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Worry to Win: How to Worry the Right Way

Worry to Win: How to Worry the Right Way

How do you worry? While the emotion can be a formidable foe, we mustn’t forget that every coin has two sides. What do you feel as you worry? Does the worry lead to distress, finally cascading into a perplexed or confused state?

Author Robert Greene paints early humans as a benefactor of this misunderstood emotion in his masterpiece, Mastery. While the Business Insider published an article that plays on the distress our worries can bring, there is a one solution to disheartening worries that will empower you to be decisive. Worry will, as long as you allow it, become a trusted confidant. Unless, of course, you enjoy the emotional roller coaster.

Robert Greene has nearly two decades of brilliant and insightful books on the nature of mankind. If you’ve read The 48 Laws of Power, you’re likely better for it. His masterpiece, Mastery, should be taught in public school. With that being said, consider Mr. Greene’s words on the evolving prehistoric human:

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“These early humans evolved the ability to detach and think, their primary advantage in the struggle to avoid predators and find food. It connected them to a reality other animals could not access. Thinking on this level was the single greatest turning point in all of evolution-the emergence of the conscious, reasoning mind.”

With that reasoning mind, they worried often — about predators, their families, where the next meal was coming from, and many other survival basics. These worries were necessary and decisive. They lacked the luxuries of the 21st century and so worry was advantageous and complacency meant death.

Switching gears for a moment, consider the person you love most. Think of how they have proven to you that they love you. Meanwhile, consider your favorite food and how it tastes. In fact, imagine the person you love has prepared that favorite food perfectly. That imagination wouldn’t have been possible if our ancestors did not harness the negatives they developed while simultaneously forging them into positive assets. With that being said, there are times when a person could be manipulated into worrying the wrong way as well.

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The Washington Post recently referenced a study that supposedly proves that men cheat more often when their ages ended with 9. In fact, 18% of the 8,000,000 men on Ashley Madison were, in fact, 9ers. The person who allows their worries to control them may make a rash assumption here. They fail to realize, because they’re becoming distressed, that only 30% of internet interactions actually end in a meet up.

How to Define and Prioritize Your Worries

In order to overcome counter-productive worrying, you must, through practice and discipline, designate time alone to worry. Throughout your day, write any worries that present themselves in a specific place and leave them there until your set aside time. When that time comes, first and foremost, circle all the challenges that you wield no power over. If it cannot be changed, you cannot worry about it.

Next, prioritize your worries from greatest to least. Once you’ve got that in order, decide which ones must be solved the quickest. Then, begin devising the solution to your worry with the highest priority and the least time to solve. Take your time, relax, and make a game plan. Even if this occupies a whole hour, it will amass to much less time than worrying all day, and it will produce more concise and refined results. Obviously there will be decisions daily that have to be made on the fly, but the worry over those decisions and their repercussions should be isolated.

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Pro Tip: Use the 80-20 rule. Focus 20% on the issue, 80% on the answer.

Make Worrying a Role Player in Your Life

Imagine this: the year is 1997 and the Chicago Bulls are tied 86-86 against the Utah Jazz. There’s only one possession left, so you’d imagine Head Coach Phil Jackson wants to see His Royal Airness Michael Jordan take the final shot. Instead, when Michael caught the pass, he himself also passed the ball. To Scottie Pippen of course, you might think? No, M.J. passed to the now Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr. Steve Kerr, without hesitation, drained the deep ball and won the Finals.

Role players are important. Using those role players advantageously is the difference maker. Steve Kerr, a Point Guard who averaged 6.0 points a game and 15 minutes of playing time a game for his career, was a role player.

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Take a moment to compare your life with the ’97 Chicago Bulls. Everyone has a mind that devises up a plan for their lives. This is comparable to Phil Jackson, the Head Coach of the team. We all have key characteristics that we rely on — some speak well, some have great imaginations, etc. Picture your key talents as your Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen of the team. Few people understand who their role players are, and those that do often rely on them very little.

Why don’t you take a pivotal page from our early ancestors and make worry a role player on the team? Understand how to worry to win so well that worrying the right way will lead you to your greatest achievements. Let worry be your Steve Kerr.

Featured photo credit: Kate Williams via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on April 8, 2019

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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  1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
  2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
  3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
  4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
  5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
  6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
  7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
  8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
  9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
  10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
  11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
  12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
  13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
  14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
  15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
  16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
  17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
  18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
  19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
  20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
  21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
  22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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