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The Number One Trick to Succeeding When You Screw Up

The Number One Trick to Succeeding When You Screw Up

On our journey to become better human beings, we often look for ways to make ourselves more productive and successful. We seek out the latest tools to help us be more productive, we make massive to-do lists of all the things we’re going to accomplish, and we try to mold ourselves into these mistake-free machines.

Here at Lifehack I’ve read countless amazing articles that focus on boosting productivity, jump starting motivation, and life organization skills. So, instead of giving you another article that focuses on things you’ve probably already read, I want to talk about the one thing that all of us have in common, that can hinder our productivity, and one simple trick that can keep us on track to succeed.

What is this one thing we all have in common that can keep us from achieving our goals? We screw up!

That’s right. We’re human. There’s not a single person on the planet that is exempt from this law of mediocrity. From great people of history like Thomas Edison, to your local coffee shop Barista, we all make mistakes now and then.

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Successful People Screw Up Too

It’s well-known that Thomas Edison screwed up thousands of times while trying to invent the light bulb. Aside from learning what didn’t work, he didn’t focus on his failures. He kept right on focusing on his goal of producing the world’s first light bulb. He was quoted saying, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And, as we all know, he went on to succeed and achieved his goal.

Another great example is Arlene Dickinson from CBC’s Dragon’s Den. She’s an extremely wealthy Canadian business woman who has said that her main goal in life was to have a happy family. She screwed up by having an affair, losing custody of her kids, and going through a nasty divorce. But, she didn’t let this mistake stop her.  She fought back and went on to become one of Canada’s most respected business women, got her kids back and is now happily engaged. She has been quoted saying that her rebound to success was due to, “…giving myself permission to make mistakes and learning to look for the potential in a situation rather than focusing on the problems.”

Forgive Yourself and Focus on Your Goal

How does this help us? As driven individuals, we have to understand that we’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to miss deadlines. We’re going to cheat on our diets. On our path to achieving our goals, there will be times when we fall flat on our face.

Luckily, there is one thing we can do to keep this law of humanity from holding us back, and that is to forgive ourselves.

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People who strive to be more and push themselves to their limits are almost always their own worst critic. A failure to the “perfection oriented” doesn’t need additional attention because, by our very nature, we’ll beat ourselves up ten times more than any outside source ever will. It’s this self-imposed abuse for failing that can sabotage even the most promising achievers.

When we stop and focus on our mistakes, aside from figuring out what went wrong, we’re really not doing ourselves any favors.

Let’s look at an example:

Let’s say we’ve been working on a promotion at work for 6 months. We’ve been going the extra mile, staying late, and simply doing everything we can to reach our goal of promotion. The promotion has been our sole focus for months.

Then, one day, for whatever reason, we screw up and miss a deadline on one of our projects.

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Suddenly, we feel like we’ve just completely blown our chances at promotion. We say to ourselves, “Wow, there goes that idea! I’m such a screw up!” and our focus switches from “I’m going to bust my ass to get this promotion” to “I’ve screwed up. I’ll never get this promotion.”

This change in mindset and focus to “I’ll never get this promotion” will cause that belief to become a reality. If we’re thinking, “I’ll never get this promotion.” then that’s exactly what our actions will reflect. We’ll stop staying late, we’ll stop working as hard, and we’ll probably mess up even more.

The key to handling this type of hurdle is found in self-forgiveness. Figure out why we screwed up, learn from it, then get right back to focusing on the goal.

Do not focus on the failure! Forgive yourself and focus on the goal!

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This is how the successful make things happen and overcome screw-ups.

The greatest men and woman in the history of the world have screwed up at one point or another. But, they don’t focus on the failures, they stay focused on the goals and solutions.

The ones who succeed and produce results are the ones who are able to forgive themselves, fully and truly, and get back to focusing on their goals.

So, the next time you make a mistake, just remember: We’re all human. We all make mistakes. It’s how we handle our setbacks that truly define us as achievers and determine how successful we’ll be.
(Photo credit: Young Man Facepalm via Shutterstock)

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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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