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How to Boost Your Productivity Game in 2022

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How Boost Productivity Game 2022

If you are one of those people who make New Year’s resolutions, being more productive likely made the list. In fact, it probably makes the list for all people — year after year after year — because productivity can be elusive for all.

Even if you started 2022 with a constructive few months — by April, you may already be waning. The commitment to productivity in your job and personal life may be as unused as your gym membership. “Maybe tomorrow” turns into “maybe next week,” then “maybe next month,” and so on.

Before you allow your good intentions to pave that road to you-know-where, take note. There are ways you can restore that drive for productivity and make it a habit rather than a hope. Don’t just resolve to boost your productivity game in 2022; make it happen.

Establish Some Boundaries

If you don’t set limits on what you do and don’t want to do, you’ll keep landing out of bounds. Deciding what you’re not going to do in 2022 will keep you focused on what you do. Those limits will help you say “no” to wasting time and “yes” to getting things done.

Boundaries are rules used to guide interactions with others. Those interactions could be with family, friends, co-workers, or even the barista at your favorite coffee joint. That means they are personal, professional, and transactional.

You may decide this is the year to not indulge in office gossip. Or perhaps you’ll choose to not run to the bathroom and hide every time that annoying co-worker approaches you. Imagine what you could accomplish just by placing those two activities out of bounds.

Your productivity will rise if you are centered rather than lurking on the periphery. Obviously, you need to set some boundaries to know where they are. But once you do, you can focus on what matters and leave what doesn’t outside the lines.

Breathe Life Into That To-Do List

Now that you’ve set some rules for what you aren’t going to do, make a list of what you are. To-do lists come in all forms and lengths, so begin by deciding what format will work best for you. If you aren’t sure, don’t be afraid to try a few on for size.

Make sure your list doesn’t linger on your desk like the company’s last strategic plan that’s sitting on the shelf. A good list should be consulted and revised every single day, marking items off, and adding new ones. If that isn’t happening, adjust the way you’re doing the list or don’t bother having one.

You can add structure to your list by using your calendar instead of a series of sticky notes. It will force you to think realistically about the time it will take to accomplish a task. Moreover, you’re less likely to overschedule the volume of tasks on a day filled with meetings.

To-do lists may do more harm than good if they overwhelm rather than encourage. If your current method isn’t working, give it some oxygen. Done correctly, your list, (and that strategic plan), should be a living, breathing thing.

Free Up Your Prime Time

Everyone is more productive at some times than others. The time of day, day of the week, or month of the year are all variables. The trick is determining where your productivity sweet spot is and using it to your advantage.

If Monday morning at 11 with two cups of coffee down is your prime time, block it off your calendar. Schedule a task for that time instead, especially one that’s important, on a tight deadline, or difficult. It’s a great opportunity to check off a loitering assignment.

Freeing up those chunks of time when you are most productive also means eliminating corresponding distractions. Close your office door (if you have one) and hang up a “do not disturb” sign. Stick your phone in a drawer and silence those pesky notifications so you aren’t tempted to look.

If you can develop a habit of preserving your most productive times for actual production, even your coworkers will notice. That may help them avoid distracting you despite working in a cubicle or an open office space. You’ll be more than ready for prime time.

Employ Some Tools of the Productivity Trade

Productivity apps have become ubiquitous. They’re all designed to boost productivity at work, at home, among individuals, or teams. In fact, you can skewer your productivity by spending too much time figuring out which ones you want to use.

Nonetheless, if you find an app that makes you more focused, more organized, and more productive, use it. You may find some are handy for everything from working out to whittling down the honey-do list at home. Using productivity apps for more than your job will make you more adept at using them.

Employing apps and productivity hacks for more than one purpose at a time may make you more productive on multiple fronts. For example, kill two birds with one pomodoro technique that you’re using to maintain focus on tasks. During those five-minute breaks, do some squats or sit-ups and get your workout done too.

The fact is that productivity devices don’t work for everyone. But if you haven’t tried any because you don’t think they’re your thing, you should. Any job is always easier if you’re using the right tool to get it done.

Give Your Productivity a Leg Up

Everyone needs a little help sometimes to keep their resolutions going — or to start over. It’s okay to ask for help, stumble a bit, and restart when necessary. Abandoning the attempt to become more productive is the only real failure.

As you focus on your resolve to improve, celebrate your wins, and don’t beat yourself up over the losses. Productivity is, after all, work. Boost yours even a little this year, and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

How to Boost Your Productivity Game in 2022 was originally published on Calendar by Max Palmer.

Image Credit: Olia Danilevich; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Stay Motivated in the Winter

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Motivated in Winter

For many of us, it has felt like winter for a couple of months. Unfortunately, not everyone experiences a winter wonderland during the chilly months of the year. For many, winter is the most challenging time to stay motivated and productive. Regardless, work carries on as usual, and workers need to keep on top of their game no matter the season.

Staying motivated throughout the winter will take a little extra effort on your part. Luckily, winter only lasts so long. With the following tips, you should be able to maintain your productivity until spring without an issue:

Make Light a Priority

One of the biggest triggers of seasonal depression is the lack of sunshine. The presence of light subconsciously lifts up your spirits and boosts your motivation. Unfortunately, with fewer hours of sunlight in the winter, it’s more difficult for many people to remain positive and productive throughout the entire season.

To help yourself stay motivated in the winter, try to take advantage of those few hours of sunlight that are available. Pull back the drapes, face the window, and brave the cold for the occasional walk. Even a little bit of natural sunlight will make a massive difference in your winter motivation.

If getting natural sunlight proves to be difficult, try some artificial light. For example, you can purchase a small desk lamp that works as an artificial sun. It might not seem like much, but the additional light will help you start each day off on the right foot.

Manage Your Temperature

In addition to the amount of light you get during the winter, regulating your temperature is part of your environment you need to stay on top of. If your body is shivering in the cold, you’ll have a hard time focusing on your daily to-do list.  In addition, being cold has been proven to stunt productivity.

On the opposite end, being too warm can make you feel sluggish and work just as slowly as if you were battling the cold. So make sure that by keeping warm, you’re not so cozy that productivity is too far out of reach. Otherwise, you’re just replacing one extreme with the other.

Managing your temperature goes beyond adjusting the thermostat. For example, you might love cuddling up at your desk with a warm blanket, but is that making you feel productive or snoozy? You might need to opt for a nice sweater and some cozy socks to stay warm without falling into a trance.

