A course a month makes you a little smarter, sharper and wiser

All of us need improvement on a daily basis to be a better human. It also helps us in staying ahead in this competitive world. The most common suggestion you must have heard is to read a book. But at times we don’t have the luxury to read a book or if you are a listening learner, courses are a better choice.
 
Mona was browsing the net one afternoon. She stumbled upon a website and felt overwhelmed at the number of courses which she found interesting. “I want to do all these courses” thought Mona. She wished she had all the time in the world to do those courses. It was Monday morning and she was back to her routine life style. Six months passed. She came across the courses again and felt sad for not doing them till now. She cursed her busy schedule for not being able to do the courses. But something different happened in the next 3 months. She has finished 2 courses, one each a month.

What happened in this time period? What did she do differently now?
Many of us who are reading this article now are like Mona. We want to do a lot of courses and won’t find time. We need not feel disappointed for our time mismanagement. We can also do what Mona did. 
The following is the secret:
 Selection of course:
This looks like a very obvious thing but it is not. Choose a course which not only interests you but also helps you in application of it in your daily life or in your work place. This will serve as not only a motivation to stick to the course but also makes the learning stronger. When I started this challenge of doing at least one course a month, I started with a course named ‘Learning how to learn’. That was a key stone course because that course taught me how to learn.
Contents of the course:
Sometimes the titles might be misleading. Read carefully what the course offers. Go for the course only if matches your needs.
 Level of the course:
Choosing a course which is higher than your level scares you. I once took a course on regression when I was not even aware of the basics of statistics because of which I was not able to do the course for more than a week. In another instance, I took a course on painting, where they were teaching about colors. For a person who had already painted a lot of paintings, a class on colors sounded boring. But when I did a course on irrational behavior, the content was interesting and it did not require me to know high level technical stuff, hence I could complete the course. Similarly, for you to feel the flow and enjoy the course, it should be a little higher than your standard. Neither too high nor too low.
 Rating and Reviews of the course:
Before starting the course, read what others think of the course. Do not get carried away by the comments but be aware of it.
Duration of course:
Make a note of the number of hours the entire course takes. Make a plan based on the amount of free time you have per day. For example, it is a 28 hour course. Take the course one hour per day and take off on a few Sundays.

 Finding Time:

As we have seen in the above example, we need one hour a day to do the course. This does not necessarily mean you have to find one hour at a stretch from your daily schedule. Do you wait for a cab pick-up? Do you commute to your work place? Do you take small breaks between your work hours? That is the time you have to utilize. A ten minute here and there. That will add up to the time you require in the day. I have finished two courses on courser in those 10 minute breaks I take here and there.
The following are a few websites on which courses can be done:
I am also one among you. I have taken a challenge to do at least one course a month. I am on the verge of finishing two courses now. In the next articles, I will write the articles on summary and my learnings from those courses.
Happy learning!

How to form a Habit – Routines that stick

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Mona : Someone is late to the office today again.
Sona: I wanted to be on time. But I switched off the alarm and slept off.
Mona: The same story again huh ?
Sona: What can I do about it? I have been struggling so hard to wake up early. But I am just not able to do that.
Mona: I can empathize with you. Even I keep missing out on my workouts.
Sona: Is there no trick at all for making good habits?
Can you relate yourself to them? If yes, then this article is for you. In order to stick to a routine where you do the act subconsciously, you need to make it a habit. There is nothing called as habits that stick. If a routine is being done subconsciously over a period of time, it is already called a habit. Habits are the ones which are already stuck. You don’t need any special glue to stick them again. But how to form a habit in the first place ?
There are 3 R’s for a habit, according to Charles Duhigg, the author of Power of Habit.

REMINDER:

In order to start something, you need a reminder. You eat when you are hungry. Why do you do this? Because hunger acts as a reminder that it is time for you to eat. In a similar way, for every habit you want to make, find a reminder. There are 5 types of reminders.

