Category Archives: Lifestyle Design
Step 1. Start with the End in Mind
It's easy to get overwhelmed when undertaking larger projects, so start with the end in mind and work back from there. Break your Goals into clearly defined deliverables or milestones, then break those down further into the individual tasks required to achieve those. Once you have your list of tasks to be completed, make sure you schedule these into your calendar and if possible even take an immediate action now (such as book an appointment) to ensure this definitely happens!
Step 2. Your Focus needs more Focus
Multi-tasking is for computers, not humans – and especially not if you're a male (who if anything time-slice as opposed to actually multi-tasking). Specifics aside though, studies have shown that when we rapidly switch tasks during our working day, our ability to perform those tasks drops below that of the average stoner – so far as IQ points are concerned. Whereas cannibus will typically drop your IQ by 5 points, multi-tasking impacts women by an average of 10 points and men by a wopping 15 IQ points!
Step 3. Ruthlessly Eliminate Distractions
This means do whatever it takes to provide yourself with an environment that allows you to concentrate on what you're doing. Log out of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and your email. Unplug your desk phone, switch off your mobile and close out of your various chat applications (msn, skype, Google talk) – whatever your poison, lock it out of the room so you can give your undivided attention to the project at hand.
Step 4. Treat email like any other task, and schedule it.
Email will ruine your life if you let it. Take control of this by scheduling it in along with the rest of your daily activities and don't let it monopolise your time and distract you from your more important tasks.
Step 5. Pick up the Phone
If you find that an email has turned into a back-and-forth conversation, do yourself a service and pick up the phone to have a quick chat about it instead. No matter how fast you type, the continual interuptions of having to respond an email will absolutely kill your productivity.
Step 6. Plan your day, then Work your Plan
… else risk having your day run and work you instead. It's all too easy to start the day by checking your email, then frantically put out all the spot-fires this creates for you – but at the cost of finishing your day having achieved largely nothing other than an empty inbox.
When you start the day with a structured approach to getting the important things done first, then you're much more likely to actually get those things done. Always remember that it's more important to focus on the "important and not urgent" things toward achieving your bigger picture goals, then spending your day in the "important and urgent" mindset (like your typically rat racing abouty in it's wheel – lots happening, but not really going anywhere).
Step 7. Chunk your time
The human break works best if worked in blocks of time, interspursed with brief 10 minute breaks. While concentration spans vary, a good average to run by is usually 50min – 90min work periods then force yourself to get up and take a break; grab a snack or go for a walk – anything that's completely not what you were originally working on. The refresh will help you re-focus your mind and give you a quick recharge that will be directly reflected by your productivity levels that follow on from this.
There’s a very important distinction that needs to be made between what Nerds are, vs what Geeks are. By way of example, the following are what I would classify as Geeks;
- The guys from “Big Bang Theory” (these guys are way too cool to be Nerds)
- Most Microsoft Systems Administrators
Whereas the following would be typically be classed as Nerds;
- The guys in that “Beauty and the Geek” show (these poor guys are in fact Nerds)
- Most Linux Systems Administrators
… and while I’m both a Linux and Systems administrator, I have to admit I identify moreso with the Microsoft crowd (as my hair isn’t long, I do enjoy day-light and I acknowledge that Star Wars is in fact just that little bit cooler than Start Trek) 😛
It still surprises me the number of managers and employers I come across who carry the mindset of “if I can’t see it, I can’t manage it”. But without launching into another crazed, over-impassioned tirade about how online collaboration technologies have come so far, more environmentally friendly, more economical (blah-blah-blah)… here’s a great info graphic of a study done in the US which looks at some of the benefits of a healthy balance between working from home and working from the office.
The following are some of the key benefits which I personally found quite interesting:
- The US could save 1/3 of it’s yearly oil imports
- Each person could save on average 109 hours in travel time
- Telecommuters suffer on average 25% less stress … (not sure how they quantified that one)
- 3 out of 4 people said they ate healthier when working from home
- Which all translates into happier, more productive employees!
… cost savings, better quality of life, happier and healthier people, AND increased productivity. Sounds like a no-brainer right??