Create Plans and Goals for Summer

If winter keeps bringing you down, create some plans and set some goals for the following summer. This will give you many exciting things to look forward to, which should boost your morale, even if only temporarily. Your summer plans will also make for a nice reward for making it through the winter to the best of your abilities.

Let’s use the classic example of summer vacation. To make this vacation happen, you need to save up money and build up your vacation hours to get the time off. This should give your work ethic a significant boost through the winter months as you dream of sunny beaches and piña coladas.

Schedule Time for What You Love

What are some activities that you just love to do? Use your Calendar to ensure you’re making time for them. Participating in your favorite activities is sure to reinvigorate you even after a long and cold week.

If you’re fighting the winter blues, it’s also unfortunately easy to lose motivation, even when it comes to your favorite hobbies and passions. Scheduling time for these activities will add to your to-do list and help you stop making excuses and procrastinating.

For example, you might love painting but have put away your easel in favor of wrapping yourself in multiple blankets while binge-watching TV throughout the afternoon. Add some time slots for painting in your Calendar to break out of your cocoon and do some painting. Even if it’s only for a few minutes a day, you’ll get the variation and enjoyment from doing something that actually interests you. Keeping up with your hobbies are a great way to stay motivated in the winter.

Remember to Exercise

Another activity you might lose motivation for during the winter is regular exercise. Not only is exercise good for perking you up, but it’s also a great way to stay warm. Exercise improves blood circulation and gets your heart pumping, allowing your body to regulate its temperature more effectively. Not to mention, a good sweat is bound to warm you up on even the coldest of days.

You don’t necessarily have to brave the cold to get your exercise in. Going to a local gym provides access to all kinds of indoor workouts, including stationery bikes, indoor tracks, and sometimes even a heated pool. You’ll build up healthy habits and warm up your body while only needing to walk to and from the parking lot.

If you don’t have access to a nice, friendly gym or simply don’t have the time, try some at-home workouts. You can accomplish a lot by following video guides using simple exercise methods. You don’t even need any equipment to get a good workout in; just follow the steps provided by your instructor and feel the burn.

Not all of us can say, “the cold never bothered me anyway.” However, that doesn’t mean that winter has to deprive you of all energy and enjoyment until you thaw out in the spring. Start making an effort to stay motivated by tackling winter head-on, and you won’t be bothered by the freezing temperatures even one bit.

Image Credit: Pixabay; Pexels; Thank you! 

How a ‘Back to School’ Mindset Can Boost Your Team’s Motivation

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How a ‘Back to School’ Mindset Can Boost Your Team’s Motivation

Fall means going back to school, as you’re sure to have noticed with all the August and September sales that took place at retail stores across the country. Those first couple of months back can be exciting for kids as they move up a grade or even change schools entirely. 

Now that we’re further into the academic year, some of that excitement may have faded, but that doesn’t make school any less important. Maintaining that excitement throughout the school year often leads to better grades, a fuller social life, and less stress. 

There are a lot of parallels between the classroom and the workplace. We can get excited when starting a new job or getting a promotion, but that enthusiasm can quickly fade into a case of the Mondays. These feelings can really bog a team down, so here’s why and how a “back to school” mindset can kickstart your team’s motivation.

Starting Fresh

Entering a new school year is all about starting fresh. Unless you’re beginning a new job, getting that feeling at work is a little more challenging. However, there are still ways you can bring that fresh-start vibe to your workplace and reenergize even your longest-tenured employees. 

Getting a renewed start might be as simple as rearranging seating in the office, adding some different amenities, or giving everyone a potted plant for their desk. Small changes like these can make a considerable impact on productivity just by injecting novel elements into the regular routine.

Try not to get too carried away and change everything up, though. A complete revamp of your office space or work approach introduces a lot of variables that can be unpredictable. It’s often better to begin with one thing at a time to see how your team responds to each change. 

Looking to Learn

Some people outgrow the learning mindset they developed during their school years. Even though there are no homework assignments or lectures to stay on top of, learning should remain an integral part of your life. It will help you become better at your job or even open up new career opportunities. 

Encourage your employees to keep learning and enable them to do so. Some companies offer tuition reimbursements to their workers who want to take college or grad school courses. While you don’t have to go as far as paying off student loans, you should at least look for ways to help your team continue to learn and grow.

For example, you can pay your team members’ way to a conference in your industry. They’ll get some great new ideas from industry experts, network with other professionals, and bond together as a squad. Assisting team members in obtaining new certifications is another way to help them and your business grow simultaneously. 

Making New Friends

A new school year means new friends to meet in classes, at lunch, and on sports teams. Camaraderie with teammates sure makes school more enjoyable, and the same can be said for the office. After all, you spend a significant percentage of your time among co-workers, so it makes sense that being friends with them would make the workplace a more pleasant place to be. 

Team-building activities will help even longtime co-workers share a laugh and learn something new about each other. Take your team out for dinner, host a poker tournament in the break room, or make time for some speed meeting (i.e., workplace speed dating) during lunchtime. Teams that play hard together work even harder together.

These activities are just as important for remote teams. Employees who work from home often feel detached from their team, which can cause motivation and company identity to deteriorate. Start planning biweekly Zoom happy hours to bring your virtual team together and give remote workers something to look forward to. 

Pay Attention to Deadlines

School is all about juggling different class schedules and making sure you don’t miss a single due date. At work, deadlines are still an important factor in maintaining productivity and motivation. When deadlines loom, people naturally tend to work harder to get things done.

Talk with your team about how to implement more effective deadlines and use them to boost motivation. They might be feeling overwhelmed by the number of deadlines you set and need you to cut back a little. Other individuals might ask for more granular deadlines to help them focus their attention on intermediate checkpoints.

A rewards system is also worth considering. Schools have used incentives for many years, be they end-of-year pizza parties or upcoming field trips for students who turn in all their assignments on time. You can use a similar approach to give your team members the motivation they need even on the most difficult of days. 

Just as a teacher is responsible for making learning effective and enjoyable, as a leader, you are expected to keep team motivation high all year round. So follow these tips to rekindle the back-to-school flame in your team. The results will speak for themselves as your newly motivated team moves your business further forward. 

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. 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.

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.

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. Pump yourself up.

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.

Meaningful Motivation: What Actually Drives Employee Engagement

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Meaningful Motivation: What Actually Drives Employee Engagement

Managing employees 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.

15 Life Rules to Inspire Motivation

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15 Life Rules to Inspire Motivation

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. – Lou Holtz

Without motivation it’s kind of tough to reach your full potential. Of course, there are moments in your life where motivation is non-existent. When that happens, you should follow these 15 life rules to keep inspiring motivation day-in and day-out.

