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Work Less And Get More Done With These 3 Life Hacks

Work Less And Get More Done With These 3 Life Hacks

In today’s hectic information-filled world, it is hard to find the time to relax and enjoy life. Whether you are a 40-hours-a-week employee or an overworked entrepreneur with his or her own company, we all struggle with a number of physiological issues, varied stressors, and all types of anxieties. While attempts to becoming a healthier entrepreneur might escape you, it is no surprise that you will face some challenging difficulties, such as time management and eliminating habitual time-wasting routines.

If you are constantly feeling overwhelmed with your seemingly endless to-do lists, maybe it’s time to look over your daily work routine. Here are 3 life hacks that can help transform your work habits.

Use The Automated Time Waster Test

Co-Authored by both Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, this first life hack comes from their book, Think Like a Freak. This concept is very simple and can be added to any work routine. If you have employees, ask them to bring a pack of brown-colored M&M’s to work. This helps to check how good they are with following instructions and paying attention to details.

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The following true scenario perfectly illustrates why M&Ms work well.

The rock band Van Halen’s live show boasted a colossal stage, booming audio, and spectacular lighting. All this required a great deal of structural support, along with electrical power and the like. Thus, in the 53-page rider to their already-existing music contract, they gave point-by-point instructions to ensure that no one got killed by a collapsing stage or a short-circuiting light tower. But how could Van Halen be sure that the local promoter in each city had read the whole thing and done everything properly?

Cue the brown M&M’s. Within the contract, a provision that all brown M&M’s should be removed from candy bowls was included. As lead singer David Lee Roth tells it, he would immediately go backstage to check out the bowl of M&M’s. If he saw brown ones, he knew the promoter hadn’t read the rider carefully and that “we had to do a serious line check” to make sure that the more important details hadn’t been botched either.

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You can use this simple idea when screening potential vendors, sub-contractors, freelance applicants, and more. You will save yourself tons of productive time by letting your “garden” (aka any situation involving other people) weed itself without your direct input.

Solidify Systems For Both Work And Personal Life

A good company is always in need of solid systems set in place in order to work effectively and efficiently. This can also be said about personal work systems created by yourself. This can allow you to minimize distractions and reduce your workloads.

David Allen suggests to:

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  • Utilize to-do lists to organize tasks onto other physical mediums.
  • Break larger tasks into smaller, actionable productive practices.
  • Avoid “burning out” by accomplishing smaller collective tasks.

Properly scheduling your time is also a vital and crucial personal skill. Having an employee-shared calendar with blocks of time dedicated to certain productions can help incorporate less stress when completing tasks. You can even schedule available hours for yourself so that employees know when to confer with you if necessary.

Choose Your Battles Wisely

Whether expected or not, daily challenges will occur during the course of your company’s lifespan. From updating routine billing equipment to securing your company’s sensitive data, there’s always something. However, you as an entrepreneur should choose your battles wisely. Help reduce minor work complications by teaching your team how to solve problems themselves rather than relying on you to give your team immediate guidance.

A recent experiment conducted by Ryan Honeyman examined his consistent habit of checking his work email. Reducing his interaction with his work email to just once a week on Monday afternoons has yielded some very interesting results.

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Ryan noted that:

  • Problems tended to answer themselves via conversations between other employees.
  • There was a 30%-40% increase in efficiency towards more pressing tasks.
  • He felt less stressed and better rested.
  • There were improved relationships between himself, his business relationships, and his employees.

While this experiment might seem a bit too on the extreme side, it does provide a great illustration as to why leaders should reduce their mentality of “always on and available,” which is not a necessity to be a good competent company leader. Each of us in our leadership role has only a finite amount of time. While we may be tempted to battle through every conflict because we feel we are “right,” battles can take an enormous amount of time and personal energy that would be better spent doing something else. Choosing our battles wisely may actually make us much more effective in winning those battles that are important to us. Selecting those situations where the consequences really matter to us will allow us to do a better job of preserving our energy, relationships, and our peace of mind. To do this, we need to carefully assess each situation and seriously reflect on the hacks listed above.

Featured photo credit: Flickr/highwaysengland via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

Have you ever thought of yourself as a problem solver? I’m guessing not. But in reality, we are constantly solving problems. And the better our problem solving skills are, the easier our lives are.

Problems arise in many shapes and forms. They can be mundane, everyday problems, or larger more complex problems:

What to have for dinner tonight?

