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How to Prepare for the First Time at Anything

How to Prepare for the First Time at Anything

    The first time for everything is always the most exciting one. Whether it is your first day in a new job or going on a first date, you will always remember those “first” times.

    Not only is there a lot of excitement loaded in those events, but there is also a fear of some sort included. You may be thinking about whether or not you are able to perform well enough, or what the other person (or persons) think of you if you fail.

    Instead of having thoughts like that, what if you turned the first time into a very positive and exciting event?

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    Here are some steps to make you feel better when entering new situations that you feel anxious about, allowing you to prepare better.

    1. Ditch the perfection

    On very rare occasions can you manage to do something perfectly the first time you do it, so when you do something for the first time, it is time to ditch the notion of perfection.

    I remember the first time I drove a car in traffic after getting my driver’s license. I was very nervous and I was overwhelmed by the traffic — my driving style showed that I wasn’t a very confident driver. Now I’m much more experienced as a driver. Although I still don’t consider myself a perfect one, I’m much more confident behind the wheel than what I was when I started.

    In general, it is useless to strive for perfection when you do something for the first time. You are setting the bar too high and you just feel bad when you are not able to meet the level you have set.

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    Also, perfection is just another way to procrastinate, so trying to be perfect is just a waste of time. You want to pursue excellence instead.

    2. Forget what others think

    In order to decrease the stress you feel about your first time, just forget what others are thinking of you.

    First, many people don’t really care that much if you happen to fail at something. If you are open about your inexperience, they are most likely to forgive your inability to perform well.

    Second, remember that others have also started from “zero” as well (driving a car, giving a public speech, going out for a date, etc.).

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    Third, focus on your own performance — not on others. For instance, if you’re going to be running in your first marathon ever your goal is just to pass the finish line, not to run a new world record.

    3. The time you spend doesn’t matter

    One common characteristic of doing something for the first time is that it is most likely to be more time-consuming than subsequent times. If you are inexperienced, the first few times you are just going to be learning anyway — and hopefully getting better in the process.

    Just take your time and try to learn as much as possible as you go. You will realize that the second time is much easier, since you already have some experience in your pocket.

    4. Plan and prepare

    If possible, try to plan and prepare as much as possible before doing something new. This way you will gain more self-confidence, and by planning and preparing you actually may have a bit more control of things.

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    But you don’t always have that sense of control. For instance, if you are going out on a first date, you cannot plan every possible topic to talk about in advance — nor is it reasonable to do that.

    On the other hand, if you are going to take a certification test related to your profession, you can study and prepare so that you can reach a whole different level when you take the exam.

    5. Prepare for the second time

    Once you have gone through your “first time experience”, you’ll have broken the biggest barrier of all. The excitement and fear is most likely gone and the next time won’t be that scary anymore.

    To make the next time even a smoother experience, do these two things during your first time:

    •  Take notes. It never hurts to write things down as you go. These notes can help you to feel more confident and you can go them through when preparing for the second time
    •  Run through a checklist. Create a checklist, so that you can prepare even better for the next time. For example, to prepare yourself to give a presentation, write down a checklist to go through before the actual event. This way you can make sure that all the necessary requirements are met before the presentation begins.

    Conclusion

    You’ll never be fully prepared for the first time at everything, but if you use the tips above the next time you face something new you’ll have a much better chance to enjoy the experience. And then you’ll want to do it again.

    Photo credit: Young Man Holding a Clock via Shutterstock)

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    Timo Kiander

    Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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    Last Updated on May 22, 2020

    10 Practical Ways to Improve Time Management Skills

    10 Practical Ways to Improve Time Management Skills

    Do you often feel stressed out with too much work or too many responsibilities? As time passes, do you feel like you have more tasks on hand than you have time to do them?

    The trick is to organize your tasks and use your time effectively to get more things done each day. This can help you to lower stress levels and improve your productivity both at work and at home.

    Time management skills take time to develop and will look different for each person. Finding what works best for you and your busy schedule is key here.

    To get you started, here are 10 ways to improve your time management skills and increase productivity.

    1. Delegate Tasks

    It is common for all of us to take on more tasks than we are capable of completing. This can often result in stress and burnout.

    Delegation does not mean you are running away from your responsibilities but are instead learning proper management of your tasks. Learn the art of delegating work to your subordinates as per their skills and abilities and get more done. This will not only free up time for you but will help your team members feel like an integral piece of the work puzzle.

