The Mental Game: Master Your Training Time
Today's edition of The Mental Game takes a close look at how you manage one of your most valuable resources in your martial arts training: Time. It's the only thing you can never get more of once it's gone, making time the costliest aspect of any martial arts endeavor. And here you thought uniforms and tuition would be your biggest obstacles!
Enhance your calm dear reader, for not all is lost. I'm here to show a few easy tips that could be just what you need to free up some extra time to squeeze those classes in. Say hello to today's lesson:
Master Your Training Time
Continue reading to find out how you can manage and maximize your precious training time!
(thanks to Oliver Emberton via Quora)
The number one time-killer when it comes to accomplishing any worthy goal is distraction. Worse still, out brain has a funny way of being convinced that the most mundane, immediate goal (answering a phone, sending a text, etc.) is more important than remembering to allot that chunk of time later for some extra training. Sure, your brain may be happy and feel accomplished in replying to that email or organizing that sock drawer, but at the cost of achieving your ultimate goals. Stop being a slave to the pesky idiosyncrasies of your brain. Keep reading to find out how!
Learn the basic idea.
Most everything in your daily 'To-Do' list can fall in one of two categories: Important, and Urgent. The challenge is learning to re-work your brain's processes a little bit, taking it away from what it would like to work on (anything it feels is Urgent) and force it to work toward the, typically less Urgent, tasks in the Important category. I know. Waaay easier said than done. But let's try to break it down into some easier to manage tasks:
- First Step: Prioritize and Categorize As we just touched on, you need to start distinguishing between things that are Important and things that are Urgent. Your ultimate goals (training 'x' days per week, working out, following a diet regiment, etc) fall under the Important category. These are the things that your brain needs to focus on getting done. Unfortunately, your brain tends to focus on the 'more pressing' matters which it labels as Urgent. Things like answering that text message, replying to that email, or clearing that kitchen counter, are all distraction that will add up and consume time you could be using to accomplish your Important goals. Take some time to look again at the priorities you've set for yourself in the day. Then, ask yourself if any of them are more important than accomplishing what you really want.
- Eliminate the easy distractions. Nowadays it's ridiculously easy to become distracted. What with the barrage of texts, phone calls, emails, notifications, and television, it's a wonder we manage to find time to sit down to a meal at home (and let's face it, many of us don't even manage that). So start with these basic 'Urgent' distractions and go from there. Leave your phone at home when you go to class. Turn off your computer for the evening. DVR that TV show and set aside time later to watch it. What's a few delayed episodes of The Walking Dead compared to how you'll feel at your next promotion ceremony? If you want to accomplish the most meaningful goals in your life, you'll have to make some sacrifices. Start with the ones that have an 'Off' switch.
- Break your goals up into manageable chunks, then work towards accomplishing each one. Looking to squeeze in another class during the week? Start by figuring out how you can do this. Nothing is impossible, it just seems that way at first. If someone offered you a million dollars in cash to free up an extra hour or two each week, I bet you'd find a way to make it happen. Your ultimate goal must have a similar priority placed on it, otherwise your brain will look for any excuse to get out of it.
- Take steps to minimize your distractions. As suggested before, do whatever it takes to keep those 'Urgent' distractions away from you during your allotted training time. Put a phone on silent and out of view. Record a television show and know that you'll watch it later. Tell friends about your goals. This way they won't think you're a jerk when you don't answer their calls/texts. Also they should hopefully help you out by not tempting you with distractions on your training days.
- Apply your new mode of thinking to your martial arts lessons themselves. While any extra time devoted to your martial arts training should feel like an accomplishment (it is), you don't necessarily have to stop there. Martial arts aren't immune to a distracted mind. If you feel yourself repeating a particular move or kata rather than another, more important, lesson, you may want to take small break from the action. Ask yourself if what you're focusing on (or avoiding) is a vital piece of your greater plan and adjust accordingly.
Find ways to apply it to your training.
Like anything we learn, we don't really start to understand it until we've found a way to apply it in our own lives. The same holds true for learning to prioritize and maximize your time. Try the following tips to apply the above lessons in your martial arts training:
Repetition makes perfect!
As with everything, repetition is vital to success. Try making some small changes to your schedule or routine one week, then adjust. Repeat your new schedule the next week, and the next. You may have to be flexible at times. Nobody's life is that safe from disruption after all.
You should start to feel yourself finding a new rhythm to your routine after a couple of weeks. Keep chugging along and knocking out those small goals, knowing that each minor accomplishment is another step towards completing your ultimate goal.
Effective time management is one of the most valuable skills anyone can learn. A properly prioritized schedule can mean the difference between a fulfilling martial arts education and another uneventful year. I know you have a secret goal or two for the year that you would just love to achieve. You have the power to see them through. Take a few moments today and start making a list of some of the accomplishments you want to reach this year. Just don't forget to put your phone on silent while you do it.
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