Which route to take to work?

How to fix a project that’s running behind schedule?

How to change from an uninspiring job to a career you’re really passionate about?

Every day, you’ll be faced with at least one problem to solve. But it gets easier when you realize that problems are simply choices. There’s nothing ‘scary’ about them other than having to make a decision.

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No matter what job you’re in, where you live, who your partner is, how many friends you have, you will be judged on your ability to solve problems. Because problems equal hassles for everyone concerned. And people don’t like hassle. So the more problems you can solve, the less hassle all-round, the happier people are with you. Everyone wins.

Why Are Problem Solving Skills Important?

Problem is something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with. It can be a task, a situation, or even a person. Problem solving involves methods and skills to find the best solutions to problems.

Problem solving is important because we all have decisions to make, and questions to answer in our lives. Amazing people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., are all great problems solvers. Good parents, teachers, doctors and waiters all have to be good at solving different sort of problems as well.

Problem solving skills are for our everyday lives.

How to Enhance Problem Solving Skills

Most people believe that you have to be very intelligent in order to be a good problem solver, but that’s not true.

You don’t have to be super smart to be a problem solver, you just need practice.

When you understand the different steps to solve a problem, you’ll be able to come up with great solutions.

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1. Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem

Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem.[1] This is because when you focus on the problem, you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity,’ which in turn activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions.

I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem,’ instead, try to remain calm. It helps to first, acknowledge the problem; and then, move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be, rather than lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

2. Adapt 5 Whys to Clearly Define the Problem

5 Whys is a problem solving framework to help you get to the root of a problem.

By repeatedly asking the question “why” on a problem, you can dig into the root cause of a problem, and that’s how you can find the best solution to tackle the root problem once and for all. And it can go deeper than just asking why for five times.

For example:

If the problem is “always late to work”…

  • Why am I late to work?
    I always click the snooze button and just want to go on sleeping.
  • Why do I want to go on sleeping?
    I feel so tired in the morning.
  • Why do I feel tired in the morning?
    I slept late the night before, that’s why.
  • Why did I sleep late?
    I wasn’t sleepy after drinking coffee, and I just kept scrolling my Facebook feed and somehow I couldn’t stop.
  • Why did I drink coffee?
    Because I was too sleepy at work in the afternoon, not having enough sleep the night before.

So there you see, if you didn’t try to dig out the root of the problem, you may just set a few more alarms and have it beep every five minutes in the morning. But in fact, the problem you need to solve is to quit Facebook surfing endlessly at night so you’ll feel more energetic in the day time, and you won’t even need coffee.

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3. Simplify Things

As human beings, we have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be! Try simplifying your problem by generalizing it.

Remove all the details and go back to the basics. Try looking for a really easy, obvious solution – you might be surprised at the results! And we all know that it’s often the simple things that are the most productive.

4. List out as Many Solutions as Possible

Try to come up with ‘ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ – even if they seem ridiculous at first. It’s important you keep an open mind to boost creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions.

Coming from 10 years in the corporate advertising industry, it is drummed into you that ‘No idea is a bad idea’ and this aids creative thinking in brainstorms and other problem-solving techniques.

Whatever you do, do not ridicule yourself for coming up with ‘stupid solutions’ as it’s often the crazy ideas that trigger other more viable solutions.

5. Think Laterally

Change the ‘direction’ of your thoughts by thinking laterally. Pay attention to the saying,

‘You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging it deeper.”

Try to change your approach and look at things in a new way. You can try flipping your objective around and looking for a solution that is the polar opposite!

Even if it feels silly, a fresh and unique approach usually stimulates a fresh solution.

6. Use Language That Creates Possibility

Lead your thinking with phrases like ‘what if…’ and ‘imagine if…’ These terms open up our brains to think creatively and encourage solutions.

Avoid closed, negative language such as ‘I don’t think…’ or ‘But this is not right…’.

The Bottom Line

There’s nothing scary about a problem when you start to adapt my advice.

Try not to view problems as ‘scary’ things! If you think about what a problem really is, it’s really just feedback on your current situation.

Every problem is telling you that something is not currently working and that you need to find a new way around it.

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So try to approach problems neutrally – without any judgment. Practice focusing on defining a problem, keep calm and not to make things too complicated.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Planet of Success: Problem vs Solution Focused Thinking

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