Most of us have too much going on in our lives. Demands on our time come from all directions and we keep on adding new things to do, while trying to hold on to everything else that’s already there. Sooner or later it becomes impossible. Are you wondering how you could simplify your life to make space for more of what you want? Here are some quick ways to get started.
1. Say no more often
Is “yes” your automatic answer to everything? Become more selective and consider each request that comes your way before you answer. Do you really want to do it? If yes, go for it. Otherwise, say “no”.
2. Ask for help
You won’t get a medal for doing everything on your own and who wants a medal anyway? It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help and you won’t bother people (if you do, it’s up to them to say “no”). Even if you outsource one little thing a day, it’ll add up and you’ll feel the difference.
3. Declutter your home and your work space
Start with the areas where you spend most of your time – your desk, the living room, the kitchen. Once your space looks more organised, you will feel more organised and won’t be spending time looking for things.
4. Limit your media use
There’s no need to miss out on your favourite TV show, but if you find yourself mindlessly staring at a screen only because it’s there, turn it off. All of a sudden you have ample free time to meditate, go for a walk or get creative.
5. Buy less
Shopping therapy is a popular way to combat stress, but is it the most effective one? Very unlikely. When you buy less you spend less money, less time and have less stuff to make space for.
6. Be selective who you spend time with
Choose to hang out with people you love and avoid those who complain and drain your energy. Don’t agree to catch up just because you always do or because you feel obligated. You can choose who you give your time to and still have friends.
7. Slow down
It might be counterintuitive, but when you get enough sleep, make time for yourself and meditate, you will notice that everything else in your life happens with less effort.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the things you could do to simplify your life, don’t be. Pick just one thing and do it today.
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Do you feel that your work is taking a lot longer than it should? There’s no need to resign yourself to late nights at the office, have a look at your habits instead. Here are some things you might be doing that are killing your productivity at work.
1. Checking email as they come in
You receive a new notification and your curiosity gets the better of you. You jump into your inbox just to see a new email from a client. Since you opened the email anyway, you might as well reply, so you forget what you were working on before that and start typing. Then another email arrives. Before you know it, the day is gone and you haven’t completed anything.
Unless you’re in customer service and it’s your job to answer emails all day, checking your email constantly is disruptive and distracts you from your real work. Turn off your notifications and schedule time for email instead, whether it’s once a day or once every couple of hours.
2. Spending time on social media
Checking Facebook for 5 minutes while you’re taking a break is harmless, but if you get sucked in and find yourself still on Facebook half an hour later, then it’s a habit that’s not working for you. Just like emails, unless it’s your job to be on social media all day, turn off notifications, schedule time for it and stick to your designated time (use a timer to remind you)!
3. Taking too many breaks
Do you always give in to the desire to get a snack, get a drink, go for a walk and/or have a chat with a colleague? You’re procrastinating. Recognise that all these breaks are not necessary and ask yourself what you’re trying to avoid. Once you’re clear on the real reason why you’re doing everything but working, it’s much easier to address it.
4. Not taking enough breaks
You may be thinking you’re gaining precious minutes when you’re having your lunch at your desk, but the reality is you need to take breaks to recharge. Your productivity goes down when you’re not looking after yourself. Don’t believe me? Experiment with it. Try taking regular breaks for a day or a week and notice how much more you’ll get done.
5. Saying “yes” to everything
It’s fantastic that you want to help people, but you can’t do everything. Focus on your most important tasks and view all requests that are coming in through the filter of your priorities. Is this task helping you achieve your goals, or is it setting you back? Of course, you can’t always avoid meaningless tasks when you’re working for someone else, but you can do your best to eliminate as many distractions as possible. Start by saying “no” to one request per day and you will see your productivity at work improve immediately.
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Have you been keeping busy all day and avoiding the real work? There’s no need to feel guilty about it, everyone does it. We all have moments (or hours, or days) when we spend our time doing everything else, but what really needs doing. So, why do we love procrastinating so much?
Procrastination can seem a lot easier than getting things done, especially things that are somewhat difficult and important. But what if you took a long-term view? Would your life be easier in a week, a month, or a year from now if you were to keep doing what you’re doing now: procrastinating?
If you answered “yes” to this question, then it’s a good idea to look again at your priorities. If the thing you’re avoiding is not contributing to your life in any way, then it’s time to cross it off your list and move on to something else. You won’t be making a whole lot of progress on your projects, you’ll feel stressed out, guilty and dissatisfied with yourself if you don’t.
