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Last Updated on February 7, 2018

Hard-Working People Climb to the Top, Smart People Hack It

Hard-Working People Climb to the Top, Smart People Hack It

Have you ever played the team-building game called Bigger or Better?

The game is like an adult version of Trick or Treat and works in the following way:

You start off with a small item such as a paperclip or pencil, and you have to try to turn it into something more valuable by doing small trades with other players. If you play the game skillfully, you can eventually exchange your small item into something more expensive (e.g., an iPhone or a bicycle).[1]

    The reason the game is often played in team-building exercises, is that it demonstrates how successful people get from the bottom to the top. The game also shows how insignificant items (like a paperclip), after trading with different people, can end up becoming something big and substantial.

    Just as in the make-believe game of Bigger or Better, there is a little-known way of reaching the top in your chosen career.

    Stop Climbing, Start Hacking

    The method involves not just finding a career ladder and trying to climb it, but switching ladders at appropriate times, with the aim of bypassing ‘dues’ and accelerating along your very own Bigger or Better cycle. The idea of switching career ladders has been well developed by author Shane Snow in his book Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success.

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    Shane Snow is a journalist, web entrepreneur and the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Contently – a tech platform that matches qualified freelance journalists with online media outlets in the rapidly changing world of publishing. He was named Inc Magazine’s “Inc. 30 Under 30” in July 2012, and Business Insider’s “Silicon Valley’s 100 Coolest People In Tech,” also in July 2012.

    The framework Shane created (and showcased in his book) is for anyone who wants to take their career to the next level in the most efficient way.

    His framework is very similar to Bigger or Better. However, instead of switching small items for bigger ones, and bigger ones for even bigger ones – you replace these items with your career choices. The idea is to create a winning cycle that accelerates your achievements and success. After lots of small wins, eventually you find yourself with a major win (think paperclip to bicycle).

      It’s the same for your career. Rather than following the traditional way of going step-by-step along the same straight path – you switch paths when the one you’re on is not working – or you switch based on your previous success to get something better.

      In his acclaimed book, Shane tells the story of how he ‘hacked’ his career ladder.

      He had a goal of becoming a writer for WIRED magazine, but knew that without relevant experience, this could take years to achieve. So, he put his creativity to work, and came up with the following process:

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      1. He put together a list of sites and magazines that if he wrote for, would impress the editor of WIRED.
      2. His list looked like this: The Next Web > Gizmodo > Mashable > Fast Company.
      3. He then applied to write for The Next Web (which is certainly not a simple feat – but definitely easier than trying to become a writer for WIRED).
      4. Once he was established as a writer for The Next Web (and had articles under his name as proof), he then applied to write for Gizmodo.
      5. I’m sure you can guess the next steps, which eventually led to him securing work as a writer for WIRED.

      Now, here’s the amazing part. From starting on the path to achieving his goal of writing for WIRED, Shane took just six months![2]

        It worked for him, and it can work for you too. Let’s see how.

        How This Method Fast-Tracks You for Success

        I’ll say it again, traditional career paths are slow. Mostly, this is caused by the conventional waiting periods needed to move up the ladder to higher positions.

        If you don’t mind spending years in the same role before moving up – then the traditional route may be the way for you. However, if you want to be competitive and innovative, forget the traditional way. It will frustrate you – and your career ambitions!

          So, what to do?

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          Well, firstly, think laterally rather than just vertically. By thinking laterally, you’ll immediately step outside of the career path that most people are trying to move along. This will give you an advantage over them.

          Just to be clear, by moving from time-to-time in a sideways direction doesn’t mean you’re changing your end goal. In reality, you’re just making your route to the top more flexible and adaptable.

          Now, here’s the key thing to remember. Once colleagues and managers see you as a success in one role, they’ll automatically assume that you’ll be successful in any other role that you’re placed in. In other words, success breeds success!

          Let’s dig a little deeper into how this method works.

          Every time you move to a new role or company, you’ll meet and attract new and varied people. And if you’re doing a good job, then these people will become your allies and partners. Think of it this way: you’ll be rapidly building your own personal network of individuals who can help support your goals and dreams.

          On the other hand, if you choose to stick to the traditional career ladder, it’s likely that you’ll have a limited network of contacts, as you’re only growing within a small department – or within the same organization.

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            The method is really just common sense. But it’s not something that we’re taught at school or college.

            So, are you ready to fast-track your career? Here are my recommended steps:

            • Know exactly what your end goal is.
            • Meet a minimum standard of credibility for any required tasks (either show years of experience, or show that you’ve ‘made it’ somewhere comparable).
            • Once you start off at the ground level, think of ways of how you can get to the next level (don’t limit yourself to the same ladder).
            • Keep going upwards by using new ladders and with the help of your ever-increasing network of contacts.

            Don’t Leave You Career to Chance

            Climbing the traditional career ladder is often a slow, laborious and frustrating experience. You may wait years for a promotion, only to find that a younger, less-experienced colleague has been given the job.

            So, decide on the big goal that you want to achieve, and then implement the methods suggested in this article to help you reach it. By following these little-known methods, you can enjoy a fun, adventurous and rewarding career.

            Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

            Reference

            More by this author

            Leon Ho

            Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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            Last Updated on September 17, 2018

            How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

            How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

            Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

            Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

            All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

            Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

            How bad really is multitasking?

            It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

            Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

            This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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            We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

            So what to do about it?

            Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

            Now, forget about how to multitask!

            Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

            1. Get enough rest

            When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

            This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

            When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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            2. Plan your day

            When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

            When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

            Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

            3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

            I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

            I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

            Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

            4. When at your desk, do work

            We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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            Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

            5. Learn to say no

            Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

            Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

            By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

            6. Turn off notifications on your computer

            For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

            Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

            7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

            Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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            You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

            The bottom line

            Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

            Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

            Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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