Productivity In Four Easy Steps

Productivity In Four Easy Steps

If all of us got everything we wanted to get done everyday, we’d all be superstars of success. Sometimes no matter how well thought out our goals, we still fall short of our daily, weekly, monthly objectives. “How,” we lament, “can I accomplish what I need to do within the limited time I have everyday?”

There are all kinds of methods for increasing productivity and focus, so the answer to that question will be different for each person. They key is finding the productivity hack that works best with your schedule, your mentality and your aspirations. Here are a few to get you started on your quest for the perfect one!

 

Top 1, 2, 3

Everyday you’re probably faced with a list of things that need to get done as long as your arm. All those things are probably significant (otherwise they wouldn’t be on your list) but some of them are definitely more important to your success than others. Often we’ll spend our day dealing with whatever issues are currently under our noses. The ding of our email or the ring of our phone. The day ends up getting squandered in little bits, while the big things fall behind in the queue day after day.

 

So at the beginning of each day, pick the three things most essential for your success out of the list and put them at the top of your to-do list. Put the most important first, followed by the second and third. Make those three things your priority. Let the emails and phone calls and the rest of the day’s distractions take a back seat. Even if you only complete the top thing on your list, you’ve completed the most important task for the day!

 

25 minutes on, 5 minutes off

Go at your chosen task full on for twenty five minutes. At the end of that time, take a five minute break then spend twenty five minutes on the next task. Because you’re working in such a short time frame you’re ultra focused on not wasting a second of the time you’ve got allotted to the task. You may not be able to squeeze in very many twenty five minute intervals into your day, but you’ll find great productivity in the ones you do create!

 

Time blocking

At the very beginning of the day or even the night before block the full day out in advance. Fill your calendar in blocks. Hour, half hour, quarter hour, however long you choose. Be sure to give yourself solid blocks to work on your priorities and also to leave blocks open where you can deal with the miscellanies of the day that will come up, like returning phone calls and emails.

 

As best you can, start and finish each task in its allotted time so nothing on your list falls through the cracks.  This kind of forced structure is just what some people need to keep them on track.

 

90 minutes at a time

There’s been lots of research that indicates most people can concentrate well for a stretch of about 90 minutes and then our focus starts to disintegrate. So to take advantage of your body’s natural focus rhythms, schedule your most important tasks in 90 minute blocks. In between take 20 or 30 minute breaks where you can attend to less absorbing tasks.

 

That’s my ninety minutes. Off for quick walk about to replenish my energy levels!

Job Interview? Don’t Forget These Things

Job Interview? Don’t Forget These Things

With everything you need to keep in mind when you interview for a job, some basics you may not even think about can get lost in the shuffle.  You spent a lot of time figuring out what questions they might ask and coming up with answers. That’s the meat of the interview, but what about the bread? Did you check directions to the location in advance? Did you remind yourself to keep eye contact and have a firm handshake?

Here are a few things to remember when your going for job interviews.

Don’t Be Too Early

Timing is everything. Showing up late is worse, but showing up too early demonstrates a difficulty with scheduling and planning appropriately. If you show up really early it signals that you don’t care if your arrival disrupts other things. If you are very early wait near by. Find a coffee shop to pass the time so you can arrive closer to the expected time.

Personal Hygiene

You might be the best applicant, but if there is something unwashed about you, something in your teeth or if your hair is greasy, you can count yourself out of the game. Give yourself a very good once over in the mirror before heading out. Make sure your clothes are clean and wrinkle free! If you use a mint or some gum to give you fresh breath, make sure it’s gone by the time you arrive at the job interview.

First Impressions

Make sure you look your best when you arrive for the job interview. First impressions last! If you have the chance, spruce up in the washroom before heading into your interview.

Phone Interviews

If you’re conducting your job interview over the phone, make sure to find a quiet spot where you won’t be interrupted. The interviewer has much better things to do than listen to you shush your dog.

Online presence

It’s commonplace for interviewers to search your online profiles like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Make sure your privacy settings are what you want them to be so everything others can see is positive and professional.

 

“Worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.” Baz Luhrmann

Baz Luhrmann Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen facebook

Before we proceed any further I have a confession. I have spent way more time than is healthy or warranted worrying. The kind of worry that robs me of sleep and makes getting out of bed an ordeal. The sort that turns all situations black or white because it robs me of the ability to see a middle ground.

 

What do I have to show for all those hours of worry? Baggy eyes, a bad attitude and the beginnings of an ulcer. Just about anything can set me off. The people I work with. Something I said, something someone else said, an impending deadline.

 

Worse than pointless

I speak from experience when I say worry in and of itself is pointless and detrimental. However because I know worry is my kryptonite I’ve learned to be vigilant at circumventing it and beating it to the punch.