Long gone are the days where if someone wanted to contact you, they had to pick up the telephone and give you a call. These days it’s all about email, Facebook messaging, Google+, Twitter posts, Text messages – not to mention the countless on-line chat applications (Skype, Google Talk, MSN, Yahoo)… and that’s only looking at the communication channels in your life!
Now lets throw in a few to-do lists (that’s right, plural – I’m sure you’ve all got multiple lists of stuff you need to get done), some personal goals, work commitments and of course all your other responsibilities around the house such as paying bills, chores etc… and before you know it you’re completely overwhelmed and your productivity slows down to a proverbial crawl as you’re frantically switching between tasks to try and get it all done!
Well there are things you can do to regroup, reprioritize and get your life back under control again. For those who haven’t already downloaded their copy, I’ve got a great eBook on Goal Mastery on my Facebook page which offers some terrific (and well established) goal-setting strategies that you can use to bring back your bigger picture objectives back into focus again. Define these life goals first so you know what your real priorities are, then follow my Top 10 Tips for Time Management (below) to regain control of your day-to-day tasks, so you can stop merely treading water and start to move forward again:
- Remove Clutter in your life – it’s incredible how when you clean up your surroundings, it subconsciously also cleans up the clutter (and distractions) in your mind.
- Switch off your email – Each time that notification popup draws your eye away from your work, your mind wonders off with it also. If you can compress your daily emails to 1 hour at most, you’ll achieve so much more during the rest of your day.
- Multi-task can be the enemy – sometimes it’s good just to focus on one task, and one task only and see it through to completion.
- Prioritize – Order to your to-do list so that the important things are the ones you target first.
- Know Thy Self – Some people work better in the mornings, others are more productive late into the night. Work out when your body’s peak performance period is, then organise your to-do list around that.
- Meetings and Appointments – Further to the item above, don’t schedule meetings or external appointments during your peak performance period (unless it’s a job interview)
- Schedule external appointments during off-peak periods – not just referring to your body’s peak periods, but this also applies to any kind of peak-hour period such as morning traffic or lunch times. By getting to the bank even 15 minutes before the 12-2pm lunch time, you’ll be straight in and out with minimal time wasted in queues.
- Reward Achievements – Don’t let your life become 100% about completing work tasks. Aside from being extremely un-motivational, you’ll only end up burning yourself out. So remember to make sure that self-time is on your to-do list, and take the occasional well earned break to recharge, regroup and refocus on your next priority.
- Block out time – If you schedule it in, then you’re committed to getting it done (or at very least make some good progress toward completing it)
- Out Source! – Possibly the most powerful time on this post. Learn to leverage other people’s time to achieve your own goals. Whether it be an individual task (such as getting your kids to take out the garbage, or mow the lawn) or hiring someone to take care of your ironing. Ask yourself, what your time is worth to you – and if it works out cheaper to hire someone else to do that task, then you’re ultimately saving time, and your sanity!
For more great tips on lifestyle design, personal development and business strategy, visit my Facebook page and click “LIKE” to have these posts stream directly into your news feed!
There is considerable academic research supporting the connection between high levels of stress and cardiovascular disease (generally also coupled with other poor lifestyle choices such as not exercising enough and over-indulging in sugary and fatty foods – but that aside for the moment)… so when we consider how much of a our life is spent on the job, it’s worthwhile reviewing what some of the more common work-related stresses are, how to tell whether we’re being impacted by these (as often the symptom may not necessarily be a clear indication as to the cause), and most importantly what is the best approach toward handling these.
For the more emotionally intelligent / self-aware of us (the rest of you, please try to tune into the feedback you’re more than likely receiving from your peers) the most common signs that you’re experiencing stress will include:
- Un-explainable fatigue or feelings of being run down
- Increased irritability (or rather, lower than usual tolerance for other people)
- A heightened emotional state of tension or feelings of being strung out
- Difficulties sleeping at night (not sure if your coworkers will know about this one)
- Problems maintaining your focus at work leading to a drop in day-to-day productivity
- Increased susceptibility to illness (whether psychosomatic or genuine – due to a weakened immune system)
- Difficulty in making decisions
… so if any of this sounds familiar, then the below info graphic is for you!
With the increased uptake in mobile internet enabled devices such as tablet PCs and on-line services as LinkedIn (aka “Facebook with Ties”), the classical printed résumé is quickly becoming a thing of the past, with many next-generation job hunters opting to leverage the power of social media through completely digital-media based résumés.