1. Trust yourself.

During his 2009 USC Commencement Speech, Arnold Schwarzenegger shared his “rules of success.” This included his epic first rule; trust yourself.

And what I mean by that is, so many young people are getting so much advice from their parents and from their teachers and from everyone. But what is most important is that you have to dig deep down, dig deep down and ask yourselves, who do you want to be? Not what, but who.

And I’m talking about not what your parents and teachers want you to be, but you. I’m talking about figuring out for yourselves what makes you happy, no matter how crazy it may sound to other people.

I was lucky growing up because I did not have television or didn’t have telephones, I didn’t have the computers and the iPods. And, of course, Twitter was then something that birds did outside the window. I didn’t have all these distractions and all this.

I spent a lot of time by myself, so I could figure out and listen to what is inside my heart and inside my head.

And I recognized very quickly that inside my head and heart were a burning desire to leave my small village in Austria — not that there was something wrong with Austria, it’s a beautiful country.

But I wanted to leave that little place and I wanted to be part of something big, the United States of America, a powerful nation, the place where dreams can come true.

I knew when I came over here I could realize my dreams. And I decided that the best way for me to come to America was to become a bodybuilding champion, because I knew that was ticket the instant that I saw a magazine cover of my idol, Reg Park. He was Mr. Universe, he was starring in Hercules movies, he looked strong and powerful, he was so confident.

So when I found out how he got that way I became obsessed, and I went home and I said to my family, “I want to be a bodybuilding champion.”

Now, you can imagine how that went over in my home in Austria. My parents, they couldn’t believe it. They would have been just happy if I would have become a police officer like my father, or married someone like Heidi, had a bunch of kids and ran around like the von Trapp family in Sound of Music.

That’s what my family had in mind for me, but something else burned inside me. Something burned inside me. I wanted to be different; I’m determined to be unique. I was driven to think big and to dream big.

Everyone else thought that I was crazy. My friends said, “If you want to be a champion in a sport, why don’t you go and become a bicycle champion or a skiing champion or a soccer champion? Those are the Austrian sports.”

But I didn’t care. I wanted to be a bodybuilding champion and use that to come to America, and use that to go into the movies and make millions of dollars.

So, of course, for extra motivation I read books on strongmen and on bodybuilding and looked at magazines. And one of the things I did was, I decorated my bedroom wall.

Right next to my bed there was this big wall that I decorated all with pictures. I hung up pictures of strongmen and bodybuilders and wrestlers and boxers and so on. 

I was so excited about this great decoration that I took my mother to the bedroom and I showed her. And she shook her head. She was absolutely in shock and tears started running down her eyes.

She [my mother] called the doctor, she called our house doctor and she brought him in and she explained to him, “There’s something wrong here.” She looked at the wall with the doctor and she said, “Where did I go wrong? I mean, all of Arnold’s friends have pictures on the wall of girls, and Arnold has all these men.

But it’s not just men, they’re half naked and they’re oiled up with baby oil. What is going on here? Where did I go wrong?” So you can imagine, the doctor shook his head and he said, “There’s nothing wrong. At this age you have idols and you go and have those — this is just quite normal.”

So this is rule number one. I wanted to become a champion; I was on a mission. So rule number one is, of course, trust yourself, no matter how and what anyone else thinks.

2. The KISS principle.

If you’re like, you had a father who liked to throw around the phrase “Keep it simple, stupid.” In case you were curious, there’s a perfectly good explanation for this. It was a design principle popularized by the US Navy around 1960.

For those who are unfamiliar with the “keep it simple stupid” (KISS) principle, it simply that states that systems perform best when they have simple designs instead of complex ones.

Personally, I use this principle almost daily.

For example, when I have to tackle a large project I break it up into smaller, more manageable tasks. This makes completing the project simpler since I can chip away at specific goals, instead of worrying about completing everything at once.

3. Follow the Goldilocks Rule.

Do you remember the fairy tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? It wasn’t just a memorable bedtime story. It also inspired the aptly-named Goldilocks Rule.

“The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities,” explains James Clear. “Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.”

According to Clear, the Goldilocks Rule is actually backed by science. That’s because even though we love challenges, we prefer them to be within an optimal zone of difficulty.

Clear uses an analogy of playing tennis. If you played against a child, you would get bored because the match was too easy. But, if you played against a pro like Serena Williams, you’ll find yourself demotivated because the match was too difficult.

4. Embrace change.

People don’t like change. In fact, we resist it as much as possible. One study found that the reason for this is because the longer something is thought to exist, the better it’s evaluated.

Change is inevitable.

The fact of the matter is that change is inevitable throughout life. So instead of fighting it, learn how to embrace it. Start by taking baby steps and just going with the flow.

And, also keep in mind that change is good for you. It helps you grow and learn, as well gain new ideas and perspectives. That can open a whole new world of possibilities.

5. Choose possibilities, not problems.

“With personal power you possess the deep belief there are available solutions for problems. When you approach challenges from a solutions-focused perspective it engages the creative process of examining and architecting alternate routes in lieu of staying stuck in false beliefs of why things cannot be done,” writes Sherrie Campbell in Entrepreneur.

“If you cannot find a solution, open your thoughts to others, seek their ideas and suggestions. Solution-focused minds reward and inspire each other. When solutions are the focus you learn to fail and adapt, moving away from the fixing and failing approach.”

6. Measure twice and cut once.

Here’s another lesson I’ve learned from my old man; measure twice and cut once. This meant when cutting a piece of wood, you would measure it twice to make sure that you don’t make any mistakes. He would often tell me this when he noticed me rushing through something I didn’t care about.

I use this principle to guide me in almost everything I do today.

Let’s say I want to write a blog post. If I’m not feeling the topic, I may write a sub-par article that’s going to get rejected.

Instead of wasting everyone’s time, I would rather discuss a topic that I’m passionate about. When I do, the article isn’t just well-written, it has less errors and is faster for me to compose.

7. ASK.

This is an acronym for always seek knowledge. And this could be one of the greatest life rules I’ve learned. That’s because obtaining knowledge improves our lives by empowering us.

Think about it. You just read a leadership book or took an online course to learn a new skill. You most likely took that newly acquired knowledge and eagerly put it to use. As a result, you become a more well-rounded individual.

8. Be truly fulfilled.

“Michael Gerber, the guy that wrote The E-Myth, talks about why so many businesses, young businesses fail. One of the things he says is most people are not really entrepreneurs, but they think that’s what they should be. They think that’s the sexy thing, that’s the most attractive thing, that’s the best answer,” says Tony Robbins.

