Reach Your Goals With a Self-Management Checklist

Everybody faces challenges in managing certain aspects of their lives. Someone who loves to go trail riding on a bicycle will have no problems motivating themselves to exercise. However, putting aside time to sit and read might be problematic. On the other hand, the reader might have problems putting down the book and getting active.

This self-management checklist can be applied to any area of your life where you need to gain some control.

  1. Set specific goals. You can’t measure achievement if you don’t know where you’re going. Set specific goals such as: I’ll walk for 30 minutes per day; or I’ll write a 1,000 words each day; or I’ll lose 20 pounds.
  2. Set specific times. You need to determine when you are going to accomplish your goals. Work with specific times; whether it’s a deadline for a one-off project or regular times for on-going behaviour.
  3. Track your progress. Write it down. You can use a journal, a calendar, a graph or any other form that works for you. Make sure you track both your successes and failures so you can refine your systems.
  4. Set rewards or penalties. You’ll need some motivation to help you move forward. Set small rewards to mark the completion of small steps. Set larger rewards to mark major accomplishments. You might even set penalties for not reaching goals. You could, for example, make a donation to a food bank every time your weight went up instead of down.
  5. Take small steps. If you’ve been sitting in front of the TV for ten years, don’t try and run a marathon tomorrow. Changing a habit takes time and you need to start slowly.
  6. Break it down into pieces. Regardless of your readiness, if the task seems overwhelming, you may never get started. Break down large tasks in to small, logical and manageable pieces.
  7. Monitor time increments. Use a timer to help you stay on track. Set it to the best interval to help you measure your progress.
  8. Share your goals. Telling someone what you hope to accomplish can add another level of motivation. It’s easier to fool ourselves than to fool others. Tell someone what your goals and your deadlines are; get them to check on you to see if you met the goal.
  9. Have a work buddy. It’s not just enough to share your goals with someone, you need to have a buddy that can meet with regularly. Keep your goals on someone else’s agenda. This should give you an added sense of responsibility and motivation to reach your goals.
  10. Review with your buddy. Have your buddy do more than review accomplishment. Review the written track of your regular progress. They might spot patterns you don’t see and give you some help for getting back or keeping on track.
  11. Eliminate distractions. Reading through e-mail may seem productive, but it’s not going to help you read three chapters of a book. If need be, turn off the phone, shut down the computer and throw the television in the garbage.
  12. Review and rework your system. Your self-management plan may not work the first time you try it. There will be times when your self-management process falls apart. These steps are not static, but need to change and grow with you. Make time to review your process and see what changes can be made.

Some people look at self-management techniques as cumbersome, getting in the way of productivity. The truth is, if you look at successful and productive people, you’ll find some type of system guiding them. Give it a try.

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Memory Makeover: Tips to Spruce Up an Absent Mind

brains!

brains! (Photo credit: cloois)

It’s Monday morning. You have one minute before you have to leave for work, but can’t find your keys. Ransacking your home in a frantic search, you finally locate the keys—right where you left them—on the kitchen counter. Breathless, you hop on the bus and realize your lunch is still at home. Worse still, you spot a new co-worker on the bus and can’t remember his name.

Understanding Memory

Before learning any memory improvement technique, it’s useful to first understand the three stages of memory: encoding, storage and retrieval. The encoding stage refers to the process of putting information into memory. The storage stage refers to retention or maintaining information in memory. The retrieval stage refers to recovering information from memory. If memory lapse or forgetting occurs, often a problem occurred at one or more of the stages of encoding, storage or retrieval. Increasing the efficiency of these stages, therefore, will help to improve memory.

Tips and Tools You Can Use

In the same way we exercise our muscles to keep fit, we have to continue to train our brain to maintain its efficiency over time.

Boost your brain power with these tried and true tactics:

Ditch your multi-tasking ways. 
Think you can successfully study the details of a report while talking on the phone and reading your horoscope? Think again You need at least eight seconds of focused energy to digest information and store it in the brain’s memory centre. So hang up the phone, find a quiet place and focus.

