Simple rules to live your life by

January 9th, 2018

A bunch of things I’ve read about or advice people have given me that I think is worth noting down.

Always be reading

I remember in one of my first proper jobs my boss told me to read more. He was saying to me how he loved reading and wished he could just read all day. I laughed my head off at the time and probably made some wise-ass joke about him being a bookworm. Luckily not long after he said that to me I realised how important it was. There aren’t many successful people who have not read a ton of books (I’m not aware of any in fact).

The point here is that you just need to be always reading. Whether you’re in a queue, on the train or waiting in the car to pick someone up at the station. Just read something useful. With large phones, tablets, and kindles I can’t really think of a day when there wouldn’t be an opportunity to get some reading done. Check out some of the books I’ve read if you want some ideas on things to read.

Use the Pomodoro technique to get stuff done

I often struggle to focus. I start one task then get distracted by another and then another and so on. I tried all sorts of things to solve this and then I came across the Pomodoro technique. Pomodoro is the Italian word for “Tomato” and simply refers to breaking up your work into chunks of time, usually 25 minutes. The rule is that you simply pick one task that you’re going to work on for the 25 minutes, set the time and away you go. After the 25 mins are up, you have a quick break and away you go.

The great thing about this technique is that you find yourself getting in a state of flow. And when you look back on your day and see you’ve completed 8 Pomodoros, you know that would have been an incredibly productive time and have a record of your progress.

Resist the urge to criticise

I don’t know why but this is something I find myself do a lot, way too much in fact. Similar to the “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it” mantra, resist the urge to criticise, no matter how small it might seem. This isn’t about lying and saying something is great when it isn’t! Sometimes constructive criticism is absolutely essential. What I’m talking about here is seeing the positives rather than the negatives. No point wasting energy talking negatively about someone or something, focus on the positives instead, it’ll be far more beneficial.

Deal with 5 minutes of pain every morning

I got this from an article I read on medium the other day: https://medium.com/personal-growth/23-smart-ways-to-increase-your-confidence-productivity-and-income-c21b42979893 My take on this is that getting started is the hardest thing to do and people always fight it, put it off and productivity takes a hit. Take getting out of bed early, it’s painful for a few minutes, your body just wants to go back to sleep, it’s the easy option but if you fight it, deal with the 5 mins of grogginess you’ll definitely have a much more productive day.

Listen a lot more than you talk

Unfortunately we spend most of our lives waiting for our turn to talk. Whenever someone has a story, has travelled somewhere or has a work situation, we're simply waiting for them to finish so that we can share our experience. Sure, sometimes you can provide some great advice but instead of diving in to talk as soon as you can, allow the person you're talking with to have centre stage. Once they've finished talking, don't immediately dive in with your experience, probe them a little more about theirs ask them to tell you more. You'll be surprised with the results this yields.

Do one thing at a time

Neuroscience tells us that as humans we're just not built to multitask. We only have one processor. This means that when we think we're multitasking, we're actually just switching from one thing to the next, unable to pick up where we left off. This is actually counterproductive. Instead try doing one thing at a time and do it incredibly well. Mutli-tasking is best left to computers that have multiple processors.

There is also a great quite from a Buddha (I need to look up the name!) which is "Sit sit, walk walk, don't wobble."

Get your sweat on, ideally first thing in the morning


By Jonathan Clift, a UX Desginer based in the UK.