All posts by John Rampton

Why You Need a Productivity Purge

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Why You Need a Productivity Purge

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you were able to juggle only one thing at a time? You know — if you didn’t have to always manage multiple projects? Remember in Covid when you were juggling homeschooling with your kids while you’re on a Zoom call? Now it’s summer and it’s dèjá vu — same scenario! So how is everyone else doing with this reality… especially with productivity?

Our lives are so busy it seems like a pipe dream to manage only one task. However, we’ve had a lot of science information come about in the last few years that tells us not to multi-task — have we been listening?

It is actually possible to do one thing at a time — and have great success. For example, take a look at when Albert Einstein was working on his theory of relativity.

The Einstein Principle

Let’s give credit where it’s due. Cal Newport popularized the Einstein Principle. If you recall, Newport is the author of the influential “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.”

In a blog post, Newport explains that from 1912-1915, Einstein was primarily focused on his theory of relativity — please don’t ask me to explain that! But, while Einstein had to make sacrifices, he published one of the greatest scientific accomplishments in history.

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

“In a perfect world, we would all be Einsteins,” he adds. “We would each have only one, or at most two, projects in the three major spheres of our lives: professional, extracurricular, and personal.” In turn, we’d be able “to focus on this specialized set, in exclusion, as we push the projects to impressive conclusions.”

Of course, most of us aren’t that fortunate. And why would we? Newport argues that it’s risky, boring, and a tad unrealistic.

But, something does come close. It’s something that Newport calls a productivity purge.

What Exactly is a Productivity Purge?

A productivity purge “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 principle works as follows:

  • Grab a sheet of paper and create three columns; professional, extracurricular, and personal. Under “professional,” you would list all of the major projects you’re currently working on. Beneath “extracurricular,” jot down your side projects. And under “personal,” note all of your self-improvement projects, like reading.
  • 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,” explains Newport. “Put a star by these projects.”
  • Next, identify whatever you can “stop working on right away with no serious consequences. Cross these out.”
  • Whatever projects are left unmarked, “come up with a 1-3 week plan for finalizing and dispatching them,” Newport adds. “Many of these will be projects for which you owe someone something before you can stop working on them.” If so, develop “a crunch plan for the near future for shutting these down as quickly as possible.”
  • After you’ve “completed your crunch plan, you’ll be left with only a small number of important projects. What that means is you’ve “purged your schedule of all but a few contenders to be your next Theory of Relativity.”

Newport offers a final important tip. “Try to go at least one month without starting any new projects. Resist, at all costs, committing to anything during this month.” Rather, target “with an Einsteinian intensity, on your select list.”

6 Ways to Purge for Productivity

The strategy listed above, in my opinion, is pretty straightforward. And, when done regularly, it is certainly effective. But, I’ve also applied this concept to known productivity thieves.

The result? I’m spending less time and energy on the unnecessary. In turn, that’s made me a lean, mean productivity machine.

1. Update your routine.

Routines can come in handy. They provide structure and make planning easier. And, when you have a routine, you don’t have to make as many decisions.

Here’s the thing, though. Is your routine actually effective? Just because you’re on autopilot doesn’t mean that you’re not on the right course.

Take a moment and assess your daily schedule. And answer the following questions:

  • Are you working when you have the most energy?
  • Have you left white space on your calendar?
  • Are you actually getting close to your short-and-long-term goals?
  • What recurring tasks can you delegate or remove?

Is there a perfect schedule? Of course not. But, in the words of Stephen Covey, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

2. Let go of old tasks.

Do me a favor and take a glance at your to-do list. If you haven’t updated this list in some time because you’re on autopilot, you may be in for a surprise. These tasks may no longer be relevant — or even worse, they may now be unimportant or vague.

Those items are actually clutter. So scratch them off your list. As for what’s left, prioritize your list using something like the Eisenhower Matrix.

Whatever is important and urgent, you would do immediately. Important but not urgent tasks will be scheduled for another time. Remember — anything that’s urgent but not important can be assigned to someone else. So, really, copy and paste these tasks to someone else right now.

3. Share your workspace with Mr. Clean.

Not literally. After all, Mr. Clean is a fictional character. So, that would be just weird if he were actually with you in person.

What sharing your space with Mr. Clean means is cleaning and organizing your workspace. It doesn’t have to be sparkling. But don’t let your space become a pigpen.

Some tips:

  • Whatever you don’t need, chuck or recycle it, such as junk mails.
  • Organize both paper and digital files so that they’re not on your desktop.
  • Think like a chef and practice mise en place. The French culinary phrase mise en place means “everything in its place.” Give everything a home and keep your most frequently used items close to you. Then, at the end of the day, put everything back where it belongs.
  • Create zones. You may do your deep work at your desk. But, you should have other zones for different activities. For example, you could create a resource area or outdoor spot for brainstorming.

4. Avoid information overload.

Being plugged in 24/7 and being surrounded by too much data is causing information overload. When left unchecked, it can hinder your productivity, performance, and collaboration. After all, the brain can only remember so much before popping like a circuit.

The best course of action? Be more selective about what you consume. Preferably, have the things you consume be relevant to what you’re working on right now. Additionally, you could also set a time limit on information gathering and learn to block out distractions.

Not enough? Give batching a spin. Don’t forget to occasionally let your mind daydream and wander.

5. Ask, “Does this bring you joy?”

I know — you associate this question with Marie Kondo when organizing your home. And while many people have found this helpful — I’ve only used the question when it comes to my calendar.

Here’s a recent example. Last weekend a friend had a small outdoor gathering. While I could have fit this into my schedule, I wasn’t just feeling it. That may sound selfish. But, I felt other things were more important, and, in my opinion, that event just wasn’t a priority at the time.

Just to let you know, I gave them plenty of notice that I wouldn’t attend. I also scheduled another time to catch up. I now apply this principle to any time request — whether it’s a new project, meeting, or networking event.

In the immortal words of Derek Sivers, “When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than ‘Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!’ — then say ‘no.’”

Keep this mantra top of mind right now when we, in business, are working to save the economy and our businesses. If you aren’t building yourself and your company, help someone else build or save their business!

6. Break free of stress.

Finally, purge stress from your life. If you don’t, you’re just not hurting your productivity; you’re also putting your health and wellbeing in jeopardy. And, you can get started by:

  • Identify your triggers so that you can remove them. For example, if a client keeps you up at night, you might want to let them go and work with someone else.
  • Take care of your body. You know the drill. Get your body moving, eat a healthy diet, and don’t neglect your sleep.
  • Meditate. Take a break from work and engage in mindfulness — even if it’s just for five minutes.
  • Learn how to self-soothe. When you’re stressed, try breathing exercises to calm down.
  • Do something that you enjoy. Examples could be reading, hiking, or spending time with friends and family.
  • Focus on what you can control. Seriously. Don’t waste your time obsessing over things that are out of your hands.
  • Take time off. When you’re overwhelmed, spend some time away from work in order to recharge.

10 Realistic and Unconventional WFH Tips

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10 Realistic and Unconventional WFH Tips

I’m trying to be completely honest —  I’m tired of writing, discussing, and thinking about working from home probably because most of us have been back in the office for months. The vaccine has made all of us feel a lot safer and we are grateful for that. However, despite the vaccine — many of our employees, and even management continue to need hybrid solutions to work from home when they want to do so.

It’s been found that nine months into the pandemic, 41.8% of the American workforce remains fully remote. And, managers are anticipating that this will continue. In fact, they believe that 26.7% of the workforce will be fully remote in another year.

Clearly, WFH isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon — at least not this year. As such, it’s still necessary to talk about how to remain engaged and productive while working virtually.

But, here’s the issue. We’ve heard the same advice over and over again. You know what I’m saying? Have a routine, get dressed, set boundaries, yadda, yadda.

