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How To Control The Way You React (part one)

How To Control The Way You React (part one)

    You’ve probably heard sayings like:

    “It’s not what happens that matters but how you react (to what happens) that matters”

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    “It’s not about the situation or the circumstance, it’s about you in it”

    “Things only have the meaning we give them”

    “People only treat you the way you let them”

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    You the Reactor

    All of the above sayings refer to how we deal with, manage and react to what happens in our world. In extreme cases a momentary reaction can influence, if not shape, the next ten (twenty, fifty) years of our life. For good or bad. And on a completely different scale, many reactions will be unconscious, almost meaningless blips on the radar of our life. From the moment you and I get out of bed each day we are reacting (consciously or not) to our dynamic environment. Fortunately we don’t live in a static world; how boring would that be? We react to a broad range of stimuli hundreds of times every day and while the majority of our reactions are incidental and largely inconsequential (catching the falling spoon from the edge of the table, changing stations when we don’t like the music, answering a simple question), others will play a significant role in our future – although we may not be aware of it at the time.

    Finding the Bad

    Some of us have mastered the ‘habit’ of reacting negatively; of finding the bad, rather than finding the lesson or finding the good. For many people, the “what can I learn from this” question doesn’t feature nearly as much as the “why do these morons make my life a misery” or “why does this always happen to me” questions.

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    A Hypothetical

    Two people go through the same event (a minor traffic accident perhaps). One emerges from his vehicle wielding an iron bar, frothing at the mouth, screaming obscenities and threatening violence, while the other calmly searches for a pen and paper to exchange insurance details. The psycho gets arrested for attempted assault and battery with a weapon, while Mr Calm drives home with a small scratch on his car, kisses his wife and kids and carries on with his happy life. Rather than learning a lesson from the experience and vowing to change his ways, the angry psycho gets even angrier at the cops, the judge, the legal system, the government and the rest of the world for victimising him. Following his arrest and conviction, he continues to stumble from one (self-created and perpetuated) drama to the next. Never realising that in the middle of all these catastrophes, he is the common denominator. He is the reason. He is the creator of the mayhem. He is the problem. And the solution; should he choose to be. If only he would learn to manage the events of his life differently (react differently), his life experience (his reality) would change dramatically. But as long as he continues to do the same (react poorly), he will continue to produce the same type of negative, destructive outcomes.

    Calm in the Middle of the Chaos

    The sooner we realise that we can have a great day, every day, despite what does or doesn’t happen on that day, the sooner we will move away from the chaos and into the calm. Keeping in mind that we exist in a physical world but do most of our living in our head. With practice you and I can be the calm in the middle of chaos. For the most part, the only environment you and I can control is our internal one, so how we react, how we interpret situations and the type of questions we ask ourselves will play a big role in that process. Even though we have the ability to control our internal environment (our reality), sadly, many of us hand over that power to situations, circumstances, events, ‘luck’ and my (least) favourite, other people. As long as our internal environment is merely a reflection of our external reality then our happiness will always be held to ransom by something beyond our control.

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    Every day of our lives you and I are presented with situations, circumstances, events, challenges and conversations which will elicit a reaction from us (one way or the other). For some this will produce an emotional, volatile, irrational, spontaneous or even disastrous response, while for other folk it will be a more measured, calm, considerate and strategic response to the happenings in their world. Emotion is what drives us, but logic and intelligence is what should be steering us.

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    So why do we do react stupidly when we know better?

    Because in ‘that moment’ our response invariably has nothing to do with logic, understanding or intelligence and everything to do with emotion (insecurity, anger, fear, resentment, jealousy). We don’t actually think, consider or plan, we just react. Rather than (us) managing our emotions, all of a sudden our emotions are running the show. Often with dire results. All that ‘self-help stuff’ goes flying out the window. Yep, seen it. Done it even. Sitting at our computer reading an article like this is the easy bit; it all makes sense. We’re in complete control. We’re calm, cerebral, logical, rational, philosophical and evolved. We ‘get’ it. Well, we get the theory of it anyway. But sitting at our computer is not really when we’re put to the test, is it? It’s when that person pisses us off (again)… and all the personal development lessons from this website go straight out the window. Or hopefully not.

    So how do we react differently?

    I’ll tell you in part two.

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    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on July 27, 2020

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

    If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

    1. Create a Daily Plan

    Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

    Here’s How to Create a To-Do List that Super Boosts Your Productivity.

    2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

    Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

    3. Use a Calendar

    Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

    I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

    Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

    4. Use an Organizer

    An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

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    These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

    5. Know Your Deadlines

    When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

    But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

    6. Learn to Say “No”

    Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

    Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

    7. Target to Be Early

    When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

    For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

    Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

    8. Time Box Your Activities

    This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

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    You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks

    9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

    Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

    10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

    Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

    You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    11. Focus

    Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

    Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

    Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    12. Block out Distractions

    What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

    I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

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    When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

    Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

    13. Track Your Time Spent

    When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

    You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

    14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

    You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

    Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

    15. Prioritize

    Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

    Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    16. Delegate

    If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

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    When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

    17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

    For related work, batch them together.

    For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

    1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
    2. coaching
    3. workshop development
    4. business development
    5. administrative

    I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

    18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

    What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

    One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

    While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

    19. Cut off When You Need To

    The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

    Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

    20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

    Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

    More Time Management Tips

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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