 

Worry is stagnant. Action moves

I’ve learned I can spend inordinate amounts of time turning situations over in my head while I worry away the possibility of sleep or any possible enjoyment of life for days on end. Or I can go ahead and have a conversation I’m putting off. Or I can go for a run, or write out all possible outcomes and create contingency plans. If there’s nothing I can do to change anything, I can decide to simply accept what comes and move on with the rest of my life.

 

I may not like the answer I get, but at least I have an answer. Running doesn’t change anything but it does get me out of my head for a while. It’s important for me to see a world outside of all the doom and gloom accumulating in my brain. I’ve learned that worry is self perpetuating. It’s a weed in the garden of thought. That’s why it’s so important to fertilize the garden with action plans and positive thought and physical movement.

 

I cannot say I never worry anymore. What I can say is, I’ve found ways to stop worrying from taking root and in so doing my proactive actions have actually brought benefit to my life.

Late Arrival Doesn’t Have to Kill the Interview

Late Arrival Doesn’t Have to Kill the Interview

Lateness happens. Buses don’t come, traffic is awful, trains are slow. It’s not always your fault, but on your way to important meetings like interviews, it can seem that way. Here are some ways to not crash and burn if you’re late to your interview.

Keep your cool

The top tip, as always is, don’t freak out. That’s generally good advice for interviews. No matter what happens, keep your cool. No matter how late you are, remain calm.

Make the call

If you know you won’t make it time, then as soon as you have access to a phone give them a call. Apologize. Tell them what’s going on and let them know when they can expect you. Don’t make excuses. “Sheesh THE 22 BUS, HUH?” Is not going to earn you brownie points.

Take responsibility. Admit it was your mistake and apologize, but don’t go overboard. Life gets in the way all the time. People understand.

Stay confident

It’s important to recover and remain confidant. This is a test to see how you will react if you’re ever late for work – it’s a test to see how you will react under pressure.

Don’t pull into the location, run in and arrive flustered and out of breath. Before you take yourself through those doors take a minute and re-center yourself with a few deep breaths. Remind yourself of exactly why you are a great candidate for this job. Do a quick run though of all the questions and answers you already prepared for this interview. Put a smile on your face.

 

Apologize again briefly at the start of the interview and tell a lame joke if you can. Remind yourself, one day this will be a great story about your introduction to your new job.

So, if you’re running late for an interview don’t break a sweat about it. Act calm and professional, they’ll be impressed by your grace under fire.

Breaking Impossible Into Attainable Possibilities

Breaking Impossible Into Attainable Possibilities

There are things that are physically impossible. Like as a lone individual I cannot stretch my arms out to my sides and take off into the sky. I also cannot hold my breath long enough to commune with the whales in their natural environment.

Broaden your perspective

However, that’s not to say I can’t experience the expanse of sky or sea. If I really want to, I could investigate the possibilities of hang gliding or jet packs to have an at-one experience with the sky dwellers. I can also learn to dive or at least snorkel to get myself close to the whales that mean so much to me.

With the right attitude and some imagination, the impossible becomes possible.

Push for your outcome

Now down to more tangible aspirations. What is your impossible? Is it writing and publishing a book of poetry? Becoming president of your company? Moving up to head of marketing?

No matter what your impossible is, you won’t get there in one fell swoop. There are intermediary steps to take on the way. Before you can publish a book of poetry you need to produce some poems. Some outstanding ones. The thrill of seeing one published in a magazine is the gas that will power you to keep on writing. To investigate exactly what goes into getting a book published (or publishing it yourself).

Life will meet you half way

As you work toward your goal of becoming head of marketing or president of your company, you are developing personally and professionally. Expanding your skills and network. People are noticing your efforts. Sometimes help comes from unexpected sources. Someone might offer to take you under their wing or introduce you to another who can advance your career. It’s like the energy and effort we put out into the world is reflected back our way.

Belief in yourself and your potential and the possibilities pushes you to try new things and work harder, and in so doing unexpected doors open. That’s when you start to see the I’m in I’m-possible.

Learn To Speak Publicly Like a Pro

Learn To Speak Publicly Like a Pro

You start to shake a little bit. Your hands are a little clammy. There’s this weird hole in your stomach that makes you feel like you haven’t eaten in days. You’re thinking it might not be too late to cancel. Except you’re already at the podium, in front of all these people. You can’t turn back now.

 

Some studies estimate that 75% of the public has some level of fear or anxiety around the thought of public speaking. Whether it’s in front of an auditorium of people, or just to a handful of coworkers, public speaking leaves people feeling queasy.

 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. To overcome your fear of public speaking try these steps.

