All posts by John Rampton

7 Tips for Firing an Employee Gracefully and Ethically

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Firing an Employee Gracefully

As an empathetic leader, I couldn’t help but cringe when I read how Better.com let go of 900 employees…over Zoom. Not only is this a PR nightmare. It can drain morale and create a toxic work environment.

But, could it get any worse? Well, here’s what an employee, who wasn’t fired, had to say about the experience to Business Insider.

“You’re the lucky ones,” CEO Vishal Garg told them. “Garg said the people he laid off had been low performers — and then he set the bar even higher for those of us left, telling us it was time to work even harder than before,” the employee added. “It was pretty scary to hear that from someone who had just fired 900 people.”

“This wasn’t my first time being at a company going through layoffs, but this one was different,” they stated. “There was absolutely no warning, and in the aftermath, Garg belittled the laid-off workers to the rest of us and told us there would be no second chances from now on. The whole thing was demoralizing.”

“Since the layoffs, everyone has been on edge,” the employee elaborated. “We’re all looking behind our backs, expecting to get fired next. It’s not a healthy environment.”

While the optics are bad, we don’t know what’s happening behind closed doors. So maybe Garg did have a valid reason for letting these employees go. In my opinion, though, he went about it the wrong way.

Why you might have to let an employee go.

One of the most challenging decisions we have to make is to part ways with a team member as a leader. Of course, sometimes, this is inevitable. Examples would be incidents of;

  • Acts of discrimination
  • Assault and harassment
  • Criminal activity
  • Insubordination
  • Lack of competence
  • Constant absenteeism

While the hiring process is intended to weed out unprofessional individuals, sometimes they slip through the cracks. And, in some cases, they may not actually display these characteristics until they’ve settled into their roles.

Additionally, you may have to downsize to improve efficiency or reduce costs. Or, you may have to pivot and change direction to respond to market changes.

Whatever the reason, if terminating an employee is inevitable, here are seven tips to carry this out gracefully and ethically.

1. Offer opportunities for improvement beforehand.

When an employee’s performance is in question, the chances are that a series of events have led you to need to make this difficult decision. That’s why it’s recommended that you might frequently consult with each member of your team individually to discuss their progress and offer feedback on where they can make improvements. You may also want to conduct performance reviews twice a year.

Generally, termination should only be the last option if the employee has violated the company’s policies. However, an employee can use a performance improvement plan (PIP) instead of firing them. This can help them track their progress, reach their goals, or discourage destructive workplace behaviors.

If you’re unsure whether your employee is performing well, ask your other team members for their perspective. For example, you could ask them about their attendance if they’ve missed deadlines or have difficulty communicating or collaborating with others.

If you document other members of the team’s experiences, this strengthens your case for why and how an employee must improve. In short, employees should never be caught off-guard when it comes to being fired. Instead, you should give them a chance to improve.

2. Inform human resources of the employee’s behavior.

The Human Resources department should be informed of all actions taken before terminating an employee. At the minimum, this should include implementing an improvement plan and how the employee progresses. In addition, documentation provides evidence and reasons for an employee’s termination by tracking the employee’s incidents and behavior.

HR can ensure that termination is a fair decision and that the proper procedures and protocol are followed. It’s also essential for both employees and the workplace that termination procedures comply with state and company requirements.

3. Create a transition plan.

“Choose the day and the time for the termi­nation deliberately,” advises management consultant and author of How to Be Good at Performance Appraisals Dick Grote. “While experts disagree on when a firing should occur, all acknowledge the importance of having a rationale — a good business reason for your choice of time and day for dropping the ax.”

“Doing it early in the day, early in the week, encourages the employee to get right to work on finding another job,” he adds. Furthermore, this reduces the chances of them spending the weekend planning revenge. “Friday after­noons, on the other hand, often create the minimum amount of disruption to the rest of the staff,” stays Grote.

Whether or not firing an employee is the solution, always put your company interests first. You probably put up with a subpar performance for months hoping the situation would somehow improve. As the end nears, make sure that the transition goes seamlessly not to harm the company or your colleagues.

“Check the succession plan for an internal candidate,” he suggests. For example, if you need to terminate someone, you may want to start recruiting and wait until you find a replacement. Sending these subtle hints to clients, customers, and even your team that staffing changes are imminent could ultimately work in your favor.

4. Be clear and concise.

When it comes to firing an employee, winging it is never the best course of action. You need to know actually what to say and how you’ll deliver the news. That’s why it’s suggested that you also practice the conversation you will have with the employee.

“Make sure you know exactly why you’re firing a worker, have specific examples, and bring the proper documentation, writes Kathryn Vasel over at CNN. “That includes copies of performance reports, any write-ups, and applicable financial forms like unemployment insurance and health insurance and 401(k) options.”

You should be clear and firm about the termination and the next steps. “There is no room or need to get into a protracted discussion,” said Dan Ryan, founder of Ryan Search & Consulting. “It is what it is; there is no productive discussion that can take place after.”

5. Don’t humiliate the employee.

“If I must fire an employee, I treat them with dignity because I don’t want to humiliate them,” writes Mike Kappel, founder, and CEO of Patriot Software, LLC in Forbes. “I will always fire someone in private behind closed doors.”

“Employment termination isn’t just bad for that individual— it’s also bad for the other employees,” he adds. “Other employees don’t know if or when they’re going to be on the chopping block.”

It’s also possible for your employees to have relationships with the fired employee, such as being friends outside of the workplace. As such, you could “risk draining the morale of the others if you fire someone in front of” the entire team.

He suggests it might be a good idea to fire the employee after the other employees have left for the day. In that case, the terminated employee does not have to leave their office (or wherever you fired them) in front of their coworkers.

Always have a witness.

“When you need to fire an employee, you and someone from Human Resources should be the only two people in the room with them,” Kappel continues. “If you don’t have an HR department or representative, grab a witness, like a trusted employee or even your business’s lawyer if applicable.”

In the event that the employee sues you, having someone else in the room with you is imperative. Why? Because this individual can confirm your firing of the employee was legal and ethical.

During the termination of an employee, a police escort may be appropriate in very rare situations. That may sound excessive. But, if you feel that they may become aggressive or violent, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“I once had to fire an employee with a police escort,” recalls Kappel. “She threatened to beat up another employee.” She also engaged in cage fights on weekends. So, when the officer arrived, the employee was let go — and thankfully without incident.

6. Keep documentation of the entire process.

Documentation is essential for the company’s reference — both during the termination process and afterward. These documents may include records such as a written notice of termination. As a rule of thumb, you should always document any actions taken, such as implementing a Performance Improvement Plan and its results, before firing an employee.

In general, the more documentation you have, the more straightforward this process can be? Why? Because it ensures that all work procedures are followed based on your employee handbook and pertinent labor laws. And, if the employee dispute the firing, you can use these documents to validate your decision.

7. Handle paperwork and tie up any loose ends.

In addition to termination documents, you should also bring the employee’s final paycheck with you. If you offer a severance package, explain what’s included. Review any noncompete or nondisclosure agreements with the employee, along with if they’ll continue receiving benefits like health insurance.

“After learning of the termination, the employee will most likely feel confused and upset,” writes Amy DelPo, attorney, for NOLO. Prepare to assist the employee by answering questions such as;

  • “Do I work the rest of the day or leave immediately?”
  • “When can I collect my belongings?”
  • “Do my coworkers know this is happening?”
  • “What should I tell my clients?”
  • “I have appointments scheduled for the rest of the week; what should I do about those?”

It would also be helpful if you developed a plan for ongoing work before the meeting to address the following;

  • Are these projects going to be assigned to someone else?
  • Are there any tasks the employee needs to complete?
  • Is the employee required to assist with the transition?

What to do after terminating an employee.

The following steps may be necessary after firing an employee. However, doing so may avoid terminating another employee or helping the department fill the vacant position.

  • Educating employees about workplace expectations. You can accomplish this by sharing employee handbooks and having one-on-one meetings. As a result, this could be enough to prevent additional firings.
  • Keeping employees in the loop. The law outlines specific guidelines about when and how to discuss an employee’s termination. However, being transparent about an employee’s termination openly and discussing any behavior that may still exist within the workplace will discourage rumors from being spread.
  • Posting a new job to fill the existing position. Reassign tasks to other employees after terminating an employee’s employment, or have managers temporarily take on those tasks to account for the departed employee. To avoid overburdening other employees with work and responsibilities, create a new job posting for the vacant position as soon as possible.
  • Strengthening your existing team. Host team-building activities if you need to bolster morale and encourage team bonding. You could also celebrate your team’s achievements or have some fun in the workplace, like throwing a pizza party.

Image Credit: Sora Shimazaki; Pexels; Thanks!

12 Time Management Errors That Will Sink You in 2022

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12 Time Management Errors That Will Sink You in 2022

Is time management a recurring goal or resolution that you make year after year? Well, you’re not alone. But, unfortunately, it’s been found that a staggering 82% of people don’t have a time management system. And, in my opinion, that can only lead to chaos.

Thankfully, this is the time of the year to rectify this problem. But, the key is to eliminate time management errors, such as the following 12 mistakes that will sink you in 2022.

1. Falling into the time management trap.

“Time management promises us that if we become more efficient, we can make space to accommodate all of our to-dos comfortably,” writes Dane Jensen for HBR. “And yet, time management is like digging a hole at the beach: the bigger the hole, the more water that rushes in to fill it.” After all, with so many demands, blocking out an hour for downtime in your calendar “is akin to setting off a signal flare announcing your capacity.”

As a result, you tackle a new project, assist someone else with their priorities, or commit to unnecessary meetings.

“This is not to say that time management has no value,” adds Jensen. “Productivity is important. But in a world where burnout is running rampant, we also need strategies for eliminating volume instead of simply accommodating it.”

So, how can we avoid the time management trap? Give the following three strategies a test drive.

Reduce the volume of tasks.

Obvious? Sure. But, a lot of us struggle with this nonetheless.

It’s recommended that you merge your calendar and to-do list to have a complete view of your commitments. Then, if you’re already booked, either decline time requests, delegate or outsource them, or reschedule them when you have availability.

Replace decisions with principles.

Too many decisions can lead to cognitive overload. As a result, you’ll feel overwhelmed and more likely to make errors. To prevent this, establish principles like “No Meeting Wednesdays” or wearing the same outfit daily ala Steve Jobs.

Use structure, not willpower, to minimize distractions.

We waste a lot of time on distractions like email or social media. Use structure to your advantage rather than draining your energy fighting against these distractions.

For example, blocking certain apps and websites when you need to focus on your most important task. Or, check your inbox and social accounts at determined intervals, such as first thing in the morning, after lunch, and before the end of the workday.

2. Not setting personal goals.

“Personal goal setting is essential to managing your time well,” states the Mind Tools Content Team. Why? “Because goals give you a destination and vision to work toward.”

“When you know where you want to go, you can manage your priorities, time, and resources to get there,” they add. “Goals also help you decide what’s worth spending your time on and what’s just a distraction.”

