Activity Vs. Action – The First Step to Great Results

Whether you’re spending time studying hard, working, creating, or otherwise producing anything, you might sometimes feel like all your hard work goes to waste. This happens to virtually everyone, and is partially due to what I will refer to as Sticky Mind (if you’ve ever dealt with sticky keys you know what I mean).

This is commonly referred to as Einstellung, where you can become caught up in a way of thinking despite better options being right around the mental corner. I’m going to break down some ways to circumvent this and explain a bit about how you can use this to understand your own habits and improve your productivity, so sit down, relax, and open your mind!

Osho: Master of Action

Osho is a relatively famous spiritual teacher and philosopher who gained most of his attention during the 1970s. He has a few books, some of which I have read, and some of which I will read when I have time. This article is going to primarily focus on his understanding of creativity, and how to harness it to its fullest extent.

To begin, action is the focused, precision approach to problem-solving. It is the conscious effort of analyzing and existing problem in your life and using your full attention to find a solution. Action is the result of planning, which as I’ve said before is the cornerstone of success, you can read about it in full here. You must be prepared before you take action, or your actions simply become activities, aimless and ineffective.

Action is often your best bet when it comes to handling life’s difficulties, but as I will explain later, there is a crucial balance that I believe Osho was too reluctant to address.

Activity Vs. Action

Activity, as described by Osho, is a passive activity, one of habit that keeps us stationary in our thoughts and in our life. Activities are those things that do not require much thought and sort of take over for us when we are not using our focused thoughts to dictate action.

These activities can be benign or malicious depending on the habits we have formed. Some people prefer to chew gum, check their phones, find something to snack on, or otherwise distract themselves when they are not in total control of their actions. Checking your phone once or twice while waiting on a bus ride is most likely not the reason you are stuck in your habits. The problem I see most often is that people do not know when to change their behavior from activity to action, or how to make the most of their activities.

Not all activities are benign, heavy alcohol consumption and overeating will surely hamstring your success and create a mess of problems beyond the time spent indulging in those activities. The good news is that there are positive activities, which Osho either did not see the use for, or did not see a need to discuss. These activities will improve your life, and make your actions more effective.

Positive Activity

Positive activity might have sounded like an oxymoron after my initial definition, but this is only true in part. Activities are most often unplanned or require little thought to carry out, but when used properly can supplement your actions and even become useful in their own right.

If you’re looking to replace some of your counterproductive activities, I’ve drawn up a short list below, which is by NO means exhaustive:

  1. Showering: Taking a nice cold shower or bath can be a good way to unwind and recollect your thoughts from the day, and there are numerous benefits to cold showers alone, including boosts to immune system, focus, and reduction in anxiety.
  2. Meditation: Something I personally have fallen in love with as a method of readying myself for a long day of action, meditation and prayer are good ways to give your mind a break so that it can “reboot” for more focused thinking.
  3. Working Out: If you are still new to exercise, this may still be an action for you, but if you are comfortable with your routine and already have an idea of what your workout will consist of, exercise can be a great way to set your mind free, and reduce stress in the process.
  4. Music: Listening to music, especially music without lyrics, drowns out the world and lets your brain roam.
  5. Art: Any sort of relaxed art, such as freely drawing or painting, will put your brain into activity mode, and make it easier to form connections between other parts of your brain.

    These are good habits to start you off, and you can find plenty more that will give you the same benefits. Look for something that your are well practiced in, and does not require an excessive amount of focus to take part in.

 If you have trouble forming habits, you can read more on forming habits here, and some more about it here. 

If you feel like your schedule is strangling you, and that it would be impossible to find time to implement these into your life, I have created a handy article for that too. Here is an article I wrote to help you define the most important parts of your life and reduce unnessecary clutter in your schedule, and here is one that will allow you to power through even the toughest problems life can throw at you, and keep you on track to becoming great!

