Time To Face Up To The Things You Are Avoiding

Time To Face Up To The Things You Are Avoiding

There are things I must do every day. Things I absolutely can’t avoid because my job depends on them. There are others that I should do – also because my job depends on them, but are less time dependent. Beyond those are things I should do to advance myself personally as well as professionally. Things in the second and third category can get passed along for days or weeks or sometimes months at a time.

 

Always putting out fires

So often it comes to pass that the only way things in the second and third category get done is because they have suddenly moved up to category one. At that point I often I turn into Chicken Little, running around crying, “The sky is falling. The sky is falling.” I’ve avoided things to the point where it’s do or die and it actually feels like the sky is falling.

 

Putting things off indefinitely always catches up to you

Putting things off indefinitely is not a way to get them done. Avoiding them also, unsurprisingly doesn’t work. Eventually we must, as they say, pay the piper. Rather than facing tasks or obligations or goals from a position of stress and fear, learn to deal with them before the sky starts falling.

 

Make yourself accountable for your distractions

We all have fall back methods for avoiding what we should be doing. We might check email fifteen times a day instead of the three we actually only need to get through the day. Maybe Facebook is your weakness, or the ten or so online sites you like to check in on regularly.

 

It doesn’t matter what you turn for distraction, the key is noticing when you do it. When you find yourself drifting from what you know you should be doing, stop and ask. Why am I doing this right now? Recognize your tendencies and call yourself out on them.

 

What are you avoiding?

When we don’t want to do something on our list we automatically find anything else to focus on. When you find yourself tying up your running shoes, yet again, rather than face the task at hand, ask yourself why. Are you afraid of the difficulty of the task? Success? Failure? The time involvement? Once you define your reasons for staying away it becomes easier to break them down and get past them.

 

Take the first step

Once you’ve broken down the reasons behind your avoidance take one step forward. You don’t need to complete the entire task in one sitting, but you can certainly do something. Set yourself a time limit. Say I will work on this for fifteen minutes (or half an hour, or two hours). Make a dent. Show yourself that you can get past the walls you’ve set around yourself.

 

Eventually instead of looking at your Twitter feed you’ll look up instead. And see the blue skies, staying right where they are above your head while you are getting your work done!

The Joy of Checklists

The Joy of Checklists

Everyone knows how helpful checklists are for keeping us on track and motivated and organized. There’s no comparison between my productivity levels on days when I just do what I know needs to be done vs. the days when I keep myself accountable with checklists. List days are always better.

 

Well it turns out all that list making and checking off aren’t just good for keeping you on track and motivated. They also help you feel good!

 

A quick dopamine hit

When we check something off our long list we feel a sense of accomplishment, of success. That success translates into a shot of dopamine (feel good chemical) from our brains.

 

You know what your brain wants when it gets a dopamine hit? Another dopamine hit. In an article about hacking into happy chemicals from Huffpost they talk about breaking goals into smaller pieces to have more opportunities to celebrate. That’s where lists come in. By breaking the day or tasks into smaller manageable tasks you get to cross them off as you go. Each time you do so your brain celebrates the accomplishment with a shot of happiness.

 

Not all tasks are created equal

While it’s true that your brain will flood you with happy chemicals when you accomplish your goals, they still have to be significant enough to warrant that happiness response. So, your checklist can’t include things like get out of bed, brush my teeth. The goals can be smaller subsets of the overall goal, but to get yourself excited and keep yourself motivated they still have to challenge you in some way. Their accomplishment has to mean something to you.

 

Make it a game. Challenge yourself to see how many things you can actually check off your list everyday. When you feel the inclination to pick up your phone or check out what’s going on with the cats on social media, remind yourself that another shot of dopamine is waiting for you to cross it off your list!

Why It’s Important to Put Pen To Paper

Why It's Important to Put Pen To Paper

We are not actually going to talk about pens today. What we really wanted touch on, is the importance of written communication. Although the majority of what you write escapes out of your fingers through your keyboard, The Triumph of Typing didn’t seem to quite hit the topic with the same punch as The Power of the Pen.

 

Long Live The Written Word

Once you’re out of school you might be inclined to think it’s okay to leave your writing skills behind with all the text books you either packed up to never look at again, or left in the last room you had occasion to open them. Not so. Good writing is an indicator of good thinking and will set you apart from average thinkers (and no thinkers).  Don’t worry, we are not talking about good writing as in – I just completed my first novel! Or What rhymes with orange? We are talking about well thought out, easy to understand, comprehensive writing.