That’s all well and good. But, how can you actually achieve your goals? Well, here are six strategies that Angela Ruth recommends in a previous Calendar piece;

  • Take action right now. Don’t wait until the New Year, or the perfect time, for that matter, to get the ball moving. It won’t be easy, but you’ll “never achieve your goals if you fail to take action,” says Angela.
  • Consider your skills and adjust your plan accordingly. Then, for larger goals, break them down into more manageable chunks. From there, “think about what it’s going to take to accomplish each one of those tasks,” Ruth adds. “This includes looking inwardly and considering your talents and expertise,” as well as admitting your weaknesses.
  • Delegate tasks. Behind every successful individual is a team that complimented their skillsets and gave support when needed.
  • Write down a plan of action. “An action plan is a basic roadmap that you can follow that will get you to your goal,” states Angela. “This is extremely important as it will ensure you won’t miss any major steps along the way.”
  • Make sure that everything is measurable. Not only will this keep you accountable, but it will also help you track your progress.
  • Create accountability and hold yourself to it. At the get-go, you need to define your responsibilities and make them crystal clear so that you’ll follow through.

3. Making everything a top priority.

You’re undoubtedly an essential person with more than your fair share of responsibilities. But, and I can’t stress this enough, not everything is a top priority.

“Instead of believing that everything needs to be done right now, determine which actions indeed are your priorities,” advises Calendar co-founder John Hall. “Ideally, these should be the tasks that move you closer to achieving your goals.” You could also take into account “urgency, due dates, ROI, or the consequences of not completing the task or project.”

Do you still have trouble prioritizing? “Try using a priorities matrix, such as the popular Eisenhower Matrix,” suggests John. “Here, you would list all of your tasks into a four-quadrant box.” After that, you would organize them in the following ways.

  • Urgent and important. These should be considered your top priorities and deserve your attention first.
  • Important, but not urgent. Schedule these tasks when you have the time.
  • Urgent, but not important. These tasks should probably be delegated or outsourced to someone else.
  • Neither urgent nor important. Remove these items from both your to-do list and calendar entirely.

4. Fighting against your circadian rhythms.

If you’ve ever searched for time management tips, I’m positive that you’ve been told to wake up earlier. After all, the most successful people in the world, from Tim Cook to Dwayne “The Rock Johnson,” follow this practice. But, unfortunately, while I get why this could work, it can be counterproductive.

For instance, if you’re an early bird, this makes a ton of sense. You’re less likely to get distracted by waking up before everyone else. But, more importantly, this allows you to work during your prime biological time.

However, this may not be effective if you’re a night owl. Why? Because instead of working with your internal clock, aka your circadian rhythm, you’re going against the grain.

To put this another way, if you’re at peak productivity in the morning, then, by all means, wake up earlier. But, if the opposite is true, don’t force yourself to wake up at three or four in the morning.

5. Using the wrong equipment and methods.

“Everything from desks to chairs matters when you’re trying to achieve a goal,” notes the folks over at Autonomous. “Something like the SmartDesk 4 and the ErgoChair 2 can significantly help you work more productively in the office than some of their counterparts.”

I can personally vouch for the SmartDesk 4 and its excellent sit-stand function. While standing up has been found to increase productivity and combat a sedentary lifestyle, you can take a seat when you need a breather.

In addition to the wrong equipment, you may also be using improper time management methods. For example, the Pomodoro Technique is a popular and effective way to manage your time and encourage breaks. But, some feel this is too restrictive and prefer an attentive like the Flowtime Technique.

6. Being busy, not present.

“Are there obligations that must be met?” asks Deanna Ritchie, Editor-in-Chief at Calendar. “Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean you have to be doing something constantly.”

“It’s been found that being a member of ‘the cult of busy’ creates a chronic stress response in your body and mind.” Eventually, you could experience “symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, headaches, and gastrointestinal discomforts,” she adds. “You’re also asking for possible cardiac issues as well.”

“But, it’s not merely our physical well-being that we’re putting in harm’s way,” Deanna says. “There’s also a link between stress and depression.” Furthermore, this can put a strain on relationships and hinder your performance.

Specifically, when you’re busy, you miss out on new opportunities and aren’t working to your full potential. Additionally, this prevents you from effectively prioritizing your time, neglecting self-care, and failing to set boundaries.

How can you leave the cult of busy? By focusing on the present by;

  • Don’t ignore the past or future. Instead, allocate specific periods to plan and worry.
  • Do less. I’ve already alluded to this above. Try using the Eisenhower mentioned above Matrix to simplify your to-do lists.
  • Consider the opportunity cost. For example, before accepting a meeting invite, ask yourself if it’s genuinely worth the two hours of your time.
  • Let go of the narrative so that you can focus. Instead, acknowledge what’s holding you back, such as fear. Then, even if valid, imagine them as a soap bubble so that you can pop them.
  • Bring more mindfulness into your life. Make this a part of your daily life by visualizing your goals, practicing gratitude, and going for walks without your phone.
  • Stop overscheduling yourself. “If you’re not saying ‘HELL YEAH!’ about something, say ‘no,’” recommends Derek Sivers.

7. Undervaluing the time something will take to finish.

“Overachievers are especially guilty of this time-management sin,” writes Lisa Evans in Fast Company. “Thinking something will only take a few minutes, and it ends up eating up a half-hour is a common pitfall of A-type overachievers who never want to turn down an opportunity but don’t calculate how much of their time that opportunity will eat up.”

How can you avoid this? Productivity coach Kimberly Medlock suggests writing down how long each task on your to-do list will take to complete.

“If a task takes 25 or 30 minutes, it should be scheduled on your calendar,” adds Evans. “Another trick is to double the amount of time you think each task will take.” So that you anticipate a task taking you a half-hour, you should block out an hour to play it safe.

You should also map out your day either the night before or first thing in the morning. “Every 10 minutes you spend on planning saves you an hour in execution,” says Toggl CEO Alari Aho. I’ll go more detail into this in a minute, but just make sure to leave some white space in your calendar so that it’s flexible.

8. Skipping breaks.

I get it. You’ve got a million things to do and only a finite amount of time to get them done. But, even though it sounds counterintuitive, you can’t afford to skip breaks.

There’s no shortage of evidence on why breaks are so beneficial. But, the main consensus is that breaks give you the chance to reset mentally. As a result, you’ll feel less stressed and have the energy to make it through the workday.

More specifically, frequent breaks have prevented decision fatigue, restored long-term goals motivation, and sparked an “Aha” moment. Best of all? These can be microbreaks, like going for a 10-minute after completing a to-do list item.

9. Wasting time searching for documents and items.

In all honesty, this has long been a problem in the workplace. For instance, an IDC white paper published in 2012 found that information workers and IT professionals spent an average of 4.5 hours per week looking for paper documents. Similar studies show that the average office worker wastes 50 minutes a day trying to locate misplaced files and items.

The obvious solution, in my opinion, is to keep your workspace clean and organized. It doesn’t have to Mr. Clean levels of cleanliness. But, you should give everything a home and return these items to where they belong after you’ve used them. I usually do this on Friday afternoons before calling it a week.

You could also go digital and move relevant paper documents to the cloud. But, this also presents a findability issue and information overload and multitasking. For example, it’s been reported that “54% of US office professionals surveyed agreed that they spend more time searching for documents and files they need than responding to emails and messages.”

To get around this, you could turn to a unified search solution.

Elastic describes this as “a single search bar for your most-critical content — a one-stop answer shop if you will. With unified search, you can search across all your productivity, collaboration, and storage tools all in one place.” And, ideally, this solution should be;

  • Relevant. “Top-ranked content is surfaced across all the indexed sources, in a single, unified set of results.”
  • Personalized. Since everyone uses different tools, they should be customized based on the user’s preferences.
  • Secure. The solution offers security features like encryption and proper authorization to prevent cyberattacks.
  • Scalable. “A solution that seamlessly scales provides versatility and peace of mind as your search needs grow.”

10. Rigid planning.

Perhaps one of the most significant debates this side of Star Wars or Star Trek or who’s the best Chris in the MCU, is scheduling your time or going with the flow.

Here’s the thing. It’s a balancing act.

Scheduling your priorities, for example, is a must if you want to protect your valuable time. If you don’t, you might end up spending your time and energy on less important tasks. In turn, you could fall behind on deadlines or fail to reach your goals.

Having too much free time can also be detrimental. As mentioned earlier, you need to have some sort of idea of where you’re going and how to get there.

If your schedule is too rigid, then you don’t have the wiggle room and flexibility to address emergencies or unavoidable interruptions. Or, maybe you got a late start to your day because you were procrastinating. If you don’t have free blocks of time in your schedule, then you can’t adjust your plans accordingly.

11. Taking the “ready, aim, fire” approach.

“Always adopt the mindset of ‘ready, fire and aim’ instead of ‘ready, aim and fire’ approach,” writes Shawn Lim over Lifehack. “Always remember that no one is perfect in this world.” And, more importantly, we learn best from our failures and mistakes.

“You don’t have to understand every detail to start,” adds Lim. “You can start right away and figure the rest of the details which you don’t know.” After all, as long as you’re in motion, you’ll “have the edge over people who are always thinking but are not doing anything.”

At the same time, this doesn’t mean you can toss planning and brainstorming by the wayside. Instead, getting started should always be one of your top strategies.

12. Not relieving stress.

Physician and neuroscientist Paul MacLean developed the famous triune brain theory in the 1960s. While his theory has been revised, it mainly argues that we all have three brains.

“The most ancient structure is the reptilian brain, so named because it is made up of the stem and cerebellum,” explains David Hassell, CEO of 15Five. “These structures also appear in reptiles, animals that lack the more developed brain components described below.” Its purpose is to keep us protected as it regulates our heart rate and breathing.

The limbic brain is the next structure. The limbic brain is shared by all mammals “is where emotions, memories, and aggression live,” adds Hassell. It also “controls much of our behavior.”

“When we worry about our social lives and relationships, we recede into our limbic brains,” he explains.

“Finally, we humans and other primates have a specialized structure called the neo-cortex,” says Hassell. Also known as the frontal lobe, it’s “responsible for language and abstract and creative thinking.”

How does this impact time management? “When people feel unsafe at work, their more primitive brain structures are activated, and they can’t access their frontal lobes to innovate,” clarifies Hassell.

Additionally, fear “will trigger their brains to start producing adrenaline and cortisol, and their creative minds will shut down.” In short, stress management and time management go hand-in-hand.

You can use proven techniques like guided meditation and deep breathing exercises to relieve stress. Other suggestions would be physical activity and productively venting to others. Also, create a stress-free work environment by personalizing your workspace and avoiding toxic co-workers.

Goal Setting Not Working? Try These 8 Alternatives

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Goal Setting Not Working? Try These 8 Alternatives

Somewhere in between holiday festivities and wrapping up all of your year-end obligations, you might also be setting your goals for next year. While there’s nothing wrong with that, most of us fail to reach these goals. An astounding 92 percent of people who set New Year’s resolutions never follow through, according to researchers at the University of Scranton.

Why do we keep setting ourselves up for failure? That answer varies from person to person. However, some of the most common culprits include;

  • Making goals too vague.
  • Setting unattainable goals.
  • Listing only your long-term goals.
  • Writing your goals as negative statements.
  • You get discouraged when messing up.
  • Your environment doesn’t support your goals.
  • You downplay or don’t celebrate your wins.
  • There’s no system to hold you accountable.

Furthermore, goals hardly translate to daily actions, and some of us don’t track our progress.

Whatever the reason, if you’ve found that goal setting isn’t getting it done, you might want to explore the following eight alternatives going forward.

1. Ask yourself, “Did I do my best?”

Do your best. If it sounds like advice from a kindergarten teacher, well, I get it,” writes freelance writer and Fast Company contributor Daniel Dowling. “Vague goals produce vague results, right?”

However, Dowling found that one undefined goal can prove a punch in the gut reality check when included with a system of daily goals. What’s more, it can lead to tangible results.

