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The Ultimate Advantage of Group Effort: Why Some Goals Require Group Effort for Faster Success

The Ultimate Advantage of Group Effort: Why Some Goals Require Group Effort for Faster Success
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I recently acquired a property that is over 100 years old and was a former stately mansion turned into a triplex. My intention was to use this as one of my rental properties in my real estate investment portfolio. Like many houses of this age, it required a lot of repair although there were still signs of former elegance including original wooden floors, stained glass, bay windows and an Italian marble fireplace (that no longer works). In fact, the property was elegant enough for film producers to do a movie shoot inside one of the rooms where Christian Slater was the leading star.

One of the apartment units was already tenanted and two were vacant by the time I took ownership. Repair issues included many cracks in the walls and ceilings, plumbing that needed fixing, lighting fixtures that needed replacing, broken windows and screens as well as a full repainting of the walls. I personally don’t have the expertise to do most of these renovations so I hired contractors to do what I cannot do.

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Why Achieving Goals Alone is Not Always Effective

In order to save some money, I initially tried to do as much of the renovations work myself and this included most of the painting, since I had already painted my own house before. I could also do other simple tasks like replace broken window screens since again, I already did that at my own residence. I was thinking that doing as much as I can on my own would be shortcuts to success in the overall renovations.

When the renovations crew came onsite, the plan was for them to repair the major cracks on the walls so I could do the painting. However, things did not turn out that way. They told me that my painting skills were quite poor being slow and messy. As a result, they would have to clean up after my mistakes.

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Ultimately, I got ‘fired’ by my own contractors, in a nice way of course since I was the guy paying them. So I was effectively demoted by my own crew to being the clean up man since that was the only thing I could not mess up.

You’ll Achieve Faster Success in Goals with the Advantage of Group

I could take the time to learn how to do many of the renovating tasks on my own because new skills just take an effort to learn. However, such skills in repairing houses would have taken me so long, that there would have been much delays in achieving the overall goal, which was to get all of the vacant apartments rented out. Each week that a unit is vacant costs a property owner money.

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So I gave in and decided upon the advice of my contractors to let them do most of the work, including painting. In many ways, getting fired by my own renovations crew was very helpful. The renovations would be completed much faster with the professionals handling these tasks. Meanwhile, this freed up my own time to focus on the things that I did well, which included marketing the vacant units to potential tenants.

In fact, the marketing campaign was so effective with my total focus, I was able to get new tenants signed up on leases before all of the renovations actually finished. This of course resulted in minimal financial loss due to vacancies.

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My example here with my real estate rental property shows that some of our goals in life are not meant to be achieved alone or in isolation. Instead, success will come easier and faster if such goals were worked on with the help from other people.

Such teamwork with others also occurs in nature as many animals including wolves and killer whales hunt together in numbers. It is much safer for these animals to bring down certain prey, especially larger and dangerous ones, if teamwork is utilized.

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The assistance of the right people involved with your goals can result in major success that you would not otherwise have achieved by yourself. So it is important to determine which of your goals should be attempted on your own and which ones are best with group effort.

Featured photo credit:  Young man touching icons of different people via Shutterstock

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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)
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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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