One of the most important lessons one can learn in life is to learn how they can manage their lives better.
When you know how to manage your life better, you will be more effective, you can develop productive habits that get you what you want, you will have better health and energy, you will be able to accomplish more and able to make better decisions to live a better life.
If you are struggling to make ends meet or are having difficult times in your life, you need to take a good look at your life right now and learn to manage it properly.
Regardless of whether it is your career, business, finances, relationships, family, health, fitness, friends, etc, you must learn to handle and manage your life in order to make progress and move forward to living the outcomes that you desire.
So how can you do that? Here are 7 keys how you can manage your life. Use these 7 keys to manage and build the life that you desire.
1. Automate Your Important Habits
Your habits will determine your life, and there is no doubt about this. The problem is that most people allow bad habits to limit and stop them from living a great life rather than using habits to build and serve them better.
Almost everything that we do each day is habitual. From the moment you open your eyes in the morning, how you brush your teeth, how you eat your breakfast, to how you get back to sleep at night, these activities are habitual.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.”
The above is one of my favorite quotes because it sums up our lives well. If you want to do something excellence, you must learn to manage and build productive habits.
For example, if you want to build a successful blog and earn passive income from it, one of the most important tasks you need to do is to make sure you publish new and quality content on it regularly.
The problem is that you are not going to see the result quickly. It may take months or even years before you can see some solid result.
This is why most people fail to build a successful blog because they don’t have the determination and motivation to blog and write something new on a regular basis.
And this is what makes habits automation important. Imagine writing articles and publishing new content have become parts of your habits and you do it every day with or without motivation.
No matter whether it rains or snow outside, you will just write content and publish to your blog. Guess what will happen after a couple of months or years down the road?
Eventually, your blog will get noticed; people will visit because your blog provides great info that they are looking for; and finally, you can enjoy the reward from your hard work.
If you cannot relate with this example, think about other good habits such as drinking a full glass of water upon waking each morning, exercising for at least 30 minutes every day, or reading two books every month.
How do you think these habits will change your life? This is why habits are important when it comes to managing your life.
Imagine if your goal is to save $30,000 to travel to Europe for a month and you have automated your habits of saving and budgeting, do you think this goal is going to be achievable? Of course, it is just a matter of time.
This is why habits are extremely important in determining your life. The results you get in your life right now is mainly because of your habits.
Oh, I forgot to mention, you can also learn how to build and automate your income so that you don’t have to worry about your income and this free up your time to do something else that is more meaningful and exciting in your life.
2. Manage Your Energy
If you want to manage your life, you must learn to manage your energy. I used to think that I have all the energy in the world and I can stay up late and work long hours without feeling tired.
Now, as my age grows, I truly find that I have less energy and I really need to learn how to manage it before all kinds of illnesses come to find me.
“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”
– Bruce Lee
Your life in this world is your time. How you spend your time is how you spend your life.
Thus, it is crucial to learn how to manage your time. And in order to manage your time, you need to manage your energy.
Without energy, your time is as good as useless. Imagine going through a day feeling tired, exhausted, and sleepy, do you think you are able to enjoy the time/life to the fullest?
Not at all. And when it comes to being productive and get more things done, the first thing most people will think about is to sleep less and spend more time into doing the work.
This is not going to work in the long run because you are exchanging your energy for time. Eventually, your energy will run out. You will suffer from burnout or fall sick because you are trying to use too much of your energy.
If you don’t believe me, try to go on without sleep for three days, you will become a zombie and act like a drunken person. Your productivity will go down, you will become less effective, and you can’t even think straight.
And when you are not performing at your peak state, how are you going to produce outstanding work in life? How are you going to enjoy life to the maximum when you don’t have the energy?
I understand that there are successful entrepreneurs who stay up late and burn the midnight oil and work overnight. I believe that these not the best examples or models for us.
Here are some additional resources you can learn how better manage your energy:
- Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time – Harvard Business Review
- 7 Techniques How To Manage Your Energy For A Maximum Productive Workday – StunningMotivation.com
- Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time – LifeHack.org
3. Apply The 80/20 Rule
You may have heard about the Pareto 80/20 Principle, but have you applied it to your life?
Says easy, does hard. A lot of people understand that they should focus on the important work or the work that will give them the most result, but unfortunately, most of them never do anything about it. They just learn but never apply.
If you want to better manage your life, you must learn this rule. It is one of the most powerful principles that can change your life forever.
Pareto first came up with this mathematical principle when he studied the wealth distribution. He discovered that 20% of the people actually produced and possessed 80% of the wealth in the world.