The reason why this can work? Firstly, many of us have difficulty determining how much time to dedicate to our goals. When setting goals, we don’t know where to draw the line between ambition and delusion. In turn, this results in us not getting the desired outcome.

When Dowling asked himself, “Did I do my best?” he was confronted with just how much effort he had actually given that day. If he “frittered away most of the day,” he would analyze why and make changes so that he wouldn’t repeat the same mistake again.

“Without asking myself if I’d done my best each day, I’d either have wallowed in self-reproach or failed to reflect on my performance at all. Instead, I’d turned self-criticism into a self-improvement habit,” he wrote.

2. Establish anti-goals.

Is your calendar packed with pointless meetings? Are you burned out from working long hours? Have you questioned your relationships?

If you’ve ever had these types of questions, you can turn things around by setting anti-goals.

While this might seem counterintuitive, “anti-Goals create a balance by showing us a tangible set of values or actions that we don’t want to be,” clarifies Ken Wu.

Originally introduced as a concept called ‘premeditatio malorum,’ which Seneca, Foucault, and Socrates used, “anti-goals give us a benchmark of failure to avoid and allow us to anticipate ourselves at our worst,” he adds. This enables us to develop our first steps of personal growth, and we remain true to ourselves as we develop.

When starting out, Wu focused on the following areas;

  • Values. Do you want to reject any standards or behaviors?
  • Habit. Which actions are you consciously trying to avoid?
  • Physical. What possible health issues do you want to minimize?
  • Emotional. Which mental states do you wish to avoid?
  • Relationships. Do you want to avoid certain relationships? What is your ideal way to interact with others?

To harness the power of anti-goals, however, Wu advises that they shouldn’t consume you. He also says that they shouldn’t make you complacent or remain stagnant. Instead, they must evolve and drive you forward.

3. Set themes.

Although there is a place and time for goals daily, goals often lead to anxiety, regret, and depression rather than fulfillment, pride, and contentment, claims Niklas Göke. This is because we exert pressure on ourselves until we reach our goals. In addition, when we finally do accomplish them, they disappear without a trace.

Moreover, we think that happiness is experienced after this burst of relief. In turn, this inspires us to set a new, bigger goal. However, it remains beyond our reach. In short, it’s a vicious cycle.

Harvard researcher Tal Ben-Shahar calls this “the arrival fallacy” — the illusion that “reaching some future destination will bring lasting happiness.” To combat this, author and entrepreneur James Altucher lives by themes instead of goals that encourage meaning over pleasure.

Göke says that a theme could be a single verb, a noun, or an adjective. “Commit,” “growth,” and “healthy” are all valid themes, he adds. As are “invest,” “help,” “kindness,” and “gratitude.”

“Themes are immune to anxiety about tomorrow,” states Göke. So your regrets about yesterday don’t matter to them either. “All that matters is what you do today, who you are in this second, and how you choose to live right now.”

4. Focus on systems.

According to James Clear, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Atomic Habits, asserts that there are several problems with goals, including;

  • Both winners and losers have the same goals.
  • Attaining a goal is a momentary change.
  • Goals can restrict your happiness.
  • Goals are often at odds with a long-term process.

Because of this — look at, Clear champions systems over goals. These are simply daily processes and habits. For example, exercising for 30-minutes before work or learning a new skill for 10-minutes after lunch. Even though you didn’t set a specific outcome, like losing 50 pounds or becoming fluent in Spanish, systems are flexible and help you make progress.

This is well described by Clear using a rowboat metaphor. Consider goals as the rudder and systems as the paddles: “Goals determine your direction. Systems determine your progress.”

5. Burn or burn.

Okay. This might seem a little radical and potentially dangerous. However, it might be worth trying if you struggle to complete those necessary but dreadful tasks needed to reach a goal. And, here’s how it works, according to Nir Eyal in an Observer post.

  • Pick your routine. For instance, going to the gym.
  • Book your time. Block out time in your schedule for the routine. Routines can’t be performed if you don’t reserve the time to arrange an appointment or meeting.
  • Find a crisp $100 bill — or any denomination that you wouldn’t want to lose.
  • Find a lighter.
  • Buy a wall calendar and place it somewhere you’ll see daily.
  • Place the lighter near the wall calendar and tape the $100 bill to today’s date.

There are now two options available to you. On any given day, when it’s time to perform your routine, you have the option to choose either option A and perform the routine, in my case to feel the “burn” in the gym, or option B and literally burn money, explains Eyal. The money can’t be given to someone or spent on anything; it must be set ablaze.

Not only is it dangerous to actually light the bill, but it’s also illegal. However, science has found that just the thought of watching your hard-earned money aflame can motivate you to complete the tasks that you don’t want to.

6. Adopt a mantra.

The process of achieving a goal often involves changing your habits as well. Of course, this is always easier said than done. After all, when some of us experience setbacks, we tend to get so disappointed that we simply quit.

Perhaps you should adopt a “mantra” instead of a resolution if this describes you. As a result of being overextended, entrepreneur Reshma Chamberlin tried this approach by incorporating a yearly “anchor.”

For Chamberlin, as she told Fast Company’s Jenna Abdou, “It’s not a single objective, like go to the gym every day. Instead, your mantra is a conscious choice to take control of your life.” For example, her 2017 mantra was, “Ask, and you shall receive.” Through this motto, she was felt more empowered to pursue new experiences.

When setting mantas, though, Chamberlin suggests that they are positive and deliberate. And, the mantra is too unrealistic or making you unhappy; try a different one.

7. Make a PACT.

“Instead of SMART goals, which don’t encourage ambitious, long-term endeavors, I prefer to make a PACT with myself,” notes Anne-Laure Le Cunff over at Ness Labs. “While a SMART goal focuses on the outcome, the PACT approach focuses on the output.”

In short, rather than pursuing a well-defined goal, it’s about continuous growth. In this regard, it can be a valuable alternative to SMART goals.

But, what exactly does PACT stand for?

  • Purposeful. An appropriate goal should be relevant to your long-term purpose in life, not just to your immediate needs. It’s much easier to get and stay motivated when your goals are aligned with your passions and priorities.
  • Actionable. You should have a goal that is both actionable and controllable. Focusing on immediate outputs rather than overplanning for distant outcomes in the future is the key to shifting your mindset.
  • Continuous. Choice paralysis prevents so many people from achieving their goals, explains Le Cunff. This happens when you have so many options that you spend more time researching than actually doing things to further your goal. One benefit of continuous goals is that they’re flexible and repeatable. That means focusing on continuous improvement is more important than a pre-determined endpoint.
  • Trackable. Not measurable, Anne-Laure Le Cunff adds. Often, statistics are overrated and don’t apply to a wide variety of goals. As with the GitHub tracker, Le Cunff likes the “yes” or “no” approach to goal tracking as it makes tracking progress a breeze.

8. Don’t set goals at all.

According to Leo Babauta, the author behind Zen Habits, sometimes the best goal is no goal at all.

“Today, I live mostly without goals. Now and then, I start coming up with a goal, but I’m letting them go,” he writes. “Living without goals hasn’t ever been an actual goal of mine … it’s just something I’m learning that I enjoy more, that is incredibly freeing, that works with the lifestyle of following my passion that I’ve developed.”

That may sound liberating in theory, but how does this actually work?

He explains that there’s no goal for the year, the month, the week, or the day. You don’t obsess over tracking or actionable steps. There’s even no need for a to-do list, though jotting down reminders is fine.

“What do you do, then? Lay around on the couch all day, sleeping and watching TV and eating Ho-Hos?” he asks. Of course not. You just do.

“You find something you’re passionate about, and do it, Leo states. “Just because you don’t have goals doesn’t mean you do nothing — you can create, you can produce, you can follow your passion.”

As a result, Leo says that he can accomplish more than if he had goals since he’s always doing something that excites him. But, that’s ultimately not the point. Instead, he emphasizes, “all that matters is that I’m doing what I love, always.”

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Time Blocking

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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Time Blocking

For most of us, we’re at least familiar with the concept of time blocking. After all, the practice of time blocking has been around for nearly as long we’ve been using calendars. In fact, Bronze Age calendars seem to have reflected specific agricultural activities to prevent crop spoilage.

While time blocking for personal use is a more recent development, it’s still been practiced for years. So, it was somewhat surprising to read that it’s all the rage on TikTok. As USA Today notes, over 3.1 million views have been generated on the video-sharing platform using the hashtag #timeblocking.

But, before you jump on the time blocking bandwagon, let’s describe what it is, who’s it for, and the pros and cons.

What’s Time Blocking and Who Should Use It?

As the name implies, blocking your time is a way to plan your day into manageable chunks. More specifically, each block of time is devoted to one particular task or a group of similar activities.

Simple, right?

In contrast to a to-do list, time blocking tells you when and what to do at any given time. The idea may seem counterintuitive at first. However, having your Calendar divided into blocks makes you task-focused. And, it also limits others from invading your valuable time.

Furthermore, time blocking lets you begin each day with a set of specific tasks to complete rather than following an ever-expanding to-do list.

Unfortunately, time blocking won’t help you manage your attention and focus better if your Calendar is chock-full of meetings and overlapping meetings. On the flip side, the use of time blocking can be used to increase productivity when you have an abundance of available time. As Parkinson’s Law states, “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” So, time blocking can be used to regain control over your Calendar and schedule work strategically.

You may want to consider time blocking if:

  • Multitasking is something you do frequently
  • You have trouble focusing on one task
  • You’re prone to getting distracted
  • Meetings rule your days, and you’re unable to focus on what matters most
  • At work, you want to be intentional with your time and energy
  • You need more insight into how you spend each day
  • Overworking is a problem for you
  • You must handle a lot of different responsibilities, tasks, and projects as part of your job
  • You want to achieve more goals and boost your productivity

Advantages of Time Blocking

Highlights your priorities.

In my opinion, the main advantage of time blocking is that it clarifies what your priorities are. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with using a to-do list, they don’t account for time. That means you could underestimate how long a task takes you to complete. In turn, you can end up with an unrealistically long list that won’t be completed. And that can leave you deflated when there are still items that haven’t been crossed off.

You can only schedule your most important tasks for each day because your Calendar only has so many blocks each day. Therefore, you should prioritize your three or five most important and urgent responsibilities for today. As for everything, they can be scheduled for another time or delegated to someone else.

Replaces to-do lists.

The NY Times best-selling author and LEADx founder Kevin Kruse found that after interviewing over 200 billionaires, including Olympians, straight-A students, and entrepreneurs, they shared a similar trait. “Ultra-productive people don’t work from a to-do list, but they do live and work from their calendar.”

As previously mentioned, and as Kruse further explains in a piece for Forbesto-do lists don’t take time into consideration. “When we have a long list of tasks, we tend to tackle those that can be completed quickly in a few minutes, leaving the longer items left undone.” Research shows “that 41% of all to-do list items are never completed!”

In addition, Kruse believes lists aren’t able to distinguish between urgent and essential items. Lists can also cause stress through the Zeigarnik effect. This concept states that we generally remember what has been completed better than what has been unfinished. Due to this, we may feel overwhelmed due to these “intrusive, uncontrolled thoughts.” And, for some, lists can cause insomnia.

Fights against perfectionism and procrastination.

Procrastination and perfectionism. Arguably, these are the biggest enemies of time management. Thankfully, Both of these adversaries can be foiled using time blocking.

Generally, it’s recommended that you block your Calendar with your most challenging tasks first when using the blocking method. As a result, this will allow you to conserve your energy and willpower for the remainder of the day.

