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5 Common Time Management Truths That Can Make You Unproductive

5 Common Time Management Truths That Can Make You Unproductive


    In time management, there is certain advice that is repeated over and over again. These lessons have become a “de-facto” standard in the time management industry.

    SEE ALSO: Boost Your Time Management Skills With These 9 Techniques

    Although I think that this advice is important to understand and implement in your everyday life, at times I don’t necessarily agree with all these lessons.

    1. Take massive action

    I can’t remember how many times I have heard this advice and why you should take massive action – yet this lesson can be easily misunderstood and implemented the wrong way.

    Rather than taking blindly massive action, understand your goal, pick an important task (or tasks) related to your goal and take massive action on that instead.

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    Taking massive action for its own sake is just silly. You can waste time and energy if you focus your efforts to the wrong tasks.

    Take smart and focused massive action instead of just massive action.

    2. Improve your productivity with The Pomodoro Technique

    The Pomodoro technique is a very popular productivity system and it is based on working in short bursts of time (25 minutes which equals one Pomodoro).

    The basic premise is that you can improve your productivity, because those time blocks are very focused and condensed. Also, having breaks between sessions gives a good rhythm to your work and most likely you won’t lose your attention span.

    I’m not into Pomodoro – at least not in every situation.

    For instance, my ideal working block is 45 minutes (sometimes it is even longer). By using that amount of time I’m

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    • Able to get a lot of work done
    • I’m still able to focus to my task at hand (I’m not losing my attention span)
    • I’m not violently stopping my work mode after 25 minutes

    This is just to say that even if the Pomodoro technique may work for some, it’s not my ideal way of working.

    Although you should improve your own working routines by using a solid system, it is also worth testing the system first and then decide if it’s for you or not.

    Whatever the system is that you are learning about (whether it is Pomodoro, GTD …), you still need to apply it to your own personal conditions and tweak it to your needs.

    3. Focus on your strengths, not weaknesses

    In an ideal world you would be able to only focus on your strengths and forget your weaknesses. But believe me – it is useful to focus on your weaknesses too!

    For example, if you are a shy person and lack of social skills, do you think you should just forget of overcoming your shyness and  improving yourself? Of course not!

    In fact, there are examples of people (like those shy ones), who have turned their weaknesses into their strengths and now they teaching how you can do the same (like Kent Sayre, author of the book Unstoppable Confidence).

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    If your weakness is making your life harder, it is worth figuring out if you can do something about it. And although you should focus on improving your strengths, you shouldn’t completely ignore your weaknesses either.

    4. “Work smart, not hard”

    The promise of this common phrase is that when you work smart, you make the right decisions, reduce your stress levels and get the right things done. However, sometimes I feel that it is an excuse for not working at all.

    Even if it is okay to work smart it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work hard at all. In fact, you are still required to work hard – but instead on the things that make the most difference!

    Working smart doesn’t give you excuses to slack off. It is only giving you the right area to focus on and direct where you should put all your efforts (which generates the great results).

    5. Do not multitask

    Multitasking is the root of all evil – especially when it comes to your productivity.

    This is a very common lesson in time management circles and I agree with this advice. Yet, multitasking serves its purpose if done properly.

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    I understand that writing an e-book while checking your Facebook page is not going to help you to get that e-book done. But in some other scenarios, multitasking might come very handy.

    I learned about taking advantage of multitasking by reading a book called Find Your Focus Zone (by Lucy Jo Palladino). There she introduced the concept that she calls mindful multitasking.

    The basic idea behind the term is that when you multitask, you are aware that you productivity level is going to decrease. Yet, you multitask, because it helps you to put yourself back to your focus zone.

    For instance, I have used this technique when I have been working on mundane data entry tasks. I need some stimulus to get the work done and one way to do it is to do something other than your main task at hand. So, if checking my Facebook page can help me to get the data entry work done (and get me back to my focus zone), so then be it!

    Also, you can seamlessly multitask in other occasions – like rehearsing your presentation you are giving the next day while you are exercising or thinking about new blog post ideas when in the shower. So multitasking – when used mindfully and intelligently – can maximize your time usage.

