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The Guide to Productivity That Will Change Your Life

The Guide to Productivity That Will Change Your Life

“If only I were more productive,” “If only I studied more,” “If only I took action.” Sounds familiar?

I think I already heard these ifonlystic whinings, and quite often. And “If only” I had a penny each time I heard one of those whinings, today I would be a millionaire! You can stop this useless, disempowering and prejudicial behavior. You can take action and change everything.

The importance of wanting the change

If you want to see results, first of all you need to do is to desire the change as intensely as you need oxygen to breathe. In other words you need to dream of it! So, the first thing you need to do is to change your mindset and understand what you really want, what your goals are, why you want to be more productive and where you want to go. The second step is thinking that if we look for what triggers our emotions and makes us excited and passionate about our future, we will find the right motivation, which is everything we need in order to obtain what we want. And it makes us unstoppable.

The importance of keeping your mind clear

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open for everything.”
— Shunryu Suzuki

I love this quote. It’s so true and useful. It reminds us of the importance of leaving as much space as we can in our mind, in order to use our brain efficiently. The first step towards productivity is being relaxed and always having both short-term and long-term plans well-organized. But in order to be relaxed, you need an “external storage” where you will keep all the detailed information about what you are going to do. In the next paragraphs I will explain better what I mean with “external storage”.

Guide To Productivity

    Image: Brain Power

    Overloading your brain, keeping all that information in mind, will cause stress, pressure and anxiety. Not only is it inefficient, but it will also prevent you from being productive and getting things done. So never forget the importance of keeping your mind stress-free.

    The tools of highly productive people

    As promised I’m going to explain what I mean with “external storage”. The “external storage” is the combination and coordination of some efficient tools that you can use to be more productive and organized.

    Post-Its Notes

    Write your 3 most important daily tasks on 3 post-its and stick them on your computer. It’s very useful.

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    Productivity

      Image: Post-It Notes

      The daily to-do list

      You probably already know what a to-do list is. It’s a very efficient tool to get well-organized and to motivate us to complete our daily tasks. It’s a list with all the concrete actions we need to take during the day. But, why is it so useful? Well, you have to fill your days, being as productive as you can, in order to achieve your goals, and a to-do list will help you getting things done and increasing your self-esteem as well. Plus, it’s very important that you cross all the items off your list, every day. If you can make this your daily goal, you will achieve a lot in the long run.

      Here’s an example of a to-do list:

      September 9, 2015
      – Meditation
      – Appointment with mortgage broker 30 min
      – Gym 1 h
      – German course 1.5 h
      – Completing Report at Work
      – Lunch with business partners 1.5 h
      – Writing article on personal blog

      Productivity

        Image: Keyboard Light

        The agenda

        It’s very similar to the daily to-do list, but in this case you will put all the items in a chronological order and you will put each item at its scheduled time.

        For example:

        – 1 pm – Lunch with business partners
        – 5 pm – Gym
        – 7 pm – German course

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        The weekly to-do list

        The weekly to-do list is very similar to the daily one. There are just a few differences. You write it before the week starts, and you write on it all those tasks you intend to complete during the week, but you still don’t know when exactly. Every day you write your daily to-do list, you will refer to your weekly to do-list, in order to make sure to cross all the weekly tasks off the list. Remember to be specific on the weekly list too. For example instead of writing “Go to the gym”, write “Go to the gym for 4 days”.

        Here’s an example:

        – Gym x 4 times
        – Buy German Student Book
        – Talk to Ann about Lauren’s birthday
        – Go to the Post Office
        – Studying for Marketing Exam

        Productivity

          Image: Business Planning with Plan-Too

          The Silver Page

          Sounds interesting! But, what is that? The silver page is a good tool to get well-organized in both the short and long-term. It will greatly improve your productivity, especially if you will combine its use with the above mentioned tools (daily and weekly to-do lists).
          It is a page where you will write down all the ideas and goals that you intend to reach in the near future. Here you don’t need to be very specific, you only have to write down ideas. Remember to update the page frequently, and to refer to it every time you write down your weekly to-do list.