In addition, time blocks can help you break larger projects into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Enhances concentration and focus.

“High-quality work produced is a function of two things—the amount of time you spend on the work and the intensity of your focus during this time,” Cal Newport, author of “Deep Work,” told Fast Company. “If you can increase your focus, you’ll get more done in less time.”

By discouraging multitasking, time blocking helps you to improve your focus. It also keeps you from being distracted and context switching. You could, for instance, use an app to block distracting smartphone notifications for an hour as you dive into deep work.

Additionally, this will improve your quality of work as well as your productivity. Why? As opposed to spreading your focus and energy across multiple tasks, you dedicate 100% of your attention and energy to the current task.

Ensures you follow through with goals.

Making a concrete plan helps people achieve their goals, according to researchers. As such, you’re more likely to accomplish your goals and tasks if you schedule them.

As you might have guessed, creating concrete plans becomes much easier when you block time in your Calendar. Mainly this is because it forces you to focus on specific tasks that can help you reach your goals and when you’ll work on them.

Protects your health.

I might sound like a broken here. But, if you want to improve or protect both your physical and mental health, then you need to eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep. When we overcommit ourselves, however, this becomes a challenge.

As a result of that, we feel more stressed and have less time to attend to our health during the day. Therefore, you should schedule time for physical activity, eating a real meal, and sleeping times to stay in excellent form.

Also, schedule time to stay mentally sharp, which can also reduce stress. Specifically, set aside times for reading, learning something new, or bringing a skill into play.

Helps you stop being a people pleaser.

Being a people pleaser isn’t always a bad trait. After all, having a meaningful relationship with others depends on being concerned and caring. However, this does become a problem if you say “yes” to gain approval to bolster your self-esteem or if you put the happiness and goals of others ahead of your own.

As a result of being a people pleaser, you may experience more stress and anxiety. What’s more, this can lead to anger, frustration, and less resolve to pursue your own goals. And, oddly enough, this can actually weaken relationships.

While time blocking won’t be the sole solution, it can help you stop being a people pleaser. How so? Well, let’s say that a colleague asks you to help them on a project. If you have already blocked out your Calendar for your own work, you can say “no” to them because you’re busy. As a compromise, you could lend them a hand when you’re available.

Disadvantages of Time Blocking

Using the time blocking technique takes a lot of time.

There’s no way around this. Time blocking takes a lot of time and effort. And, depending on how detailed you are, it can also be stressful. I mean, just close your eyes for a minute and imagine the stress of breaking your day into 5-minute slots like Elon Musk.

For most, that’s counterintuitive and exceedingly inflexible. Perhaps this is why some people abandon the time blocking method.

Murphy’s Law.

I’m sure that you’re familiar with Murphy’s Life, which in its simplest form states, “If anything can go wrong, it will.” But, what exactly does this have to do with time blocking?

Again, if you block out every minute of your day, there isn’t wiggle room for constant interruptions, urgent tasks, and the unexpected. For example, last week, I had an internet outage while trying to meet a deadline. Not only was I irritated that this threw off my schedule, but the thought of missing the deadline also increased my stress level.

Your stress level is even more significant if you require more flexibility in your business life — like executives or salespeople.

We’re terrible at estimating time.

“Most people overestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a month. Likewise, we overestimate what we can do in a year, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade,” Matthew Kelly wrote in “The Long View.”

Even if you believe you’re decent at estimating time, there will be times when you’re still off. For instance, you might block out an hour to analyze data, write a blog post, or winterize your car. But, in reality, it takes closer to two. The result is that time is eaten up by one task after another. And, eventually, your day is thrown into chaos after a series of errors like this.

Time blocking kicks you out of the zone.

Let’s say that you only planned to write for an hour. So, you block that time out in your Calendar for this. When the hour is up, though, you want to keep going because you’re in the zone. If you’re going to follow your schedule diligently, then you have to stop writing, or you’re going to bleed into another block.

We rarely have the same schedule.

Even if you have the traditional 9-to-5 gig, each day is still different. For example, one day, you’re working on administrative tasks, another, you’re in meetings, and another, you’re tackling a project. That can make time blocking tricky and more complicated. Time blocking issues can be especially tricky unless you only schedule for the day what has to be done of that day — don’t add other obligations.

Or, even if you do have the same schedule day in and out, this can lead to monotony. Over time, monotony can put you in a rut where you accomplish less.

Sunk costs can cause you to make the wrong decisions.

According to the sunk cost fallacy, once people have invested money, effort, or time into an endeavor, they tend to carry on. Accordingly, if you are more deliberate about your time blocks, it could be more challenging to let go if things don’t go as planned.

It doesn’t help you begin the work you have scheduled.

Just because you’re supposed to start a task at 10 a.m. doesn’t mean that’s going to happen if you’re not feeling it. While sometimes just sucking it up and just starting can help, there are days when you’re dragging. So, if you begin working 30-minutes later than scheduled, this can throw off the rest of your day.

How to Time Block Correctly

Is time blocking for everyone? Of course not. But, if you believe that it can be beneficial for you, here are some recommendations on how to time block correctly.

  • Block your priorities. Create a daily to-do list of all the tasks you must complete. Then, sort each task by priority. Now, take your list and block out the most important and urgent for first thing in the morning.
  • Stop working on clock time — work when you’re most productive. Instead, plan your schedule based on when you’re most productive. Usually, this is based on your circadian rhythm.
  • Create theme days. As an example, spend Mondays recruiting, Tuesdays in meetings, and Wednesdays on creative projects.
  • Reserve breaks and time off. Keep an empty block of time on your schedule at all times. These blocks can be used for meditation, walks, or staring out the window. They also give you more flexibility in your schedule.
  • Set boundaries — but be flexible. Despite your best efforts to plan ahead, life is full of surprises. To accommodate this, leave empty blocks of time for adjustments or unexpected events.
  • Create time blocks for things that happen. You should also block out specific times for your priorities and rest as well as those things that really matter, such as administrative and creative tasks, family time, and self-care.
  • Use a calendar to track your blocks. Having the top calendar app is paramount to successful time blocking, mainly because it can track your blocks and avoid conflicts.
  • Revise. Last but not least, track your progress every week or month and revise your schedule if necessary. For instance, if you planned to write a blog post for two hours, but it only took you one, adjust your schedule to reflect that by advancing your next task.

Leadership Shows the Way for Productivity

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Leadership Shows the Way for Productivity

In order for the company to achieve its goals, everyone from top to bottom must be productive. Additionally, productivity will motivate employees, increase morale, and promote a more positive work environment. All of these, by the way, is essential if you want you and your team to get excited about work following COVID.

As you know, you must become an effective leader to improve your team’s productivity. But, that’s often easier said than done. Thankfully, you can improve your leadership skills using the following strategies. In turn, this will pave the way for productivity.

1. Don’t be a boss.

Initially, this may sound like a contradiction. But, as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.” As it turns out, the Bull Moose was 100% right.

As Building Champions notes, the key differences between a boss and a leader are;

  • Leaders focus on sustainable solutions, while bosses prefer quick fixes. Leaders show subordinates how and why to do things, while managers cultivate a micromanaged environment.
  • Unlike bosses, leaders are more emotionally intelligent. In contrast to subject matter experts, leaders are emotionally and people-savvy. Great leaders are empathetic, but also very capable of controlling their emotions.
  • Leaders manage people while bosses manage work. Leaders motivate people to achieve specific goals, while bosses control them. Influential leaders influence, inspire, and encourage others to make an organization successful.
  • Unlike a boss, a leader is someone who listens and speaks. Subordinates are expected to listen and obey their bosses when they deliver orders. Regardless of the title of the individual, leaders listen to everyone’s opinions.
  • Leaders encourage rather than criticize. Even though constructive criticism is healthy, excessive and constant criticism can be discouraging. An outstanding leader strikes the right balance between constructive criticism and rewarding employees when they excel.
  • Leaders create more leaders, not just circles of power. It’s considered a form of competition by the boss to hog all the power and authority. Instead, through delegation, education, and providing the right resources, a leader creates other leaders.

2. Effective communicators.

Communication is one of the most crucial aspects of increasing productivity among your team. Overall, members of your team should feel comfortable talking to you about challenges they are facing. But, if you want this to happen, you need to provide ample time to meet with them. And, you also need to make sure that you actually listen to them without judgment.

If this is an area that needs work, encourage your team to speak up during meetings. You can also put them more at ease by informally chatting with them, like during lunch. Other suggestions you can practice would be;

  • Make sure everyone is kept in the loop. Always keep the lines of communication open. Teams are more motivated when leaders are transparent and keep them informed.
  • Listen with empathy. Communication is a two-way street. As such, you must listen attentively to your employees. The more you listen to their concerns and implement changes, the more you will display respect as well as improve productivity and work processes.
  • Be careful about the medium you choose. Cooperation and healthy work culture will be enhanced with a suitable communication medium or tool. Examples include email, Slack, and Zoom.

3. Set the bar for productivity.

Leading by example is a simple and effective way to increase your team’s productivity. If you do this frequently, your team will eventually become more productive. For instance, if you want your team members to show up to team meetings on time, you must make it a point to arrive early.

By setting the bar for productivity, your employees will most likely follow suit. After all, leadership is about influencing others to be more efficient.

4. Grant ownership.

Ownership is a powerful business principle understood by the best leaders. The best way to give ownership to team members? Let them make their own decisions and hold them accountable for those decisions.

You can induce a sense of responsibility in your team members when they’re held accountable for their work. As a result, it becomes apparent to them that their decisions can directly impact the performance of everyone else.

There are several different ways to take ownership of a project. For example, one employee could be a project manager, while another focuses on research. Regardless of the exact responsibility, this builds their self-confidence. How? Because it shows that you trust them to get the job done on time.

5. Bring more humanity into the workplace.

“As a leader, you can be the one to ignite more humanity at work,” write Debbie Cohen and Kate Roeske-Zummer in Fast Company. “Take time to pause and reflect on how you may be contributing to a work environment where people are disengaged.”

“Your people are watching you all the time, taking cues from what you do and say,” they add. “What is your impact? Are you helping their work feel deeper and more connected? When you do, people will give more of themselves, and business wins.”

In other words, without humanity, your employees will continue to suffer a toxic burnout. But, thanks to the following five practices, you can successfully bring more humanity and productivity into the workplace.

  • Creating safety. Having a sense of belonging allows individuals to feel safe, fully express themselves, and know what they have to offer.
  • Working together. Establish and work towards achieving a common goal. Also, “be sure every team member feels heard and knows their contributions are valued,” they advise.
  • Claiming values. Clarity and intentionality come from knowing what you stand for. It’s your job as a leader to help your employees learn about their values and to understand why they do what they do.
  • Owning your impact. “When you take responsibility for your impact, it creates personal accountability; your words and your actions align,” add Cohen and Roeske-Zummer. In order to own your impact, you have to be personally responsible for the work you do and the culture you create.
  • Daring not to know. Leaders who show they are human, vulnerable, and do not know all the answers, allow others to step up. The strength of an organization depends on not knowing. You can take charge by saying, “I don’t have the answer for that, what do you think?”

6. Encourage learning opportunities.

Companies offering extensive training have 218% higher income per employee than companies with no formal training, according to the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Moreover, these companies have 24% higher profit margins than those who haven’t invested as much in training.

As if that weren’t enough, employing training and development encourages engagement and retains your top talent. Whether if it’s paying for in-person/online classes, bringing in speakers, or attending workshops, everyone in your organization, including yourself, should be enhancing and learning new skills.