Moreover, these WFH hacks are approached as a one-size-fits-all approach — but are they?

Not everyone has a home office. Parents can’t always work when they’re most productive. And, how can we focus on work when COVID has taken such a toll on how mental health and wellbeing?

These are all lessons that we’ve learned about working from home through the last year and a half. As we continue to try and find where the real balance in work will be — here are 10 realistic and unconventional tips you can try for the next year and a half.

1. Biohack your way to peak productivity.

According to performance expert, New York Times bestselling author, and founder and executive director of the Flow Research Collective Steven Kotler, you need to take a physical and cognitive approach if you want to enhance your productivity. “If you’re interested in peak performance, you have to be doing these things,” he says. “Otherwise you can’t even get into the game.”

How can you accomplish this? Kotler advises that you focus on the five following non-negotiables:

  • Get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If possible, maintain a consistent schedule that’s based on your circadian rhythms.
  • Find social support to counter loneliness. Additionally, being surrounded by high-quality connections has the ability to lift your spirits.
  • Manage your anxiety levels. “Anxiety is a huge break on people,” says Kotler. Gratitude, mindfulness, and exercise can all help.
  • Set tangible, specific, and process-oriented goals. A long-term goal, like I want to be the greatest author in history, won’t stick. “That’s a moving target. It’s an aim,” says Kotler. “You want to chunk those down into hard, one to five-year goals.” Instead, try; I’d like to write a New York Times bestseller.
  • Discover your intrinsic motivations. “There are five major intrinsic motivators that matter,” says Kotler. Curiosity, purpose, autonomy, purpose, and mastery. They’re all aligned and cannot thrive without the other.

“When we screw up peak performance, it’s nothing more than getting our biology to work for us rather than against us,” says Kotler.

2. Create a “zen” zone.

“No matter where you work — the dining room table or a dedicated home office — it’s essential to create an environment that helps you focus,” says Marie Kondo.

“Clutter overwhelms the brain and compromises the ability to take initiative; a calm and clean area will enhance both productivity and joy,” she adds. How can you get there? Kondo recommends identifying “the items that are crucial to getting your work done” and designating them a home.

“If you don’t have an office, a box or portable carrier will do,” Kondo adds. “Move all unrelated items off of your workspace and add one thing that sparks joy when you look at it.” For her, “it’s a crystal and small vase of fresh flowers on my desk.”

If space is an issue, you can find some inspiration from IKEA’s 2021 Catalog. Some ideas include using the IVAR storage combination as a room divider or a NISSAFORS cart to hold supplies.

3. Embrace mono-tasking.

Is it possible to have a conversation with a friend while doing household chores? Absolutely. But, can that’s probably not a good idea when it comes to tasks that are more challenging, such as deep work. Even if you believe you’re a pro at this, then you’re in the minority — only 2% are actually capable of this.

So, instead of trying to do the impossible, embrace mono-tasking.

“We’ve been sold the myth that multi-tasking is a valuable skill, giving us the ability to get it all done – but this couldn’t be further from the truth,” explains business coach Ryan Jackson, author of The Success Rebellion.

“A more productive approach is to devote days or half-days to themes, or closely related tasks,” he adds. “That way, it’s easier to knock jobs down one at a time and even if you do get distracted, it’s quicker to pick up the thread again.”

4. Take a shower in the middle of the day.

It’s been regularly suggested that taking a shower, or bath, should be a part of your morning or evening routine. However, if you’re dragging, take a shower in the middle of the day. Seriously.

“The relaxing, solitary, and non-judgmental shower environment may afford creative thinking by allowing the mind to wander freely,” said Ron Friedman, Ph.D., founder of Ignite80, during a 2016 online summit. In turn, this lets “people to be more open to their inner stream of consciousness and daydreams.”

5. Do household chores when you’re stuck.

“Whenever you are hitting a wall on trying to brainstorm ideas or solve a certain problem, turn to simple, undemanding, household chores like washing dishes,” recommends Nick Rizzo, Fitness Research Director at RunRepeat. “That’s because studies have shown that engaging in undemanding tasks significantly boosts performance and creative problem-solving when compared to switching to a different demanding task or taking a break.”

“While your brain is mildly focused on the undemanding task, your mind wanders and expands up its problem-solving capacity,” he adds. I can attest that this is 100% true. Other household chores that have helped me get unstuck are folding the laundry, prepping meals, and light cleaning like wiping down the kitchen counter.

6. Straddle the line between comfort and class.

I get it. Changing out of your pajamas into clothes that you would wear to the office can help you transition into work mode. But, why bother when comfort is ket right now?

Instead, find a balance between the two. For instance, you could wear your cozy, broken-in jeans with a semi-casual button-down, henley, or sweater. If you need some ideas, here are some suggestions from Vogue and Men’s Health.

7. Avoid (COVID) decision fatigue.

“35,000. That’s one estimate on how many decisions we make each day,” writes Calendar co-founder John Hall. “And, if true, that would come out to around 2,000 decisions per hour or one decision every two seconds.”

“Even if you don’t believe those exact numbers, the truth is that we do make a lot of decisions on a daily basis,” he adds. And, in the midst of COVID, the number of decisions we have to make has increased.

“People working and schooling from home have had to figure out where everyone is going to do their work, what times are best and worst for focused work, when to take breaks, and how to eat lunch without disrupting others,” clarifies Kathleen Vohs, Ph.D., Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota, and a behavioral scientist who worked on early research about decision fatigue. “The lack of a routine in such a big part of our lives — the period from 8 am to 4 pm — has created a whole host of new decisions.”

What can be done about this?

Simplifying your life is an excellent starting point. “For example, on Sundays prep your meals for the week,” suggests Hall. “Go through your closet and donate the clothes that you no longer wear. And, remove unnecessary events and tasks from your calendar.”

Moreover, automate as much as you can, such as eating the same breakfast every morning. You can also lower your expectations. “Things don’t have to be perfect right now, and maintaining mental health is worth wearing the same jewelry in every Zoom call,” Dr. Vohs says.

And, you can also make upfront decisions with those around you. “Whoever is in your network — roommates, family, friends — it’s worthwhile to spend some time talking through decisions together.” When you do, “you can figure out what are priorities” and “where you’re willing to take risks.”

8. Fight back against loneliness.

“Remember we’re social animals,” says Dr. Angela Carter, an associate fellow at the British Psychological Society. “Part of the reason we go to work is that we love being with other people.” And, this has been one of the greatest challenges we’ve had to overcome in 2020.

Weekly video calls are a start. But, a lot of the interaction that takes place in the workplace is non-work related. As such, schedule virtual coffee breaks, lunches, and off-hour events.

Additionally, make sure to keep in touch with family and friends during your downtime. I know that we’re all experiencing Zoom fatigue. But, it’s still essential for our health and wellbeing.

9. Adopt a “Blue Zone” approach to exercise.

As you’re well aware, exercise is essential. Besides being key to your physical health, working out is beneficial to your mental wellbeing and productivity. And, this is particularly true during COVID.

However, it’s been impossible to maintain a regular exercise regiment this year. As such, you may need to be more flexible. The folks over at Well + Good have dubbed this as “Blue Zones.”

In a nutshell, these are mini-workouts that you squeeze in throughout the day. Examples include walking your dog, biking to the store, or stretching before a Zoom call. Overall, it’s all about incorporating some sort of physical activity into your daily routine.

10. Cut everyone some slack (including yourself).

“It’s not realistic to expect full productivity while people are juggling working from home, extra family and household responsibilities, for many, and managing pervasive stress and anxiety for just about everyone,” says Joshua Zerkel, head of global community for the work management platform Asana. “It’s a lot, and we need to remember that we are humans and not productivity machines.”

