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10 Skills That Are Hard To Learn But Can Hugely Benefit You In The Long-Term

10 Skills That Are Hard To Learn But Can Hugely Benefit You In The Long-Term

They say that the best things in life are free, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take time, dedication, and commitment. When it comes to learning important life skills, they are certainly difficult to acquire, but are beneficial to learn. Learning these important life skills will be one of the best investments you could ever make for yourself.

1. Time Management

No matter how many ways you slice it, there will only ever be 24 hours in a day. When you learn time management, you learn to take control of your time, which improves your ability to focus. When your focus is increased, your efficiency is enhanced because you stop losing momentum. You’ll notice that you’ll move through tasks much quicker, making it seem like the workday is flying by. That’s always a plus, right? When you have mastered time management, you will eliminate that awful feeling of not having done enough in your day. You’ll feel more calm, relaxed, and in control of your life. When it comes to making decisions, you’ll be able to carefully examine each option, so you can make the best decision possible.

2. Empathy

Empathy by definition means, “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” People often confuse empathy and sympathy. In fact, they are quite different from one another. Sympathy, for example, is feeling sorry for someone who happened to lose a loved one. An example of empathy could be when someone loses their job; you can decide to ask open-ended questions, and truly seek to feel what that person is feeling in regards to what losing their job really means to them. Empathy is the key to success, and it has the power to transform the way we think, work, and lead. To acquire this skill follow, these Do’s and Don’ts:

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Do’s

  • ask open-ended questions
  • become comfortable with silence
  • ask why often
  • seek stories and emotions.

Don’ts

  • ask leading questions
  • judge
  • assume
  • only hear what you want to

3. Ask for help

This is a big one. A lot of times, we feel like it’s a sign of weakness if we have to ask for help, so we try to do everything all on our own. Truth be told, asking for help is really a sign of strength.

Assumption 1: It’s a sign of weakness. If I can’t do it on my own, I must not know how to do it, or I don’t have the skills or resources to do it.

Assumption 2: Allowing someone else to help me means losing control over the situation.

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Assumption 3: If I receive support then I have to reciprocate. What if I can’t return the favor? What if I don’t want to return the favor?

Assumption 4: If I ask for the support of others, I am burdening them. They are just as busy as I am, so how could they find the time to help out?

Assumption 5: I am the only one that can do it my way. It’s easier and quicker for me to do it than to train or teach someone else to help me.

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When you ask for help you give the opportunity for others to show you their gifts and talents and in turn, you’re more likely to learn something new. It empowers others to shine, and you are then able to see their passions. When you ask for help, it shows that you are imperfect just like everyone else. There is strength in being vulnerable.

4. Consistency

People will set a goal for themselves and because they can be inconsistent, they lose sight of that goal. Or, when we set a goal and we reach it, we sometimes forget that we must remain consistent to keep it. Consistency is very important when it comes to maintaining any kind of success.

5. Listening

Listening is important because it prevents miscommunication. It can make a message more clearly understood and can help reduce the amount of frustration for the speaker. Listening is a skill that is required for all types of communication. Listening is important in personal lives, daily activities, career, and employment environments. Many top employers spend money to ensure that their employees are able to effectively listen.

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6. Mind your own business

This is probably one of the most difficult skills to master. For whatever reason, it is so hard for people to keep their nose out of business that does not concern them. As you learn to be in your own business, you allow others to be in theirs. Do not put your nose where it doesn’t belong, unless you are specifically asked for advice. We often interfere with the business of others because we feel that we may know better. When you mind your own business, you will feel lighter; you’re not in charge of the universe. You will become more at peace just by being concerned with your own life, free from expectations and disappointments.

7. Resist Gossip

I know it’s hard, but it’s important to resist the urge to gossip and listen to others gossip. There’s a lot of mistruth that comes from gossiping and can cause quite a bit of drama. I’m sure we have all been in a situation where we have gossiped about people behind their back. Most of us do it without thought. Learning not to gossip is difficult because then it means we are possibly missing out on some information that we may otherwise not know. By gossiping about others behind their back, we prove that we cannot be trusted. So instead, when you hear someone gossiping about someone to you, you should kindly ask them to talk about something else.

8. Stay present in the moment

This is a hard one. Especially for those of us who overthink everything. We catch ourselves analyzing the past as if we can somehow go back in time to change something we wish we hadn’t done or said. Or, we think about the future so much that we often ruin the present. When you spend so much of your time thinking about things that haven’t even happened yet, you ruin your ability to be able to fully enjoy the present for what it is, and what it’s offering you.

9. Master your thoughts

It’s important to stay in charge of your thoughts. We are products of our past experiences and choices but that does not mean that our past reflects our future. Begin every day with a clean slate. Know that as each day passes, you are growing and changing into the person you’re meant to become.

10. Speak up

One of the greatest fears a lot of us have, is having to speak in front of others. The reasoning behind this varies from person to person, and some of these behaviours can be diagnosed into types of social phobias. However, the main underlying reason is that we fear being judged by those who are watching and listening. By learning to speak in front of others, you give yourself a big confidence boost, and it makes you more and more comfortable around other people. If you want to be a leader, you must learn how to communicate.

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Erica Wagner

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

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Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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