Balance: The Key to Great Action

With positive activity in mind, we have a great place to start building a strong backbone to carry our actions through. The key to efficiency and effectiveness is to find a balance between action and activity. If you spend too much time on activities, you will only move in the directions you’ve chosen, and leaving yourself little time to step back, analyze, and redirect your limited energy.

On the other side of the equation, if you spend all of your time focused on actions, you will find yourself losing your edge, becoming less effective in your ability to take actions. If you’ve ever gotten into regular excersise, too much action looks a lot like trying to only work out your arms, all day, every day. It is extremely important to take time to rest and recoupourate between action, just like shifting between groups of muscles, and allowing them to rebuild and become more powerful, you need to find time to step back from actions and let activity take over.

To me, this balance looks like an 20/80 split. I spend roughly 20% of my time on action, which includes writing articles, reading, researching and testing new methods to improve myself. 80%, which includes R&R, friends, family, creative writing, and games take up about 20 hours per week, out of 168 that comes out to around 12% of my time, and another 96 hours are split between work and sleep. Realistically, you can spend up to 40% of your time on action, but it will require a long time to build yourself up to that, and only for actions that you are experienced in. 

Conclusion

I really hope this gives some insight into the world of success-building, I will have another article with some more scientific points that will really help press out some of the wrinkles in this article and bring everything tohgether. In the meantime tell me what your schedule looks like down below, and if you want I will help you find time you might not know you had before. As always thanks for reading and be sure to check out some of the other articles, I have written them to be used with each other to offer multiple views into personal growth to maximize their effectiveness. Have a great future!

How to Manage Time – Become the Master of Chaos

Have you ever had to study for an exam, finish a project for work, or make time for an event, only to realize that you’ve spent triple the time you intended only to get halfway done with whatever you were working on?

Well, I’ve been there, and I still work every day to improve my time efficiency. Today, I’m going to show you some of my personal tricks for squeezing more effectiveness out of my days, courtesy of the most productive people I know.

Put a Wall Between You and the World!

    Everyone gets distracted once in a while, and most of us can be distracted very easily. I’ve lived with all sorts, from your classic party animals to human mice that you would never know lived with you if it weren’t for the extra dishes appearing out of nowhere.

    Sometimes we allow distractions into our lives. If I don’t lock my phone into a time-sealed reinforced-steel lock box buried in ten feet of cement, I will inevitably try to look at it, waste five minutes of my day, and then repeat it two minutes later.

    Being able to identify and remove distraction from your life while working is a great start to keeping yourself productive, and being more productive means more time doing what you enjoy!

    Here’s a handy guide for anyone who might be looking for better ways to keep themselves on task, even for those with rowdy roommates and noisy neighbors:

  •     Try to find an agreement with the people you live with, establishing hours and days of the week reserved for work. This might include days that the others regularly leave or are otherwise outside of your dorm/apartment. If you can find some peace in those few hours to get things done, it won’t bother you as much when they are distracting while you are relaxing.
  •      Alternatively, you can change your schedule to better utilize your time, waking up a few hours earlier than everyone else, and staying up later than others can be a good option as long as you maintain a roughly similar sleep schedule.
  •     Try putting away anything that you KNOW will distract you, even if you REALLY don’t want to. Keep you phone in the other room, if you work online, disable any applications that don’t need to be open, take them off your desktop if that helps.
  •      Find a way to get into the mood – music and meditation can help you block out unnecessary distractions and reduce wasted time.

 This list is absolutely NOT exhaustive, so if you’ve got any personal tricks you use to keep the distractions away let everyone know by putting it down in the comments, everyone will appreciate the help!

Set Goals AND Stick to Them!

    Goals are a great way to increase productivity. Having a clear idea of what needs to be done stops you from wasting time on things that are less than useful. Its like distraction repellent. Any time you see yourself doing something that you shouldn’t be, you can just tug yourself back into the mindset you were in before, because you know EXACTLY where you need to be. No ifs ands or buts about it.