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    2. Prioritize Work

    Before the start of the day, make a list of tasks that need your immediate attention. Unimportant tasks can consume much of your precious time, and we tend to offer these too much of our energy because they are easier or less stressful.

    However, identifying urgent tasks that need to be completed on that day is critical to your productivity. Once you know where to put your energy, you will start to get things done in an order that works for you and your schedule.

    In short, prioritize your important tasks to keep yourself focused.

    3. Create a Schedule

    Carry a planner or notebook with you and list all the tasks that come to your mind. Being able to check off items as you complete them will give you a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated.

    Make a simple ‘To Do’ list before the start of the day, prioritize the tasks, and focus on the essentials. Make sure that these tasks are attainable, too. If there is a big task you need to complete, make that the only thing on your list. You can push the others to the next day. 

    To better manage your time management skills, you may think of making 3 lists: work, home and personal.

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    4. Set up Deadlines

    When you have a task at hand, set a realistic deadline and stick to it. Once you set a deadline, it may be helpful to write it on a sticky note and put it near your workspace. This will give you a visual cue to keep you on task.

    Try to set a deadline a few days before the task is due so that you can complete all those tasks that may get in the way. Challenge yourself and meet the deadline; reward yourself for meeting a difficult challenge.

    5. Overcome Procrastination

    Procrastination is one of the things that has a negative effect on productivity. It can result in wasting essential time and energy. It could be a major problem in both your career and your personal life[1].

    Avoiding procrastination can be difficult for many. We tend to procrastinate when we feel bored or overwhelmed. Try to schedule in smaller, fun activities throughout the day to break up the more difficult tasks. This may help you stay on track.

    6. Deal With Stress Wisely

    Stress often occurs when we accept more work than we are capable of accomplishing. The result is that our body starts feeling tired, which can affect our productivity.

    Stress comes in various forms for different people, but some productive ways to deal with stress can include:

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    1. Getting outside
    2. Exercising
    3. Practicing meditation
    4. Calling up a friend
    5. Participating in your favorite hobby
    6. Listening to music or a podcast

    The key is to find what works for you when it comes to lowering your stress response. If you don’t have time for anything else, try a couple of breathing techniques. These can be done in minutes and have been proven to lower stress-inducing hormones.

    7. Avoid Multitasking

    Most of us feel that multitasking is an efficient way of getting things done, but the truth is that we do better when we focus and concentrate on one thing. Multitasking hampers productivity and should be avoided to improve time management skills.

    Make use of to-do lists and deadlines to help you stay focused! This way you can do better at what you’re doing. Wait until you finish one before starting another. You’ll be surprised by how much more you’re able to get done.

    8. Start Early

    Most successful people have one thing in common — they start their day early as it gives them time to sit, think, and plan their day.

    When you get up early, you are more calm, creative, and clear-headed. As the day progresses, your energy levels start going down, which affects your productivity, motivation, and focus[2].

    If you’re not a morning person, you can just try waking up thirty minutes earlier than your normal time. You’ll be amazed by how much you can get done in that bit of time. If you don’t want to use it to work, use it to do a bit of exercise or eat a healthy breakfast. This kind of routine will also contribute to your productivity during the day.

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    9. Take Regular Breaks

    Whenever you find yourself feeling tired and stressed, take a break for 10 to 15 minutes. Too much stress can take a toll on your body and affect your productivity.

    And even better, schedule your break times. It helps you to relax and gets back to work with energy again later. If you know a break is coming, you’ll likely be able to overcome boredom or a lack of motivation to push through the task at hand.

    Take a walk, listen to some music, or do some quick stretches. The best idea is to take a break from work completely and spend time with your friends and family.

    10. Learn to Say No

    Politely refuse to accept additional tasks if you think that you’re already overloaded with work. Take a look at your to do list before agreeing to take on extra work.

    Many people worry that saying no will make them look selfish, but the truth is that saying no is one of the best ways to take care of yourself and your time. When you take care of this, you’ll find you have more energy to devote to the important things, which the people around you will ultimately appreciate.

    Final Thoughts

    When you get clear about what’s on your plate, you’ll be more focused and get more done in less time.

    Good time management requires a daily practice of prioritizing tasks and organizing them in a way that can save time while achieving more. Use the above strategies for few weeks and see if they help you. You may be surprised just how much more time you seem to have.

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    Featured photo credit: Brad Neathery via unsplash.com

    Reference

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