7. Offer incentives to increase productivity.

Research conducted by Genesis Associates in 2018 found that 85% of the employees surveyed felt highly motivated to perform their best when there was an incentive. Why? One reason is that when we feel appreciated, we’re encouraged to repeat the behaviors and habits that made us productive in the first place.

It is essential to consider the employee’s individual needs or preferences when deciding how to reward them. For example, some might prefer public recognition depending on your employees, while others would rather have privately expressed thanks. Besides simple words of appreciation, you can also consider the following incentives:

  • A handwritten note. By sending them a handwritten note, you show your appreciation and that you care enough to take the time to thank them personally.
  • Take them out to lunch. This is also an excellent way to get to them better. If they’re working remotely, you could have food delivered to their home.
  • PTO. If you don’t wish to give your employees a bonus or raise, you can offer paid time off in lieu of vacation and sick days.
  • Introducing a wellness program. You can reduce your company’s health insurance costs and sick days by implementing a workplace wellness program.
  • Lazy Monday/Friday Coupons. Employees can use these coupons to arrive late on Monday mornings or leave early on Fridays.

8. Reduce phantom workload.

Introduced by Marilyn Paul, Ph. D., and David Peter Stroh, phantom workload “is the unintentional work created when people either take expedient but ineffective shortcuts or avoid taking on such as essential.”

Examples include complex tasks like:

  • Clarifying mission, vision, and values
  • Asking questions that challenge what is ambiguous or unrealistic
  • Identifying and resolving conflicts
  • Clarifying and streamlining decision-making processes
  • Providing candid, constructive feedback
  • Differentiating people with sanctions and rewards
  • Launching innovative projects
  • Making decisions that require disinvestment in programs or projects

“When not addressed, the phantom workload leads to a variety of consequences such as rework, unproductive meetings, organizational conflicts, and fractured relationships,” explains Deanna Ritchie in a previous Calendar article. In addition, it wastes time since we keep working on “the same problem over and over again.” Eventually, phantom workload “leads to greater stress and a further reluctance or inability to engage in difficult tasks.”

The good news? You can rescue phantom workload through tactics, such as;

  • Setting a limited amount of realistic goals for you and your team.
  • Changing your behavior by identifying why you want to change.
  • Planning out your day and protecting your time.
  • Asking others for help.
  • Using rewards or inspirational resources like Ted Talks for motivation.
  • Overcoming procrastination through mindfulness or working on the most challenging task first.

And “experiment with different time management and strategies,” Deanna suggests. “There will be some trial and error involved. But, it’s the only way that you’ll discover what works best for you.”

9. Give feedback on productivity.

Introducing a team feedback process is the final but most important item on the list. When employees aren’t aware they are being inefficient, then how can they improve their performance and overall productivity?

With that in mind, that’s why performance reviews and constructive feedback are essential and not a nuisance. It’s a proven way to guide employees in strengthening their weaknesses.

Additionally, don’t forget to ask them how you could help them improve after giving them the feedback. For example, maybe a little bit more guidance would be useful on specific tasks. Or perhaps that could use a little more creative freedom. And, to further encourage a culture of trust and open dialogue, ask them where you can improve to become a better leader.

Increase Your Energy for a Happier Work-Life Balance

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Increase Your Energy for a Happier Life Balance

It wasn’t all that long ago that the term “work-life balance” was all the rage. But, how exactly did the business world view the concept?

For many, it’s recognizing that an employee’s work experience is only one aspect of their lives? The other consisted of family, friends, hobbies, and overall health. The objective of work-life balance is to ensure that work doesn’t interfere with life outside of work too much. When this goal is met, employees will be happier and more productive.

“Work-life balance” may seem like a relatively new concept, but it first became popular during the 1970s and 1980s. It was actually stressed by baby boomers who attempted to achieve a balance between work, family, and other areas of their lives. The changing experiences of generational groups, however, have led HR leaders to reassess the term. Generation X, according to Forbes, has placed a high emphasis on achieving a balance between work and family. It also uses PTO to focus on family life and non-work activities.

But, as millennials have entered the workforce with gusto, Forbes adds that “they are more interested in finding a career path that will support their’ lifestyle,’ which in this context means their life outside of work.” In other words, younger age groups have focused on pursuing jobs and employers that support the lifestyle they desire. Rather than securing a job and then creating a life around its hours, income, and other aspects, this approach inverts the conventional approach more associated with Boomers.

As a consequence, concepts like “work-life integration” have become increasingly popular. But, maybe we’re overthinking this. “Rather, we simply must manage our energy,” asserts Gila Vadnai-Tolub for McKinsey.

“We must learn critical skills to balance our energy levels to ensure we alternate high-performance periods with resourcing times,” adds Vadnai-Tolub. “Athletes do this by alternating training with resourcing activities, and we must do the same via activities that give us energy.”

The Primary Types of Energy

“There are four primary types of energy: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual,” states Vadnai-Tolu.

  • Physical energy. Most of us are familiar with this type. Generally speaking, it provides us with an indication of how tired we feel and how well our bodies feel. It’s for this reason that we understand we need to walk occasionally. However, it is not only long-term fitness plans that matter, but also daily refreshment moments.
  • Mental energy. This is often obtained from tasks that require analytical and cognitive abilities. For example, you may be physically fine but mentally exhausted after spending a long time concentrating. Each of us has specific mental tasks that drain or lift us.
  • Emotional energy. To achieve this, one must have connections with others – from giving and receiving love to helping a friend or colleague deal with a problem. Consequently, negative emotions such as fear, frustration, and anger drain energy and damage performance, she says.
  • Spiritual energy. When we do something we love, something that speaks to our spirit, we receive wisdom, compassion, integrity, joy, love, creativity, or peace as a result. For instance, it’s a common experience to become mentally and physically tired while working on a project. Nevertheless, we’re able to keep going because it is something of fundamental importance.

Being aware of these can help you better manage your energy throughout the day. For example, when you recognize that you’re physically or mentally zapped, you would take a break to recharge.

What’s more, you can find ways to give yourself an energy boost. For example, let’s say that you’re frustrated with how long a project has taken you to complete. Reminding yourself of the meaning behind your work or collaborating with a supportive college could reduce those negative feelings and give you a jot.

Why It’s Important to Manage Your Energy

You may be thinking that managing your energy isn’t all that big of a deal. After all, you can just brew a pot of coffee to wake yourself up. While that might give you a temporary boost to wrap up a tedious task, truly managing your energy has the following benefits, according to Karen Kallie R.N., M.A.C.P;

  • Accelerated change. Working energetically gets at the root of problems, makes them easier to resolve, and empowers you to provide positive, quick, and practical solutions, really a change from within.
  • Diminished resistance. Often, our attempts to change are stymied by the struggle, thereby impeding the flow of change. Energy work can aid in eliminating that struggle. When using energy, we can experience ease and grace instead of force and willpower.
  • The discipline of the mind. A more focused mind helps us channel our energy more efficiently towards our goals and fulfill our desires.
  • Enhanced clarity. As a result of eliminating emotional turmoil, negative attitudes, and exhausting thought patterns, one can perceive reality more clearly, oneself and others.
  • Improved intuition, creativity, and spiritual experience. By strengthening and removing old memories, beliefs, and maladaptive patterns from the overall energy system, the entire system functions better, enabling higher levels of function to expand.
  • Clearing energy blocks from our systems creates an opening for positive growth. To prevent ourselves from getting sucked into repetitive cycles filled with what we do not want, we create more of what we want in life. When our minds and bodies are relaxed, we become more open to allowing greater flow, which also helps us to quiet our ego and recognize other energies.

How you Can Increase Your Energy for Happier and More Balance Life

Establish fixed schedules for work.

When will your workday begin and end? Ideally, this should be based around when you’re most productive, aka your biological prime time. While not always possible, when you can establish a work schedule, you can avoid energy-depleting distractions, like emails or office visitors.

“Use technology to your advantage by using the various apps and digital reminders that make it more difficult for you to break your own rules and access things outside of work time,” advises Dr. Beurkens. “Although technology can feel like it’s taking over our lives and infringing on our work-life balance, we can actually use it to our benefit in helping us stick to the boundaries we know are healthy for us.” For example, you may choose to set time limits, turn off your active status, or even set up an auto-responder to let others know you won’t respond outside your regular working hours.

You should also share your calendar with others. Of course, this doesn’t have to be everyone on your contact list. But, letting your co-workers or family members know when you’re on and off the clock prevents work-life lines from getting blurred.

Eat, drink, and be merry.

No, this isn’t a DMB plug. But, if “Tripping Billies” lifts your mood and energy, then go for it. So, instead, this covers the basics of increasing your energy.

You are what you eat.

With the proper diet, you can keep your body healthy, feel energized, and stay optimistic. Plus, healthy food can be tasty. And, personally, I enjoy learning and preparing new recipes.

Additionally, cooking healthy doesn’t have to be a time-consuming endeavor if you try the following;

  • Get your hands on a cookbook featuring quick and tasty dishes, or look for health-conscious recipes online.
  • Take advantage of ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables.
  • You’ll find it easier to resist the temptation to order a pizza f you prepare a weekly menu and freeze meals in advance.

But, what exactly should you eat? As per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, an optimal energy diet should include fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains.

You should also consume various foods from various food groups to get the proper nutrients to help you stay energized throughout the day. You should eat fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, especially dark, leafy vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, which are high in nutrients. For healthy protein options, fish and legumes are available in a variety of forms. In addition, eat three servings of whole-grain cereal, bread, rice, or pasta each day.

Stay hydrated.

Another benefit of eating healthy? You may be consuming water-rich fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, oranges, and strawberries. That’s a simple way to ensure that you stay hydrated throughout the day.

In addition to water, green tea, Yerba maté, and coffee are also drinks that can stimulate energy. Just be careful not to overdo it with the caffeine. When the body withdraws from caffeine after consuming too much coffee, as an example, it can result in energy loss.

Also, it’s alright to have the occasional alcoholic beverage. “Moderate drinking seems to be good for the heart and circulatory system, and probably protects against type 2 diabetes and gallstones,” states the Harvard School of Public Health.

Promote happiness and creativity.

Having a positive attitude toward life enables you to tackle your tasks more effectively. Alternatively, stress can be exhausting and negatively affect your health. In addition, research shows stress can hinder creativity.

You can relieve stress by taking care of yourself and choosing creative outlets that you enjoy;

  • Each week, dedicate some time to de-stressing and relaxing.
  • If possible, enjoy some quiet time in the morning.
  • Consider learning a new hobby or taking art classes if you’ve always wanted to take one.
  • Decrease your exposure to negativity, like avoiding news overdose or hanging out with toxic people.
  • Practice gratitude and do something meaningful daily.
  • Enjoy everyday tasks. Some ideas would be making an ethnic meal for dinner, singing in the shower, learning a language during your commute, or gamification at work.
  • Take walks outside — without your phone.
  • Find ways to laugh, like watching funny videos or playing with your dog.

Get your body moving.

Feeling lethargic by the middle of the day? Have you ever felt exhausted by simple everyday tasks, such as grocery shopping or chores around the house?

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, getting 150 minutes of physical activity each week can add to your energy instead of taking it away. Why? When you exercise, you relieve stress and tension, strengthen your muscles, and boost your endurance, which improves your ability to perform other physical activities more efficiently.

Restrict your sleep.