    Something I’ve talked about before is the proper way to manage your schedule, which plays heavily into goal-setting and effective use of time. You can read the full bit here, but in general you want to be able to create a few “hard” goals, which MUST be finished by a certain date, going day by day is fine here. Anything that does not need to be done by a certain day but should be by the end of the week needs to have a rough sketch about the time you can work on it.

    This is where that time from before comes in handy. Your roommates take off for 2-3 hours for sports/parties/study groups and BAM, you’ve got an opening to work on weekly tasks. This is extremely useful, because it means that should something come up earlier in the week, for instance something fun or more important, you have wiggle room in your schedule that won’t lock you down to a certain time. Overall it is a great quality-of-life improvement.

Eating Your Frogs, Even the Extra Slimy Ones.

   Eating a frog sounds like one of the worst things you can imagine, which I guess is why that phrase has become so popular when referring to doing the thing you hate.

    Now, I’m not suggesting you go grab a little green friend and hork him down, but you might reconsider doing the things you hate after what I’m about to tell you. Typically, the best time to finish your worst problems is when you are at your full potential, which for some people will be early in the morning sometime between 4-6 A. M, while personally I only hit that sweet spot around 10. Figuring this out is a case-by-case experience, and should come pretty naturally to you.

     If you want to find your peak, it is probably hiding a few hours after your body normally wakes up, so for me that’s around 10, but some days I can be ready to go by 8-9 if I wake up especially early. Once you find this, you can use it to time your projects and hardest portion of work with the best time of day to tackle it.

It also helps to do things that are easy before you reach this point, this is a psychological trick I refer to as snowballing. Below I’ve written out a short checklist to get you on your way.

  1. Find your sweet spot of productivity, this is usually a few hours after naturally waking up, and will vary with your sleep schedule. Its best to find this when you are on vacation/break from school/work so that you are more likely to find that natural waking point.
  2. Once you’ve found this, set some easy goals for yourself early on, just something simple like fixing breakfast, playing a game, or working out is a great way to start out and prepare you for your prime-time!
  3. Use that sweet spot to burn through any tough problems you have that day, and make sure to block out distractions as much as possible to maximize your productivity.

The Mind-Killer – Multitasking

If you think about your brain as having multiple gears, forward, reverse, low, neutral, and parked, multitasking is like trying to shift between all of those as quickly as possible. Do that for a few hours and you will destroy your transmission.

The key to high productivity is having the end in mind before you even begin. No matter how many times you’ve been told that you are a great multi-tasker, or how much you think so yourself, I implore you to try shifting gears going top speed down the highway, and tell me how far you get before someone pulls you over.

So if you want to waste your own time, multitasking a great way to do that, but if you want to become the best you can be at literally ANYTHING you put your mind to, just stop putting your mind to other things while you’re doing it.

Conclusion

This is just part of my Project:Influence line-up which will be expanded on as I do more research into ways to become the best version of myself, which I will pass on to you guys. Any feedback is greatly appreciated, so tell me what you think down in the comments and if you have any ideas I would love to hear it!

If you have any questions for me personally I will answer them, usually within 12-24 hours via my email: alexb@projectedinfluence.com

Feel Like There’s Never Enough Time? – Use Priorities to Live More Fully!

Have you ever felt like you’re being pulled into a thousand tiny pieces by life? The dogs need a bath, someone needs to take out that two week old trash, mow the lawn, take the kids to practice, finish the dishes, do the laundry, and the next day it starts all over again!

If you haven’t had these experiences there’s a good chance that you’re either super rich, or I need to install higher grade anti-spamware to keep the robots out. One way or the other, I’m here to lend some personal and professional advice to keep yourself on track while building towards the life you want to live.

Let’s get started!

Don’t let time melt away! Learn to handle even the busiest schedule with a few simple tips!

First, Focus Your Energy

So you’re busy, like too busy to remember when you last ate, or where you left your keys and now you’re late for work and the whole day snowballs out of control very quickly.

