4 things that make you waste time at work

When you’re at work, you want to be productive. You don’t want to get in trouble with your boss, you want to look good for that promotion, and you want as much of your work done by 5 as possible so you don’t have to take it home. So what are the things that are killing your productivity? Here’s a quick look.

1. IMing. Whether you’re using facebook, gchat, Skype, or another IM client, IMing is a huge time waster. Sure, it’s super-convenient because you don’t have to get up to ask your co-workers questions, but it’s far too easy for the chatter to get off topic, or at least off topics relevant to the work that you are currently trying to complete. Save time by not signing in to IM programs at work in the first place or by setting your status to away.

2. Too much email. Sometimes, it’s actually quicker to just get up and go ask a question. You don’t have to wait for each response and, of course, you can communicate more quickly – and more precisely – in person. Sometimes the answers you get in person are more valuable, too, because you can read the other person’s body language and see how their non-verbal cues reflect on what they are saying.

3. Tiny scheduling gaps. When you have 15 or 20 minutes between meetings or appointments, there’s not much productive you’re liable to accomplish in that time. You’ll maybe respond to some emails – which may have been answered more quickly in person – and then kill some time at the water cooler. There’s pretty much nothing worthwhile you get done, though. Scheduling your appointment back-to-back can prevent those little 15-minute breaks. Of course, that only really works for meetings and conference calls within the office; if you’re attending an outside appointment you’ll need to allow time for commuting.

4. Multi-tasking. You might be good at multi-tasking, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Multi-tasking is one of the ways that it’s really easy to get sucked into IM chats and lengthy email exchanges. If you don’t see yourself as wasting time IMing, but rather as being doubly productive by IMing while you write up that report … well, you’re still IMing. Sometimes multi-tasking can just distract you from the task at hand. Set specific times for doing things like answering your voice mails and responding to emails. Don’t just answer every call, IM, and email and chalk it up to multi-tasking. You might still flip back and forth between a couple tasks at once, but make sure that those tasks don’t include any of the major time wasters. Those should just be dealt with at designated times.

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5 killers of creativity

Even if you don’t consider yourself a creative person (which is nonsense but we’ll get to that shortly), you definitely experienced a state of blockage where you simply sense a lack of ease, efficiency and results in everything you do. Maintaining a creative mojo can indeed be quite challenging even for those who are the most powerful in expressing themselves, their ideas and dreams because even they can get stuck between a stockpile of projects and objectives and the means to carry them out.

However, those who are more likely to overcome these moments or situations and cross the finish line of their own plans are those who learned that no one and nothing can hold you back as “capably” as yourself and when you invest the time to understand this just a bit more specifically, you will discover some of the enemies of creativity you can so easily and inadvertently help. Here we smoked out what we consider to be the worst of these enemies:

1. Overpushing.

This happens when you simply don’t know when to walk away from a task. Just indulge an honest reflection and see if there’s any progress in what you’re doing at that moment or any real probability for it to occur in the near future – if the answer you come up with is negative then it’s time to let go of it for a while. Again is one of those situations when less means actually more. Besides, even if you are not aware of it, your brain is still plugged-in, working on a solution or idea which explains those moments in the morning on waking up when you “just know” what needs to be done, what the solution is. This means that sometimes the wisest thing is to back off a little bit so you don’t scare off your muse a little longer.

2. Overpreparing.

This one follows the pattern – too much of a good thing is a bad thing. While making plans and organizing your stuff is recommended, letting yourself completely absorbed by plans is not and this can be an easy error to fall victim to especially if you decided at one point you wanted to be more productive and add more planning to your life, unhappy with past results. A man with a single plan but the determined to act immediately upon it even if it might not be the perfect plan, versus a man with a dozen plans but the inability to get things started on account of lacking total guarantee of success is a good example of the danger perfectionism poses. Actually, the fear of failure can hide just as much behind an apparently organized person than it does in a total non-doer. Always bear in mind that focusing too much on how things can unfold in the future will prevent you from enjoying them in the present but also from making real progress since all progress happens in real time even if it’s measured over time.