“If you think you may be sleep-deprived, try getting less sleep,” states Harvard Health Publishing. “This advice may sound odd, but determining how much sleep you actually need can reduce the time you spend in bed not sleeping.”

Sleeping with this process facilitates easier sleep and results in a more restful night’s sleep. And, here’s how you can do it;

  • During the day, do not nap. If you do, keep it short and sweet, preferably under 20-minutes.
  • Try going to bed a little later the first night and getting four hours of sleep.
  • If you feel you slept well during the previous four hours, you may want to add another 15–30 minutes of sleep the following night.
  • Continue to add little by little, as long as you are sleeping soundly on successive nights.

Enter the dream world.

“Dreams play a crucial role in some of our most important emotional and cognitive systems, helping us form memories, solve problems and maintain our psychological health,” writes Alice Robb, in “Why We Dream.” Dreaming has the power to make us fitter, happier, and smarter.

However, how can we harness the power of dreams?

Just remembering can be a huge help to keep your dreams alive. “Reminding yourself of your intention as you fall asleep can yield a bounty of memories in the morning,” Robb writes.

A dream journal, she suggests, should also be kept nearby. Then, upon waking, pause for a few seconds before writing down what you dreamed.

While dreams often affect us automatically, Robb argues that they are amplified when we experience them directly.

It’s possible to improve the quality of our sleep in subtle ways as well, such as avoiding alcohol close to bedtime, exercising regularly, waking up naturally, and limiting screen time. You can also stay in deep sleep mode by meditating before bed and keeping your room cold (between 60 and 68 degrees).

And, we should treat dreams “like the real and profound experiences they are,” Robb writes. “Let’s give them their rightful place in the world.”

Overcome negative bias with work-life balance.

“The negative bias is our tendency not only to register negative stimuli more readily but also to dwell on these events,” explains Kendra Cherry for Verywell Mind. “Also known as positive-negative asymmetry, this negativity bias means that we feel the sting of a rebuke more powerfully than we feel the joy of praise.”

For example, on the way to work, you get into a spat with your significant other. You then dwell on this for the entire day. Consequently, you get short with your co-workers, make poor decisions, or can’t focus on the task at hand.

Our ancient ancestors had to pay “attention to bad, dangerous, and negative threats in the world was literally a matter of life and death,” adds Cherry. “Those who were more attuned to danger and who paid more attention to the bad things around them were more likely to survive.” Today, however, this can strain relationships, harm your reputation, and make it difficult to be optimistic.

The good news? You can overcome the negative bias by;

  • Stop the negative self-talk. Instead of dwelling on past mistakes, you cannot change; consider what you have learned and what you will apply to the future.
  • Reframe the situation. Find a way to reframe the events in a more positive light when you interpret something negatively.
  • Establish new patterns. If you find yourself dwelling on negative things, try to distract yourself with an uplifting activity like listening to uplifting music or going for a walk.
  • Savior positive moments. Take a moment to appreciate the good things that happen in your life. Think about the wonderful feelings the memory evokes several times in your head.

Make work a series of sprints.

Unable to think clearly? You’re overloaded and have the fragmented attention of a distracted person. So how can you remedy this? Sprint into your most essential tasks selectively.

This idea comes from engagement consultant Tony Schwartz. In the New York Times, Schwartz argues that since quality work helps you concentrate, and you can only focus for a short time, you should be aware of how and when you focus on doing your best work.

“… it’s better to work highly focused for short periods of time, with breaks in between, than to be partially focused for long periods of time. Think of it as a sprint, rather than a marathon. You can push yourself to your limits for short periods of time, so long as you have a clear stopping point. And after a rest, you can sprint again.”

That last night is crucial. As a renewable resource, your mental energy does not replenish on its own. You must be responsible for maintaining it. FYI, using your phone isn’t “taking a break,” either. Instead, go for a stroll, daydream, or talk to a colleague,

Take the day off for work-life balance.

Do you have unused vacation time from your job? If so, make sure to take use them up!

The benefit of taking days off regularly is that stress can be reduced, and burnout can be avoided. This will give you a chance to clear your head, reflect, and recharge. It may even be beneficial to take a mental health day where you do nothing except cater to your health and wellbeing — even if it’s just spending the day reading in your PJs.

Reach out for help.

As opposed to neglecting or suppressing negative thoughts or memories, address them by talking to someone. By expressing your feelings out loud to an understanding person, you’ll be able to release what’s unspoken. What’s more, the other party, whether it’s your spouse, co-worker, mentor, or therapist, can help you develop solutions to your problems.

Image credit: Anna Tarazevich; Pexels; Thank you!

10 Entrepreneurs That Will Inspire You to Define Success on Your Own Terms

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Entrepreneurs That Will Inspire You to Define Success on Your Own Terms

Success as an entrepreneur is difficult to explain. While we immediately think of it as making a tremendous amount of wealth, success doesn’t always mean that. Rather it comes down to defining it on your own terms and directing your life to live by those principles.

Below are 10 entrepreneurs who you might not have heard of, but have achieved their own versions of success and inspire you to do the same.

To me, this list of entrepreneurs represents a number of things:

  • Their views of success are very different from traditional views of success.
  • They remove all the glitz and glamour and focus on key values and principles that have pulled them through to the other side.
  • They are honest about their own stories and admit when things weren’t as good or that they made mistakes.

These reasons amongst many others are why I think these are inspiring entrepreneurs.

1. Leon Ho, Founder & CEO of Lifehack

Leon is the CEO and founder of Lifehack. His story is how he went from living a typical lifestyle to running a successful business and helping people re-prioritize life and focus on what’s most important.

For years he spent his life expanding his career thinking that in order to succeed, you’d have to sacrifice certain aspects to live it. After hitting a low point from that way of thinking, he realized what’s so wrong with that logic.

He began re-prioritizing his lifestyle and is living a happier and more successful life on his own terms. He is now even sharing all his experiences and skills he has learned throughout his journey with the Full Life Framework Course.

2. Laurel Egan Kenny, Founder of Turningpoint Communications

Laurel Egan Kenny is the founder of Turningpoint Communications and attributes a lot of her success to the relationships she’s made. While there were definitely some that were bad – such as former employees using her own training material for their own purposes – there were several good ones. Those relationships pushed her business to new heights and has shaped how she approaches clients and her staff.

3. Ameet Khabra, Owner of Hopskipmedia

Ameet Khabra is the owner of Hopskipmedia. He defines success as being able to balance work and life. Many entrepreneurs devote their entire being into a business and that can sometimes backfire. Similar to Leon, before he changed, people spend so much time on one thing that other areas of their life start to slip.

Success to Ameet isn’t always about having a massive and thriving business at the cost of your own sanity. It’s all about balancing everything.

4. Andrei Vasilescu, Founder of DontPayFull

Andrei Vasilescu, founder of DontPayFull, thinks that success is defined by how many ideas you come up with that actually work or exceed expectations. While performance is relative to one person, a simple metric of determining if you’re making a profit or not is a good baseline.

Even though that’s success in essence, looking at the number of ideas that turned profit is a good measurement of whether you’re making it or not.

5. Kevin Tucker, Founder of SOLitude Lake Management

Delving more on the performance-based success, Kevin Tucker believes success comes down to looking after four things well. He is the founder of SOLitude Lake Management and attributes looking after employees, clients, community, and environment as crucial measurements of success.

By looking over those four areas well, his business has been growing over time year after year with no issues.

6. Stephen Alred Jr., Founder of KnowCap IO

According to Stephen Alred Jr., founder of KnowCap IO, success goes beyond the surface level of making enough money to stay in business. Success is defined by the quality of life too. If you’re working long hours and barely making any money, that’s not genuine success.

What’s essential is that the money you’re making is letting you afford to change your lifestyle in such a way that you can live a more ideal life.

7. Tim Brown, Founder of Hook Agency

Founder of Hook Agency, Tim Brown is one of the inspiring entrepreneurs who thinks in a similar fashion to Stephen Alred Jr – being able to do what you wish to do. While Stephen Alred Jr focused on life in general, Tim Brown’s success comes from being able to move his business in the direction he wants to.

That kind of thinking is powerful as even though the journey has ups and downs, he is still thriving thanks to being able to move his business how he wants to without much worry.

8. Sue Duris, Founder of M4 Communications

Sue Duris is the founder of M4 Communications and has built her success around customer retention. Of course, being able to retain and gain more customers will have an increase in your revenue over time.

However it’s still shocking how this concept isn’t always applied. After all, there are some businesses out there that thrive simply because they have carved out most of that market and are the only option.

When you prioritize looking after the clients you do have, success will come and Sue Duris’s company is an example of that.

9. Nate Masterson, Founder of Maple Holistics

Founder of Maple Holistics, Nate Materson has gotten a name for himself by doing what other successful entrepreneurs have done. Taking a page from Kevin Tucker, he too looked after those four key aspects. He kept an eye on himself while looking after his staff, the community, the customers, and the environment.

Even though this success story is similar to others, it goes to show that simple methods are often the answers to thriving and being successful.

10. Erin Paruszewski, Founder & CEO of Alkalign Studios

The final of the inspiring entrepreneurs is Erin Paruszewski. Her success story of Alkalign Studios is a reminder that just putting in the effort doesn’t guarantee success. When working for someone, the payoffs are very clear – exchange your time for money. But when going into business, you’re putting a lot of risk that it might not work out.

That aspect alone drove Erin to grow a business into something that she can be proud of. Behind the scenes, careful planning and taking risks that she considered worth it brought her to a business that’s made her successful.

Final Thoughts

Even though success is about making enough money to make something of it, there are different ways to get there. It’s not always big and flashy but rather success can be something more simple. And these inspiring entrepreneurs show that to us every single day.

You don’t need a million-dollar idea to kick off. Rather you need a certain mindset and have particular values you can follow through that can drive you to success.

How to Boost Your Productivity (Without Apps)

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How to Boost Your Productivity (Without Apps)

Did you know that we spend over four hours a day in apps? While we can thank the pandemic for this surge, which skyrocketed by up to 80% in selected markets between Q1 2019 and Q1 2021, we’ve become extremely reliant on applications — especially when it comes to productivity. Can you imagine life without WhatsApp, YouTube, Uber, Netflix, or Google Maps?

Yeah. That would be a challenge. But, we also depend on apps to make us productive. For starters, they can help you manage your time, calendar, and schedule. Moreover, we use apps to keep track of daily tasks, to-do lists, and collaborate with others on big projects.

As if that weren’t enough, we benefit from communication apps that can help us maintain our focus. And, we lean on these tools to generate and share content, track our progress, and make that upcoming travel trip a breeze.

In short, productivity apps just rock. Without them, life would be chaotic and ineffective.

Why productivity apps are problematic.

Despite these benefits, there’s also a dark side to productivity apps.

  • There is an overabundance of choices. How do you decide which app to use? After all, the majority of them do everything the same. But which is most likely to fit your unique needs? You don’t want to spend a lot of time searching and sifting through hundreds of applications — unless you want to ignore your priorities, waste time, and get overwhelmed.
  • Learning how apps work takes time. It may still be confusing if you are not as comfortable using technology, even when you find the perfect app that fits your brain and workflow. Although you may be attracted to technology, you may end up spending more time learning how to use it as opposed to getting things done.
  • Sometimes the developer disappears. You will find that app developers often update your favorite apps with new features and improvements. Using the new systems and features will likely require a learning curve. Occasionally, some developers will leave without a trace. Because of this, an app that you use regularly won’t get further support. As a result, you’ll need to download a new replacement app.

Apps lead to information overload.

