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How to Not be a Phony

How to Not be a Phony
    Big Phony from iamkoream

    Do you feel fake? Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Someone that has convinced everyone around you that you are not what you truly are?

    In a recent article by one of my favorite podcasters and developers, Scott Hanselman, the idea of being a phony was discussed. What Hanselman discusses is how people that have a lot to learn, particularly those in IT related fields, end up feeling like they know very little.

    In fact, people can internalize these feelings and think that they know nothing compared to other coworkers or others in their field. These people end up feeling like fakes and that one day they will see that dreaded pink slip because someone has “figured them out”.

    I can relate to this.

    Being a programmer and writer I feel I can never learn enough and I’m always behind. But, instead of feeling like a failure I decided to sit down and come up with some ideas that can help me through these false feelings. If you are feeling like a phony, consider the points below:

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    Take a skills inventory

    One of the best ways to figure out exactly what you’re capable of is to take out a piece of paper (or a text editor for you nerds out there ;) ) and write down everything that you can do. Whether it be writing, drawing, being a visionary, understanding difficult mathematics, anything really; get it all down.

    After you’ve written everything, add four columns to the right of your list. At the top of these write “beginner”, “intermediate”, “advanced”, and “expert”. Go down your list of skills and mark which skill is at which skill level.

    Having a skills inventory is one of the best ways to realize who you really are and who you really aren’t. With this you can get a more realistic idea of what you need to learn and concentrate on as well as what you are good at.

    Beat down negative thoughts

    Regardless of having a skills inventory, negative thoughts and emotions are still going to be in your head on a daily basis. With you skills inventory though, you will be able to see which ones are legitimate and which ones are garbage.

    Beat down the garbage.

    There’s nothing special and magical to this. You just need to know that these are negative thoughts, that they happen to everyone, and that you can overcome them.

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    What we focus on, we empower and enlarge. Good multiplies when focused upon. Negativity multiplies when focused upon. The choice is ours: Which do we want more of?
    – Julia Cameron

    Honor the true ones

    Not all negative thoughts are garbage. In fact some of them are the issues that you have to deal with the most.

    After taking a skills inventory and listing out some of the negative thoughts you have on a daily basis, try to compare those thoughts to the inventory. See some sort of pattern? Are some negative thoughts related to how bad you are at something you want to be good at?

    If so, then these are the exact issues that you must overcome to feel less “phony-like”.

    Jack of all trades, master of one

    I remember talking to one of my favorite professors while still in college. I told him that I was understanding that being in the IT field was complicated and that I could never stop learning to make it. I told him that I felt like I had to be a jack of all trades and master of none. He said,

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    “Yeah, sort of. More like a jack of all trades and a master of one.”

    Take out your skills inventory again and see where you exel. If the things that you excel at are the things and activities that you truly enjoy then it looks like you are in good shape.

    Mastering a smaller set of skills (a niche as you “serial entreprenuers” call it) while understanding a wider set is one of the best ways to set yourself up for success.

    There’s nothing better than being good at what you love to do.

    Rise up to the challenge

    Now that you have a more honest outlook on your skill set, what you’re good at what you are terrible at, it’s now time to rise to a challenge.

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    The only time most humans grow when they are challenged. If you want to get better at what you love to do you have to constantly and willingly challenge yourself. Doing this will ensure you never have that “I’m a phony and everyone is about to figure it out” type of feeling again.

    Understanding that you’re not a phony is all about integrity. You are no better and no worse than you actually are.

    This is one of the hardest things to learn in life not just in the professional field. As soon as you realize who you are, who you want to be, and what you love to do, you can start to feel free in work and life.

    You will see that life’s challenges are just the thing you need to make yourself believe that you aren’t a phony.

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    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on November 19, 2019

    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.

    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.

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

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    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.

    You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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    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.

    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.

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    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.

    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)

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    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.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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