The idea of working hard goes against our love of comfort. It might lead to discomfort or even pain, so we’re reluctant to step outside of our comfort zone and often do just enough required of us that we can get away with. But what will happen if you look at your comfort zone from a long-term perspective? Will you still be comfortable in the future?
Our brains are wired to keep things the same. The habits we reinforce have kept us alive until now, so why change anything? The meaning of safety is not the same now as it was thousands of years ago. Nowadays we feel unsafe to try something different out of fear we might fail, but what we don’t realise is that in most cases it’s not going to lead to anything fatal. So what are you afraid of?
There’re no right or wrong answers to these questions. Sometimes procrastination can be good for you – it’s a sign that you’re not on the right track and that you need to reassess your priorities. But if you’ve realised that you’re at ease, safety and comfort aren’t contributing much to your future happiness and fulfilment anymore, so it’s time to stop procrastinating. Take one small action step, then another one. You’ll create momentum and soon you’ll get into the flow of getting things done.
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Technology is such a huge part of our lives now that it is incorporated into everything. Smart phones, tablets and laptops are such a great help to us at work and at home and assist us with anything from research to recipes.
Technology has also become a huge factor in our fitness, with workout apps and dieting advice being delivered straight to our phone to keep us healthy. But instead of taking your phone with you to the gym, there are better technologies that can be worn to help you with your fitness.
Wearing tech is a great way to monitor your health and fitness and a reliable motivator to keep going on those body goals. Having a monitor around your wrist or as a necklace, that tracks your everyday activity compels you to beat yourself each day. Taking the stairs, walking to work and moving around at your desk are great ways to burn extra calories that you’ll be able to see on your wearable tech.
Not only is it great competition against yourself, wearable tech can be used to motivate the whole workplace! By investing in some pieces that monitor fitness levels, colleagues can compete against each other to see who burns the most during the day. By creating some healthy in-office competition, you’re also creating a supportive environment and healthy habits where colleagues can work off each other to keep fit and get their fitness levels up and their weight down.
A great way to keep fit in the workplace is to have some healthy competition between colleagues. Implementing schemes that have prizes such as a free personal training session, a rostered day off or a valuable incentive will have employees working hard to a achieve a goal, while getting fit and healthy.
A recent study has highlighted the importance of keeping active throughout the day with nearly two thirds of employees admitting to higher levels of engagement and productivity when they have participated in wellbeing programs at work. Officeworks health and safety manager Angela Kostanopoulos knows all about keeping her workers healthy and how great it is for them and their productivity. With that in mind, she has put together her top tips for keeping yourself healthy and utilising some great wearable tech to track your progress.
- Get a good night’s sleep: If you’re not getting six to eight hours sleep each night, you may experience a lack of concentration and fatigue at work. Use the Fitbit Charge HR Activity Tracker Large RRP $193.00 to monitor your sleeping pattern.
- Get a training buddy: Try group fitness with colleagues to not only boost your mood, but to also help build better teamwork within the workplace. You can share your progress with each toher by setting up a group within the Fitbit App. Try the Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity and Sleep Wristband RRP $99.00 – some healthy competition goes a long way!
- Standing desk: Standing desks are growing in demand and trending in many large corporations including Google, partly due to the health implications of sitting all day. Speak to your boss about getting a standing desk if you’re concerned.
- The little things count: The workplace is full of everyday exercise opportunities. Take the stairs, put your hand up to do the coffee run, stretch while you’re waiting at the printer and get up and grab a glass of water every hour. Keep count of energy burned and duration of activity with the 3SIXT Edge Activity Tracker RRP $64.00.
- Step outside: Don’t underestimate the power of fresh air and sunlight, even just ten minutes outside the workplace can help awaken the mind and provide your daily dose of Vitamin D. Take advantage of sunny days by using the Motorola Moto 360 $299.00 to check the daily weather forecast.
- Move your way: When it comes to exercise, it’s not one size fits all. For example, ditch the work run club if jogging isn’t your thing and try something low impact like swimming. Clocking laps before, during or after work can be tracked by the waterproof Misfit Shine Activity Tracker RRP $108.00.
- Feed your brain: Food fuels brainpower and the good news is over 65 per cent of employees are aware of this. You can use the Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity and Sleep Wristband RRP $99.00 to track your calorie intake and manage your energy levels.
- Set an alarm: Alarms aren’t only for waking up in the morning; you can use them as reminders to get up and move. Use the Motorola Moto 360 Silver RRP $299.00 to set regular notifications to stand up and stretch, go for a short walk or shift eye focus from the computer screen regularly.
