How to Be More Productive

P18A9498Do you remember your most productive day? What helped you stay focused and achieve your goals? I am sure you have several amazing tricks of your own. However, let me share with you my struggles and ideas first.

10 days ago I declared my personal war with procrastination and self-indulgence. There are only 24 hours in a day. Each minute is a gift, each second is precious. How dare we waste the moments of our life that we’ll never get back? Each moment is lived only once. I will never be 39 years 4 months 22 days old again. Ever!

My last several months have been a brutal struggle with procrastination. One day is amazingly productive, yet another one is a complete disaster. It exhausted me, annoyed me and ignited a burning desire to conquer this beast. That’s why my natural feistiness inspired me to start this personal war and invite others to keep me accountable.

So, here are a few things that usually help me stay productive throughout the day. These are not new ideas, although I need to remind myself of their importance regularly.

1.  Momentum

I am sure you’ve heard this physics term used in the area of business, achieving goals and success. When you start working on a task and suddenly find yourself engrossed in it, forgetting about time, that’s your momentum. You should catch it like a wave and ride it as far as possible.

Sometimes I would start writing a blog, preparing a lesson, working on a course, and the world around me ceases to exist. The work flows easily and without distractions, ideas come fast, and the process is enjoyable. This is momentum. I always have to remind myself to take the most of it and not waste this precious moment of inspiration.

2.  Focus

My biggest challenge and most important goal these days is focus. Momentum definitely helps to stay focused, but it doesn’t come first, it’s the result of a focused mind. Eliminate distractions, stay on a task without switching to another one, let the ideas flow and let the momentum kick in.

However, in my life focus is more than just working without interruptions. There are so many passions I want to pursue, so many causes my heart aches for! At the same time, my business, work and ministry throw numerous responsibilities at me. As a result, it’s getting harder, but also more crucial to stay focused.

3.  Pressure

All people are different. Perhaps, for somebody the pressure of a deadline is stressful and overwhelming. For me, a chronicle procrastinator, it’s a safe boat. I set deadlines for myself if nobody does it for me, and then, it’s up to pressure to play the role of a motivator.

In conclusion, let’s look at all three points. What’s your favorite? Mine is number one – momentum. It’s the most enjoyable one!

What are your techniques and methods to stay productive? Please share in the comments and help me in my war with procrastination. You can keep me accountable following my Instagram account – natasha_baz.

To Sleep or Not to Sleep, That Is The Question

150513194606-01-better-sleep-exlarge-169It’s not really a question, whether we should sleep or not. A lot of research proves that sleep is extremely important for being able to function normally during the day. However, the biggest question for me is – how much and when.

Should I sleep 7-8 hours like Arianna Huffington and many others suggest? Or should I sleep 5-6 hours like many successful entrepreneurs claim they do? When should we go to bed and when is it better to wake up? There are so many controversial opinions, and all of them seem credible. How can we choose the right answer for us?

As a matter of fact, having read a lot of articles and books on productivity, I can say that everything is individualized. We all should experiment and find our own perfect magic number.

How much?

In fact, in the last two years I’ve been experimenting with sleep and got interesting results. It seems my perfect number is 6.15 – 6 hours, 15 minutes. Presumably, this is the amount of sleep that my body needs to feel rested and wake up energized. Several experiments showed that sleeping even a few minutes longer made me groggy and tired. However, there were cases when I slept 5 hours 15 minutes or 7 hours 15 minutes, and the result was also not bad.

When?

Another question arises – when should we go to bed and wake up? I think it depends on your schedule. Some people can go to bed early because they are home after 6. For others (like me) it’s impossible because we come home from work after 10. In the same way, it’s hard to state one perfect formula for getting up in the morning.

Another set of my experiments proved that going to bed before 12 am helps to sleep more efficiently. I wake up more rested than after going to bed at 2 am, even if the amount of sleep was less.

Conclusions

All things considered, we can make a conclusion – every person is unique. You should try to experiment and find your own formula of efficient sleep.

Share with us in the comments below what is the best time for you to go to bed and wake up. How much do you usually sleep? Is it easy for you to get out of bed?

How to Become a Marathoner

TUK_2301Have you ever wondered if running a marathon or at least a 10K is for you? I want to assure you – yes it is. If you think you can’t do it, I have good news for you, my friend. Anybody can do it with enough motivation and training.

Almost 6 years ago my friend encouraged me to run a marathon. “No way!”, I said to him then. Little did I know that one year later he would be meeting me at the finish line of my first marathon in rainy Venice.

So, what do you need to run your first marathon? I will share 5 most important points with you. In the same way, you can apply them to a half-marathon or any other race. As a matter of fact, it’s much wiser to start with an easier race than 26 miles. So, let’s dive in.

1. Motivation

If you’ve ever tried to accomplish anything without motivation, you know how hard it may be. You could force yourself, but it won’t last long. Eventually, you will say to yourself – enough, I’m done with this. Motivation is what keeps us going. It’s like fuel for a car or power for a computer.

