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One Question That Will Help You Refocus and Achieve Greatness at Work

One Question That Will Help You Refocus and Achieve Greatness at Work

These days, people are working more, and feeling more stressed — yet still have significant financial concerns and feel behind. Research conducted by Groupon has talked about how people perceive their work-life balance.[1] Here are some of the findings:

  • 20% of the respondents said they worked 10 hours/day.
  • 60% of the respondents said there wasn’t enough time in the day to do everything.
  • 50% said workload was preventing them from work-life balance.
  • 53% said they still had significant financial concerns.
  • On a 1-10 scale, stress at home averaged a 5; at work, it averaged a 6.4.

That’s a lot of stress — but people still have financial concerns. What gives? How can we make this situation better?

Ask yourself a new question

    Chris Bailey, the author of The Productivity Project experimented with different techniques to help him organize and prioritize tasks. By modifying another productivity guru Brian Tracy’s approach, he arrived at this critical question:

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    “If you could just do one thing on a day, every day, what would you do that would allow you to accomplish the most with the same amount of time?”

    When you’ve got the answer for yourself, repeat the question but in a slightly different way: “If you could do only two more things all day, what second and third tasks let you accomplish the most in the same amount of time?”

    Not all tasks are created equal

      There are certain tasks in any job that, for every minute you spend on them, you can now accomplish more on other tasks.

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      Consider a project manager. They should be designing project workflow. Checking email is less important or almost a distraction. Customer service support, though? They should be checking email — and answering phones.

      Checking off many items on a list means nothing if nothing great was actually accomplished. This in some ways is the difference between “busy” and “productive.” When you’re spending time on things that matter, that is being productive. When you’re just checking off to-do list items, that oftentimes is just being “busy.” There’s no end game contribution.

      But when you spend more time and energy on items of significance, you accomplish more in the same amount of time — and by definition you are becoming more productive.

      Define your top priority task every day

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        By asking the critical question “If you could just do one thing on a day, every day, what would you do that would allow you to accomplish the most with the same amount of time?” you will be able to identify the most important task at the moment.

        Once the top priority task is defined, review your work progress every day by asking these Did I get done what I intended to? Did I invest enough time, attention, and energy in the right things?

        These questions will help you to evaluate your progress and it’s a self-check of whether you got distracted or remained focused on the most important things. This review also helps you to prepare a better plan for the next day.

        It all begins with defining priorities and what is truly important. Almost every day is going to have a personal or professional task that needs to come first above all. Isolate that task and work on what matters most. Achieve significant greatness even if you ignore 40 emails.

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        Most of life is about defining priorities

        Knowing your priority is the pathway to a more consistently successful version of self. Ask yourself the critical question to identify the one thing that matters most and design what you work on and focus towards around the answers. You are going to be more productive within days.

        Featured photo credit: Vecteezy via vecteezy.com

        Reference

        More by this author

        Leon Ho

        Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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        Last Updated on January 21, 2020

        What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

        What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

        Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

        Can I Be Creative?

        The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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        How Creativity Works

        Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

        What Really Is Creativity?

        Creativity Needs an Intention

        Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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        Creativity Is a Skill

        At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

        Start Connecting the Dots

        Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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