Tag Archives for " high achievers "

productivity

How to balance long-term with urgent—one task at a time

Quick, do this exercise.

Think of all the short-term tasks you completed yesterday, like: replying to emails, fixing glitches on your web site, answering the phone, updating Facebook status, making lists, and waiting for people to confirm their appointments. All valuable. None pay the bills.

In the course of a day most people spend most minutes putting out fires, tinkering with details, making lists and procrastinating. It’s called the Parkinson Principle – work expands to fill the time allotted.

What about long-term projects. How much time do you invest every day moving those projects ahead. I’m thinking projects like:

  • designing your next product launch
  • getting help to build an advertising campaign
  • writing that book you’ve been talking about since 2001
  • outsourcing your social media (that’s eating up a hour a day)
  • using customer feedback to update your product
  • getting your accounting up-to-date

Those projects move the needle forward. The trick is to employ a system where long-term goals drive your actions, not hoping you’ll find more time (mysteriously) later.

Here are three died-in-the-wool systems that will help you balance long-term objectives with urgent tasks. I have taught these systems to thousands of people and they always the most popular parts of my time management seminars.

1. Work from a Flight Plan

Once a week you need to create a Flight Plan – a short list of essential objectives to complete by next Friday. This is not another “To-Do” list full of miscellaneous tasks and “left overs” from last week—instead it’s mission-critical work that moves your long-term projects forward and gets you closer to your goals.

Start with “Boulders” (the big goals for the year): what “Chunks” of Boulders can you complete this week? It might be setting up a meeting, research, or outsourcing – the trick is to have something every week that keeps your Boulders rolling forward.

Next, add in one-off, time-sensitive tasks. Be as specific as possible – “Post job in upwork.com for graphic design” is better than “Get help with graphic design”.

Once you have your Flight Plan, keep it visible and drive all your actions toward completing it before the weekend.

2. Remove Distractions

A distraction could be that sticky note that’s been on your desk for two months, or a full InBox screaming “look at me!” Minor in the moment, distractions have a way of gnawing away at your focus and making it difficult to complete. Boundaries (creating time slots when you are strategically unavailable) and Blocking (creating appointments with yourself) are two systems to start with. Here are some other fast solutions:

  • take 10 minutes and purge your desk of anything not immediately needed (yes, that includes that stack of business cards from the last conference you attended).
  • unsubscribe from email lists that you no longer want. Yes, this will take time (you can outsource this), but think of the distractions that will disappear every day.
  • get all your lists in one place—this includes calendars. If you aren’t using that cool app on your phone every day it’s likely not needed. Delete it.
  • create a list for the month and a “someday” list in Evernote. These are un-prioritized holding zones. Do not look at these except once a week when you update your Flight Plan.

3. Practice Triage

In an emergency, paramedics practice triage. They often can’t attend to everything and everyone immediately, so they make hard decisions about what can wait. You need to do the same.

Jumping from one task to another, without completing what you started is a recipe for anxiety and failure. I am often surprised how much more effective I can be working from a cafe with no Internet connection, as opposed to my office where I am fully connected.

When a distraction comes up (“I’ll just take a minute an check out their web site”), resist. If this does not contribute to your Flight Plan it can wait. Tough love in the moment will pay big love dividends long-term.

Hugh Culver

Bio: Hugh Culver co-created the world’s most expensive tours (to the South Pole), started five companies, and teaches experts the business of speaking. Read his blog on the business of speaking. Follow him on Twitter @hughculver

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procrastination

How to get unstuck and started (even if you love to procrastinate)

We’ve all been there. You have. I have. Stuck.

Maybe you need to get your sales up or write a book. Maybe you need to deal with a staffing issue (or you need staff). Whatever the reason…being stuck sucks.

The good news is there are hacks that’ll get you unstuck, moving and productive again.

Before we get to that…

Advice is like water. Everyone needs it, but we don’t give it much credit for making life happen. Ask a person in the middle of a desert if water is “helpful” and you’ll get a different story. Why?

When you recognize the “cost” of being stuck the solution is much, much more valuable. So, before we dive into solutions I know work, think for a minute about the alternative. What is the real cost of being stuck?

If you don’t pick up the phone and call the client back. If you don’t create a deadline and start working on that book. If you don’t create those emails and ask people for the sale.

