What inspires you to go on living every day

This is how you redefine success and find joy in life

Evernote Benefits • Productivity

Anthony Bartlett • January 28, 2021

How are you at the moment Do you feel exhausted? Burned out? Do you find it difficult to find an appropriate way of dealing with the whole situation? If so, you are not alone in this. 2020 was a year most of us would like to forget as COVID-19 affected every aspect of our lives.

You may have started 2020 with big goals (like us!) Only to find that they fell by the wayside because life took an unexpected turn. This is of course frustrating. But try not to measure yourself against plans you made "before that" or to compare your own progress with that of others. Instead of punishing yourself for your "failure", we propose a radical idea: You can redefine success.

Maybe you didn't lose weight, quit smoking, or write the book as planned. Sometimes it is quite an achievement just to get through the day unharmed. It doesn't mean that you are giving up on your dreams; it means that you live to fight your way through another day. Redefining success takes into account your changed circumstances and frees you from the need to achieve everything right away.

A time to reflect

"There can be no life without change, and to be afraid of what is different or unfamiliar means to be afraid of life."

- Theodore Roosevelt

A year ago we started this series with a promise: We would help you "Building your own flexible toolbox for success - with a one-year series that deals with the essential building blocks for productivity". At that time we didn't know what 2020 would bring. And so we also had to redefine the term “success” for us: from the original plan to help you become more productive to the plan to help you find your way in unfamiliar territory.

At the beginning of a new year, it is advisable to pause for a moment to reflect on what has been achieved and to set your goals and intentions for the coming year. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, there is one final question to answer: After everything you've been through in 2020, what does success look like now?

To help you answer that question, we'd like ours own Do some reflections and look back on the previous posts in this series to see how you can apply them as you set your goals for 2021 and beyond. Each of these posts contains a piece of the puzzle that, when completed, will give you everything you need to achieve your goals.

So, below are nine essential tools for success - whatever you defining him.

Get rid of bad habits

Millions of people say they want to improve certain aspects of their life (English), but research also shows (English) that only eight percent of them will actually achieve their goal.

The problem is that we are creatures of habit ... literally. As the psychologist Wendy Wood says: "If you repeat an action over and over again in a certain context and then receive a reward, you learn very slowly and gradually to relate that context to that behavior."

To get rid of your bad habits, try these strategies instead:

  • Identify your triggering stimuli. Download the Daily Recollection template provided by Evernote and use it to record your feelings and reactions. You can also keep a journal (English) to document your feelings and process negative thoughts and emotions - without having to worry about what others might think.
  • Increase the resistance. By making it harder for yourself to indulge in your bad habits, you will find it easier to eliminate them. For example, if you're addicted to your smartphone, put it in a drawer when you're not using it. Or create a grocery list in Evernote to avoid impulse buying of unhealthy items.
  • Replace bad habits with good ones. As long as you experience the same triggering stimuli over and over again, your brain will react with the same old routines. Instead, create a table and add a row for each of your reaction patterns that you want to change. Then enter the “good” habits you want to replace them with. For example, next to “Eat a piece of cake at 3 p.m.” you could add “Eat an apple” as an alternative.
  • Track your progress. Use the Evernote Habits Log Template to keep track of how well you are doing with your new habits. But don't be too hard on yourself if you miss a day! Be lenient with yourself for being human, and just get back to your plan as quickly as possible.

Make a plan

Making a plan can seem a nuisance to you when you want your journey to a better life to begin right away. But new territories are easier to traverse with a map, regardless of whether you're on vacation, earning a promotion, or starting a new business.

Below you will find some measures you can take to create your own basis for action.

  • Write down your goal. Simply writing a goal down increases the likelihood of achieving it (English) by 42 percent. For example, you can set it up using the annual goals template provided by Evernote. Or, if you prefer pen and paper, you can scan the note with Evernote for easy reference later.
  • Break your goals down into small chunks. Make a plan that breaks your goal down into small, sequential steps. Write down each step and set a deadline for completing it. Use the daily planner and weekly planner templates provided by Evernote and post for each step you have to take - and don't forget to reward yourself for your progress along the way!
  • Review your plan daily. Stay on track by setting up a reminder to review your goal note regularly - daily if possible. That way, you can set a daily goal and focus on things that matter.
  • Stay focused. Once you've completed an intermediate step in your plan, take a moment to celebrate your progress and reevaluate your plan: is it still workable? Do you need to make any adjustments? Not only will this help you remind yourself of why you tackled the goal in the first place, but it will also give you a much-needed boost of energy.

Stay focused

In times of uncertainty (* pointing at all sorts of things *) the goal is not to get back to the old top level in terms of productivity right away. Instead, the first thing is to find phases throughout the day and create spaces that are conducive to concentration, and in this way gradually to free yourself from all the distractions.

