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Category: Focus

How to Work More Efficiently (Even When You’re Feeling Unmotivated)

Filed under: Efficiency, Focus, Good Habits, Productivity, Strategy, Time Management

Research shows that kids experience a “summer slump.” When they’re out of school, they’re not actively focused on learning, and their brains check out. But they’re not the only ones susceptible to summer slumps. Adults seem to channel their inner child during the summer, making it hard for them to be productive at work.

A 2012 study by Captivate Network reveals that workplace productivity drops 20%, workers are 45% more distracted, and it takes 13% longer to complete projects in the summer. Also, 53% of workers who leave early on Friday report a decline in productivity. People often work longer Monday through Thursday to make up for leaving early on Friday, and 23% of them believe that schedule causes an increase in stress.

So how can you stay productive during the summer and throughout the year? We asked Dana Brownlee, the creator of the New Time Management Model. She’s the president of Professionalism Matters and a corporate trainer and speaker..

According to Brownlee, the New Time Management Model involves four questions:

  1. Should I do this?
  2. How should I do this?
  3. What’s the right level of effort?
  4. How can I increase my efficiency?

Should I Do This?

Brownlee recommends starting every week by assessing the most important activities for the week. Then, every day, do a reassessment. “Resist the temptation to just add a task to your to- do list because someone asked you to do it,” she says. “There must be a mental ‘vetting process’ to determine if any activity should be on your list.” Her own to-do-list only includes five items for each day.

“Another technique that I sometimes use in my classes is to ask each person to write down each of their tasks for the next day on a small slip of paper.” Then she tells them that one of those items can’t be completed – and they have to decide which one it will be. The participants have to throw away that sheet of paper and start over with a shortened list. They continue the process, until the list is down to five items. “These types of activities are just meant to reinforce the mental process that you’d go through weekly and daily to identify your truly important activities,” Brownlee says.

She also recommends using the 80/20 rule. “Figure out which 20% of your efforts will yield 80% of the results.” For example, you may need to determine which clients or client types are providing most of your revenue, and then adjust your business model or activities accordingly.

How Should I Do This?

This is a strategic step that encourages you to work smarter, not harder. Should you do it alone or with a group? Should you do it yourself or delegate or outsource it? Could the task be automated or streamlined in some way?

“As a small business owner, I often resisted outsourcing because I didn’t think I could afford to pay someone else to do things for me,” Brownlee says. “However, when I started using assistants, freelancers, and other specialists, I quickly realized that I couldn’t afford not to outsource (particularly those time-consuming tasks where I had little expertise — like website updating and newsletter formatting).”

She says that pausing to answer the “how” question can save a lot of time later. “For example, if you’re developing a client list, consider putting the information into a simple database so that it’s easily retrievable, sortable, and exportable later (and you’re inputting the information only once).” Next to each task, Brownlee recommends making a note of how you can work smart to complete the task.

What’s the Right Level of Effort?

When deciding how much energy to expend, consider assigning a percentage (from 0% to 100%). Another option is to set a time limit for each task. Brownlee uses this method with her assistant. “Instead of using vague terms like ‘don’t spend too much time on it,’ I’ll often say, ‘don’t exceed 90 minutes.’ Those limits can be helpful for us as well.”

It’s also helpful to add the times together to see if your daily plans are realistic. “If you add up your to-do-list tasks and it adds up to 4 hours of tasks (to be completed outside working hours) and you have a 1.5 hour round-trip commute, that list probably isn’t realistic.”

You can read the rest of the article on TalentCulture.

How to Boost Productivity During the Dog Days of Summer

Filed under: Attitude, Behavior in the Workplace, Distractions, Focus, Good Habits, Organization, Productivity, Quick Tips, Strategy

You may have loved your job when you started, but it’s not unusual to get in a rut. If you’re experiencing burnout, changing your mindset can bypass it, says Daniel M. Cable, author of Alive aWork: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do, during his interview with Stephanie Vozza of Fast Company.

“Our brains are not wired for routine and repetition at work,” he says. “Disengagement isn’t a motivation problem; it’s a biological one.”

Cable was a professor at the University of North Carolina when he says he lost his zest for his own job and slowly descended into boredom. After being diagnosed and treated for Hodgkin lymphoma, his perspective changed, and he found a sense of gratitude for his job. He stumbled on research about the part of the brain called the ventral striatum, also called the “seeking system,” and its role in being your best self.

“This part of our brain urges us from the time we’re babies to explore what we don’t know,” he says. “Little kids can be given an awesome toy with noises and buttons and they’ll be really into it for a week or few days. Then they find something else that hadn’t seen before, like car keys, and they find that way more interesting. It wasn’t because the thing is cool; it’s because the thing is new.”

When we succumb to these urges, our brain delivers dopamine to reward us and that makes us feel more alive, and the same thing can happen at work, says Cable, currently a professor of organizational behavior at London Business School.

“When we’re in the rut of routine for the 502nd time, this part of the brain shuts off,” says Cable. “Your brain is saying, ‘You’re better than this. We’re not built of this. We’re built for bigger things.’ Then the brain stops the release of dopamine, which makes it seem not only boring but that it takes forever.”

There are three ways you can trigger your brain release dopamine, and get out of your rut, says Cable.

1. Play to your strengths

Identify your signature strengths and the impact you can have by using them on a daily basis. “How can you bring value to the team by using your unique strength?” asks Cable.

