The Einstein Window

The Einstein Window: The Key to Time Management

A huge part of time management is knowing what to work on and when. Your productivity can be seriously hampered if you do not properly organise your time. When you are going to work on what task. Having a clearer picture of this is key whether it is to maximise your hobby potential, or to ensure you meet that crucial deadline at work. Think about the issues you might face at work or when otherwise trying to organise your time. What challenges do you face? I can tell you that there is a period of the day when you will get your best work done and that is the Einstein Window.

What is the Einstein Window?

The Einstein Window is the time each and every day when you have a mental peak. Work might feel almost fun as you manage to complete tasks with each and push onwards to the next one. It is the time of day you feel capable and productive as your power through your work and those problems you face seem more like fun puzzles waiting for you to solve them.

If you are not sure of what I am talking about, try to think back to your last day at work. Think about how productive you were throughout the day. You are not at the same level for the whole day. Consider when you were the most productive and how that felt.

The mental peak of the Einstein Window normally lasts two to four hours. It can happen at widely different times for different people and can vary based on your lifestyle and diet too. Luckily, where we spend so much time at work it is likely to fall whilst we are there, enabling us to capitalise on its positive effects.

For me, it starts around the middle of the morning. I feel incredibly motivated and I can get through tasks with ease. I think for most people it would probably be during the first few hours of your work when you are better rested and not worn down by any monotonous tasks. Take a few minutes to identify when your Einstein Window is.

The Einstein Window

Protecting Your Einstein Window

Once you know when your Einstein Window happens, you need to learn to protect it. This is the period of the day you have the capacity to get the most done and you do not want it to be hijacked by outside forces. You want to be able to effectively use your entire window.

The process of protecting your Einstein Window begins with occasionally saying no. You need to prevent interruptions from happening to your work by anyone at any time during your window. I’m sure you can probably think of a few times someone has asked you to do something whilst you have been deep into other work. Moving on to help that person with their problem makes you lose focus and time for your own tasks. Some of you might even be able to think of an occasion when you have had person after person requesting your help, eating up all of the time you had to work on a particular task yourself.

When you agree to help your colleague, that is when the interruption happens. If you can, I would recommend politely telling your colleague that you are unable to help at the moment but will come back to them later. Make a note to go back to them at a more convenient time for yourself, and then continue with the task at hand.

It is important not to come across as unhelpful. That is not the vibe you are going for! So be sure to follow up with your colleague when you can and not to forget about them. They will appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to assist them, as long as you do!

If you work in an office you will not be surprised when I tell you that they seem to be designed to maximise interruptions! Working in clusters seems to promote talking over computers and desks at each other. This can make it difficult to get your work done and make the most of your Einstein Window. You need to be able to focus without getting distracted by colleagues, and the best way to do this is to leave the office. Or, at least, your normal office space.

Maybe there is a breakout room, or unused meeting room, that you can make use of. Maybe you have the option to work at home. If you have a particularly important task to get down during your window, I would recommend trying to remove yourself from any situations that might distract you too much.

Collaboration and creativity are valuable to teams and businesses, which is why offices exist in the way they do. It is important to know when to make use of those resources and when to back away to get important work done. This is especially true during your Einstein Window.

The Einstein Window

Distractions we create

Take a moment to think about all of the distractions that you might create yourself. Primarily, I am talking about your mobile phone. Here we have a device which is constantly connected and going off all of the time.

I am sure that some of us are very good with our phones and do not keep them on our immediate person whilst at work. In some cases, however, you might need to keep it on you so you can be reached on it. This is particularly true for the self-employed and freelancers, who rely on their phone to generate work!

Even if you do need to have your phone on your person and not silenced, it is worth thinking about what distractions you are willing to allow during your Einstein Window. I would certainly recommend either removing or temporarily blocking access to social media apps, and other apps you might waste your time on. Not only will this significantly cut down on the number of notifications you receive, but you also will not be able to waste any time scrolling through your feeds. Most modern phones have a function built in that you can use to restrict access. I promise you the world will not end if you switch off from your phone for a couple of hours.

Mobile phones are not the only distraction that we make for ourselves though. Self-sabotage might also come in other ways, such as booking meetings too close together. You need to allow yourself either a decent amount of time between meetings to effectively complete tasks, or book them almost back-to-back as not to waste time between them.

Whatever you do, try your best to remove any distractions during your Einstein Window to reap the best results.

Now you have identified your Einstein Window, it is time to go out there and make use of it. Try organising yourself so you have tasks to do during your next window and see how you do. I’m confident you will be very pleased with the results, particularly if you are normally prone to distractions or moving from task to task without resolving them.

Have you heard about the Einstein Window before, or does it sound familiar? What time do you have your window and what do you do to make the most of it? Let me know in the comments below!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing
How to ensure you stay positive during trying times

How to ensure you stay positive during trying times

The world has become a very different place in a matter of weeks and months. Whilst some continue on with their normal lives, many more seek shelter from the rampant virus spreading over the globe. There are shortages in shops, lockdowns, and more fake information then you can shake a reasonably large stick at. The way people react to the Coronavirus will change the way society works going forward, as will the response and survivability of businesses large and small. With everything going on, you would be forgiven for being a bit nervous. It’s important to remember that this will not last forever, and here I want to outline some points and tips to help ensure you stay positive during these trying times.

