You’re probably doing better in some areas of your life than in others. How do you know where you should set goals to improve? And what’s the one limiting belief that’s holding you back more than anything?
There are three things you need in order to do anything, whether it’s productive work or having fun: time, energy, and money. If you have all the time, energy, and money in the world, you’re unstoppable. You can do anything you want.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably lacking at least one of those three. (I’m writing it, and I know I am.)
Which one we’re lacking varies from day to day and sometimes over the course of a day. Thinking in broad strokes, each one of them takes a turn being generally scarce as we go through life. Thinking in really broad strokes, they line up with the second, third, and fourth vicennia of life.
This is the book Dr. Stephen R. Covey is best known for. It’s one of the best books on self-leadership ever. You should have a copy in your library. (Amazon agrees—it’s included with Kindle Unlimited.)
Obviously, the seven habits are the meat and potatoes of the book. The first three habits are personal; they cover how you should handle yourself, and they’re largely focused on planning and being intentional with your life. The next three habits are interpersonal—how you interact with other people. The seventh habit is a keystone habit that will make sure you never stop growing.
The habits are:
Some of the most applicable tools I got from 7 Habits are some of the supporting concepts that Covey uses to unpack the Habits. Things like the Eisenhower Productivity Matrix, the abundance mentality, the importance of a personal mission statement, the power of unconditional love, the impact our self-talk can have, the circles of influence and concern, and visualizing the speakers at your own funeral (or 80th birthday party, if you prefer).
You can always read a book, put it on the shelf, and not be any different for having read it. If you will study 7 Habits and re-read the book—however many times it takes for things to start sinking in—it will transform your life. It will change the way you approach problems. It will change the way you think. It will permeate everything else you do to improve yourself, and you will improve faster.
Energy is the capacity to do work. It’s stored in electrical, chemical, thermal, gravitational, nuclear, or mechanical form and transformed by machines into another form. It’s never a perfect transformation. Some of the potential is lost to inefficiency—friction, heat, vibration, noise, wear.
In a Freshman Physics class, you often model things using a spherical cow of uniform density in a vacuum (they’re also frictionless, inert, of a neutral charge…). You are taught to ignore the inefficiencies so you can focus on the larger principles.
We often make the same simplifications when we plan. That’s not a bad thing, but it does mean that things aren’t going to go as planned. Sound familiar? It happens because your planning model is off.
The simplest way to get more done is to remove the inefficiencies. Let more of that potential be transformed into useful work.
Anything you do on a regular basis (which you can’t eliminate or delegate) can and should be automated. If you have to do it, you may as well make it as easy as possible. (You’ll also waste less time procrastinating and actually do it.)
It’s not even the big things that need automated. Sometimes, it’s the small things—the deaths by a thousand cuts—that we appreciate more.
On macOS, you have AppleScript, a powerful language to create custom workflows and tie apps together. There’s also Automator, an app that lets you create workflows by combining actions with drag-and-drop simplicity—no programming required!
On iOS, there’s the aptly-named Workflow. Like Automator, you create a workflow by dragging together a series of actions. Each action performs a task and passes the result on to the next step.
To be honest, I didn’t really get what Workflow was capable of when I first heard about it. I knew how Automator (and AppleScript) worked, and I knew that wasn’t possible on an iPhone. It only made sense after I downloaded it and started using it.
So let’s create one of the workflows that I use the most: telling my wife I’m on my way home.
This isn’t sustainable.
After being awake for 17–19 hours, you’re functioning with the equivalent of a 0.05% blood alcohol concentration. Your reaction times are down and you can’t think clearly. You would never show up to work drunk, so why do we regularly show up just as impaired and ineffective from chronic lack of sleep?
With only 168 hours in the week, ambitious goals, and an ever-increasing barrage of distractions, it’s tempting to skimp on sleep and get a little more done. This is a trade-off with modest short-term benefits and disastrous long-term effects on our productivity, our health, and our relationships.
No matter how busy we get, we have to protect our sleep. Here are six tips to get to bed on time and get the best sleep possible.