- Stay connected: Time is money, which is why we’re increasingly required to work on the go. Never miss an e-mail, text, incoming call, or appointment by syncing the Samsung Gear Live Black RRP $188.00 to your smartphone.
Investing in some wearable technology can help you monitor your day-to-day activity and let you know if you need to step up your workouts or add a little extra in. Officeworks has a great range of wearable technology that can help you achieve your body goals and actually know what your body is doing every day.
Wearable tech is a great way to keep yourself happy, motivated and focused, not only in the workplace, but also at home. Staying productive isn’t just about activity; it’s also about keeping your brain healthy by getting enough sleep, eating well and taking rest when needed.
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Are you finding yourself daydreaming, checking your email, getting something to eat, doing anything but what you know you need to complete? Try some of these fun ways to beat procrastination and get that important task done.
Give yourself a time limit
What’s a realistic timeframe to complete that thing you’re avoiding? Set your timer, ready, go! Competing with the timer and turning it into a game can be enough to motivate you. If it’s not, book something for after you’re finished – a meeting, an appointment, a class, anything. I always get my work done faster if I know I have to be at my yoga class. On the days when I say to myself: “I don’t feel like going to yoga today,” the same amount of work takes a lot longer.
Rename your task
If you’re procrastinating because you need to complete something you hate doing, why not give it a new fun name? For example, you might be procrastinating about cleaning your house – it’s boring and hardly the job most of us want to be doing. What if you renamed your task to ‘bringing sparkles’? It sounds silly, but it can put a smile on your face and all of a sudden, you feel like a fairy who makes everything around her sparkly and clean.
Set aside time for play
The reason why I usually procrastinate (and I suspect I’m not alone) is because I’m tired, I haven’t had time to myself for a while and I simply can’t fit in the things that I want to do, so they sneak on me at the wrong moment. The best way to deal with this is to give in and set aside time for yourself.
If you enjoy Facebook, but it distracts you from the task at hand, put time on your calendar to get busy with Facebook updates. If you keep on ‘accidentally’ turning on that game on your smart phone, schedule some time to play later.
These are some strategies that I use to beat procrastination and they may work for you, too. Something else you can do is simply ask yourself the question: “How can I make this more fun?” It’s always easier to complete a task when we’re enjoying the process.
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It seems that these days everyone is always on the go and always complaining that there aren’t enough hours in the day. If you’ve tried all the traditional time management techniques and you’re still struggling, here are a few somewhat unusual, but easy and effective tweaks you can use to create more time in your day.
Stop complaining about time
You can choose to believe that you have enough time and that time is on your side. Every time you’re about to complain how busy you are, stop yourself. Are you about to complain because you feel overwhelmed? Replace your thoughts with something positive instead. Do you intend to use the time excuse to avoid something you don’t want to do? Then it’ll be much more effective if you admit it to yourself why you’re avoiding a certain task and deal with the real reason.
It seems hard to believe, but the more you do it, the more you realise that you have a choice how you use your time and you start exercising that choice to your advantage. You also free up a lot of energy from worrying which you can now use for something more productive.
In her book “Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life”, Marney Makridakis identifies a number of circumstances that change our perception of time and make it flow slower or faster. Some of the ways to slow down time are not particularly useful (you don’t want to fill your time with experiences you don’t enjoy just to make the clock go slower), but there’s one way that is highly practical – focus on one task at a time. You’ll find time conveniently slowing down for you and your productivity shooting up!
Use pockets of time
Often when we have 5 or 10 free minutes here or there, we simply dismiss them. “We can’t complete anything in this time”, we think and we go on Facebook, turn on the TV or simply wait around for the next thing on our schedule to begin. Yet, if you just start a task and feel OK about not finishing it right there and then, you’ll be surprised how much you can get done in a short period of time. You can declutter a section of your house. You can write an important email. You can make progress on your passion project. You can even do a short meditation and feel peaceful for the rest of the day.
“We never shall have any more time. We have, and we have always had, all the time there is.” ~ Arnold Bennett
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With summer here, working from home is getting harder and harder. My thoughts keep on drifting off to the beach and to all the Christmas shopping that I haven’t finished yet. But there’s still a bit of time until the holiday and work needs to get done. If you’re like me and struggling to get motivated, here are some tips to help you stay productive.
1. Get enough sleep
It’s very tempting to use the late hours of the night for work and do something more fun during the day, but by sacrificing your sleep you’re killing your productivity. Want proof? Just time how long a task takes when you’re at your best and when you’re sleep deprived. I’ve experimented with my own productivity and I’ve found that the most mundane tasks can take me up to two times longer when I’m overtired.