          Here’s an example:

          – Write a book
          – Take the GMAT exam
          – Take the French DELF Certification
          – Look for a new job
          – Buy a house
          – Learn to play tennis

          How to use the tools

          Transferring items from the Silver Page to the Weekly To-Do List

          Every time you will move an item from the silver page to the weekly to-do list you will “bring it into reality” – very exciting! – so before doing that you will have to “transform” each item in one or more actions, and write those actions next to the item. For example, the silver page item “take the GMAT exam” will be translated as “buying the GMAT book,” “starting a GMAT course,” “studying 4 hours a week.”

          So, all you have to do is to pick up one or more actions every week from the silver page and transfer them to the weekly to-do list. Here you won’t need to be specific, you will only need to copy the actions from the silver page to the weekly list. They will automatically become weekly items.

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          Tools Productivity

            Image: Post It Notes

            Transferring items from the Weekly To-Do List to the Daily To-Do List

            You will do the same thing with the daily to-do list. But in this case you will need to be more specific. For example in a daily list, the weekly item “starting a GMAT course” will become “first GMAT lesson at X English School.”

            Transferring items from the Daily To-Do List to the Agenda

            Very simple: all you have to do is write the to-do list items on the agenda next to the respective hours, on the right daily page.

            Agenda, Productivity

              Habits For Productivity

              Set A Timer

              Setting a timer while working or studying is a good way to get things done. Maybe you already know the “Pomodoro Technique“, a time management method that breaks down work into some 25-minutes sessions and it separates them into 4-5 minutes breaks.

              If during these 25 minutes you manage to stay focused and you don’t allow anything to distract you, it is really efficient. Once you get used to it, you can switch to the “Orange Technique“, breaking down the work into several 30-minutes sessions, without changing the length of the breaks.

              Productivity Set A Timer

                Image: Stopwatch

                Wake Up Early

                If you become a morning person you will definitely improve a lot your time management. Setting your alarm earlier than usual, you will have more time in the morning for some rituals that help productivity such as drinking water with some lemon juice, having a great breakfast, working out, meditating, and you will have more energies and a stress-free mind during your day.

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                But, don’t set your alarm too early. Instead, wake up five to ten minutes earlier every day. Let’s say for example that your purpose is getting up at 6 am. If you are used to get ap at 8 am you have to progressively get used to wake up earlier, so the first day you will set your alarm at 7:50 am, the following day at 7:40 am till the day you will finally wake up at 6 am.

                Consciously Ignore Procrastination Instinct

                “Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.”
                – Christopher Parker

                I can’t stress it enough: procrastination is the worst enemy of productivity. And it’s a disempowering mental behavior that if we want we can neutralize and avoid. Procrastination is that stupid but convincing voice in your head that gives you excuses such as: “Maybe I don’t need to do it today,” “Let’s skip class,” “I can postpone it to next week,” “In the end I don’t have enough time, so it’s better if I postpone this project.” The secret to eliminate this attitude is to recognize it and consciously ignore it. It’s not easy, but it’s something you can learn with practice.

                “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
                – Pablo Picasso

                Learn As Much As You Can About Productivity

                Learn Productivity

                  Last but not least, a very useful habit is reading a lot about productivity. You can buy a good book, read some articles on the internet, or be inspired by some quotes. For example you can search on Google, Yahoo or Bing keywords such as “Productivity,” “Time Management,” “Quotes About Productivity,” “Quotes about Success,” “Quotes About Productivity and Tenacity” etc… This will help you feel motivated and be more efficient in the long run.

                  Image: Learn

                  Featured photo credit: Backside Of My Desk via flickr.com

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                  Sira Masetti

                  Productivity Blogger

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                  Published on September 23, 2020

                  6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

                  6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

                  I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

                  If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

                  What is Negotiation?

                  First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

                  Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

                  In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

                  Places We Negotiate

                  I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

                  1. Work/Business

                  This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

                  When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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                  In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

                  Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

                  2. Personal

                  I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

                  I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

                  Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

                  3. Ourselves

                  You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

                  I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

                  Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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                  Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

                  Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

                  We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

                  My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

                  If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

                  As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

                  6 Negotiation Skills to Master

                  Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

                  Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

                  1. Preparation

                  Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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                  It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

                  For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

                  After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

                  2. Clear Communication

                  The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

                  If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

                  3. Active Listening

                  Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

                  If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

                  4. Teamwork and Collaboration

                  To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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                  If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

                  When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

                  5. Problem Solving

                  Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

                  Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

                  From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

                  There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

                  6. Decision-Making Ability

                  Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

                  Conclusion

                  There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

                  Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

                  More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

                  Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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