3. Overthinking: the not-good-enough syndrome.

Again, the fear of failure dictates that you’re just not that good to jump at that opportunity. You can easily find examples in all domains of successful people who engaged and committed unreservedly to something without having much idea at first what it was they were getting themselves into and how it was supposed to be done. Enthusiasm, daring and the desire to learn and improve eventually lead them to great accomplishments. If wait until you become a mega-specialist at something before attempting to make your skills available, chances are you will become a mega-specialist at killing your creativity.

4. Overbusyness.

Creative blockage becomes a haunting habit when we, in turn, create the habit of letting stress and busyness taking over our lives. Keeping yourself busy all the time can be a great distraction from acknowledging your real problems and can even be illusively put out as a sign of being extremely creative. Allowing your imagination time to wander, your mind time to rest and lean over non-doing is essential for feeding your creative flow. Being too busy to pursue a hobby or enjoy nature, and gain inner balance is just a poor excuse you’ll be using as long as you can afford self-lying. Slow down to catch up! While it may sound like a line form Captain Planet, the power to control the busyness of your life is yours. Resist being dragged into the sinky sands of excuses of the type: “I would love to read more but I don’t have time”, “I know I haven’t gone for a walk for like decades but I’ll get out more when I have more time to spare”. This sends the “dead end” postcard to your creative thinking. If you like being busy why not being busy with something you like?

5. Overdoubting.

Family, school, society – they can all participate in choking off your creative spark by presenting you with norms and standards and even ways that prove you as being creative; that’s true but eventually you cannot simply settle for the role of the victim. You have power and control over your creativity because, first of all, you are creative. Everyone is. It’s just that we express it within levels and frames that differ. That’s all. So plunge headfirst into your own creative juice and cash in on the amazing resourcefulness hidden inside you, waiting for you signal to come pouring in. That signal is simply believing. Yeah, it’s probably annoying for some, but you still can find too many achievers out there who weren’t also believers. Can you believe that?

Check out my related book:

Go Nuts: The Art of Creativity and Innovation

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10 ways to kick-start a great year

Everybody flirts with the idea of having the chance to start anew especially when it comes to those projects or changes they’ve been longing to undertake. Fortunately for us, all, at least once a year it’s easier to make resolutions and vow to take that extra step closer to our goals. Unfortunately, however, more often than not, with the passing of another year we just added to the pile of unfulfilled resolutions. So what to do to make sure this time around you’ll make good on that promise to yourself?

Here are some suggestions meant to help you connect better to the energy of this new year and get that super-start you want and are capable of.

1. Mind your eating habits.

At first impression you might be surprised that we choose this to be the first principle to consider for the year ahead; however, since always one thing leads to another, eating healthy, at reasonable hours, and without involving other activities during meals would mean more energy, more discipline, more awareness towards a healthy body and a healthy mind.

2. Mind your thoughts.

Start paying more attention to what circulates your head and leaves your mouth; the quality of the thoughts we let in and out, in other words, what we allow ourselves to be concerned with shapes our reality. Fixing a higher standard for yourself in terms of language selection is a whole lot more crucial than you think in achieving excellent results.

3. Mind your body.

(We just loved the pun here) This has to do with you being determined to commit to scheduling a fitness routine daily. It can be joining a yoga, taiji or karate class, hiring a personal trainer, or working out in your back yard to the delight of your neighbors’ kids. Doesn’t matter. Just do it!

4. Reduce stress.

Yeah, this means getting smarter with how you let things affect you (also mind point #2); notice where you get your stress from – maybe it’s external sources causing it or maybe it’s mainly just you used to being your worse enemy. Whatever the cause, learn to step back, relax and take the pressure off your shoulders.

5. Increase productivity.

This one implies so many aspects on so many different levels (see our other posts on the topic). It would be a great idea to kick start the New Year by introducing some changes into your living or working space. This will create in turn a very optimized mood that can unlock your creative potential which leads us to the next step on the list.

6. Get more creative, get inspiration from others.

Allowing yourself to find that little or bigger something that pulls out your creative and inspiring self is one of the best things you can do for yourself when starting fresh. An activity meant to make you enjoy life and yourself and maybe others as well more! You can be very help finding a model or a mentor (or more) to inspire you.

