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Daily Ritual – Part 2: What is it that makes you do your Best Work?

Some days are great! Others are terrible! And sometimes you just aren’t so sure what they are???
I used to always get annoyed at myself when I would under perform in some way in my personal life and wonder why I wasn’t able to do my best work. Or perhaps I wasn’t being such a good friend or why I wasn’t able to make much money that week.
So I started trying to capture positive moments and successes when I would have them and write them down to find the process and common threads so I could do them again…in exactly the same way.
I noticed then that if I did this with tasks or activities that were somewhat working I could take them apart and analyze each element to see what was working and why and what things I just hadn’t been able to focus on yet to improve them.
The more I could delve into my thoughts and mental states, the conditions in the environment around me and my behavior interacting with the two, the more I could be in control of the results I was getting.
Like a computer program with thousands of lines of code, the better you can get your own personal code and the smoother it runs the less opportunity you have for hang ups, freezes and break downs…in real life.
Firstly, start with what you know you do well.
  1. Pick something that you do well.
  2. Write down ten things that you do within that activity.
  3. If you can’t find ten, look into the details of it. What else is included?
  4. If you find something that you do only some of the time, write down a condition statement of it. Just like point 3 and 4 here.
Condition statement = If (trigger/situation), then I will (thing to be done/verb)
For me, it’s driving a truck:
  1. Find the vehicle in the yard, based on what my dispatcher has told me.
  2. Inspect the outside of the truck for damage.
  3. Inspect the engine, air system and mechanics.
  4. Turn on vehicle to let the air build up in the
  5. Fill out my electronic log book.
  6. If there is anything wrong with the truck, report it through my electronic logbook.
  7. If I am picking up a load, ensure I have the correct load restraint equipment.
  8. If the vehicle is already loaded, ensure I have the correct paperwork to get signed when I deliver it.
  9. Enter the destination in my GPS.
  10. If everything is confirmed, leave the yard toward destination.
This particular one is rather easy for me as it is something that I have done so often in the past.
In reality my “program list” for starting a truck run is more like 30-50 steps and not just ten but you get the idea.
But everything has limitations and flaws, if I was making a mistake with something or I wanted to improve what I was doing, I could develop the list further going into more detail. Like the time when the police pulled me over, checked my truck and noticed a few problems with it. Realizing I wasn’t as thorough with my inspections as I should have been, I went back to my programs and wrote down more details, creating more things to do, more conditions, and “lines of code”.
What about for the things you want to do better?
Let’s say some days you have great success doing your study or homework but then other days you just seem out of flow, can’t get in the mood, have low energy. What you need to do is think back to the time you were successful and write down what you did.
  1. Get all study books and writing tools out of my bag and onto desk with my laptop.
  2. Set mood with temperature, lighting and music to create comfort and block out distractions.
  3. Assess study plan/goals for the weeks to work out which goals or tasks can be achieved in the next hour/time set aside for study.
  4. Action task.
  5. Review for comprehension/edit.
  6. Take a short break (~5 mins) to get a glass of water and stretch.
  7. Assess study plan for next goal/action step.
  8. Etc etc…
So this one above is the simple answer…it’s the good day when things come to you easy. But when things aren’t going as per the plan and you need to make some tweaks, write down some conditional “if this then this” statements. So write what you would like to experience (energy such as inspired vs calm/grounded, state, emotions etc) and write some condition statements to get you closer.
I want to be awake, alert, energized and inspired to do my study.
  1. If I have low energy or am uninspired, then I will have a small meal/nap/walk around the block/listen to music/watch ONE episode of my favorite show. (Remember to be specific and hold yourself to it!)
  2. If I have other things on my mind then I will write them down as a list to take care of later. Or will take care of them immediately, to ease my mind, if they are simple to do so.
  3. Get all study books and writing tools out of my bag and onto desk with my laptop.
  4. Set mood with temperature, lighting and music to create comfort and block out distractions.
  5. Assess study plan/goals for the weeks to work out which goals or tasks can be achieved in the next hour/time set aside for study.
  6. Action task.
  7. If I notice my mind wandering off I will breathe and refocus on my task, rereading goals, question, intended outcomes.
  8. If this happens a third time in XX minutes I will stretch/change my music/sing or dance for one song/have a bite/drink some water to refocus and re-energize.
  9. Review for comprehension/edit.
  10. Take a short break (~5 mins) to get a glass of water and stretch.
  11. Assess study plan for next goal/action step.
  12. Etc etc…
Systems are what will save you so you don’t have to focus on regular things all the time. The more you can automate or pass things off to your subconscious the better!
Can this be monotonous to write all this out? Sure.  Is it worth it? You bet!!
Think of it like a gym for your subconscious, your mind and your ability to focus.
For me I love observing and analyzing myself to tweak my behaviors and awareness allowing me to get more out of life.
I’m close to having 100 of these by now! I have them for everything from preparing for social situations and work to getting the most out of a training session and writing blogs.
I’d love to hear how you went with it! Did it work for you? Are you confused? Try it and send through what you have and I’ll take a look at it for you! “Get Me” and Write to Me.

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