Procrastination has a cost.

Feel it? Good. Now, let’s move to getting you unstuck.

Ten ways to get unstuck, moving and productive again.

1. Get real

Think how many decisions you’ve to make in your life. In a year’s time this will seen minor, so why not just do it?

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” —Churchill

2. Take a break

When you focus your attention on a task completely unrelated, your mind can return to the original task refreshed and with a new perspective.

“Never taking a break from thought work actually reduces your ability to be creative” —Kimberly Elsbach, UC-Davis

3. Get physical

Stand, stretch, go for a run, walk your dog—physical movement increases the flow in your circulatory system, releases feel-good neurotransmitters (like Dopamine, and Serotonin) and puts you in a positive mood.

“Exercise is like fertilizer for the brain…it’s so good it’s like Miracle Gro.” Dr. John Ratey, Harvard.

4. Stop Doing list

What is filling your time AND holding you back? Make a list (Jim Collins calls it your ‘Stop Doing list’)—one of the fastest ways to get started is to stop doing those low-value tasks that are chewing up your time.

“The “stop doing” list became an enduring cornerstone of my annual New Year resolutions.” —Jim Collins, author From Good to Great

5. Change your environment

Clear the desk clutter, work from a local cafe, use paper instead of computer—sometimes, a change is as good as a start.

“As a species, humans have evolved to respond to novelty, once we’ve become accustomed to something, we may grow immune to its effects. —Hugh Thompson, Ph.D

6. Be kind to yourself

It’s easy to blame yourself—don’t. You’ve been here before, you are capable and you will succeed. Have faith you will get through this period, just like every other time.

“Practicing self-compassion provides us with the kind voice and warm embrace we need in difficult times so we courageously do the right thing.” Forbes

7. Let go of the past

It’s hard to get started when your attention is on what didn’t work in the past. Take a deep breath, let it go and focus on what you want to create in the today, for the future.

“Once we start a task, it is rarely as bad as we think.” Tim Pychyl, Ph.D

8. Get advice

Usually we can’t see the forest for the trees when we’re too close to the problem. Ask a good friend, hire a coach – even ask on-line. And then listen.

“When you ask for advice, people do not think less of you; they think you are smarter.” —Maurice Schweitzer, PhD of the Wharton School

9. Create a deadline

A little tension (like a deadline) can move mountains and end procrastination. Give yourself a Decision Deadline (for the full project or a practical solution) and stick to it.

“Deadlines allow us to clarify our thoughts and create an action plan.” — Dan Ariely, Ph.D

10. Create tiny wins

Frustrated about sales? Call one prospect. Want to lose weight? Start walking 20 minutes a day. Need to apologize? Write a card. Any forward motion is a tiny win in the right direction.

“When you feel good about what you did, your brain will change. It will want to do the behavior again in the future. That leads to making the habit stronger.” —B.J. Fogg, Ph.D

Ten ways to get moving. All work. Only one question…what are you doing here (get started).

Hugh Culver

Bio: Hugh Culver co-created the world’s most expensive tours (to the South Pole), started five companies, and teaches experts the business of speaking. Read his blog on the business of speaking. Follow him on Twitter @hughculver

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Break Through The Wall

Four Ways To Break Through the Wall

Let’s be honest, at some point we all hit a wall. A Plateau. A Bad Day. Writer’s Block. Whatever you might call the moment when things stop working. It is a natural part of reaching for a goal. It’s just a part of life. How you handle that moment is crucial though.  If handled wrong the wall becomes too big to overcome, and we become frustrated, irritable, and maybe worst of all, we give up.

If we handle the moment well, the wall becomes a hurdle.  It doesn’t mean it doesn’t take work or time to overcome, but we soon find ourselves back on track to achieving our goals. Here are a few ways to handle those moments when we hit a wall in our life.

Take a Break

We work hard. Life can get busy. Sometimes we hit the wall when we are tired, and that makes the wall bigger than it actually is. It is OK to take a break. Walk away from the wall for awhile. Part of this is being aware of your situation and self. To be honest enough to take a real break. I know this is difficult for us when we are striving to achieve a goal. But when you feel rested, you might discover that the wall was not that big in the first place.

