WIL #6: There Has GOT to Be a Better Way Than This…

Every week, I make a new post about the recent things I’ve learned about life and how I intend to prevent them the next time. And I post them somewhere toward the end of the week or the end of the next week. Please enjoy, and you’re always welcomed to share your suggestions and opinions. Thank you.

Quote of the week!

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and conveniences, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. — Martin Luther King Jr.

Last Week’s Main Lesson

Last week was all about researching and discovering why I was unable to reduce my responsibilities from WIL #1. Why? Because, after 5 weeks,I realized that I still hadn’t made much progress with my responsibilities like I thought I did, and this became depressingly stressful. So, what I decided to do was take a look at my weekly lessons to try to identify what lessons I haven’t been applying and what lessons I haven’t been fully utilizing. To just show you what I mean though, here is the list of the lessons I haven’t been applying with my analysis & evaluation:

  • There are times when you don’t feeling doing what you’re suppose to be responsible for. This is true, and I agree that I haven’t been wholeheartedly taking my time with every thing. However, I have been persistent about it. It’s just that I either rushed myself every time or I underestimated a task that was actually bigger than expected. That’s why I’m going to start re-evaluating and breaking down my tasks if they take longer than an hour from now on. This way, I’ll be able to reconnect with what I’m supposed to be doing and stay focused. It’s going to be tedious re-planning a long task every time, but I think it’s going to be a great idea however.
  • Most of the time I felt overwhelmed by my tasks, but I never realized it. Well I’ve recently discovered why I became overwhelmed by tasks — certain tasks. It was always the moments I felt hesitant or slightly unwilling to do a task — it was the tasks I didn’t want to do. But I came up with a way to solve this issue though. Just turn an annoying task into a super small task and spend a good 10-20 minutes on it each day. And bam, not so annoying after all.
  • I noticed I haven’t been reading books still and that I’ve been reading blogs more, and I also realized that I’m still trying to be a perfectionist by investing too much research time on my problems. What’s crazy about this lesson here is that I’m STILL being a perfectionist. I spend so much time researching information on the internet that I get caught up in writing the perfect client proposal… So what I did was research ways to overcome perfectionism. That’s when I came across 3 useful solutions: use deadlines, focus on getting a task done then improve it afterwards, or clarify what I’m expecting out of this task… Now, I am not going to use deadlines, because I feel pressured when something is due, and also because I end up not doing it well, finishing it late, or even continuing to finish the task. With that said, I’m not sure if I should just half-ass a task and not do my best. So I’m just going to continue re-evaluate my tasks, like I said earlier, and if I find myself not doing what I originally was doing, I’ll just discontinue doing any more additional work on the task and half-ass it. I can always improve it later anyhow.
  • Meditate 45 minutes before work, and at 12:30pm or 5:00pm. I have to say, I was actually doing the meditation right, but I didn’t understand why I got sleepy so often. I found out that this is common for beginners though and that this effect is only temporary. So I’m just going to start meditating again and do a 14 day meditation challenge. I’ll share my results with you on WIL #8.
  • I need to start getting all important things done by Friday. With my recent lessons being about not using deadlines anymore, I decided to change my approach to this lesson. What I do now is work my butt off trying to get a lot of tasks done before Thursday is over with, and on Friday  I dedicate that whole day to my blog (this one) and my personal development (sometimes over the weekend too). I don’t allow any tasks to creep into my weekends anymore either because that stresses me out in the long-run and starts to make me feel reluctant about my tasks, which usually sets in after about 2 weeks of constantly working hard.
  • Add variety to your task life. Now, I most certainly haven’t been doing this. In fact, I’ve forgotten all about this lesson, so shame on me. But with my new way of getting things done — I mean putting time into new tasks, this lesson will certainly be applied from hereon. Truth be told: It’s going to be the most beautiful part about how I get tasks done from hereon :).
  • Get an accountability partner if you want to be successful. Well last week and the week before that, I’ve not been able to connect with my mentor, so I haven’t been able to keep in contact with an accountability partner. But one of my main issues regarding this, now that I’ve begun to  say something about this, is making sure people pick up the phone at the time that I tell them I’ll call or they’ll call. I tried to research this, but couldn’t figure this answer out. But I just thought of a possible solution to this case. From now on, when people tell me what time they’ll call me, I’ll tell them to call me 30 minutes to an hour before the time they’ll claim to call me. And if I’m calling them, I’ll tell them that I’ll call 30 minutes to a hour to remind them what time our phone call is suppose to take place. This way I’ll be able to determine whether I should make time to do other  tasks instead of waiting all day and burning time.
  • Check your email at noon and before bed… NEVER after you wake up! Let me tell you: I honestly stopped checking my email like crazy and started focusing more on my work. I even went far by re-forwarding my blog subscriptions to another email that was entirely dedicated to my education. So now I have 3 emails: one for contacting and networking with people, one for educational purposes, and the other one for web design blog subscriptions… But to be more honest, I don’t even bother to check my educational email or web design email accounts, because I really don’t feel like reading them and because I just feel energetically drained from not being able to have time for web design (which kind of sounds like I’m going to depression, now that I’ve said that? Hmm…). Nonetheless, I will make time some day to get back into web design. I promise. I just need to figure out my time management issue and I’ll be able to get back rolling.
  • Dedicate 1 hour to my passion (web design). Ha. It’s funny how I just said I’ll dedicate time to my passion some day, but I’m still going to hold out on this one here and focus on my responsibilities. I REALLY need to figure this one out because my responsibilities are getting to a point where I’m feeling like they can break me during any day of the week and make me give up. Persistence is going to win the battle though. Lego!
  • Read books on the weekday and blogs on the weekend. I have to say that I haven’t done this at all, because I’ve been contemplating how I want to consume information from now on. Come to think about this, this was the reason I stopped reading my email so much, as there was a moment, a few weeks ago, where I realized that I really had to figure out how to deal with information overload and a way to stop learning information that would later become stagnant — irrelevant information. So what I decided I’d do was to only use blogs when I’m stuck or unable to understand a section or paragraph in a book I’m reading, and to read blogs over the weekend only. But I still haven’t followed up with that just yet, because right now, I’m studying how I’m currently consuming information. This strategy will definitely be utilized soon though. Believe it.

