifestyle is not at all healthy at times.

I learn a lot during travelling – about: being happy with less, appreciating privacy or a space to live in, valuing a fully equipped kitchen, absorbing hugs from people I just met a few moments earlier… These are a few of many things travelling teaches me. But what do I benefit the most from? Probably it is the skill of ‘being grateful’.

‘Be grateful’ might sounds a bit platitudinous. It is one of the phrases that got exploited by our ‘cultural narrators’ (I have to admit, I stole this expression from school of life.)

Nevertheless it is so important to cultivate this well-quoted ‘gratefulness’ in order to live life properly. Recently I found out that it is actually a skill to be grateful.

First you might have to think about things to be grateful for. “Oh, today I had a coffee and a really good chat with a friend, my boss or the taxi driver was in a good mood, the weather was good…”

Appreciation grows exponentially.

If you practice being grateful everyday, you will notice more and more things to be grateful for. Appreciation grows exponentially. It’s like a perpetuum mobile that keeps moving as soon as you prompt it.

One day, you don’t need to tell yourself anymore to ‘be grateful’. It becomes your natural trait.

What happens when you are grateful? Life loses its tightness automatically. You are beginning to appreciate the huge miracle you are a part of. It is here. It is you. You are beginning to appreciate the beauty.

When you know good things will come float into your life, you will walk through life only with curiosity. But you need to initiate it. You need to get in touch with the core of joy in order to cultivate it. At the beginning you need to search for the beauty. But as soon as you find it, you can nourish it – like a plant that grows inside of you.

Alright, but how do we practice gratefulness? This is not a real threesome-style threesome, but here we go.

1. List of Gratefulness

Write down what you are grateful for regularly. Maybe you even start a small book only for things to be grateful for. It can be the tiniest things, you will see how this will change your whole perspective on your day.

2. Gratefulness as a Reward System

Let gratefulness be your reward system – appreciate your own achievements. Everytime you finish something during the day take a moment of appreciation. For example if you tick off a task of your To-Do-List, this can be a reason to smile. It can be the smallest task. But if you take a moment every time you accomplish something, you will automatically gain gratitude. A positive side-effect is a rise of motivation as you honour yourself much more.

3. Minute of Appreciation

It took a while – but nowadays I’m trying to use technology as my tool (and not my undertaker as it used to be due to self-diagnosed social-media-addiction.) Set a daily alarm for a “Minute of Appreciation” (or three or five minutes, it is up to you.). Only one minutes a day will help you to activate the flow of gratitude. It doesn’t matter which time of the day it will be. In the morning it will boost your energy level, but also it can be a good way to balance the afternoon low. Or even before going to sleep it can be a good fertilizer for positive dreams.

All this – of course – is perceived from the perspective of a spoilt western european. But funnily I learnt the most about appreciation/gratefulness from people who have the least.

 

3 Things That Really Hold You Back From Achieving Your Goals

It is time for another threesome – my way of condensing my learnings and unlearnings. So, this is pretty basic down to the core of ‘getting stuff done’. Enough of the eye-washing! This is the truth about why you don’t achieve your goals (lessons to myself, of course):

1. You’re not following your true goals.

Firstly I need to clarify: When I speak about goals I’m not necessarily speaking about carreer goals. I’m talking about what you do in your life, how you spend your time, what you eat, how you live.

Maybe you are not quite satisfied with your life, but you don’t really know what is wrong? On the surface you might have everything you need, but this is might not be what you really need.

What did you like doing when you were a kid? What filled you with excitement when you were ten years old? You might say “Yeah, but now I’m grown up. I don’t have time to climb trees, to play, to test myself.” I don’t say this is what you are supposed to be doing now, but maybe it gives you a hint. Maybe the huzz and buzz in your life just stopped you from doing what you love?

2. You are not working on your goals.

This is pretty straight forward, but the hardest part of it all. Let’s assume you have an idea of what you want to achieve or do. Now the hard part is to break the big goal down into small steps and actually start making these steps. The funny thing is – as soon as you start walking things will evolve automatically. But finding the balls to get started and not to be outmaneuvered by self-doubt or inadaquate perfectionism – this can be a challenge.

Maybe you still have too many things to do? You need to focus on what you really want to do. This involves dropping some other tasks or what you consider as your responsibility. I just read a good article on saying no. (Have you ever heard about the rule of two thirds?)

3. Your comfortzone is still your sacred ground.

Maybe you already made some steps in the right direction, but you got comfortable in your current position. In order to really achieve the goals you need to expand your comfortzone. You will never improve, if you don’t risk any of your comfort.

