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How to Get Work Done Quickly by Not Being Perfect

How to Get Work Done Quickly by Not Being Perfect

    There is a dangerous mantra for doing good work:

    Ready, Ready, Aim…

    Keep aiming until every detail is in place and then — aim again.

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    It’s agonizing to grind through your work, making sure every detail is perfect. But it’s not only agonizing; it’s actually an inefficient way to work.

    The problem with working to perfection is that it causes stress that limits your productivity. You need to get the work done, it needs to be done well — but your focus on getting it perfect causes your anxiety to increase. How can you get the work done quickly…and do it well?

    I wondered about this as I watched friends finish 80,000 word manuscripts in weeks, while I kept slamming my head against a desk hoping to get a few paragraphs out for my thesis.

    It’s a frustrating feeling, but the solution is simple:

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    Stop Striving for Perfection on the First Round

    It’s much easier — and less stressful — to get the work done once and go back to refine it later.

    There is a feeling of freedom when you let go of making your work perfect and strive instead to simply finish it. And the work gets easier every time you commit to just finishing.

    When I stopped agonizing over making my work perfect, I began to write my thesis paragraphs at a time instead of one word at a time. I was happy as hell because the work was actually getting done! This ethic also carried over into other parts of my life and I found myself finishing a tremendous amount of items on my to-do list.

    My fiancée recently started a new position where she took over for a co-worker who was constantly stressed and did a tremendous amount of overtime. Two days into the job, she learned that this co-worker double-checked every detail as she did it. No wonder she always left the office stressed: she was doing double the work on every task.

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    These revelations helped me to commit to a new mantra:

    Ready, Fire, Aim.

    Now, my work schedule looks something like this:

    1. Establish Objective or Goal of the Project
    2. Work Until Objective is Met
    3. Make Necessary Adjustments

    Let your work sit, and then come back to it after your brain has had time to refresh. You’ll see mistakes (probably plenty) but don’t take it as a personal blow to your ego. In fact, tell your ego to keep its mouth shut so you can finish the job. This will lead to an increase in creative flow because your brain is focused solely on finishing the task… and nothing else.

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    It may take a few attempts to let go of that need for perfection; but it’s worth it. Next time you sit down to get something done, just keep telling yourself to finish the job and you’ll perfect it later.

    Your brain will thank you.

    (Photo credit: Closeup of Handsome Archer via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on October 15, 2018

    How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

    How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

    Do you sometimes feel that you add items to your to-do list faster than you tick them off? Do you spend most of your day worrying about your lack of time?

    The truth is, no matter how much we love our job, or how productive we believe we are under stress, there comes a moment when the pressure rises above boiling point. The sheer number of urgent tasks multiplies in a geometric progression. New possibilities no longer sound inspiring, they sound overwhelming and equal more work.

    If that’s where you are right now – keep reading! If not, it doesn’t mean you should wait until you get there to learn how to cope with a demanding work schedule and how to calm yourself down quickly when you feel overwhelmed.

    Here are 7 quick and easy tips on how to calm down when you are overwhelmed:

    1. Let go of a few activities

    Yes, it’s that easy! Take a look at your to-do list and ask yourself, “If I don’t do it today, will it matter a month from now?”

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    Not every urgent task is important. Just like not every important, high pay-off task is urgent. The best way to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed and to manage your time is to know the difference between the two and learn to simplify your life by getting your to-do list down to three big tasks.

    2. Take deep breaths to calm down

    This advice sounds so simple it’s often overlooked. But it works better (and faster) than any other relaxation technique out there.

    There is a direct connection between our emotional state and breathing. An anxious, frustrated or overwhelmed person breathes as if they have just finished running a marathon. A calm person breathes differently. Their breathing is deep, slow and steady. So when you have a panic attack, the best way to bring your heart rate down and to regain your cool is to change your breathing.

    Try this now:

    Take a slow, long deep breath in, filling your lungs with air and expanding your diaphragm. Hold your breath for four counts and then slowly release the air through your mouth. Repeat four times and notice frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed dissolve with each long exhale of these calming breaths.

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    3. Make “Just one thing” your mantra

    When we feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks on our to-do list, it’s easy to enter the ‘deer in the headlights’ state. You see deadlines approaching directly towards you, and you know that something has to be done about them, but you just don’t know where to start.

    The best way to get your mind out of an ‘inactivity trance’ is to create momentum. This is what makes the “Just one thing” mantra so powerful. It helps to change our expectation that everything has to be completed right now, “or else.”

    Next time you feel overwhelmed make grabbing a cup of coffee your “Just one thing.” You can do it, right? Then come back, pick one of the smallest tasks on your to-do list and tell yourself you’ll do just that one task. This is your next “Just one thing” that you will concentrate on until it’s complete. After that you can move on to the next task and so on.

    It’s not “One thing at a time.” Saying this implies that there is a huge line of other tasks waiting to get done and that’s not the message you want to keep repeating to yourself. Learn how to focus here and stop getting overwhelmed.

    4. Reduce the multi-tasking and multi-thinking

    It’s been proven that multi-tasking is very inefficient, to the point of dumbing us down (more than smoking marijuana does). The same is true for multi-thinking, when your mind frantically jumps from one thought to another, trying to focus on and analyze several things all at once.

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    Fortunately, there is help. A few minutes of meditation or brainwave music is all it takes to start feeling more relaxed, more creative and less overwhelmed.

    5. Get moving

    Any exercise you engage in – be it walking or dancing to your favorite beat – helps to release endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ hormones, through your body and to clear your mind.

    Staying active also increases your productivity, enhances your ability to combat stress and anxiety. It also helps you to release the tension, boosting your mood and changing the thoughts that induce the sense of being overwhelmed.

    The best part is you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get the mind-soothing benefits of exercise. Even as little as 15 minutes of dancing or jogging can go a long way towards making you feel better and staying calmer.

    6. Change your surroundings

    We all need and deserve to take vacations from work woes and family responsibilities. Unfortunately, spending two weeks lazing on a beach, toes in the sand and a Mojito in hand, is not always an option. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t take short ‘vacations’ from work stress and the technology buzz.

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    Go outside for a few minutes and enjoy the sunshine. Stop at a park instead of driving straight home from work. Sometimes changing your surroundings and ‘spicing up your routine’ is all it takes to change your perspective on things and find creative solutions to seemingly complex and overwhelming problems.

    7. Get some pet therapy

    Studies have shown what most of us already guessed – our pets can be a great help during stressful moments. Simple actions such as petting or playing with your dog or cat can lower high blood pressure, boost your immune system and boost your mood.

    Besides, pets can make the best conversation partners to share your frustrations with. They listen, they love you unconditionally and they never talk back or say, “I told you so.”

    Final thoughts

    Don’t wait for stress to hit you to start practicing these quick ways to calm down when you are overwhelmed. The best way to enjoy a worry-free life is not to push yourself to the limit of being overwhelmed and frustrated.

    Featured photo credit: Dardan via unsplash.com

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