How To Push Beyond Your Limits

Motivating yourself to push beyond your limits is challenging and often scary.

However, when we challenge ourselves, we can improve our work and overall life satisfaction.

Remember the inspiring words of Moana’s grandmother, ‘Sometimes the world seems against you, but the journey begins from within.’

Just like Moana pushed past the borders of her island, we, too, can break through our limits and embark on incredible adventures.

Here you’ll find some actionable tips to help you motivate yourself to work harder:

1. List your MITs

If you want to start your day on the right foot, start your day the night before!

Write a short list of the Most-Important-Things (MITs) to go through the next day.

These are the tasks that, if performed, will make your day.

Try to keep the list between three to five items, adding more than that will make it unattainable, and it will ultimately defeat its purpose.

To help you create your MITs list, you can take advantage of the concept behind the book The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.

The main idea in the book is that there’s ONE thing you can do that will make all the other things easier or unnecessary.

If you need help deciding by which MIT to start your day, read the next point to help you choose.

2. Eat your frogs first

If you leave the most difficult tasks for the end of the day, you’ll have ego depletion and will end up pushing the task for the next day, day after day, thus procrastinating.

What best than crossing off the most impactful task, which will probably be The ONE Thing that could render the other tasks easier or unnecessary?

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So, eat your frogs first!

Start with the most difficult thing on your list.

To do this, you must avoid things that will lead to you procrastinating, so avoid distractions at all costs.

3. Avoid distractions

Our brain can’t work on more than one thing at a time, so when we claim to “multitask,” we are actually switching between tasks.

It may take up to 23 minutes for our brains to fully recover the lost concentration after getting distracted.

These distractions could be coming from people interrupting you or coming from your devices in the form of popup notifications, sounds, or vibrations.

Part of the problem is that we feel we are being productive while multitasking, so we get a positive dopamine release as a reward, reinforcing the bad habit of multitasking.

Avoid distractions to stay engaged with your work.

It will help you be more effective and motivated.

You can let others get a hint by closing your door occasionally or using headphones while working.

Another way to maintain a laser focus is by working on a single task.

A good way to structure this is if you batch your tasks.

I’ll explain how in the next point.

4. Batch Tasks

Batching tasks means grouping similar tasks and working on them in batches.

This concept is not new, and it’s commonly used in operations management as an integral part of maximizing production.

Preparation (mise en place) is required whenever there is a task.

For instance, you set up a time, place, or event to start doing it.

By batching tasks by similarity, you utilize the set-up time for multiple purposes instead of having to set it up multiple times repeatedly, wasting valuable time and energy.

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The activity batching will greatly differ from job to job.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Batch email reading/writing: Instead of constantly opening your email client or email tab, dedicate one or two daily windows to check your emails. Usually, 1.5 hours after you’ve started your work day is a good time to run the first batch.
  • Batch reporting: If you have to write or read reports, do not do that as they come. Batch the whole process and allocate a part of you day to do it. In my case, I used to designate one day a week for this purpose.

In general, batching is something that can be tailored to specific jobs.

It doesn’t have to be an identical subject, topic, activity, etc.

But it has to share similarities (in skills and setup required).

Find what works best for you and schedule yourself.

Pomodoro (and other time-restricted techniques) are also great for task batching.

We’ll go through it in the next point.

5. Use the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is used for time management, and Francesco Cirillo developed it in the late 1980s.

It basically consists of creating Working Intervals of 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break, after which a new 25 minutes working interval would start.

Taking a longer, 15-min break after 4 Pomodoro intervals is recommended.

Studies have shown that we tend to lose focus and drop productivity if we sustain long periods of continuous work.

So it is important to take regular breaks and hopefully do some sort of physical activity like walking to increase concentration by supplying more blood to the brain and enhance our energy levels and work better.

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This time-restriction technique benefits from Parkinson’s Law (work expands to fill the time available for its completion), assigning short periods of time to push yourself to go through the tasks more effectively.

But just completing tasks more effectively isn’t enough to stay motivated.

This is something that can be tackled by finding some purpose behind these tasks.

In our next and final point, we’ll discuss just that.

6. Find purpose

In 1977, a study by psychologist Ellen Langer and her team revealed that people respond 30% more to requests when they are given a reason, even if the reason doesn’t make much sense.

A clear purpose of why we need to do certain things, even if we don’t like them, helps us get motivated to carry them out.

If you get assigned some work that seems irrelevant to you, try talking to your manager so he can help you connect the dots and see the big picture and how that work you’re about to do will be part of something greater.

By following these simple tips, you’ll be more motivated to work harder and better.

Are you ready to push beyond your limits?

Leaving your comfort zone behind and trying these new methods might seem scary.

However, growth and improvement are never easy.

Go ahead and give yourself a little push beyond your limits today.

Which technique or tip will you try first?

Let us know in the comment section below.

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