Here are four tips to help you focus on your tasks and get the work done:

  • Practice your mind ignoring distractions. If you have to concentrate for longer periods of time, the motto “less is more” applies. At least that's what the science behind the Pomodoro Technique says, according to which you should divide your working day into 25-minute sections with five-minute breaks. You can use this Evernote template to record your Pomodoro assignments.
  • Get to know your ultradian rhythm. In a 24-hour day, we go through 90-minute blocks of productivity and increased concentration, also known as the ultradian rhythm. Use this Evernote template to track your concentration, enthusiasm, and energy levels, and save your most creative and strategic projects for the times when it is best for you to focus.
  • Just switch off. No seriously. Allowing yourself to daydream at set times can be an amazingly efficient productivity strategy. Schedule fixed times for your mind to wander and use Evernote to set up reminders. But be sure to choose a time window when your ultradian rhythm is not geared towards focused exertion.
  • Pick the right place. If you don't have a separate study at home, contextual cues can make a converted space feel different. Take a photo of the items in your "workplace" or create a checklist. This will make it easier for you to prepare the area for your work day to get to work.

Create more order

A lot of time and money is wasted due to a lack of organization (English). The ultimate goal should be to organize your life to help you calm down and have clear thoughts. The specific design will look different for each person, but you can at least try out different approaches to see which ones resonate with you:

  • Create naming conventions for labels and digital files. This will help you keep your digital workspace tidy. Start the names of your most important notes with a special character or emoji so that they always appear at the top of the note list. Or use the date format YYYY-MM-DD if you want to sort by date so that the alphabetical order matches the date order.
  • Use automation to network apps. Constantly jumping back and forth between different applications throughout the day not only affects your productivity, but also increases the likelihood that information will be lost or too much of your data will be sealed off in certain applications. Tools like Zapier and IFTTT can help you network your favorite applications so that data can automatically flow between the individual applications.
  • Optimize the space on your desk. Identify the three to five items that you use most often and only keep these items within easy reach. Or make sure that your desk reflects our natural tendency towards linear processing: place “incoming items” (like your computer or phone) on the left and “outgoing items” (such as completed documents, stamps, binders) on the right .
  • Avoid paper. You can easily scan paper documents into Evernote using the camera function on your smartphone. To do this, tap the camera icon in the Evernote app and point the camera at the document to be scanned.
  • Make organization a habit. Take the time to organize like you would for a meeting or large event. Set aside ten minutes at the end of each day and set up a reminder to clean up your digital and physical workspace, or take an hour every Friday to focus on organization. It's easy to keep track of things with Evernote's GTD Weekly Review template.

get inspired

Steve Jobs once said (English): “Creativity just means connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty about not actually doing it, they just realized something. "

The following three steps will help you make those elusive connections and give your creativity a boost:

  • Train your brain in divergent thinking. In this way, you encourage spontaneous, free thinking that considers multiple solutions to a problem. One way to train this skill is in Synectic exercises. To begin with, you pick any two things, such as a lamp and a pack of tissues, and write down as many associations as you can imagine. Repeat this exercise every day with different objects.
  • Record all of your ideas. It's important to just keep track of everything so that you can go from linking two random objects to an inspired linking of two ideas that were previously unrelated. Start by creating an “Ideas” notebook in Evernote to record all of your ideas, and then schedule regular times to go through them all.
  • Bring the unexpected into play. The more diverse your experiences, the more likely it is that you are innovative. You can boost your creativity by reading a bio, starting a new hobby, listening to music, or talking to someone new. Save and annotate PDFs and other content in Evernote to capture your thoughts and reactions as you encounter the unexpected.

Stay open to possibilities

While it is important to focus, too much focus on one thing can lead to tunnel vision that isolates you from new ideas. As a result, your work can feel profane and uninspired after a while.

Here are four strategies for breaking the monotony so you can be more open to inspiration:

  • Invite new ones. People tend to be more inspired when they are open to new experiences (English). It's not just about getting away from the problem at hand, but also about moving towards something outside of the normal routine in order to clear your mind and make room for new ideas.
  • Take different perspectives. This is not about comparing yourself with others, but about looking for high-quality content in your own field of activity that approaches one thing from different perspectives. Save everything that brings you ideas for one of your projects to Evernote - regardless of whether you are sitting at your computer or holding a mobile device in your hand.
  • Practice without pressure. Developing your skills in relation to the desired goal is comparable to laying tracks for future inspiration. At the beginning of each work week, take a look at your calendar and plan at least 30 minutes of free time. That way, you get just such a sacred period of time in your week to develop your work-related skills.
  • When inspiration kicks in, receive it with open arms. If you ever fail to capture a fleeting insight, don't worry, it will happen to the best of us, too. To counter this, keep your tools for catching unexpected flashes of thought close at hand. Sync your Evernote account on all your devices and use favorites to have instant access to the notes where you are capturing your inspirations.