Other Lessons

I notice that I realize how reluctant I’ve become about tasks and projects every 2 weeks. I don’t know why, but this has actually been a pattern that has most noticeably been going on since 2012 (last year). I can’t say much about this issue, but I can only say that it’s the time that I start to become insecure about deadlines. Maybe it’s because I’m not making the progress that I anticipated from the beginning. I’m not sure.

When I outline my day, estimating how long I’ll work on the tasks or projects for today, and for the tasks that I don’t do, scratch those out and calculate the time spent on tasks and projects for today. Also categorize these tasks under different areas of my life (personal, work, family, friends, etc.). You’re probably wondering why this is so long. Well it’s long because that is my new GTD system that I’m implementing from now on. With that said, I don’t work with deadlines anymore — I work with goals. I love tracking my daily performances because it actually shows how productive I truly am, compared to this weekly journal. And it keeps me motivated to work even harder the next day, which is my favorite part about this system.

To remain motivated, you need to frequently remember and evaluate why you’re doing a task or a project, and you also need to be fierce about it — so fierce that your tears actually push you. I read an article a week ago, and it mentioned that “you have to have a vision of what you want, and you have to want it fiercely ” And that “you have to throw your whole weight behind getting it.” What does the weight part mean? I’m not sure, but I definitely get the gist of what this author is saying, because prior to me even starting this weekly session about the lessons I’ve learned from last week, I used to wake up every morning ferociously telling myself  that I was going to man up and take action on a task I didn’t want to do. Long story short, their are blogs that say never resist change, but I definitely resisted this change, and I was successfully. And I don’t know why, but I’m glad it happened for me, because I probably wouldn’t be here writing this blog post right now if I hadn’t pushed myself to overcome those situations. That’s why I agree with the author, because when you actually go outside of your comfort zone and coldheartedly connect your desires with your emotions, something happens inside of you. And it’s this moment that you either become fully immune or temporarily immune to this type of circumstance — as if you’ve stole the heart of a king and taken advantage of it… I can’t really explain it, but that’s as close as I can get. So what I’m saying is, every 2 weeks, evaluate your projects and ask yourself why you’re doing it. If you don’t feel emotionally connected, then you probably need to become aggressive about it and boost your head up like the NFL football players do. And if it’s something to do with a task, then need to do the same thing.

Use a todo list to keep track of what I need to do, and use a timesheet to track the usage of your todo list. 

When simple things take forever, that means it is more of a project than a task, which means the so called “task” (project) needs to be broken down into stages. It took me FOREVER to realize this dude. I am not lying. Every time I made a “task” (project) it was always what I needed to do, instead of how to I could do what I needed to do. But see, I found out that I wasn’t the only one who failed to realize this. Like right now, chances are you’ll say “Duh! Who doesn’t know the difference between a project and task?!”, but can you even begin to define that right now? I bet not, because I’ve done my research and discovered that EVERY blogger has had a problem differentiating a task from a project. This isn’t propaganda right now. In fact, I had to read through a bunch of articles (which there weren’t too many) just to be able to conclude what a task and a project was to me. See, it turns out that a task is a small activity that can be done in less than 30 minutes (and can also be repeated too), and it turns out that a project is a list of medium to large sized activities that are required to complete a big task, which take at least 3 hours to complete. So if you’re working on a task, and it takes more than 3 hours to finish, it’s considered to be more of a project than a task. So stop confusing your tasks with projects and save yourself from feeling like a prolonged slave.

Wit the above lesson mentioned… schedule tasks and develop a routine for projects. It’s that simple.

Work for 3-5 hours and then an extra hour before my bed time. Every since I’ve decided to work with routines instead of just thinking about work as 1-6pm, I’ve been realizing that I haven’t been as flexible with my time as I wished I thought. See, by working from 1-6pm, I still worked a job… And not when I felt like working, which as been making me feel reluctant. So what I’ve decided to do is work 3 hours AFTER waking up, two more hours after my 30 minute break, and another hour before bedtime.

