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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Do a Little Every Day To Inch Towards a Better Tomorrow

Here is me, trying to inch my way towards meeting my writing goal this month! Whee...

Since the start of this year, I've been trying to achieve various personal creative goals. I've had varying amounts of success with them. There are some days I don't feel like doing anything productive at all, and there are some days I wonder how I managed to get so much done.

Take today, for instance. There were 3 tasks from work I had to do, 2 of them involving marking. Somehow, between the lessons and the various meetings, I managed to finish all 3 at the end of the day. After that, I practised an hour of piano before going for dinner and then went for an hour-long walk around my estate as an excuse for exercise. I'm back home, having bathed (yet still feeling hot, why???) and I'm typing a new blog entry.

This is not the first. I've had other days too when I look back and I wonder how did I do all that, when I initially thought I'd fail or end up pushing it to the next day. But actually, on reflection, I realised there were 3 principles I'd been following, that I had read from various books and FB sources.

1. Multitasking really does not work.
The research has proven it over and over again and I've discovered it for myself through real-life experience. It does not work and in fact you can be more productive if you concentrated on just one task at a time. 
Take a typical day at work. Once I start marking some worksheets, I get into a kind of groove. I can spot the mistakes and take note of common errors more easily. Then someone comes around and asks to discuss about something. My attention turns to that person and even if it is just for 5 minutes, I find my groove totally lost when I turn back to the worksheets.
It's not that I'm easily distracted (well, maybe that too) but there's tons of research done to show that what happened to me is more common than you think. Yet there are still tons of workers who think they are being productive by being able to handle all those distractors at the same time. Well, you might be one of the lucky few, but I will gratefully concede that I am not and in fact, I really did accomplish more work and marking when I just ignored the people around.

2. Even a Little Bit Helps
Remember that proverb about moving a mountain rock by rock? It turns out there's more than a pebble of truth in that after all. A more consistent practice bit by bit helps to build up huge results. $2 saved a day will earn you $60 richer in a month, and $720 richer in a year. If you think that's not much, maybe you are one of the top 1%. This does not apply just to money, but to other things as well. 10 minutes of instrument practice builds up skill. 20 minutes of brisk walking burns more calories than sitting in front of the TV. 10 minutes of blogging builds up too. I just counted the number of blog entries for April and I did 18 entries. That's an average of a post every 2 days!
So that small bit of effort doesn't seem like much to show at first, but keep it consistent and eventually it all builds up.

However, building it up leads us to the last point, which is....

3. Remember the End Goal
I learnt this from 7 Habits and it has stayed with me. Whatever you are trying to achieve, you have to keep in mind what end result you want for yourself. Then with the time remaining to yourself, you decide whether what you do leads you to that end goal.
In my case, that meant I gave up a lot of TV. I'm a total idiot when it comes to TV dramas of any kind and I only know of some vaguely because of my 8 Days habit. When I wrote down all the things I wanted to achieve, I became a bit guilty every time I sat in front of the TV. I could have been writing, I could have been reading or doing some art instead. Since TV did not feature in any of my end goals, I gave it up with no regrets. I do forget and binge watch at times and I still like to watch my crime dramas while eating but other than that, most of the time I rather do something else. 

Why do I put all this down on my blog? First, to fulfil my writing goal of course, and secondly, because actually writing down (or typing) them does help to etch them in my mind. These are principles I feel are easy enough for me to follow and can reap big rewards later on in life. I'm not sure if one day I will be a world-famous artist or a millionaire blogger by doing so but I do know that for me, it beats TV and FB and that it's good to see some of the results, no matter how small.

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