7. Kick off a business plan.

Had this crazy idea for a long time but just always found excuses to postpone acting upon it? Take this year as finally your chance of getting it done! Write down your tasks, objectives, plans and ideas and develop a strategy. Don’t shy away from improvement and admitting your limits. Get in the research mood: read books and any useful material on the topic. Make it happen!

8. Reinvent yourself.

This may be just as simple as changing your hairstyle or revamping your wardrobe. It will inspire you, build confidence and awaken the appetite for new!

9. Do something you are afraid of doing.

Although it doesn’t have to be a daily mission as Eleanor Roosevelt told it, but approaching from time to time things you are not normally comfortable with, will empower your sooner than expected with an invigorating felling of self-reliance and ‘bring it on’ attitude. Love the challenge!

10. Make time for yourself (read being alone).

In case you don’t already appreciate solitude, it’s time you did! How can you ever accomplish something great if you don’t take the time to meet and know the accomplisher? If you haven’t noticed by now, all successful people talk about the importance of meditation. That is time spent ALONE. You need your own space and that is perfectly healthy and normal. How that is defined, depends on each of us but once you learn what to do with yourself when alone, you will never feel lonely in that depressing way ever again. Ever. Again.

(11). Don’t forget your resolution!

Making resolutions and setting up goals feels great. However, not getting to work right away will soon change that feeling into one not so rewarding and pleasant. Most of people don’t even get past the first starting steps and that’s because they begin the year with… procrastination (you know, the I’ll start from tomorrow/Monday/next week mental frame)! Any-second-longer-it’s-too-late attitude is a life changer. Keep your goals/plans written down somewhere where you can see them everyday so you’ll be constantly reminded of your mission and about your next step because, very often, just to protect ourselves from self-esteem shrinking the mirror of failure would create, our mind chooses to apparently forget about initial plans.

So here it is, you have a great list in front of you that only points to the one you should be doing right now yourself for this year in case you haven’t already done it.

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How to cultivate productive habits

A productive person is one who gets things done and the ‘secret’ to succeed that is…well, doing things. It all traces back always to what habits you have and how they affect your ability to go from ideas to concrete results. Bad habits can easily overcome even good motivation and being aware of them is the first step in changing your efficiency patterns.

The ability to get things done apply to all successful people. This can actually be regarded as a specific quality that can even overtake intelligence, talent, as the presence of those without the exercise of taking action will only guarantee projects at the stage of conception at best.

Since we don’t come into this world with fixed habits, we may as well choose to develop some that can help us accomplish more and serve our passion.

If you really want to build the action habit, you may have to make some deliberate changes to your thought processes and your perspective on things; however, while it may seems a bit challenging at first, once you engage this process wholeheartedly by completely understanding and applying these 5 phases, ACTION will become your middle name and you will notice how your life and the way you are perceived by other enters another dimension:

1. Stop waiting for the perfect time

Waiting until conditions are perfect before taking action is the perfect excuse to fail. What this waiting habit will guarantee is never leaving the starting point. The truth is, there’s probably no such thing as perfect conditions. Don’t confuse good strategy with fear to act. It’s all always happening now.

2. Take it gradually

Switching from bad habits to good ones requires patience and discipline; eventually, the newly acquired habits will become so much a part of you that you will not think of them in terms of discipline and effort as they will flow naturally and the good results will reinforce them. But remember to start small – It’s like when people used to eating meat frequently decide to go on a vegetarian diet right away – most of the times their organisms don’t take the shock too well and soon they give up because they feel tired and awkward and say that maybe vegetarian food is just not for them.

2. Act now!

Yeap, you definitely heard this one before but no matter how cliché it may sound to you, this is one golden rule. Whatever idea has been circulating your head lately, jump at it! It’s your opportunity to get things done – and we promise you will love it! The habit of leaving ideas unacted on will only weaken them.

