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5 Essential Steps You Should Take to Succeed

5 Essential Steps You Should Take to Succeed

Although everybody is on their own journey and usually following totally unique directions and goals, there are some traits all successful people have in common. Here are some key steps for you to take in order to succeed in any area of life!

1. Get started, no more excuses

Oftentimes, when we try to build something great, we are holding ourselves back without even consciously knowing it. We come up with excuses on why this is not the right time or why we lack some important information or money in order to be able to start. But what a lot of successful people have found is that there is never a good time to start. Conditions are never perfect and you will always lack information and you would always be “better off” gathering a few more resources before you start.

The problem here is that this is a first class ticket to procrastination, and when you start putting things off because of self-made excuses, you will end up never getting them done. So if you find yourself waking up with a desire to do a great thing (and I believe such an urge is in all of us), then make a real decision and take the smallest step towards your goal right now! You will be surprised how liberating taking action and making progress on your journey to success is!

Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Group) was once stuck at an airport when his last flight was canceled. But instead of making excuses, he came up with a solution and got started on it immediately. He chartered a private airplane, which he did not have the money to do. Then, he picked up a small blackboard, wrote “Virgin Airlines. $29.” on it, and went over to the group of people who had been on the flight that was canceled. He sold tickets for the rest of the seats on the plane, used their money to pay for the chartered plane, and everybody got to their destination the same night. Of course he also could have come up with excuses for why he couldn’t make it on time.

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2. Taking risks is necessary

You have to take risks in order to succeed. You have to leave your comfort zone and expand it every day. Doing something you feel scared of is the only way to increase your potential and get ahead in life. By pushing yourself further and further and taking calculated risks, you will find out about the abilities you have, and those you didn’t know you had!

Successful people know that and are willing to put the pressure on themselves that comes from doing something terrifying. They learned how to give their best performance even under extremely challenging situations. They feel the fear and do whatever is necessary to succeed anyway!

Bryan Cranston (actor, Breaking Bad) stated:

“The riskiest career decision is to go into this career. You have to be a risk taker of some degree to be able to say, ‘Alright, I’m throwing it all out there. Whatever happens, happens. I want to be an actor. If that means sleeping on someone’s couch for the rest of my life, then that’s what that is.'”

Following your passion no matter what is always risky but it is crucial and necessary in order for you to succeed.

3. The path you take will not be smooth

Whatever you are trying to do with your life, when it comes to success in any area, there will always be obstacles, mistakes and failures along your journey. Nobody ever got anywhere worth getting to without having a huge load of roadblocks to overcome.

Everybody has to find ways to handle the rejections, master their own emotions after getting beaten down, and gather the strength and the willpower to get back up again and keep moving forward. When life beats you down, you cannot add additional weight to your shoulders by beating yourself up about it. Thoughts like: “I cannot do this!” “Why is this always happening to me?” and “I don’t deserve it anyways,” or similar, have no right to be on your mind.

Instead embrace the fact that there will be setbacks along your path. Accept the fact that you might make some mistakes and you have to correct them. Learn to love to find new and better solutions for your daily obstacles and nobody will be able to stop you.

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Colonel Sanders (KFC) famously tried to sell his chicken recipe and got 1,009 no’s before he heard his first yes. Ask yourself if you would have had the endurance to keep going after getting rejected 1,000 times? His persistence and perseverance are the reason KFC is now an established brand making US$23 billion a year in revenue.

4. Keep learning

Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. Successful people know that in the end there is no such thing as failure or rejection: there is either success or a valuable life lesson on how to do it better the next time. If you are willing to keep learning and not beat yourself up about mistakes and failure, you tend to arrive at your goals way faster.

After some hard setback, analyze like a freak what went wrong and how you ended up there. What could you have done better, what can you still improve? After that, let go and move forward. Also, always find better and more efficient ways to succeed in your area of expertise. Never rest on your given success. Innovate and try new approaches, even if you don’t have to because “everything is working fine anyways right now.” Remember that whenever you are resting on your given success, there is always somebody else out there who — at this very moment — is working their butt off to get ahead of you!

Therefore:

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  • Read a lot of books. Read a broad range of genres and get different views on things. You never know which inputs will click with other aspects of your life and suddenly a new idea is born, which can turn your whole life around.
  • Talk to great and inspiring people. Always surround yourself with positive and upbeat people. You will be surprised how many valuable (business) insights you can get from truly listening to some of the people around you. By listening to their concerns you might also build a business around tackling these very problems! Opportunities are everywhere.
  • Always try new approaches and think about how to do things more efficiently. Learn new techniques on how to do stuff better. Never rest on your past successes! This is the only way to succeed in the long run!

Bill Gates (Microsoft) said:

“In this business, by the time you realize you’re in trouble, it’s too late to save yourself. Unless you’re running scared all the time, you’re gone. In order for Microsoft to have maintained its competitive edge for the past three decades, it was crucial for me and all my employees to engage in a process of continual learning. ‘I don’t know’ had to become ‘I don’t know yet.’”

5. When something’s done, celebrate

Celebrating and acknowledging your progress and success is just as key as every other step mentioned here. Only when you learn how to take a step back after a great achievement and celebrate your efforts and successes can you build a sustainable lifestyle out of the pursuing your goals.

Without this final step you can easily get lost in the progress because you feel like you’re running on a treadmill and not getting ahead at all. You have to commit to a life-long journey of ups and downs and you have to be thankful for every little success you get. Be appreciative of the little steps you take. Be happy about your progress and take time to acknowledge every little or major step you have taken. It is the only way you can make your journey a sustainable and enjoyable one. Celebrate, recharge and then keep moving forward and push it to the next level!

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“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” – Oprah Winfrey

Featured photo credit: Successful business group/Heberger Site via flickr.com

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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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