How to ensure you stay positive during trying times

Why being positive matters

We all have those times where we have tried to do something a number of times, and will still again without hesitation. Every time we fail, we improve our methods slightly and try again. Things will work out this time, we tell ourselves.

Positivity is not about taking no notice of the bad situations and just letting them happen. It is about staying focused on the good in any situation.

I consider myself to be a very positive and optimistic person. But this does not mean that I do not know my fair share of failures and defeats. Throughout my life, I have held on to this sense of optimism and it always convinces me (after an appropriate amount of time pouting) that the future is brighter than it seems at this current time and things will work out ok.

We all have this to a certain degree because if we didn’t we would just stop functioning altogether! We would sit down and cry and be sad all of the time. The thing about being positive that stops this from happening is that we go out and try to overcome the barriers we are faced with to improve our situation.

The more positive we are the more we will seek to improve things for ourselves and the more times we will try. We can only pursue our goals if we stay optimistic about the possibility of reaching them. Instead of shutting down when things aren’t going our way, we need to regroup and focus on how we can make the best of a bad situation. Disappointment and sadness are normal emotions, but they shouldn’t control your actions. Staying positive means they won’t.

How to ensure you stay positive during trying times

The acceptance of difficulty

To suggest life is always blissful and accommodating to what we want would be an outright lie. Life can be difficult and it can be a struggle. It is important to recognise the hardships that can face us to make us more resilient to them.

Spiritual teachings, particularly those of an Eastern origin, lean heavily on the idea of being at peace with the bad things that happen to us, the suffering. Even in a more westernised environment, these teachings have merit. In particular, Buddhist teachings state (in simple terms) that acceptance of suffering is the only way to know true happiness and mindfulness.

We can learn a lot from the Buddhist approach here. There is a tip for use in meditation that when your mind starts to wander, you do not punish yourself for making this misstep. Instead, you acknowledge the thought, send it on its way, and continue with your meditation. The same is true of when distress strikes us. We must acknowledge the bad feelings, send them on their way, and return to happier thoughts.

I should add, with some haste, that this does not mean we simply ignore the bad things happening to us. Indeed, we should strive to provide a solution to such matters, if possible, as soon as we can. But our feelings about the situation should be reframed from one of despair and suffering to one of hope and consolidation. Reframing negative feelings is a key skill you should learn. We will talk about this more in the tips section.

The benefits of positivity

The benefits of staying positive are truly numerous. It can improve your life in a myriad of ways. Let’s highlight some of those benefits here, just so you know I’m not talking complete trash!

  1. Less Stress – one of the biggest motivating factors that should entice you to be positive is that it will reduce your stress levels. We all have the one friend who is constantly happy and seems not to let anything get them down. Be that friend, and you too will notice a reduction in your stress by simply being positive. Your ability to deal with stress will skyrocket!
  2. Longer Life – There have been many scientific studies that show positive people live longer. Positive people tend to cope better with illnesses and have longer and happier lives than pessimists. This is partly due to the aforementioned reduction in stress, which is a huge detriment to health and lifespan. Being positive can also help you feel better for longer, giving you the best outlook on life.
  3. Improve your Health – Tied to the previous point, your health is proven to improve the longer you maintain a positive attitude! Long term studies show the being an optimist means you will have better health than pessimists as you progress through your life. Good health is certainly a great reason to adopt a positive approach to your life!
  4. Smarter, but not Harder, Work – Staying positive can help you work smarter, but that doesn’t mean it has to be harder. Studies have shown that positive people perform better in work environments than negative people because a positive work environment fosters better performance. This is true not just in the workplace, but anywhere! Schools, exercise classes, and performance troupes!
  5. Greater Resilience – A key benefit to staying positive is a boost to your resilience. Dealing with difficulties becomes easier with the determination and strength you can derive from your positivity. Positive people are able to focus on what they can do to better the situation when faced with hardships. Overcoming these difficulties through positivity is really what this whole post is about!

There are many more benefits to being positive than just these, but I would say these are some of the keys ones. Together, they will improve your overall wellbeing and give you a happier, longer life. Who doesn’t want that?

Tips to become and remain positive

Now we’ve established why you should be positive, let’s take a look at how you get there. Here are a few tips to help you become positive, and to make sure you stay that way!

