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The Ultimate Holiday Gift (and How to Give and Receive It)

The Ultimate Holiday Gift (and How to Give and Receive It)
    This gift is better to give AND receive.

    We’re only a few days away from Christmas, and while not everyone celebrates that particular holiday, this time of year is a cause for celebration for many all over the world. It’s a time for reflection, a time for companionship and a time for giving.

    The Western world tends to get really caught up in the giving part — or more accurately, the receiving part. That’s not something that can be deterred easily. Getting people to be more into the giving than receiving is a tough sell. It can be done, but it takes a lot on the part of many to break through.

    But what if that sell could be much easier? What if I told you that the one giving the gift could also receive the same gift in kind — and yet it would be completely different than the one they gave? Better still, what if I told you that this gift is the ultimate holiday gift?

    Now that I’ve got your attention, I’ll tell you.

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    The ultimate holiday gift is attention.

    How is attention the ultimate holiday gift?

    • Attention is valuable, but only if it is paid.
    • Attention is free, but also has a price.
    • Attention is short-term, but can have long-term impact.

    The Value of Attention

    When you pay attention to someone or to something, you add value to it. Whether it is a family member or friend, a piece of software or a work project — when you give it your full attention it increases in value. And not just for the person or “thing” receiving it. You receive the value as well.

    That value can be returned in knowledge, expertise, love, gratitude and — yes — even monetarily. The key to determining the value rests in how much of your attention you give. The more you give, the more you get.

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    How do you give more attention? By connecting and disconnecting. Connect as fully as possible with the person or thing you want to give attention to and disconnect from everything else. This doesn’t need to — and shouldn’t — be permanent. But it does need to happen in those moments.

    The currency of attention is time. How much you want to spend is up to you, but remember that quality is always more valuable than quantity when you’re dealing with “time economics”.

    The Freedom of Attention

    Attention can be given and taken freely. It can also be applied when giving gifts other than attention.

    For example, you can start planning now — or giving attention to — those who you want to give gifts to next holiday season. Rather than wait until it must have your attention (and likely less than full attention at that), you can take small moments to build up the list of people and corresponding gifts throughout the year. This means you’ll be better prepared going into next year and don’t need to focus on holiday shopping in the six weeks leading up to Christmas. It also means you won’t forget anyone that might not make the cut due to simple forgetfulness or a constrained budget.

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    The end result is a less stressful holiday season, which is better for everyone. And you’re able to do that by giving attention to a list like this over a longer timespan and taking your attention away from it whenever you want because you’re on top of it.

    The Span of Attention

    Even when you offer your attention for a short period of time, the effects of that full attentiveness can have a big impact over the long term.

    You may work really hard on a small project and leave everything else in the dust over a 2 week period. Then when the project is finished you move your attention back to other things while that project begins to live a life of its own. A book that you might decide to write and self-publish or an app you’ve developed would be perfect examples. As these items sell, you’ll make money over the long-term because they have a longer shelf life than the time you spent giving them your utmost attention.

    Relationships can benefit from both short and long term attention. Client relationships for small projects may only last a few weeks, but they’ll have a lasting impact on both them and your reputation. Longer term relationships with family and friends can be handled by giving attention to the little things (occasional phone calls/emails, connecting on social networks, etc.) and also the larger things. But the bottom line is that in order to have a give and take happening with attention, you need to be as fully engaged as possible.

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    The Power of Attention

    Attention is the ultimate gift, but it is also the hardest one for many of us to offer. In a world where our attention can be easily taken away from us and to things and people that don’t warrant it, we must actually pay attention to, well…attention.

    Which means that attention is the ultimate gift you can give not just to others, but to yourself as well.

    I’m wondering how many of you were able to give this piece your full attention while reading it. Did you shift away from it? Was it because I couldn’t hold your attention or that you couldn’t (or wouldn’t) give it? I’d be interested to know in the comments.

    (Photo credit: Christmas. Gift woman showing beautiful red gift box. via Shutterstock)

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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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    Last Updated on September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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