Find your motivation. Would you like to lose weight and feel more confident about the way you look? Or maybe, you have been running for years, and now you feel like it’s time to take it to another level? Perhaps, you’re like me, and you need an upcoming race to motivate you to run every day. Whatever it is that drives you, use it for your benefit. Take advantage of it and let it motivate you to start preparing for your first marathon.

Strangely enough, but my decision to run that first marathon was motivated by the desire to show my boyfriend that I can. I was also desperately trying to connect with him and running was our common interest. Paradoxically, we broke up two days after the race, but I am still thankful to him for inspiring me to run a marathon. It was an incredible experience and honestly, it got me addicted. There’s nothing like the feeling of crossing the finish line and hearing the cheer of hundreds of people you don’t even know!!!

2. A race planned

Frankly speaking, I am not a very disciplined person. I always strive to be one, but it doesn’t come easy. So, getting myself out of bed and out of the apartment to go for a run is a constant struggle. There’s one huge motivation that helps me get into running clothes and get out of the door – a future marathon or a half-marathon.

My friend Debbie and I love traveling to different cities and countries to run races. It’s our way of seeing the world and experience new cultures. Moreover, it’s a great motivator for me – if we have a race scheduled, I know I have to train for it.

LGC_5132Therefore, after you got your motivation to become a marathoner, you need to plan a race. First of all, check if there’s one nearby. Probably, there’s a marathon or a half coming up in your own city. Otherwise, look through possibilities to travel within your country or even abroad. Believe me, it’s going to be a fascinating adventure for you and those you’ll be traveling with.

 3. Training for a race

As soon as you have a race scheduled, it’s time to start training for it. There are lots of different training plans for beginners. If you can’t find anything decent, message me, and I will send you the plan I was using for many years. It’s doable even for those who don’t like to run much, but would love to finish a marathon.

Training for a race is extremely important even if you don’t care about the result, but only hope to finish. Your legs and your whole body are most likely not used to such extreme challenge. You need to train your muscles, your core and your legs so that on the race day you can endure pain and fatigue.

Don’t try to run without preparation. You might be able to accomplish it, but the consequences will show themselves much later.

4. Clothes

When I first started running, I didn’t think much about clothes. I grabbed the first thing that looked like it was for fitness, put it on and went out. Later, when my milage started growing, I realised how crucial it was to wear the right shoes and the right clothes.

For instance, if you run in a cotton T-shirt or shorts made of natural fabric, you might have bloody wounds on your skin after 40-60 min of running. It turns out to avoid chafing you should run in clothes made of wicking material. It will absorb moisture and won’t rub your skin creating sores.

Similarly, you should be careful with what type of running shoes you’re wearing. A lot of people try minimalist shoes nowadays. I am a big fan of my 4 mm heel drop shoes – they are light, easy to run in and have helped me avoid injury for 5 years already. There’s so much to talk about when it comes to clothes and shoes. So, I might write a separate blog just about that. The story of my experiment with “barefoot” running is worth telling.

5. Food

When you’re preparing for a race, it’s very important to watch what you eat. First and foremost, fat, greasy food should be avoided. It’s bad for us even if we’re not going to run a marathon. Next, you need to make sure you have a balanced diet – protein, unsaturated fats, carbohydrates, necessary minerals and vitamins.

TUK_2108Also, when your race day is approaching, it’s important to train your body to eat the same food before the long run. In this case you will know what to expect when you have the same meal the evening before your marathon. Usually people try to eat carbs (pasta, not greasy pizza) the evening before and something light in the morning. A piece of white bread with jam or honey and a banana for breakfast have worked miracles for me.

Another thing to remember is fuelling during your marathon. If you’re going to run a 5K or a 10K, even a half-marathon, you might be ok without any food during the race. However, if you plan to run 26 miles (42 km), it’s important to have special energy gels or bars along with you. Don’t forget to try them during your training. Your body should be used to them and not surprise you with sudden cramps at the race.

Bringing it all together

In conclusion, running a marathon is an incredible adventure that is totally worth our efforts. When you cross the finish line, the feeling of relief, accomplishment and personal victory will be a great reward for everything that you have to endure.

Do You Have a Mentor?

I love discovering new interesting people who I can learn from. We all know how important it is to have a mentor if we want to grow personally constantly. As for me, I don’t have a real mentor even though all my friends teach me something. It’s a great honor and pleasure to learn from them since each one of my closest friends is an incredibly intelligent person.

I am proud to say that all my friends constantly feed my brain with ideas and help me grow although they are not really my mentors, they are my friends.

There are several people who I can call virtual mentors. Jeff Walker and Marie Forleo have been such people for me in the last few years. Their experience and wisdom helped me understand a lot about business. Their weekly and sometimes daily videos gave me a chance to learn from them on a regular basis.

Recently I’ve discovered several new people who started inspiring me even more: Michael Hyatt, Rory Vaden, Simon Sinek. All these successful entrepreneurs and fascinating personalities  have a message to convey and an experience to share. Why not use the opportunity that our online world gives us?

Who are your mentors? Is it somebody you know personally or virtually? Can you advice an interesting public figure who helped you grow personally and professionally?

