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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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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Why breakfast is good for your productivity

For years, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” has been a mantra among dieticians and mothers. It turns out, though, there are also sensible reasons for eating breakfast that can actually boost your career. In 2005, the American Dietetic Associations determined that breakfast improves cognitive function and helps memory. Furthermore, one study even found that breakfast-eaters are more likely to graduate and to have better grades. So it looks like breakfast doesn’t just make you less hungry – it makes you more productive!

In addition to making you smarter, though, breakfast can also help make you nicer. Some research has shown that eating high carbohydrate breakfasts – such as cereals – can boost your mood. After a night’s sleep, your brain is usually craving glucose, and breakfast helps fulfill that need, leading to a happier you. If you think you’re not a morning person, maybe you need to consider eating breakfast!

A final well-known advantage to eating breakfast is that people who eat breakfast are thinner than those who don’t. People who don’t eat breakfast often compensate with less healthy foods later in the day; essentially they “save up” for lunch and eat more additional calories at lunch than they would have eaten at breakfast in the first place. In fact, studies show that people who skip breakfast have a higher BMI than those who don’t.

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Did you know that plants can actually increase your productivity?

Did you know that office plants can actually increase your productivity? True, if you’re addicted to Facebook games and can’t stop compulsively playing Candy Crush, office plants probably won’t help. But, if you’re trying to maximize your mental capacity and make sure you give your job your all, then you might want to invest in some office-friendly flora.

There have been a series of studies over the past few years that have indicated the possible value of office plants. A 2011 study, for instance, found that office workers performed timed reading tasks better when seated at a desk with plants than they did when seated at a barren wood desk. A 2013 study found similar results while also discovering that the presence of office windows helped cognitive function.

One theory as to why plants are effective at improving cognitive function is that the brain needs a break from paying direct attention to the task at hand. The presence of a plant in the room – or a passing co-worker or a nice window view – can give your brain the break it needs by allowing you to pay indirect attention to something other than the work task you are struggling to complete.

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How to work smart – my 6 rules

I prefer to work smarter, not harder. However, the majority thinks you have to work harder to achieve great things. When it comes to working smart, you should always consider the following rules before starting any project:

1. Is this fast to implement?

2. Is it easy to do?

3. Does it Work?

4. Is it scalable?

5. Is it something we can easily own and control?

6. Can I exit from this project anytime with no costs?

Start a project if you can reply with YES to all the questions above.

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How to make informed decisions

In the movie Margin Call, Kevin Spacey’s character is presented with the impossible moral decision of whether or not to sell off a slew of toxic assets in order to save his company’s solvency, thereby poisoning the Global Financial system and causing a worldwide recession. I won’t spoil the movie for you, but the drama that makes the movie so gripping should be familiar to any manager who has to make tough decisions on a daily basis. The world financial system may not hang in the balance of your decision on which vendor to choose, but every decision has consequences. Managing the stress this causes, and streamlining the decision-making process will be beneficial to any leader.

Decision-making is at once the most essential and most gut-wrenchingly difficult part of managing your business. There are tens to hundreds of little decisions to be made any given week and they aren’t always clear-cut. Even with a wealth of data and advisors, there come times when you feel you just have to roll the dice and pray. Before you do that though, there is a time-tested process you should go through to determine whether you are making the right decision.

Step 1: Examine the Evidence

This should always be your first recourse in the face of uncertainty. Utilize a modified version of the Scientific Method to gather all available data and organize the potential variables.

•At this stage in the process your gut feelings should take a backseat to pure analysis.
•Evaluate each suggested course of action based on the evidence at hand and objectively record the projected effects.
•Look at your business’ history of similar cases and attempt to determine the effects those decisions have had.
•Research the type of decision you’re making to get a sense of the courses of action commonly taken by other businesses.
•Finally, evaluate which decision seems most appropriate for your particular situation.

Step 2: Determine Possible Ripple Effects

Step back for a moment and think about the less obvious ways this decision will affect your company. Does it conflict with your company’s core values or objectives? How will it be viewed by investors or outside clients? Are there any hidden costs? What are the long term organizational effects of this decision? What precedents does it set? Give all of these questions due diligence, and then move on. Spending too much time worrying about the ripple effects can paralyze your ability to decide since there are simply too many uncertainties to account for. Look for obvious red flags, but don’t go digging around for problems where none exist. This promotes a form of negative confirmation bias which will ruin your objectivity.

Step 3: Perform A Reality Check

You’d be surprised at how much of human (and managerial) behavior is based on commonly accepted preconceptions with not evidential basis. Take an honest inventory of your reasoning for making a decision, and perform a Reality Check. If you’re basing it on some idiomatic truism or intuition, you would do well to investigate further. Intuition has its place, but it should not be at the center of an important decision. Remember that the entire marketing industry is based on manipulating people into making decisions based on irrational premises; don’t assume that you as a manager are immune to this type of thinking.

Step 4: Evaluate Risk

Every decision is at its heart somewhat of a gamble. To be effective, you have to bring an actuarial acumen to everything you do. Try to estimate whether your decision will be a “good bet.” Do the risks outweigh the potential rewards? Don’t let the attractiveness of a prospect instill you with confirmation bias so that you ignore the possible pitfalls.
Further, be aware of the warning signs of the possible risks so that you can quickly alter your decision if it appears to be going south. For example, if your decision was wrong you might expect to see a large amount of pushback from the frontline. You might not see the projected cost savings in the timeframe you estimated. You might see behavior from a contractor indicating that it isn’t fulfilling its end of the bargain.
If you’re aware of these risks from the outset, you’ll be able to quickly shift course when you see them becoming realities. Otherwise you’ll continue plodding ahead with a failed policy, falsely confident in its essential validity.
At the same time, don’t act prematurely. Determine which risks are acceptable, necessary costs of a decision which will ultimately pay off. Learning to distinguish between these two types of risk will be essential in carrying out your decision.

