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How To Turn Your Life Around Before The End Of 2016

How To Turn Your Life Around Before The End Of 2016

June is a particularly productive time for me to work on my dreams. Here in Australia it’s winter. It’s hard to get up in the mornings when it’s still pitch black outside (at its latest, the sun rises after 7:30 am).

The coldness spurs me on because I wake up and I’m immediately hit with discomfort. Pain and discomfort have always driven me to work harder.

I love my summer. The heat is great, nothing’s better than sweating it out, watching cricket with a nice cold drink in your hand at the end of the year (remember, everything’s upside down down under).

I can’t help but feel guilty though if I didn’t earn that privilege, which is why I work hard during the winter months.

A third reason that June is a good month for work is because it’s the half way mark of the year. It’s a time of introspection and seeing the progress you have made so far on your goals since the beginning of the year.

Like most people, I’ve tried to stick to certain goals, but I gave up a couple months in when I didn’t see results. Old habits die hard, unfortunately.

However, if you’re anything like me, you want to succeed eventually. You want put in some hard work and see progress. A few months is usually not enough to see tangible results. A year is too long, especially if you haven’t done anything for that long before.

That’s where I’d like to introduce you to the concept of the 180 Day 180.

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What is the 180 Day 180?

The 180 Day 180 was actually the subject of an email line from a marketing consultant based out of Chicago by the name of Perry Marshall. He’s written “80/20 Sales and Marketing”, which introduces how the Pareto Principle (or the 80/20 Rule) applies to sales and marketing. He’s also co-written the “Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords”.

He tells some fascinating stories of his time spent in the “Dilbert Cube” before he struck out on his own as a consultant. I’d thoroughly recommend signing up to his email list just for a good read landing in your inbox once in a while.

One of his emails is titled, My 180 Day 180. Around the middle of the year, he lands a new job (after being laid off the day before). He’s a salesperson who has had trouble making sales. He needs them fast, trying to keep a sinking ship afloat.

Unsure of himself and constantly fighting off feelings of inadequacy and self-loath, he’s got to make this job work.

He discovers direct marketing and innovates by applying its concepts to the industrial space. Six months later, he’s working over he’s getting the biggest commission checks of his life, he’s able to breathe again and is confidently jumping from strength to strength, cutting his teeth in the trenches.

His boss is telling him:

“Perry, what can we do to keep you around?”

The 180 Day 180 challenges you to knuckle down, do deep, focused work and only look up 180 days later.

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This may result in your life doing a complete 180 and going in the right direction.

I’ve used the concept two or three times, counting down the days and I’ve been able to:

  • save up cash and pay off my credit card,
  • start a blog and build a following,
  • find freelance clients.
  • I’m currently in the back end of one — it ends on July 30th — and am looking forward to seeing the results.

Benefits of working on projects 180 days at a time

I think the most exciting thing about these sorts of projects is that it’s very easy to visualize the end result. Being able to visualize where you want to be is a key factor that affects your chance of success. Not a lot tends to change within six months unless you’re actively trying to change it.

It’s also a comfortable length of time to manage. Six months is just two quarters. When you’re starting something, you can see significant results in that time. It forces you to evaluate your goal and see whether it’s realistic.

Some people intentionally leave their goals all airy fairy but don’t give themselves a concrete deadline or result. Building a blog with 1,000 readers a day within six months is more powerful than “become a popular blogger this year”.

Most importantly, it makes you familiar with the idea of working for extended periods of time on your goals. If you haven’t stuck with something for a year, it’s easy to get distracted.

That’s why starting with six months is good. It’s halfway and once you realize you can do six months, the second six months you do is a lot easier. Then before you know it, you have done a year.

1. Decide on start and end date

The easiest step. There’s no better time than today. If you like the days to line up nicely like I do, you might consider waiting until the start of a new month.

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2. Decide on goal

The great thing about doing a 180 Day 180 is that it forces you to realistically evaluate what you can achieve in that time frame. It also makes you ponder how much you want something.

If you really want it, then this step forces you to face yourself and evaluate your approach to achieving it.

For example, let’s say you wanted to be a millionaire by the age of 30. You define this has having $1,000,000 cash in the bank by your 30th birthday. It’s six months until your birthday, therefore, assuming your current savings are negligible, you have six months to get $1,000,000 cash.

