There’s someone you should listen to, for having a better day. That person is Heidi Halvorson. Director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia University, she talks about decades of research on professional performance. And what does she has to say about it? Successful people achieve their goals especially because of what they do and much less caused by their innate talents. More than that, Heidi wrote a book telling what these people tend to make differently from others. Here, we’ve selected which ones are related to your time management. Just take a look at what you may already be doing right and keep an eye for what you still can learn:
1. Get VERY specific
Next time you set a goal, try to be as much specific as possible. Instead of thinking about “finish this task until the weekend” be determined to change it to “finish this task until tomorrow” or another date that gives you a clear sense of SUCCESS. When you know exactly what you want, you keep motivated towards getting there. Then, think of more specific actions you can take to reach your goal. Just promising “I’ll finish it” can be too vague. Be clear and say, for instance: “I’m going to work two hours on this task during the days x, y and z” , you won’t be having any questions about what to do if you’ve done it right.
2. Translate Carpe diem to “Invest in goals”
Many of us try at all costs to do multiple tasks at the same time in order to extract the maximum from every moment. Turns out that by doing it this way, we lose the chance to focus on our personal goals. Would you really not have the time for going to the gym today? To visit the park? To call a long distance friend, or go out with him/her? Investing in your goals is nothing but organizing your life to not lose its most important moments. And to living your Carpe diem, once again, be specific. For example, “On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I will do half an hour of such exercises before work.” This type of planning will help your brain to detect the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances by 300% of success, according to researches.
3. Know exactly how far there’s left to go
Do I lack the knowledge? Need more training? Should I read more about it, talk to experts, take chance on new ideas? What exactly is missing for me to be great and not just good enough? Be very honest to yourself about your progress at work. Not because you need to make a report about it, but for your own track of how much you need to become who you want to. If you don’t know how well you’re doing, you won’t feel any need to change your attitude or even better, strategize. So check your progress every week or even daily, depending on which objective is at stake – whether it may be professional or personal.
4. Use to be realistic optimists
Setting a goal requires you to do yourself a great kindness: feed positive thoughts about the chances of things working out. What you need to keep in mind is this: big goals will always require time and dedication to plan, perhaps even a certain detachment from details to start things out with and always having specific targets to persist. Heidi points out that several studies show that thinking things are predestined to be ours and that we don’t strive too much, makes us unprepared and may significantly increase our probability of failure.
5. Train the willpower
Your time management works as if you wanted to lose weight. So, you decide to give up high-fat snacks, do a hundred sit-ups a day, spend less time sitting and climbing stairs, all at once. No! You start working on one task at a time, according to a priority order. Then you make a plan for your week. Finally, you can even stipulate how long you can invest your time for every task. This seems a rather interesting way. It will be difficult at first but it becomes easier and this is the point: by increasing your willpower, you can take on more responsibilities and, of course, achieve more. If you want a tip, try Runrun.it, a task, time and performance management software adopted in more than 100 countries.
6. Don’t tempt fate
Not tempting fate means respecting the fact that you are a person with limits. So, avoid trusting that you can work on two tasks at once. It’s like someone who decides to quit smoking and diet at the same time. Avoid relying only on your head to remember what to do. But be wary of your ability to resist temptation and don’t leave your phone and your social networks so available. Successful people usually have in mind that they shouldn’t have a goal harder than the one they started with.