However, “we can still be productive and connected,” he adds. “It just looks different than when we’re sitting with our coworkers at the office.”

Rather than beating yourself up, forgive yourself and those around you. “We’re all doing the best we can,” says Dr. Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler, organizational psychologist and author of Optimal Outcomes: Free Yourself from Conflict at Work, at Home, and in Life. “The silver lining to me of this whole crisis is that when we come out of it, those of us who’ve been perfectionists are learning how to let that go. Learn how to set expectations but also let go of those things that don’t serve you well.”

Strategies and Habits that Can Help You Reach Your Full Potential

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Strategies and Habits that Can Help You Reach Your Full Potential

This year is all about new beginnings and discovering strategies to help us reach our full potential. 2020 threw everything it had at us — and yet we overcame all of its challenges. Better yet, we grew stronger, found new opportunities, and learned more about ourselves in 2020 than we ever knew prior.

To honor those new beginnings, we should all be striving to become better versions of ourselves in 2021. It’s time to shed those quarantine pounds, budget out your dream home, and pursue your highest aspirations.

One formula that I have found to be a good resource in helping people reach their full potential is the Full Life Framework developed by Leon Ho, the founder and CEO of Lifehack. This framework is built on five steps that enable you to live your life to the absolute fullest. Let’s break them down:

Life Missions

What do you hope to get out of life? This is the question to answer in the first step of the Full Life Framework. You need to have a mission, and specific strategies to reach your goals. Without these two vital pieces in your life — you’ll end up wandering aimlessly without purpose or direction.

Some people’s mission in life is to work hard and retire with the house on the hill. For others, it’s to help people through service or a meaningful career. Others still want to pursue their passions in art, music, or travel. Any of these goals are a wonderful representation of a life well-lived and are okay, as long as your mission is deeply personal and worth dedicating your time toward.

Compromise the Method, Not the Mission

Once you’ve honed in on your life’s mission, don’t let go of your dream. Too many people let the obstacles they face in life derail them from pursuing their life’s mission. One twist in the road and some will let their entire mission be compromised. But twists and turns are a part of life — and life is difficult. Don’t put your heart and life in the rearview mirror to be left behind forever — pick yourself up — over and over again.

Let’s say your dream job is to work for NASA (SpaceX might be more likely at this point), but you get offered a comfortable desk job right out of college. While the pay and benefits are nice, you know that taking this job might dash all hopes you have of getting your dream occupation. Is anything worth the sacrifice to leave your dream behind — or should you take a new strategy that keeps your vision intact?

Adopt a Progress Mindset

There’s one thing that stands in the way of your full potential; failure. Not only failure itself but the constant fear of failure that stops you from stretching your limits and challenging yourself. In order to adopt a mindset of progress, you’ll want to cast off such fears and thoughts.

Instead of beating yourself up when you make a mistake, think to yourself, “What can I learn from this?” Learning from each error you commit makes you stronger and smarter. You’ll rarely make mistakes twice if you use each of them as a strategy to move forward.

Self-Control Systems

True progress doesn’t come overnight. Nothing worth doing comes easy — all proficiency requires hours upon hours of diligent strategies to get from where you are now to where you want to be. The learning curve kind of dedication requires a lot of work and self-control.

The truth is, few people are capable of self-control based on sheer willpower alone. Recognizing and understanding the value of this step is important because it teaches you to develop a system that makes self-control become automatic.

Managing your time and efforts to develop habits will pave the way for you to reach your full potential, rather than climbing a metaphorical mountain every single day.

Life Multipliers

Last but certainly not least are the life multipliers. These multipliers are exactly how they sound; skills and attributes that when self-applied will greatly add upon the value and experience you get out of life.

There are eight life multipliers, each of which can be deeply expounded upon. For the sake of brevity here’s an outline of each multiplier and its importance.

    • Self-Empowerment: Your goals are as far away as you make them. If you don’t take the initiative, you won’t get any closer.
    • Self-Control: As was just discussed, you need to show some self-control so that procrastination doesn’t take hold of your life.
    • Renewable Vitality: Your health is incredibly important. If you’re not physically and mentally caring for yourself, you won’t be as well equipped for life as you’d like.
    • Emotion Mastery: Life is full of trial and error, which can get frustrating at times. Don’t let your negative emotions get the best of you.
    • Conscious Communication: Rarely will anyone make it through life by themselves. Communicating with your family, friends, and colleagues will make the journey much easier and a lot more enjoyable.
    • Smart Focus: Work smarter, not harder. Definitely work hard, but try to put an emphasis on efficiency whenever possible.
    • Learning and Adaptability: Constant learning is how you will be able to reach your full potential. Applying what you learn and even relearning some topics keeps you in the driver’s seat.
    • Constructive Thinking: Brush up on your problem-solving skills. You’ll need them quite frequently on your journey to the top.

The Full Life Framework

The Full Life Framework

The Full Life Framework by Leon Ho

Fulling your life, your passions, and your dreams through The Full Life Framework is a lot to take in — but don’t sweat it.

You have a lot of life left to live; give yourself a few years to get the hang of The Full Life Framework system. It is worth every effort you determine to put into your plan.

Start working on living your life to the fullest today and you’ll always look back with no regrets.

Strategies and Habits that Can Help You Reach Your Full Potential

By | Appointment | No Comments
Strategies and Habits that Can Help You Reach Your Full Potential

This year is all about new beginnings. 2020 threw everything it had at us — and yet we overcame all of its challenges. Better yet, we grew stronger, found new opportunities, built new habits and learned more about ourselves in 2020 than we ever knew prior.

To honor those new beginnings, we should all be striving to become better versions of ourselves in 2021. It’s time to shed those quarantine pounds, budget out your dream home, and pursue your highest aspirations.

One formula that I have found to be a good resource in helping people reach their full potential is the Full Life Framework developed by Leon Ho, the founder and CEO of Lifehack. This framework is built on five steps that enable you to live your life to the absolute fullest. Let’s break them down:

Life Missions

What do you hope to get out of life? This is the question to answer in the first step of the Full Life Framework. You need to have a mission, and a specific goal to work toward. Without these two vital pieces in your life — you’ll end up wandering aimlessly without purpose or direction.

Some people’s mission in life is to work hard and retire with the house on the hill. For others, it’s to help people through service or a meaningful career. Others still want to pursue their passions in art, music, or travel. Any of these goals are a wonderful representation of a life well-lived and are okay, as long as your mission is deeply personal and worth dedicating your time toward.

Compromise the Method, Not the Mission

Once you’ve honed in on your life’s mission, don’t let go of your dream. Too many people let the obstacles they face in life derail them from pursuing their life’s mission. One twist in the road and some will let their entire mission be compromised. But twists and turns are a part of life — and life is difficult. Don’t put your heart and life in the rearview mirror to be left behind forever — pick yourself up — over and over again until it’s a habit.

Let’s say your dream job is to work for NASA (SpaceX might be more likely at this point), but you get offered a comfortable desk job right out of college. While the pay and benefits are nice, you know that taking this job might dash all hopes you have of getting your dream occupation. Is anything worth the sacrifice to leave your dream behind — or should you take a new approach that keeps your vision intact?

Adopt a Progress Mindset

There’s one thing that stands in the way of your full potential; failure. Not only failure itself but the constant fear of failure that stops you from stretching your limits and challenging yourself. In order to adopt a mindset of progress, you’ll want to create a habit to cast off such fears and thoughts.

Instead of beating yourself up when you make a mistake, think to yourself, “What can I learn from this?” Learning from each error you commit makes you stronger and smarter. You’ll rarely make mistakes twice if you use each of them as a stepping stone to move forward.