 

Preparation

If you want to freeze and loose track of your message and stumble around your words, step up to the podium or take your place in front of a room and simply wing it. Otherwise do your homework first. Determine who your audience is. Prepare speaking points that will be of interest to them. Give them something that will teach or inspire them right off the bat to get them on your side. Or something that will make them laugh. Have a solid presentation on paper then prepare to give present it out loud.

 

Practice 

That means practice, practice, practice. Give your speech to yourself in front of the mirror. Take note of your body language and what your face is doing. Give your speech to your dog. Give your speech to a friend. Give your speech to a couple friends. Start small and work your way up to larger crowds. Practice makes the words come easier. It’ll help you remember what comes next. It’ll give you more confidence as well.

 

While you’re doing all that practicing take note of your tone. Do you sound bored? Engaged? Nervous? Learn to modulate that in front of the mirror. Remind yourself to pause between thoughts. Give your audience a chance to absorb what you’re saying.

 

Talk slowly, breathe deeply

Taking a couple deep breaths automatically relaxes you. Take a couple of grounding, reassuring breaths before you get up to speak. If you are using cue cards or a paper, write “Talk Slowly” at the top. When you get nervous, you’ll start talking quicker without realizing it. That little reminder can keep you calm and help you realize it’s okay to give yourself small moments.

 

Pick someone out in the crowd

Generally, the fear that comes with public speaking has to do with the public part. We have no trouble talking with friends at a party or over coffee. But expand that number and feel the eyes of all those people on your person and all of a sudden your mouth dries out. Many people adept at public speaking pick a single person in the crowd and focus on them. By focusing on an individual you can imagine you’re delivering your speech to an audience of one.

 

Remember fear is normal

Finally, remember that getting nervous about public speaking is normal. Ask 75% of the public at large. However, just because you are worried about speaking in public, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it well!

 

Plan To Take Your Goals To The Next Level

Plan To Take Your Goals To The Next Level

In order to achieve anything in life you need to know what you want to achieve. Of course you could just wake up everyday and wait to see what happens. Some good things might show up that way, but they won’t be the good things you choose. To achieve the things that mean the most to you, the ones that express your deepest aspirations, you need goals. Specific, measureable, achievable goals and have a plan of action to achieve them.

 

Write your goals down

The first thing you need to do is figure out your end result. Your final goal. Don’t worry if your final goal seems overwhelming or outside of your abilities. The fulfilment of a final goal is the result of a fulfilment of a series of intermediate goals along the way. Once you’ve decided on your final destination, you can plan out your route to get there. Even from the outset it’s important to remember, your original map will probably have to be revised along the journey so you’ll have to be on the lookout for detours and dead ends.

 

Be SMART about it

Smart goals are:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Relevant

Timely

 

How do you eat an elephant?

The answer to the question, how do you eat an elephant is, one bite at a time. That’s why it’s so important to break your goal or elephant down into smaller, bite sized chunks. Say you have five smaller goals that need to be accomplished in a given week or month. Having five goals can feel almost as overwhelming as the one big one, but if you separate them completely, say slot them into a different day of the week then they become more manageable. On Monday I’m concentrating on the elephant’s tail only. I don’t have to even think about the legs or the ears because those are for another day altogether.

 

Create regular success

The best way to keep yourself motivated in the pursuit of your ultimate goal is to find regular success. That means concrete achievements along the way. If your goal is to become president of your own company, then write down all the steps you need to take to get you there. What new skills do you need to perfect? Is there someone who can help you or teach you something you need to learn? Set a deadline for learning that skill, for meeting that person and hold yourself accountable. The more things you achieve, daily, weekly, monthly, the more motivated you’ll be to keep achieving.

 

 

Celebrate the successes

Keep track of your progress and celebrate your successes. Each small success brings you closer to the ultimate one. Don’t be embarrassed about drawing big red checkmarks on your calendar. Take people who helped you in a given week out as a thank you. Share the positivity!

 

Adjust your goals as necessary

Confucius says, “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”

 

If you find yourself hitting brick wall after brick wall after brick wall, it may feel like  continuing with the effort is simply a waste of time and energy. If all your efforts are constantly producing negative results, you’re right, they probably are a waste of time and energy. That’s not to say your goal is a waste of time and energy, just your chosen method for reaching it.

 

A single negative result doesn’t necessarily indicate you need to change things up, but a succession of negative results does. Don’t waste time banging your head against that wall. Reassess your end result and figure out an alternate route.

 

Make like a postage stamp

Whether going around the block or around the world, whether it takes a week or ten years, a postage stamp sticks on the package until it gets to the final destination.  To reach your final goal you need to have the stickativity of a postage stamp.