 

Why I Decided to Become a Morning Person or How To Boost Your Productivity

ringing-alarm-clock-28496894People keep asking me why I would want to torture myself and get up early in the morning when I always was a night owl. Why would I want to change my natural way of existence and start doing something that doesn’t come that easy? I will tell you why!

I am not saying everybody should do it. A lot of people are satisfied with the way things are in their life. I wasn’t. At a certain point I realized there wasn’t enough time in my day and something had to change.

No, this is my biggest reason to become a morning person – NEED FOR CHANGE.

I always knew staying up till 2 am and sleeping till 9 or 10 wasn’t the best choice. I would wake up groggy, take too much time for psyching up before actually starting my work. However, I had justified it by calling myself a night owl and saying – that’s just how my body works. The truth is – I didn’t have a big enough reason and a need for change.

So, about 2 years ago I got a dream and with it came a reason. To make that dream come true I needed more hours in my working day. Where can I get them? – I asked myself. And the answer was easy – go to bed at 11 pm (those late hours had been spent aimlessly most of the time anyway) and wake up at 6 am. Immediately, I received 3 extra hours in the morning for reading, prayer, exercise and preparation for the working day. It made so much difference to start the day right. Productivity boost was incredible.

If you feel you don’t have enough time to get everything done; if you would like to change your life and achieve bigger goals; if you have an ambitious dream, but it seems unrealistic because your life is a mess, start waking up earlier. Get your life in order. Read, eat, sleep and exercise. And what’s more important – do it right.

 

 

Judge or Not Judge?

HW8_7804Why is it so hard not to judge people? Why do we have such an obsessive need to express our opinions even if nobody cares and nobody wants to hear them?

About a decade ago I used to think that being opinionated is cool. One of my closest friends called me opinionated, and I was almost proud of that. But times change, and it sounds almost like an insult now.

There are three facts that I want to say about judging others.

  1. We can’t help it.

Is it in our nature? I want to say – no, but unfortunately, I can’t. We were not created with this need to judge everybody. However, we were created with the free will to whether say what we think or keep silent. And our twisted human nature just can’t let us be silent. Our twisted mind can’t help it. Whether out loud or in our head, we start judging and spraying poison onto our relationships.

2. We even love it.

Recently, an old classic best-seller caught my attention, and I decided to finally read it. I am sure you’ve heard about it – it’s Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. He wrote this book in 1930s, and the lessons from it are still relevant. He talks a lot about the human nature and emphasizes that we’re all selfish. Each person spends 95% of the day thinking about him- or herself. Most of us love the sound of our own name and prefer talking about ourselves rather than listening to others.

So, to sum up, we love ourselves more than anything. We care about our needs, desires and opinions more than about anybody in the whole world. And sometimes it all turns into judgement of others. And then this judgement turns into gossiping. And we start savoring it, enjoying it, like it’s the most delectable dish we’ve ever eaten in our life.

3. We should stop it.

How can we stop it? Is it even possible? Maybe it’s hard to stop doing it completely, but we should at least try. And then try again. And after the next failure we will not give up, but try once more. And it will work. With God’s help, we can fight it and defeat it!

I know, we can’t do it alone, but we can help each other. If you hear me being judgmental, say it directly to my face. Especially when I judge those who judge, because that’s my problem. I judge judgmental people and can’t help it. It poisons my mood and darkens my days. Help me fight it and join this battle together with me!

3 Best Ways To Start Thinking In A Foreign Language

Are you currently learning any foreign language? Do you think in that language or still translate every sentence in your head?

I have been an English learner for more than 30 years and an English teacher for more than 17 years. At first, of course, it was impossible to think in English. However, the more time I spent learning it, the easier it became to make English my second native language. Now I think mostly in English, and my dreams are often in English too.

So, I do believe it’s possible to start thinking in a foreign language if your goal is to master it and not just learn a few phrases for traveling. Here are a few ways to do that:

1. Every day spend at least 30 min doing something in your target language.

You may do your hometask, read or write something, watch a movie or communicate with a native speaker. I am saying “30 min”, but the main thing here is consistency. The more time you spend doing something in your target language, the faster you will master it. Start small and increase the time as you go.

2. Whenever you put your thoughts on paper, do it in your target language.

If you like journaling, do it in a language that you’re learning. If you like to make plans, write down your goals, do it in your target language. You will be sending signals to your brain saying that this is the language you want to start thinking in.

3. Whenever you are trying to express your thoughts, choose the easiest words and structures.

Don’t take me wrong, I think to say that you’ve mastered the language, means you can use complex structures and advanced vocabulary. Although, don’t forget a very important universal rule, my friends: baby-steps! You can achieve a lot if you take small steps but regularly and consistently. I’ve seen it so often when people start translating complicated sentences from their native language and get stuck because they don’t have enough vocabulary and don’t know all grammar structures. Give yourself a break! Choose simple words that come to your mind for now. There will be times after you have read tons of books in your target language when your speech will become sophisticated and you will be able to impress your audience!

These are the main rules. I will continue this topic later and will be adding more ideas and methods for you. We could definitely add the importance of reading and watching movies in your target language, but it seems too obvious. So, let’s just stop at these three for now. Baby-steps :)! Enjoy!