    In Closing…

    Although it is important to understand the basic time management theories, it is also crucial to take a critical look at them. Don’t always take things for granted. Put those theories to the test and see if they are beneficial in your particular situation.

    (Photo credit: Crossed Fingers Behind Back via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on October 23, 2018

    How to Eliminate Work Stress When You’re Stressed to the Max

    How to Eliminate Work Stress When You’re Stressed to the Max

    Workplace stress is a modern epidemic. More than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress. This is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion a year in lost work hours and medical bills.[1]

    Clearly, if you’re suffering from work stress – you’re far from alone. But, work stress isn’t inevitable.

    In this article, I’m going to help you identify the root cause of your stress and suggest the most suitable ways to cope with job stress so you can become a happy and productive worker again.

    Where Work Stress Comes From

    Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. The causes of stress include:

    • Too much work – you feel overwhelmed by your work and find yourself saying: “There are not enough hours in the day!”
    • The job is too easy, not challenging or inspiring – this is where boredom (which is stressful) sets in.
    • Pressure from co-workers or lack of social support – colleagues are not helpful or only care about their own tasks.
    • Little praise and lots of criticism – this is where a lousy manager uses constant criticism to ‘try’ to motivate you.
    • Very demanding or competitive working culture – sales departments often fit this category.
    • Not having enough control over job-related decisions – this is when people try to micro-manage you.
    • High expectations on yourself or seeking perfection – while it’s good to do your best, being a perfectionist can be a powerful stress generator.
    • Low salary – if you work hard but receive slim financial rewards, you may start to feel downhearted, frustrated and stressed.

    The Negative Effects of Stress on Your Mind and Body

    Chronic stress is bad news for your mental health and physical health. These are some health symptoms of stress:[2]

      If stress hormones are triggered in your body for extended periods, they can lead to increased physical aging. This is because stress makes your cells look and act older – and this is reflected in your physical appearance.[3]

      In addition to the negative effects on your body, stress also has a significant influence on your brain – negatively impacting your daily performance.

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      I recommend you watch the 4-minute video below to see just how stress can wreak havoc on your brain and your performance:

      How to Cope with Work Stress (A Step-By-Step Guide)

      You don’t need to be a victim of work stress. Here’s how to manage stress in the workplace:

      1. Set aside some time for planning

      If work has become too much for you, and you’re constantly falling behind… stop! Instead of trying and failing to catch up, you’d be much better off spending some time thinking about your goals and how your prioritize your tasks.

      Learn how to set clear goals with this step-by-step guide.

      For instance, if your initial goal is just to get on top of your work (probably for the first time in months), then take 10 minutes to think clearly and deeply about how you can achieve this. Most likely, you’ll be able to come up with tasks that you need to complete to reach your goal. And once your goal and tasks are clear in your mind, you’ll be ready for the second step.

      2. Align your tasks with your goal

      Just knowing your goal and associated tasks is not enough. Many people reach this stage but still fall behind with their work and fail to achieve their goals.

      The secret is to understand which of your tasks should be high priority and which ones can be done when you have spare time.

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      For example, checking your inbox every 20 minutes may seem to be a productive task for you, but in reality it acts as a constant distraction and productivity killer. Instead, you’d be better off setting aside 30 minutes in the morning to check your emails and 30 minutes in the afternoon to do the same.

      By doing this, you’ll free up the bulk of your day for tasks that can help you reach your goal. These tasks are likely to be things like: writing a business proposal, creating a PowerPoint presentation, and finishing an important project.

      These tips on how to prioritize will help you align your tasks with your goals and work 10X more efficiently.

      3. Remove, change or accept the stressors

      How to tackle specific work stressors? I recommend the following method that WellCast introduced:[4]

      Take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. At the top, write remove in the first column, change in the second and accept in the third.

        Next, think of the stressors that are getting to you the most. Perhaps it’s your paycheck; it might be way smaller than you’d like or feel that you deserve. Don’t worry, this is your chance to break free from the stress surrounding your low pay.