TIME:

Habit Time as Reminder
Paint I paint on Tuesdays and Thursdays
Leave for office When the clock strikes 9, I will leave for office
Pay bills When it is 5th of the month, I pay all my bills

PEOPLE:

Habit People as Reminder
Ask about tablets Whenever I see my grandparents, I will ask them if they have taken their tablets
Smile Whenever I come across someone I know, I smile at them
Make conversations Whenever I come across my neighbours, I will make a conversation
Deep breathing Before I meet my boss, I will take deep breaths and go.

PLACE:

Habit Place as Reminder
Buy fruits Whenever I am in the supermarket, I will buy fruits
Self-talk Whenever I am in front of the mirror, I will do positive talk with myself
Read books Whenever I am commuting or standing in queues, I will read book
Drink water Whenever I am in the kitchen, I will drink water

EVENT:

Habit Event as Reminder
Write Whenever I open my laptop, I will write my article
Eat healthy As soon as I eat lunch, I eat fennel seeds which helps in digestion
Learn a new language As soon as I reach home, I spend 5 minutes on Duolingo

EMOTIONS:

Habit Emotions as Reminder
Journal Every time I feel an emotion, I will write down about it
Eat healthy Every time I feel craving, I eat healthy food
Make new hobby Every time I feel low, I will work on something new

ROUTINE:

Start the habit in the smallest way possible and then slowly increase it. If the routine is not the smallest amount into which you can break into, and it requires your will power to execute it, then you might not make it into a habit.
If you want to start reading a book, just open the book each day. The one paragraph a day and then probably a few pages a day. If you want to work-out, just wear shoes every day first. Then walk up to the gym centre. Then this does not feel much of a deal, then start working out.
Routine becomes a habit only when it is done in a sustainable way. I had a tough time making newspaper reading as a habit. But now I go to the newspaper vendor every day as a habit and not because I have to go get it. That is the power of habit and starting small.
To make the routine sustainable, you can start it as a 30-day challenge. A 30-day challenge never means that you have to do it for 30 days and leave it. It has to be done forever, but the 30-day challenge serves as an initial external motivation which has to eventually get converted to the subconscious routine. You can also refer to this article to see how to break habits into smaller action items.

REWARD:

For working so hard in the routine step, you need a reward for the routine to stay. Reward need not be treating yourself each time. It can something as small as praising yourself or putting a tick mark in your daily checklist. Or just feeling happy about the positive effects of the habit in your life. I have been using habit loop tracker application on the android device to track my habits. It acts as a reward system for me.
Go ahead and make a list of habits you want to make. And prioritize two of them for the first one month. You can choose two keystone habits for the first month.
Happy Habit Forming !

One day at a time !

Are you depressed? Does life seem to be very tough? Do you cry every day? Do you feel scared to think about the future? Don’t worry! Relax, you are not alone. There is a way out. There is a light at the end of this dark tunnel.
Many times in life you come across a phase when you don’t know what next. The future looks bleak. None of the past achievements seem to matter. You just feel like a loser. That is when you start living one day at a time.
When you look at the top of the mountain when you are at its foot, the mountain seems huge. Instead, if you just look at 3-degree angle and aim to climb only that, it is not that scary. Same is the case with life. Thinking about the future invokes negative emotions when you are already low. Hence, just think about the day at hand. You might say “Am I not losing out on my time of life if I am not planning for the future?”
Just spend some time on introspection. Write down a list of things which you enjoyed in the past. You can also write down your past dreams. Make a table like below:
Activity Tasks
Writer 300 words a day
Painter Paint for 15 minutes a day
Learn new language Learn 2 sentences a day
Play an instrument Spend 15 minutes a day
Now set the time for each of these activities. And just do them. Don’t worry about whether you are reaching the goal or not. Your task at hand for today is to just enjoy the task. Future is being taken care of by this today.
Happy enjoying your day!