Self-Control Systems

True progress doesn’t come overnight. Nothing worth doing comes easy — all proficiency requires hours upon hours of diligent practice to get from where you are now to where you want to be. The learning curve kind of dedication requires a lot of work and self-control.

The truth is, few people are capable of self-control based on sheer willpower alone. Recognizing and understanding the value of this step is important because it teaches you to develop a system that makes self-control become an automatic habit.

Managing your time and efforts to develop habits will pave the way for you to reach your full potential, rather than climbing a metaphorical mountain every single day.

Life Multipliers

Last but certainly not least are the life multipliers. These multipliers are exactly how they sound; skills and attributes that when self-applied will greatly add upon the value and experience you get out of life. Especially when they become habits.

There are eight life multipliers, each of which can be deeply expounded upon. For the sake of brevity here’s an outline of each multiplier and its importance.

    • Self-Empowerment: Your goals are as far away as you make them. If you don’t take the initiative, you won’t get any closer.
    • Self-Control: As was just discussed, you need to show some self-control so that procrastination doesn’t take hold of your life.
    • Renewable Vitality: Your health is incredibly important. If you’re not physically and mentally caring for yourself, you won’t be as well equipped for life as you’d like.
    • Emotion Mastery: Life is full of trial and error, which can get frustrating at times. Don’t let your negative emotions get the best of you.
    • Conscious Communication: Rarely will anyone make it through life by themselves. Communicating with your family, friends, and colleagues will make the journey much easier and a lot more enjoyable.
    • Smart Focus: Work smarter, not harder. Definitely work hard, but try to put an emphasis on efficiency whenever possible.
    • Learning and Adaptability: Constant learning is how you will be able to reach your full potential. Applying what you learn and even relearning some topics keeps you in the driver’s seat.
    • Constructive Thinking: Brush up on your problem-solving skills. You’ll need them quite frequently on your journey to the top.

The Full Life Framework

The Full Life Framework

The Full Life Framework by Leon Ho

Fulling your life, your passions, and your dreams through The Full Life Framework is a lot to take in — but don’t sweat it.

You have a lot of life left to live; give yourself a few years to get the hang of The Full Life Framework system. It is worth every effort you determine to put into your plan.

Start working on living your life to the fullest today and you’ll always look back with no regrets.

How Tech Will Help Your Productivity

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How Tech Will Help Your Productivity

Let’s not beat around the bush. Improving your productivity, using tech or not, takes a lot of hard work and self-discipline.

How many of us can resist responding to a text message? How often do we engage in busy work? And, are we being as active as we should be while working from home?

However, thanks to technology, these are yesterday’s problems. In fact, with tech, you’ll be able to finally become more productive in 2021 and beyond.

Utilize trackers.

People have been tracking their time for centuries. In fact, the oldest record of tracking time for completing work responsibilities was the Code of Hammurabi, dating to about 1754 BC! But I’m referring to more modern time trackers.

As explained previously in another Calendar article, time trackers “shine a light on when you’re most energetic, focused, and motivated.” Furthermore, “they can pinpoint when and where you’re wasting your valuable time.”

These digital tools also run quietly in the background of your computer or phone. “That means they track your time automatically without you even realizing it.” From there, “they analyze the data and make suggestions on where and how to improve,” such as determining when you’re most productive.

While not as ancient as the Code of Hammurabi, time tracking software has been around for years. But, tools like Toggl, RescueTime, Harvest, Timely, Clockify, and Calendar remain invaluable. Considering that your schedule is vastly different from last year, it wouldn’t hurt to utilize time trackers once again.

Already tracked your time? Well, have you tried a fitness tracker?

Whether it’s a FitBit or Apple Watch, fitness bands can help combat the sedentary lifestyle that we’ve been experiencing since COVID-19 struck. In turn, you’ll be healthier, happier, and more energetic. All of which will increase your output.

Get on board with a smart calendar.

As with time trackers, smart calendars aren’t exactly new. I’d even go as far as to say that solutions like Google, Apple, or Microsoft Calendar have become ingrained in your daily life. But have you tried anything beyond the “big three”?

No disrespect to these online calendars. They’re accessible and come loaded with features ranging from finding meeting times to receiving reminders. However, depending on your exact needs, they may not always be the best fit.

For example, if you’ve found that scheduling meetings consume too much of your time, consider Calendar. It uses machine learning to make smart suggestions for future meetings — it can even automatically schedule them for you as well. And, it integrates with your existing calendar, like Apple, Google, and Microsoft, so that you aren’t always bouncing between them.

AI is a new reality.

“Artificial intelligence is real and helping leading-edge companies gain an advantage in the market through improved automation, enhanced decision-making, and improved productivity,” writes Stephen Boals for Accounting Today. “Whether it’s a simple algorithm that enhances reporting, a cloud-based AP automation suite, or an ERP module your accounting department can leverage, AI point solutions are available and built to solve specific business problems.”

In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2024, 69% of routines done by managers will be fully automated. If you don’t want to be left behind, it’s finally time that you improve your workflow automation game. If you need a starting point, Capterra has an extensive list of automation software for you to review.

Declutter your digital workspace (and mind).

As you know, your workspace and environment have a direct influence on your productivity. I mean, it’s near impossible to focus when you have a cluttered desk or noisy background. But, the same is true of your digital workspace.

It may not be on the top of your mind. But, the biggest distractions that you have at work are, in fact, coming from your smartphone notifications and the internet. While you could evaluate and remove time-wasting apps, I’m looking at your social media; you can use the following tools to achieve digital minimalism.

  • Keep your email in check with Sanebox, Unroll.me, and FollowUpThen.
  • For Mac users, there’s Magnet. It keeps your workspace organized by arranging windows into organized tiles. As such, this eliminates switching back and forth between browser tabs and apps.
  • Don’t worry, Chrome users, I’ve got you. Toby is an extension that allows you to organize and manage your browser tabs — you can also share and collaborate with them.
  • Station is another browser extension. It provides a shortcut for all your apps, documents, notes, and messages so that you aren’t switching back and forth.
  • I’m known for jotting down notes. But, all those stickies and notepads can also cause physical clutter. Google Keep solves this problem. You can use it to take photos of whatever you’ve written down, add audio notes, draw, and set reminders.
  • Do you want to reduce screen time and avoid distractions? Apps like Offtime, Freedom, Moment, and FocusMe let you block app notifications and visiting websites at certain times.

Communicate and collaborate with dispersed teams.

Even if you’re a freelancer or solopreneur, you still have to be in-tough with your clients. For businesses, however, working remotely will most likely be the new normal for the foreseeable future. In either case, you need to have the right tools to seamlessly communicate and collaborate.

While Zoom has been the de facto videoconferencing tool, there are others worth considering. These include Microsoft Teams, WebEx, and GoToMeeting. Verizon has also gotten into the game with BlueJeans.

For my money, though, I’m all about Google Meet. It’s much easier to use than Zoom. More importantly, it’s a part of the Google ecosystem. That means I can use one platform for email, scheduling, docs, spreadsheets, notetaking, and there’s even a whiteboard called Jamboard.

Simultaneously, phone and video calls, texts, emails, and Slack messages can be overwhelming. That’s when collaboration tools like Slab, Eloops, Bluescape, and Figma come in handy. You can interact with team members, create and share content, brainstorm, track projects, or host team-building activities virtually.

Stay focused and on track.

Have you ever been zoned in on a task only to have a thought interrupt your flow? It could be to return a phone call, make a dentist appointment, or pursue a business idea. As opposed to stopping in your tracks, just let Alexa or Google Home know. Using your voice, you can create reminders, add events to your calendar, or generate to-dos.

Besides smart devices and home assistants, apps like Forest, Brain.FM, Serene, Noisli, and [email protected] can keep you focused and motivated. And, if stress or anxiety has gotten the best of you– Calm, Headspace, and Rain, Rain was designed for meditation and relaxation.