Don’t just make “promises.” Make small promises that you’re confident about. I’m always saying that I’ll go to bed early, and work 2-4 hours without distractions, but I never, ever keep my word. And it seems like replacing my habits aren’t as effective as well (well, I don’t know of any good replacements at the moment). So to keep it as simple and as easy as possible, what I’ve decided to do is make and keep small promises with the rule that there can be no exceptions. In other words, when 11:50 hits the clock, stop doing every thing and pack up for tonight, and when I work, take breaks no longer than 15 minutes and get back to work.

Adapting to A Changing Lifestyle. On the March 9th, I finally walked and got my college degree, but towards the end of the graduation, our guest speaker Jeff Good gave my 2013 class a story about his struggles in becoming successful. Then he shared his wisdom, which was learning to adapt to change in life when all the doors close… That very day, I didn’t even celebrate my graduation. I went home and did research on how to adapt to change, and even went so far that I got other people’s input on how to adapt to difficulties in life. What I learned was that I was actually doing one of the best things that allowed me to adapt to a situation. It was:

  • Tracking and analyzing my life with this blog, which I now officially consider a very great investment to my life’s sake.
  • Every situation has its pros and cons. Meaning… There is always an advantage to utilize in every situation you face. You just have to identify the opportunities that difficulties bring to you.
  • Work at my own pace (not at deadline’s pace), because I don’t have to be an early web designer. I just need to keep myself afloat and build momentum from there, which reminds me what Nipsey Hussle once said: “I live fast, because I took my time with this sh*t.”
  • Remember to do things that calm my mind every once in a while. 30 minutes to a hour makes a big difference.
  • Continue to exercise and meditate. Exercise is something I’m going to get back into very soon, I just need to complete my 14 day meditation challenge haha.

The Break Down

So to summarize this long post, I went ahead and broke it down into different sections for you:

Notes

  • A task is considered a project if it takes more than 3 hours to complete. So when I consider a task a project, break that project down. (by the way, I use Astrid to manage my tasks and Trello to manage my projects).
  • Re-evaluate tasks that take longer than 1 hour to complete. This most likely means that I have underestimated a task, and that I need to refresh my focus.
  • Breaks don’t last longer than 15 minutes. Only lunch breaks do, and those are up to 30 minutes.
  • Schedule tasks and develop a routine for tasks.
  • Continue to analyze and evaluate my weekly goals and monthly goals. This is keeping me on track.

New Habits to Create

  • When someone says they’ll call me at a certain time, tell them to call me 30 minutes to an hour before they call to let me know IF they run into a situation. And when I say I’ll call someone at a certain time, tell them I’ll call 30 minutes to an hour before I let them know IF I’ve ran into a situation.Breaks don’t last longer than 15 minutes. Only lunch breaks do, and those are up to 30 minutes.
  • There are no exceptions or excuses for sleeping on time. Go the hell to bed.
  • Before I go to sleep, choose the tasks and projects I’ll work on tomorrow and estimate how many minutes or hours I’ll spend on them. Then — when I wake up tomorrow — make a schedule to do those tasks first thing. Then, when I’m done for today, eliminate the tasks and projects that I haven’t spent time on, and re-estimate the time that I spent on my tasks and project. Finally… add up my total time spent doing tasks and working on projects to see how much time I’ve put into today. Also, don’t forget to categorize the tasks/projects and time under Personal, Work, Family, etc.
  • Spend 3 hours working on responsibilities and tasks the first thing when I wake up. Then, after my 30 minute break,  work two more hours. And finally, work 1 more hour before I go to sleep. (This is 6 hours total, every day.)

Challenges

  • Start my 14 day meditation challenge.
  • Figure out how I’m consuming information, because I need to start reading books more and start reading less articles.
  • Figure out my time management issue to get back into web design.

WIL #5: Less is Less Problems.

 

 

Believe it or not, this is the only lesson I learned this week. But don’t worry. WIL #6 will be MUCH bigger. Trust me!

Focus on 1 goal per week. I used to make a list of like 3 goals a week, but I still found myself multi tasking and not finishing tasks. It was like I was “starting and stopping, and starting and stopping”, but never starting and finishing — and I’m very big about making progress on things instead of not any at all. So what I’ve decided to do was focus on 1 goal each week. I think this will make me more productive and even happier since I’ve also decided to dedicate 1 day out of my week to my goals.

Action step for next week:

  • Don’t worry about getting the other tasks done for this week. Just focus on getting the top goal done.

WIL #4: Dealing with Laziness

Every week, I make a new post about the recent things I’ve learned about life and how I intend to prevent them the next time. And I post them somewhere toward the end of the week or the end of the next week. Please enjoy, and you’re always welcomed to share your suggestions and opinions. Thank you.

Lesson of the Week

Last week’s lesson was all about learning to be my own manager. What does being your own manager mean though? Well for me, it means to look out for myself and keep myself on track.