It is always good to question your current habits and hobbies in order to move forward. What are you not willing to give up? But what do you might have to give up in order to come closer to your goals? You know it. You just need to open your eyes. Also: Setting the goals higher than you feel comfortable with is a useful tool in order to come closer to your desired way of life. It will force you to get out of your comfortzone.

 

3 Fertilizer for Personal Growth

Alright, this is real life stuff right here. The threesome goes into the next round without mercy. This is the essence of this whole personal development thing on the spot: The willingness to learn, to adapt and to be open for change. What helps us to not stop learning? What keeps us on track on our journey of personal growth?

1. Being Patient

“I can’t do this.” “I’m too stupid.” “This is not for me.” “I will never change.” How many times in my life had this negative believe system prevented me from reaching my personal goals? It took me a long time to really understand that learning is a long process. I don’t learn a language within a day and for sure I don’t change my believe system within a day.

It takes actually a lot of time and it always starts with the first step. A steep learning curve can be frightening, but by doing one step at a time we automatically learn. It’s like climbing a mountain. (Sometimes it’s the mountain without the peak.) We don’t fly to the top. Physical effort is needed and in the meantime the view is our reward.

Patience is crucial for this learning process. Don’t expect to be perfect at anything from the very beginning. Mistakes are not only okay, but necessary to improve and to internalize learnings. This is simply how our brain works. Perfectionism is preventing us from learning.

A couple of weeks ago I published “Fail Fast, Learn Quick” if you feel like diving deeper into this topic.

2. Talking To People

Nowadays every person is exposed to different cultural influences through the media, through work and social relationships. This makes everyone of us a very unique human being. The good thing about being highly individualized is that we can learn a lot from each other – from actual skills to habits through to different ways of interacting with each other.

Every person has a different worldview and every conversation is the opportunity to learn something new. Every encounter with another person can be valuable if we are open to listen closely and ask questions with real curiosity.

3. Embracing the Unknown

“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you’ve always got.” – After all it is really important that we are opening up to the unknown. Facing new situations, new skills or experiences unbiased and with a positive attitude is the base for personal development.

Sometimes we might face a situation that we never thought we would master. If we maintain a positive mindset in these situations we are going to grow. Considering different perspectives as mentioned before helps us to gain understanding for foreign circumstances.

 

“You will learn in spite of yourself; that’s the rule.”

Carlos Castaneda from “The Teachings of Don Juan – A Yaqui Way of Knowledge”

 

3 Habits That Make Me Happy(ier)

I still suck at meditating. I’m far away from being a non-smoker (after announcing “I quit smoking” several times.) Sometimes I even leave the house without brushing my teeth (luckily I store a toothbrush at the office). I feel so ill-disciplined in many ways.

BUT in order to stay motivated in the process of incorporating positive new behaviors, I want to share even my small successes and learnings with you. (That’s the whole idea of growthbuddy). There are some healthy things I integrated (nearly) without any effort into my everyday life that improve my day.

I figured that “three” is a good number to skim through. 🙂

1. Showering Cold

In July I read a facebook post about cold showers. This friend was literally raving about the revolutionary effect of cold showers on his life. I was fairly impressed. The benefits of contrast showers in “Kneipp” manor in order to increase the blood circulation were not new to me. In the past I experienced cold showers as an unbeatable hangover-cure. So I gave it a go.

The water in Munich is freezing cold, but luckily it was boiling hot summer during that time. “Why not have this feeling of jumping into a mountain river every morning?”, I thought to myself and ever since I’m finishing (not beginning;) my showers cold.

What can I say? The effects I’ve noticed after three months are staggering:

  • I feel more awake – also during the whole day. No coffee can unleash this level of energy.
  • I feel stronger and happier, because I already master a challenge before I even leave the house. 😉
  • My body is toning automatically: Hot showers increase the blood circulation too, but cold showers are also triggering the so called “brown adipose tissue”. In other words: They burn more fat! Besides that cold showers help draining fluid retention in the body.
  • My hair is more healthy as cold water treats the hair structure.
  • Hungovers are easy to tackle as cold showers help detoxing.;)

2. Stretching and Squatting

During the past ten years I’ve been trying different sports: Yoga, Functional Training, Parcours, (Russian) Martial Arts, Qi-Gong, Running. During the last years I went to the Bouldering gym regularly, but the gaps between my visits vary a lot.

I still exercise as often as I can, but I just don’t really stick with anything. But there is something I found out, that helps me to improve my over-all well-being during the day: Stretching!

What do I do and why?

  • Before I go to bed and in the morning I do back stretches like a forward bend, some qi-gong movements or tricks of my favourite youtube fitness trainer in order to relieve stress and sleep (or wake up) easier.
  • Bridge or downward-facing-dog or even practicing handstand at lunchbreak before the afternoon-low is kicking in (or to cure it).
  • Writing an e-mail or brushing my teeth or doing whatever (sometimes even waiting for the bus, if not too many people are watching) in deep squat position.