Make the shift to 5G.

For roughly the last year, telcos has been updating their infrastructure to 5G to deliver faster internet speeds. More recently, both Google and iPhone have unveiled 5G phones. But, what exactly is 5G and how can you make the shift?

“It’s not simply another ‘G,’ as it has been in previous generations,” explains Amol Phadke, global network practice lead at Accenture. “It has the potential to completely disrupt the way we work and live.”

“The speed of the connection will bring the biggest change by far,” says Carsten Schaefer, founder and CEO at crowdy.ai. “Given how amazingly fast the Internet connection is, it will make work much more efficient.” That may make downloading files faster, but there are additional benefits. For example, this technology can detect malfunctions before they occur, which will reduce downtime.

Moreover, 5G will improve remote work. For instance, it will drastically improve videoconferences. It can also speed up real-time collaboration or provide VR training and mentorship.

However, to tap into the potential of 5G, you need to make sure that your phone and carrier support it. It’s a little foggy right now. The Galaxy S 20 5G, the iPhone 12, and the Pixel 4a 5G are described as 5G.

As for coverage, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile all provide maps on where 5G is available. Not all of them are straightforward. But, you can expect more coverage as 2021 rolls on.

Schedule telehealth appointments.

When you aren’t feeling 100%, either mentally pr physically, your productivity stifles. But, the link between health and productivity hasn’t exactly been a secret. What has changed, though, is how more accessible healthcare has become in response to COVID-19.

To limit potential exposure and address mental health concerns like isolation, virtual care visits have skyrocketed. For example, in the first week of March 2020, there was a 154% increase in telehealth visitsForrester Research anticipates that in early 2021, U.S. virtual care visits will almost reach a billion.

Specifically, Forrester expects one-third of virtual care visits to be for mental health. In fact, this will account for 31% of all virtual care visits this year.

With telehealth literally at your fingertips, there’s no excuse to schedule anything from a checkup with your physician to weekly sessions with a mental health professional. When you do, you’ll be healthier, happier, and more productive.

Over Everything? 11 Ways to Regain Motivation

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Over Everything? 11 Ways to Regain Motivation

We’ve all been there at one point or another — saggy-baggy motivation. You just lose your drive to achieve the goals that you’ve set. And, that’s a problem that can hold you back from solving problems, exploring new opportunities, and breaking unhealthy habits.

Over Everything? 11 Ways to Regain Motivation

If you find yourself in this rut, don’t lose hope — just don’t. You can still get back on track even if you feel like you’re in charge of, or — worse — you’re done and “over” everything. Getting your zip back will involve doing the following 11 strategies.

1. Motivate yourself with one goal.

“Whenever I’ve been in a slump, I’ve discovered that it’s often because I have too much going on in my life,” writes Zen Habits’ Leo Babauta. “I’m trying to do too much.” As a result, “it saps my energy and motivation. It’s probably the most common mistake that people make: they try to take on too much, try to accomplish too many goals at once.”

It’s impossible to “maintain energy and focus (the two most important things in accomplishing a goal) if you are trying to do two or more goals at once,” he adds. “You have to choose one goal, for now, and focus on it completely.”

“I know, that’s hard,” Leo says. “Still, I speak from experience. You can always do your other goals when you’ve accomplished your One Goal.”

2. Go back to square one.

Do you feel like throwing in the proverbial towel? I think we all have at some point. But, when this becomes too unbearable, it’s often best to give yourself a time out and remember your “why.”

For me, this involves having some “me” time. Usually, it’s a really long walk with my dog and without my phone. During this time, I ask questions like;

  • Why did I choose this work in the first place?
  • What were the initial goals?
  • Is what I’m doing helping my pushing me closer to my long-term goals?
  • Do I enjoy working with my current team?
  • What’s the reason I get out of bed every morning?

You don’t have to ask these exact questions. The idea is to carve out some alone time in order to remember why you started.

3. Give yourself a fresh start for motivation.

At the same time, you might just need to turn over a new leaf. I get that this can be tough. But, sometimes you just have to be proactive and move on to something else.

But, did you know that you can do this at any time? Well, that’s what a study from the Wharton School of Business discovered. Researchers found that “intertemporal markers” encourage us by;

In short, talk yourself up and contrive a fresh start when you need a shot of motivation.

4. Make a Ulysses Pact.

“Named for the clever hero of the Trojan war, the Ulysses Pact is a technique for holding yourself accountable to stick with a goal even when it’s hard,” explains Nick Wignall.

What’s the key ingredient in a Ulysses Pact? It’s “that we make a choice in the present (when things are relatively easy) that binds us to perform an action in the future (when things are hard).”

“For example, suppose you want to stick to a plan of going for a run two times per week in the morning with a friend,” adds Wignall. “You could write your friend a series of checks, each for $20, and instruct them to cash one and use the money on whatever they want if you miss a workout with them.”

“In short, the Ulysses Pact helps you maintain high motivation when things get tough by locking in a future behavior ahead of time.”

Why do commitment devices work? They’re “a way to overcome the discrepancy between an individual’s short-term and long-term preferences,” clarifies economist Jodi Beggs. “In other words, they are a way for self-aware people to modify their incentives or set of possible choices in order to overcome impatience or other irrational behavior.”

5. Go on mini-sprints.

“Our brains are wired to focus on the short term versus the long term,” explains high-performance coach Shefali Raina. “So mini-sprints help us get focused, energetic, and motivated to complete shorter-term tasks and feel good afterward.”

Keep that in mind whenever you perceive a task as too big too long, overwhelming, or tedious. Instead of forcing yourself to get into the zone, break these tasks down into min-sprints or shorter blocks of time.

How you go about this is ultimately up to you. For me, I’m all about eating an elephant one bite at a time. For instance, when writing this article, I focus on one point at a time instead of “Oh man, I have to a 1,000 word plus article!”

Another suggestion would be to tap into your ultradian rhythms. For most of us that means, we can work for around an hour before taking a break. One study found that the ideal formula is working for 52-minutes followed by a 17-minute break.

6. Limit wishes.

“You begin to fly when you let go of self-limiting beliefs and allow your mind and aspirations to rise to greater heights.” — Brian Tracy

It’s true. Limiting beliefs hold us hostage from pursuing our goals and desires. For example, they prevent us from asking someone out on a date or starting a new business.

What do we do next? We make limiting wishes, such as “If I were thinner I would be attractive to others” or “If I had a million dollars I could launch my startup.”

While there are times they can be useful, like protecting us from breaking the law, they’re often barriers. Overcome this by challenging limiting beliefs. Some suggestions are asking “What if I’m wrong” and “How this belief is serving me?”

7. Set goals that are intrinsically rewarding.

“In my research, I find that immediate rewards when pursuing long-term goals increase goal persistence and that this occurs by increasing intrinsic motivation — the desire to pursue the activity for its own sake,” says Kaitlin Woolley, assistant professor of marketing at Johnson College of Business. “For example, focusing on the positive taste of healthy food, or the fun in working out, can increase healthy food consumption and persistence with an exercise.”

Immediate rewards are also an effective motivator when developing new habits as well. “A large part of the problem stems from the fact that people are focusing too much on the delayed reward — the outcome of their workout or healthy eating,” notes Woolley. “But when people are in the middle of something, they care a lot about the experience and having fun, more so than the delayed outcome.”

Woolley’s research has also found that fun is key when pursuing long-term goals. “People often get wrapped up in the outcome of their actions,” she says. “And it’s not that the outcome isn’t important, but having fun along the way is the key to persisting with goals.”