  1. Smiling – Let’s start with something basic. Smile! You can trick your mind into being more positive through smiling. Even if you have nothing to smile about, the act of smiling can instantly change the way you feel inside. Whatever you might be doing, smile! In the time it will become second nature to smile whilst you undertake your everyday activities, and you’ll feel much better for doing so. Smile at other people too! They’ll more than likely smile back and you’ll both feel better for it.
  2. Surround yourself with Positive People – It’s important to reflect on those around you on your quest to become more positive. We are often strongly affected by the people around us. If they are a gossip, we tend to become gossip. If they are negative, we tend to become negative. Luckily, the opposite is also true. Surround yourself with positive people and you will find yourself being uplifted to a more positive level as well! It isn’t necessary to completely ditch the negative people that may well be friends or family, just be sure to try and steer any negative conversations to more positive topics. Perhaps they will become more positive over time because of your actions!
  3. Do Kind Acts – It’s important to be selfless in your quest for positivity. Forgetting about others whilst being absorbed in your own world of misfortune is easy to do, but there lays not the path to positivity. Take a break from your usual daily routine to lend a hand to another person. Doing so can give you a fresh perspective and fill you with positivity. Doing nice things makes us feel good about ourselves, so we should take full advantage of that. Try doing at least one nice thing a day and you’ll find yourself feeling more positive in no time at all. Don’t forget to check out my post on why being nice matters as well!
  4. Reframing – It’s important to learn how to reframe situations in your head. Currently, if you are on lockdown you can’t leave the house to see your friends and family, you might not be able to go to work or exercise like you have previously. Various factors might make you feel like the world is plotting against you. Instead of looking at the situation negatively though, reframe it to something more positive. You might not be able to go to the gym, but now is a great time to learn about home workouts and expand your fitness knowledge. Can’t go and visit your friends? Sounds like the perfect time to discover new ways of connecting with them, and taking part in things like quizzes over video calls. Reframe the negative to a positive and look forward to conquering these new challenges!
  5. Practice Gratitude – Perhaps the easiest and fastest way to become more positive is to shift your focus away from negativity, judgment, and disappointment that you might regularly feel. Take the time to think about all the things you are grateful for. It might be a good idea to keep a journal of those things you are grateful for. I personally keep an achievement journal. If I am ever feeling down and a bit negative because things aren’t going well, I can look back and see all of the stuff I have already achieved. With renewed vigour and positivity I can then move on and complete whatever the task before me is. Once you have a strong grasp on what you are grateful for, your outlook with certainly become more positive.
  6. Find a Positivity Partner – You probably aren’t the only person who is looking to become more positive. Find a friend who also wants to make the journey to achieve a more positive outlook and team up! Together, you’ll find the process much easier. You can reassure each other that things will get better, and send messages to each other to show your gratitude for them and the things in your life as well. An added bonus to this one is that being in regular contact with someone will reduce any feelings of loneliness you might have during the current climate of social distancing.
The world has become a very different place in a matter of weeks and months. Whilst some continue on with their normal lives, many more seek shelter from the rampant virus spreading over the globe. There are shortages in shops, lockdowns, and more fake information then you can shake a reasonably large stick at. The way people react to the Coronavirus will change the way society works going forward, as will the response and survivability of businesses large and small. With everything going on, you would be forgiven for being a bit nervous. It’s important to remember that this will not last forever, and here I want to outline some points and tips to help ensure you stay positive during these trying times. Why being positive matters We all have those times where we have tried to do something a number of times, and will still again without hesitation. Every time we fail, we improve our methods slightly and try again. Things will work out this time, we tell ourselves. Positivity is not about taking no notice of the bad situations and just letting them happen. It is about staying focused on the good in any situation. I consider myself to be a very positive and optimistic person. But this does not mean that I do not know my fair share of failures and defeats. Throughout my life, I have held on to this sense of optimism and it always convinces me (after an appropriate amount of time pouting) that the future is brighter than it seems at this current time and things will work out ok. We all have this to a certain degree because if we didn’t we would just stop functioning altogether! We would sit down and cry and be sad all of the time. The thing about being positive that stops this from happening is that we go out and try to overcome the barriers we are faced with to improve our situation. The more positive we are the more we will seek to improve things for ourselves and the more times we will try. We can only pursue our goals if we stay optimistic about the possibility of reaching them. Instead of shutting down when things aren’t going our way, we need to regroup and focus on how we can make the best of a bad situation. Disappointment and sadness are normal emotions, but they shouldn’t control your actions. Staying positive means they won’t. The acceptance of difficulty To suggest life is always blissful and accommodating to what we want would be an outright lie. Life can be difficult and it can be a struggle. It is important to recognise the hardships that can face us to make us more resilient to them. Spiritual teachings, particularly those of an Eastern origin, lean heavily on the idea of being at peace with the bad things that happen to us, the suffering. Even in a more westernised environment, these teachings have merit. In particular, Buddhist teachings state (in simple terms) that acceptance of suffering is the only way to know true happiness and mindfulness. We can learn a lot from the Buddhist approach here. There is a tip for use in meditation that when your mind starts to wander, you do not punish yourself for making this misstep. Instead, you acknowledge the thought, send it on its way, and continue with your meditation. The same is true of when distress strikes us. We must acknowledge the bad feelings, send them on their way, and return to happier thoughts. I should add, with some haste, that this does not mean we simply ignore the bad things happening to us. Indeed, we should strive to provide a solution to such matters, if possible, as soon as we can. But our feelings about the situation should be reframed from one of despair and suffering to one of hope and consolidation. Reframing negative feelings is a key skill you should learn. We will talk about this more in the tips section. The benefits of positivity The benefits of staying positive are truly numerous. It can improve your life in a myriad of ways. Let’s highlight some of those benefits here, just so you know I’m not talking complete trash! 