Stretching is good. We all know that. The trick is, that I try to integrate it into my day-to-day life as often as I can. I don’t need to “find the time”. But these small exercises help me to relieve stress or tension in my back and my whole body feels more refreshed. I can’t really give you the scientifical reason for it, but it feels like my feet are warmer as well.

3. Walking Different Ways Home

Even if I live in the self-pro-claimed “bike city” Munich, I prefer walking to riding the bicyle. Sometimes I move my ass on the seat of my mountain bike to cruise down Isar – the river in Munich, but I avoid the city traffic completely.

Mainly I’m just lazy, but also I’m afraid of dying – it might sounds ridiculous, but I’m paranoid because of the traffic and the other bikers (because they are so fast and rude, haha.) Instead of stepping into the pedals I read books in the subway and go for extensive pavement walks across the city.

After work I’ve started to drive one station too far or I take a different line to a different area from where I can reach my home within a 20 minutes to two hours walking distance. (depending on how much time I have).

On Sundays the “left-right-left-game” became my favourite occupation. Instead of choosing a route, I navigate into a rough direction and turn left and right alternately. It always leads me to suprising places. I discover new interesting restaurants and meet different people.Sometimes I even walk home 10 km from the city centre just to get “a better feel” for the distances.

What are the benefits?

  • Walking calms my nerves down, when I feel over-exerted or brain-wrecked and improves my over-all well-being.
  • An additional plus to the physical and mental benefits is the fact, that I get to know the city much better. Sometimes I even walk slow intentionally to acknowledge my surrounding.
  • I walk between 8 and 15 km nearly every day.

 

3 Tricks That Will Boost Your Productivity

I am a procrastinator. Everyday I find excuses, why I’m not able to achieve my goals. Sometimes a dentist appointment is hindering me. On other days time-consuming social commitments are filling my day. On some days I’m just too tired, too lazy, too ‘uninspired’, too hungover, too “busy” with anything else apart from what I actually want to do. There is always something, that holds me back from doing, what really matters to me.

You find yourself in my distractibility? The first step is to ACCEPT, that life is an unpredictable mess sometimes (my life most of the time).

Let’s not resign ourselves to the situation of being a procrastinator. Instead of punishing ourselves for being non-productive and expanding our lack of self-confidence, let’s start to develop strategies! These tricks already helped me.

1. Go for 10-minutes Slots

I’m postponing things ALL THE TIME, but under pressure I can work effectively. So why not produce the pressure myself before the deadline is scratching the neck?

This is an advice I already got from different resources: Go for ten minute time slots! Setting an alarm is not only useful when boiling eggs, but also when you’re brain is bubbling over. Interestingly Blender Guru Andrew Price was my final eye-opener. (Video below)

The trick is to focus on one thing you have to do, one idea or one project. You start the task and within ten minutes you work as fast and intense as you can. After these ten minutes you will notice, how much you can get done within only ten minutes. After these ten minutes you find yourself either highly motivated to keep working (getting into the flow) or you move over to the next task/appointment or commitment. Either way – YOU GOT SOMETHING DONE.

Everybody should watch this video (not only people, who use Blender):

2. Fast Writing

“Writing is thinking” – This is a direct quote from the book “Accidental Genius: Revolutionize Your Thinking Through Private Writing” by Mark Levy, which I read recently.

The key is: The faster you write, the faster you think. According to Levy you have to toss your perfectionism overboard in order to reach the “essence” of your thoughts. You don’t “plan” your thoughts, right? And sometimes you have genius ideas? So why not write down your thoughts exactly the way they leave your brain?

For me this book was groundbreaking in many ways. It didn’t only revolutionize my approach, when writing an article, but also when starting a new project at work. Every project starts with a written concept, so you can apply this trick to a lot of tasks. Combined with the “timer” this trick is your master weapon.

3. Do the First Step Immediately

You are thrilled by an idea. You really want to realize it – but when? I had this feeling with this website. This growth buddy rattled around in my head for a couple of weeks. Than I decided to just buy the domain – Et voilá, the first step was made. Of course, there is still a long way, but every journey starts with the first step, right? In case of this blog, the domain was the first step.

But sometimes you might come up with ideas you can’t realize, because you don’t have the skills or the knowledge. In this case you should share it with a friend or at least write it down in your ideas book or other document – but I highly recommend you to TALK ABOUT YOUR IDEAS. It helps.

Hopefully you find yourself in these tricks. Do you have more advice/resources about productivity? Leave them in the comments.