“What I say to you is you’ve got to separate the vehicle from the outcome. Is it going to truly fulfill you? What is it that’s going to give you that extraordinary life? What’s going to make things magnificent, on your terms, not somebody else’s terms, not your father, your mother, your background? What is that, really?”

“Separate the vehicle. There are many ways to get to that vehicle, but I’m saying, sometimes you have to reevaluate what’s going to really make you fulfilled.”

You can find this answer by asking yourself questions like:

  • What is your gift?
  • Are you an artist?
  • Are you the talent that can produce something no one else produces as a skill, a product, a service or some impact?
  • You incredibly good at management; you really know how to manage or lead people?
  • Are you an extraordinary entrepreneur that can take that gigantic gut-load of risk, create the vision, attract the talent that you need, the managers and leaders?

“You may have all three abilities, but which one really fulfills you the most, is going to be the critical question. We tend to want to do them all, especially in a room like this, because you’re all overachievers; right?”

“Me, too. You say, ‘Well, I can do all these.’ Yes, you can, but what will it do to your quality of life? See, again, the secret is going to be this. What is an extraordinary life, on your terms, today?”

9. Obey the Golden Rule.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I don’t know how many times my mom beat that into my head. And I’m glad she did. It’s helped guide me throughout life.

Take my business, for example. I treat my employees like I want to be treated. As a result, I have a highly motivated team – even though most are remote workers.

My team feels valued, respected, and delivers top-notch work on a consistent basis. That wouldn’t be possible if I mistreated them.

Besides my team, I also treat my customers with respect by delivering outstanding customer service. When I hear how my business helped a customer I want to keep that up. It’s almost like a video game, I want to keep playing until I get the highest score.

10. Give more than you take.

It’s true. Those who give, receive.

Whether if it’s through volunteering or sharing your wealth or knowledge, when you give more then you take, you’ll be rewarded. What kind of reward? It could be anything from developing new skills, gaining new experiences, or meeting new connections.

And who knows where these rewards can take you. Maybe you learned a new skill while volunteering that you can now use to enhance your business.

As an added perk, it feels pretty good too.

11. Try new things.

Here’s why we don’t try new things; we’re afraid.

The thing is, by letting that fear control us, we’re depriving ourselves from expanding our minds and experiencing new perspectives. Also, those who try new things are more likely to retain positive emotions.

So, stop being afraid and just do it. It’s better than living with could have, might have, and should have.

12. Smile.

You wake-up in the morning in a foul mood. How motivated do you think you’ll be for the rest of the day?

It’s no secret that our mood influences motivation. And one quick fix is to smile. Yep, it’s that simple.

It’s been found that smiling can instantly lift your spirits, boost your immune system, and relieves stress. As an added perk, smiling is contagious.

13. Take action.

Jim Rohn once said, “What we know and how we feel merely determine our potential for achievement. Whether we actually achieve our goals is ultimately determined by our activity.”

According to Rohn, there are two rules of activity:

  1. Do what you can. Ask yourself the following question, “What simple thing could I do, which I’m not doing, which could increase my health and/or my wealth?”
  2. Do the best that you can. Follow this philosophy from Ecclesiastes 9:10 — “Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might.”

14. Work to live; don’t live to work.

Close your eyes for a second and reflect about your life so far. Are you more satisfied about the time you spent working or the time you had living? Hopefully it’s the latter.

Remember, life isn’t about work. It’s about building relationships and how you made an impact in the world. That should keep you motivated during even the most of trying times.

15. Inspire Motivation and Keep dreaming.

Never stop dreaming. No matter your age.

Dreams help you discover yourself. They help you reach your goals. And they ensure that you don’t live a life full of regrets.

Motivation Secrets of Productive People

By | Business Tips | No Comments
Motivation Secrets of Productive People

Make no mistake about it. Motivation will increase your productivity.

“Motivation and productivity are twin concepts in organizational development,” wrote Kristina Dems for Bright Hub.

“First, motivation works as the means toward attaining productivity as an end. Another point: Motivation is the best road to follow to reach productivity as a favorable effect. Lastly, motivation is the stimulus to trigger productivity as a response.”

Think about how this effects you and effects your life. When you’re not feeling motivated, you’re not going to accomplish much. That’s because you don’t have the drive to get things done.

And, to put it lightly, that sucks.

Now you’re behind on your planned goals or a task, which means you’re going to get behind another and another. Eventually, everything starts to pile-up. With no end in sight, you become even less motivated.

That’s why the most productive people employ the following motivation secrets to guarantee that they’re always ahead of the game.

1. When plans are made, they anticipate obstacles.

Peter Gollwitzer, a professor of psychology at New York University, in New York City, conducted a study in 2009 that compared two groups of women who wanted to be more active. The groups were both provided information on how to live a healthy lifestyle.

However, the second group was also taught how to foresee obstacles by using if-then statements. For example, if they wanted to jog, but the weather is poor, then what will you do? The women would say, “if it’s snowing, then I’ll go to the gym and use the treadmill.”

Suffice it to say, the second group fared far better.

Gollwitzer concluded that those who plan for obstacles are more likely to follow through on projects. This is because they don’t have any excuses for completing the task at hand.

2. They “don’t break the chain.”

Years ago software developer Brad Isaac asked Jerry Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comedian. Seinfeld told him that the only way to become a better comic was to create better jokes. And the only way to create better jokes was to write daily.

But, that was just scratching the surface. Ultimately, the legendary comic unveiled his unique calendar system that kept him motivated every day.

Jerry told Isaac to get a huge wall calendar “that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall.” Then, go get a red magic maker.

He told Isaac that for each day he writes to to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

“Don’t break the chain,” Seinfeld said again for emphasis.

Isaac says that this “works because it isn’t the one-shot pushes that get us where we want to go, it is the consistent daily action that builds extraordinary outcomes.” And, those daily actions build habits.

3. Live life from their calendars.

According to The Busy Person’s Guide to the Done List, by Janet Choi and Walter Chen of iDoneThis:

  • 41 percent of to-do list items are never completed.
  • 50 percent of to-do list items are completed within a day, many within the first hour of being written down.

Why is this the case when so many people swear by to-do-lists?

For starters, tasks on your to-do-lists are distinguished between those that only take a couple of minutes and those will last hours. Additionally, they emphasize the urgent instead of the important. And, they can add unnecessary stress.

Because of these reasons, highly productive people don’t use to-dos. They live from their calendars instead.