Services such as LinkedIn provide a searchable platform for prospective employers and recruiters to find you based on your profile skillsets, however more exciting again is the use of video résumés which adds a whole new dimension to the on-line application process, with many (new age) employers embracing social media tools such as Google’s video streaming technology (Google hang-outs) to facilitate interviews of geographically remote applicants.
But as with any formal process, there’s generally a right way and a wrong way of going about it, so in the interests of getting you started on the right foot, check out the below infographic for some useful pointers in going completely digital in 2012!
There’s been a lot of talk in the news recently about the mass lay-offs across the Queensland government. And while I’m not one to deny that there’s probably a fair share of bloat in the public service, the loss of a job (be it personally or even that of a close friend) can be quite devastating. Unemployment brings with it an uncertainty surrounding your future income, how to handle existing financial obligations such as car payments and mortgages, as well as the personal responsibilities in taking care of a family or loved ones. All these factors can become quite stressful and it’s often in these times that we tend to lose our direction a little bit.
When we feel secure in our lives, our mode of thinking is generally calm and collected. We’re able to take a pragmatic and strategic approach to the decisions we make as there isn’t any real pressure or urgency that influences this process. The problem however isn’t during these times of serenity but rather when that calmness is disrupted and something (such as an unplanned loss of a job) and forces us into our more primal survival mode. By contrast with our strategic mindset, our survival mode is largely emotion based and as a consequence can have a less than ideal impact upon our cognitive decision making processes (emotional intelligence 101). Logic and reason take a secondary position to much stronger emotion based drivers such as panic and fear, which can lead us to making some quite poor decisions – in some extreme cases even crime (case in point).
It’s for this reason I thought I’d put together a bit of a roadmap for those who have been affected by these government lay-offs. The below “Employment Disaster Recovery Strategy” looks at a range of re-employment (or income generating) options which you may not yet have considered – particularly if you’re already in survival mode. It should be noted that the objective of this guide isn’t to sit you down and tell you what to do – unfortunately you’ll still need to put some thought in yourself. However by reviewing all the options that are actually available to you (as presented through this “strategic mind set” created mind-map), you will hopefully be in a much stronger position to collect your thoughts, refocus and make the decisions that will take you into a considerably more positive direction in your life.
Along with this, I’ve also included a number of immediate to-do items in the event that you lose your job (items which could save your house and credit rating), as well as listing a variety of diverse industries and professions – which even if you don’t currently qualify for, may still spark some ideas for interesting opportunities through apprenticeships, reskilling or even on-the-job assistant level positions which you could then build upon.
So I’ll finish this post on the following important notes:
- Only Action leads to outcomes – if you don’t do anything to help your situation, your situation will never improve.
- And above all, it’s important to look on change as a new opportunity. People fear change, however opportunities are exciting times for personal development and growth.
Download Your FREE Employment Disaster Recovery (DR) Mindmap here!
So it’s been a quite few months now since I’ve moved out into the burbs (and arguably longer since my last blog post). The first observation I’d like to make is that there seem to be no bounds to the capacity for a human being to adapt to their environment. At an extreme, let’s draw attention momentarily to the eskimos, or the Sherpa’s of Nepal, or the boat people to the north of Australia who live entirely out in the ocean… but more modestly again now, myself having moved from the warm bussom of inner city living out to the coldest out-reaches of suburbia. Ok fine, perhaps that’s not quite apples for apples, but I’m trying to make a point here.
Initially, I will admit, there was much wailing and nashing of teeth at this sudden and violent change in lifestyle, but since the initial shock to the system had gradually subsided through the passage of time and continued support of my friends, family and my co-workers, I have slowly adapted to make this new lifestyle work for me. The commute in and out of the city still blows (I mean, seriously, we’re in 2012… why are we still forcing people to endure peak hour traffic when so much technology exists to allow us to quite capably telecommute and collaborate on-line??), but a carefully negotiated flexible working arrangement has allowed me to sooth the burn a little by breaking up the monotony of my 5 day working week into two mini “at-work” weeks, with the option of either working from home or a TOIL day to mix things up a little in between. For those who haven’t tried this themselves, you wouldn’t believe the absolute breath of fresh air and renewed enthusiasm this brings to ones work ethic.
