When you have too many bad days, it’s hard not to feel discouraged, drift away from your goals, and let idleness set in and become your norm.
If you don’t tackle this and break from it at the onset, a month (or several months) will have gone by before you realise it.
And that’s how we got stuck in a rut.
Along with it went the time we could never reclaim.
A temporary setback and frustration can easily blindside us:
Gosh – I’m tired of not making progress toward my goal.
Why don’t these love handles budge? When will I ever lose a pound?
No one appreciates my work.
Feeling fed up, you decide to take a little break.
Before you know it, a whole month is gone.
Not long ago, I had one of those days.
I was very unhappy with the way I had spent my day.
You know you’re seemingly busy, occupied with lots of things all day long, but, in the end, you have nothing to show for?
How can it be?
Well, the answer was simple.
I confused motion with action.
Never confuse motion with action.
Confusing Motion with Action
I was doing lots of things, and they gave me the illusion of having a productive day.
None of them had taken me closer to my goals.
By the time I reached the end of my 100-day challenge, I did get at least one thing done without fail.
But it’s been nearly 100 days.
My bar should be higher by now than feeling smug about finishing one task, right?
What If You Rate Your Day?
So I decided to rate my performance for the next 5 days.
This gave me a chance to observe my activities throughout the day.
That’s when I learned that I had wasted lots of time doing useless things.
This is how my 5-day rating went.
Day 1: 4*—it’s a pretty cool result, but who am I kiddin? Knowing I’d be assessing myself at the end of the day, I was on my best behaviour.
I was deliberate with my time, spending it consciously and wisely like a kid who’s been waiting for rewards for her good behaviours.
Day 2: 1*, bah. Back to my old self, I’ve been extremely complacent with my day.
Day 3: 3*—recovered somewhat. After the previous bad day, I resolved to do better—a slight improvement.
Day 4: 1*—hit the floor again.
Day 5: 4*: Back up again.
My days had been a rollercoaster of ups and downs.
I really needed consistency with my days.
It’s not an exaggeration to say my 5-day rating is a miniature of how I spend a month, a year, or my entire life.
I didn’t like the picture of my life at all.
How Did I Measure and Rate My Day?
I used the below question and the answer to measure my performance.
“If I employed someone who did the same work as I did, would I be happy to pay her $20 per hour for 8 hours a day?”
It’s not always easy to judge your work objectively.
But a mere assumption that you’re going to pay for someone does wonders.
Money does a strange thing!
It’s not hard to distinguish between good employees and bad ones, right?
When I felt my work quality was good enough to pay someone to do it, I’d give myself a 5-star rating.
On the other hand, if I think, “Heck, no way am I paying for this!” then it’s a 1-star.
It means I’d waste my money paying someone who produced the kind of work I did (not good!).
I had two such wasteful days out of five!
It’s a brutal and honest assessment of the day that measures how effectively and efficiently you spend your day.
Time is money, after all.
How Can You Use It for Yourself?
If you’re like me, self-employed and working from home, you could employ the same tactic and rate your service or work.
See how happy you would be to pay for someone to produce the work you did at the end of the day.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s part-time or full-time.
You’re assessing the quality of work for the service rendered in exchange for an hourly payment.
You wouldn’t pay someone who spends a day uploading a snapshot of cats, watching a YouTube celebrity, reading news, or emailing friends.
If you devote all your spare time to side hustles or building your own business, imagine that you employed someone to do the work, the way you research, or the time it takes.
How happy would you be to get paid for the work you did?
Inaction vs. Too Much Action
If you struggle with time management, you’ll most likely come to the conclusion that you either engage in not enough action or too much action.
Both are sackable.
Not Enough Action
You know what needs to be done in order to achieve your goals.
But you just don’t do enough.
You aren’t giving your all. Or perhaps none.
Tip to avoid inaction
Revisit your goals and your why, and remind yourself why you have them in the first place.
Examine your belief system. Deep down, you may be harbouring the false belief that you can’t achieve your goals, so you don’t take action.
Work on your mindset. Feed it with positivity every day.
Look for people who have achieved what you want to achieve.
Do the next thing that moves you towards your goals. Just one, and take it from there.
Too Much Action
Your attention is jumping from one thing to another too many times throughout the day.
You feel like you’ve done a lot, but in the end, all you did was hop from one thing to another without getting close to your goals.
Your day is filled with distractions. I was in this camp.
Tip to avoid too much action
Recognise your distractions, e.g., emails, phones, social media, people, or even food.
Learn 80/20 to sort your priorities.
Be aware of how Parkinson’s Law is dominating your day: Have you allocated enough time or too much time to certain tasks?
Imagine your ideal life and feel it.
Remind yourself how and why you want that life so desperately.
Keep it at the forefront of your mind and use it to power through the most important task of the day.
Take a break.
Start again with the next important task, and so on.
If you aren’t making progress with your goals, observe how you spend your day for the next 5 days and rate each day with the following questions:
How would I rate someone who did my job as well as I did today? Would I be happy to pay her wages?
Should I keep her or fire her?
Write down the pros and cons. Pros: things done well. Cons: the opposite.
Summarise your five days. Remind yourself that that’s the miniature of how you spend the rest of your life.
Are you happy with what you see? Keep doing whatever you’re doing.
Is the answer “no”?
It’s time to fire your old self and employ a new one, starting with this.
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