“Use a calendar and schedule your entire day into 15-minute blocks,” says Jordan Harbinger, co-founder of The Art of Charm. “It sounds like a pain, but this will set you up in the 95th percentile as far as organization goes.”

“If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t get done. If it’s on the calendar, it gets done no matter what. Use this not just for appointments, but workouts, calls, email blocks, etc.”

4. They don’t multitask.

Despite the myths, multitasking doesn’t make you more productive. In fact, it slows you down. This is because your brain is switching tasks and focus, which means it takes you longer to complete tasks.

In order to stay productive, you need to focus on thing at a time. Due’s Miranda Marquit uses the Pomodoro Technique to stay focused on one specific task at a time. This also boosts productivity since you’re dedicating your mental energy on one specific item.

As a perk, since you’re giving this one task 110 percent, chances are that there will be fewer mistakes. This means you won’t have to back and fix your errors, you can just move onto to something else.

5. Not controlled by technology.

“I was a Division I college athlete, and I grew up with five brothers and two sisters. I’ve always been a competitor. [But] I’ve learned that productivity should not be a competitive sport. You’re never going to win,” Cathy Engelbert, CEO of Deloitte, tells Fast Company.

“I am responsible for almost 80,000 people. I prioritize people over tasks. One Note allows me to put different tasks [involving] each of my executive-team members in a tab. That way when I talk to them, I can be more effective, because the five things I want to talk to them about [are right there].”

“If I looked at email and Twitter and texts [during the day], I don’t think I would ever give my full attention to anything. You cannot be insightful if you’re deluged with information.”

Engelbert adds, “We’re all drowning in data. We all need moments of recovery. For me, that includes not going right to my phone when I wake up in the morning. I got on a plane about six months ago, and I forgot my phone. For two days, I didn’t have my phone, and nobody died.”

Her final words of advice? “Technology should help you do your job, not control your job.”

6. They use a notebook.

Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Sheryl Sandberg all carry a notebook around. The reason? They rely on pen and paper to keep track of and remember all of their thoughts and ideas.

“I can’t tell you where I’d be if I hadn’t had a pen on hand to write down my ideas as soon as they came to me,” Branson wrote in a blog post.

“You think you’ll remember, but you won’t, and you’ll forfeit all the thoughts that flood you after you’ve freed your mind from remembering the initial spark,” adds Drew Hanson.

For Sandberg, she uses a notebook as a kind of daily planner. She jots down her to-do lists. Once she’s accomplished those items, she rips the pages out of her notebook. It’s a simple way to stay motivated for staying on track.

7. They work backwards from the future.

Steve Jobs once asked, “If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?”

“If too many days passed by with the answer being ‘no,’ he’d adjust his lifestyle until he hit a consistent yes,” explains HubSpot’s Scott Tousley. “This forced Steve to define long-term goals and stay motivated.”

This may sound drab, but the most productive people “think about the end of their lives,” which helps them define their legacy.

With this in mind, they then “work backwards to achieve those goals.”

“This touches on the psychological theories and models of motivation. If we’re driven by a purpose, we’re more likely to work extra hard,” says Tousley.

But, how does starting with your purpose keep you productive and motivated?

Starting with a purpose or “personal mission statement,” leads to the creation of long-term goals. Long-term goals lead to smaller goals, which create to-do-lists.

So, if you want to productive like Steve Job, define your purpose first and everything else will fall into place.

8. They’re friends with time.

Really productive people, or RPPs as Marie Forleo calls them, are friends with time. In other words, “they don’t look at time as the enemy.”

If you do, you’ll end-up always struggling with productivity and motivation. And, this makes sense. Whenever you could something the “enemy” it’s only going to end-up being a source of pain.

Instead, make time your ally. You can start by ditching time-stealing habits like multitasking and procrastination. You can achieve by practicing:

  • Mindfulness. This will help you focus on one task at a time.
  • Acceptance. Concentrating only on what you can control.
  • Authenticity. This encourages self-management since it helps you decide what to do and when to do it.

9. They create theme days.

Want to know how Jack Dorsey juggles all of his obligations at Twitter and Square? He creates theme days. Here’s what Jack said about this in 2011:

“The way I found that works for me is I theme my days. On Monday, at both companies, I focus on management and running the company…Tuesday is focused on product. Wednesday is focused on marketing and communications and growth. Thursday is focused on developers and partnerships. Friday is focused on the company, the culture and recruiting. Saturday I take off, I hike. Sunday is reflection, feedback, strategy, and getting ready for the week.”

How has that schedule help Jack work eight hours at both companies?

The first reason the schedule works is that it establishes a rhythm. You know what to expect every day because you’ve created a routine to keep you focused.

Secondly, it challenges you to complete tasks on certain deadlines. If you record a podcast every Tuesday like John Lee Dumas, then you know that you have the podcast prepared by that day.

Finally, it batches similar tasks together. This keeps you productive since it streamlines activity and eliminates distractions.

10. Bring optimism and fun back into the picture.

This may sound hokey, but research shows that the key to motivation is bringing optimism and fun.

Ron Siegel, a psychology professor at Harvard University, explains:

“Our modern brains are still wired up for the ancient evolutionary purpose of surviving in a dangerous environment. Over a million years or so, we developed specialized neural structures that selectively tuned in to danger signals. The prospect of getting attacked necessarily outranked all other neurological priorities.”

And, unfortunately, we still go into that survival mode. Instead of thinking about the pleasurable and rewarding experience of conquering a task, we focus on anxiety and fear.

For example, you just started a new business. You’re probably dwelling more on the fear of failure instead of the excitement of improving your community.

The best way to overcome this? Create basic two-columned pros and cons list so you can notice that the joys outweigh any fears or anxieties. When you actually see the positive, you’ll get yourself out of the rut you’re headed into.

As Rick Steves has written, “Be fanatically positive and militantly optimistic. If something is not to your liking, change your liking.”

Finding Your Motivation After Startup Failure

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Finding Your Motivation After Startup Failure

The journey that entrepreneurs embark on is full of twists and turns. Sometimes you become a success overnight. Other times you have to pivot into something completely different. And, there are times when you stumble along the way and fail.

As someone who has experienced failure, I can honestly tell you that it sucks.

Not only can it lead to an empty bank account, it also makes you feel physically sick. And, even worse, it makes you never want to go through the experience again.

The thing is, failure is a big part of the journey — not just for startups and entrepreneurs –but failure is part of the journey of life. That’s why you need to find motivation after your startup has failed.

It may not be easy, but it’s possible if you follow this advice.

Remember, most startups fail.