Ask for Help

This option is also hard to do sometimes. Our pride gets in the way, but consider that great athletes have coaches, great writers have editors, and simply, CEOs have friends. We are people, not machines. Getting someone else’s perspective on a situation is a valuable asset in overcoming a “wall” moment. When working on a goal, our focus can actually blind us from seeing new opportunities or hurdles that trip us up. Life is a team sport, you don’t have to do it alone.

Try a New Approach

One way around a wall is a new approach. Asking for help can lead us to consider new approaches. But we can figure it out sometimes when we hit a wall, and we hit a wall, and we hit it again. If we keep doing the same thing and keep hitting a wall, it is time to change.  As a coach and teacher I am always evaluating the outcome of a lesson or practice plan. Track is the best example here. As a track coach I paid attention to my runners’ times for their events. If they didn’t improve their time after a few weeks, I knew I had to change their training. The same holds true in our pursuit of a goal. Hitting a wall, especially a couple of times, is a sign to try a new approach.

Learn

The last approach may be the most important, learn. When we move into a new area of life or step closer to a goal, we are entering new territory. And we might not have the knowledge or skills for this step forward. My first novel has been out for six months. Sales started out well, in fact, I sold a couple of hundred copies. But now sales are almost to a stop. I have hit a wall.  This wall is because of my lack of knowledge about promoting a book. It will take some time, but I am learning about different ways to self-promote and hiring an agency to promote a book.  This wall was created because I had not gained the knowledge needed to promote a book well.

Hitting a wall is a part of striving for a goal. It is part of life. Using one of these strategies should help you get through the moment and back on track.


True leader, Husband, Father, Coach & Professor Hamey Bowelhower

Bio: Jamey Boelhower is a husband and a father of six. He is currently an Instructional Coach and an adjunct professor for Central Community College, Nebraska. You can read his regular blog “It Is All Connected” by clicking here. And you can follow him on twitter at @jdog90

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How To Procrastinate Less

To Procrastinate Less, Start Doing These Five Things

According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, procrastination may not be just a matter of laziness. It may also be related to a deep emotional strategy to avoid stress. That may explain why some people are always behind on projects, appointments, etc. Human beings will do anything to avoid stress – even if it comes at the cost of more stress later.

I personally get very annoyed when I get in a procrastination state because it is self-feeding. If I get behind on a single task or project, I have to delay other tasks to get it completed. It can be a downward spiral that is hard to dig out of.

Check out this list of five things you can do to help you out of that procrastination deathtrap:

  1. Be more precise in your small goals. Most people live in a very general world. They plan to get something done tomorrow, next week, etc. Stop doing that. Pick a very precise time on your calendar and commit to working on ‘that thing’ at that time.
  2. Be willing to live with “done > perfect”. A lot of people I know live in the constant state of getting ready to get ready. They are waiting for the perfect time, perfect amount of money, or perfect set of training before they embark on a new effort. There is no perfect anything. There is “as good as it is right now”. Stop waiting for perfection before attacking a task you want to avoid. If it’s something you don’t know how to do, search online. Someone has likely done it before and has written out step-by-step instructions online that you can follow.
  3. If something is painful, get it done sooner than later. If you keep postponing something you don’t want to do because you find it painful or annoying, realize that it is not going to get LESS painful or annoying the more you put it off. Take control and knock that task out ASAP. It’s better to plan it and plow your way though than to wait for it to become a non-optional emergency. How painful will it be then?
  4. Make it hard to procrastinate. This is especially if you work in front of a computer. Put roadblocks in your way that make you have to work really hard to put off working. There are countless utilities for your computer that can block your time wasting activities on and offline. If you are someone like me who lives a lot online the first thing you should do is install RescueTime. This will help you start measuring the time you are wasting. You can then install different browser plugins that block you visiting time-wasting websites and force you to focus. As I type this right now, I have “StayFocusd” and “Kill Facebook Newsfeed” Chrome extensions installed. The former gives me a limited amount of time on social media, news, viral, and other time-wasting sites each day. The latter blocks me from seeing my general Facebook news feed and allows me to hop in and only check messages specific groups that I want to monitor.
  5. Build in small rewards for small goals. Do you have any BHAGs (Big Hair Arse Goals) ? I know I have several. And they may not happen for five or ten years. When you are strategic in your life and plan for the long-term, you may get discouraged a long the way. I am sure you know that your long-term should be broken down into several short-term goals. Be sure you celebrate the short-term goals. Make a big deal about them. The celebrations will lift your spirits and remind you of the coming BHAG. It’s hard to celebrate BHAG every day when you won’t see it for months or years. But if your goal is to lose 20 pounds and you lose five, make a big about it in your life. Celebrate all successes.

