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7 Ways You Can Be Helpful Today

7 Ways You Can Be Helpful Today

There are two kinds of people in this world.

There are those who will only do exactly what’s expected of them, and wait for a task to be assigned before acting. And then there are those who are always on the lookout for ways to contribute and make life easier for others. It is this second group that is more likely to make and sustain positive relationships, which are the backbone of a fulfilling personal and professional life.

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Whether the person in front of you has just lost a loved one or is just having a tension-filled week, certain approaches will be more genuinely helpful than others. Some ideas:

1. Listen to the Person Talk

Sometimes, the help that is actually needed will be different than the help you initially think to provide.  The best way to determine what to offer is to be a good listener.  The more the other person talks to you about what’s going on, the more targeted your assistance will be.

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2. Suggest Something Specific

People who are under a lot of stress are not always thinking clearly.  So when you ask them “how can I help?” they might not know what to tell you.  And if you say “if you need anything, feel free to ask,” chances are good they will not call you because they don’t want to impose.  Therefore, it’s better to make a recommendation such as taking their place at an administrative meeting or picking their child up from school.

3. Help Them See the Positive Side

When someone suffers a setback at work, the tendency is to believe that their career is over and that they will never feel good about their job again.  In a case like this, it can be useful to point out the good that might result from such a development, like the chance to explore a new opportunity or learn an important skill.  Note that the “pep talk” tactic is not appropriate if someone has suffered a human loss (i.e. death, divorce).

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4. Don’t Keep Score

Practice giving freely of yourself without expecting anything in return.  And definitely do not keep track of what you’ve done for others in comparison to what they’ve done for you.  Even if you keep the information to yourself, you won’t feel as good about the interaction, and this will probably show.

5. Be Sincere In Your Giving

If you really don’t want to do something, don’t offer.  It is obvious to the other person when you are helping them under duress, and adding guilt and discomfort to their plate is the last thing they need.  Giving sincerely also means doing so kindly and without strings or ulterior motives.

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6. Don’t Be More Trouble Than You’re Worth

Once you agree to a task, do it promptly, accurately, and without having to be reminded.  A stressed-out person would rather do it themselves than constantly worry about whether or not you are going to come through.

7. Reach Out to a Stranger

When my daughter was born prematurely last year, several people I’d never met before brought dinner to our house.  I will never forget it.  Helping co-workers, friends and family members in times of need is always appreciated, but it’s especially meaningful to provide assistance to those outside your circle.

(Photo credit: Lifebuoy via Shutterstock)

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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