See, to become a successful freelancer, writer, web designer, and whatever else I may become in the future, I not only need to know how to balance my life, but keep it energetically balanced as well. And that’s something I haven’t learned just yet.

But this week’s lessons lead to many places to start, and some of them are being more accountable and responsible for myself, instead of just as a leader. With that said, I have to invest into my health and education on a frequent basis, and I have to do it in a way that’ll keep me float.

Check out what I learned last week:

  • Outlining my day should be the very first thing I do AFTER getting out of the bed. I noticed that when I get out of my bed and do everything else except for outlining my daily schedule, I somehow become unwilling to do anything about my todo list, so I decided to make sure that the first thing I do in the morning would be to outline today’s schedule. Why? Because every time I do that, I find myself being really productive and locked away from excuses that I tend to naturally make. So from now on, making my daily schedule — first thing after getting out of the bed — is imperative. If I don’t do it first, I might as well forget about today because I won’t be tempted enough to make the schedule.
  • Dedicate 1 hour to my passion (web design). On a Friday night, I looked at my calendar for my web design goals and saw that I missed out on a book, plus another book that was due by the end of the week. So I made up my mind to never, ever allowing my responsibilities to stop me from doing what I enjoy. With that said, from hereon, I’m going to start spending at least spend 1 hour a day on web design so that I can prevent my skills from becoming stagnant again (Like I did when I was in college), and I’m going to put in a little more time over the weekend too (if I feel like it). Gotta stay in shape!
  • Wake up early to enjoy more of your weekdays. I have started to fall out with my sleeping schedule recently (again…) because I haven’t been able to enjoy my day the way I aspire to, but recently I’ve noticed how I can actually begin maximizing how fun my day can be, and my conclusion is waking up early. It’s not that I also want to get work done early and faster, but because my family is most active towards the evening and towards midnight. And a lot of the online friends on my Block Ops 2 account are usually online after 9pm and midnight, so I figured that waking up at 8:00-8:20am would be a great time to begin working. I can go straight into work mode at 8:30am, and then enjoy myself around 11:00am-11:30am to workout (Around the time I somehow get tired every day? Weird). After that I can work again at 1pm and then enjoy myself around 3:30pm and for the rest of the day. Also I can work one more hour before I go to sleep, which is before 1:30am in the morning… This is exactly 5 to 6 hours of work per day with 1 or 2 hours of time spent doing something I’m passionate about. And the best part about it is I get to still wake up early and go to bed late :), plus… I get to put myself to sleep with boring responsibilities lol.
  • I need to become more specific about the tasks I do. I noticed that even though I know what I should be doing, and even though I’m doing it right now, I tend get lost at times. And I think that this is happening because I don’t know exactly what to do next, therefore I’m making up tasks to stay “occupied,” which is actually more of a distraction. So from now on, I’m going to start breaking my so called “small” tasks down into (insane) 20-50-step tasks.

Action Steps for Next Week

So what will I do next week?

  • For the rest of my work life, outline my day after getting out of the bed.
  • Break my tasks down into the smallest baby steps I can think of. It’s all about knowing where I’m at with a task and how much is needed to be done with it.
  • Every day, spend another hour to learn more about web design or to improve my skills.
  • Wake up early so I can get more tasks done, and work on boring tasks 1 hour before my bedtime.

WIL #3: Being Focused

Every week, I make a new post about the recent things I’ve learned about life and how I intend to prevent them the next time. And I post them somewhere toward the end of the week or the next week. Please enjoy, and you’re always welcomed to share your suggestions and opinions. Thank you.

Lesson of the Week

My biggest lesson of last week was focus. I learned that I need to get lots of sleep and go to bed on time, as well as take breaks every 45 minutes for 15 minutes. And I also learned that I need to get all of my top tasks done by Thursday instead of Friday. Friday is the day I do a lot of analyzing for this week’s efforts. It’s the day that I’m able to expose my faults and think of better solutions to overcome them.

