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10 Hacks That Can Change Your Day Immediately

10 Hacks That Can Change Your Day Immediately

As human beings, we have an amazing ability to overestimate what we can do in the next year and totally underestimate what we can do in the next 15 minutes. In these early days of 2013, it’s more important than ever to emphasize just how much of a difference the next 15 minutes can make in your day.

So, for now, forget the long-term and instead of focus only on what is right in front of you. The next year is not guaranteed: this moment right now is all you have.

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productivity hacks

    10 hacks you can do right now that will radically change your day:

    1. Make a list of five immediate actions that need to be done in order for progress to be made on the big project(s) on which you are currently working. They don’t have to be big: target what you know to be absolute “musts” and take massive action on them without hesitation or fear.
    2. De-clutter your workspace. Be ruthless with your organization, and toss out what does not belong or what no longer has a practical use. Embrace a zen-like workspace.
    3. Answer that e-mail you need to get to. You know which one I’m talking about: that e-mail that you know is crying out for a response. Maybe it’s work-related, maybe it’s personal; it doesn’t matter. Respond immediately and clear it from your mind—your focus is needed elsewhere. Oh, and before you hit send, be sure to make sure that the e-mail doesn’t suck.
    4. Write a letter or e-mail of gratitude to your parents. At first, this might sound a little strange, particularly if you don’t have the best relationship with your parents, but write a letter or e-mail simply thanking your parents for having you. Even if you’ve lost them, even if you don’t know them, even if they weren’t great parents, you can still write this letter. None of us would be here if our parents had not given birth to us, and that’s a unique bond that should not be ignored. Here’s the best part: you don’t even have to send it if you don’t want to, and the process will be an empowering, healing experience for you.
    5. Schedule a meeting that will move you forward. I’m not talking about having a meeting for the sake of having a meeting (ugh…those are truly awful). I’m talking about getting together with someone who has information that will be beneficial to you. This doesn’t have to be formal; in fact, it doesn’t even have to be related to your professional life at all. It can be dinner with a friend from whom you want marriage advice, for example. Just get that person on the phone, and then get that meeting on the calendar.
    6. Answer two very important questions that will keep you productive all day long: What’s important now? What’s next?
    7. Do absolutely nothing for 15 minutes straight. Yes, choosing to do nothing is, in fact, doing something. Spend 15 minutes in silence, with no agenda, giving your mind and spirit and chance to refresh and regroup. I promise that when the 15 minutes are up you will be able to return to whatever you’re working on with a new perspective.
    8. Celebrate the fact that you are still breathing at this very moment. A huge thing you have going for you is in the “plus” column right now. Turn on some music and dance, get out of your chair! Be grateful that you’ve made it this far.
    9. Change your setting. Get out of the office and go for a walk outside to breathe in the air. If it’s raining, go outside anyway! Admire the life-giving miracle taking place before your eyes.
    10. Simply start whatever big project you’ve been putting off or thinking about, no matter how big it seems. In high school, I had a teacher who told me that when you start something you are already half-finished. That has worked for me to this day, and it can work for you, too. Get started right now!

     

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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