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The Only Thing to Care About If You Want to Succeed

The Only Thing to Care About If You Want to Succeed

I have a friend who was thinking about opening a pizza place. His core passion was making pizza and having others enjoy it, so he figured it could be a good business for him.

As soon as he began the process of opening the restaurant, though, there were lots of other questions he had to consider: the location, taxes, zoning, staffing, and business planning. So he began researching and talking to people, which all took a lot of time. He figured out the right location, the staffing, the tax implications, the business plan, and more.

    He felt he was ready to open. But what suffered when he finally got started was the actual quality of the pizzas.

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      How could that be? Wasn’t the pizza-making itself his passion?

      In fact it happens to 90% of us. We get caught up by all the other things around us that it makes us easily forget the core that creates meaning for our works. So how to turn things around?

      Find The Epicenter

      The “epicenter” is the core of anything. In terms of earthquakes, for example, it’s where the process begins. In a business sense, an “epicenter” is your core idea. What’s the passion? Why are you investing in this idea, concept, or new project?

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      This idea comes from a book Rework, which was written by Jason Fried, the founder of Basecamp. The book is about looking at business planning and advice in a different way.

      In the example above, my friend’s epicenter was making quality pizza. If he focused on that side of it and potentially outsourced some of the other work he needed to do, he would have stayed passionate and had great overall performance.

        Stay focused on your epicenter

        Why are you doing this thing as opposed to doing some other things? When you find that passion in your epicenter, it allows you to be more productive and do more quality work.

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        Determine what’s a priority

        If you begin from your epicenter and view that as your foundation, you can more clearly understand what’s necessary to do in the future and what’s not. You can also better figure out what elements to outsource, or assign to someone else.

        Basecamp became a very powerful productivity tool for a lot of organizations. When Fried was building it, he didn’t rely very much on outside investors — as many do. He also didn’t have a standard business plan — which many people say you must have. Instead, he decided there was a major problem with how teams organized themselves and communicated information back and forth. His team set out to build a product that would help solve that problem. That was his epicenter. Everything else flowed from that. He didn’t instantly get bogged down in details or logistics of other aspects of building a business because his epicenter told him “If you work to solve this problem, the other aspects will get addressed.”

        Focus Your Energy

        There are always going to be other things that need to be addressed. But if your energy is focused on what you absolutely want to do, you will get better at knowing how to deal with everything else.

        Think of any random day at work. A lot of people easily become distracted: emails, meetings, people stopping by, and phone calls etc. This is not focusing on your epicenter. If you arrive at work on any given day and think “What do I need to achieve today?” then your day will be much more productive. You will be focusing towards your epicenter.

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        But if you allow yourself to be pulled in any new direction the moment it arises (a new email, a new phone call, a new visitor), you won’t be that productive. You’re not working towards an epicenter. You’re just working towards tasks.

        If you want to be more productive and successful, then, determine your epicenter. Work from there.

        Featured photo credit: Vecteezy via vecteezy.com

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        Leon Ho

        Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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        Last Updated on July 13, 2020

        How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

        How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

        Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

        If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

        1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

        The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

        Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

        For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

        The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

        2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

        Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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        As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

        Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

        3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

        Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

          This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

          We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

          Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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          When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

          Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

          4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

          Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

          For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

          Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

          5. Make Decisions

          For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

          If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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          If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

          Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

          I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

          This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

          The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

          6. Take Some Form of Action

          Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

          The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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          It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

          Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

          The Bottom Line

          Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

          When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

          More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

          Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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