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Achieve Success by Stepping out of Your Comfort Zone

Achieve Success by Stepping out of Your Comfort Zone

You have two choices when taking on a project that you feel is beyond your expertise. You can succumb to the fear of failure and walk away or see it as an opportunity to challenge yourself and develop new skills.

Overcome your doubts by focusing on a successful outcome, developing a positive attitude and following a structured plan.

Here is a guideline to help you take on any task or project.

Get a firm understanding of what you are trying to achieve

Define the goal of the project and condense it to its core objective. It will give you a succinct idea of what actions you need to take to achieve this objective.

Also, take a cursory inventory of the milestones, people and skills that will be involved in reaching your objective.

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    Doubts come from facing the unknown. Encapsulating important information gives you an easy reference to keep you confident and focused.

    Focus on the “what” and not the “how”

    People clutter their brain with an over emphasis on maintaining a budget, delegating people and using complicated project management tools

    Remove yourself from the “how” mindset and become a visionary. Sit back, take what you know from your early notes and come up with an image of what you want to accomplish. Visualize success.

    Confidence in your abilities will come from focusing on the certainty of success, not the possibility of failure.

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    Feel confident about your work experience and talents

    Skills are transferable and your unique qualities will strengthen any endeavour.

    People define a great career by the ever-increasing amount of faith and responsibility given to an employee over many years of service. Consequently, you challenge an employee with tasks outside their comfort zone to test if they are ready to be leaders.

    A new generation of executives and managers are becoming jacks-of-all-trades and masters of some. You may not be able to draw a straight line, but if having that skill is important to the project, odds are you will learn how to do it.

    Maximize every interaction with your manager or client

    A lack of feedback will magnify your fears. In most cases, you are building on ideas and products other people have already developed. Use that to your advantage and do not frustrate yourself by trying to reinvent the wheel. Instead, work with the people that have built the foundation of the project. In the end, they are your most critical audience.

    Being dismissive and closed-minded makes your job harder. Take time to digest the material you have gathered, and come back to the decision makers to ask questions that are more specific. This helps guarantee you are making the right decisions.

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    Be aggressive but diplomatic in getting the answers you need. Carefully construct your questions and be adaptable to the answers even if it is not what you want to hear.

    Commit to your plan of attack

    People over think creative endeavours, they wander from one idea to another. However, they never take in to account the chaos this type of flip-flopping causes along the way.

    Be flexible, but at all costs try to stick to your original vision. Once you are dedicated to the path and destination, your job is to delegate, manage and deploy to get there.

    Contribute when you can and ask for help when you cannot

    If you are not artistic, but more of a right brain thinker, you may feel sheepish about offering your opinion on aesthetic issues. However, try to remember that everyone fills different need on a team.

    Ultimately, a good team blends the best of everyone’s talents, and what skill one person lacks the other brings to the project. Your job is to guide them, trust their input, offer your knowledge and lastly, help them flesh out your ideas.

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    Use the internet

    Take your time and see what others have accomplished with similar projects. Inspire yourself with the achievements of others, but beware the many dangers of plagiarism.

    Draw from the many assets your company has to offer

    Make a general request across the company for help.

    This type of crowd sourcing reduces cost by keeping everything in house. It also exposes internal talent, and brings in fresh ideas to any endeavour.

    Remember, it is natural to be hesitant when presented with what first appears to be an overwhelming project. However, you can overcome this challenge by confirming your objectives, believing in your skills, drawing confidence from your experience and standing firmly behind your choices.

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    Last Updated on April 19, 2021

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

    The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

    Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

    In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

    When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

    Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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    1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

    When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

    As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

    That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

    The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

    What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

    Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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    There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

    So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

    2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

    When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

    No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

    3. Move Your Body

    A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

    It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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    So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

    4. Connect With Another Person

    Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

    One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

    Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

    5. Use Your Imagination

    When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

    That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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    And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

    Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

    Final Thoughts

    Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

    Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

    More on the Importance of Taking a Break

    Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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