Tuesday, November 14, 2017

How Powerful Are Thoughts?

Last week’s post was about the confidence equation, so if you missed it, you can check it out here.

At the end of the post, there was an activity – for one week, write down your thoughts and how confident you felt when you noticed those thoughts.

So, what happened?

Did you realize how important, how powerful your thoughts really are?

I hope you did and are being more aware of yours and shifting them when you notice thoughts that are sabotaging or undermining yourself.

Why are thoughts so powerful?

When an idea comes into our minds, we start to spend time considering that idea. We may spend a few seconds, a few hours, a few days or even longer with that idea. That idea is the thought and how we feel about that idea shapes it into a positive or negative thought.

For instance, if you were asked to give a presentation to a large group, what would your first thought be and what would you initially feel? Would you think that it’s a great opportunity to share with others while supporting the team and organization? Would you feel excited, even if you were a little nervous? Or would you question why you were asked, especially if you don’t think you are good at public speaking? Would you feel unsure of yourself and worry about the assignment until it was over? 

Although the thoughts and feelings stemmed from one idea – a neutral idea - of presenting to a large group, the feelings help to create the energy to fuel how you processed the idea.
So, if you thought presenting to a large group would be a great opportunity and you continued to feel excited about it, then when you did the presentation, you would be even more engaged and feel successful. Conversely, if you continued to focus your thoughts and feelings on not being good enough for the assignment, then it would come through in your preparation and delivery, no matter how much you practiced. But what if you made a concerted effort to shift your focus when you started to worry from feeling uncertain to feeling like you were asked because you are the right person for the job and can do it? What if you shifted your thoughts toward success and believing you will do well? The more you make those shifts, the more you will increase your confidence and it will show.

To share a quote from one of my favorite books, The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David J. Schwartz, “Believe, really believe, you can succeed and you will.”

When we meet again, we’ll talk about the second part of the Confidence Equation - positive inner voice.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Confidence Equation

When you think about having confidence, what does that look like to you? When you feel confident, how would you describe those feelings?

Having confidence in yourself and your abilities are important for you to lead your life, your team, and your career. What’s more important is what’s happening on the inside that causes you to exude and feel confident on the outside. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll talk about each component individually, but for now, let me share with you my confidence equation:

External Confidence = Positive Internal Voice + Positive Mindset

You’ll notice that there are two key elements happening on the inside – internal voice and mindset. Does it surprise you to learn that your thoughts and language are that powerful?

Essentially, the more positively aligned your internal dialogue and thoughts are, the more external confidence you will exude.  It’s important to note that this also happens in the reverse. The more critical or harsh your inner voice and mindset are, the lower your confidence will be.

To help you see how powerful your thoughts are, here’s an activity for you to try:

Over the next week, write down your thoughts and how confident you felt when you noticed those thoughts. There are no right or wrong answers.

When we meet next week, we’ll talk more about the importance of a positive mindset.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

How to Maximize Your Time with One Easy Step

Time is so precious.

You only have so much of it, yet it seems like there are days when you don’t have enough time to get everything done. As you cross off each completed item, it feels like progress is being made. Yet, how many times has the same completed task been added right back on the to do list for the next week or week after?

When tasks repeatedly show up on your to do list, it can feel as though you are in an endless circle. However, with a few tweaks you can maximize your time while getting recurring tasks done. Do you know what it is?

It’s called batching.

Batching is when you group several items into one window of time to complete.  You probably have even batched your work without even realizing it.  For instance, do you create a grocery list, so that you can get everything you need from the store in one trip? If you use social media for your business, do you spend time scheduling your content, so that posts happen frequently, yet you aren’t having to spend countless hours on different platforms? Do you try to schedule meetings or classes on certain days while keeping other days open for content development or task completion?

All of these examples have elements of batching occurring within them.

Batching is a method that enables you to leverage the momentum you already have for a given activity to get more than just one iteration of work completed. For example, let’s say you are responsible for a podcast that airs every other week. When you first take on the project, you realize there are some key steps for each episode such as:

  • Determining what to talk about
  • Researching the specific topic
  • Drafting key talking points
  • Recording 
  • Making any necessary edits
  • Sharing/promoting

This one project can become quite time consuming, especially the higher the frequency for delivering the product. Very quickly, it can start to feel as though all you work on is this biweekly podcast and your others projects and tasks seem to lag behind.

But what if you batched the process steps instead of repeating the entire process for each episode?

Batching this process would span a couple of days and look something like this:

Day 1:
Take an hour and brainstorm as many episodes as possible
Allow a few hours for research with the goal to have material for four episodes
Draft key talking points for all four episodes

Day 2:
Record four episodes

Day 3:
Edit four episodes
Schedule to air the four episodes and promote them

With this example, you’ve created two months’ worth of podcast episodes in a matter of a few days. By doing this, you aren’t having to work on the podcast project every week. Instead, you can schedule a few days toward the end of the second month to repeat this three-day process, and in the meantime, you are able to spend time on other projects and meetings that require your attention. You will feel more productive, less stressed and excited about the next podcast creation window.

Comment below with a process that you want to try batching and let me know how it goes.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Insider's Tip on Productivity at Work

It’s another day at work, and you are slowly making progress on your to do list.

Yet each time you cross something off, you add two or more items to complete and wonder how it will all get done.

As you look over your list, are there some items that you dread doing because you are not using your strengths, so you feel like you struggle to complete them?  What happens to your other tasks and responsibilities when you are spending so much time and energy on tasks that are draining you?

In order to lead your team or business, there will always be things that need to get done that you may not excel in doing. However, that does not mean that you must personally complete every item that your team or business needs to have done. Your job as a leader is to ensure the team moves toward the vision while fostering an environment that values people. Each person on your team brings a unique set of skills, experiences and abilities, and one way that exploits you as a constraint and shows your team that you value and trust them is to delegate.