At this stage in the process, you should feel fairly confident in the validity of your decision. If it’s passed the previous four checks, you’re ready to take your prototypical idea to the next stage in the process.

Step 5: Get Second and Third Opinions

Take your idea to everyone from frontline employees to other managers. Encourage the active discussion of it within the company at large. If you are sufficiently confident in your decision you should be able to honestly answer any questions and concerns that arise from this process. If something comes up which challenges you, take it seriously.
However, don’t doubt yourself excessively. Remember that you are the one who has thought the longest and hardest on this issue, and you shouldn’t let baseless negativity affect your decision. Remember that this is not a popularity contest or an election, but one more step in the process of honing and defining your decision.

Step 6: Perform a Final Check, and Act

Having run through the five steps of this process, you should now do them once again in miniature, just to make sure you haven’t fallen victim to confirmation bias or allowed yourself to let others’ opinions corrupt your judgment. Be confident in your plan having run it through this exhaustive process and execute it with authority. There’s always the chance that things can go wrong, and a roll of the dice always entails a risk. At least now you know the odds are in your favor.

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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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Think creatively and outside the box

Everybody knows who the Wright Brothers are, right? Of course, everybody has at least heard of the inventors of the first working airplane. They were two simple bicycle shop owners with an idea and the means to make it happen, and now they are enshrined forever in history as “The Inventors of the Airplane.

Wilbur and Orville Wright started with a printing press in 1889, both of them being confident entrepreneurs. That press ran and evolved over the years until they got rid of that and opened up their bicycle shop in 1892, and after that time they became more and more interested in flight. They wondered why nobody had come to think of the proper way to make a flying machine before. Through study and observation of birds, they determined that it was all in the subtle movements of the wings, what ailerons do today. So they set out to make a machine that would make those movements. They worked on their plans for years, crafting a new prototype glider between each attempt, but finally they were able to do it. They made the world’s first airplane. Now, while that’s a pretty impressive feat, but here’s an interesting thought — if the Wright Brothers had built their airplane today, then nobody would know them.

That is not to say, of course, that they weren’t smart men. They were brilliant in their time and would be in this time, no doubt. Not only were they brilliant, they were also hard working. Three times over three years they built gliders, persisting in the pursuit of that one goal with an admirable determination.

There are two important aspects to any enterprise — coming up with the idea and making that idea happen. In everything we create there is the generation of an idea and the work put in to make that thing a realization. This is true of the Wrights over a century ago and of us today. The difference being — and this is a key difference — is that today we have thousands and thousands of different kinds of machines to help us work on our ideas.

When we use a machine to make our ideas come to life it cuts down on the creation time by a wide margin, leaving us humans with more free time and nothing to do. Workers that were once skilled labour, and well paid for it, are replaced by computers which are far more efficient than they are. So with all this free time comes more potential for the creative side of the enterprise. There is more potential for ideas, and so more ideas are generated.

To get back to those two parts mentioned above — coming up with the idea and making it happen — this means that it’s less necessary for a person to need skilled training. And why should they? It is far more efficient to let a machine do your work for you. Jobs and businesses are easy to do now.

If that is the case, then we have to wonder how we are supposed to stay competitive when it comes to work. What is it that we base our merit on when our skills are matched by machines? How do we get our business to succeed when everybody can work just as fast? The answer lies in creativity. The ability to come up with ideas is more important than ever in today’s society.

The reason the Wright Brothers wouldn’t be famous today is because today the way to succeed is to be more creative, rather than work harder and faster. At the time of the Wrights’ first flight there had already been countless attempts at flying for centuries before. We have had the idea of flight in our heads for a long, long time — long before the efficiency of computers and mechanical tools. As long as mankind has seen birds soaring majestically across the sky we became jealous and wanted to try it ourselves. However, if people had started dreaming of flight nowadays, then the Wright Brothers would give up their place in the history books for whoever it was who was quick enough to think of the idea first. Most likely somebody like Leonardo da Vinci, or maybe Icarus.

This focus on creativity has led to a high demand for it when it comes to realizing a business enterprise. The skill set required for success is no longer words per minute or bookkeeping, but the ability to think creatively and outside the box. We live in a period marked with the underlying idea of “hypercreativity.” What matters more and more is a person’s ability to come up with ideas, not their ability to put that idea into action.

Hypercreativity means that the world is increasing the rate at which we come up with ideas. Your creative skills are your most important asset in this day and age, and the only way you can keep up is by coming up with enough ideas to stay competitive. The minute a company fails is the minute that the people in charge stop coming up with new ideas. This odd new blend of industry and creativity puts the creative types first, and the market has shifted to accommodate them as best as it can.

If there is demand for it, then the creative path is the best choice. It builds on itself, too. When you adopt a more creative outlook it becomes easier and easier to come up with ideas, leading to even more ideas being thought of. So maybe the Wrights would not have made the first airplane today, but maybe they would have had the time and inclination to come up with the next step in the evolution of flight technology, or perhaps space travel! We need to leave the work to the machines and concentrate on the creative aspects of our endeavours.

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