You can either go two ways at this point:

Path #1: take a “realistic” route and alter your goal so that it’s in line with your capabilities. If you aren’t particularly entrepreneurial and have never run a business before, this goal might need to be revised to $100,000.

Path #2: stick with your goal and remodel the way you think to achieve this. You will most likely need a dramatic change of lifestyle. I’d imagine you would have to quit your job and take up a high risk, high reward career. Perhaps you could specialize in selling multi-million dollar penthouses. Sell a few and you will hit your goal.

Again, if you’re determined to take Path #2, you have to really want it. If you aren’t afraid of hard work, then this Path could work out well for you.

How much are you willing to change to take this path?

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3. Visualize goal

If you can believe it, you can achieve it. Cliched, I know, but it works. Let me tell you what I’ve found works when visualizing success:

for people who hit their goals, life doesn’t change that much. If you were doing the right things day in, day out, then the results of your hard work will come in due time.
with this in mind, instead of visualizing a “happily ever after” sort of goal,visualize — in detail — a day in the life of you post goal success. Get asgranular as you can. Which bed are you sleeping in? Are you in the same home? What day is it? What time do you wake up? What do you get changed in to? What’s for breakfast? Do it for the rest of the day.

Instead of visualizing material differences, visualize how you feel.Whether you’re aware of it or not, whatever we strive to achieve, we mainly do so because we want to change how we feel on a daily basis. Yes, we ultimately want to be happier, but how does the happiness manifest itself? Who does it affect?

4. Make milestones, work backwards

OK, so now we’re getting down to business. I have often talked about changing what you believe to never lose faith in yourself again. We’ll apply that mindset here now.

Let’s continue on with the previous example — you want to be a millionaire by the time you’re 30 and you have six months to do so.

If you approach this sensibly you would know that this sort of dream is what cripples everyone, since the result relies on criteria that is impossible to achieve. Refocus the goal on milestones that you have complete control over.

Instead of “have $1,000,000 in the bank by the time I’m 30,” change the goal to “meet a new CEO every day”. The assumption of course is that CEOs have the capacity to buy penthouses, network with other CEOs who may be looking to get into the market and so on.

5. Track progress

Finally, see how you’re progressing on a regular basis. Assuming your goal is framed in the right light, it should be challenging but not impossible for you to do.

To kick up the difficulty a notch, be accountable online or to someone you trust. To have someone track your progress introduces an external perspective less likely to be subjectively impacted. For example, if you have a bad day, you might try and take a day off. A harsh but fair taskmaster wouldn’t allow that.

What if you had the courage to only do the work you love?

How much happier would you be? What separates the people who have the courage and those who don’t? Vulnerability. Accepting that they’re good enough to do the work that gives their life meaning.

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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

Where you work has an enormous impact on how you work – on your ability to focus (and stay focused) and your overall ability to be productive. That means the design of your office, whether you work at home or in a larger company environment, is of supreme importance. This isn’t just about Feng Shui, this is about producing results and getting things done.

According to studies done on workplace and productivity, the most significant factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus is their physical environment. In fact, it’s been said that a well-designed office can increase your productivity about 20%. However, despite the studies and statistics, nearly half of the employers interviewed don’t consider workplace design a good business investment.

So what is a productivity hack to do? What if you work in an environment that doesn’t promote focus?

Check these 15 factors and make changes where you can. A little adjustment can produce a lot of impact.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important factors in staying focused and feeling inspired to create, yet it’s one of the most overlooked and least invested in. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and overall irritability. Dark spaces can actually produce depression.

If you work in a company office:
You probably have no control over your general lighting so bring in your own, if need be. Consider using natural light bulbs or a light therapy device.

If you work from a home office:
Open the windows and doors and let natural light in. Using lamps in a variety of areas for cloudy days or when it’s dark.

Chair and Table

If you’ve ever sat at a desk to do work but found yourself adjusting, stretching and moving too often to actually stay focused, then you’re aware of the importance of having a correctly fitted table and chair. In today’s work environment where so many of us are sitting for most of our day, it is critical that your throne fits your body probably.

Consider these quick ergonomic checks:

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  • Eyes 24-36 inches from the computer screen. The top of the monitor should be below or at eye-level.
  • Feet should be on a foot rest or resting on the floor.
  • A slightly reclined chair posture is best to reduce pressure on your spine and minimize lower back pain.