When he started tapping into his strength—humor—Cable says he regained an appreciation for his job. “It made me feel good and I saw my students lean in when I used humor,” he says. “As a professor, it was something unique to me. I decided to bring it when I teach class instead of leaving it at home.”

Think of your job as a flexible vehicle and determine how you can bring your strength to it.

2. Be willing to experiment

Avoid the risk of routine by shaking things up. Cable decided to develop new classes instead of teaching the same class over and over.

“A sales manager who was promoted and never got a chance to get out in the field might start going into the field again to talk to clients,” suggests Cable. “It’s just a way to refresh and learn new things.”

Activate that seeking system by going outside of your comfort zone, suggests Cable.

3. Tap into purpose

Finally, analyze cause and effect in your role. We all want to see the impact of our actions, says Cable. Leaders can help employees personalize the purpose of work by providing direct conversations with the people who use work as well as internal decision makers.

“Try to think about the story you want to tell yourself about why you do your job,” says Cable.

You can read the rest of the article on Fast Company.

Here’s How to Spend the First Hour of the Workday for Maximum Productivity

Filed under: Cognitive Ability, Focus, Good Habits, Productivity

Let’s divide work into two categories.

There’s “work,” and then there’s real work. “Work” is email correspondence, and group meetings, and other administrative tasks that are technically necessary, but don’t meaningfully contribute to your professional success.

Real work, on the other hand, encompasses those bigger projects and tasks that help you achieve your goals and your organization’s. It’s the kind of work that drew you to your job and your line of work in the first place.

Click here to read the rest on Business Insider >>

9 Things Highly Effective People Do After They’ve Been Away on Vacation

Filed under: Focus, Good Habits, Productivity, Professional Development

As an American, you legitimately could spend every day of your life on vacation–and still make a good living. But the truth is, few of us actually do this. Instead, we work hard, take time off when we can, and face the inevitable letdown when it’s time to get back to work.

I spent last week at the beach, and now I have to go back to work. So, while I was gone I asked entrepreneurs, business leaders, and others for their tips on how to get back to work productively after a great vacation.

Here’s the best advice they gave me.

1. Come back on a Wednesday or Thursday.
The No. 1 tip I heard from people was not to go back to work on the first day after vacation. However, Dr. Chris Allen, a psychologist and executive coach with Insight Business Works, takes it a step further.

“If possible, return to work on Wednesday or Thursday,” Allen says. “Then you only have to get through work for two or three days and you have the weekend off. It’s a good way to ease back into work. Airline travel is cheaper mid week too.”

 

Click here to read the rest on Inc. >>

How Successful People Do More in 24 Hours Than the Rest of Us Do in a Week

Filed under: Decision Making, Focus, Productivity, Strategy, Success

Everyone knows someone who works full time, volunteers, runs a successful blog, and somehow still finds time to go grocery shopping, cook organic Instagram-worthy meals, foster a loving relationship, walk his or her adorable Boston Terrier, and, oh—train for a half marathon.

These kinds of “super-achievers” have the same number of hours in the day as the rest of us, but somehow, they always seem to get more done. How do they do it?

As a psychologist and life coach who has spent thousands of hours working with clients over the past 28 years—including hundreds of hours with clients who meet this super-achiever character profile—here’s what I’ve noticed about people who consistently succeed. Plus: How you can tweak your mindset to become a high achiever, too.

Fully Commit

Whatever you’re doing right now? Be fully in it. Commit.

Click here to read the rest on The Muse >>

4 Ways to Stay Motivated When Faced with Rejection

Filed under: Focus, motivation, Professional Development

Rejection is simply one of the most hurtful things that can happen to any person. What makes it even more painful is the fact that whether we like it or not, it is bound to happen.

More so, anyone can face rejection in any area of their life. Regardless of where it occurs, the effects of rejection are the same. It hurts, it’s no fun and it happens to be the number one reason people are afraid to try. When faced with rejection, it is super important to have the strength to face rejection head on, accept it, learn from it and simply keep on pushing on.

But of course, this is easier said than done. All things equal, the number one major weapon that one needs when containing and dealing with rejection is motivation. Mind you, it is a difficult weapon to master when dealing with rejection which coincidentally has a devastating effect on one’s personal motivation. However, if you are struggling with staying motivated in the face of dealing with rejection in business or life, take a look below.

Here are 4 ways to help you stay motivated and conquer rejection in its tracks:

1. Be coachable

You try, you get knocked down. You keep getting knocked down and can’t seem to figure out why? We have all heard it, it is probably one of the most popular definitions floating around today.

Click here to read the rest on Addicted 2 Success >>

7 Tips to Improve Your Memory

Filed under: Cognitive Ability, Communication, Focus, Psychology, Strategy

Answer before you have an answer

Learning ability is probably the most important skill you can have.

Take it from Peter Brown, Henry Roediger, and Mark McDaniel, authors of Make It Stick: The Science Of Successful Learning.

“We need to keep learning and remembering all our lives,” they write. “Getting ahead at work takes mastery of job skills and difficult colleagues … If you’re good at learning, you have an advantage in life.”

And to learn something is to be able to remember it, say the authors, two of whom are psychology professors at Washington University in St. Louis.

Unfortunately, lots of the techniques for learning that we pick up in school don’t help with long-term recall — like cramming or highlighting.

To get over these bad habits, we scoured “Make It Stick” for learning tips.

Click here to read the rest on TIME >>