There are no shortcuts to success and productivity.
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.
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.
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 upon finishing your reading, or meeting, etc.
Extract the major point while you are still fully engaged with the content, while you are still fully focused on it.
Do it while you are still completely immersed into the experience. 5 minutes later your takeaways will have changed because your mind would’ve moved on to the next thing on the agenda. 30 minutes later it becomes even worse because you have already forgotten some of the information you consumed earlier.
Do it immediately. It’s important.
2. Take No More Than 30 Seconds
30 seconds is the ideal time for this.
Take more than that and you risk starting to over-analyze things which will defeat the purpose of the exercise.
Of course, if you take 35 or even 40 seconds, the world is not going to come to an end, but don’t stretch it to 2 minutes. It is hard work to stay within that limit, but it will train you to quickly separate the signal from the noise, the essential from the non-essential.
3. Capture Only The Important
This is not note-taking or summarizing. This is getting to a 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 have only 30 seconds so make them count.
Read between the lines, catch the essence of the conversation, extrapolate the most vital piece of information.
When you are starting out, it is often helpful to write down just ONE take-away. As you get more used to the process, you can start adding more than one (if you have the time)
4. You’ll Remember Things Better
One of the great benefits 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 High Performance Lifestyle 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 conversations, 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.