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15 Things You’re Not Taught In School That Determine Your Success

15 Things You’re Not Taught In School That Determine Your Success

School teaches you many of the fundamental things you’ll need a basic grip on in order to be a genuine success during your life, including math, English, science, discipline, and socializing, to name a few. But not everything that’s worth knowing is chalked up on blackboards. At least, not yet.

Listed here are 15 essential life skills that determine your success yet aren’t part of a typical school curriculum, although they really ought to be.

1. Spotting a Scam

As a rule, schools don’t tend to teach children about how to spot the signs of a swindler, and getting fleeced at least once is currently the only way to learn about the incredible amount of scams that plague the world. Knowing a dodgy deal when you see one is something that comes in handy in today’s world, especially in a day and age in which so many are able to hide behind the shifting face of the internet. Teaching students to spot a scam can allow them to go a long way in life.

2. Negotiation

In most classrooms, there’s very little room for negotiation. Unless the teacher is having a particularly good day and decides to meet children halfway in terms of what the deadlines for that particular lesson might be, any attempt by a student to get a better deal for themselves is met by the teacher’s furrowed brow and an extended finger pointing towards the door. It’s a shame, really, since when you enter the big, bad world of adulthood, being able to negotiate is vital in order to help get you out of some seriously sticky situations. Negotiation strategies come particularly in handy in the world of business, and teaching children how to master this skill from a young age can end up having all kinds of benefits in later life.

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3. Self-defense

It’s never nice to think about, but that doesn’t stop the fact that there are depressingly high numbers of dangerous people out there in the world who one day might target you personally for a number of reasons. To stay safe, it’s important to learn the very basics of self-defense – both in terms of being able to protect yourself through the art of speech as well as physically, if it ever comes down to it. Self-defense is an integral part of life, and knowing how to shelter yourself from the evils of the world can boost your confidence, keep you happy, and allow you to live a highly successful life. 

4. Mental Health

Occasionally, schools will host workshops and activity days where various society health representatives will totter from classroom to classroom, but for the most part, the aspect of mental health is left entirely up to the school’s counsellor, if they have one. For the most part, today’s youth are largely kept in the dark about the specifics of mental health, with issues like depression being very poorly understood. Raging teenage hormones are not the same as somebody who’s dealing with depression, and high-quality mental health education is needed in every school in order to help everyone learn about the more troubling conditions of the mind.

5. Socialising & Networking

Managing your internet profile is about so much more than having a high number of “likes” on Facebook these days. It can be the difference between being offered a terrific job opportunity and facing an endless string of rejections. Keeping your appearance online professional and in check will make potential employers recognise your maturity as a person, and schools really ought to widely teach the art and discipline behind crafting your very own unique internet identity.

6. Emergencies & First Aid

Basic first aid ought to be taught at regular intervals in every school at every age. Science is consistently finding new ways to medically treat people, and some of the old breathing assistance techniques that you saw on television back when you were a kid are now considered archaic and even dangerous. Frequent, up-to-the-minute emergency reaction and first aid teaching in schools can go a long way to helping someone out if a serious situation occurs in the future.

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7. Household Repairs

As you get older, you’ll come to realise the absolute necessity of being able to perform basic household repairs. There are few worse feelings on earth than an appliance breaking down in your home and you standing ashen-faced with no idea how to fix it. A few basic tutorials in ordinary household maintenance could prove to be enormously expedient when it comes to moving into a first home.

8. Self-assessment

Taking a long, hard look at yourself and acknowledging what you’re truly good at, as well as what you are not so good at, is probably one of the most challenging aspects of life. Few people can truly do it. It takes practice, and being able to come to terms with what you need to improve on can make you a much better person in all aspects of your life.

9. Balance

School rightly encourages you to work hard at improving your academic performance, but what it doesn’t truly teach is the ability to balance your life so that you achieve high levels of gratification in every aspect – from having quiet family time, to working hard, to partaking in joyful evenings with your friends. Achieving a great sense of balance is paramount in order to live a happy, heathy life. Managing your time well will allow you to make sure the things that ought to come first do indeed come first, and not at the expense of anything else.

10. Cooking

There’s a reason why so many university students find themselves living on budget noodles for the entirety of their degree years. Money of course is a factor, but it’s also due to the fact that very few young adults have any real experience cooking by the time they move into college dorms. Serving up a mouth-watering meal isn’t just an art that can pave the way for success for an aspiring chef, either. Cooking is a skill that can impress friends, bosses, dates, and perhaps most importantly, keep you in good health. Cooking classes in schools do exist, of course, but putting a little emphasis on some tasty, healthy recipes could really help turn young children into terrific little cooks by the time they fly out of the nest. 

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11. Coping with Harsh Realities

Simply put: life isn’t fair. If you expect it to be, you’re going to be disappointed. Sometimes things will go your way, and on other occasions they won’t. It’s enough to make you want to claw your hair out, but by learning to cope with harsh realities, you’ll be able to live happily without succumbing to the pangs of stress that life can so cruelly impose upon you.

12. Money Isn’t Everything

It’s terrific to have a well-paying job, a big house, and a glossy car on your driveway. We know this because this is what school facilities drum into our heads from day one. It’s a simple equation: Working hard at school = Better grades = Better prospects = More money. But money isn’t happiness. On the contrary, cash can actually be toxic if handled in the wrong way and has the ability bring out the worst in people who are unable to separate it from joy. Wealth and happiness are two very different things, and schools ought to make a conscious effort to instil this in pupils’ heads before they depart from lower education.

13. Learning from Failure

Some teachers are absolutely exceptional at handling children who struggle to deal with even the simplest tasks. But learning from failure isn’t really what school is about. No, school is about doing enough so you don’t fail in the first place. A fine lesson in itself, but the fact is that at some point in their lives, everybody will fail.

But no failure is a catastrophe if you learn from it. Understanding what went wrong and why something didn’t turn out as planned can help you to curb your lifestyle so that it never happens again. It can and will turn you into a stronger, more successful person.

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14. Forgiveness

It can be tricky to say that you forgive somebody who has let you down. It’s even more difficult to actually mean it. Learning how to let the silly things go and move on with your life may be something that’s discussed in specific counselling sessions with people who have gotten themselves into extremely problematic situations, but otherwise, the act of forgiveness isn’t something that’s currently taught in schools across the world. It’s a process that requires patience and understanding. It puts you into someone else’s shoes, helps you to understand other people, and makes you a more successful person in life.

15. Expect the Unexpected

Perhaps it’s a little tough to teach this, but it’s a rule that everyone ought to live by in order to be a successful person. The world is an utterly unpredictable place. It’s a scary thought, but at the same time it’s also kind of wonderful, if you’re prepared for it. Putting yourself in the mindset that absolutely anything might be lying around the corner in wait can actively improve your personality and help you to deal with life when times get a little tough.

Featured photo credit: thecommentator.com via thecommentator.com

More by this author

Gareth Lloyd

Freelance Writer

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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