8. Change your scenery for motivation.

If you’ve properly set up your workspace, it can be inspiring and motivating. I would dare say that it’s somewhere that you actually enjoy being. And, the comfort and routine you’ve established can reduce anxiety and the number of decisions to make.

However, it can get boring. It’s like if your favorite meal is spaghetti and meatballs. If you have this for dinner every night, you’re going to get sick of it. To avoid this, you need to have a variety of meals.

If you feel like you’re getting tired of your routine, shake things up. Instead of going to work in your office, work from a coffee shop, coworking space, or local library. Better yet, get yourself outside as the color green has been proven to boost energy and motivation.

9. Place the negatives out on the curb.

“The brain is a complex muscle that solves complex mathematical problems, creates innovative ideas that have put humans on the moon, invented the internet which changed the way we live and the mind gave us the intelligence to cure serious diseases saving countless lives,” writes Chris Delaney for Addicted2Success. Despite all that, it can still be tricked.

Delaney suggests that you say “I Love London In The Summer Time” out loud.

Your eyes didn’t deceive — and no one made a grammatical error. But, did you spot the double use of the word “the?” Don’t worry, most people didn’t.

What’s the point of this? The “same psychology can be used to trick the mind into Motivation,” says Delaney.

First, “Think of a task that you need to complete but procrastination has stopped you in your tracks,” he adds. “When thinking about this goal, do you imagine how hard this task is, the number of steps you have to take and do you second guess how you will fail?”

“With a focus on the problems and pain of the goal, your mind magically deletes the positives, the potential fun, and your optimistic outcome.” Instead, focus on the positives.

One strategy you can try is imagining that you’re watching a small black-and-white TV. Visualize any negative thoughts or bad memories getting smaller and dimmer. Next, replace “this image by imagining a large, colored film” that’s full of fun and laughter.

10. Hang out with the right crowd.

There’s a popular adage that goes, positivity breeds positivity. Believe it or not, that’s pretty sound advice. The reason being that this type of energy is contagious.

Think about this for a second. When you’re surrounded by positive-minded people who are go-getters, it’s more motivating than hanging out with naysayers and people without ambition.

11. You are your motivation.

Finally, create routines and rituals that get you amped. For instance, before getting into your most important task for the day, psych yourself up by listening to a playlistleveling up with gamification, or tapping into the power of nostalgia.

Over Everything? 11 Ways to Regain Motivation was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

7 Simple Ways to Make Team Meetings Count

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7 Simple Ways to Make Team Meetings Count

Team meetings play a traditional and sometimes obligatory role in office culture, but that doesn’t mean they’re appreciated.

On the contrary, a recent Harris poll revealed that 46 percent of employees would prefer to do anything else other than sit in a status meeting. Seventeen percent said they would rather watch paint dry. Yikes.

Transforming those counter-productive meetings into meaningful ones is no mean feat, but in this post, I’ll share seven simple tips ways to make team meetings count.

1. Keep it Casual

Instead of being an extension of office life, attending a team meeting should feel like you’re taking a breather from your work.

To make that feeling a reality for your workforce, try setting a more casual tone in your team meetings by starting with an interactive game, a quick story, or even a joke. However, be wary of being overly relaxed, lest your important team meetings become nothing more than social gatherings.

2. Ditch The Chairs

To further set your team meetings apart from the daily grind, empty out the chairs from your meeting room and have stand-up meetings instead.

Not only does standing up encourage engagement, but it also reduces meeting times by up to 34%, so your team can spend less time in meetings and more time producing results.

3. Refresh the Agenda

If your agenda rarely changes, you can’t expect anything other than stale meetings.

To keep your employees engaged, refresh your agendas with relevant issues, industry news, and new strategies that can help the company on micro and macro levels.

But whatever you do, don’t invent talking points in order to “fill up” your agenda. If nothing needs to be discussed, then so be it.

4. Rotate The Leader

Each meeting should be led by one person for the sake of efficiency. Rotating that leader will give your team meetings the variety they desperately need.

You’ll want to write up a short guideline for different leaders to follow, but ultimately, you should let your employees volunteer and enjoy the experience of leading a meeting.

However, if the meeting is being held in order to make an urgent decision, be sure that the leader is also a high-ranking decision-maker.

4. Celebrate Successes

If your company wins a new contract or an employee reaches a personal milestone — celebrate it.

Team meetings help make up the culture and personality of your brand, and if you aren’t marking the big occasions with some celebratory cake, you’re sowing the seeds for a disjointed workforce.

This also applies to project post-mortem meetings, where it’s best to end on a congratulatory note.

5. Get Feedback

Surveying your employees is perhaps the most efficient way to optimize your team meetings.

  • Ask them about what they want to discuss
  • How they want to discuss it
  • What suggestions they would make in order to make team meetings more enjoyable and useful

6. End With a Summary

Even when they’re kept short and sweet, your employees will typically forget the key points of a meeting by the time they return to their workstations.

To ensure that your employees are going back to work with the meeting’s most valuable advice in mind, spend thirty seconds at the end of each meeting summarizing the key takeaways.

7. Make Meetings Rare

Although team meetings can be made fun, productive, and inspiring; nobody can dispute that it is not real work.

I suggest you take a leaf out of 37Signals’ book and keep team meetings to a minimum. They prefer to make use of email and IM to communicate. As they say, “every minute spent outside of the meeting room is a minute you can get real work done instead.”

Make Team Meetings Count for Your Team

The disdain for team meetings is almost universal among employees.

But if your company can make team meetings enjoyable and meaningful, you’ll be set apart from your competitors. This can only be a good thing when your workforce inevitably shares stories about your company on platforms like GlassDoor.

How does your company approach team meetings?

Meaningful Motivation: What Actually Drives Employee Engagement

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Meaningful Motivation: What Actually Drives Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is tricky. While our workers tell us money is the way to maximize productivity, results tell a different story. What do we believe?

Recent experiments run by Dan Ariely, author of the book Payoff, showed that money is a poor motivator for getting the best work out of people. In fact, large bonuses for key executives produced deteriorating efficiency.

Based on these findings, if not money, what incentives produce the output employees?

Here are 3 rewards other than cash that we can give to our workforce to boost productivity. All these privileges have been shown to produce more engagement in companies than dollar-based incentives. Start using these motivation boosters in your business today, and watch your company culture and happiness increase substantially.

1. Seeing a satisfied customer

One of the worst parts about pivoting in a startup is the amount of previous work you must throw away. Imagine working 12 hours a day, sacrificing family time, and working weekends to help build a product you believe in. Then after months or years of working your tail off, the company you work for scratches the project. No one will use what you built, and now you have nothing to show for it. Your motivation is gone.

Unfortunately, this scenario is seen in companies of all sizes. While many times an instance like this is unavoidable, the way decision-makers handle a scenario like this can make all the difference.

Seeing a customer have a great experience with something that you helped create is a wonderful feeling. It allows you to see first-hand that what you are working on has a greater purpose, and you can see with your own eyes the positive effect you have caused.

To take advantage of this, if your company is going through a pivot, find ways to save as much of the work that you did as possible. Tie it into your new product, or dig into the processes that worked well before you pivoted and incorporate them into your new plan.

Throughout the building process, bring customers in and have them test the product in front of your team. When your employees see customers light up, they will light up as well.

Once the product is built, share positive feedback from your customers directly with your staff.

When I receive positive comments about the content my team produces, I share it directly with my team. It means more to them to see the customer say good job than it does for me to tell them the same.

People want to work for companies that are improving the lives of others. The best way to show your team they are working for a purpose is to allow them to see happy customers with their own eyes.

2. Meaningful motivation builds trust

Sadly, some employees view trust as more of a privilege than a right. For these organizations, motivation is nonexistent.

While having faith in your team can increase employee output exponentially, not having confidence in them can lead to your company lacking vision and any kind of connection with the organization.