1.	Less Stress – one of the biggest motivating factors that should entice you to be positive is that it will reduce your stress levels. We all have the one friend who is constantly happy and seems not to let anything get them down. Be that friend, and you too will notice a reduction in your stress by simply being positive. Your ability to deal with stress will skyrocket! 2.	Longer Life – There have been many scientific studies that show positive people live longer. Positive people tend to cope better with illnesses and have longer and happier lives than pessimists. This is partly due to the aforementioned reduction in stress, which is a huge detriment to health and lifespan. Being positive can also help you feel better for longer, giving you the best outlook on life. 3.	Improve your Health – Tied to the previous point, your health is proven to improve the longer you maintain a positive attitude! Long term studies show the being an optimist means you will have better health than pessimists as you progress through your life. Good health is certainly a great reason to adopt a positive approach to your life! 4.	Smarter, but not Harder, Work – Staying positive can help you work smarter, but that doesn’t mean it has to be harder. Studies have shown that positive people perform better in work environments than negative people because a positive work environment fosters better performance. This is true not just in the workplace, but anywhere! Schools, exercise classes, and performance troupes!  5.	Greater Resilience – A key benefit to staying positive is a boost to your resilience. Dealing with difficulties becomes easier with the determination and strength you can derive from your positivity. Positive people are able to focus on what they can do to better the situation when faced with hardships. Overcoming these difficulties through positivity is really what this whole post is about! There are many more benefits to being positive than just these, but I would say these are some of the keys ones. Together, they will improve your overall wellbeing and give you a happier, longer life. Who doesn’t want that? Tips to become and remain positive Now we’ve established why you should be positive, let’s take a look at how you get there. Here are a few tips to help you become positive, and to make sure you stay that way! 1.	Smiling – Let’s start with something basic. Smile! You can trick your mind into being more positive through smiling. Even if you have nothing to smile about, the act of smiling can instantly change the way you feel inside. Whatever you might be doing, smile! In the time it will become second nature to smile whilst you undertake your everyday activities, and you’ll feel much better for doing so. Smile at other people too! They’ll more than likely smile back and you’ll both feel better for it. 2.	Surround yourself with Positive People – It’s important to reflect on those around you on your quest to become more positive. We are often strongly affected by the people around us. If they are a gossip, we tend to become gossip. If they are negative, we tend to become negative. Luckily, the opposite is also true. Surround yourself with positive people and you will find yourself being uplifted to a more positive level as well! It isn’t necessary to completely ditch the negative people that may well be friends or family, just be sure to try and steer any negative conversations to more positive topics. Perhaps they will become more positive over time because of your actions! 3.	Do Kind Acts – It’s important to be selfless in your quest for positivity. Forgetting about others whilst being absorbed in your own world of misfortune is easy to do, but there lays not the path to positivity. Take a break from your usual daily routine to lend a hand to another person. Doing so can give you a fresh perspective and fill you with positivity. Doing nice things makes us feel good about ourselves, so we should take full advantage of that. Try doing at least one nice thing a day and you’ll find yourself feeling more positive in no time at all. 4.	Reframing – It’s important to learn how to reframe situations in your head. Currently, if you are on lockdown you can’t leave the house to see your friends and family, you might not be able to go to work or exercise like you have previously. Various factors might make you feel like the world is plotting against you. Instead of looking at the situation negatively though, reframe it to something more positive. You might not be able to go to the gym, but now is a great time to learn about home workouts and expand your fitness knowledge. Can’t go and visit your friends? Sounds like the perfect time to discover new ways of connecting with them, and taking part in things like quizzes over video calls. Reframe the negative to a positive and look forward to conquering these new challenges! 5.	Practice Gratitude – Perhaps the easiest and fastest way to become more positive is to shift your focus away from negativity, judgment, and disappointment that you might regularly feel. Take the time to think about all the things you are grateful for. It might be a good idea to keep a journal of those things you are grateful for. I personally keep an achievement journal. If I am ever feeling down and a bit negative because things aren’t going well, I can look back and see all of the stuff I have already achieved. With renewed vigour and positivity I can then move on and complete whatever the task before me is. Once you have a strong grasp on what you are grateful for, your outlook with certainly become more positive. 6.	Find a Positivity Partner – You probably aren’t the only person who is looking to become more positive. Find a friend who also wants to make the journey to achieve a more positive outlook and team up! Together, you’ll find the process much easier. You can reassure each other that things will get better, and send messages to each other to show your gratitude for them and the things in your life as well. An added bonus to this one is that being in regular contact with someone will reduce any feelings of loneliness you might have during the current climate of social distancing. I’ll be following this post up shortly with another about staying resilient when trouble strikes, although I am hoping that is not the case for any of you during these unsettling times. In the meantime, I hope you found these tips about staying positive helpful and will start to use them in order to bring a smile back to your face and keep it there! Let me know how you are getting on with the lockdown wherever you are, and also let me know what kind of thing you would like to read about whilst stuck indoors!