Record your ideas

Evernote founder Stepan Pachikov once said, “An interesting moment in life only lasts for a moment.” The challenge is to capture those moments - these brilliant ideas - so they can live on forever. So you need a strategy to capture them as soon as inspiration strikes.

Below are some suggestions on how to get ideas out of your head to put them on a note:

  • Use free writing to calm your doubts. The goal of free writing is simple: write without stopping. Set a time limit, bring your pen to the paper or your hands on the keyboard, and don't stop before the time is up. Create a special note in Evernote that will act as a journal or diary where you can save all the results of your free writing.
  • Dictate your ides. If you find it difficult to capture your creative ideas with the pen or keyboard, record an audio and explain the idea in natural language. Record an audio note right in Evernote and add comments later. You can also use your device's speech recognition to have your ideas transcribed automatically.
  • Create a mind map. When a new idea is still emerging, it's impossible to focus on the details.Instead, capture the spark of inspiration, for example in the form of a single word or picture, as a jump start for new ideas. Sketch your mind map with your finger or a stylus directly in Evernote on your smartphone or tablet.
  • Create space for collaboration. To get started, just create a notebook in Evernote and click the button to Shareto invite your colleagues to collaborate. The end result is a collaborative, multimedia presentation of the ideas of all those involved. Stores and annotates images and PDF files in Evernote, and uses the Web Clipper to capture inspiring web pages.

Train your adaptability

You can never know or control exactly what the next day will bring, but you can control how you deal with changes. Are you more likely to stumble and drown, or are you more likely to find solid ground and seize new opportunities? Your adaptability, in combination with the similar characteristics of resilience (English) and emotional intelligence (English), can make the pendulum swing in the desired direction.

Below are three steps you can take right away to become more adaptable and cope with even the most frightening changes:

  • Orientate yourself on your pole star. To become more adaptable, you need goals big enough to serve as the true north in your life, as well as a sufficient understanding of yourself to be able to determine where you are in relation to those goals. Ask yourself the following questions: What is my personal or professional purpose? What gives me the feeling of fulfillment as a person? Which aspects of me are so fundamental that external changes cannot affect them? Write down your answers and come back to them whenever you feel unsettled or aimless.
  • Expand your comfort zone. Fortunately, you don't have to choose between comfort and panic. There is a third zone in between (English), the “learning zone”, in which we become more adaptable. A general note book or a note full of suggestions (English) in Evernote can help you capture interesting thoughts, articles, and pictures to serve as an endless source of inspiration.
  • Learn from your mistakes (and successes). This approach may sound like a straightforward path to lower self-esteem at first, but keeping a log of your failures is actually a powerful tool for growth. Look carefully for the specific reasons why something didn't work out. Would you have needed better education or training? A better plan? More support from your colleagues? How can you better prepare for your next attempt? The bottom line is not that you screwed it up, but that you screwed up improve can.

Master self-discipline

Regardless of all the turmoil 2020 brought us, every new day is an opportunity to revise your life plan, realign your goal and try again. In addition to creating a plan for what you want to achieve, there is one crucial skill that you need to master: Self-discipline. When unexpected events occur (and they sure do), thanks to her you will have the strength to resist temptation and stay focused on your goals - no matter what life brings you.

Some of the tools you have already learned about on this journey are very versatile. Here are three tips for learning self-discipline that will help you stay strong during difficult times:

  • Record your goals and commit yourself. If you drive across the country without a map, you will end up somewhere, but it is very likely that it is not the place you were hoping for. It's the same with your goals: Without a plan, who knows where you will end up? Instead, create a note with a checklist in Evernote to create a plan of action for each goal. Use the Web Clipper to capture content from the web that will help you visualize the achievement of your goal.
  • Understand your strengths ... and weaknesses. Once you have a deeper understanding of the areas in which you are most productive and in which you may need a little support, you can play to your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Use the Evernote Daily Log Focus and Energy template to identify your most productive times and plan your day accordingly.
  • Follow, reflect, and improve your goals. It can be easy to get discouraged when things go wrong, but the very fact that you tried in the first place is a win. You have learned something important: namely, what Not is working. Use the Evernote Weekly Review template to use this knowledge to make changes where needed, and keep trying until you succeed.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that no matter how well you plan for the future, there will always be surprises. True success comes when you learn to deal with these unexpected changes and focus on the things you want to achieve. Sometimes it is enough to adjust your plans slightly; sometimes you have to rethink your entire definition of success. But with a clear understanding of the challenges you face and the determination to overcome them, you can still achieve your goals.

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