If you work in a company office:
Ask for an adjustable chair. Add pillows for your lower back or bum, if you need it. Many companies will also provide risers for computers to adjust the height of your computer screen (and a separate keyboard to keep your hands and wrists in the ideal position)

If you work from a home office:
Invest in a decent chair or at least use a few pillows to make the chair more comfortable. If the table is too high, add pillows to your chair. If it is too low, consider buying leg risers from your local hardware store and using books beneath your computer to raise the screen. Use a separate keyboard.

Clutter

Your mama was right, it’s important to clean up your room. Clutter may help the creative mind create, but it isn’t necessarily helpful for focus and productivity.

If you work from a company office: While you can’t control the cleanliness of the office at large, do keep your own environment around you clean. Spend 10 minutes every morning or evening making sure things are put away, filed, organized and generally out of sight so you’re not distracted by it later.

If you work from a home office: Because you work from home, the entire house or apartment is potential for distraction. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning service to keep your home clean. If not, schedule a specific day and time to clean your home. Commit to doing daily pickup at a specific time. And spend at least 10 minutes every day making sure your office  is organized and tidy.

Room Color

The colors around us all have an effect on our moods and brain function. It evokes both a physical and emotional response. So choosing the right colors for your work space has the ability to affect your productivity. For instance, blue has been said to illicit productivity. Mind you, too much of anything can be overwhelming, even color.

If you work from a company office: Bring in items from home that are a certain color that inspire you and keep you focused. Use postcards, magazine cutouts, even just blocks of color will do.

If you work from a home office: If you work from home, you have much more control over the colors around you. Consider repainting a wall, adding color to the table you work at, or hanging pictures that are dominated by a specific color.

Room Temperature

Most offices keep their temperatures around 65-68 Fahrenheit but it turns out that this might not be good for productivity. Warmer rooms actually make people more productive.

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If you work from a company office: Most offices are regulated by somebody else, so bring a space heater, sweaters and blankets to your work space.

If you work from a home office: Depending on the season, open the windows or adjust the heat or a/c so that you’re more comfortable and warm. Pile on the sweaters in the winter or add a space heater to your feet.

Room Scents

Like the color of the space you work in, our sense of smell can powerfully affect our mood, mindset and thus our productivity. Consider adding scents to your work space to jar your mind into focus when you start to notice yourself drifting off.

Try using these scents to stay focused:

  • Pine – Increases alertness
  • Cinnamon – Improves focus
  • Lavender – Helps to relax you during a stressful work day
  • Peppermint – Lifts your mood
  • Citrus (any) – Wakes you up  and lifts your spirits

If you work from a company office: Most people will not appreciate added scents to their work environment so you’ll need to keep it subtle. Keep essential oils in your bag or drawer and when you’re in need of a boost put a few drops on a handkerchief or cotton ball.

If you work from a home office: Use candles, incense or essential oils. You can also simmer herbs and spices in the kitchen to fill your home with a warm scent.

Noise Level

The noise level in a work environment can vary greatly depending on the size of the team you work with, the office design and company culture. But make no mistake, the noise around you affects your ability to stay on task. Not only can it be distracting, it can also raise stress levels making your ability to sustain productivity far more difficult.

If you work from a company office: Bring in noise cancellation headphones and use music services like Spotify or Songza and choose concentration boosting sounds, like white noise.  Find out if your office offers quiet work spaces for times when you need the utmost focus.

If you work from a home office: Sometimes the complete quiet can be as distracting as an office. Use a service like Coffivity to mimic the noise of a coffee shop, which has been said to help with concentration.

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Air Quality

Air quality can drastically affect our ability to focus and think clearly. Get this: OSHA estimates that the total annual cost of poor air quality in office environments costs employers $15 billion “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave.” Yeah, it’s serious business.

If you work from a company office: Talk to them about installing air filters. If there is a way to bring in fresh air through windows or doors, arrange to have them opened for at least a portion of the day. If nothing else, get a personal air filter to have on your desk or nearby.

Also, get a plant (or better yet, have the company buy and use more plants in the office!). Plants are great at filtering the air and providing clean, purified oxygen.

If you work from a home office: Open windows and doors and let in the fresh air. Install an air filter or get a portable air filter to keep near your desk. And, yes, you too should get a plant.

