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9 Ways to Get Rid of All the Crap in Your Life That’s Holding You Back

9 Ways to Get Rid of All the Crap in Your Life That’s Holding You Back


    The Mayan Calendar proclaims 2012 as the Year of New Beginnings.

    But it doesn’t say that in your overloaded planner, now does it?

    Too much to do, too many responsibilities, too many meetings, deadlines and far too little time. Too much crap in the way. Feels more like the end of the world then a new beginning, right?

    It felt like that to me when I landed in the hospital over Christmas. Needles pierced my skin begging me to make changes. Three surgeries and weeks of healing later, I decided to cut the crap that is holding back my life and make 2012 the Year of New Beginnings.

    From now on all my decisions and time need to be dedicated to those matters most important to me: my health, my family, and my purpose.

    Anything not aligning with these areas had to be culled and cleared.

    When you face an illness or relationship breakdown (or any other life challenges), you start to understand the importance of prioritizing. So much of our precious and limited time is taken up with unimportant tasks and people pulling our attention this way and that.

    The good news is that you have control over where you give your attention. Wake up now and only focus on the essentials.

    What are your three most important focus areas?

    Decide on your three highest priorities. Then take action using the following nine ways to clear out the crap so you can relish every waking minute as you realign your time and energy with your priorities to recharge your life.

    1. Remove Yourself From Negative Environments

    Travelling for many years put me in a happiness bubble where everyone was friendly and kind.

    As soon as I returned to the real world (and the blogging world), I realized that there are a lot of people who love to argue. I soon found myself getting swept up in the negativity. I thought I was contributing in a positive way — or at least being helpful — but really the very act of me contributing meant that I was taking in and expending negative energy.

    It’s not just the arguing in the moment, but the processing of it afterwards that consumes many of your waking hours. I’ve learned that I can’t change people, but I can change my focus and where I hang out.

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    I have since culled several communities from my online space.

    Don’t let people rent space in your head. Make the decision to stay away from any environments that don’t serve you. Hang around only those who help you grow and are positive and encouraging.

    2. Shut Down Social Spaces

    I’m big on having as many windows open as possible when I’m working online. It drives my husband crazy, but it helps me to keep on track and not forget any important tasks I need to get back to.

    But it also ensures that I stay connected to the social sphere.

    The notification numbers flash at me and before you know it…I’m distracted by ridiculous status updates about lunch selections, tweets directing me to yet another interesting article, and the explosion of a new online argument.

    Take control and shut down the windows of your social communities. Log out. Designate times of the day to check in.

    Take advantage of some useful tools like Post Planner to schedule your updates for the day.

    You’ll soon be so involved in being productive that you won’t even notice that the social world has disappeared.

    3. Forget About Checking Email Five Times an Hour

    Why do we feel like we need to check our emails multiple times in an hour? The fear that we are going to miss out on the next big opportunity grips us as we go and check one more time.

    Just in case.

    Did we ever check the mailbox multiple times a day? No…because we trusted that whatever was wanting our attention or needing us for the next big opportunity would arrive at approximately 3 pm every weekday afternoon.

    I have found a great deal of resistance to letting this one go, which I think flags another needed change: a “desperate” mindset.

    I have organized set times during the day to check email, and outside of those times I log off and shut down. My productivity levels have increased dramatically as a result, and I could do better still.

    Turn off all your email notification pop-ups (don’t forget those phone apps) and schedule in times to check your email. I promise you are not going to miss out on anything.

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    4. Get Back To Pen and Paper

    I wrote this article sitting on a beach chair by the pool. The afternoon breeze blew the sticky heat off my skin and the rainbow lorikeets sang a sunset song to me from the banksia bushes.

    I locked the computer away inside and I let the thoughts write freely on the page with the help of my pen — the trusty one that writes well. (Admit it — we all have that one pen that we’re attached to…)

    It might seem like extra work because I will have to eventually retype the piece, but it’s not really. I am relaxed, the thoughts are flowing easily, my eyes aren’t turning square, and there are no distracting flashing neon notification lights.

    To increase your productivity, it is important to remove yourself from your normal environment and go to a creating space that does not involve technology. You will banish that stilted electronic energy and use a more natural form.

    Grab a pen and paper, a hammock (and maybe even a beer), and get creating. You’ll be amazed by the quality of your word flow.

    5. Go to Bed Early

    If you are a parent like me, you are probably thinking I am crazy for suggesting this. When the cherubs are safely tucked in their beds that is really the only time you have for productivity.

    But if you are culling in other areas, then your work hours will be filled with more space for greater productivity. Now you have time to go to bed at a decent hour.

    Studies have proven that the human being cannot function optimally if it does not get adequate rest. Burning the candle at both ends is not going to help you progress forward. You might think you are being productive but the quality of your work will suffer — not to mention the dark circles that will develop under your eyes.

