30 second habit

This 30-Second Habit Will Change Your Life (And Productivity)

There are no shortcuts and quick fixes when it comes to success.

But not everything needs to take hours, or days of work in order to have a great impact on your life. Some of the most powerful and transformational habits, take less than a 1 minute to implement and what you’ll learn right below is the perfect example.

It’s fast to accomplish, super easy to implement and it will change the way you do things:

Before I tell you exactly what the 30-second habit is, let me first demonstrate why it is so powerful and why you need it.

Every single day of your life, you are inundated with information. Meetings, books, videos, lectures, articles, marketing campaigns, online media, offline media… and the list goes on. Pure information overload! Unfortunately, because of the sheer amount of data that passes through your brain, you retain very little of it and make use of an even smaller portion of what you learn.

You are used to consuming information, not actually applying what you’ve learned… a process which is pretty much useless, unless you appear on “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”.

Your success in life is directly proportionate to your ability to take consistent action and get things done.

If you don’t apply what you’ve learned, nothing will change. You cannot learn your way to success, you need to take action. But, you cannot just apply everything. That is not practical or possible. In this day and age, one of the most important (and productive) skills you can develop is to learn to extract the essence, the most important aspect, of a piece of information. To be able separate signal from noise is crucial to your success.

This is where the 30-second habit comes into play.


The 30-Second Habit

Immediately after every lecture, meeting, or any significant experience, take 30 seconds  –  no more, no less  –  to write down the most important points.

Write down the major take-away(s), or an action that you will take as a result of what you learned, or how this applies to your life and circumstances. The most important point will vary depending on the type of information you consumed.

Here’s why this tiny habit will have such a meaningful impact on your productivity and success and how to make it work for you:

1. You Must Act Quickly

Do it immediately after you finish consuming each piece of information, don’t leave anything for later. Extract the major point while you are still fully engaged with the content, while you are still fully focused on it.

If you decide that you don’t have the time at the moment because you need to get to the next engagement, the takeaway will change because “later” you’ll be in a different state of mind. Your emotions will be different, how you feel about the content will be different. Think about how you feel when you get upset at someone vs. how you feel and what you think the next day when you had some time to cool off and be more rational.

Take those 30 seconds immediately after you are done with the content, not 5 minutes later. Act quickly, before something else grabs your attention and you lose your focus.

2. Take No More Than 30 Seconds

Of course, if you take 35, the world will not come to an end, but don’t stretch your time to 2 minutes. 30 seconds is long enough to allow you to extract the most important take-away, but short enough to force you to decide on what is truly important.

If you take longer, you run the risk of starting to over-analyze your conclusion and your thoughts running off on a tangent.

It is hard work not to stretch that tiny time limit, but it will train you to quickly extract the signal from the noise.

3. Capture Only The Important

This is not note-taking or summarizing. This is getting to the point of the matter.

Detail is a trap: Precisely because we so often, ostensibly, capture everything, we avoid the hard work of deciding what few things count. So much of excellence is, of course, the art of elimination. And the 30 second review stops you using quantity as an excuse.
~ Robyn Scott

You only have 30 seconds so make them count. Read between the lines, catch the essence of the conversation, extrapolate the most vital piece of information. Capture only the important, only the take-aways that will allow you to apply this new information and make progress.

4. You’ll Remember Things Better

One of the great benefit of this 30-second habit is that you’ll remember things much better. When you write things down, you remember them better and for longer periods of time.

As you make this habit part of your routine, you start remembering things that you never could before. “That article on motivation that you read on that blog online a few days ago”, becomes “the blog post from Successful By Design on getting motivated in under 2 minutes that you read on Thursday”. When you train yourself to extract the most important aspect of a piece of information and write it down, you are forced to process all that content so you can write down the take away. As a result, you remember the whole piece much better than if you go from blog post to blog post, or from lecture to lecture.

5. You’ll Learn To Pay Attention

As you engage in this tiny habit more and more, you’ll notice how your focus changes.

You learn to pay attention more, to listen better to other people and conversation, to ask better questions, to process the data in a different way, to make conclusions and form take-aways instead of just consuming. You learn to separate the signal from the noise, to detect a simple melody in a cacophony of sounds.

Your Turn Now

Try it out.

Take 30 seconds at the end of any significant experience, or a new piece of information (like this one), and write down the most important point. See how it makes you feel. See how it changes your mindset. See how it forces (in a good way) you to pay more attention and remember things better. If you like that new feeling, stick with this tiny habit and it will have a lasting impact on your productivity, success and even your life.

Question: What is YOUR take away from all of this? Take 30 seconds and write it down in the comment section below:

This blog post was inspired in part by the fantastic work of Robyn Scott.

30 second habit