The first thing to do is to take the following into consideration when making decisions. Take a quick moment to think about, and then write out the list in order from most important to least important, this will clear up some of the smog for creating your most effective schedule:

  • Work
  • Downtime (Reading, TV, Internet, Games)
  • Home Maintenance (Trash, Laundry, Dishes, etc.)
  • Children
  • Pets
  • Religion
  • Money
  • Friends
  • Family

Some of these will naturally rank higher than others, children and pets need constant attention, and depending on your religious/spiritual convictions it may seem pertinent to place them highly on the list. Keep in mind that this is only a rough draft and you can make changes to it as you grow and change yourself.

Keep these in mind or the paper you wrote handy in the next couple of steps!

Loafer Vs. Workaholic – Finding Balance

It’s easy to let things slip away when you are constantly rushing to finish the next chore in your list, and from my own personal accord, I can tell you that people fall into one of two categories, the loafer, and the workaholic. Here’s what you need to know before I move on:

1. Loafer: These are your typical procrastinators, the kind that will always “get to it tomorrow”, and believe it or not that mentality can be useful when tempered with some old fashioned diligence. If you fall into this category you might have made it here only because you were trying to forget about the other things you have to work on, which is possibly the best mistake you’ve ever made, so welcome.

2. Workaholic: On the COMPLETE opposite end of this spectrum are the workaholics, you know, the guy who has three jobs, drives a fantastic car, lives in a cardboard box, and hasn’t seen home for at least two weeks due to sleeping in the parking lot of his workplace. You might think this guy has it all, that this is the ideal for getting bread and making yourself into a success, but just like the loafer, too much of anything is bad.

The key to living an effective life is to find balance between your inner loafer devil and the workaholic angel on your shoulders, which can be very difficult if you’re too far to one side or the other.

Basically, you want to work on projects as long as you are being effective with your time, which means being at full capacity. To do this, take a few minutes to look over this checklist of self-maintenance to make sure that you have everything you need to function properly:

  1. Sleep: This is a big one, and in certain circumstances can be the biggest threat to your mental AND physical health, along with your ability to achieve greatness. There is a lot of talk about “hustle” in success communities nowadays and the honest truth is that there’s no sense in losing sleep just to run yourself into the ground. In worst cases, sleep deprivation will reduce your awareness, comprehension, learning and motor skills, which by the way are everything you need to obtain the excellence you deserve!
  2. Nutrition: Eating anything is better than eating nothing, but knowing what your body needs and being able to incorporate that into your lifestyle will let you get out of bed every morning ready to do what you need to. This includes drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
  3. Peace of Mind: Potentially the most important way to keep yourself on track is by keeping your mind clear and ready. Meditation is a great way to relax yourself and give you the perspective needed to change your thinking.

 

By making these into habits, you will spend less time working on them and still reap the benefits of their effects. Starting out it will be an investment but with time it will pay itself in dividends when you take less effort each day to finish simple chores, allowing greater effort to be placed towards your long-term goals.

 

 

The Right Way to Schedule:

There are three major schools of thought when it comes to scheduling:

  1. Chunking: This is the method that most spreadsheet maniacs will end up using. The soccer mom itinerary with minute-by-minute breakdowns of everything where the kids should be in the bathroom by 7:32 A.M. to be read for breakfast by 8:01 A.M. This is a good way to create a rough draft of everything that needs to be done in a day, but should be reserved for time sensitive tasks that have extremely strict limitations, such as a business meeting.
  2. Long-Term: Creating long-term goals with set-yet-flexible goals is a good way to keep yourself from going off the rails just because Timmy didn’t make it to breakfast until 8:02, but it falters when dealing with time-sensitive tasks and can make it easy to delay projects that would otherwise improve your life.
  3. Median Scheduling: This is the half-way point between chunking and Long-term planning, and is the style I have personally adopted. Every week I write out a list of non-time-sensitive tasks that need to be completed at some point within that week, and then fill the gaps around the fixed, time-sensitive tasks that MUST be completed at a certain day/time of the week, giving me the freedom to move things around if other more important things come up, such as making time for friends and family. The weekly schedule is only half of the equation. Outside of that week I am aligning my tasks with improving my life and moving myself closer to the success that I desire, which mostly involves education and deepening relationships with friends and family.