    The more sleep we get, the more energy we have to create amazing work and complete tasks. Make an effort to get to bed before 11 pm every evening, aiming for no less than 6 hours sleep. Besides, going to bed early will help you achieve the very next important way to increase your productivity.

    6. Get up Early and Utilize this Focus Time

    Grab the vibrant energy that arrives with the sun. As the world is not quite up and creating chaos around you, this is the perfect time for you to snap up some hours to be highly productive.

    Leave the emails, the social sites, and the reading of other posts. Get straight to the creation work; the work that is best going to help you achieve your goals.

    You may also wish to use some of this time for exercise or meditation work. I find meditating first thing in the morning helps to clear my mind and gets me feeling relaxed, connected and fresh.

    If you get up at around 5 am this will give you a good solid two hours of focused work; it is amazing what you can achieve in this time.

    7. Say No More Often

    Life comes with a never-ending supply of parties, coffee meetups, meetings, phone conversations, dinner dates, conferences, press trips and every other imagined opportunity demanding our presence.

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    It is wonderful to feel wanted, but at what cost?

    Attending all these functions will have a detrimental effect on your lifestyle and productivity.

    Last year, I was laying the foundations for our blogging business so I said “Yes!” to everything.

    The four months previous to ending up in the hospital, I had a baby, was a single parent for two weeks, went overseas twice, travelled domestically for business three times, spoke at four conferences, and had meetings and events non-stop.

    We don’t want to miss out or let others down, so we say “Yes” instead of “No.” But this will quickly lead to a case of burnout.

    Saying “no” to those things that aren’t that essential will open up the way for those more important opportunities to take priority.

    I’ve said “no” several times this year already, and I feel less overwhelmed and more laser-focused. The right opportunities and teachers are now arriving.

    For each new invitation or request, ask yourself the following:

    “How will saying yes to this help me grow and improve in my three most important focus areas?”

    If it doesn’t, then say “no”.

    8. Improve your Diet

    Have you ever stopped to think of the crap we put into our bodies? I’ve paid attention to this recently while implementing some very specific dietary lifestyle changes.

    After a week, it became glaringly obvious the reason for my slump in energy and frumpiness, when I lost 4 kilograms and my natural energy levels shot through the roof.

    My productivity levels were now matching my energy.

    Reduce the animal fats and sugar in your diet. Eat to live, not live to eat. I now follow the diet of the Okinawan race in Japan who have the longest life expectancy, and little incidence of heart disease and diabetes.

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    Basically 2/3 of your diet should be plant food and 1/3 meat, comprising of mostly fish.

    Your health is your most important asset. Don’t push it to the side any longer.

    9. De-clutter your Environment

    You’ll notice that up until now you have culled in order to improve your work and health, now it is important that you clear up that stale energy around you.

    Letting your head space be taken up with so many unimportant tasks means that we allow the papers to build up around us. And it’s not just the paper, but the clothes, the toys, the gadgets — all those things we haven’t used in months or years.

    Usually, we are holding onto them either because we are too lazy (or busy) to clean it, or we have that “lack” mentality that tells us to hoard…just in case.

    If you haven’t used it in a year, then you don’t need it. I like to assess my belongings on the basis of a year to account for the change of seasons — mostly in regards to clothing. All other items can be assessed on a shorter period of time.

    As a traveller, I want more memories and less stuff. Culling comes easy for me.

    I recently discovered old journals filled with the pain of past mistakes and regrets. I am focused on moving forward; holding onto a past I no longer want does not help me with that. I threw them directly in the bin to free up that positive energy space for me.

    What are you holding onto that you no longer need? Start with a different section of your room every day to declutter.

    Ask yourself these questions:

    • Do I really use you?
    • Is holding on to you going to help me move forward and enable me to be productive?

    In Closing

    The end of the Mayan Calendar does not really mean the end of the world. It just signifies another cycle; a cycle that gives us permission to break free from the crap that holds us back.

    All you need to do now is decide. Are your dreams worth it? Do you believe in them enough? If you do then the choice becomes pretty simple.

    No more crap. Just new beginnings.

    (Photo credit: Conceptual Image of Papers Coming Out of a Man’s Head via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on February 18, 2019

    How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

    How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

    These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

    58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

    Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

    “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

    Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

    1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

    The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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    Encourage Your Employees

    When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

    Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

    Offer Rewards

    Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

    The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

    Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

    Give Autonomy

    Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

    Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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    Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

    2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

    I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

    Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

    For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

    We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

    Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

    A To Do Scheduling System

    Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

    The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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    I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

    With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

    Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

    3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

    The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

    “The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

    An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

    What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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    Ask If They like What They’re Doing

    If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

    There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

    “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

    The Bottom Line

    Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

    Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

    For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

    Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

    More Resources About Team Management

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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