Stay organized.
 Many people overlook this crucial step and end up missing important appointments, deadlines or details. Put pen to paper (or finger tips to keyboard) and record important dates in a calendar, notebook or on your mobile device. Recording and arranging data will help ingrain it in your memory and give you a point of reference in case you do forget.

Get hooked on mnemonics. Mnemonic devices boost memory through associations. Depending on the material and learning style, you might use visual images (for example, a black cat stuck in a well to remember the name “Blackwell”); rhymes and alliteration (for example, 30 days has September, April, June and November); acronyms, such as HOMES to remember the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior); or even jokes to recall important information.

Try chunking items into smaller groups. One way to improve memory is through a procedure called chunking. This occurs when you reorganize items such as letters or numbers into units or small groups. For example, remembering the number sequence of: 6-3-2-4-8-1-7-9 could be remembered easier if the sequence is chunked into: 63-24-81-79. Using the chunking technique, the number of items needing to be remembered is cut in half.

Take a guided tour. Another old but proven mnemonic device is the “method of loci.” This involves using a familiar route, e.g., the pathway through your home to your bedroom or the way to the corner store, as a way of remembering key details of a speech or the order of a complex task. Use each room or landmark on your journey to “signpost” different parts of the speech or each step of the process you need to remember.

Take a fresh perspective. Neurobics help exercise and strengthen underused brain pathways. Keep those brain synapses firing by taking a new route home from work, using your non-dominant hand to brush your hair, challenging yourself with a crossword puzzle or taking a class in a completely foreign field of study.

Stay active. Physical exercise boosts the amount of oxygen to your brain and can help lower your risk for diabetes, heart disease and depression—all of which can impede memory. It also promotes sleep, which can improve focus and help consolidate memories.

Eat right. Foods rich in B vitamins—including legumes, spinach, broccoli, strawberries and citrus fruits; Omega-3 fatty acids—like tuna, salmon, herring, flaxseed and walnuts; as well as antioxidants (vitamin C, E and beta carotene)—sweet potatoes, tomatoes, berries and green tea amongst others—are thought to improve brain function.

A great way to realize the potential of your brain and even increase your memory and learning abilities is based on the idea that by reflecting on how you think, you can learn how you best absorb knowledge. Consider how your way of thinking or storing information is working for you, and then ask yourself how well you did in recalling this information or how you could use your memory differently next time. In other words, use memory strategies that work best for you.

Everyone draws a blank from time to time. Young or old, forgetting is a natural part of life, but there are ways you can boost the power of the brain to keep you sharp no matter what your age. Consider the suggestions outlined in this article, and if your brain power continues to falter, be sure to discuss the issue with your doctor.

From Shepell-fgi

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A self-management checklist

Everybody faces challenges in managing certain aspects of their lives. Someone who loves to go trail riding on a bicycle will have no problems motivating themselves to exercise. However, putting aside time to sit and read might be problematic. On the other hand, the reader might have problems putting down the book and getting active.

This self-management checklist can be applied to any area of your life where you need to gain some control.

