The one tiny habit that changed my life

Most people overestimate what they can do in a month. Most people underestimate what they can do in a year.

DAILY PRACTICE

Consistently working on something every single day produces more results than massive effort that you allow to fizzle.

This is an important lesson. You can apply it in many ways in your life. A little meditation each day can bring calm over the long run. Read a few pages a day, and suddenly you’re reading several books per year. Make a new friend each day and by year’s end you’ll have at least 365 new friends (probably more).

THE HABIT TO END ALL HABITS

In terms of productivity habits, one that has revolutionized my world is not checking email before 10am. I just won’t do it, under any circumstances.

Then, use the time before 10am to get one super-important thing done. Just one.

Get that thing done and your day is already productive by 10am. Everything else you do that day is just a bonus.

Here’s how to do it: The night before, write down one thing to get done tomorrow — the one thing that will have the most impact on the projects/problems you’re facing. What task, if completed, would ease your mind, forward your career/business, and add to your health the most. If you could only do one thing tomorrow, what would it be?

Write that thing down in your notebook. Go to bed. Wake up tomorrow and do that thing before anything else.

Do not check your email (or your social media etc) before 10am.

No exceptions. Ever.

Do it everyday.

By doing the most important thing first, you’ve freed up the rest of your day. No matter what, today will have been productive all because of the thing I got completed before 10am. Anything else you do is a bonus.

This front-loading of work is the key to building anything: a creative project, a business, an impressive intellect, a supportive network.

THE LAW OF COMPOUNDING EFFECTS

We can take the compounding effects of daily practice and apply it to any habit.

Any habit can be life-changing if practiced regularly — including bad habits. Running everyday will transform your body, so will smoking everyday. The most important takeaway from this post should be: pick one good habit and do it consistently, and it will change your life.

If you don’t like my habit above, start with a habit you’ll actually like. Some people like to write. Others like to cook. Many love exercise. Read something, sit in silence, take long walks, make new friends. Pick one and do it consistently. Let compounding effects do the rest.

EXPONENTIAL GROWTH

The benefits of one daily practice can be huge. Do something every single day for a year and soon your life changes. Do it for a couple years and you will have reinvented yourself.

Get the most important thing done first. Do that every day.

Meditation, reading, language learning, gratitude, writing, meeting new people. On any given day, these may be “the most important thing” — after a while they, too, can become everyday things.

Never sacrifice the most important thing. Get up earlier if you have to.

This will transform your life.

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Read my essays on One Life-Changing Habit and How to Get Your Dream Job.

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