You might want to sit down for this one…
What’s missing in the modern workweek equation?
Stop beating yourself up for being lazy. There’s something deeper going on.
It might be wise to stop fighting nature and just give in.
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.
Image via Pixabay
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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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.
Image via Pixabay
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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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
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