Share your favorite tactic from the five above

Click here to read the original article.

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Average Saturday Versus Kickass Saturday

The Average Saturday vs. The Kickass Saturday

Welcome to Saturday morning.

It is time to wake up and be average. Because that that is what most people will do. They’ll relish the fact that they can sleep in because their POS job makes them get up at the same time every week. They get up, turn on the TV, make coffee, and land on the couch. They’ll do everything they can do to avoid any working or learning. And around noon they’ll start hooking up with their friends to see where they are going to get drunk tonight.

This can be you. Or you can opt for the kickass Saturday.

You can get up and be a high achiever. You can wake up earlier than you do the rest of the week because this ENTIRE day is yours to create. You can drink 32oz of water right away and stay standing up because doing both will wake you faster than the strongest cup of coffee out there. You can look around your house and start arranging things in ways that facilitate success. You can spend time learning something new online that will help you start that hobby or business that you wanted. You can go down to the local gym, get a tour, join, and put GYM VISIT on your scheduled at a 3 day/week appointment that you will not miss. You can go through your cupboards and throw out all of the crap that is unhealthy. You can start getting rid of a ton of stuff around the house you don’t use and take it to Goodwill so somebody else can benefit. And you can call a friend or two that has kickass life you want to have and take them to dinner and pick their brain.

You can make this day kickass or you can be average.

You’ll never get the chance back. You can try to do it next Saturday but odds are if you blow it off now you’ll blow it off then too.

Don’t waste it.

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Imperfect Action

Video: The importance of Imperfect Daily Action

[youtube width=”640″ height=”360″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CL1d36I4t2Q[/youtube]This is this the phrase that I have on my cell phone home page: Imperfect Daily Action. In reminds that small forwards steps are the best way forwards towards any achievement. It also helps me accept my imperfection and not get so down on myself for minor setbacks. Watch the video and let me know what you think.

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Three Immutable Laws of Discipline That Smart People Live By

Three Immutable Laws of Discipline That Smart People Live By

Plan everything or it will never happen

Manage your time as recurring daily, weekly and monthly appointments on your calendar. Most of your calendar should be recurring blocks of time that have you making consistent progress towards your highest priorities. Don’t forget to add in regular blocks for relaxation time, screw around time, family time, etc. These are important parts of our lives that we cannot afford to let happen by chance.

Live and die by your plan

Once you choose to live by #1, don’t mess around with your schedule. If your Wednesday says you are exercising from 6-8, don’t “get to it at 7”. At 6pm you drop whatever you are doing and exercise. You said it was important. You allocated the time. Now go do it. As you learn more about yourself and your priorities, your allocation of time may change. If that happens modify the block of time to better suit your life, or remove it. Don’t leave it on your calendar and keep skipping it thinking you’ll get to it someday. This is called discipline. Not “Something kind of like discipline”

Don’t wander aimlessly

Limit the amount of time you spend randomly browsing the internet. Stay off of social networking, news sites, etc. unless they are DIRECTLY related to you researching or working on your dreams. Every website today is designed to keep you there for as long as possible – doubly so for social media sites. Almost nobody gets on Facebook for just “five minutes”. Five minutes will rapidly turn into an hour. If you feel you need time to screw around on the internet, go see #1 and put it on your calendar. If it gets out of hand then read the bonus tip.

Bonus Discipline Tip:

Spending time in front of the computer is a great way to burn away unproductive hours of your life. If you know you are the type of person that has this problem, consider installing RescueTime. I have this running all of the time. It tracks all of the websites and programs that I use to show me how productive I am. Once you have it installed for a week you will get some amazing data that will probably surprise you about yourself and your habits. Use that information to improve how you manage time online. RescueTime is a must have app if you are having online discipline issues. Get it!

Was this good? Did you see our other article about this?

Click here to read one of our most popular past posts on Fixed Schedule Productivity.