I’ll be following this post up shortly with another about staying resilient when trouble strikes, although I am hoping that is not the case for any of you during these unsettling times. In the meantime, I hope you found these tips about staying positive helpful and will start to use them in order to bring a smile back to your face and keep it there! Let me know how you are getting on with the lockdown wherever you are, and also let me know what kind of thing you would like to read about whilst stuck indoors!

If you are struggling with your mental health during this unprecedented time, please know that resources and help are available to you. Please visit the Mental Health Foundation for assistance.

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing
How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

As is ever the case, the year of 2019 seemed to fly by! I know that in my own life so much happened last year, and I’m sure you have had a lot happen to you too. Hopefully what happened to you fell in line with what you wanted to happen in 2019. Your goals, aspirations, and Resolutions for the year. I know mine did (for the most part!) and, hopefully, you also had a successful year of getting things done! In this post, I will talk about why goals are important and how I stay motivated with my goals. I’ll do a Roundup of how my 2019 goals went (original 2019 goal post here) and what I have planned for 2020. I’ll also discuss how I plan to keep and achieve these goals and some tips you can apply in your own life!

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

Why Set Goals

I find that anything you want to do in life can be put into one of four categories depending on the size of it: action, task, goal, and resolution. Goals and Resolutions are similar but provide different context, with resolutions typically spanning a single year (and normally not more, unless it is repeated). Goals can, essentially, be over any time period whether a few days or a few years. Perhaps the main point of using the word resolution is that it becomes clear to others that this is a goal, often lofty in its nature, which is current for that year. Aside from those points, however, goals and Resolutions are very similar.

Tasks make up the things you have to do to reach the goal, and actions are the things you have to do as part of the task. There could be different levels of tasks, however, as actions, in my world at least, are typically very small and not worthy of recording in their own right, unlike tasks and goals that tend to be written to paper (or digital white space).

People, just like you, strive for goals every day. It could be as simple as making a meal or as complex as becoming a famous astronaut. We then fulfil tasks and actions in order to attempt to reach those goals. My point here is that even if you consider yourself as a person who does not set yourself goals or resolutions, you actually do without realising it. Not writing it down doesn’t make it not a goal!

To cut to the chase, as it were, we set goals to give our life’s purpose. Want a baby at some point during your life? That’s a goal. Want to find the right partner? It’s a goal. Want to move out of your parent’s house into one you own? Goal!

Fulfilling goals makes us feel good about ourselves. Often our achievements completely pass us by as we move on to the next thing. I’ve witnessed this first hand in one of my past roles as a manager. When talking to my team and asking what they had achieved, they looked at me blankly. They couldn’t recall any of their accomplishments despite them normally being numerous – they had forgotten about them!

To help avoid this, thinking about what your goals are and writing them down gives something tangible for you to aim towards and reflect upon once complete (reflection is a very important part of the process!). Setting your goals like this can help you stay focused on them and make credible steps towards completing them.

Get clear about what you want to achieve in your life, this year, this month, this week, and even this day, and you’ll find yourself with some goals ready to go. Some big, some small. All achievable.

How I stay motivated with my Goals

The act of recording my goals is one of the key ways I stay motivated to complete them. Breaking down those goals into the different tasks I need to complete to reach my goal is incredibly useful. It gives me a visual representation of how things are going and allows me to feel a spark of achievement each time I tick off one of the tasks as done.

As you’ll probably be told by just about anyone, breaking down your goals into small sections makes them easier to achieve. Smaller tasks are easier and faster to achieve and mean that even if you end up failing to reach your goal (if, for example, there is a time limit) you can still see that you made progress and achieved something of worth. You’ll be able to reflect upon the tasks to see what went well, or poorly, and use this information to inform future endeavours. This will make your next goals easier to achieve as you work smarter to achieve them. I talk about my 2020 goals a bit later on in this post I’ll discuss how I am tracking these goals, and the tasks that make them up, to make sure they aren’t just floating ideals instead of grounded goals.

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

2019 Goal Roundup

2019 was a good year for me in terms of achieving my goals and Resolutions set at the start of the year. I will reflect on some of them now, and talk about what went well and what didn’t, and what I’ve learnt this year about goal setting. Hopefully, you’ll be able to take some of this knowledge forward into your own goal setting, and I’ll provide examples of how I have in the next section where I talk about my 2020 goals.

Let’s start with the goals for one of my hobbies that most people have probably never heard of, Warhammer! For those not in the know, it’s miniature wargaming where you have to build and paint miniatures to then use in glorious battle, involving lots of dice. Last year in 2019 I had big dreams for this hobby and I’m glad to say I’ve come far in it. My collection has expanded greatly, although storage has starting to become a bit of a problem! I had 3 primary goals that I set for 2019.

The first of these was to finish paining my terrain. I’m happy to report this was done by around August. I have more terrain to be painted now, but everything I had at the time is done. Secondly, I wanted to finish painting my Tau army (a faction within the Warhammer universe). This I did not do. In fact, I think I only painted one Tau model the entire year, instead focusing on painting my Black Templars (another faction). Despite making essentially no progress on my Tau, I am happy with the progress I made in painting other armies so do not mind so much. I plan to refocus on painting my Tau in the coming year. Lastly, I was aiming to sort out a gaming mat for me and my friends to play on. This was an easy one as it was a single purchase, and I’m happy to report that it is done and improving the calibre of all my games now!

I had goals surrounding my other hobbies as well. Namely, these were piano and reading books. The piano goal I completely failed. I was looking to play twice a week all year and I’m not sure I did even once! I think I lacked the motivation to get this one done as if I wasn’t really interested in it. Luckily, my book reading went very well as I discovered audiobooks which I could listen to on the way to work and at the gym. The inclusion of audiobooks (I did also read physical books) was a massive boon and I ended up getting through about 14 books. A huge success! I think there is a lesson to be learned here about looking for alternative ways to achieve goals where possible. Any help is always good!

