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No Results Even Though You’ve Been Working Hard? You Need These 6 Tips.

No Results Even Though You’ve Been Working Hard? You Need These 6 Tips.

You think you have been working hard without results?  Try “The Marshmallow Challenge.”  The Marshmallow Challenge is a design exercise.  In eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top.

The Marshmallow Challenge takes place at corporate retreats all over the country. The teams are usually made up of four people and they jockey for power or to avoid power in the group, plan and then build their marshmallow tower. At about sixteen minutes they panic, put the marshmallow on top and the tower falls over. Why? Why did they get no results even though they worked hard?

Tom Wujec at Autodesk talks about who has been successful at The Marshmallow Challenge and what groups have not been so successful.  Recent business school graduates have the least amount of success. Recent Kindergarten graduates are one of the most successful groups.

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Here are some reasons why the Kindergarten graduates show results for their hard work. If you follow these advices, you will soon see results from your hard work.

1. Take naps.

Regular rest is the key to showing results. When a person is tired and stressed their mind is not at its best and the effective ideas are not flowing.

2. Prototype.

When Tom Wujec ran The Marshmallow Challenge with most adult groups they built the entire structure before putting the marshmallow on top. They usually placed the marshmallow on top at the two minute warning and then the structure collapsed, and there was not enough time to fix it or create a new plan.

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When the Kindergarten kids built their towers they would build one within the first few minutes and put on the marshmallow. The tower would collapse. Then they would build a different tower. It would collapse. Then another tower and this one would stand. The Kindergarten kids put the marshmallow on top throughout the eighteen minutes, building prototypes until they found a tower that worked.

3. Revise your plan.

The building of prototypes allowed the Kindergarten kids to see what would and wouldn’t work so they could revise their plan. The adult groups didn’t allow themselves enough time to revise their plans.

4. Be patient.

Eighteen minutes is not a lot of time, but it is enough to build a marshmallow tower. I had a very successful sales manager once say to a very successful sales person I know that most sales people stop calling on a prospect too soon. They underestimate the time it takes to build trust. You have to repeat something seven to fifteen times before someone remembers the message you are sending.

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5. Focus on the marshmallow.

The key piece is the marshmallow, not the tower. Have a specific written out goal you are trying to achieve. How can you produce results if you don’t clearly know what you are trying to achieve.

6. Believe in the tower.

You have to trust your tower, after prototypes and a plan, can hold the marshmallow. Successful business people have to believe in their product. If you sell the product you have to believe it is good for your customers. If you manufacture the product you have to believe it serves a purpose. You can be the best salesperson in the world and if you don’t believe in what you are selling you will never be successful long term.

There is an old poster I used to see in people’s offices at work and at my dentist office that read, “Everything I Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten”. Maybe that poster is closer to the truth than I realized when I first saw it.

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Featured photo credit: http://photopin.com/ via Michelin

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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