  • Add variety to your task life. Since I’ve started to prioritize my todo list and decided to do all the longer or hardest tasks first, I’ve kind of felt pressured a bit from continually do the same thing every next week. So what I thought about doing every once a week is adding variety to how I approach my todo list. Instead of working on the hardest task first, I’m going to work on more comfortable tasks every once in a while. I don’t know if this will make a difference in my todo list or make it worst, but right now, it makes me feel less physically and mentally stressed out when thinking about what it is that I need to do all week long.
  • Get an accountability partner if you want to be successful. Back when I first actively got into entrepreneurship, I was into blogs, and I read a lot of helpful tips from successful bloggers daily where I eventually discovered what a mastermind group was, and so on… Well, I’ve always wanted a partner in business. My problem was that I never wanted to just make money with them though. I wanted a passionate supporter too, and that just wasn’t available at the time…. Now that I’ve spoken with a new person cool person, thanks to my business mentor, I’ve been able to figure out how to go about getting a support partner, who would not just be somebody I network with now. I strongly advice ANYONE, even if you’re like freak’n 12 years old and want to make 1 million dollars next year, to get an accountability partner. They will save you from the dooms of stress and will help you embrace your courage in life. I’ve spoken with a lot of business people in the past, including my mom, and a lot of them hint that they were never able to get far in life because they had nobody to support them and offer advice. It’s that simple support system that gets you far. All you have to do is be vulnerable to it and know when to let go.
  • Check your email at noon and before bed… NEVER after you wake up! I noticed that every time I wake up and check my email, my day goes off track and I begin to multitask somehow. And I know this because I’ve gone through this same situation once before by limiting myself 30 minutes to email a day (that habit didn’t last long though). So what I I’m going to do from now on is check my email in the noon and before I go to bed. Hopefully this works out. As far as reading goes, I’ve decided to only read web design email over the weekend, as that’s something I really enjoy and is something I believe will give me a great weekend every time.
  • I think I still need to divide my time up some more too. I started to put 60% of my day into work and 40% of my day into personal time, but honestly that hasn’t been working, so I think I’ll have to be more specific about what time I”ll work on my responsibilities and goals… From now on, when I wake up in the morning, I’ll schedule the time of the next day that I’ll work on my responsibilities, goals, and personal tasks. I think this will work really well. I have a good feeling just thinking about this. :)
  • Never, ever let work creep into your weekend. Just 1 day isn’t enough to satisfy my stress level, as I subconciously lose drive for work the next day. I think that’s why just 2 weeks of no breaks creates a crashing point for me. So I need to become really strict on my weekend, or take 2 days off if I don’t have a full break day. Those breaks are literally crucial… I did a brief research on working overtime, and I discovered that working overtime kills creativity and professional growth. I think this is especially true since I’ve actually been in a position where I no longer felt like doing what I originally wanted to do. In fact, I began facing this problem last Monday because I put in extra time to get my week day work done. So now I know that weekends are just as important as getting work done. I can’t get any thing done if I don’t work, and I can’t focus if I don’t make tim
  • Seriously, stop doing extra things when it’s time to go to sleep and when you feel sleep. I started to stay up late again as well, and I think it’s because of the stress from last week, but I need to get back into going to sleep early again. I got so much accomplished in one week simply because I woke up early. I just have to stop doing extra things after my sleeping time from now on. I have that habit bad.
  • Outline what time of the day ill be taking care of responsibilities, my goals, and relaxing. But honestly, I’ve been fighting my attention for focus all week long. . Not having 2 days to myself started this issue though.
  • Read no more than 3 blog posts a day, and only 2 blog posts on the weekend (2 posts each day of the weekend). I did some research and concluded that this would be the best fit for me, because obviously I get just about as much of a benefit from blogs, like I do with books. With that said, I won’t be trying to learn the information I learn from blogs as well. It’ll just be tips to have in the back of my head :p.
  • Don’t resist your habits, replace them. They are obviously intervening my workflow as an aspiring freelancer, and I know that for me to be successful, I have to make some changes to my habits first. So what I plan on doing is focusing on replacing my habits, by making a list of my habits and then finding out how I can replace them with something more beneficial and satisfying (see quote in vision board). This is going to take a good amount of time to take place, but I know it’ll be worth it.

WIL #2: Taking on Commitments and Responsibilities

Every week, I make a new post about the recent things I’ve learned about life and how I intend to prevent them the next time. And I post them somewhere toward the end of the week or the next week. Please enjoy, and you’re always welcomed to share your suggestions and opinions. Thank you.

Biggest Lesson from Last Week

At the end of last week, I realized that I unintentionally got myself into a big role of responsibilities, which put my goals and initial commitments on hold. As a result, I learned an invaluable lesson: say “no” when you don’t have time to do something for someone and when you already have personal projects going on right now.

I remember last year when I created and deeply documented my first goals. I made 16 goals and was so excited, especially since I had read about the S.M.A.R.T. rule when it came to goals. I did so much work in 2 weeks and got to see inspiring results… But then week 3 came and that’s when I immediately felt the pressure. The daily demands of my goals increased, thus my todo list got super big and bigger without me realizing it… It had been only 4 weeks before I completely stopped working on my goals and giving up on them every day for the next 30 days. That lesson taught me a lot about how much I could do, but I still didn’t learn enough.

In fact, out of the 16 goals I set in the beginning of the year, I somehow got lucky and only completed 3 of those goals, and I think it was because I simply followed people’s advice to do no more than 3 goals a year, which was another lesson for another post. But the thing about this whole journey was that I didn’t see the main lesson here – I didn’t see it for a whole year. And so that same thing almost happened again this year. That’s why I think my biggest lesson is currently about learning to say “no.”

When you focus on learning to say “no” to people and you actually know what all of your responsibilities, commitments, and goals are (that’s currently on your plate), it is quite nerve wrecking when in the situation of saying “no.” You now know your current load of work, and you have other commitments that you don’t want to be involved with anymore simply because you’re not comfortable with a level of stress that allows you to truly be and to occasionally be willing to do extra things for yourself or people.

