Sunday Secrets

Sep. 16th, 2017 11:19 pm
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Posted by Frank


On 9/11/17, 3:59 AM, “Frank Warren” <frank@postsecret.com>
Dear Frank,
Yesterday I went to Barnes and Noble to get a book on infertility (my husband and I have been trying to conceive for almost a year and have reached the point of needing medical appointments). I picked up a PostSecret book while there and clinging to that book is the only thing that kept me from crying while I had to look through the pregnancy and baby type books to find a book to help my hurting heart. I didn’t find what I was looking for but I bought the postsecret book and wanted you to know that it brought me comfort.

Classic Secrets

Sep. 16th, 2017 10:56 pm
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Posted by Frank



Information on Upcoming PostSecret Exhibition at the Museum of Man
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RSVP and Details for PostSecret Live! in Oslo at Urban Peace Week
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Posted by zenhabits

By Leo Babauta

The things that stop us from taking action are all-too-familiar:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Fear
  • Not knowing where to start
  • A habit of procrastinating and doing easier things

It’s easy to get into a mode of inaction, but building the Action Habit can be a lot more difficult. The reason is that the feedback loops in our lives are set up the wrong way: it’s easier to put things off than to act, it’s easier to seek comfort than to push into discomfort, fear and stress.

So how do we start taking action in our lives: changing fundamental health and productivity habits, getting out and looking for a job, putting our creativity out there in the world, taking steps to finally work on that project you’ve been wanting to start?

The answer lies in a simple method for creating the Action Habit:

  1. Pick one positive action
  2. Make it tiny and easy
  3. Set up positive feedback
  4. Put everything you have into it
  5. Repeat

This might sound too simplistic for some people, and you might be tempted to skip this and go read something else. This is a mistake — try this method and see if you can create the Action Habit today.

Pick One Positive Action

Yes, I know that you have a thousand things you want to do, in all areas of your life. But thinking about all the things you need to do can be stressful and overwhelming, and lead to inaction. You can’t do it all right now!

Instead, focus on something you can do right now.

But how do you choose among all the things you want to do? Try this:

  1. Make a list of the main things you want to do. Feel free to make a second list of the smaller tasks and errands you need to get to as well. Don’t get stuck on this step — if you are overwhelmed by this, just think of the biggest things you need to get done.
  2. Mark the top 3 things on your list — what feel most important to you right now? If you can’t decide, ask someone else to decide for you.
  3. Pick the No. 1 thing in your top 3. If it’s too hard to choose, make a random choice — it’s better to make a slightly less-than-optimal choice than to get stuck in indecision.

Once you have your No. 1 thing you want to get done (let’s say, “Write a book” or “Get in shape”), then you need to pick one small action you can get done on this project in the next few minutes.

What about the other projects or tasks on your list? You’ll get to those later, but worrying about everything all at once is counterproductive. Pick one thing on the list, and get moving with it. After that, you can re-evaluate and pick the next thing on your list to get moving on. In this way, you’re getting in the habit of taking action rather than getting stuck.

Make It Tiny & Easy

Now that you have something you want to focus on, ask yourself, “What tiny action can I take right now?”

For “Write a book” it could be as simple as “Open a document and write down a few ideas.” For “Get in shape,” you might choose something like, “Go out for a short walk,” “Do a few pushups,” or “Send an email to my sister to go for a run tomorrow.”

You don’t have to do the whole project right now. Just one tiny step. Once you get into the Action Habit, you’ll be able to do the other steps later. But for now, just focus on one tiny step. This is how you create the habit.

Make it as ridiculously easy as possible, so that you can’t really say no.

Are you tempted to put it off? Then make it even easier — 30 seconds of working out is so easy that anyone can do it.

Thirty seconds of working out is not going to get you in shape, but the Action Habit is about removing barriers and getting moving.

Set Up Positive Feedback

If you get one or two people into an accountability team, you’ll make it much more likely that you’ll succeed. That’s because with accountability, you get negative feedback for not doing the actions (a bit of embarrassment) and positive feedback for doing the actions (a bit of pride in your accomplishment).

It’s simple:

  1. Ask one or two friends to be on your team. This is as easy as sending an email or text message.
  2. Tell each other what tiny steps you’re going to do today towards important long-term goals.
  3. Check in at the end of the day, or when you’re done with your three tiny actions.

If you’d rather not have a team, then simply put up a list on your wall (or somewhere very visible) of your three top tiny actions for this morning, and allow yourself to check them off once they’re done. It’s rewarding to be able to check the off.

Positive feedback means you’re going to enjoy taking the tiny actions, rather than seeking comfort in putting them off.

Put Your Entire Being Into It

Once you have your accountability set up, and a tiny action chosen, then it’s time to take action!

Now put your entire self into starting the action.

All you have to do is start.

Act as if your life depends on it.

Act as if nothing were more important than keeping your word to yourself.

Act as if this one tiny action were the entire universe.

All you have to do is get moving — open a document, start an email, write one item on a list, put on your running shoes. Devote yourself single-mindedly to starting this tiny movement.

Repeat, to Create the Habit

Doing your first tiny action is amazing. Now focus your entire being on the next tiny action. This is how you create the Action Habit: by doing it repeatedly.

