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What Are You Worried About?

What Are You Worried About?
Worrying

    Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere. – Glenn Turner

    We all worry. The same wonderful tools our brain uses to imagine new innovations and solve complex problems, also has a habit of looking for trouble – even when it may not exist.

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    Mid-terms, budget overruns, bug counts, first dates, performance anxiety – worry likes to stick its nose into every aspect of our lives. No matter how silly or unlikely a scenario may seem, it is very real to you. Many have tried to overcome it completely, and some great masters may have. But for the rest of us, having some simple strategies to lessen or work with our worries can have a positive impact on our lives.

    1 – Schedule time to worry. Often if your brain knows that you don’t want to worry right now, but you will allow it time to worry later, the worries will go away. Schedule 10 minutes in the morning, and 10 minutes in the evening to just worry. Many times, you won’t find anything to worry about, but it’s a way to get the mind to focus on things on your time-frame.

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    2 – Wipe them away. One trick is to imagine a windshield wiper smearing and wiping away the worry. When the image of the worry comes into your head, picture a wiper swishing back and forth, wiping it away. Usually after a couple of times, it will go away, at least for a short period.

    3 – Write out a list of worries. Lots of personal development techniques revolve around writing things out. Just the act of putting things down on paper can help lessen anxieties.

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    4 – Do something about it. More often then not, the actual task or situation that we worry about turns out to be much less troubling than we imagined. If you jump in and try to do something about it, even just a small thing, the momentum and act of moving forward will lessen or alleviate the worry.

    5 – Don’t lie awake. If you find that you tend to worry in the middle of the night, don’t just stay in bed and let the anxiety get the best of you. Get up and do something about it. Use one of the first 4 methods, or your own favorite technique, to get it out of your head. Worries tend to become intensified when we’re tired – and the dark and stillness of a room at night may not help much either. Demons, real and imagined, love that sort of thing.

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    Your worries are your own, and something you may have to live with, like a really annoying houseguest. Finding ways to deal with them may be your saving grace, because some houseguests can take a hint, while others just don’t know when to leave.

    Tony D. Clark writes, draws cartoons, designs software and websites, and spends a lot of time talking others into working from home, being creative, and doing what they love. His blog Success from the Nest focuses on helping parents who want to do meaningful work from home and have more time for their families. His weekly podcast The Creative Venture is designed to bridge the gap between creativity and practical business knowledge, helping creative people turn their talents into a thriving business.

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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