3. Be consistent

Even if you have managed to start working on an idea, working out or taking piano lessons, without continuity, the progress you’ve made and those new habits will fade away pretty fast. So, whatever is that you began doing, commit to it with all your heart and do your ‘routine’ especially when you don’t feel like it until you sense the strength of your newly acquired habit becoming your second nature.

4. Ideas really count only when applied

It’s true that everything starts with an idea but it’s just as true that everything is accomplished with action. You might have a really world-changing idea but if not put into action, it will mean nothing next to a mediocre one but successfully executed. Stop being satisfied with just presenting great ideas to people to feel good about yourself – you might even see some of those ideas brought to life by others and that’s not likely to diminish your anxiety. Nothing compares with turning an abstract thought into a beautiful, working, concrete project.

5. Action builds confidence

Fear is most present the first time when you take action. Even after years of performing live, the best of actors tell about being anxious or fearful right before entering the stage – but once that moment passes so does fear. Nothing cures fear like getting down to business. Don’t fear fear because courage doesn’t mean the absence of fear but the determination to carry out even in its presence. Observe your fear and observe how fragile it becomes when you commit to doing.

When faced with obstacles and fear of failing to develop these habits, remember this quote by Lao-Tzu: “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

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Famous failures

When you think of names like Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, and Walt Disney, you think of people who were vastly successful by any measure. They weren’t always that way, though.

Although we now think of him as one of the Big Three responsible for winning World War II, Winston Churchill’s road to becoming prime minister was a rather difficult one. Before becoming Britain’s foremost political figure at the age of 62, Churchill was defeated in every attempt he made to run for public office. Earlier in life, he even failed sixth grade.

When he was a school child, one of his teachers told Thomas Edison that he was, “too stupid to learn anything.” Although ultimately he became famous as the inventor of the light bulb, before finding a bulb that would work, he bumbled his way through 100 lighting duds. His reaction? “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

When Walt Disney worked for newspapers, one editor fired him because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” His first studio went bankrupt just a year after it was founded and 15 years later he was hovering on the verge of bankruptcy again when the release of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” became the most successful picture of 1938, earning over $8 million on its initial release.

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How humor can boost your career

Some people think of work as a place that should be devoid of humor. Work and play, however, don’t have to be entirely mutually exclusive. In fact, there are some really good reasons why bringing a little humor with you to work can actually help boost your career. Here are just a few of those reasons:

1. Humor helps relieve stress. Humor actually changes the way that your brain perceives stress factors. Once you inject a little humor into your worldview, bothersome co-workers or clients just become amusing anecdotes for later instead of depressing annoyances.

2. Humor helps creative thinking. Humor helps you see the world less rigidly and removing the rigidity from your thinking seriously boosts creativity. Humors is both relaxing and inspiring, so it helps foster the right creative mentality you need to be the most productive team members you can be.

3. Humor helps build trust. Because humor makes you seem more likeable, it will also make people more likely to trust you. When you display your sense of humor, people detect the authenticity in your approach and they are more likely to find your trustworthy than your more reserved counterparts, who may come off as distanced or stuck-up.

4. Humor increases productivity. By helping create a work environment that is cheerful, your employees or co-workers will spend less time thinking about how long it is until five o’clock and more time thinking about how to offer maximal contribution to the company. People will approach their work with more passion, and in turn be more productive and offer better results.

5. Humor is a great equalizer. Humor makes you seem human, so if you’re an administrator or boss trying to connect with your employees, humor is a great way to do just that. Of course, it probably goes without saying that humor at the expense of your subordinates or co-workers is NOT a good idea.

6. People will like working with you. Bringing a good sense of humor to your job can really help with team-building. People want to like the people they work with – and when your co-workers like you, you will find your job to be more enjoyable. Again, though, don’t offend people with your humor.

7. Humor can help your customer relations. Just as humor can help humanize company leaders, humor can also help humanize your company as a whole. Humor can help your truly connect with your customers in a way that can generate a large loyal following.

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How to focus on a single task: 5 recommendations

Multi-tasking or multi-lacking?

Take our word for it or do your own research but those little things that sometimes are not even related or linked to any real problem may be the very ones that prevent you from being productive and getting things done the best way possible.