This is just a rough draft of my scheduling efforts, so be sure to tell me how you would write out your schedule down in the comments, and tell me what you think of the three types of time management I’ve mentioned here!

 

Never Forget To Take a BREAK!!!

It will always sound counter intuitive, but making the most of a few relatively short breaks, about 20 minutes each, can give you time to regain your strength and will while giving you the opportunity to step back from the problems you have long enough to find a better solution.

I typically wake up early to get a pre-work break in, something like an hour just to relax, eat, read, or work out before I have to start my day. This gives me the start I need to keep the ball rolling as I keep on task, usually once I’m done with work I take another 30 minutes for dinner, sometimes more if I decide that I need something other than reheated leftovers. And on days off from my day job I will take around 20 minutes ever hour or two just to read, listen to music, or get some fresh air.

This will vary from person to person as everyone has varied levels of busyness and some can find time to rest more often than others, but those 20 minutes you take to figure out how to get things done will potentially save you hours of fumbling around your house or office with too much to do.

If you’ve got a particularly busy schedule tell me about it in the comments and I’ll help you find that extra 20 minutes a day to relax, trust me, its worth the effort!

 

Conclusion

I hope you’ve learned a bit about keeping things on track, this is mostly just to bring a few future topics into focus for recurring readers, and I would love for you to become one of them. I’m going to dive into the best ways to relax and more effective methods of scheduling, so be sure to stick around.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any of your own tips and tricks for making life a bit easier, let others know by tossing them down in the comments!

 

 

 

 

Unlimited POWER! – Exponential Growth and Why It Matters.

Ahh exponentials, the best way to tell everyone in the room how much of a nerd you are is to drop this beauty into a conversation. I’ve mentioned the effects of their growth a few times in the past, which is why I want to dive deep into their mechanics so that you can be sure of the power they have. If you want to check out some more examples, you should definetely check out some of my other articles!

 This is my personal guide to long-term success, a great read for anyone wanting to break the slump they’re in, improve themselves, and pursue their dreams. If you are the type who would prefer to view the world through the lens of a good book, or looking for a better reason to pick up this fantastic habit, I would recommend this article on the power of reading!

The Penny Vs. One MILLION $$$

Whether you are totally new to the idea of compounding or have been a long-time investor, this is one of those classic mind-blowing examples that will either change your worldview, or remind you why you changed it in the first place.

So the question goes a bit like this. “Would you rather have one million dollars or one penny doubled every day for 30 days?” Most people would just take the money and run, and I don’t blame them, but with a little patience that penny will grow into over 10 million dollars thanks to compounding.

The secret is relatively simple, no matter what value you take to start, you are multiplying multiples. So day one you have 0.01 dollars, which is then doubled, or rather increased by 100%, which means that the next day you are increasing the amount by 100% of 200% the original amount, and by the next day after that you would be increasing it by 100% of 400%, since that day you increased the starting number by 100%, and then doubled that, making the 200% of day two equal to 400% on day three. Now imagine if you could do that with $100, or even $1000?

Sitting on Money – The Slowest Way to Stay Poor.

If you don’t already know who Dave Ramsey is, I’ve thrown his name around quite a bit, and as far as I’m concerned, he’s one of the world’s best financial advisors. He has written numerous books including The Total Money Makeover, which I highly recommend to anyone with difficulty controlling money.

His methods are simple, but effective, and throughout his talk shows and his books he will consistenly refer back to the power of investing and how it can change your future. The penny method is a very simplified version of what the Ramsey method teaches.

Dave recommends investing roughly 15% of income per year into a series of investments, spread out over several industries and varied types of funds, which I will explain further in a different article.