There’s a stat that startup founders are constantly reminded; 90% of startups fail. While that’s not exactly true, some believe it’s around 79%, the fact of the matter is that failure should be expected.

In fact, the greatest of entrepreneurs have failed at some point. Prior to Microsoft Bill Gates launched the failed Traf-O-Data. Andrew Mason, the founder of Groupon, struck out with a company called The Point.

I could go on and on. The idea is that failure isn’t uncommon. It’s to be expected and is almost viewed like a rite of passage.

So, don’t beat yourself up too much over this. Take comfort in knowing that failure is just another step you have to take in order the achieve success. Pick yourself up and try again, just like Gates, Mason, and the thousands of entrepreneurs who did the same.

Take time to heal emotionally.

At the same time, I’m not going to deny that failure isn’t a heartbreaking experience. And, it’s not something that you’ll recover from overnight.

So whether if you failed on your product launch or filed for bankruptcy it’s going to take some time to get motivated again. And that’s alright. You’re going to need a little bit of time to heal.

When my first business failed my wife and I went on vacation to Disneyland. The short trip didn’t completely heal the heartbreak, but it was the start of the healing process. It still took months to recover, but I needed that time to reignite that spark.

Build a support group.

In our darkest times we turn to the advice and comfort of our support group. This could be your spouse, best friend, mentor, or fellow business owners. Essentially, it’s anyone who builds you up and doesn’t criticize you about the failure of your startup.

You’ll need the guidance and support of your support group to prepare you for your next business attempt. They’ll also be there to help you heal emotionally.

You can’t be neutral.

Being inactive isn’t good for you emotionally, mentally, and physically. While it may a challenge to pick yourself up, you have to get moving again.

Of course, this could be different for everyone. Personally, one of the first things I did after I experienced failure was to start working on my next project. It helped my focus on something other than my previous venture folding. Since that started making a little bit of cash, it helped rebuild my confidence.

This is exactly what Bill Gates and Paul Allen did following Traf-O-Data. They started working on their next business, which became a little company called Microsoft.

But, what if you’re just not ready to start a new business? You can still get active and stay active by starting to work out, reading inspirational books, or learning a new skill. All of these are effective ways in improving yourself physically and professionally so that you’re ready to conquer your next challenge.

Startup Failure doesn’t Mean You Can’t Experiment.

I absolutely love this advice from James Altucher;

“Sometimes people say Thomas Edison failed 999 times before he finally came up with the lightbulb on the 1000th try.

This is a total lie. It is normal in a lab to experiment with many many materials before coming up with the right one.

Oh! Your experiment didn’t work? OK, change something and let’s try a new experiment.”

Rehearse past successes.

You obviously experienced some sort to get your startup up and running. For example, you had an idea that was supported by your support group, investors, and customers. And, it took a lot of guts and hard work to make that idea a reality.

Even though things didn’t turn out the way you liked, you should still reflect on those past successes. Give yourself some props by speaking positive, affirming, and congratulatory words to yourself. For an extra boost, place visual reminders on a vision board to remind yourself that you’re not a failure.

Tap into your intrinsic motivation.

Harvard leadership expert and best-selling author Bill George argues that entrepreneurs should chase their intrinsic motivation instead of extrinsic motivations. This is usually done by aligning your strengths with your intrinsic motivations.

For example, Bill Gates was driven by making a difference in the world. Guy Kawasaki focused on meaning instead of making money. Steve Jobs was motivated by doing great work.

Other entrepreneurs have been motivated through personal growth and accomplishment. And, others such as Elon Musk, found motivation by helping others achieve their goals.

Before you can stage your comeback, think about what you’re passionate about. What do you enjoy doing? What do you find interesting?

Focusing on your intrinsic motivation will encourage you to pick yourself up so that you can move mountains.

Shift your focus.

Have you purchased something like a new wardrobe or car and then noticed everyone else wearing the same jacket or car? You have your Reticular Activating System(RAS) to thank.

Kris Hallbom and Tim Hallbom explain that the “RAS is the part of your brain that serves as a filter between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind. The RAS, which is located in the core of your brain stem, takes instructions from your conscious mind, and passes them on to your subconscious mind.”

In other words, RAS regulates your attention.

As the Hallbom’s further explain, “Setting your intent plays a key role in encouraging your subconscious mind to bring forth a desired goal, as well the most optimal future.”

So, instead of focusing on past failure, think about your next endeavor. This will guide you in finding the necessary resources, actions, and ideas to make your next startup a success.

For me, when I founded my other company Due, my goal was to have one of the best invoicing platforms for small businesses. My intent, however, was to provide a platform that could help freelancers and small businesses grow. We’ve been able to do this by continuing to add new features and publish daily content that assists businesses in improving their business.

Sounds simple. But shifting my focus keeps me motivated each and every day to reach my future goals. As a such, the failure I experienced in the past is now just a distant memory.

Motivation Secrets of Productive People

By | Time Management | No Comments
Motivation Secrets of Productive People

Make no mistake about it. Motivation will increase your productivity.

“Motivation and productivity are twin concepts in organizational development,” wrote Kristina Dems for Bright Hub.

“First, motivation works as the means toward attaining productivity as an end. Another point: Motivation is the best road to follow to reach productivity as a favorable effect. Lastly, motivation is the stimulus to trigger productivity as a response.”

Think about how this effects you and effects your life. When you’re not feeling motivated, you’re not going to accomplish much. That’s because you don’t have the drive to get things done.

And, to put it lightly, that sucks.

Now you’re behind on your planned goals or a task, which means you’re going to get behind another and another. Eventually, everything starts to pile-up. With no end in sight, you become even less motivated.

That’s why the most productive people employ the following motivation secrets to guarantee that they’re always ahead of the game.

1. When plans are made, they anticipate obstacles.

Peter Gollwitzer, a professor of psychology at New York University, in New York City, conducted a study in 2009 that compared two groups of women who wanted to be more active. The groups were both provided information on how to live a healthy lifestyle.

However, the second group was also taught how to foresee obstacles by using if-then statements. For example, if they wanted to jog, but the weather is poor, then what will you do? The women would say, “if it’s snowing, then I’ll go to the gym and use the treadmill.”

Suffice it to say, the second group fared far better.

Gollwitzer concluded that those who plan for obstacles are more likely to follow through on projects. This is because they don’t have any excuses for completing the task at hand.

2. They “don’t break the chain.”

Years ago software developer Brad Isaac asked Jerry Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comedian. Seinfeld told him that the only way to become a better comic was to create better jokes. And the only way to create better jokes was to write daily.