When you delegate tasks that are aligned to a team member’s abilities, you are able to focus on other items that leverage your strengths or truly require your attention. There are a few keys to delegating with success. The first is to match task to talent as much as possible. When someone is using their natural strengths, they are more productive, so be sure to get to know your team and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind that if you assign someone to complete a task that isn’t leveraging their strengths, it may take longer for that person to accomplish the work.

Once you’ve decided to delegate a task, be sure to clearly communicate your expectations, the individual’s role and how it fits in the team or organization, and how you will hold him or her accountable. Communicating more than what the task is, but why it needs to happen, by when, and why you’ve asked that person will ensure you both are on the same page. When you take the time to explain how the individual fits within the team or organization, the person will be able to spot more opportunities where they can support and will be inclined to take the initiative to do more.

No matter the importance of the task, when you delegate, you must hold yourself and the other person accountable. If you said you were going to follow-up with them or asked them to provide a status to you by a certain date, be sure to follow through. Do what you said you would do. If you are on the receiving end of the task, ensure you keep your communication clear to the person who asked for your help. It shows them that you can be trusted and that you want to be involved.

What are tasks that you are holding onto that you would be better served to delegate?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

How to Feel More Accomplished at Work

Last week’s post discussed multi-tasking versus focused attention, and which one was better. If you missed it, you can check it out here.

By focusing your undivided attention on completing one task at a time, you can get each one done quicker and more efficiently. With that being said, is being productive simply a matter of crossing off items from your to do list? Or does prioritizing the tasks matter?

The answer to these questions comes down to this: productivity leverages prioritization. 

Sometimes we can confuse being busy with being productive. Busy is more about occupying one’s time, and productive is about yielding results. When you are productive, you are also busy, but it is possible to be busy and not productive. For example, going to meetings that really are not the best use of your time, scrolling through social media just because, or working on items that are less pressing or could be delegated.

Take a few minutes and think about your to do list for this week and your schedule. 

First, schedule time to spend with your loved ones or for yourself to relax and recharge. Part of being productive is making sure you take care of you. If you are not taking care of you, it’s challenging to take care of anyone or anything else.

Second, write down your responsibilities and determine what must happen this week in order to move a project forward or bring one to closure? 

Third, out of the actions to be done this week, order them so that you know which ones you need to do first, then schedule them into your calendar or planner accordingly.

Here comes the tricky part…. making sure they get done.  Sometimes things happen that cause us to get off track with what we thought we were going to accomplish. When that happens, evaluate how your priorities shifted and what you need to do to adjust. 

At the end of each week, recognize what you did accomplish. Celebrate your progress and go through the process of prioritizing again.

Comment below with your tips on prioritizing 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Multi-task vs. focused attention - Which is better?

It’s the start of the week, and you have a list a mile long full of tasks that need to be done.  

You take a sip of your coffee (or in my case, tea) and wonder how you are going to get it all done. Perhaps you start checking email, only to realize you need to make a phone call to a colleague before you head to your first meeting. After finishing the call, you realize you need to update a few notes to be ready for the meeting, but you still have to get this one email sent before you leave, so you switch gears again and finish the email. Then with only a few minutes to spare, you scribble some thoughts on a sheet of paper and race to your meeting. As the morning progresses and you are in another meeting, you realize there are some emails you want to check, so you decide that you can listen to the meeting and respond to a few emails, too.

Does this sound at all like something you’ve experienced? 

If so, you probably thought you were multi-tasking, and doing it well.  We seem to think that multi-tasking is a good thing because we believe it shows how we can manage multiple activities.  Yet how well were those activities done? How efficiently were they completed?

The real key to managing multiple activities is more about how you focus your attention during the activity at hand than it is about jumping from activity to activity.

Let me explain.

At first blush, it may seem less expedient or even counter-productive to focus on one activity at a time; however, when everything seems to be getting your attention, nothing really is. When your attention, time and energy are split among various tasks, the tasks take longer to complete and you feel rushed and disorganized. Your best effort means you are efficient, productive, and fully engaged. 

How do you shift from a multi-tasking mindset to a “one-at-a-time” mindset? 

That takes practice. When you are in the moment and realize you are multi-tasking, stop and determine which activity really needs to be done first, then focus on it to its completion before moving onto the next task.  When a task seems never ending, thus enabling the desire to jump around on other tasks that are easier to complete, consider if you can break down the larger task into smaller chunks.  And if you are working on a task that you do not have all of the parts you need to get it done, then consider waiting until you do have everything you need to start and finish it in one setting.

When you remove distractions and make a concerted effort to finish one task at a time, you are more productive. 

What do you do when you catch yourself multi-tasking?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

What's the One Activity to do at Work Everyday?

Whether you are new to your position or have been there for some time, there is one activity you can do each day to make sure you are ready for the next opportunity. 

This activity is applicable if you are an individual contributor or a supervisor. It's one that may seem easy to do. In fact, it may seem logical, yet it can be difficult to do on a daily, genuine, consistent basis. 

Do you know what that is?

It's doing the best you can with the job you currently have.

This means putting your best foot forward to the assignment at hand or making sure you are prepared for the meetings you need to attend. It means you aren't asking your boss every chance you get when you will move to the next level. It means you are learning all you can for the responsibilities you currently have, so that you are able to do your job to the best of your ability. And even if you are unhappy in your current role and making an effort to change jobs or companies, while you are at work, put forth the effort to do your best when you are there.  

By focusing on the present job and doing all you can to learn and grow in it, you are creating new opportunities for the future.

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