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Last Updated on November 8, 2018

How Much Do You Need to Give Up to Start Over?

How Much Do You Need to Give Up to Start Over?

There is a common belief that when you want to embark or start on something new, whether it be a project, a hobby, a job or some big life change, a certain sacrifice must be made. “Out with the old, and in with the new” as they say. It’s almost as if we’re not capable of handling more than what we already have unless we let go of something. But is that really always the case?

When I was young, I took up violin lessons. I enjoyed playing the violin, but when I saw a friend playing the guitar, I got interested in that and wanted to start playing the guitar. My parents however, insisted that I continue with violin lessons and felt I should give my full attention to one instrument, rather than a few; they didn’t believe in being a Jack of all trades. And so sadly, I never got to take up guitar lessons.

Afraid of Giving it Up?

Have you found yourself in a similar circumstance? Perhaps you’re at a crossroad right now, and you’re trying to decide on whether to stay on in your current job, or move on to something completely different.

You’re not truly doing something you love or are passionate about, and so you want to make that change… but it’s a risky plunge.

You’re going to have to sacrifice everything that you’ve worked for over the years. You’re going to have to say goodbye to that big salary, the benefits that comes with the job, and you’re going to have to adjust to the changes.

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Thinking of all that is already detering you from stepping out to take that plunge, isn’t it?

Or maybe you have many responsibilities in life and little time for yourself. You have a spouse and children to take care of, maybe you’ve even got aging parents to think of.

At work, you’ve got subordinates waiting on you for advice. As a leader, you have to manage the team. You’ve got conference calls in different time zones to take, business trips to make, decisions to execute.

You have a lot on your plate, and you wish you could just set aside some time to enjoy the pleasures in life. Golf more, take the kids out more, go on vacations more.

Sure, if you wanted all that time, you could take on a lower paying job that would require less of your time. But that would mean a big pay cut and less comfort in your life. If not, you’ll just have to wait till retirement.

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Play It Safe and Regret It Later

In these situations, it usually feels like an all or nothing approach. And, it then becomes the ‘smart’ thing to just ignore the challenge and stay put. Unless you’re overly confident that things are going to work out, or that you have a back up plan in place, most people never truly dare to take on new opportunities after a certain age or stage in life for fear of losing out, falling behind or having to give up whatever it is that they’ve already accomplished thus far.

But this is also where many individuals end up feeling regret much later on in life, perhaps as they approach retirement and have a sense of unfulfillment. There is an emptiness or a lack that they start feeling because they never answered their ‘calling’ or satisfied their heart’s desires. You may end up feeling short changed and unhappy with how things have turned out.

Most people end up feeling more bitter over the regrets of not having done or tried something, rather than in the mistakes they made when they tried something. It’s always the ‘what ifs’ that will go on to haunt you.

No Sacrifice Needed!

The good news is, you don’t actually have to make such a big sacrifice when it comes to change! You can carry on with your existing way of life, your job or your responsibilities while changing or doing something new.

It’s really not that hard because everything that you do in life, whether it’s your career, relationships or even health, are driven by 7 Cornerstone Skills. These are 7 qualities that if you have them, can make you excel at anything. And we already have most, if not all, of these 7 Cornerstone Skills; we just don’t always know how to use them to the best of our abilities.

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Unfortunately, some of us may not even know the importance of these Cornerstone Skills, and how just sharpening one skill can significantly improve the wellbeing of your life.

If you’re that busy professional with far too much on your plate, thinking there’s nothing you can do to lighten the weight so that you can breathe a little and have time to enjoy life, then think again.

Because I can show you some proven techniques that will improve your Focus significantly, and the way you manage your Time. You’ll end up investing in more time, than spending time unnecessarily, thus giving you the ability to enjoy some of that time for yourself.

By learning to Learn again, you’ll be able to grasp knowledge a lot quicker, allowing you to manage your responsibilities in a smart manner.

These are just 3 of the 7 Cornerstone Skills that I’ve mentioned. By harnessing the potential of all 7, you will realize that if you truly want to achieve a certain goal or ambition, you need not worry about having to trade off a certain aspect of your life.  Instead, you’ll be able to work around things, or improve things even faster because of the skills that you’ve now enhanced from understanding how these 7 Cornerstone Skills work together.

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Making a life improvement, career switch or new goal pursuit can easily happen without risky trade-offs once you know how to harness your Cornerstone Skills into your existing life.

Ready to learn more about the 7 Cornerstone Skills and find out why they’re so important? Subscribe to our newsletter today and begin making that change you’ve been wanting to, without sacrifices!

Featured photo credit: Martha Dominguez de Gouveia via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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