Of course, this principle works in almost every area of life as well. For instance:
- 20% of your customers are responsible for 80% of your revenue.
- 20% of what you do daily will account for 80% of the results you get.
- 20% of your marketing effort will contribute 80% of your business growth.
Therefore, the key is obvious, focus on the 20% and try to eliminate or reduce the 80% of the work.
You want to focus and get the most result-yielding job done and not the other way round.
If you think that you are too busy and simply have not enough time to use each day, you are being ineffective. You focus too much on doing the less important work than the important ones that will generate you the most result.
Tim Ferris, the author of the best-selling book, The 4-Hour Workweek says it well in his book:
“Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing, and is far more unpleasant. Being selective – doing less – is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest.”
Warren Buffett, one of the best investors in the world understands this principle, and he chooses to apply it to his goals. He uses the elimination technique to ignore or reject all other less important goals, and only focuses on the important few.
You can read about it in my previous post, How to Stay Focused on Your Goals.
Once you understand this principle, you must apply it to every area of your life. Constantly ask and check with yourself if you are working on the important work that gives you the most result, or are you doing whatever comes to you that makes busy as ever?
Remember, managing your life requires effectiveness. And effectiveness starts with doing things that truly matter in your life, and not about doing everything.
4. Reviewing Your Life
When was the last time you review your life? The year, 2017 has just passed, did you review on what went wrong, what went right, what have you learned from it, and how are you going to do differently this year?
Reviewing your life is one of the most important keys to living the successful life that you desire.
I believe that nobody wants to go through 2018 exactly the same as their 2017. People want to improve and do better each year, nobody wants to stay the same and stagnant.
If you are not growing, you are dying.
Water by itself is not poisonous. If you let the water be stagnant for years, even the once drinkable water can become poisonous.
The same goes for you and your life. You must review your years, quarters, months, and weeks, and even days.
Steve Jobs was famous for asking himself a question each morning when he looked into the mirror. This is the question he asked himself every single day:
“If today were the last day of your life, would you want to be doing what you’re doing?”
And he said that whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, he knows that he needs to change something.
This is how he adjusted himself to live a directional life. We should all learn how to review our lives like Jobs did.
Life consists of many choices, decisions, and actions that we do each and every single day. And the only way to find out if we are going to live the kind of life we desire or if we are going to achieve our goals is to review what we have done in the past.
Now, you don’t have to wait until 2018 is over only to do a review, and you don’t have to do this every single day either. But I suggest you do this either on a weekly or monthly basis.
By the end of each week or month, review what you have done. You can simply ask yourself these few questions and then reflect:
- What went wrong this week/month?
- What went right this week/month?
- What have I learned this week/month?
- How can I do differently to improve for the coming week/month?
And if you want to make it even more powerful, choose to write down your answer.
You should have a journal or a notebook to write down your ideas or your schedules and goals, right? Use that journal or the diary and then write down the reviews of your life.
You may not see the impact on your life in the beginning, but eventually, you can sense the difference because you are trying to improve and do something different throughout each session of your life.
You will somehow grow and become more effective; you will make a decision and act according to your goals; and more importantly, you are able to take charge of your life and live with your own definition.
5. Work in Chunks
When it comes to making each day count, you need to work in chunks. The reason is simple, you want to prevent burnout and to be able to perform at your peak as often as possible.
If you are a blogger or a writer, try to write for 24 hours and see what will happen. Most likely, you will never be able to focus right after a couple of hours into the writing
This is because we are human beings. We’re designed to work in chunks and not like a machine that can operate 24/7.
We use our willpower and energy when we do everything in life including sleep, talk, think, work, sit, and everything else.
Due to the fact that we’re not machines, we need to take rests and stop from time to time.
The best way to handle this is to use the Pomodoro Technique where you work on a short chunk of time, then take a short rest, and then work again on the task.
This gives you time to breathe and rest so that you can maintain your willpower and productivity.
Most sports like tennis, football, basketball, etc, come with a stop and rest time. This is to allow the players to take rests and recharge a little so that they can perform at their best to compete.
As what we have discussed above, we need to maintain and manage our energy in order to perform better. Life is not a sprint my friend, it is a marathon, a long-run where you need to take rest in order to go farther.
6. Forget Work-Life Balance
Yes, forget about work-life balance. In my opinion, the work-life balance equation can never be achieved. And if you want to manage your life to live a great life, there is no way you can achieve this equation and make it a balance.
Read this article from James Clear. He talks about the 4 burners of life and why living the work-life balance can be a great disadvantage for everyone.
