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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)

    More by this author

    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 August 6, 2019

    Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How To Tackle Them

    Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How To Tackle Them

    Procrastination is something many people can relate to and I, myself, have been there and done that. Yes, I write all about productivity now, but when I first started out on my career path, I would often put off work I didn’t want to do. And most of the time I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

    So what changed?

    I thought to myself, “why do I procrastinate?” And I started to read a lot of books on productivity, learning a great deal and shifting my mind to the reasons why people procrastinate.

    My understanding brought me a new perspective on how to put an end to the action of procrastination.

    Procrastination slows your goals and dreams way down. It can create stress and feelings of frustration. It rears its ugly head on a regular basis for a lot of people. This is particularly apparent at work with day-to-day projects and tasks.

    But, why do people self-sabotage in this way? Essentially, there are 5 reasons behind procrastination. See if you can identify with any of these in your own work life.

    1. The Perfectionist’s Fear

    Procrastination is sometimes a subconscious fear of failure.

    If you put off a task enough, then you can’t face up to the potential (and usually imagined) negative results. If you’re a stickler for minor details, the stress of getting things ‘just right’ may be too much and cause you to delay continuing the task.

    Either way, fear is at the root cause and can sabotage your desire to move forward.

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    How to Tackle It?

    Try visualizing the completion of your task in a positive way.

    For example, you have a presentation that your boss wants you to conduct for a potential client. Visualize yourself standing in the meeting room confident, meeting the eyes of the client and seeing them light up as you explain the concept simply and concisely.

    Imagine your boss telling you how great you did and you were the best person for the job. Think about how it would feel to you and focus on this as you move forward with the task.

    2. A Dreamer’s Lack of Action

    This is a person who is highly creative and has many brilliant ideas but can’t quite seem to bring them to fruition.

    The main reason for this is because there’s usually no structure or goal setting involved once the idea has been created. This aimless approach ends up manifesting as a lack of decision-making and significant delays on a project.

    How to Tackle It?

    Write down a timeline of what you want to achieve and by when. Ideally, do this daily to keep yourself on track and accountable for progression. Creative minds tend to jump from one idea to the next, so cultivating focus is essential.

    If you’re designing and creating a new product at work, set out a task list for the week ahead with the steps you want to focus on each day. Doing this ahead of time will stop your mind from wandering across to different ideas.

    Learn about how to plan your time and take actions from some of the successful people: 8 Ways Highly Successful People Plan Their Time

    3. An Overwhelmed Avoider

    This is one of the most common reasons for procrastination; the sheer overwhelm of a daunting task.

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    The complexity of a task can cause the brain to lose motivation and avoid doing it altogether choosing instead to stay in its comfort zone.

    The search then starts for a more enjoyable task and the harder tasks are put off. This can cause stress and dread when the task inevitably comes up to be completed.

    How to Tackle It?

    Break the challenge down into smaller tasks and tackle each one individually.

    For example, if you have a project that has technical elements to it that you know you’ll find challenging, list each step you need to take in order to complete these difficult elements. Think of ways you can resolve potential hurdles. Perhaps you have a coworker that may have time to help or even consider that the solution may be easier than you initially think. Put each task in order of most daunting to least daunting. Ideally, try to deal with the more challenging parts of each task in the morning so that momentum is created as the tasks get easier through the day.

    A reward system will also help you stay motivated so, once completed, you can enjoy your treat of choice.

    If you want to know how to better handle your feelings and stay motivated, take a look at my other article: Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It

    4. The Busy Bee Who Lacks Prioritization

    Either you have too many tasks or don’t truly acknowledge the differing importance of each task. The result? Getting nothing done.

    Time is spent switching constantly from one task to another or spending too much time deciding what to do.

    How to Tackle It?

    It’s all about priorities and choosing important tasks over urgent ones.

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    Make sure to question the value and purpose of each task and make a list in order of importance.

    For example, throughout your work day, you can waste a lot of time dealing with ‘urgent’ emails from colleagues but, you need to ask yourself if these are more important than working on a task that will affect, say, several office projects at once.

    Help yourself to prioritize and set a goal of working through your list over the next few hours reassessing the situation once the time is up.

    In my other article, I talk about an effective way to prioritze and achieve more in less time: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    5. The One with Shiny Object Syndrome (Distraction-Prone)

    This is another common cause for procrastination; just simple distraction.

    Our brains aren’t wired to focus for long periods of time and it looks for something else. So throw in a bunch of colleagues equally looking for distractions or checking your phone mindlessly, and you’ve got a recipe for ultimate procrastination.

    However, this type of procrastination may not always be an unconscious decision to sabotage and put off work. It’s simply a result of your work setup or types of coworkers you have. Only you know the answer to that.

    How to Tackle It?

    Be mindful of your workspace and potential distractions. Schedule a specific time to converse with your coworkers, put headphones on to minimize listening to what’s going on around you, and switch your phone off.

    Aim to do this for 20-30 minutes at a time and then take a break. This will be a much more efficient way of working and getting what you need done. This is also why scheduling down time is so important for productivity.

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    Whether this type of procrastination is self-sabotage or being a victim of a distracting environment, either way you can take control.

    If you need a little more guidance on how to stay focus, this guide can help you: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    Bottom Line

    I’m going to be bold and assume you identified with at least one of these procrastination pitfalls.

    You could be trapped in the endless cycle of procrastination like I was, that is, until I decided to find out my why behind putting off tasks and projects. It was only then that I could implement strategies and move forward in a positive and productive way.

    I killed the procrastination monster and so can you. I now complete my tasks more efficiently and completely killed that feeling of stress and falling behind with work that procrastination brings.

    I know it’s not easy to stop procrastinating right away, so I also have this complete guide to help you stop it once and for all: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

    Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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