While trust can be expressed in a variety of ways, one of the best is enabling a sense of autonomy to your workers. For instance, in my company, we allow everyone to work from home. There is no office, and we don’t have a set start time. We update each other on our daily schedule and all have tasks we are responsible for that day, but there is no micromanaging.

When I was deciding to build a company this way, I thought about the kind of company culture I’d want to work for. I didn’t want a company who treated me like a child. I wanted to be an equal in an organization, not a prisoner. As I’ve built an autonomous culture in my own company, the rewards have been substantial. Happier employees, increased productivity, and less burn out are just a few of the perks.

The more trust you put in people the better results you’ll get. If you don’t have assurance in your team, then you’re hiring the wrong people.

3. Congratulating Employees For A Job Well Done

When an employee is doing an amazing job, the first thought in many employer’s minds is to up their salary. The issue with this thought process is that the worker quickly becomes used to the increased pay anytime they do something well. So when they do something exemplary again, they want a bigger bonus. Then an even bigger bonus, and on and on.

Try going back down the ladder, and your worker will be furious. Once pay has become the dictator of worth, smaller bonuses are seen as a bad thing not a great motivator.

Instead, positive reinforcement is shown to be just as effective as increased pay but without diminishing returns. So, let’s say if instead of paying you a fat bonus for a project you knocked out of the park, I tell you how great of a job you did and invite you out for a drink. To most people, this will be an equal motivator as a bonus. But, when you do amazing things in the future, you won’t expect more money, you’ll instead just expect me to give you more praise.

Appreciating employees is easy. There are no monetary resources that you need to pour in. All you need is sincerity and time. Over the long term, this is a much better way to motivate your workforce, and a better way to build your company culture.

9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making Every Day

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9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making Every Day

Who wouldn’t want to be more productive? I think most of us would want to accomplish the goal of higher productivity daily — which is why you’re reading this article. The thing is, sometimes, when it comes to productivity, it’s not about adding a new hack, habit, or app to your life. It’s eliminating the things that are holding you back, such as the following nine productivity mistakes.

9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making Every Day

1. Not making the most of your morning.

There might have been a time when you consistently hit snooze and stayed in bed until the very last second before you have to go. But, we’re creatures of habit, and a morning routine gives us that much-needed structure. In turn, you’ll be healthier and more productive.

So, how should you spend your morning? Well, that’s really up to you. But here are some suggestions you should try:

  • Wake up before everyone else so that you have time to yourself.
  • Don’t look at your phone as soon as you wake up.
  • Avoid coffee first thing, and drink a 24 oz glass of water instead.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Read, journal, meditate, and exercise.
  • Set a daily intention.
  • Review your calendar.

Most importantly, plan the night before so that you aren’t rushing around in the morning. For example, packing your lunch and laying out your clothes. And, don’t forget to establish and stick to a regular sleep schedule.

2. Wasting the two most productive hours of the day.

“One of the saddest mistakes in time management is the propensity of people to spend the two most productive hours of their day on things that don’t require high cognitive capacity (like social media),” psychologist Dan Ariely said in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA). “If we could salvage those precious hours, most of us would be much more successful in accomplishing what we truly want.”

When asked when are these “golden hours,” Ariely responded, “Generally, people are most productive in the morning. The two hours after becoming fully awake are likely to be the best.”

At the same time, this varies from person to person. But, Stephen Borgman, in Psychology Today, says, “Everyone needs a powerful morning routine to buffer stress and maximize their days.”

Most of us have an idea of when we’re most productive and when we’re not. If you’re uncertain, track your time to get a clearer picture. After identifying your peak hours, spend that time on your most demanding and challenging tasks of the day.

3. Treating cheating as a reward.

“People often decide to treat themselves if they are doing something they find difficult, such as dieting, saving money, exercising or working,” writes Amy Johnson in Lifehack. “However, if someone treats themselves to a dress after a week of saving, this undermines the achievement they have made.” Even worse, this could ‘encourage you to ditch your plan entirely, as you’ve already been ‘bad.’”

“Try to view the act of you achieving your goals as a treat,” suggests Amy. “You wanted to improve yourself — and now you are well on your way.”

4. Allowing yourself to get mentally fatigued.

You’ll not want to waste your most productive hours on low-demand tasks. Remember, who only have so much energy and willpower in a day. So, it’s better to reserve it for essential activities. Better than just reserving your energy is to build your energy during the day.

Deep Patel gives some ways to boost your energy during the day that I’ve found to be quite successful — including getting rid of emotional contagions.

Another way to preserve — and build your energy throughout the day is to block apps and distracting noises when focused on deep work. Take frequent breaks, walk around your building — do something to recharge and recover from mental fatigue. If mental fatigue is something that you struggle with — go back to the Pomodoro Technique. It’s where you work in 25-minute blocks and then take a short break.

5. Falling into the urgency trap.

If there is one takeaway I want you to remember from this article, not everything is an emergency. I know that you’ve got a full plate. But, you won’t be able to clear it if you keep piling more on.

One way to avoid this is by creating a master list and analyzing it. Your master list is everything that you need or want to get done. Don’t worry about putting it in order just yet.

After you’ve developed your list, use the 4 D’s of time management to thin it down. The tasks that need to be done right now should be put in your calendar first. These would be things that can be completed quickly, have deadlines, or contribute to your goals.

For important tasks that aren’t urgent, defer them to a later time. Urgent but unimportant tasks can be delegated. And, anything that is neither should be deleted from your list.

6. Being afraid to say “no.”

Let’s say that you’re in the zone, and there’s a knock on your door. Your co-founder pops their head in and asks if you have a minute. Unless it’s a life or death situation, your response should be “no.”

Of course, you don’t want to come off like a jerk. You can merely tell the individual you’re busy and ask if they can come back in an hour when you’re free.

The same idea is valid to any sort of time request. You just received an invite for an unnecessary meeting? Decline it. What do you do if you’ve already committed to a party this weekend? Have it clearly in your mind that if you’ve already accepted one engagement, you can’t attend another social function.

As Derek Sivers once wrote, “If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, say ‘no.’” When you do, you can remain focused on your priorities and avoid spreading yourself too thin.

7. Believing in the myth of multitasking.

“Multitasking might be your favorite way to forge through your daily tasks,” writes Howie Jones in an article for Calendar. “The logic is flawless. Accomplishing two things instead of one thing is always better.”

Here’s the problem, though. Multitasking is a myth. The reason? “The human brain seems to be set up to handle one task at a time,” explains Howie. “It is impossible to change the way our brains are set up, so it is better to accept reality and avoid multitasking.”

As a result, when you multitask, “you cost yourself time and efficiency that you cannot get back.” Focus on one thing at a time and then move on to your next task.

8. Focusing on time, not results.

All too often, we focus on how many hours we work and not what we’ve achieved. It’s like some strange badge of honor. Do you think that you’re any more productive by working 80 plus hours per week?

I hate to break it to you. But you’re not. In fact, according to a Stanford study, productivity begins to drop after working 50 hours per week. And, it plummets so much after working 55 hours that it’s pointless.

What’s more, research from Behance “found that placing importance on hours and physical presence over action and results leads to a culture of inefficiency (and anxiety).” Furthermore, sitting “at your desk until a specific time creates a factory-like culture that ignores a few basic laws of idea generation and human nature:

  • When the brain is tired, it doesn’t work well.
  • Idea generation happens on its own terms,
  • When you feel forced to execute beyond your capacity, you begin to hate what you are doing.

Instead, reflect and acknowledge what you’ve accomplished in a day. An easy way to do this would be creating a done list to show you how you were productive and not just busy.

9. Thinking that work-life balance is 50/50.

Perhaps the biggest misconception about work-life balance is that it’s a 50-50 split. In other words, you spend an equal amount of time at work, and the other at home.

