20 things I learned in 2020 – Part II | Deep Dive

2020 taught me a lot of life lessons to take away and into the new year. I talked, in length, about 10 of those life lessons in last week’s post, so go ahead and read that to catch up with what you’ve missed.

Only have time for one blog post? Go and bookmark that one and return to it later; you won’t need to have read it to understand this one.

Ready? Then let’s go: here are the final 10 things that I learned in 2020:

11. Don’t do tomorrow what can be done today

How many of you have set a New Year’s resolution? I set a bunch a couple of years ago, and some were more achievable than others, but they all had one thing in common: a fresh start, come New Year’s Day.

This was all well and good, but it really only delayed getting going with my goals – which is even more important than ever now, since I’m a busy teacher. It meant that clean eating would begin in the New Year, and that I’d overindulgence a little too much as one final send-off to junk food.

Don’t do that. If there’s something that you want to do, do it now. What’s the point in waiting?

12. Write everything down

At the start of every day, update your Bullet Journal (if you need help setting one up, then click here to read this post) with an extensive list of things that need doing in your day. Writing all of your tasks down on paper will transfer it out of your brain and into what you could call your second brain: somewhere that stores this information for you.

Doing so will ensure that you won’t forget what needs doing in the day (plus, who doesn’t love the oh-so-satisfying feeling of ticking something off your to-do list?)

13. Say it will only take 5 minutes, and it will

This one’s a bit of a brain hack.

If you tell yourself that a task will only take 5 minutes, and you really believe it, then your brain will be more on board with getting that thing done now. You’ll think, oh, I’ll be done in no-time, even if, in reality, it’s more likely to take 20-30 minutes longer.

That’s one way to get things ticked off your to-do list.

14. If it’ll only take 5 minutes, do it now.

A great way to start the day is with a series of successes – and what better way to do this than by launching into the tasks that will only take a couple minutes? You’ll hit the ground running with an easy win.

When combined with the ever-reliable pomodoru method, you’ll turn into a productivity machine.

15. Break everything down

More on the idea of 5 minute chunking: break every single one of your tasks down into more achievable sub-tasks. For instance, if your overall task for the day is to clean the kitchen, split that mammoth job into smaller goals. ‘Reorganise the cupboard next to the oven’ and ‘spray the surfaces’ are quantifiable tasks, and you’ll know when they’re done, whereas ‘clean the kitchen’ could go on indefinitely, until you’ve dusted every last herb and spice.

Chunking your time into 5-minute increments will do wonders for changing the way in which you view your days.

16. Stow away distractions

Recently I removed my socials folder (Facebook, Twitter, Insta, Reddit, etc.) from my Home Screen and have since kept it hidden in the app drawer that had been exclusive to Android devices until this year.

Honestly? Game-changer. What used to be an easy-to-access folder is now behind another few swipes on my phone. This small amount of extra friction prevents me from opening it quite so often, where I would mindlessly scroll instead of doing something far more productive.

Ugh. So much effort to swipe up into my app drawer.

Hide your apps! You won’t regret it.

17. Set app timers

As well as hiding my apps, I’ve also set timers on how long I’m allowed to use certain apps every day. Being told that I have to change my settings if I want to go on Twitter for more than 20-minutes is yet another added layer of friction that makes it more difficult to simply waste the day away.

What will the world do without my tweets today?

18. Big batch cooking

I love eating well, but I hate cooking after work – I’m too tired! Yet, I don’t want to stock up on 7 pizzas every week, simply because they taste great and cook in 8-minutes – I am trying to gain muscle mass, after all.

My solution? Every Saturday, I’ve gone to the shops, to get everything for the week ahead in one go. Then, every Sunday, I’ve been batch-cooking. Just the other week, I made up three meals, which turned into 10 nutritious portions for main meals, all of which were shoved into my freezer.

Doing this has been revolutionary. I’ve come home from work, snuck out to the gym whenever marking hasn’t been too heavy, returned to the flat, stuck a meal in the microwave for ten minutes and gone for a shower. By the time I’m clean, the meal is usually ready, and I’m eating a balanced meal in no-time.

19. Virtual notebooks

This year was the one in which I took the plunge, ditched my notebooks, and moved nearly everything onto my devices. I’ve been using OneNote for note-taking, shopping lists and lesson planning since the pandemic hit, because I couldn’t always get to the shops to buy a new notebook, and I don’t think I’ll ever look back. It means being able to access all of my notes on the go – across all of my devices – and not having to waste time filing everything I’ve written.

Of course, you would also need a stylus to do any sort of writing on a larger device. I’ve been using two: this MEKO one, which you can read my review of here, for personal use, and this one by Logitech, while at work, due to its durability.

20. Everybody should write, and everybody should write every day

This one is really important, if a little ambitious. I wanted to write 1000 fictional words every single day, to make for a good-sized novel within a year, but that wasn’t always feasible.

What has proved feasible is publishing a blog post once a week, nearly every single week, since May, and it’s done wonders for improving the quality of my writing and thinking. Pick something that you’re passionate about and get writing. Not only is this a great outlet for your loves and hobbies, but I guarantee that somebody out there will want to read what you’ve written.

Look at me: my blog already has 70 followers! That’s exciting progress for something that I love to do! Who knows how many people will be interested in what I have to post by this time next year?


There you have it: 20 life lessons learned in 2020. What have you learned this year?


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