But, that was just scratching the surface. Ultimately, the legendary comic unveiled his unique calendar system that kept him motivated every day.

Jerry told Isaac to get a huge wall calendar “that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall.” Then, go get a red magic maker.

He told Isaac that for each day he writes to to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

“Don’t break the chain,” Seinfeld said again for emphasis.

Isaac says that this “works because it isn’t the one-shot pushes that get us where we want to go, it is the consistent daily action that builds extraordinary outcomes.” And, those daily actions build habits.

3. Live life from their calendars.

According to The Busy Person’s Guide to the Done List, by Janet Choi and Walter Chen of iDoneThis:

  • 41 percent of to-do list items are never completed.
  • 50 percent of to-do list items are completed within a day, many within the first hour of being written down.

Why is this the case when so many people swear by to-do-lists?

For starters, tasks on your to-do-lists are distinguished between those that only take a couple of minutes and those will last hours. Additionally, they emphasize the urgent instead of the important. And, they can add unnecessary stress.

Because of these reasons, highly productive people don’t use to-dos. They live from their calendars instead.

“Use a calendar and schedule your entire day into 15-minute blocks,” says Jordan Harbinger, co-founder of The Art of Charm. “It sounds like a pain, but this will set you up in the 95th percentile as far as organization goes.”

“If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t get done. If it’s on the calendar, it gets done no matter what. Use this not just for appointments, but workouts, calls, email blocks, etc.”

4. They don’t multitask.

Despite the myths, multitasking doesn’t make you more productive. In fact, it slows you down. This is because your brain is switching tasks and focus, which means it takes you longer to complete tasks.

In order to stay productive, you need to focus on thing at a time. Due’s Miranda Marquit uses the Pomodoro Technique to stay focused on one specific task at a time. This also boosts productivity since you’re dedicating your mental energy on one specific item.

As a perk, since you’re giving this one task 110 percent, chances are that there will be fewer mistakes. This means you won’t have to back and fix your errors, you can just move onto to something else.

5. Not controlled by technology.

“I was a Division I college athlete, and I grew up with five brothers and two sisters. I’ve always been a competitor. [But] I’ve learned that productivity should not be a competitive sport. You’re never going to win,” Cathy Engelbert, CEO of Deloitte, tells Fast Company.

“I am responsible for almost 80,000 people. I prioritize people over tasks. One Note allows me to put different tasks [involving] each of my executive-team members in a tab. That way when I talk to them, I can be more effective, because the five things I want to talk to them about [are right there].”

“If I looked at email and Twitter and texts [during the day], I don’t think I would ever give my full attention to anything. You cannot be insightful if you’re deluged with information.”

Engelbert adds, “We’re all drowning in data. We all need moments of recovery. For me, that includes not going right to my phone when I wake up in the morning. I got on a plane about six months ago, and I forgot my phone. For two days, I didn’t have my phone, and nobody died.”

Her final words of advice? “Technology should help you do your job, not control your job.”

6. They use a notebook.

Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Sheryl Sandberg all carry a notebook around. The reason? They rely on pen and paper to keep track of and remember all of their thoughts and ideas.

“I can’t tell you where I’d be if I hadn’t had a pen on hand to write down my ideas as soon as they came to me,” Branson wrote in a blog post.

“You think you’ll remember, but you won’t, and you’ll forfeit all the thoughts that flood you after you’ve freed your mind from remembering the initial spark,” adds Drew Hanson.

For Sandberg, she uses a notebook as a kind of daily planner. She jots down her to-do lists. Once she’s accomplished those items, she rips the pages out of her notebook. It’s a simple way to stay motivated for staying on track.

7. They work backwards from the future.

Steve Jobs once asked, “If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?”

“If too many days passed by with the answer being ‘no,’ he’d adjust his lifestyle until he hit a consistent yes,” explains HubSpot’s Scott Tousley. “This forced Steve to define long-term goals and stay motivated.”

This may sound drab, but the most productive people “think about the end of their lives,” which helps them define their legacy.

With this in mind, they then “work backwards to achieve those goals.”

“This touches on the psychological theories and models of motivation. If we’re driven by a purpose, we’re more likely to work extra hard,” says Tousley.

But, how does starting with your purpose keep you productive and motivated?

Starting with a purpose or “personal mission statement,” leads to the creation of long-term goals. Long-term goals lead to smaller goals, which create to-do-lists.

So, if you want to productive like Steve Job, define your purpose first and everything else will fall into place.

8. They’re friends with time.

Really productive people, or RPPs as Marie Forleo calls them, are friends with time. In other words, “they don’t look at time as the enemy.”

If you do, you’ll end-up always struggling with productivity and motivation. And, this makes sense. Whenever you could something the “enemy” it’s only going to end-up being a source of pain.

Instead, make time your ally. You can start by ditching time-stealing habits like multitasking and procrastination. You can achieve by practicing:

  • Mindfulness. This will help you focus on one task at a time.
  • Acceptance. Concentrating only on what you can control.
  • Authenticity. This encourages self-management since it helps you decide what to do and when to do it.

9. They create theme days.

Want to know how Jack Dorsey juggles all of his obligations at Twitter and Square? He creates theme days. Here’s what Jack said about this in 2011:

“The way I found that works for me is I theme my days. On Monday, at both companies, I focus on management and running the company…Tuesday is focused on product. Wednesday is focused on marketing and communications and growth. Thursday is focused on developers and partnerships. Friday is focused on the company, the culture and recruiting. Saturday I take off, I hike. Sunday is reflection, feedback, strategy, and getting ready for the week.”

How has that schedule help Jack work eight hours at both companies?

The first reason the schedule works is that it establishes a rhythm. You know what to expect every day because you’ve created a routine to keep you focused.

Secondly, it challenges you to complete tasks on certain deadlines. If you record a podcast every Tuesday like John Lee Dumas, then you know that you have the podcast prepared by that day.

Finally, it batches similar tasks together. This keeps you productive since it streamlines activity and eliminates distractions.

10. Bring optimism and fun back into the picture.

This may sound hokey, but research shows that the key to motivation is bringing optimism and fun.

Ron Siegel, a psychology professor at Harvard University, explains:

“Our modern brains are still wired up for the ancient evolutionary purpose of surviving in a dangerous environment. Over a million years or so, we developed specialized neural structures that selectively tuned in to danger signals. The prospect of getting attacked necessarily outranked all other neurological priorities.”

And, unfortunately, we still go into that survival mode. Instead of thinking about the pleasurable and rewarding experience of conquering a task, we focus on anxiety and fear.

