“The block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak, became a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong.” Thomas Carlyle
When I was young, I loved the sense of adventure that went with rock hopping. Across a creek, near the beach, along a river bank I’d step, or jump, from rock to rock. Some surfaces were slippery, some unsteady, some too small, and often I ended up wet and bruised. Nevertheless, I loved accepting the challenge of making progress towards a new place. Despite some difficulties, each stone was part of the journey that led to achievement, to a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.
In my grown-up life, while difficulties are still there to be faced, I retain the excitement of making progress towards new places and new experiences. My 19 stepping stones are tried and tested techniques that have helped me smooth the way ahead.
Well, go on. Just try some of my 19 techniques to empower yourself. Who knows? Maybe you, too, will grasp the excitement and be empowered to live a more productive and happier life.
1. Accept that awful stuff happens.
The usual reaction to things not going your way is to resist and fight against them. By accepting things as they are, even though you don’t want them to be that way, you’ll develop a more peaceful state of mind. Saying a mantra will help – “I hate things being this way but I accept that this is my reality just now. I’ll work through this situation calmly and resolutely.” Slowly but surely, you will empower yourself.Advertising
2. Adopt a flexible attitude.
Being flexible means you can face daily changes without creating too great a stress reaction in your body. When something’s not working, be ready to consider other ideas. Changing your approach to meet the change in circumstances is essential for a happier and more successful future.
3. See challenges as opportunities for growth.
Ask yourself what you can learn from challenges as they arise. Is this a chance to become stronger? By turning these situations into positives, you’ll avoid resorting to overeating and other negative behaviors – the most usual ways of coping.
4. Use questions to empower you.
Instead of asking disempowering questions such as, “Why is this happening to me?” use a more positive question format. Questions that invite creative thinking are the best. An example might be, “What alternative actions could I take in these changing circumstances?”
5. Change negative thoughts to positive.
Negative thoughts that harbor unhelpful beliefs only hold you back from achieving. So monitor your thoughts. When you’re aware that they are negative, change them immediately into positive thoughts. You’ll be amazed at how much happier and confident you’ll feel.
6. Relish change.
Realize when it’s time to change direction. Often we think of change as negative. But change can be very exciting and positive. Embrace new thoughts, new opportunities and new ways of living. Even though change is difficult to initiate, sometimes it’s essential.Advertising
7. Calm yourself when you’re getting uptight.
When you’re calm, you are in control. You’ll think through the problem with more clarity. Make time to listen to relaxing music, or sit quietly and visualize a place where you’ve been that evokes calm and contentment. It will help you focus on what’s really important.
8. Believe you’re good enough.
It’s too easy to think you’re not good enough to get through difficult situations. Look at your abilities. Tell yourself that you are awesome and you can handle anything that can possibly be thrown at you. Believe in yourself.
9. Face reality.
Don’t try to hide from problems that present themselves. Come face to face with them and persevere no matter what. It’s a tough thing to do, that’s for sure. Look for solutions in unusual places.
10. Prepare yourself for busy times.
When weighed down by being too busy, prioritize your jobs until life becomes more manageable. Sticking to a plan will help you get back on track. Start each day with the most immediate job on your list.
11. Encourage and help others.
Take every opportunity to be a source of hope and encouragement to others. Looking outward instead of inward gives opportunity for you to contribute to the well-being of others. Your happiness and confidence levels will rise.Advertising
12. Make each day sparkle.
Instead of letting doubts, worries and fears about what might happen creep into your day, look for ways to make your day sparkle. Be positive about the fabulous things that lie ahead. You don’t know what those things might be, but that’s okay. You’ll move forward with excitement and courage. Shawn Achor’s TED Talk, How to Make the Present More Positive, includes some enjoyable ideas for staying positive and focused.
13. Be full of thanks.
Thinking about all those things that are going right in your life, keeps life in perspective. Be grateful for the now – for where you are at the present time. Now is the start of big things to come. Being grateful helps you see there is so much that usually is taken for granted. Gratitude improves productivity and leads to happiness.
14. Schedule play time.
For your body to remain in balance, you need to have work time and play time. Your brain and mind will benefit from varying what you do each day, particularly if you include some fun time in your schedule. Follow this with diligence and notice how you feel. There’ll be a spring in your step – even a lasting smile.
15. Get physical.
Spend some time outdoors every day. Being physical, through aerobic activities, gives you the energy to carry you through the difficult times. Exercise will help you reach your goals. You’ll be charged with enthusiasm for all things positive.
16. Take time out.
Take regular mental breaks such as mindfulness. Being mindful enables you to be more accepting of yourself. Sit somewhere quiet. Breathe in to energize your whole body. As you breathe out, believe that anxiety and tension are leaving your body.Advertising
17. Stay connected.
Spend time with people whose company you enjoy. It’s important to stay connected to friends and family, so you have people who can encourage you. You’ll appreciate their support.
18. Be an optimist.
Understand that life consists of hill and valley cycles. This doesn’t mean that you react positively to good days and feel down-in-the-dumps on the not-so-good days. It means being optimistic that the good days ahead will carry you through the very difficult days, without suffering excess stress.
19. Laugh often – and “live happily ever after”.
Laughing will help you cope better with any difficult situation. Of course it’s not easy to laugh when you’re going through a rough patch. But lightening up when you see a funny sign along the way, or smiling back at someone who is happy, can do wonders for you. You’ll have a bubble and sparkle that wasn’t there before.
Finally . . . . .
Let the stepping stones metaphor remind you that despite life’s inevitable missteps, many rewarding opportunities and moments lie ahead. The crucial thing is not what actually happens as you travel through life, but how you respond to what happens.
Choose to use some of these 19 stepping stones . . . . . and enjoy a happier, calmer and more productive life as you learn to empower yourself.
Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com
Last Updated on November 19, 2019
20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity
Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?
If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:
1. Create a Daily Plan
Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.
2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task
Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.
3. Use a Calendar
Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.
I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .
Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space
4. Use an Organizer
An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.
These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.
5. Know Your Deadlines
When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.
But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.
6. Learn to Say “No”
Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.
Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No
7. Target to Be Early
When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.
For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.
Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.
8. Time Box Your Activities
This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.
You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.
9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You
Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.
10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before
Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.
You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)
Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.
Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.
Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)
12. Block out Distractions
What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?
I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.
When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.
Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done
13. Track Your Time Spent
When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.
You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.
14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details
You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.
Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.
Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster
If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.
When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)
17. Batch Similar Tasks Together
For related work, batch them together.
For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:
- writing (articles, my upcoming book)
- workshop development
- business development
I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.
18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters
What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.
One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.
While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.
19. Cut off When You Need To
The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.
Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.
20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between
Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.
More Time Management Techniques
- 10 Practical Ways to Improve Your Time Management Skills
- 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity
- How to Be Productive at Work: 9 Ground Rules
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com