Different Spaces

If you can manage it, give yourself more than one space to work from. Putting yourself in a new space with different qualities and things to look at quite literally shifts your brain and helps you stay focused.

If you work from a company office: Many offices offer a variety of environments to work from: your personal space, lobbies, break out rooms, conference rooms, kitchens and eating areas and, if you’re lucky, they also provide lounge areas. Use all these spaces to vary your routine. Make sure your supervisor knows so they don’t think you’re slacking off and know tat you’re actually getting more done!

If you work from a home office: If you work at a desk, add a comfortable couch or chair to the room. If your space is less flexible or ultra tiny, think about more creative ways to change your work space. Rotate the pictures on your walls every couple of days. Sit on the other side of your desk. Get a lamp and multiple colored bulbs. Or go work at a café, the library or in a park.

Organization of People

Most employers organize employees around job function or in specific divisions. Instead, studies show that people are more creative and productive when they are sitting with colleagues that share the same goal or client. Not only are you able to get answers and generate solutions quicker, but because you’re directly accountable to the people around you, you’re more likely to stay on task and productive.

If you work from a company office: Ask your employer if you can experiment by clustering your group together in a conference room for a day or a week. Get feedback from everybody involved. Show the results. If your company won’t make permanent adjustments, perhaps they’ll allow you to work together a couple times a week when the conference room or lounge area is free.

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If you work from a home office: This is a little bit more difficult because when you work at home you’re not with colleagues. You can recreate a similar space digitally, however. Create a Skype group and have everyone logged in during working hours. You can do morning accountability and check-ins while remaining available for questions, solution-finding and general banter that promotes creativity.

Idea Storage

Ever been working hard when you’re suddenly distracted by a great idea? At first you try to push it away, but then the next thing you know you’re 20 pages deep into an online search on the topic. Ideas should be encouraged and cultivated, but when they come right in the middle of another task it can be incredibly distracting. Instead, create a place to store your ideas that’s easily accessed from your work space.

For both a company and home office: Keep pads of paper around, have a chalk wall, get a white board – when you have a spark of inspiration write it down right away to get it out of your head then return to the task at hand. Then, at the end of the day or when you have free time, collect all the ideas and review them. With a little time and space you can better decide if it’s worth pursuing or better to leave it on the back-burner.

Refreshment

Our brain needs nourishment to keep going, especially when we’re driving hard and staying focused. You can let a rumbling stomach go on for only so long before the brain shuts down. Assuming your different is like wanting your car to keep driving without having to stop and fill it with gas. A novel idea, but not realistic.

If you work from a company office: Pre-make snacks for the day and/or week. Or, bring in prepackaged snacks. Keep in mind that junk food has properties of diminishing returns so if you’re buying your food prepackaged think nuts, fruit, unsweetened yogurts, and hummus and crackers. Likely, your company provides coffee, tea and water so you don’t have to worry about supplying that for yourself.

If you work from a home office: If you work from home, this can be a key distraction. Try to reduce the number of times you walk into the kitchen each day. To do this, keep quick and   easy snacks pre-made or prepackaged ready and near your desk. Keep a water bottle nearby. And consider bringing a kettle into your office and stocking tea and coffee so you’re   not tempted to wander around the house and lose time poking through the pantry.

Bring in Nature

We are biological creatures, first and foremost. So we are deeply affected by our access to (or lack of) the natural world. It’s important for our psychological and physiological functioning, which directly affects our ability to be productive.

If you work from a company office: If you don’t have windows in or near your work space, bring in pictures of the outdoor world. Keep a picture of something natural as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks outdoors at lunch or in between major tasks. Just a few minutes outside in the fresh air and sunshine can boost our mood and shake out the doldrums. Be sure to add a plant to your desk, too!

If you work from a home office: Keep the shades open and, if you can, let in fresh air. If you can’t see anything natural out of your window, keep pictures of the natural world as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks. Or, just step outside and put your feet on the ground. Put plants in your office – research shows that having live plants in your office makes you more productive, happier and less stressed.

Digital Space

For most people, our primary work is housed within our laptops and our physical environment simply the backdrop to our digital lives. Make sure your computer has software that helps you sculpt the digital environment that best elicits productivity. Use focus apps like this one or this to decrease distractions. Or design your day using intervals with an app like this one to keep you at your peak focus throughout the day.

Featured photo credit: Phil Desforges via unsplash.com

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