Next up are my lifestyle goals, which are probably where I have done the worst. I wanted to meditate twice weekly. I did not. I wanted to walk to work every day. I did sometimes (at best). I wanted to reduce my weight and get to a 36” waist. My attempt at this was laughable! I think I think I am larger now than I was before. I think the problem with these goals is that they were almost abstract in nature. I did not set up any tangible way for me to track progress or even entice progress. I want to find new ways in 2020 to keep engaged with these kinds of goals, and I’ll talk more about this later.

Lastly, we have my financial goals. These were all successful I’m happy to declare! I managed to save money for my holiday to Lisbon and put money aside for a 2020 holiday. I was able to put £70 into my emergency savings account each month. Also, I managed to save up over my goal of £400 which is for use for my 2020 goals. Finally, I was able to secure a full-time job which I started mid-December, making the deadline only just (after 5 days at my new job we had a break for Christmas and the New Year)!

I would consider these financial goals all very successful. I think the success can be partly put down to being able to “see” the money in my accounts and move it around. It was easy to see exactly what was where and what else I needed. I was very lucky not to have any large unexpected expenditures which I couldn’t find the funds for elsewhere.

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

2020 Goals

When setting my 2020 goals I wanted to be careful and measured in my approach. I wanted to make sure I could be flexible with my goals (like I talk about here). This way I could easily add to or adapt my goals, especially if some take on new life and split to become two, or more, unique goals.

Another challenge of goal setting that needs to be accounted for is that you can’t decide what all your goals and aspirations for the coming year are in a short timeframe. I can’t have the entire year being dictated by my whims one particular evening when jotting some ideas down. We need to be able to add to our goals for the year, our Resolutions, later on, as I have already done with some. I guess there would be a point in the year when they are just normal goals and not really resolutions, but that would depend on who you are as a person.

I have a couple of “Life Skill” goals this year. Goals that will, basically, add good skills to my repertoire for use in my life! I only have two of these goals (so far), both language orientated. The first one is to practice French at least twice weekly. This can be achieved for me using the Duolingo app, or perhaps by using one of my language books. Last year I excluded this goal because I’ve had such mixed (read: bad) results in the previous years. This year I want to find a way to keep myself motivated through it so I’ll be trying different ways to stay engaged with my French learning. I plan to do a post on this in the future to keep you updated. The second goal in this area is to learn basic Spanish for my trip to Majorca. This is in July so after that point, I probably won’t continue with Spanish but we will see how much I am enjoying it and if it has any potential future use. It would certainly be nice to be able to speak a little of the native language when visiting Majorca, if for no other reason than to ensure I’m not ordering the wrong food!

Travel wise, I want to book a holiday for myself and my partner to go on, and I also want to book a group holiday for myself, my partner, and a couple of our friends. Travelling is always exciting and I’ll be going on holiday three times this year (along with Majorca) if they all go ahead! That’s a record for me! Once the trips are concluded I’ll be sure to write a post about them.

I only have two financial goals this year, partly down to the success of last year. I want to put £50 into each of my savings accounts each month, and I also want to place £75 into my emergency savings fund each month (an increase of five pounds on last year). I don’t mind if I spend the money in my savings accounts as that is what it is there for, as long as it is on important expenditure, such as moving or going on holiday. The emergency savings fund is, of course, for emergency use only! Hopefully, I won’t need it.

My health and exercise goals will be familiar to you. Firstly, I want to meditate twice weekly. I failed at this last year and I’ll have to find a way to remind myself to do this one. I’m hoping a regular reminder will be enough, but I don’t want to have to commit myself to a particular time of the day so we will see. My second goal is to lose weight. You saw this one coming didn’t you? Again another goal that didn’t go well last year but I think that with my new job enabling me to walk to work much easier than previously, and the lack of the ability to eat chocolate at my desk, I will be successful! The third goal, walking to work unless the weather absolutely prevents it, is closely tied to this. I’m wanting to lose the weight by the time I go to Majorca which will probably be the first holiday of the year.

My fourth and final goal in the health and exercise field is to do an event for charity. I’m not sure what shape this will take yet but I believe it is important to give back when you can. Instead of just donating money I want to take part in some activity to help raise the money, like I have done in the past. I am surrounded by inspiration here, with many close friends and my partner often doing charitable activities like races, and I am sure this is a goal I will easily achieve. I’m going to start to look into what I could do by the end of January.

Next up we have my fun goals! Yay for fun! In particular, I have set a goal to read (or listen) to 12 books this year which is double what I set for myself last year. I crushed this last year and I’m quietly confident that I can manage the one book a month goal. The second goal is to get back into my photography in a big way by going on monthly photography trips with one of my friends (also a keen photographer). I love to take pictures but I just didn’t do enough last year. I want to develop my skills and become a great photographer and that journey starts here. We’ve already been on our first adventure, even if it was only to the beach. Hopefully, we will see exciting things over the year whilst being healthy and active! The final fun goal is to post 24 blog posts over the year on this site (starting with this one). I did not post enough last year and I really enjoy writing. Using new tools to keep track of my work, I’m re-engaging this year and really trying to get out some quality content! I already have a dozen ideas for things I could write about which all fit with the theme of my blog (being amazing!). Here’s to a glorious future for Michael is Amazing!

Lastly, we have my Warhammer goals. Both are centred on painting but I may look to add another later on, like going to a tournament during the year or something similar. I already have a few exciting things planned in this area. As for the goals themselves, the first is to finish painting my Black Templar models and the second is to finish painting all the Tau models I currently have. This equates to a lot of models and my turnover rate is not the best. I won’t say that I am worried at this point but this will certainly be a challenge. A lot of my goals will regularly consume my free time and I’m worried that something might give in the end. Hopefully, however, I’ll just end up with two fully Painted armies by the end of the year!