“Our lives and work are increasingly digital,” Almuth McDowall, professor of organizational psychology at Birkbeck, University of London, told the BBC. “But it’s a complex world, and there is an information overload.”

“Good apps, well used, can help us to negotiate this,” McDowall states. “But there is still a question of whether we’re really interested in becoming more productive, or simply ‘doing more to seem effective’.”

There is definitely evidence to suggest that employees are overloaded with software. A study conducted in 2018 found that the average operational support worker switched between 35 different applications 1,100 times during the course of their shift. Despite the availability of these apps and tools, productivity has declined in most highly industrialized countries, while burnout has risen.

“Evidence shows that working hours and the time that we spend in online meetings is increasing, so it may be that we are working harder, not smarter,” suggests McDowall. “Why are we not getting better at managing the quality of our output?”

The good news? It’s still possible to boost your productivity without apps.

Don’t follow a “normal” schedule.

Traditionally, we assume there’s a ‘normal’ schedule we should follow. And, that would be the traditional 9 to 5.

However, each of us has our own prime time where we are the most productive and alert. As such, it’s counterproductive to follow arbitrary and antiquated rules. For example, proclaiming “I should finish my daily writing before 9 am, or else I won’t get to it.” Or, “It’s already past 7 pm, so it’s time to call it a day.”

The problem here is that following a “normal” schedule not only goes against your circadian rhythms, it also interrupts your state of flow. As a consequence, it will take you longer to complete tasks with diminishing returns.

Is there another option? Consider blocks, instead of hours.

When you work in timed, focused sprints, you do more than just minimize distractions. You will create a new unit of measurement and rhythm to follow. As a result, this will help you set clear boundaries without losing your flexibility, while also tracking your progress effectively.

Work in layers, not silos.

“Our days tend to be a blend of different projects, software, and conversations,” writes content marketer Jimmy Daly. “These layers make up our work, but we don’t often extract as much value from them as we could.”

For example, we tend to do research in silos, but we can do it as a layer. Throughout the workday, you can pick up useful tidbits as you jump between projects and talk to coworkers, he says. You’ll find that you have more ideas when you need them when your mind is a dragnet for good ones.

For writers, this is especially useful. Keep your eyes open for interesting articles, ideas, graphics, and quotes. “Save them, tag, categorize them,” Daly advises. “Even the ones that seem entirely unrelated to your current work can be useful in the future.”

Your taste develops as you collect ideas. Having this database also provides you with a wealth of inspiration, since it’s regularly updated.

Evaluate and reduce your to-do list.

It can be really helpful to organize your mind and tasks you have to accomplish at work with to-do lists. Having too much on your plate, however, can also lead to stress and feeling overwhelmed.

The most likely reason is that you have added too many items to your to-do list and that you can’t possibly complete them all in a day. If you overpack your day, you might believe you will be more productive and finish everything in time. But believing that you’re going to finish everything can be a costly mistake.

You can reduce stress, work smarter, and maximize your productivity by accepting that you won’t get everything done. After all, you are but one person with a limited workload. To rectify this, clear a few things off your list. Your brain will automatically choose the task that has the lowest priority if you force yourself to do it once a day.

The second reason for limiting your daily to-dos, even if it’s only by one — is because of task debt. Task debt occurs when you never cross-off items and they sit on your list for a long time — whether it’s a paper list or online board.

You should consider reducing and prioritizing your to-do list if you constantly find yourself overwhelmed by it. After your mind has been cleansed, it will be easier for your brain to determine what tasks to prioritize.

Give yourself a break to increase productivity.

There’s no need to feel guilty if you check your messages, the news, or social media notifications every now and then — or even if you check them a lot. The benefits of giving yourself a break have been known for a while — but, sometimes we all need this reminder.

As a matter of fact, scientists have found that you’ve been increasing your focus when taking these brief mental breaks.

Research has shown that well-timed breaks spent on non-related activities improve performance. The reason? The brain will switch off after prolonged exposure to the same stimulus, such as staring at spreadsheets all day.

In order to avoid becoming overburdened, you need to maintain a balance between these two activities. So don’t wait too long before taking a break to stretch or go for a walk.

Best of all? You don’t need an app for this. An hourglass or old-fashioned kitchen timer will suffice if you want to implement something like the Pomodoro Technique.

Build your energy for productivity.

Just like PB&J, energy and productivity go hand in hand. After all, the less energy you have, the less you will be able to accomplish. And, you can gain energy through the following app-free practices.

  • Get the best sleep ever by following a sleep schedule based on your circadian rhythms. Also, avoid blue light at least an hour before bed. And, keep your bedroom cool, dark, and silent.
  • Improve your diet. Suggestions would be having carbohydrate-rich breakfast foods, lean meats, and plenty of fruits and veggies. And, drink lots of water.
  • Close open-loops, like making that dentist appointment or trip to the post office.
  • Get outside and bask in the sun.
  • Go for a daily gratitude walk.
  • Spend more time with positive and supportive people.
  • Say “no” to time-wasters.
  • Keep your workspace clean and organized.

Train yourself to innovate.

Finally, thinking about innovation may not be top of mind. But, innovation encourages continuous growth and improvement, while keeping you relevant. It can also assist you in developing resourcefulness and overcome your fear of failure.

And, you can also train yourself to innovate sans applications. Examples would be reading actual books and reciting back what you read. You could change up your routine or seek out experiences that put your talents to good use. And, while brushing your teeth, you should use your non-dominant hand to utilize your left and right brain.

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013 — “Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools. And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post. “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC. “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today. “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

  • Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”
  • Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”
  • Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set limits.

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a not-to-do list.

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be vulnerable.

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with this, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

4. Understand why you procrastinate.

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t be a copycat.

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say yes to less.

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop focusing on what’s next.

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack.

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify.

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn how to relax.

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try.
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward —  just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus,  put in big time and then relax.

22 Ways You Can Power Up for Productivity

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22 Ways You Can Power Up for Productivity

What would you rate your level of productivity on a 1-10 scale? I know — sometimes you feel like you don’t want to keep thinking about productivity. But you have to keep thinking about productivity for the renewable energy in yourself.

You can power up for productivity by thinking about it differently — think of productivity as your power source. Productivity is your PERSONAL RENEWABLE POWER SOURCE.

Start rethinking your thoughts about productivity and make it your best friend. Train your brain to have positivity about productivity and work if you want to keep going strong.

Even if your current level of productivity is high, there’s always room to improve.

Since I’m very results-oriented, I’ve been on a seemingly never-ending quest to boost my productivity. As such, I frequently experiment with different approaches and systems. If I find one that has helped me achieve my goals, I keep it. For the techniques that don’t work, I throw them out like yesterday’s trash. Ultimately, this ensures that I’m only using the best of the best.

With that in mind, here are 22 strategies that I’ve found to be the most useful for powering up my productivity. So, without further ado, let’s get ready to level up your productivity.

1. Choose your own prioritization method.

I’ve been a baseball fan all my life. And, I’ve always been fascinated with batting stances and swings. Sure. There are the sweet ones like Ken Griffey Jr. and Ted William. But, I always enjoyed the more unique stances from players like Gary Sheffield and Kevin Youkilis.

While Junior had the most beautiful swing in baseball, it didn’t work for everyone, especially players like Sheffield and Youkilis. The same is also true with prioritization methods.

Learn everywhere and from anyone you can. I’ve learned a lot from former President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the popular Eisenhower Matrix.

“The Eisenhower Matrix works by dividing tasks into four quadrants,” writes Max Palmer in a previous Calendar article. “The rows and columns help you determine which tasks should go where.

The columns represent urgent and non-urgent tasks, while the accompanying rows indicate essential and non-important tasks. Combined together, you get these unique quadrants:

  • First Quadrant: Do
  • Second Quadrant: Decide
  • Third Quadrant: Delegate
  • Fourth Quadrant: Disregard

But, just because this works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you. As such, you should experiment with various prioritization methods until you find a swing that works best for you. Some suggestions, besides the Eisenhower Matrix, include:

Two Big Traps

“Be sure to watch out for ‘decibel prioritization,’ in which the loudest voice heard gets top priority, and ‘threat prioritization,’ in which stakeholders holding the most political power always get what they demand,” writes Karl Wiegers in a Medium post. “These traps can skew the process away from addressing your true business objectives.”

In or Out

“The simplest method is for a group of stakeholders to work down a list of requirements and decide for each if it’s in or it’s out,” states Wiegers. Using the project’s business objectives as a guide, pare down each task to the absolute minimum required for the first release.

“When that iteration is underway, you can go back to the previously ‘out’ requirements and repeat the process for the next cycle,” he adds. “This is a simple approach to managing an agile backlog of user stories, provided the list of pending requirements isn’t too enormous.”

Pairwise Comparison and Rank Ordering

Priority sequence numbers are sometimes assigned to requirements. Rank ordering involves comparing all the needs pairwise to see which one is more important. Over a few dozen criteria, however, this becomes cumbersome. As a whole, it might not cover all the requirements for a system of this size, but it may work for granularity.

“Rank ordering all requirements by priority is overkill, as you won’t be releasing them all individually,” explains Wiegers. Instead, it’s best to organize them by release or development iteration. The dividing of requirements into features, or into small groups of conditions that share the same priority or need to be implemented together, is sufficient in most cases.

Three-Level Scale

“A common approach groups requirements into three priority categories,” he writes. When you use three categories, you will have high, medium, and low priorities. They are typically subjective and imprecise. Each level in the scale must represent a specific outcome that the stakeholders can agree on.

“I like to consider the two dimensions of importance and urgency,” Wiegers suggests. “Every requirement can be considered as being either important to achieving business objectives or not so important and as being either urgent or not so urgent.” It’s a relative assessment of a set of requirements, not an absolute comparison.

MoSCoW

A MoSCoW priority scheme is divided into four different categories indicated by capital letters:

  • Must: The requirement must be met for the solution to be deemed successful.
  • Should: The requirement is crucial to success, but it is not essential.
  • The capability is desirable, but it can be delayed or eliminated. If resources and time permit, implement it.
  • Won’t: A requirement that won’t be implemented at present may be implemented in a later version.

“The MoSCoW scheme changes the three-level scale — high, medium, and low — into a four-level scale,” clarifies Wieger. “It doesn’t offer any rationale for deciding how to rate the priority of a given requirement compared to others.”

MOSCoW leaves room for ambiguity, especially regarding the “Won’t” rating: does it mean “not in the next release” or “not ever?” This scale takes urgency and importance into account and focuses specifically on the forthcoming release or iteration.

2. Break the procrastination and perfectionism loop.

If you haven’t received the memo, procrastination and perfectionism reduce productivity. Mainly this is because they can cause anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Moreover, they impede innovation, limits opportunities, and make you reluctant to make decisions.

If you want to break free from the destructive procrastination and perfectionism loop, Deanna Ritchie in another Calendar piece, recommends:

  • Lowering your standards and expectations — You don’t have to be perfect! Just get ‘er done — and done is way better than not done.”
  • Keeping your tasks bite-sized.
  • Focusing on one thing at a time.
  • Practicing self-compassion.
  • Surrounding yourself with positive support.
  • Incorporating mindfulness.
  • Reducing your commitments.
  • Rewarding yourself.
  • Tracking your time.

3. Get your body moving.

No surprise here. If you feel sluggish all of the time, then you aren’t going to have the energy and stamina to make it through a full day of work.