For example, you just started a new business. You’re probably dwelling more on the fear of failure instead of the excitement of improving your community.

The best way to overcome this? Create basic two-columned pros and cons list so you can notice that the joys outweigh any fears or anxieties. When you actually see the positive, you’ll get yourself out of the rut you’re headed into.

As Rick Steves has written, “Be fanatically positive and militantly optimistic. If something is not to your liking, change your liking.”

12 Tips for Motivating Your Remote Team

By | Business Tips | No Comments

Even before COVOID-19 forced more people to work from home, there was already a surge in working from home. In fact, from 2005 – 2017, there was a 159% increase in remote work. That figure would come out to roughly 3.4% of the population.

And while that’s all well and good, for both your productivity and health — it’s also challenging to motivate your team from a distance. The good news? There are ways, such as the following twelve tactics, for you to achieve this goal.

1. Check-in with them frequently.

“Human beings are social creatures by nature, which is inherently in conflict with remote work culture,” writes Ryan Bonnici in a previous Entrepreneur article. “And for every study that demonstrates the efficiency of remote work, there are medical and social scientists revealing the enormous consequences of social isolation,” he adds.

How can you help reduce this psychological toll on your team? Well, use technology to touch base with them often. Tools like Zoom, Highfive, Slack, and Microsoft Teams allow you to collaborate and stay connected with your remote team. There’s also Marco Polo. It’s an app that lets you send video messages to others that they can check when they have the availability.

2. Trust them.

Not everyone is cut out for remote work. But, those who prefer to work from afar do so because of the flexibility. So, go ahead and grant them that.

That doesn’t being completely hands-off. You still need to clearly define responsibilities, expectations, and deadlines, as well as checking in on them. But, beyond that, there’s no need to be micromanaging them. Get out of their way and let them do their thing. It’s a simple way to keep them engaged and motivated.

Another way to show your team that you trust them? By emphasizing what is produced instead of focusing on when and how much.

3. Implement a recognition program.

Creating a culture of recognition should always be a top priority for you. After all, it’s a surefire way to retain top talent, boost engagement, and encourage high performance. But, you already knew that. The problem is that you may not know how to implement this virtually.

Well, that shouldn’t be a concern if you use the following checklist from Justworks;

  • Identify the behaviors, which should be aligned with your values, that you want to reinforce.
  • Determine who is eligible for rewards and how often they’ll be given.
  • Have a structure in place to help you select candidates.
  • Select the type of award you want to give out.
  • Let your team know about the program through a group email or meeting.

4. Help them solve their time management problems.

It’s hard to maintain your motivation when time management is an issue. After all, when you struggle in this area, you aren’t producing your best work, more likely to miss deadlines, and unable to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

The solution? Help them with any of their time management problems by:

  • Stress the importance and benefits of time management to them.
  • Set goals together.
  • Focus on quality, not quantity.
  • Help them identify what’s causing their time management problems so that you can come up with solutions.
  • Reward their success through incentives or even just a handwritten thank you note.

5. Invest in their skills and development.

A key driver in retaining and motivating your team is helping them improve or learn new skills. In a perfect world, you could do this through mentorship or providing in-house training opportunities. Since this isn’t possible, you’ll have to do this via online learning platforms like Udemy, Skillshare, or LinkedIn Learning.

6. Create a virtual water-cooler.

Water-cooler chats often get a bad rap. But, they’re beneficial. Studies have found that these personal interactions make work more enjoyable and meaningful. They also foster a healthy and collaborative work environment. And, these informal conversations can boost productivity, spark creativity, and help people practice their conversational skills.

Of course, when you have a team working from all over the world, these water-cooler talks aren’t possible. But, you can create a virtual water-cooler by;

  • Always be friendly in how you communicate with others. It also wouldn’t hurt to convey your emotions through animated gifs and emojis.
  • Create events like video presentations and webcam hangouts. You could also encourage your team to play online games against each other or start a book club.

7. Create a visual scoreboard.

“Even if your team regularly communicates and has a culture of accountability, they still need a way to capture shared goals,” writes the folks over at 6Q. “Creating a visual that represents progress not only motivates employees with a competitive streak but also clarifies key performance indicators and priorities for the entire team.”

A straightforward way to do this would be to create “a spreadsheet that tracks progress over time or produce a PDF of fancy graphs that represent quarterly goals, choose a consistent method easy to digest for your entire team.” You could also schedule “weekly or monthly meetings to update the scoreboard and periodically realign to be sure the data you measure reflects your business’s initiatives.”

8. Take an interest in your team’s workspace.

You don’t want to overstep your bounds here. But, this shows that you genuinely care about your remote workers and want them to succeed. That’s why Automattic, creator of WordPress, gives its employees state-of-the-art technology and $2,000 to build a home office. At Calendar, we’ve shipped out Autonomous SmartDesks to team members, as well as voice assistants, to help our team members upgrade their home offices.

9. Take the good with the bad.

Research by the psychologist, Roy Baumeister, shows that “people are more strongly impacted by bad events, such as negative feedback,” writes Nell Thayer Heisner. “To avoid letting setbacks hinder the success of a project, managers must address them outright and be sure to counteract critique with positive reinforcement of good thinking and contributions of workers who may have gotten off course.”

“When keeping this in mind, workers will continue to move forward rather than looking behind at past mistakes,” adds Nell. In turn, the entire team will “make progress and effectively collaborate to advance toward the goal.”

10. Always pay them on time.

Besides the legal obligations, this is one of the easiest ways to show your team that you appreciate everything that they do. Sure. There are other ways that you can do this, like writing them handwritten notes or surprising them with gifts. But they need that money to survive. So, if you can’t provide that for them, then they’ll undoubtedly go to someone else who can.

11. Get to know them.

Although this may not seem possible at first, it’s pretty easy—issue surveys and polls. Schedule telephone one-on-ones and solicit their feedback. And, if possible, try to meet with them in-person occasionally — especially when they work for you many years.

Remember, face-to-face meetings are 34 times more successful. If this isn’t an option, at least give video conferencing a try.

Another option? Have your team take a personality test. That may sound a bit much. But, it can help you determine what your team member’s strengths and weaknesses are, communication preferences, and how they make decisions.

12. Cut out the unnecessary.

While you should get to know your team members, there is such a thing as too much communication with them. As such, make it a point to only schedule meetings and phone calls when necessary. If they are, then make sure that they’re short and concise.

The same is true with emails, texts, and Slack. Contacting them too much doesn’t just distract them. It may also be a sign that you’re a micromanager or don’t respect their valuable time.

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