        Think for a few moments, which would you prefer:

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        • To remove yourself from the company
        • To try to change your salary by asking for a pay rise
        • To accept that your salary is okay for you

        You may be surprised at what thoughts come into your mind. Don’t reject them, but allow yourself time to be clear on how you’d like to proceed.

        If the status quo feels good to you, then write “paycheck” in the accept column. If you decide you want to increase your salary but stay in the same company, write “paycheck” in the change column. And finally, if you decide the time is right to seek a new opportunity at a different organization, then write “paycheck” in the remove column.

        By being decisive in this way, you’ll immediately feel freer and in control of your destiny. And your stress levels will begin to trend downwards. All that remains is to set yourself a clear goal of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do this.(Luckily, steps #1 and #2 above will help you out!)

        Of course, if you have multiple work stressors, then use your remove, change or accept sheet to work through all of them. It will be time VERY well spent.

        4. Create positive relationships at work

        One key to improving your ability to manage stress is being able to accept help from others. Not only does it alleviate negative circumstances by simply distracting you and creating a buffer between daily tasks and their negative connection, it will provide a sense of support and relief.

        Make an effort to create friendships with your colleagues. Go to the after-work happy hour or just ask a colleague out for coffee at lunchtime. Not only will you have someone to confide in, but you will start to associate positive feelings to work.

        Forming a healthy relationship with your manager or supervisor is also a good way to alleviate stress. Positive, two-way conversations about where you stand in your job, being honest about how you feel, and working together to make a plan of action in terms of improved work conditions and expectations are paramount. This will lead to opening up and receiving the necessary resources you need to support or help you.

        5. Take time out for yourself

        Anyone can get overwhelmed when stress occurs at work, and this can spill into other areas of your life. This is why it’s important to clock out mentally from your job from time to time.

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        Take time off to relax and unwind in order to regain your energy and come back to work invigorated. Make sure you actually do something you enjoy like spending time with your kids or partner, or visit that country you’ve always wanted to explore.

        If taking time off work isn’t possible in the midst of your stress, take scheduled breaks throughout your day. Sit quietly somewhere or do some stretches to get your blood flowing like in the example below:

        6. Take mindful action towards your health

        The irony of stress is that your healthy habits can take a backseat. Maintaining and even improving your health will keep your stress under control. Here are some ways to keep you physically fit:

        • Eat healthy foods. Make sure your diet is full of foods that provide your body with sufficient nutrients. Eat more fruits and green vegetables, whole foods, omega-3 rich fish, and seeds such as flax, chia and hemp. These types of food ensure your body is working optimally to cope with its stress mechanisms.
        • Avoid unhealthy foods. This is obvious, but it’s these kinds of food you reach for in times of stress and negativity. High fat foods such as cheese and red meat cause sluggishness and tiredness. Foods high in refined sugars like biscuits, chocolate bars, and bread can be convenient snacks, but they cause you to crash and burn. Same with caffeinated drinks such as coffee and sodas – these are just ‘band aid’ habits that interfere with your ability to sleep.
        • Exercise regularly. Endorphins are the best for counteracting stress, and what better way to release them than doing physical exercise. Exercise creates a distraction and helps you get your thoughts back together in an orderly way. Start a new exercise regime – whether it’s running, swimming, cycling or walking to work. Getting your blood and endorphins flowing will make you feel happier.
        • Get enough sleep. Make getting 8 hours sleep a priority. When we’re stressed it can sometimes feel hard to get to sleep but sleep deprivation only exaggerates our current stress. A well-rested mind is able to find solutions to problems more easily and reacts better to daily stressors.

        Final Thoughts

        Everyone encounters stress at work. It’s a natural and normal human reaction. The difference between letting the stress overcome you and coping with it is getting a head start by creating a positive environment and lifestyle.

        Counteracting stress is both an inside and outside job. Focusing on improving your health will create a positive mind able to react better. Forming positive relationships with certain people around you will give you emotional support.

        Beat stress with the right mindset!

        Featured photo credit: whoislimos via unsplash.com

        Reference

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