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

Useable tips to help you achieve your goals and resolutions!

This has been quite a long post! But before I sign off, I wanted to drop some knowledge on you. This knowledge comes in the form of two primary tips which I am finding helpful right now and that I know you will find helpful too!

Firstly, you absolutely must have a way to keep track of all of your goals and the tasks that make up those goals. Bullet journaling is all the craze at the moment and with good reason. Visual representation of your goals helps you keep motivated and organised. Aside from the host of other benefits that journaling provides, being able to quickly flip to the appropriate page with all your goals and how you are going to meet them means you are never too far from thinking about what you want to get done with your year.

Want to make it even easier and digitise the process at the same time? Use Notion. I discovered it a few months ago and now I basically have my second brain on it. Not only that, I can easily link my tasks to my goals and make all kinds of different views on how I see the information. Colourful highlights are optional! I swear by Notion – I used it for planning and road mapping blog posts, for Warhammer painting progress, for planning trips, for keeping all my tasks in one place and easy to view, for keeping a photography journal – and the possibilities with it are practically endless thanks to the way it works. I’m not being sponsored to say this by the way, I just really love it!

The second big tip is to always break down your goals into more manageable tasks. I hinted at this earlier and I’m sure you’ve probably heard this advice before. The trick here is to break it down in such a way that you can get quick wins, which we all love, and keep yourself motivated to reach the final goal.

For example, one of my Resolutions is to have a fully Painted Black Templar (Warhammer) army. I’ve broken this one down by listing each individual model that needs to be painted. I’ve added a further level by producing a road map of the progress (on Notion) of each model. Completing a model is satisfying, but so is moving a model from the Not Started to the Built column, from there to the Painting column. In many ways, the columns represent the actions that need to be done which make up the task. Completing the tasks means we move closer to completing the overall goal!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing
Mindfulness: what is it and why should it matter to you?

Mindfulness: what is it and why should it matter to you?

In order to fully comprehend everything you are about to learn from this site, you need to have a working knowledge of a few key topics. One of those is mindfulness. So, let’s look at what it is and why it is important to you in your life.

Mindfulness is defined in the dictionary as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” However, we are more interested in a different definition:

A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.


Why are we more interested in this? Because it can be easy to rush through life without noticing life.

Your mental wellbeing can be improved by paying more attention to what is happening in the here and now – to your own thoughts and feelings and all that is happening in the world around you. By paying attention to these things we can enjoy life more. It will also allow us to understand ourselves better.

Mindfulness: what is it and why should it matter to you?

Personally, I have benefitted from practising mindfulness in a number of ways. Almost all of my social interactions, whether these are direct or indirect, are more considered than before I began to practise. Thinking before I speak, something people are often keen to tell you to do, really is a virtue unto itself. Whilst I have not perfected this virtue, I have made great strides. Further, mindfulness has allowed me to care less about what other people think of me and worry less about the outcomes of things I have no control over.

Sounds good, right?

Mindfulness: what is it and why should it matter to you?

6 Reasons why it is time for you to start practising mindfulness:

  1. Stress reduction. Backed up by a plethora of scientific studies, practising mindfulness can really have a massive impact on your stress. This is partly due to the other reasons listed below but also due to how there is, over time, a significant reduction in anxiety.
  2. Reduced rumination. Regular practise is proven to reduce rumination. You’ll worry less because you’ll realise worrying is, in the majority of cases, pointless.
  3. Better memory. This one is slightly odd but it turns out being more mindful also improves your memory! A 2019 study by Jha et al. documented the benefits of mindfulness among two military groups, one who practised regularly and one that never did. Results showed that working memory was improved in the group that regularly practised mindfulness!
  4. Improved focus. There is a direct connection between practising mindfulness and improved cognitive flexibility and attentional functioning. Being less concerned about other things and being more in tune with yourself is great for getting things done!
  5. Less likely to react emotionally to bad situations. Research shows that people who practise mindfulness are able to emotionally detach themselves from upsetting situations. This one is particularly useful if you have to deal with members of the public on a regular basis – especially if they like to complain. Very applicable also to all sorts of working and personal life events.
  6. Satisfaction in relationships. Several studies show that a person who is mindful can respond better to relationship stress and be more open to those important talks which we all must have from time to time. This is true in both romantic and platonic relationships!

This is not an exhaustive list of all of the benefits to practising mindfulness (other studies point to enhanced self-insight, changes in morality, increased immune system functioning, reduction to task effort and having thoughts that are not related to the task at hand, to name just a few).

Mindfulness: what is it and why should it matter to you?

How do I practise mindfulness?

The next question I can hear you asking is how do I practice it now that I know how good it is for me?

Essentially, practising mindfulness is really quite easy. It just involves you thinking about what you are doing. Seriously, that’s all. When I say think about what you are doing, however, I mean really think.

When you drink water from a glass take the time to think about the sensation of your skin on the glass, the water moving through your mouth and down your throat. Being fully aware of everything that is happening is mindfulness.