2. Schedule time for your work
Flexibility was probably one of the reasons why you started working from home in the first place, but have too much flexibility and it’s very easy to find yourself working in the small hours of the morning to complete a project before a deadline. It’s a much more sustainable approach to schedule time for your work and stick to it.
3. Organise your work space
Have everything you need at hand and nothing else that could distract you. Don’t keep a bunch of unrelated books, papers and your kids’ toys around you, you’ll be taking precious time to find things when you need them. A TV playing in the background doesn’t help either.
4. Focus on one task at a time
It might be counter-intuitive, but multi-tasking won’t help you get your work done faster. Turn off your email notifications, stay off social media and don’t open too many screens on your computer. Instead, schedule a little bit a play time during your day to allow yourself to get distracted and catch up on social updates.
5. Take breaks
This is another temptation to avoid – to do everything as fast as you can and without breaks, so that you can have more time for other things later. Not only as you get tired, you’ll be slower at what you’re doing, you’ll also finish your working day exhausted and you won’t enjoy you after-work time nearly as much as you were hoping to.
Bonus tip: There’s no one way of doing anything. Learn from others and try out different things, then figure out what works for you.
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A funny thing often happens once you exit the corporate world to have kids – it’s like your currency, as a once-prized female worker, suddenly goes into rapid decline. Of course, well before that, you often become an awful inconvenience to your employer once you – gasp – have the selfishness and audacity to even fall pregnant to begin with. Sacre bleu!
For your extreme tiredness, morning sickness, aches and pains and sheer strain of growing a small human may prevent you from being the once unflappable and productive worker you once were, now no longer more an happy to stay back and work long hours of overtime for free.
And, once you then take time off for family obligations, including maternity leave, this often has long-term negative effects on a woman’s career – like lower pay or being passed over for promotions in the future.
However, employers should think long and hard about their often covert (and highly illegal) discrimination towards working mums, for a new study shows women with children are actually more productive than their childless peers.
A recent US study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis discovered that over the course of a 30-year career, mothers outperformed childless women at almost every stage of their careers. In fact, mothers with at least two kids were the most productive of all.
This news will come as no surprise to working women who often have to juggle demanding kids and a needy husband, work commitments, exercise, housework and friends and family’s needs and expectations – all at once.
It’s a tightrope – a constant juggling act – and, as any working mum brave and honest enough will tell you – it’s often impossibly hard and occasionally, at least one area of your life will be suffering.
The researchers (all men) behind this particular study strived to understand the impact of having children on highly skilled women. Key findings include: within the first five or so years of their career, women who never have children substantially underperform those who do and women with at least two children performed the best.
Of course, it’s not all sunshine and roses: wrangling small people can inevitably adversely affect your productivity.
Christian Zimmerman, one of the study’s authors said: “While you have small children, it has an impact on you. But after that, it seems that the impact is the other way.”
Working women must – as a matter of sheer survival – become super-organised, tenacious and tough. And while I abhor the supermum myth, I do think multiple kids makes you more competent at work.
Got a deadline, but need to be home and/or done in time for your toddler’s birthday party? Just watch that working mum go at it – faster than the speed of light.
What do you think? Are working mothers more productive?
Do you have a bunch of books, courses and project on the go? Do you feel frustrated, because you start things all the time, but never seem to finish anything? Dropping projects half way can affect your personal and professional growth, your income, your sense of fulfilment and contribution to the world, so it’s good to make friends with completion at least sometimes. Here are some of the most common reasons why finishing can be hard and what to do about them.
You wait until your project is perfect
Realistically, you know that nothing is ever perfect, yet, you keep on finding things to improve on. The cure to that?
- Give yourself a deadline
- Set up an accountability system. It works better if your deadline is external and you have to submit your project, whether it’s perfect or not. If you don’t have an external deadline, you can ask someone (a colleague, a friend or your partner) to hold you accountable
- Get someone else’s opinion of your work. We’re are usually our worst critics, so getting an outside perspective can help you see your work in a much better light
You lose interest half way through your project
This happens to me all the time. I love learning, but the moment I’ve got a sufficient grasp on anything, I’m done with it. I don’t want to read about it, write about it or teach it to anyone. I don’t even want to use what I’ve just learned. I’m ready for the next thing. Here’s what has worked for me in overcoming this challenge.