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Chris Brogan - Where does it all begin

Where Does It All Begin?

It always seems like there’s supposed to be this one magical day where everything goes from being ho-hum to some new level of greatness. People ask me all the time whether some specific event changed everything for me. I understand why. That’s how movies and books and comics all make it seem. You’re bitten by a radioactive spider or your parents are murdered in front of you or you get exposed to gamma radiation and pow, life gets quite different. But that’s never how it goes.

WHERE DOES IT ALL BEGIN?

It begins with a choice. Everything we do begins with a choice, but this choice is married to a commitment. We commit to something more for ourselves, something bigger. This can happen in any part of your life. You say no to dessert and feel the power of self discipline. You decide to push for 225 on the bench press and work at it week after week until you hit 305 instead. Or it happens at work. You have to make an extra $2000 and you push hard and hit $5000.

But that’s the beginning. What comes next is a series of realizations that go something like this:

  • I did it! I can’t believe I did it.
  • Wait, what ELSE can I do?
  • How can I take what I just learned over here and do it there instead?
  • What else do I need to know?
  • Don’t quit. Keep working on this. Keep the pace.

And once that bunch of thoughts erupt behind your eyes, everything changes. That’s where it all begins. Sometimes, it takes a few dozen times. Sometimes, it takes a hundred times. Who knows?

The difference between those people you view as successful and those people whose names you can’t even remember is that commitment to growth (Tweet That), that understanding of how to apply a lesson learned in more than one place, and the power to persist, even after you fall down a few times.

That’s what I see and that’s how I help others make their win happen.


Chris Brogan is CEO of Owner Media Group, a media and education company dedicated to equipping people to own the game they most want to win. He is the New York Times bestselling author of 8 books and counting, including his latest, The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth. Learn more at CallingAllFreaks.com

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It Is Time To Believe Again

It is another day of believing

It is that time of the day again. That time where we muster all of the strength we have to get out of bed, plant our two feet firmly on the ground, take a deep breath, and start believing again. We did it yesterday and if we are extremely lucky we’ll get to do it again tomorrow. We will have that chance to believe and act on our belief. Our belief that we were meant to do something significant with our lives. The belief that there is more to our existence other than staring at little small computer screens all day long. And the belief that we have the ability to make somebody else’s life better as a result of us being alive. Sometimes it feels like progress comes too slow, and that other people are just dying to block us at every opp. But yet we still get up every day and put those two feet on the ground. That is faith. That is believing. That plus massive action every day is what will make us successful.

Get the feet on the floor. It is another day of believing.

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Don't Worry About Being The Best

Don’t Worry About Being The Smartest Guy In The Room

Don’t worry about being talented or having the skill to do something that you really want to do. That has never mattered to successful people. The only thing that has mattered is the killer drive to create something amazing, and then figuring out how to do it along the way.

Confession: I’m not a great writer, amazing speaker, or the most astute business owner. I regularly screw up – and some of them have been pretty big. But I am committed to standing up after every fall, wiping myself off, and starting the climb again. I may be a passionate person, or I may just be too dumb to know when to give up. Only time will tell.

Don’t give up . I swear happiness and success are worth every bead of sweat dropped and every tear shed.

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But…! Hmmmm.

your life is passing you by

your life is passing you by

This is how I talk to myself when I am unhappy with doing what I am doing at the moment. I think you could use this also.

You’ve talked about that cool project you want to do. More than once.

But you have made zero progress on it. You’ll get to it this weekend.

You’ve looked at average people that have several books on the shelf and thought ‘I can do that’.

But you have yet to come up with a topic or write a single word.

You suck your gut in when you look in the mirror naked because you have not exercised in 10 years.

Your garden has weeds.

Your car is dirty.

You are still living paycheck by paycheck.

You hate your boss. You hate your co workers. You loathe the drive to work. You stare at the clock when you are there.

You have not done anything special for your spouse in a while. Why bother? You are married.

You hate rich people because they get more than you. They have nicer cars. Nicer house and nicer drinks.

BUT…!

You got on Facebook today. More than once.

You stayed up late watching TV last night.

You  smoke and drink on a regular basis.

You sit in front of a computer all day long. You’ll do it again tomorrow.

Your life is directly reflected in the movie ‘Office Space’.

Hmmmm.

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