  1. Set specific goals. You can’t measure achievement if you don’t know where you’re going. Set specific goals such as: I’ll walk for 30 minutes per day; or I’ll write a 1,000 words each day; or I’ll lose 20 pounds.
  2. Set specific times. You need to determine when you are going to accomplish your goals. Work with specific times; whether it’s a deadline for a one-off project or regular times for on-going behaviour.
  3. Track your progress. Write it down. You can use a journal, a calendar, a graph or any other form that works for you. Make sure you track both your successes and failures so you can refine your systems.
  4. Set rewards or penalties. You’ll need some motivation to help you move forward. Set small rewards to mark the completion of small steps. Set larger rewards to mark major accomplishments. You might even set penalties for not reaching goals. You could, for example, make a donation to a food bank every time your weight went up instead of down.
  5. Take small steps. If you’ve been sitting in front of the TV for ten years, don’t try and run a marathon tomorrow. Changing a habit takes time and you need to start slowly.
  6. Break it down into pieces. Regardless of your readiness, if the task seems overwhelming, you may never get started. Break down large tasks in to small, logical and manageable pieces.
  7. Monitor time increments. Use a timer to help you stay on track. Set it to the best interval to help you measure your progress.
  8. Share your goals. Telling someone what you hope to accomplish can add another level of motivation. It’s easier to fool ourselves than to fool others. Tell someone what your goals and your deadlines are; get them to check on you to see if you met the goal.
  9. Have a work buddy. It’s not just enough to share your goals with someone, you need to have a buddy that can meet with regularly. Keep your goals on someone else’s agenda. This should give you an added sense of responsibility and motivation to reach your goals.
  10. Review with your buddy. Have your buddy do more than review accomplishment. Review the written track of your regular progress. They might spot patterns you don’t see and give you some help for getting back or keeping on track.
  11. Eliminate distractions. Reading through e-mail may seem productive, but it’s not going to help you read three chapters of a book. If need be, turn off the phone, shut down the computer and throw the television in the garbage.
  12. Review and rework your system. Your self-management plan may not work the first time you try it. There will be times when your self-management process falls apart. These steps are not static, but need to change and grow with you. Make time to review your process and see what changes can be made.

Some people look at self-management techniques as cumbersome, getting in the way of productivity. The truth is, if you look at successful and productive people, you’ll find some type of system guiding them. Give it a try.

6 ways to maximize your talent with motivation

Everybody loves it when the underdog wins. The theme crops up regularly in movies: whether  or the latest version of , something feels right about a group of misfits pulling it together for an eleventh-hour victory over the perennial champs.

We love these stories because they make us believe we have potential to be winners, regardless of how we feel about ourselves at the moment. The fact that underdog stories are not reserved for fiction, but play out in real life, heightens our perception that we could become winners, if we just knew how.

Bad News Bears

Image via Wikipedia


Motivation is often the only difference between winners and losers. You see two equal teams competing, playing with similar skills, and having breaks and mistakes on both sides. Yet one team wins. What is the difference? Motivation!

If you want the edge that makes a difference in your , you’ve got to use motivation to get the most out of your skills. Here are some practical tips to maximize your motivation:

  1. Know what you want – If you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish, you’ll never get there. The person who complains about lack of success, or more frequently, the “unnatural” success of others, is often sitting around, waiting for something to fall in their lap. Winners know what they want to achieve and set the steps to get them there.
  2. Record your progress – Don’t scrub your to-do list every time you mark a task completed. Use those check marks to remind you of the progress you have made. In turn, the record can push you forward to new accomplishments.
  3. Use rewards – There’s nothing quite like recognition to bolster your self confidence and motivate you to continued success. When you receive recognition, or are rewarded by others, hang on to those as reminders of things you have done well. If your current project doesn’t come with external rewards, create some for yourself. Use rewards to mark milestones and motivate you into the next phase.
  4. Challenge yourself – Don’t be content to merely repeat last year’s success. Athletes don’t limit themselves to winning championships, but are constantly looking for ways improve their personal best. Whether it’s adding to current skills or completely re-inventing yourself, personal challenges can motivate you.
  5. Think positively – The power of positive thinking may seem like a cliche, but it works. William Hazlitt said, “If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory.” Negative self-talk is going to get in the way of your success. Surround yourself with the things that will help you think positively.
  6. Remember the why – Remind yourself of the reason for your current undertaking. Why are you trying to be successful in the endeavour: to bring financial security, to create a good life for your family, to help someone in need, to see your name in lights or engraved on a trophy? All these are valid drivers and revisiting them from time to time will motivate you to go forward.

Bill McCartney, a former head coach at the University of Colorado said, “All coaching is, is taking a player where he can’t take himself”. The greatest coaches don’t necessarily have all the greatest athletes, but they know how to get the best out of the team. The greatest personal successes don’t come from people who have all the talent, but from those who know how to maximize their talent through motivation.

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