- Take on shorter projects
- Discuss your work with other people. When we get other people’s perspective, we see the old thing in a new light and new, interesting angles start to appear
- Accountability works great for this challenge, too. Make a public commitment to your project, then ask someone to keep on nagging you about it until you’re done
You take on too much and you get overwhelmed
Do you ever think, “I’ll just add this one thing to my list” and before you know it, your list of things to do is a mile long and you’re feeling stressed? Here are some ideas what to do about that.
- Don’t take on more than 2-3 major projects at once. You’re not saying ‘no’ to everything else forever, only until you’ve completed your current ventures
- Learn to say ‘no’
- Ask for help. Are there people around you who can take something off your plate?
- Take a break to get some clarity
Not everything you start needs to be completed
It’s important to complete some of your projects, but necessarily all of them. Sometimes you dip your toes and you discover that what you’ve started is not for you. Or you may learn what you needed to learn before you get to the end and there’s no point sticking around. You haven’t wasted your time. You grew your knowledge and experience and you had some fun. Now it’s time to make space for something new.
Image from deathtothestockphoto.com
By Tatiana Apostolova
Most of us are trying to do many things at the same time. We plan our day while cooking breakfast. We talk on the phone while finalising a work report. We interrupt what we’re doing to check the latest message that has just arrived in our inbox.
We feel like we’re completing more, but research shows that when we’re multi-tasking our productivity decreases dramatically. Not only we’re not achieving as much, but we make more mistakes, miss things and overall perform at a lower level than those of us who do one thing at a time.
So what’s the secret to exceptional productivity?
Focus. Do one thing at a time. You’ll work faster and produce better quality. You’ll lose the feeling of being pulled in many different directions and the time speeding past you. Even your time alone and with your family will become more meaningful.
It sounds great, but how can we transition from what we know into a state of focus? Is it even possible?
It’s taken years to create a habit of multi-tasking and it won’t go away easily as soon as you decide to do one thing at a time. This doesn’t mean that you can’t experience the benefits of focus immediately. Even if you do it for 30 minutes or an hour a day to start with, you’ll be surprised at the results you get.
A timer is a great tool to use when you’re experimenting with focus. Decide what you’ll be working on, set your timer for 30 minutes and challenge yourself to only work on that task until the time runs out.
Work on the essential tasks first
Spend a few minutes determining what needs to get done on that day and what’s important long-term. Then work on those tasks first. There’s a sense of achievement and increased energy that comes with completing something important. You may also find that all the little tasks that kept you busy before are no longer needed and you’ve created more time to work on what really matters.
This may not always be possible, when you work in a busy office, so just do your best. Choose the quietest time of the day for your focused time. Turn off email, social media and phone notifications. Clear your desk. Ask your colleagues or family members to minimise interruptions.
Every so often go for a walk, spend some time in the sun, stretch, breath to let yourself clear your mind. Clarity will help you recognise the tasks that will give you the best return on your time. You’ll also be inviting new ideas on how to complete your tasks in the most efficient way.
I invite you to try this approach and decide for yourself if it works for you. What are you going to focus on today?
Image from deathtothestockphoto.com
By Tatiana Apostolova
Putting things off can lead to unnecessary amounts of stress due to easily being distracted from the bigger picture. The secret to being more productive is simply getting yourself organised. Often people are afraid of starting something because they are confused about what is required of them, and how much time and effort is needed to get the job done. Read on for some tips on how to be more productive at any time in your life.
It can often be difficult for anyone to be organised all the time, but one tip is to delegate a particular timeframe for getting something finished. If you aren’t good at remembering dates or appointments, a diary is a helpful way to quickly write down whatever is on for the day, week or month ahead. Another great way is to use a cork board and place it in an area which you will constantly pass throughout the day. Then simply add or remove things as you get them done.
Decrease the use of social media
Watching one show or using one particular application on your phone is a never-ending battle that you will never win, (unless of course you have spectacular self control). If you’re running low on time, don’t put off tasks that you could be doing at the present moment. This will leave you feeling helpless and stressed out because you’ve left things at the last minute. Social media will always be there when you get back, and being productive in the long run will be more important than what status update someone posted to Facebook.
Plan it out
Writing short plans on what is required from each job will allow you to delegate realistic time and resources to getting it done. When the end is in sight, it’s easier to get started.
Change your surroundings
Too much noise or interruptions can be irritating if you’ve got a deadline on your hands, so try to move to a quiet place if your work can go with you. This will allow you to focus on getting more quality work done, rather than being increasingly angry that people won’t let you work in peace and quiet.
What helps you to become more productive?
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By Felicia Sapountzis