If you’ve taken a tiny action on an important project, congratulate yourself! Check it off your list, report it to your accountability team, feel gratitude that you got moving. Now ask yourself what is the next small step you can take on this project. Can you take it right now? One small step at a time, you’re getting some momentum on this project.

Or perhaps there’s nothing else you can do right now. Look at your Top 3 list, and see if there’s another project you can take a tiny action on right now.

If not, maybe one of your other important items. Or maybe you take action on your smaller tasks (though don’t let yourself use this as a way to put off the hard stuff). Do the hard stuff first if you can, but you need to get to the small stuff sometimes. The trick is, you’re turning the hard stuff into the small easy stuff.

Just repeat this method, re-evaluating your list once a day or so, taking tiny actions all day long, with breaks in between. This is how you form the Action Habit, and it will be incredible.

Sunday Secrets

Sep. 9th, 2017 09:50 pm
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Posted by Frank


 

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Posted by zenhabits

By Leo Babauta

It’s a common problem these days: switching between browser tabs and apps on your phone, checking social media and messages and email, thinking about the million things you have to do but putting them off …

Anything but staying focused on one task at a time.

And it’s hard to break out of the mental habit of switching, being distracted, letting the monkey mind jump from one shiny thing to the next.

So how do you train your mind to stay more focused? It’s possible to get better at focusing, but I don’t recommend expecting to be focused anywhere close to 100 percent of the time. Not even 80 percent, and perhaps not 50 percent. Just more than now, which is more than enough to see big differences in effectiveness in your day.

Recently I took on a coaching client, and his biggest area for improvement is focus. So I gave him a plan, and I’m going to share it with you here.

Start with the Why

Why should you care about this? It’s best to give this a moment’s thought before diving into any plan, because when things get uncomfortable, you have to know your Why. Otherwise you’ll crumble at the first urge to switch.

This is important because constant switching and distraction leads to your time being frittered away, so that the day goes by and you’ve barely done anything important. You’ve procrastinated on the big tasks to take care of the little ones, and worse yet, squandered the day in distractions. Your life is too precious to waste, so you want to use your days better.

Staying focused on one task at a time, at least for some of the day, will help you get the important things done: writing, programming, studying, taking care of finances, creating of any kind, and so on. Those things tend to get pushed back, but staying on task will increase your effectiveness with the most important things by leaps and bounds.

If you’re feeling stressed out by all you have to do, unhappy with your lack of focus … then this one skill will help you turn that around in a big way.

So let’s move on to the how.

The Method

It’s fairly simple:

  1. Pick an MIT. First thing in the morning, before you get on your phone or online, think about what you need to do. What would make the biggest difference in your life, your work? If you have several, it doesn’t matter … just randomly choose one for now. You can get to the others later. Don’t waste your time in indecision, the point is to practice with one task. This one task you choose for today is your one Most Important Task (MIT).
  2. Do a 15-minute focus session. As soon as you start working for the day (maybe after getting ready, eating, yoga/meditation/workout, whatever), clear away all browser tabs, applications, and anything you don’t need for your MIT for today. Start a timer for 15 minutes.
  3. You only have two choices. For these 15 minutes, you can not switch to anything else (no checking email, messages, social media, doing other work tasks, cleaning your desk, etc.). You can only a) work on your MIT, or b) sit there and do nothing. Those are your only options. Watch your urges to switch, but don’t follow them.
  4. Report to an accountability partner. My coaching client is going to succeed in large part because he has me to keep him accountable. Find a partner who will keep you accountable. Create an online spreadsheet or use an accountability app that they can see (he introduced me to Commit to 3, for example). After your focus session each day, check in that you did it.

That’s it! One focus session a day for at least two weeks. If you do great, add a second focus session each day, with a 10-minute break in between sessions. If you have any trouble at all, stick to one session a day for the first month before adding a second.

After six weeks to two months, you should be fairly good at doing two 15-minute focus sessions, and you can add a third. Then a fourth when that gets easy. Stop there for awhile, and then add another session in the afternoon.

Some Important Tips

With that simple method in mind, I have a few key ideas to share:

  1. Turn off your Internet. Like disconnect from wifi or turn off your router, or use an Internet blocker. Turn off your phone. Close your browser and all applications you don’t need. This is the ideal method. If you need the Internet for your MIT, then close all tabs but the one or two that you need for the task, and don’t let yourself open anything else.
  2. If you turn off the Internet, keep a pencil and paper nearby. If you have an idea, a task you need to remember, anything you want to look up … jot it on the paper. You can get to those later. Don’t allow yourself to switch.
  3. Don’t allow yourself to rationalize putting off the session. It’s easy to say, “I’ll get to it in a bit,” but then you’re putting it off until late morning, and then the afternoon, and finally you’re doing it at 8pm just to say you did it. This defeats the purpose of the practice. Watch your rationalizations, and don’t fall for them.
  4. That said, don’t aim for being perfect. There are some days when you just can’t do it — for me, it’s when I travel or have guests. If something big has come up where you don’t have time, don’t stress about missing a day. Get back on it as soon as you can. Worrying about keeping a streak going is counterproductive.
  5. If 15 minutes is too long, just do 10 minutes. If that’s too long, do 5 minutes.
  6. Increase your number of sessions as slowly as you can. There’s no rush to do more. Focus on building a solid foundation.

OK, you have the method. Now get on the practice!

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