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Mistakes Can Lead to Better Organization

Mistakes Can Lead to Better Organization

    Not long ago I got two great chances to fly by the seat of my pants. And, I HATE flying by the seat of my pants. I’d rather go to the dentist or chew aluminum foil! Whether I’m scheduled to speak to audiences for fee or for free, I prepare very carefully. I want people to leave my speeches ready to take action and change their lives. Being prepared grounds me to be able to handle the stress of speaking and whatever else comes my way.

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    Last Thursday I was ready to speak to a study group of the American Society of Interior Designers. I was more nervous than usual because two men from a local speaker’s bureau were going to be in attendance to see if I’m the kind of speaker their company wants to represent. I thought I had my act completely together. I was going to do a slide presentation which required that I use my laptop computer. As I got ready to set up I suddenly realized that I’d left my computer on the kitchen counter, at least 40 minutes away. My first thought was, “Well, I guess you’ve got to make every mistake possible as a speaker so you can learn from them!” I’ve come a long way from the days when I would have bludgeoned myself with, “How could you be so stupid!”

    As I usually do when faced with a sudden challenge like that, I went into problem-solving mode. I’d given that speech many times without using slides. I could certainly do that again. And, that’s what I did. I spent some time calming myself down, mentally reviewing the material, and I gave a good speech. Under the circumstances I was pleased to have been able to do that. Had I not been well organized in every other way, it would have been much harder to recover and give my audience a good experience.

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    The next day I made sure I took my laptop to do a speech for employees in the Mortgage Division of Village Bank. Again, I was very organized, and I was pleased that I’d remembered the laptop. I thought to myself, “You’re really ready this time!” Wrong!!!!

    With the help of some Village Bank employees I began to set up my computer to project my slides through their system. That’s when it hit me that though I had the computer, I had left my power cord at home. I had to laugh at myself. Another lesson! You need both the computer and the power cord to run a slide presentation.

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    Fortunately, the Village Bank people were so nice, helpful and understanding. One man had a flash drive I was able to load my speech onto and I was able to project it through their system. There’s more than one way to skin a cat! Or rather, there’s more than one way to project a slide program!

    Having made those two amazing mistakes back to back gave me the impetus to get more systematic about loading my AV bag. Most items in my AV bag never leave it between speeches. My computer and power cord do. My current solution to make sure I’m never without my computer and power cord again is to have two red cords with tags attached to them that read “Computer” and “Power Cord” tied to my bag handles when those items are not in the bag. They are my cues to check to make sure the computer and power cord are in the bag. When I put the computer in the bag, I take the tag off and put it in the bag. When I pull the computer out of the bag I tie the tag to the handle. I’ll do the same thing with the power cord tag. And, for good measure, I’m putting a flash drive with my speeches on it in the bag.

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    Making mistakes can lead to good organizing solutions! I’ll bet I’m not likely to forget my computer or power cord again, or at least not any time soon!

    What mistakes have you made that caused you to reorganize and improve a process?

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    Last Updated on May 20, 2019

    How to Prevent Inaction from Leading to Regret

    How to Prevent Inaction from Leading to Regret

    Time.

    When you think of this construct, where do you see your time being spent?

    As William Shakespeare famously wrote “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me…”

    Have you used your time wisely? Are you where you want to be?

    Or do you have unfinished goals to attain… places you want to be, things you still need to do?

    The hard truth is, that time once passed cannot be replaced–which is why it is common to hear people say that one should not squander time doing nothing, or delay certain decisions for later. More often than not, the biggest blocker from reaching our goals is often inaction – which is essentially doing nothing, rather than doing something. 

    There are many reasons why we may not do something. Most often it boils down to adequate time. We may feel we don’t have enough time, or that it’s never quite the right time to pursue our goals.

    Maybe next month, or maybe next year…

    And, before you know it, the time has passed and you’re still no where near achieving those goals you dream about. This inaction often leads to strong regret once we look at the situation through hindsight. So, take some time now to reflect on any goal(s) you may have in mind, or hidden at the back of your mind; and, think about how you can truly start working on them now, and not later.

    So, how do you start?

    Figure Out Your Purpose (Your Main Goal)


    The first important step is to figure out your purpose, or your main goal.

