2015 New Year’s Resolution Guide

2014 is coming to a close. That means that it is time for everyone to start setting New Year’s Resolutions. Most people will only get to mid-January, February if they’re lucky. But this year, you are not going to be one of those people! 2015 is going to be a year of growth and productivity. Over the next couple of days, I am going to be teaching you how to set New Year’s Resolutions in a way that it will be easy to maintain them.

How to set new year's resolutions

What is your system for setting New Year’s Resolutions?

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12 Books You’re Wishing For

Today is Day 1 of 12 Days of Book Lists! Yay! I have listed only productivity/lifestyle books so that this actually fits with the theme of my blog.

The 12 Books I’m wishing for this winter are (in no particular order):

12. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
I am actually currently reading this, and it is awesome. I have already changed the way I think about routines and habits that I would like to implement to achieve my ideal lifestyle. I’m less wishing for this book, and more wishing to finish it.

11. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
I. Love. Amy Poehler. So. Much. I only recently learned that she had written a book, and I immediately wanted to devour it with my eyes. Since I probably won’t ever be able to hang out with Amy Poehler in real life, I am going to read this book, so I can pretend to be her best friend.

10. Juggling Elephants by Jones Loflin and Todd Musig
This is a productivity book that I want to read. This blurb from Amazon describes it perfectly: “Juggling Elephants tells a simple but profound story about one man with a universal problem. Mark has too much to do, too many priorities, too much stress, and too little time.” I’m hoping that this book will teach me more productivity skills and how to balance my circus of a life.

9. How to Win at College by Cal Newport
I’ve been reading Cal Newport’s Study Hacks blog for about a year. The things I have learned from it have changed my life immensely. His blog taught me skills such as time-blocking and research-paper outlining. I could not imagine my life without implementing the productivity tips I have learned from his blog. I assume that his books will teach me even more. I want to read How to Win at College because I am in college (university for you non-Americans). And I want to win at it.

8. How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren
“The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading.” Nothing much else to say.

7. Do It Tomorrow by Mark Forster
In this book, Mark Forster approaches time-management in unique, innovative ways. I want to learn these ways. So I want this book.

6. So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
This is Cal Newport’s newest book. It is about “why skills trump passion in the quest for work you love.” I want to get a head start in finding my perfect job, so that I don’t realize that I want to do something entirely different with my life once I have already gotten deep into a specific industry.

5. Bossypants by Tina Fey
I love Tina Fey. This book was written at a time when she was juggling an enormous amount of projects. Tina Fey lives a busy lifestyle, as many of us do. But she is able to laugh about it. I think this is a skill that we can all do well to learn.

4. Use Your Head by Tony Buzan
“How to unleash the power of your mind.” Well, I want to unleash the amazingawesome power of my mind, so…

3. Brain Rules by John Medina
“In Brain Rules, molecular biologist Dr. John Medina shares his lifelong interest in how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children and the way we work. In each chapter, he describes a brain rule–what scientists know for sure about how our brains work–and then offers transformative ideas for our daily lives.”

2. The Motivation Hacker by Nick Winter
I have lots of things that I want to do, but lack the motivation to do (working out). But I know that if I can figure out what my personal motivation is based on, then I can accomplish any- and everything that I want to. I think this book will help me (fingers crossed). It is pretty high up on my reading list.

1. Getting Things Done by David Allen
I’ve researched a little bit on the infamous GTD productivity system. Honestly, it hasn’t seemed very appealing to me. I want to read this book because I want to see if it lives up to the hype. I also want to figure out what the big deal about GTD is. Maybe I’ll try it out after I read this book.

What productivity books are on your reading list?

3 Things I learned from 30 Days of Lists

For the month of November, I decided to embark an a wondrous experiment. I created a list everyday for thirty days. I unexpectedly learned quite a few things from this experiment/journey/quest:

1. Small habit changes are the most effective.
Making a small change in your daily routine is pretty easy. I have attempted to instill many habits into my daily life, however, these attempts fail, simply because the change I tried to make in my life was too large or too different from my normal day. Adding the task of making a list on a notecard to my daily itinerary was pretty easy because¬†I could write my list for the day while I was watching Netflix in the evening.¬†During the time that I made the lists, I was previously doodling or planning. I wasn’t drastically changing something I already did. I was just adding another element to the relaxation portion of my day.

2. Personal projects make you more productive.
I’m the type of person that does semi-productive things even during the times of day in which I am not supposed to be productive (after dinner). For me, being productive with my school work just gives me more time to produce other things. I have a huge mental list of personal projects I want to complete, but for most of them, I do not have defined goals. I knew I wanted to make lists, so that I could sort out some random thoughts. So I decided to do 30 days of lists. Having projects I’m working on that are unrelated to school gives me more of an incentive to get my necessary work done more productively in an effort to make time to do the work I want to do. I have also learned that I need to set defined, or SMART, goals for all of the personal goals I am working towards.

3.Mindless tasks=Mindful consumption
Mindless productive tasks allow me to focus more on the entertainment/knowledge/Netflix I am absorbing. TV shows and videos often do not take up all of my attention, so my mind begins to wander to occupy my remaining attention. Doing something that requires very little attention, in this case making lists, takes up the attention that watching and absorbing (usually useless) information does not take up. This prevents daydreaming or boredom or distraction. I also like doing tasks that are somewhat productive during these times so that my day feels more productive overall. For example, I usually do most of my planning while watching Netflix or a YouTube video. For some reason, podcasts take up more of my attention than video. I have no idea why, but I can’t focus on podcasts while doing productive mindless tasks. Tasks such as cleaning and chores, however, usually require very little attention as you can rely on your habits to complete them. So you probably have enough attention left over to even watch a TED talk or something else that’s useful.

Overall, I am very happy that I completed 30 Days of Lists. I know it’s not that great of a feat, but it seems like it has been a while since I’ve finished something that I started because I wanted to, not because I was obligated to.

Click here for part 1 of 30 Days of Lists.
Click here for part 2 of 30 Days of Lists.
Click here for part 3 of 30 Days of Lists.

What should my next project/experiment be?