Welcome back to my series on Switching Career Paths. If you are new to the series, be sure to go back and read the first post You're Hired!. It's a quick introduction into the series and provides a little background information into myself and my journey to switch careers from the manufacturing industry to the tech world.
Human beings are capable of many great things. One of those is our ability to learn and grow throughout our entire lives. It is because of this trait that we have been able to advance our society from that of cave people making fire for the first time to a technological powerhouse of a planet, creating metaphorical fire every day with our creativity and innovation. Some of you might be wondering, "How come I have such a difficult time learning and growing myself as an individual?". Well, the reasoning behind that may be something as simple as you not having learned how to learn yet.
In my opinion, the greatest fallacy of the educational system, at least in the USA, is that they never teach you how to actually learn. They simply provide you with information and instruct you to memorize it for the next upcoming test. Once that test is completed though, you can most likely forget about it and move onto the next topic. While this is a useful method to cram your brain full of information and get a good grade, it is lackluster for long term gains in knowledge. Over my many years outside of school though, I have discovered numerous sources on the topic of learning and improving yourself. While many of these have been repetitive and/or lack substance of their own, there were a few methods that I found incredibly helpful and would like to share with you through a two part story in my Switching Career Paths series.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” -Calvin Coolidge
This quote is the key to learning and improving upon yourself. Let's take a deeper look at the contents of this quote. Right in the beginning, it says that there is nothing more important than persistence. Neither talent, genius, or education are more vital that persistence. There are numerous stories throughout our life where talented individuals have failed in their task, incredibly smart individuals never see their work completed or are not credited with it, and we've already discussed the issues with our current educational system. It then continues to state that persistence and determination have unlimited power. Only through the application of persistence are we able to achieve anything we set our mind to. Now that you understand the power of persistence, let's focus on how you set your mind to be persistent and focus on getting your task completed.
"If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one" -Russian Proverb
A very simple proverb, yet one that summarizes this section up perfectly. While persistence is of the utmost importance, focusing on too many things simultaneously will get you nowhere. This is where the one thing mindset comes into play. I recently read a book by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan titled The One Thing 1, which introduced me to the concept of focusing fully on the one thing that you can do today to achieve your goals. I would highly recommend this book to anyone out there who struggles to stay focused on their tasks and achieve great results. It's a fairly quick read and is packed full of information on narrowing down your focus to the most important goal, looking all the way out from your major life goal to the most important thing to do right now to achieve that goal.
Jay and Gary start off by breaking down numerous lies and misconceptions we have in our every day life and then helps you understand your values, purpose, priorities, and how to go about being productive towards those priorities. I don't want to give away all the secrets of this book though, as I truly believe it will be more helpful to you in the long run than a quick synopsis in a blog. By reading the book and giving a full-hearted effort towards living by its statement for a few weeks, you will begin to realize the power of its message and find yourself more focused on your goals and persistent towards achieving your dreams. So what are you waiting for? Head over to their website (linked in the sources below) and start learning more about The One Thing mindset or see if you can find their book in your local library. Trust me, it's worth the read and I will still be here waiting for you when you get back.😊
"It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials." -Bruce Lee
Now that you have a better understanding on the power of persistence and The One Thing mindset, let's dig a little deeper into how to better prioritize your tasks. First off, the idea that humans can effectively multitask is a myth. It is vital that you remove that term from your vocabulary when referring to tasks that you need to get done with a high quality of work. In fact, the term multitasking has really only been in existence since 1965 when IBM submitted a report talking about the capabilities of it's latest computer 2. The key point to remember though is that we are not computers. Our biology prevents us from truly being able to multitask. True, we are able to do two things simultaneously, such as walking and talking, but only after muscle memory has been created.
This requires a lot of repetition and training to the point that these tasks can be performed automatically without the thinking areas of the brain. Unfortunately though, we are mostly incapable of focusing on two different tasks at the same time. When trying to focus on different tasks simultaneously, our brain has to quickly switch back and forth between these tasks, which typically involves a cost to our performance. In 2003, a study 3 was published in the International Journal of Information Management, which found that the average individual looks at their emails every five minutes. After viewing their emails, it took them, on average, 64 seconds to get back to their prior task and resume work. That's 1 wasted minute out of every 6! In a typical 8 hour work day, you're looking at a total wasted time of 80 minutes, just from email checking alone. 🤯
So how do you go about beating this inefficiency, you might ask? Well, there are numerous methods that I employ to do so but the most important is one I discovered from Steve Glaveski, known as PCOATS 4. This acronym has nothing to do with the stylish winter wear known as pea coats, but has been invaluable to me when determining how to reduce my workload and prioritize on the important things.
Now that you have a better understanding of how I use PCOATs to help lighten my workload, prioritize on the right things, and start the day off right, it's your turn to see how you can take this mindset and apply it to your day.
So don't forget to press on and always remember, it's not about doing one thing but about focusing on the most important one thing at a time. If you enjoyed the post, be sure to follow me so that you don't miss the rest of my Switching Career Paths series, where I share some tips and insights into how I changed up my life for the better and how you can too! The links to my social media accounts can be found on my contact page. Please feel free to share any of your own experiences with switching up your career path, general questions and comments, or even other topics you would like me to write about. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!👋