Try it now: grab a drink and pay attention to how it feels to drink it. The liquid moving about your mouth and down towards your digestive system. Is it refreshing? Focus on that. How does your throat feel when swallowing? Take your time and drink slowly.

If you have just done this then congratulations! You’ve taken your first steps in your mindfulness journey!

I will be exploring more ways to be mindful, including of course mindfulness meditation, in the future. Check out this post on how to create a mindfulness habit.

In the meantime, try to fully experience everything you do. Always pay attention to the feelings you have when doing otherwise mundane tasks. From laundry to jogging and bathing to breathing.


If you have experience with mindfulness let us know what it is in the comments below and how it has helped you. Did you practice mindfulness today? Tell us how and what it felt like!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing
Is the greatest problem with other people ourselves? The self-delusion epidemic.

Is the greatest problem with other people ourselves? The self-delusion epidemic.

In the early 1980s Benjamin Libet conducted a series of experiments where subject’s brains were monitored whilst they chose to initiate an action. It was concluded that the brain was initiating the action before the person became aware of “deciding” to do it. What this study challenged was the concept of ourself being all powerful within us. In guiding our behaviour the conscious self’s role is not quite what we thought it was. When we think about our conscious mind and the power it holds the role is overstated because it feels so powerful. To put it another way, the conscious mind is naturally deluded about its own nature.

The next question is why is this the case? Why would natural selection develop a brain that leaves people deluded about themselves? A possible answer, as put forward by Robert Wright in his book “Why Buddhism is True”, is that if we believe something about ourselves it will be easier to convince other people to believe it too. There’s benefit to it: convincing the world that we are coherent and consistent actors who have things under control. Certainly a boon back in the hunter-gatherer days when you needed other people to survive day to day.

Is the greatest problem with other people ourselves? The self-delusion epidemic.

On its own being coherent of intent, whilst desirable, is not decisive. If you have concrete intent to do something but always fail to do it you won’t find yourself surrounded with people wanting to be your friends. Therefor we must not only act like we have things under control but must be overly positive about how well we have things under control. And guess what? We are acting like that. Anthony Greenwald in 1980 invented the term beneffectance to describe how people naturally present themselves to the world – as beneficial and effective. There have been many, many experiments since which show that not only do people put out this kind of publicity about themselves but they actually believe it.

In fact, one of these studies showed that the majority of people (surveyed) found themselves to be better, in various areas, than the majority of people! But it’s not just when being compared to a vague population that this self-delusion is apparent. It is also when we talk about any teams we are on. Another study asked academics that had jointly worked on a research paper what percentage of the team’s output they accounted for. In an average four-person team the sum of the claimed credit was 140%. Note the keyword: credit. If things didn’t go well, perceived contribution to the outcome shrinks. I.e. it was someone else’s fault.

Is the greatest problem with other people ourselves? The self-delusion epidemic.

People are aware of these forms of self-delusion. People thinking that they are better than they really are. Well, they are aware of self-delusion in other people. In an American study, Kurzban surmised his findings by stating:

We think we are better than average at not being biased in thinking that we’re better than average.

What we can see from all of this is that humanity suffers from two illusions. The first is about the nature of the conscious self, which we consider to have more control than it actually does. The second is about exactly what kind of people we are – namely, capable and upstanding.

In this post I’m more interested in the second illusion: that of being self-deluded. Thinking we are better than we are. That we have more of an impact than we do and that we are more influential than we are. Particularly in relation to other people.

How many times have you found yourself exclaiming, in private to yourself or for others to hear, that you could do a better job than the other person? How often do you lament poor decisions made by others as it isn’t what you would have done? How often have you left your humility at the door and announced how instrumental your actions were in doing a particular thing?

If what we have already read has taught us anything is that the answer to all of those questions, at least at first, is that we don’t overstate ourselves. But that is not really true, is it? Even today whilst pondering this very topic I found myself thinking about how I would do another’s work differently. How their method was undoubtedly inferior to my own. I caught myself in the thought, and after a brief chastising, realised how commonplace such thoughts really are.

Is the greatest problem with other people ourselves? The self-delusion epidemic.

The reality is that we are always overstating our abilities. This essentially gives us all (aside from those “enlightened” few) a superiority complex we won’t admit to. In some cases it might be genuine that you are better at something than another, but often when we think we are we are not.

So ingrained is this self-delusion that simply being aware of it won’t dispel it. Even now that I know to be aware of when I act with a sense of (undeserved) superiority it won’t stop me from acting with it. Like trying to break any bad habit it takes a lot of time and constant reinforcement to change your ways.  Hopefully, with enough time, I can become truly humble. And with that will come a greater understanding and appreciation of others.

Perhaps if we all shared a greater appreciation of others we would have less strife. Less disagreements, arguments and, indeed, wars. We would all be happier with ourselves and others, being able to more easily surround ourselves with good friends without comparing competencies.

Take some time to really think about this topic and if you show any signs of being self-deluded. Treat it as a chance to reflect on yourself and your character.

The first illusion mentioned earlier, that of the conscious self not being in as much control as we think it is, will be the subject of another post. Buddhists refer to it as the non-self. But there is much groundwork for us to look at before we move on to this subject. More importantly, there is much work to be done on showing why it relates and matters to you as my readers!

What are your thoughts on all of this? Do you sometimes find yourself thinking you’re better at something then you actually are? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Michael