 

 

Organizing Your Thoughts

The difference between writing out your thoughts and speaking them (aside from you hear one and see the other) is often time.  Sure you can scribble something down nearly as quickly as you can blurt it out, but if you’re trying to make yourself understood you’ll probably take a lot more time to write it out. The process of writing slows you down, it makes you think about what you’re trying to say. Re-reading what you wrote, you often change the order, expand on some parts and cut back on others.

 

 

Listen To Your Editor

The key to good writing is to keep it to the point and simple. Longer doesn’t mean better, it usually just means the writer didn’t take the time to edit out what was unnecessary – like repeated thoughts and sentences. Repeating something doesn’t make your point stronger, often it only results in that oh-so-important point getting diluted in the ocean of words.

 

 

Planning

By planning out your words through the slowed down, organizing process of writing and then listening to your editor you are far less likely to come away from the communication with the dreaded I wish I didn’t say that. Or, If only I’d thought to say this.  You’ve had time to edit out what you didn’t want to say and add in what you did want to say.

 

Good written communication is less ambiguous than spoken communication. It gives you the opportunity to express exactly what you need to express. Access your  power. Pick up that pen. Or hit that keyboard.

Fast Track To Success

Fast Track To Success

You’re ambitious, you work hard and now you’ve landed the job you believe will take you places. That’s great! The only problem is, this is a competitive field and you’re surrounded by other motivated, hungry, doing-what-it-takes type people. How do you set yourself apart from the crowd?

 

Be different from the crowd

To stand out from the crowd, you need to be different from the crowd. The most ambitious among you are going to strive to be the first one in and the last one out. To work the hardest, to outperform everyone else. Obviously to achieve the success you’re after you’re going to have to do those things too. However to get noticed, to be given special opportunities you’re also going to have to do something different.

 

The different thing you do will entirely depend on you. Each of us is a unique individual with specialized talents unique to us. Are you particularly good at writing? At organizing? Are you an ideas person? Whatever your strength is, build on it and become known for it. Being known for something helps you stand out from everyone else. It makes you a go-to person for that thing. Once you become a go-to person for one thing you’ll have your chance to show off your shine in other things.

 

Show initiative

If you see something that needs to get done then go ahead and do it. If you wait around for someone to ask you to do it, then you’re only doing what’s expected. By being proactive and getting it done simply because it needs doing, you’re showing initiative.

 

You can even go further than that. If you come up with a brand new way to doing something, go ahead and test it out. If it doesn’t work no one else has been inconvenienced, but if it does, you’re the person who’s streamlined operations, or found a new way of approaching customers or developed a new system.

 

If there are problems or inefficiencies in the workplace, don’t just talk about them or point them out, work on solutions. Whether it’s steps that can be taken to work around the problem or solutions to address it. Show you want to be involved in moving things forward, not just pointing out reasons for getting derailed along the way.

 

Don’t overextend yourself

When you’re in the zone and everything is clicking along smoothly it sometimes feels like you can accomplish anything and everything. Can you take on this project? YES! Can you do that? Absolutely!

 

Whether it’s part of your day to day job or extra side projects you’re taking on, it’s imperative that you do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it. You might think you have a memory that holds everything like a steel trap, but all you need is for one small thing to fall through the cracks for tiny new cracks to appear in your reputation. Write down everything. Meeting times, promised completion times, names, dates. Check and update your calendar regularly.

 

Also remember, as much as you might think you can do everything, you can’t. Sometimes your plate is full or something is beyond your scope. When that happens you need to be able to say so. In the long run, declining a project is far better for your standing out efforts than not getting it done or not doing it well.

 

Remember your work life is part of your life life

Don’t forget about the personal side of life. Get to know the people you work with. Find out about their families, the people they care about. Let them know about yours. Share your interests and hobbies. You are more than a worker bee in the hive, you are a person. All of us relate to other people better than to just workmates.

 

Get yourself a map

You might think you’re on the road to success, but you’re still going to need a map. There are likely all kinds of things you don’t know yet. Those are the things that will send you in the wrong direction, to dead ends, or around the long way. There are also people who do know the things you don’t. Identify those people. Call them. Take them out for coffee or drinks. Email them. By filling in your knowledge gaps you can keep yourself moving in a straight line.

 

While you’re busy finding out what you don’t know, don’t forget to share what you do know. Every person you help along the way is going to remember you for it. Not only does it feel good, it’s also helping you in your standing apart from the crowd quest.

 

There are things we do on our own and there are things we do with the help of others. Make sure you’re acknowledging the help, support and accomplishments of others along the way. Everyone benefits. Credit is being given where credit is due. They feel good about what they’ve done. You feel good for letting others know about it and you’re noticed for sharing and spreading the glory.