That’s right, folks, they are called distractions and they do have that one quality that you should employ to achieve your goals – constancy. If you didn’t figure out that trying to respond to emails as they come, checking out links sent via social networks, making calls that are not urgent or balancing your checkbook while working it’s highly unproductive, well, it’s high time you did.

Getting those daily distractions out of the way it what gives you rhythm because each day comes with its own tasks, challenges and priorities and having these distractions blending in perfectly may sometimes give us the impression of super-busyness. That’s why is important not to waste time and energy organizing and prioritizing things every day with every new variation in the schedule. To ease things up categorize your tasks into projects and don’t bother with minor changes.

Below we offer you a quick guide on how maintain your concentration on a single task so that you can improve your productivity much faster.

1. Discipline your time and tasks

When starting your workday stick to choosing 3 tasks you want to complete that day. They should be the most important ones that day and also you should start with the most difficult one. If you have meetings schedule them for less than an hour, so both you and the rest of participants can remain focused. If your meetings last longer take breaks. Punctuality is also a key aspect when conducting your affairs. Set time for all important tasks. When handling tasks that require a long time to complete, it’s best that you divide them into smaller tasks.

2. Maintain your priorities

This means not switching between or changing your main concerns throughout the day. Maintain commitment to what you have established. This also implies not biting more than you can chew, you know, accepting or adding supplementary tasks on account of an “I can do it” attitude.

4. Remove Clutter

Close all the apps you don’t need for your work. The less clutter you expose yourself to, the more productive you become. Don’t open your web browser or any programs unless they are necessary to your work. Clean your desk and your desktop and remove any visual clutter to help your mind stay clear.

3. Engage your tasks one by one

A clear, focused mind is much more easily obtained when not concerning yourself with the rest of the tasks, or matters unrelated to your work.

5.Don’t jump at another task before completing the first one.

And lastly, we know that shutting off those distractions may not be the easiest thing to do, especially if you have built a habit out of them, but once you do it, by all means, resist the compulsion to restore them until working without distractions becomes itself a habit.

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6 things successful people do on weekend

You probably spend a lot of time during the week thinking about what it takes to be successful. It’s not just the workweek activities that you should be paying attention to, though; successful people also make use of their weekends in a way that maximizes their productivity during the workweek. Here are six things that successful people do during their weekends:

1. Work out. Exercising boosts your energy, so it can really help you enter the new workweek feeling refreshed. Did you know that sitting for prolonged periods of time – like at a desk job – has been correlated with a shorter lifespan? Exercising – even if it’s just on the weekends because you don’t have time during the workweek can

2. Don’t work. Okay, it’s not as if you can’t work at all on the weekends if you want to be successful – that just isn’t realistic. However, it’s uber-important to get some time to unplug. Don’t spend your whole weekend responding to emails or making phone calls. It’s best to create chunks of time where you specifically avoid dealing with emails and phone calls.

3. Don’t do chores. Although one option to avoid doing chores is to simply stop doing laundry and cleaning the house, a more realistic option is to either do them during the week or else to create a specific time for doing chores. Don’t let chores drag out over the whole weekend and eat up all your time to relax. Feeling like you’ve had some time to relax is a really important part of feeling able to tackle the workweek with a maximal amount of productivity.

4. Network. Although the word “network” contains the word “work,” networking can be fun. It might not have an immediate impact on your career, but networking is great investment in your future. One of the big things that makes successful people stand out from others is the degree to which they network.

5. Socialize. Networking is a form of socialization, but obviously it isn’t the only form. Instead of networking, you also might to simply socialize. Because humans are social creatures, studies have shown that socialization is a key component of happiness. One particularly satisfying way to socialize is by getting involved in the community – look into non-profit and volunteer opportunities.

6. Rest. Although it’s important to engage in active pursuits like networking, socializing, and working out, it’s also necessary to rest during your weekend. If you found yourself getting sleep-deprived during the week, find time to catch up on the weekend. Even if you (somehow) got enough sleep during the week, make sure you make some time to kick back and relax during the weekend. Although weekend activities are great, it isn’t a good idea to make your weekend as jam-packed with activities as your work week.

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