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7 Tiny Changes That Can Drastically Improve Your Life

7 Tiny Changes That Can Drastically Improve Your Life

Change affects all. But change is complicated. Some people claim that extending an otherwise small habit and consuming it quickly produces the most effective change. They might have a point. After all, there are success stories of people who quit cold turkey. So it’s definitely true that change works differently for different people. But the kind of change that uplifts you is accessible without the choking that comes with drastic introductions. It’s called adding tiny changes. Add one tiny change each day, and they’ll accumulate over time, eventually resulting in a better you. So if you’re ready to improve life. Here are seven to try.

1. Change the self-talk you wake up with

The thoughts that enter into our just awoken minds are often the same ones that drift to sleep with us. Now, I know it might be a bummer when you wake up and don’t feel well or you glance at the window and it’s gloomy out. You obviously can’t control either of them. But rather than directing attention to uncontrollable things, seek out the inner thoughts that can deeply affect the rest of your day. Our inner self-talk is one legendary component. Sometimes I wake up, and pessimistic thoughts pummel me. One useful trick I use is to repeat a couple short mantras or affirmations before I get out bed. Think of how amazing it is that you’re changing into something, and able to choose so much!

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2. Change one thing you listen to while commuting

You’ll manage just fine, even if there is a loud, misbehaving child on the bus to work or another driver just cut you off. Podcasts are great audible entertainment paired with educational information. You can download them from a digital media store and then store them in an mp3 player or smartphone. Devour at least one on the drive or commute to work and the time is almost guaranteed to go by quicker. You’ll also emerge to your destination with a little more readiness to aid you in just about any situation.

3. Change what you drink first thing in the morning

What’s the first thing you drink in the morning? A tall glass of milk? How about a mug of warm coffee? They aren’t bad drinks in themselves, but maybe the best alternative is water. Water is a power team of hydration, nutrition, and customizable taste. Throw in a fresh citrus slice for an all-natural sweetener. Drink one glass of water before anything else, and you’ll likely feel refreshed and hydrated before reaching for something more sugary and dehydrating.

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4. Change your relationship to the universe

As night breaks, your routine might consist of curling in front of the television or surfing on the web. By all means, you don’t have to break your television or internet, just spend a minute or two taking advantage of the shortening of the days and embrace the night sky. If that doesn’t suit you, spend a few minutes a day on an astronomy site and look up pictures of space. It’s humbling to think that you’re here, and everything else is so distant. You might feel overwhelmed and even a little depressed, but keep looking and think of intertwining yourself with the universe in harmony. Comparing human anxieties and problems to cosmological spectacles is like comparing a child’s toy to a planet.

5. Change the method you use to debate

Named after the iconoclastic Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, the Socratic Method can rip apart ingrained beliefs. The instructions are simple. Identify a declarative statement in an argument or in a belief. Respond with a question predicated on a contradiction to the original statement, and take the altered statement into account. Ask a new question. So if someone argued that all people like ice cream, think of a question that doesn’t necessarily make it true. Do people with lactose intolerance like ice cream? Your opponent will probably respond and declare that people with lactose intolerance only like certain types of ice cream. Then introduce a new statement, so it includes the alternative answer. So people with lactose intolerance only like certain types of ice cream. Finally, ask a new question. What makes lactose intolerant people like certain types of ice cream and so forth? Use this on one argument of your own or on another person’s argument.

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6. Change how you confront anxiety

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, has helped countless people with their psychological problems. The ABC method is one little charm that can highlight your most harmful behaviors. To trace a damaging behavior back into its inception, first label the event (A), the beliefs you may have held about it at the time (B), and then the pattern of behavior or emotions that followed (C). Let’s say your best friend didn’t greet you this morning. You believed that they wanted to terminate your friendship with them, and so you felt angry and glared at them. Try keeping a journal and using the ABC method to interpret behavior a little better.

7. Change how you praise yourself

Most of us crave compliments. Compliments are actually tools used to remind us of all the good things we are and deserve. Unfortunately, compliments are often forgotten and washed away into downtrodden seas. Counter that by starting a compliment file and putting one in today. Use whatever digital or physical material you prefer, and observe the compliments people or yourself praise you with. Once you got one, write the compliment down and detail the compliment if you can. So if someone insisted your cooking is amazing, you could write that down and the meal you made for them. You could even take a picture of them eating the food (if they agree of course), and clip it below the details for a hands-on sensory experience. Highlight or tag the ones that echo most true to you and read it whenever you need a quick pick-me-up. Regardless if some of the compliments are genuine or not, you’ll feel better knowing that you’re paying more attention to them.

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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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