Part of it was professional, I've been in my current role for three years and our team remained fully in tact this year. In my field - Student Affairs - there is often turn over at the end of the school year, but we did not experience any this year. So in previous years I had been learning more about my role, supporting others more. That was still happening this year, but not as much as in previous years. I got very comfortable in my job. Comfort is nice sometimes, but getting too comfortable doesn't work too well for me.
Part of it was personal, I had gotten away from some of the habits I had built up. Time that had previously been spent reading had been diverted to video games and comics. Hobbies are good and I'll continue to read comics and play video games, but when those hobbies are getting in the way, there needs to be some adjustments.
Started Playing "Time Suck" Games on my Phone
While there were a variety of distractions that got in my way of my daily personal development habits, there was one that stood out most - playing games on my phone. This was just my experience, but many of us can have those one or two distractions that really get in the way. What are those distractions for you? Maybe social media? Online shopping? For me it was playing this game on my phone.
|I stopped playing a Marvel game, but I can still dig comics|
- I'm sure many people can have games on their phone and it's no big deal. I'm not one of them. I added Marvel's Future Fight to my phone around May/June of last year. As far as phone games go, it's a lot of fun, great graphics, awesome roster of Marvel characters and nice variety of play, but for me it became one of those games where I had to check in multiple times a day to make sure I was leveling up my characters as much as possible, taking advantage of time specific quests or options and it just took up way too much of my time that could have been used more productively. Video games are a ton of fun, but I know that I can get too sucked into them and obsessive about doing as much as I can in video games. Tangentially, one way that I've found to successfully combat the somewhat isolating nature of video gaming has been to seek out games with couch co-op options. My wife and I often play the Lego video games together, it's been a fun way to continue to play video games while also doing something together.
- To get past this, I deleted the app. Simple as that. I realized it was not serving any real benefit and got rid of it. That was about a month ago, I haven't missed it.
- For me it was this Marvel game, but there are lots of things that can serve as a "time suck" - something that you invest time (maybe a lot of time in) that don't provide enough of a return on that investment. It can't be work all the time, but when something is getting in the way of your productivity AND not providing with enough in return, you got to cut it out. So for me it was a silly game on my phone, for you it could be social media, watching too much TV, specific relationships, or anything else.
- But seriously, it's a fun game with an awesome roster that just added a Captain America: Civil War storyline, so if you have self control and like Marvel - check this out.
For a few years I had been in a solid personal development routine. Every day I would read and listen to podcasts with my growth in mind. Then something happened that can happen to a lot of us when we get comfortable in a routine - I started skipping days here and there. Then one day turned into few, which turned into a week and before I knew it, my personal development was no longer a habit.
Here are a few readily accessible personal development opportunities that I turned to to get my habits back on track -
- Minute with Maxwell - This is a great starter - it's literally 1 to 2 minutes - it helps get me on track for more personal development. You can sign up to get these videos E-mailed to you daily. It's a great way to start a habit.
- Spartan Up! Podcast - The Spartan Up! podcast might be my legit favorite. Perfect length (generally 20 - 35 minutes) - Joe De Sena has put together a really impressive list of people to interview and usually does a good job at kind of getting out of the way and letting the show be about the guest. I enjoy Spartan Races, but they don't define me, my fitness, whatever, but these podcasts are a great addition to the Spartan brand. I usually plan to listen to one and end up listening to 2 or 3 or re-listening one if I get interrupted during the first listen. De Sena has also done a nice job at bringing people with competing perspectives in and not trying to tell the listener what to think. They are trying to discover what "success" is and they are finding how different people have defined and arrived at success.
- The Tim Ferriss Show - Ferriss is probably best known for his book the 4-Hour Work Week, but his podcast has been getting a lot of attention of late. This show is much longer than the Spartan Up! podcast with a recent episode I listened to being over 3 hours. I don't have the time to hang on every word of a podcast like this, but like to play them in the background while taking care of other tasks. They play out like a more free flowing conversation than a strict interview which has it's strengths and weaknesses. Ferriss has put together a great and varied lineup of guests so there isn't the risk of the shows getting repetitive. One show he may be talking to a photographer, the next it's a famed gymnastics coach and fitness expert, then the next it's Mike Rowe from the show Dirty Jobs.
- My wife had a much longer commute in the morning so she would wake up earlier than I would to get to work on time, but I like my wife so I'd try to wake up so we can chat a bit and hang out before she has to leave. I would then kind of sit around and do nothing for an hour before I'd start getting ready for work. I hated that feeling of wasting an hour of my day. I'd fart around on the internet, maybe read an article if I was especially productive, but mostly it'd be watching a local sports show before dragging myself out of bed.
- I determined I wanted to make more out of that morning and fortunately around this time a colleague recommended Hal Elrod's The Miracle Morning. Elrod talks about the value of a deliberately used morning and the power his "miracle morning" can have on the rest of the day. I started reading in bed late on a Sunday night. I figured I'd give it a go, pulled myself out of bed, reset my alarm for an hour earlier with a plan to get up and get an early morning yoga workout in along with exploring some of the other parts of his miracle morning routine.
- I have yet to completely follow the Miracle Morning, but it's been helpful to deliberately think about my morning. I wake up at 6:30am, wash up, brush my teeth, start up my computer, drink a glass of water, select a yoga workout to do (I generally aim for 25-40 minutes), after the workout I'll make breakfast and a cup of coffee along with my morning shake, and then put together a draft of my to do list for the day, highlighting any "main event" items for the day.
- To create my To-Do list I use the Keep App from Google. It's a simple, straight forward app. I've tried using fancier apps with more features, but this one has worked for me and has been the only one I could stick to. I can create to-do lists, write notes, post pictures, create voice memos and store them all in one place. I primarily just create lists and color code them -
- Green is my daily list (I work at a school, their color is green)
- Red is my shopping lists (I do like 80% of my shopping at Target, their color is red)
- Blue is personal (the blue color looked nice)
- There are cooler apps out there. Apps with reminders, fun colors, etc, but this one works for me. I like using Google for my E-mail and calendar so it's helpful to have all of this on the same service. One nice feature is that you can search in the app, so if I'm trying to remember a podcast I listened to an remember some of the key words, I can easily pull it up.
How about you? What do you do to kick start your productivity?