The reality is that that’s not realistic. Work-life balance is all about doing the right thing at the right time. For example, you need to launch your app by the end of the week. That’s where a majority of your time and energy should be focused. But your child has to go to the emergency room. Well, that should take precedence over everything else.

Sometimes if you want to attain a work-life balance — you need to find something in life that is worth balancing. Do you want to run a marathon? The training will build your confidence and force you to adjust your life experiences better. Have you always wanted to learn another language besides the two that you already know? Immersion in a new language learning program will balance your life better than you may be doing currently.

“A more attainable goal than work-life balance — is work-life integration,” writes Amanda Abella in a previous Calendar article. That means integrating “your work and your life so that they complement each other instead of competing with one another.”

Innovate, Innovate, Innovate

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Innovate, Innovate, Innovate

Thomas Edison once said, “There’s a way to do it better – find it.” In my opinion, that perfectly sums up what innovation is. But, marketing specialist Will Purcell has a more in-depth definition of how to inovate. “Innovation, as a concept, refers to the process that an individual or organization undertakes to conceptualize brand new products, processes, and ideas, or to approach existing products, processes, and ideas in new ways.”

Purcell adds that in the business world, there are three types of innovation to pursue. These include product, process, and business model innovations. Chasing any of these not only sparks creativity and inspiration, but it can also take your business to new levels.

The most obvious reason is that innovation will help your company grow. In fact, according to economists, between 1870 and 1950, innovation was responsible for 85% of all growth in the US economy. More recently, McKinsey reports that 84% of executives believe that innovation is important to growth strategy.

That actually makes sense. Through innovation, you’re better equipped to reduce waste and costs, embrace new opportunities, and stand out from your competition. Moreover, it can strengthen your relationships with customers and employees. And, it encourages you to continually improves and stay on top of trends so that you’ll remain relevant.

So, yeah. Innovation is incredibly important. And, in my opinion, it’s particularly true in the world we currently live in as we’re surrounded by so much uncertainty.

The good news? There are simple and effective ways to train yourself and your team to become more innovative, such as the following 10 techniques.

1. Cultivate your innovative traits.

There’s a misconception that some people are just born to be innovative. That’s not exactly true. Victor Poirier, a professor at the Institute of Advanced Discovery & Innovation at the University of South Florida, believes we all possess this trait.

“Almost everybody [has] innovative traits,” he told Fast Company. “Some people use them; some people don’t. [I did this research] to make people aware of what traits people do have, wake up dormant traits that they don’t even know they have, and prove the utilization of those traits.”

Which traits specifically? Poirier lists the ability to think abstractly, having deep and broad knowledge, curiosity, openness to risk, grit, and dissatisfaction with the status quo as the most common. If you notice any of these in you or a team member, he suggests seeking out experiences that force you to put them to the test.

For example, you’ve noticed that you’ve got some grit in you. You decide to strengthen this trait. You can do so by developing alternative plans to handle potential setbacks.

Poirier also recommends that you put yourself in environments that are conducive to innovation. And, you should have some ego since this can push you out of your comfort zone. Just make sure to keep it in check.

2. Turn “I can’t” into “I can.”

From my experiences, we often don’t chase innovation because there are roadblocks in the way. For example, maybe the COVID-19 pandemic forced you to close your retail shop. Instead of “I can’t make money because I can’t have indoor gatherings,” look for alternatives, such as opening an online shop.

That may sound simplistic. But, it’s possible if you start small and track your progress. Most importantly, believe in yourself. As Carolyn Rubenstein, author of Perseveranceputs it, “Don’t give yourself any other option. If other people can do it, so can you.”

3. Don’t discount “crazy” ideas.

Airplanes, coffee, light bulbs, personal computers, and vaccines. All are a part of daily life. But did you know that they were initially ridiculed?

The point is, never listen to the naysayers. Whenever you have an idea, jot it down and run with it if it keeps nagging you. It might not change the world. But, life is too short to live with regrets.

4. Shake things up.

I have nothing against routines. In addition to providing structure, it pretty much automates planning. At the same time, monotony can put you in a rut.

To avoid this and light the creativity spark, find ways to diverge from the normal — ideally every day. It could be something as small as eating something different for breakfast or working somewhere besides your office. Or, it could more of a shock to the system, like rearranging your home or traveling abroad.

5. Be constantly curious.

“Humans are naturally curious—anyone who’s spent time with a toddler knows that a hunger to figure things out is a primal motivating force,” wrote Neil Blumenthal, Co-founder, and Co-CEO of Warby Parker. “Learning also leads to ideation: the more you know, the more you imagine.”

“We’ve institutionalized learning in a few ways— by creating employee book clubs and establishing Warby Parker Academy, a program that offers free workshops on everything from frame design to public speaking to retail real estate to fantasy football,” adds Blumenthal. “Learning naturally leads to cross-pollination and ideation. Ideation can lead to action. Action is how innovation comes to life.

One of my favorite ways to cultivate curiosity is to just talk to others. It could be an employee, friend, or stranger you’ve just met at the airport. Actually, listening to others is a great way to learn new things and gain fresh perspectives.

6. Ban things.

While this may sound counterintuitive, Annabel Action, founder of the site Never Liked It Anyway, has a different opinion. When you have constraints and parameters in place, it can “inspire innovation by forcing you to think dynamically and creatively.”

“As an exercise, start banning things and exploring the implications,” recommends Annabel. Ban words, resources, and your primary target market. You could even take it further by banning “your default communication tools.” In most cases, “the ideas you settle on will likely be watered down versions of your initial suggestions, but the point of this exercise is to spark new thoughts on how to do the same old things.”

7. Involve others.

Even if you’re a solopreneur or pride yourself on being a lone wolf, the reality is that innovation stifles when other’s aren’t involved. You need someone to bounce ideas off of and then have them bring in their own diverse knowledge, experiences, and perspectives.

And, sometimes this can push you beyond your limitations. Take the “amazing competition” between John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

“It was a great way for us to keep each other on our toes,” Paul told Uncut in 2004. “I’d write ‘Yesterday,’ and John would go away and write ‘Norwegian Wood.’ If he wrote ‘Strawberry Fields, it was like he’d upped the ante, so I had to come up with something as good as ‘Penny Lane.’”

8. Enjoy the silence.

While you should definitely surround yourself with others, you also need time to be alone. Silence can lower blood pressure, bolster your immune system, and gives you a chance to reflect.

Silence also generates new cells in the hippocampus region of the brain, which is linked to learning, remembering, and emotions. Additionally, it can inspire creativity.

“When allowing thoughts to go where they will, inspiration may bubble up,” writes Suzanne Kane for PsychCentral. “Solutions to current or long-standing problems may suddenly occur to you, or a work-around or innovative approach may seem more feasible.”

9. Give failure a hug.

Richard Branson says: “Don’t let the fear of failure become an obstacle. You can create your own luck by opening the door to change, progression, and success.”

No one wants to fail. And, as someone who experienced it, it sucks. But, failure isn’t your enemy. It’s a friend who lets you know what works and what doesn’t so that you can find different ways to overcome obstacles.

10. Juggle multiple areas of interest.

“Truly great innovators aren’t satisfied with focusing on one project,” Deep Patel wrote in a previous Entrepreneur article. “They feel driven to pursue multiple ventures and interests, which may overlap and feed off of each other.” In other words, they possess multipotentiality, “or the ability to excel in multiple areas and fields.”

“It may seem like some creative people are easily distracted, constantly bouncing from one thing to the next,” explains Deep. “In reality, they are just wired to be interested in many things. They may feel a calling to dive into multiple projects because their wide range of creative interests pulls them in different directions.”

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