The 4 burners of life are health, family, work, and friends. James writes that these are the four major areas of life that we tend to spend our time in. When you fire up all four burners together, all the burners cannot reach their maximum potential and only able to produce minimum heat or fire.
This is just like saying if you spend your time in a balanced manner in all four areas, you will never reach your potential in any of them.
Hence, rather than splitting your time and energy into all four burners, choose to focus on one or two of them.
And luckily, life is seasonal. When you are young and at your 20’s, most probably you will spend most of your time in school and with your friends. When you are at your 30’s to 40’s, highly likely, you will spend your time and energy on work and build your career. And when you are above 50’s, most likely, you will spend most of your time with your family.
As you can see, life is seasonal and you spend your time and energy according to your age.
And if you are trying to hit the work-life balance and try to spend all your time on all of the four areas, you will never shine in any of them.
This is why you should ignore the work-life balance equation.
Instead, choose to focus, commit, and work as hard as possible to achieve your goals throughout the seasons of life. And then create a system for automation.
For example, when you first step into your career, be as committed and worked as hard to grow your career or business. When you become successful, you need to build a system for automation. You can either outsource through hiring people to do the work or create a system or software that runs on its own.
For the majority, they are going to spend most of their time working. And since you are going to be working anyway, work hard and use your creativity to build an automated system to generate passive income for you so that you can free up your work time and puts it on other areas of your life.
There is no way you can hire or outsource someone else to spend time with your family. Hence, the only way you can build a system is at your work.
I like how James ended the article by saying, “Nobody likes being told they can’t have it all, but everyone has constraints on their time and energy. Every choice has a cost. Which burners have you cut off?”
It’s your choice now to make a decision about how you want to live your life.
7. Decision Making
Finally, there is no way you can manage your life without learning how to manage the decisions you have made.
No matter where you are in your life right now, it is due to the past and previous decisions you have made up to this point.
If you are living in poverty and are worrying about having not enough money to pay the bills or if you are deeply in credit card debt, it is because of your poor decision making that leads you here.
If you are living a great life, having accomplished all your goals, living your dreams and enjoying your life each day, it is due to your own decisions as well.
Life is a matter of choices and every choice you make makes you. When you make the wrong decision, you will end up getting to the wrong place.
There are two vital keys you need to remember when it comes to making a decision.
1) The younger you are, the more impactful your decisions.
What is more important is that the choices you make or didn’t make will impact your life the most the younger you are.
You can make a decision to save 10% of your income each month when you are at age 20, the impact is bigger when you reach age 60. However, when you do the same and save 10% of your income from age 50, the impact is less significant when you get to 60.
This is just like the projection of a rocket launching from Earth to the Moon. If the rocket launches with just 1 degree deviation from its course, it can never ever reach the Moon. However, if the rocket projectile deviates 1 degree when it almost reaches the surface of the Moon, the difference will be small. It can still land on the Moon, just maybe a little further from its destination.
Takeaway: Make more positive and productive choices and decisions when you are young. Dare to take risks and go for your dreams. The impact will be great.
2) Making the decision can greatly limit your life, and vice versa.
When you see your friend buys a new car and you do the same because you want to “prove” to them that you can do it as well. Little did you know that the monthly installment is more than what you can handle and you have to work like a slave to pay the installment.
Guess what, your life will be greatly limited by the financial constraint created by your decision to buy the car. When someone presented you an opportunity, you can’t take the opportunity because of your car loan. It can impact your life a lot.
Here’s another example. When you spend lavishly without thinking twice about your credit card, you are using your future’s money. And if the amount snowballs to a large sum, you put yourself in the rat race. Your life becomes limited due to the debt.
Of course, the opposite can happen too. Imagine if you use your savings to invest in a property rather than spending the money on something that you don’t really need, eventually, the investment will pay off and you earn your first pot of gold.
And suddenly, opportunities are everywhere and you feel that life is limitless and full of possibilities rather than feeling limited by your debt that is dragging you down.
Can you see the power of decision making and how it can significantly impact your life right now?
Takeaway: Before you make a big decision and take the leap of faith, envision how the decision can impact your life in the future. If it is a negative impact, you may want to think twice before you make the decision. If the impact is positive and constructive, do I need to say more? Just go for it.
Learning how to manage your life is a big subject. It cannot be explained with a short article or even a full book because life is like a box of chocolates, you can never expect what you will be getting.
These 7 keys above are just some pointers to help you and guide you while going through your life. So have fun and enjoy what life has to offer. There’s more to it than meets the eye.