    What is it that you’re after in life? And, are there any barriers preventing you from reaching your goal? These are good questions to ask when it comes to figuring out how (and for what purpose) you are spending your time.

    Your purpose will guide you, and it will ensure your time spent is within the bounds of what you actually want to accomplish.

    A good amount of research has been done on how we as humans develop and embrace long-term and highly meaningful goals in our lives. So much so, that having a purpose has connections to reduced stroke, and heart attack. It turns out, our desire to accomplish goals actually has an evolutionary connection–especially goals with a greater purpose to them. This is because a greater purpose often helps both the individual, and our species as a whole, survive.

    Knowing why it is you’re doing something is important; and, when you do, it will be easier to budget your time and effort into pursuing after those milestones or tasks that will lead to the accomplishment of your main goal.

    Assess Your Current Time Spent

    Next comes the actual time usage. Once you know what your main goal is, you’ll want to make the most of the time you have now. It’s good to know how you’re currently spending your time, so that you can start making improvements and easily assess what can stay and what can go in your day to day routine.

    For just one day, ideally on a day when you’d like to be more productive, I encourage you to record a time journal, down to the quarter hour if you can manage. You may be quite surprised at how little things—such as checking social media, answering emails that could wait, or idling at the water cooler or office pantry —can add up to a lot of wasted time.

    To get you started, I recommend you check out this quick self assessment to assess your current productivity: Want To Know How Much You’re Getting Done In A Day?

    Tricks to Tackle Distractions

    Once you’ve assessed how you’re currently spending your time, I hope you won’t be in for too big of a shock when you see just how big of an impact distractions and time wasters are in your life.

    Every time your mind wanders from your work, it takes an average of 25 minutes and 26 seconds to get into focus again. That’s almost half an hour of precious time every time you entertain a distraction!

    Which is why it’s important to learn how to focus, and tackle distractions effectively. Here’s how to do it:

    1. Set Time Aside for Focusing

    One way to stay focused is to set focused sessions for yourself. During a focused session, you should let people know that you won’t be responding unless it’s a real emergency.

    Set your messaging apps and shared calendars as “busy” to reduce interruptions. Think of these sessions as one on one time with yourself so that you can truly focus on what’s important, without external distractions coming your way.

    2. Beware of Emails

    Emails may sound harmless, but they can come into our inbox continuously throughout the day, and it’s tempting to respond to them as we receive them. Especially if you’re one to check your notifications frequently.

    Instead of checking them every time a new notification sounds, set a specific time to deal with your emails at one go. This will no doubt increase your productivity as you’re dealing with emails one after the other, rather than interrupting your focus on another project each time an email comes in.

    Besides switching off your email notifications so as not to get distracted, you could also install a Chrome extension called Block Site that helps to stop Gmail notifications coming through at specific times, making it easier for you to manage these subtle daily distractions.

    3. Let Technology Help

    As much as we are getting increasingly distracted because of technology, we can’t deny it’s many advantages. So instead of feeling controlled by technology, why not make use of disabling options that the devices offer?

    Turn off email alerts, app notifications, or set your phone to go straight to voicemail and even create auto-responses to incoming text messages. There are also apps like Forrest that help to increase your productivity by rewarding you each time you focus well, which encourages you to ignore your phone.

    4. Schedule Time to Get Distracted

    Just as important as scheduling focus time, is scheduling break times. Balance is always key, so when you start scheduling focused sessions, you should also intentionally pen down some break time slots for your mind to relax.

    This is because the brain isn’t created to sustain long periods of focus and concentration. The average attention span for an adult is between 15 and 40 minutes. After this time, your likelihood of distractions get stronger and you’ll become less motivated.

    So while taking a mental break might seem unproductive, in the long run it makes your brain work more efficiently, and you’ll end up getting more work done overall.

    Time is in Your Hands

    At the end of the day, we all have a certain amount of time to go all out to pursue our heart’s desires. Whatever your goals are, the time you have now, is in your hands to make them come true.

    You simply need to start somewhere, instead of allowing inaction waste your time away, leaving you with regret later on. With a main goal or purpose in mind, you can be on the right track to attaining your desired outcomes.

    Being aware of how you spend your time and learning how to tackle common distractions can help boost you forward in completing what’s necessary to reach your most desired goals.

    So what are you waiting for? 

    Featured photo credit: Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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