But as with most new things, the novelty eventually wears off and dissatisfaction starts to creep its way back into perspective. And it’s this dissatisfaction which I’d like to discuss in a bit more depth now, as looking back on my own motivators in life (and arguably the motivators of many others), I think dissatisfaction is one of those fundamental emotional states that really drives innovation, pushes the entrepreneurial spirit and ultimately forms the basis for people to seek out a better life for themselves.
So what do I mean with; core dissatisfaction with the current state of play? In short, I’m talking about the refusal to accept the status quo – just because that’s the way it’s always been done doesn’t mean that’s the way it always has to be done. Have you ever paused to reflect on your life as it currently is and thought, surely there has to be more to this than suffering the same daily grind for 50+ years, in hope of one day retiring young enough to still make it to the toilet on time. If not, well I guess it’s also fair to say that everybody is different and we all have our own thresholds of pain before we decide to do something about it.
So just to be clear, I’m not suggesting we all down tools and reject the notion of work because we feel life is too short and we deserve better than this. Aside from the whole running out of money for food thing, I do actually believe that everybody has (or should have) a duty to contribute back to their community. I only suggesting that instead of mindlessly bending over and accepting the societally imposed conventions, that we seek to challenge these through innovation and new approaches to doing the things we’ve always done.
It’s only through innovation that new and exciting opportunities emerge, offering fresh approaches to often old and out-of-dated ways of doing things. This doesn’t have to be something which you have to come up with from scratch – you can also leverage off the innovations of others. For example, iPhones and iPads were the brain child of innovations legend, Steve Jobs – however through these devices, a world of opportunities was created through mobile applications development and the creation of truly interactive user experiences through these direct touch interface devices.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook gave the internet community an unprecedented capability for online sharing and collaboration through his social media platform. And through his innovation was born a new generation of opportunities in tightly social media engaged and connected websites, communities and mobile phone apps, as well as group-buy sites such as groupon.com – not to mention an entirely new era of demographic and interests based targeting for online advertisers.
Google’s own adoption of social media with Google Plus, coupled with their Android mobile operating systems are already shaping the next frontier of augmented reality, complete with full social-media immersion!
… where would we be now if not for all these creative minds constantly challenging the norms to seek out better ways of doing things?
We’ve all heard the saying, “necessity is the mother of all invention”. By not accepting to continue along with something just because that’s the way it’s always been done… by being dissatisfied with the current state of play… only then can we start to identify the gaps between how things currently are and how things can or should be. With each evolution of technology, a new wave of opportunities presents itself. So for those who’ve already closed the door on this by saying “all the good ideas have already been taken”, stop staring at the half empty glass in front of you and start thinking about how you can build upon what’s now available to you in the space above the water line.
Four Characteristics of Successful People…
- Tough Minded Optimism! This is required to not only see the opportunities which present themselves but also provides for resilience and perseverance when obstacles are encountered along the way. Whereas a glass-half-empty person might look around them and complain that all the good opportunities and ideas have already been taken, a glass-half-full person would see these same emerging technologies and ideas and recognise that these instead open the door to a whole new era of possibilities and opportunities. Note also that I’m not saying blind optimism, but rather a tough minded optimism as both the optimistic outlook coupled with a realistic mindset are required for this – and together they make a powerful combination towards achieving one’s goals.
- A Concentration of Efforts Toward the Task! As the saying goes, “Jack of all trades but a master of none”, the same is true for successful people. Rarely will you find somebody who has attained success through fleeting interests and a constantly shifting focus away from a singular ultimate target. To succeed you must commit yourself to your mission and see this through to completion. It would surprise you to learn how many potentially million dollar ideas were given up on in the final stages of their implementation.
- The Relentless Pursuit of Success. Big dreams typically require big efforts and as such the goal has to be worth the efforts required to achieve it. The most successful people in the world didn’t dedicate their lives to the pursuit of modest objectives. Worst case scenario, if you aim for the moon then even if you miss you will end up amongst the stars.
- A Willingness to Work. Success doesn’t come to you, you go to it. If you have a dream and really want to succeed in achieving it, then you must be willing to put in the time and energy to make it happen. No man has ever attained greatness by laying back in his living room arm chair waiting for it to unfold before them 😛