And another thing was that half of this lesson coincided with learning to take breaks, and I’m talking specifically about downtime and 15-minute breaks. I did a brief research, and concluded that half of my stress habits came from not taking enough breaks, and how I did it was by looking at my past events. Like I said earlier, I saw a lot of results in 2 weeks, and that motivated me to work longer, but that was a trap that later got the best of me. If only I had enforced those 15 minute breaks per hour and not allow work to creep into my weekend, my ambition for my past goals would still continue to burn today. And so that taught me that you have to treat work like fire.

Breaks are the wood and your ambitions are the fire. If you stop putting wood to your fire, eventually it’ll stop burning. And we all start from the bottom to reach the top, so think of starting this wood without technology. It’s hard to get that fire back burning if you have no idea or experience about how to get it running again. Therefore the goal is to never let this fire stop burning, and the trick is to not add too much or too little wood. So this lesson also became focused on enforcing breaks as well, which I’m still learning and is another reason for why this lesson is all about learning to say “no.”

If you have too much on your plate, you’ll never get a chance to take a break. And if you do get a break, you’ll never get a chance to fully enjoy it, because your workload will continue to bother you. And so the goal of this lesson is all about simplifying life with less commitments and more serenity that’ll continue to make me more creative.

My Other Lessons

  • Give 40% of your day to your personal health, and 60% to your responsibilities & goals. Last week, I spent a lot of time learning about priorities and important matters and how they coincided with each other. Well, in my quest to balance time effectively, I came onto something satisfying, and that was dividing my time for difference areas of my life. 40% of my day goes to my personal satisfactions and health conditions, and 60% goes to my responsibilities and goals. In the 40%, only 40% of that time goes to my  health conditions, and the rest goes to my personal satisfactions, which is actually like 3-4 hours worth of personal satisfaction each weekday. And on days that I wake up late to, I make sure I give myself those 3-4 hours of personal satisfaction.
  • When it comes to downtime, never force yourself into what you like doing for fun. In fact, don’t even put your best into, if that’s how you’re feeling right now. Just leave it how it currently is and call it quits for today, because the whole point of even doing something fun is to experience the pleasure, and you don’t want to turn your pleasure into anything frustrating at all — not even slightly. You want to make the best of the moment. So move onto the next task, and avoid thinking about your postponed task by thinking about something else.
  • Create your own system for getting things done. Why would I want to do that? Because creating a GTD system allowed me to really see how I’m able to get tasks done and why I’m able to do it effectively. Blogging, like right now, is actually one of my ways for analyzing my work ethic and is how i’m able to improve it. So start documenting your own system now and improve it when you feel inspired (notice how I said “when.” You don’t want to improve it tomorrow or later — trust me. You want to do it now.).
  • Never overestimate or underestimate a book, regardless of what other’s opinions are — especially a book recommended by millionaires. I had known to read Getting Things Done for a long time, but I never gave it the attention it deserved. This mistake made me realize that, although I don’t want to be bothered with certain (long) books, it’s worth the read, because numbers don’t lie, and Getting Things Done has a ton of pages that should not be overlooked. I listened to a podcast at GTD Times recently, and they said a lot of new things I’ve never thought about before, as well as things I’ve already been doing. They made me realize that everybody is in the same boat when it comes to getting stuff done and that they just want to share their results, much like I’m doing right now in this post.
  • Watch out for the blogs you subscribe to. A few posts back, I made a comment about why I unsubscribed from a huge list of blogs. Well, after that, I subscribed to 2 blogs only… and let me tell you: just 1 blog can distract you from your goals and your daily life via email, and it’s that small difference that calmly dictate the decisions you make in the future… With that said, there is a saying that you can be too smart for your own good. It took me a long time to realize that I gave people advice but never gave advice to myself, because I learned so many things, and that acknowledgement of how large my knowledge was, made me too comfortable to use it. And that’s exactly what can happy with just 1 blog — specifically with a blog that issues new articles every day. So I decided to stay with 1 big blog per niche and to just do research when it’s something I don’t know, which an article is talking about. And I also decided to just see blogs as advice in the form of a newsletter, and books as mentor in the form of a book. Blogs keep me updated with my industry and books keep me on track with my career.
  • Meditate 45 minutes before work, and at 12:30pm or 5:00pm. I haven’t taken on meditation yet, but I have done it before and 12:30pm or 6:00pm was when I did it. Somehow it made me much more productive, and that’s why I want to start doing that next week.
  • When I feel sleepy, it’s time to go to sleep — not to eat, to play games, or to stay up. I’m still struggling with this habit, but I’m learning to take it more serious every time I face consequences lol. You can get a lot of things done when you wake up early and feel energized. I’ve experienced it too many times before, and I can tell you that it’s especially helped me with deadlines in the morning at 6am haha (1 hour before school starts hehe).
  • I don’t work on deadlines anymore, I work on weekly goals. For a long time, I’ve been working on “deadlines” and the experience was never pleasant, or not even welcomed. So I decided to go with the thought of goals instead. Why? Because goals push me to do better, and when I do fail to complete my goal on time, I don’t feel pressured, because I still get it done. Plus it becomes a lesson that I’m always grateful to apply next time. So if you’re the type of person who gets overwhelmed by deadline, I suggest you think of them as goals. Goal don’t have to be completed on time if you think of them as personal goals, and nobody really worry about personal goals like they do deadlines — they don’t stay on your mind all day long.
  • I need to start getting all important things done by Friday. I noticed that while I was working on this post and other weekly tasks prior to this one, I was usually allowing weekday tasks into my weekend tasks. I find this to be a serious duty because it can stress my concentration for the next weekdays. So what I’m going to do from now on is get all of my important duties done by Friday. If I can’t get it done by Friday though, I’ll just follow-up on finishing it next Monday.