While you could hit the gym before or after work, go for an afternoon stroll when you take a break at work. Sit and stretch at your desk — some of us may feel strapped for time, and we use it as an excuse not to move our bodies — don’t get in this mentality.

The good news? You can work out and stay active from anywhere. For example, you could switch to a standing desk, have walking meetings, playing your kids or dog, or launch a fitness challenge. You could also get creative, like doing heel-raises while making coffee or squats while folding the laundry.

The point is what? Just do something — absolutely anything to raise your body moving quotient.

4. Master your skills for productivity.

Your skills must be mastered before you can do your work efficiently and well. Gamers refer to this as leveling up. Practice the skills you do most often. Make sure you don’t have to look up a YouTube on a how-to-do part of your job you should have memorized.

Photographers, for example, cannot take the highest-quality photos unless they master their tools and photography skills. You can improve your skillset through training, learning, and reading tutorials specific to your core responsibilities.

5. Dilute micro-distractions.

“We are an over-connected society which is addicted to our devices and a slave to our notifications, “writes resilence keynote speaker Heidi Dening. “In open-plan workplaces that are poorly designed with no opportunity to do distraction-free work, we take longer to get our work done and we make more errors.”

The reason for this phenomenon? Because humans are wired to not switch tasks like that, we cannot focus if we’re being interrupted constantly by beeps, tweets, pop-up windows, and other interruptions.

“The number one adjustment you can make that has MASSIVE impacts to your productivity is to turn off the sounds and notifications on your devices,” suggests Dening. “Now, if this statement has scared you because you realize you are addicted to being notified when someone likes, comments, re-tweets, or contacts you, then take it one step at a time.”

  • For the first week, turn off the sounds on your devices.
  • Then turn your email pop-up off for the following week.
  • Once that is done, turn your social media feeds off for the following week.

“If you take little steps, it won’t seem so overwhelming, and you can test the impact these small modifications have on your productivity, she adds.

6. Try intelligent planning.

When you plan intelligently, you will learn how to be productive while switching between various activities throughout the day — or staying fresh while working on larger responsibilities.

Researchers have found that you should work in sprints that last no more than 90 minutes. More importantly, you need to take frequent breaks.

The reason? You need breaks to rest, recharge, and clear your mind. Overall, this keeps your concentration and performance high.

Furthermore, breaks can be beneficial for your physical and mental health as well. You might consider a short gym session or yoga during your workday if you feel your energy is waning. Increased workplace productivity, a boost in metabolism, more efficient brain function, and a positive attitude will follow.

7. Suck it up and ask for help.

There’s no shame in asking others for help. In fact, it’s not a sign of weakness. Rather it’s a strength as this is a surefire way to gain new perspectives and insights.

Furthermore, various research shows that this develops resilience, relationships, and is a sign of high performers. It can also improve your mental health. Additionally, it’s been found that sitting next to hard workers boosts one’s work ethic.

8. Create a productivity playlist.

Depending on the type of music, this is another effective way to power up your productivity. So, as you create your super-awesome-productivity playlist, focus on the following genres:

  • Classical. In 2001, a literature review stated that listening to music by Mozart improved short-term spatial-temporal reasoning. However, it didn’t affect general intelligence.
  • Coffee shop sounds. According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research in 2012, medium levels of ambient noise increased creativity. But, low or high levels decreased it.
  • Ambient music. Spotify surveyed 4,000 adults from the U.S. and UK in 2021, and 69% of them said ambient music works best for study, with 67% saying slower beats are essential. Thankfully, there are already ambient playlists waiting for you in Spotify, such as Lofi Beats, Deep Focus, and Chill Lofi Study Beats.
  • Upbeat tracks. Listening to high-tempo music (170-190 bpm) enhanced athletic performance, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2020. Does this translate to productivity? 180BPM Instrumental music may be able to give you a productivity boost.
  • Nature sounds. According to a study by the Acoustical Society of America, in an open-plan office, the sound of a flowing mountain stream significantly increased workers’ mood and productivity. However, only 12 participants were included in the study.
  • Pink and white noise. One study published in Scientific Reports in 2017 found that listening to white noise while learning new words resulted in greater recall than listening to silence. White noise may enhance the acquisition of new words, according to the researchers.

9. Go on a productivity purge.

A productivity purge is “a simple strategy for coming as close as possible to satisfying the principle without giving up a quest for the unexpected next big thing.” The concept was popularized by Cal Newport and based on the Einstein Principle.

Newport points out that Einstein’s primary focus from 1912 to 1915 was his theory of relativity. But despite sacrifices, Einstein produced one of history’s most significant scientific works.

“We are most productive when we focus on a very small number of projects on which we can devote a large amount of attention,” explains Newport. “Achievements worth achieving require hard work. There is no shortcut here.”

Thankfully, going in a productivity purge isn’t as complicated as trying to explain Einstein’s theory of relativity.

  • Create three columns on a sheet of paper or word document; professional, extracurricular, and personal. In the “professional” column, you list all of the major projects you’re currently working on. Beneath “extracurricular,” include your side projects. Finally, under “personal,” have all self-improvement projects.
  • Then, under each list, “select one or two projects which, at this point in your life, are the most important and seem like they would yield the greatest returns,” Newport adds. “Put a star by these projects.”
  • Next, identify anything you can “stop working on right away with no serious consequences. Cross these out.”
  • If any projects remain unmarked, “come up with a 1-3 week plan for finalizing and dispatching them,” suggests Newport. “Many of these will be projects for which you owe someone something before you can stop working on them.” In that case, develop “a crunch plan for the near future for shutting these down as quickly as possible.”
  • By the time you’ve “completed your crunch plan, you’ll be left with only a small number of important projects. In other words, you have “purged your schedule of all but a few contenders to be your next Theory of Relativity.”

In his final tip, Newport emphasizes the importance of security. “Try to go at least one month without starting any new projects. Keep all commitments to a minimum during this month.” Rather, target “with an Einsteinian intensity, on your select list.”

10. Rethink what you eat.

Which is going to give you more energy to finish strong through the afternoon, a bacon cheeseburger or a salmon salad? Junk food affects more than just your weight. In addition, it can cause energy crashes and decreased productivity.

As such, be sure to keep healthy snacks at your office so that you can remain productive throughout the day.

11. Identify your productivity ebb and flows.

Everybody has times when they are more productive than others. Identify these times via a productivity journal or time tracker and plan your most challenging tasks around them. Then, in the other times, just complete the tasks that are simpler or of lower difficulty.

For instance, if you’re more productive in the morning, that’s when you should tackle your most important task of the day. In the afternoon, schedule meetings or mapping out your content for the next week.

12. Improve your work environment.

Don’t neglect your workplace. After all, this has a significant impact on your productivity. With that in mind, start by keeping your workspace clean and organized. You also might want to spruce it up with a standing desk and plants.

Also, maintain a comfortable temperature in the office. You will be distracted if the working environment is too hot or too cold. Ideally, the temperature should be between 68 and 70° F.

13. Move on.

Jobs in the creative industries can be extremely frustrating, especially during those gray days when nothing is inspiring to do. By repeatedly focusing on the same problem, you will create even more obstacles to your productivity — it’s like spinning your wheels when stuck in the mud.

As a result of frustrations like these, you begin to doubt your abilities or procrastinate. To avoid this, move on to an unrelated task. This way, you still get things done while calming down since your attention is elsewhere. And, with a clear head, and maybe even fresh ideas, you may be able to return to the original task with gusto.

14. Focus on meaningful work.

Several studies indicate that individuals who find meaning in their work are more motivated, engaged, empowered, and have greater career fulfillment and job satisfaction. In addition to being productive, meaningful work can help boost performance and engagement.

How can you find meaningful work? One suggestion would be doing what you love. Or, at least you are passionate about aspects of your job, like helping others or having an unlimited vacation.

Other recommendations would be seeking autonomy or asking others, “What’s the purpose of my work?” Or, you could amend your job description, aka job crafting, so that it’s more meaningful.

15. Become a master-batcher for productivity.

Did you know that focusing on more than one thing at a time reduces productivity by 40%? Peter Bregman explains why in a piece for The Harvard Business Review. See, we’re not really multitasking. Instead, “We switch-task, rapidly shifting from one thing to another, interrupting ourselves unproductively, and losing time in the process.”

Rather than focusing on one thing at a time, it’s best not to isolate. In other words, group together similar tasks and complete them all at once. As an example, instead of checking your inbox every time you receive a notification, you would check your emails three times a day, like in the morning, after lunch, or before you quit for the day.

16. Eliminate limiting beliefs.

Are you concerned about some hypothetical situation that has yet to happen? Negative thoughts weighing on your mind? Put an end to these negative habits and beliefs by deleting your thoughts. After all, you don’t want these things to prevent you from achieving your goals.

If you want to remove negative thoughts and instill empowering ones, one suggestion is referring to Day 26 and 27 of Be a Better Me in 30 Days Program.

17. Be optimistic for productivity.

“Rescue—if people are facing a daunting task, and their instinct is to avoid it, you’ve got to break down the task. Shrink the change. Make the change small enough that they can’t help but score a victory,” Chip and Dan Heath write in Switch.

Breaking down challenging tasks and boosting your self-confidence can help you feel more optimistic about completing them, even if you’ve avoided them for some time. Then, celebrate your progress as your sub-tasks are completed.

According to experts, keeping optimism alive during a project’s completion is possible by acknowledging progress instead of dwelling on setbacks.

18. Listen to your body.

If your body is screaming for nutrients, your mind cannot be productive. The problem is that unhealthy drinks containing energizing ingredients and junk food are favored by people seeking short-term energy boosts.

Coffee and Tea aren’t my thing — however (gag, my friends, if you must), sometimes a Red Bull is in order. But experiment with what works for you.

Also, unless it’s imperative that you’re available if you’re exhausted, go for a walk or take a catnap. It’s often a better solution than fighting against your tiredness.

19. Use a productivity “blast-off” method.

It’s rare for us to have enough time to finish everything on our plates in a single day. Especially if the task is relatively simple and we aren’t inspired to do it. As a result, we procrastinate. But, this is most true on the things that we aren’t looking forward to doing.

The Five-Second Rule is a method that says you should count down 5-4-3-2-1 before starting a challenging task. Developed by entrepreneur Mel Robbins, this allows you to be more in control.

You can also succeed in any task by following the Five Second Rule. And, your sense of accomplishment will be palpable, and you’ll be inspired to keep going.

20. Challenge your mind.

The troubling lack of inspiration mentioned earlier shouldn’t keep you from starting your day on the right foot. Rather than allowing others to deal with that problem for you, take matters into your own hands by challenging yourself with intellectual challenges like Sudoku or crossword puzzles.

Fortunately, there are plenty of these games available online, and you can pick the one that suits you best.

21. Delegate like a boss.

Are you ever unsure of how you’ll possibly accomplish all the tasks on your to-do list?

Most of those low-value tasks can be outsourced, I’m sure. However, all of these activities will consume the precious hours of your day that you have to get work done. They include data entry, document formatting, and running errands.

Thanks to the internet, you can outsource these tedious tasks so that you spend more time on what’s truly important. Find out what you could outsource by checking out TaskRabbit, Fiverr, or Upwork.

22. Chronicle your development and achievements.

You could do this at the end of every day. But if that’s too laborious, doing this weekly could be an alternative. Regardless of how often you do this activity, the idea is the same. Take a couple of minutes and take note of your specific accomplishments.

It sounds simple. But, this is an effective way to acknowledge what you’re good at, as well as your progress. In turn, this will make you more self-confident and keep the motivation train rolling.

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