You might think that 15% seems like a deficient amount of money to save, assuming that you will work from 25 to 65(I hope to God nobody has to suffer like that) to be able to retire comfortably. If you only make $30,000 gross, say around $25,000 after taxes each year, 15% would come out to a measly $3,750 per year, after 40 years of hard labor, would only come out to around $150,000, so if you expect to live for another 10 years without breaking your back until the reaper comes calling, you would need to ration out your savings to just $15,000 per year, a significant decline from your previous standard of living. Of course there are 401k programs that will match, and maybe $30,000 per year does seem pretty livable to you. Well, let me show you what you’re missing out on. 

Investing – The Ramsey Method

So let’s say that you don’t have ambitions to rule the world, or play the real estate lottery, or heaven forbid, the actual lottery. It is perfectly fine to live life 9-5 with time at home playing second fiddle, if that’s the life you want, go for it! 

Whether you are the average, hard-working man or woman that just wants to live life, have some fun, and make the most of what you’ve got, or the Amazon Mogul of tomorrow, investing will be crucial to long-term success.

Let’s take a look at those numbers again. but this time let’s assume that you we’re wisely investing for those 40 years and not burying jars of money in the back yard. 

So year one, you’ve got $3,500 just like before, but assuming that you’ve picked out some middle-pack investments and you average 10% per year (10% may be a little higher than middle-pack but the math is easy so bear with me). Year two, that $3500 has accrued 10% bringing it up to $3850, and the next year you’ve got $7350. 

350$ a year seems pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of retirement, but I did some number crunching with the help of Google Sheets, a free online resource similar to Excel. If you want to try it yourself you just need a Google acount, and then you can use the =FV function to calculate the growth over X periods with the same input each year. I’ve put the chart below with some explanation of the numbers involved:

Retirement Growth

The total growth is your end product, number of cycles is represented by years, and the growth per period is the average growth from year to year. 

Before, it would take 40 years of your life, grinding day after day, only to find yourself left with roughly $150,000 at the end of it all. If you instead were to invest $3500 per year, less than 15% of your income, it would take only 24 years to reach that same goal at 5% growth per year, cutting your time in half! And it only gets better the more capable you become with your investments. At 10% growth, it would take less than 20 years to reach that same amount, and that’s assuming you wanted to retire early, which as you are about to find out, probably isn’t worth it.

So, making just $30,000 a year, something the majority of people are capable of, given time and the will to improve themselves, in 40 years, with mediocre investing, you will be able to pool together a solid fund of $422,799.21, which would actually put you at a higher standard of living 10 years after you retire. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, because if you were to invest wisely enough to average 10% each year, that would bring you to a whopping $1,549,073.94, or about $150,000 per year for ten years, if you wanted to go out in style. (by the way, if you did the math from before, saving that same amount from the time you had a newborn i.e 18 years from college/tradeschool etc, you would have $159,597.11 to put toward their education, just a thought)

The beauty in all of this is that even someone who makes an average amount of money their entire life can one day become a millionaire. This isn’t just about you, its about your family, friends, children. It’s about your passion in life, and your ability to change the future. Save now, and one day you will have the security you want, and the power you need to make real change for the people you love.

Investing – Not Just for Stock

This goes back to the basic principle of dilligence. These principles go far beyond the realm of financial wealth. Understanding the power of exponential growth can give you better insight to handle other pursuits in life. Great athletes, mathemeticians, and public figures have spent years of their lives and countless hours to become the people they are today.

In short, if you start early and keep going at it, eventually good things will happen. You just need to trust in the curve. 

Conclusion

If you like what you read or have questions, I’m always happy to know what people think of my work, so go ahead and tell me what you thought in the comments.

In the meantime here are some other articles I’ve written on similar subjects, be sure to check them out and tell what you think, thanks for reading!

Great read for anyone looking to improve themselves totally and completely!

Another example of the power exponential growth has!