Conclusion

Of everything I learned last week, learning to say “no,” keeping track of how many responsibilities I have, managing my time better, managing my knowledge consumption, and becoming more serious towards my habit have been the lesson for all of last and week, and will be lessons that I’ll definitely keep in mind in the future. This week was very impacting and will probably be the most grown point in my personal development skills this year.

WIL #1: A Slow Week

Every week, I make a post about new things I learned from last week. Please Enjoy.

Last week was a rough week for taking action and getting results. I spent many times attempting to read and understand the planning stage of the web design process, but I just wasn’t in the mood to fully understand it all. So I ended up putting every task I had planned for this week to the side, and I spent a lot of time looking for advice about coping with last week’s issue, which still turned out to be a pleasant week somehow. And I also came to many conclusions for why I stressed out and how I could prevent this situation next time.

What I’ve Read & Learned

  • Get used to people, things, and habits by becoming closely familiar with them and by experiencing them to gain a personal understanding of them. I’ve been reading Ramit Sethi’s blog recently, and his posts have been making me realize that confidence comes almost wholly from wisdom and bare knowledge. You can learn a lot of “secret” things about people and things, but if you’ve never exposed that discovery yet, there is always a psychological barrier between you and that new-found knowledge. Therefore, I find it necessary to apply all knowledge I gain now. There is obviously a thick line between experience and knowledge. The one with experience always wins, because he actually knows the reality of the situation he’s in and can easily change and adapt.
  • There are times when you won’t feel like doing what you’re responsible for. This doesn’t mean you are stressing though, it just means you’re frustrated with the current situation you’re in. But the best way to get around this obstacle is to analyze and evaluate it. Look at your situation and study it, and do it repetitively because frustration slows your learning curve by a good 1/3, and it’s annoying but necessary if you want to understand the situation. With that said, repetition is the key this type of situation, but examination and practical understanding is crucial. Take your time and persistently push yourself to understand what’s difficult.
  • At certain moments in your life, you’ll feel like there’s nothing you can do about the situation you’re in, but the truth is you very much can. I don’t know if it’s just me, but no matter the reality of how long something takes, my brain gives me a nerve wrecking feeling that says “You’ll never be able to do that in time.” I found out that this is just impatience kicking in and your brain still doesn’t have a realistic idea of how long something will take… No matter how impatience or hopeless you feel, you actually CAN do it in time. Just give your best shot and forget about when it needs to be done, because obviously the deadline is what’s holding you back and stressing you out (without you even realizing it).
  • No matter how much stress you go through, don’t let it affect the people who are involved in your tasks. Since I neglectfully abandoned my tasks for last week, I disrespectfully mislead people’s expectations of appointments I set, which I am most certainly the blame for. I thought about this incident, and said to myself “What if I was them, and I was waiting all day long to meet someone who hadn’t even called me about the situation?” …I honestly wouldn’t want someone to waste my time either. In fact, I’d feel really disrespected and start reconsidering that person next time. So I decided that it’s only right to always keep my end of communication as solid as possible. It’s the best thing to do.
  • You don’t have to be a high school graduate to make a 81 million dollars a year, you don’t have to have a scholarship or be sponsored by a college to make it to the NBA/NFL, and you don’t have to have years of experience to get a job that you feel qualified for. But what you have to be is someone that works hard by learning as much as you can and seeing as many results as you can. My brother originally grew up among NFL Pittsburgh Steeler’s Mike Wallace and always tell me that nobody expected him to ever go to the NFL. My brother told me that hard work really does pay off, which I now believe truly is a testament to John Asaraf’s quote that you should “never let your present or past circumstances dictate your thinking of goal setting.” The future you currently see is nothing to worry about if you force your plans to work itself out. With that said, fail as quickly as possible and learn from it, because “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32) Simple.
  • Being a “mentee” should not be simply about learning new things, but should also be about making your mentor proud about realizing that they’ve actually made a big difference in your life. Now that I look at my past mentors, I hadn’t made them highly proud to be a part of my life, but I did make them proud about helping me get where I wanted to be in life. And the reason is because I took a lot of their advice into consideration, applied it, and shared it with them.
  • Make and manage a list of goals and obligations to prioritize your todo list and to keep track of how many responsibilities you realistically have. Now that I’ve learned my lesson from getting into too many activities and duties, I now keep track of my responsibilities on paper as a todo list of goals and obligations. With that said, I need to start saying “no” from now on when it comes to new ideas and things I want to get into. I obviously cannot handle a truck load of responsibilities.
  • Prioritize your list to do the top 5-10 things you can do today. I spoke with my graphic design professor recently, and asked her how to deal with responsibilities since I realized I had unintentionally gotten myself into too many of them and was stressing out from it… She said the best way is to simply do 5-10 of the top things you can each day that’s currently important, and to make a list of what you have to do before you go to sleep. This advice coincides very cleverly with my new-found wisdom of managing a list of goals and obligations.
  • Determine how long you’ll do a task and when you’ll do it, and stick to that time — DO NOT work any longer than what you decided to do. I have to say, I am a workaholic, and as good as I find it to be, I’m no longer happy about being a workaholic. Working long hours is deceitful very stressful in the long run and can kill your motivations instantly if you allow it to continually persuade you. I’ve been a testament of that throughout my whole life, until I finally learned that breaks really are important (even if it’s your passion we’re talking about). With that said, get the hell out of your chair and use that drive elsewhere, because you’ll get it back later. So go take a break for the day and enjoy it, because the  whole point of “working” is to make yourself happy.
  • Make sub-tasks as simple and as specific as possible. While I haven’t had the chance to apply this just yet, I did think about this and reflected on it. A lot of times that I really got somewhere was because I made progress, not completions. And the more progress I made, the less stressful I felt, because I knew that all I had to do was a simple step instead of a complex step that required other unlisted steps to begin with. It was all about progress that made the biggest difference. So the big advice here is simply to ask yourself this question: “Is this task really THAT simple? Or can I make it easier?”
  • Take breaks as often as you can, and don’t be lazy — find something fun to do instead. I used to take breaks after feeling stuck to my chair every once in a while, which was like 2-3 hours of no breaks at all. I realized that doing this is very bad though… I won’t go into detail about this because it belong to another post, but it has a very “snakey” effect that benefits stress. By the time you’ve realized you’re stress, it’s too late because you’ll be physically uncomfortable and mentally stressed just a little bit, which adds up like a combination. That’s why I won’t go into detail. But simply said, work no more than 45 minutes per hour. Not 50 minutes, 47 minutes — work 45 minutes. And when you take your break, make sure you have enough fun with it instead of just relieving your mind with a few minutes of serenity. Get your “soul” (not just your body) worked out, and make your brain feel good with some fun activities, such as as TV, going outside to enjoy yourself and instead of relieving yourself, and doing some fun work around the house. By the way, I want to thank Brian Hoff for this tip. Really helped me a lot!

Conclusion

Last week wasn’t much of a good week, but it would’ve went a whole difference way had I not realized what was truly going on in my life and how I could fix it. Everybody works hard for one particular happiness, but at the end of the day, it’s all about enjoying yourself instead of getting closer to what you’re working toward. With that said, work hard but smart, keep your life as simple as possible with less responsibilities, and continue to give your work your best shot no matter how difficult a situation is or becomes and no matter how long it takes. Winners don’t give up (they take breaks :)).

Why I Still Believe I Should Be A Freelancer Instead of Working for Someone

Throughout college, I spent a lot of time doing a lot of the same tasks every day for the same certain people (of course, my instructors and classmates), and I spent a lot of time doing work in the same class rooms, which was boring as hell to see the same walls, pictures, furniture, and tools. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my work or my class mates. I enjoyed being around my classmates and doing my work… It was just that I had been in the same old rooms for years, and it terribly just felt like that. And every day I grew slightly more bored because of that. It was like life was “stiff” in those room, considering there was nothing new to inspire me. And this memory got me thinking: the reason I want to be a freelancer is because I can be location independent and because I love being in a “fresh” and uncommon environment of people and things.

Now that I think about this even more, I’ve always felt much less stressed out to mundane tasks when I surrounded myself with new things to look at. It was an undeniable satisfaction to be able to work around new faces and objects I’ve never seen before, and it was very pleasing to work within a completely new and comfortable workplace. In fact, just remembering how good a new environment made me feel, made me feel more productive and helped me get 7 hours of tasks done in 2-3 hours each day. That’s how come I enjoyed working out before going to school now that I’ve said that haha.

And then there were people I saw. It was like a constant flow of inspiration for me, and being preocupied from things that worried me just made the process so much easier. I mean, it seems as if I enjoy being distracted by things around me, which is true, but I knew how to manage myself very well in these situations. So when it came to focus, that wasn’t a problem. An enjoyed constantly conscious decision to get back to work was the best part.

Like I said, people around me kept me preocupied from things that worried me. But they also preocupied me from things that bored me and frustrated me as well, so I was able to remove all sorts of stress factors lively and not momentarily like a 10-15 minute break would. Plus, when I actually went to go take a break, I was already relieved of stress, and I actually enjoyed my break and felt purely detached from my work’s irrational urgencies. Those moments couldn’t have gotten any better, and I am not exagerating.

And that’s why I will always want to work location independent. Maybe not around this time of my life as a full-time worker, but soon. I don’t enjoy living somebody else’s dream anyhow. Ha.

What’s your reason for being a freelancer?