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The One Time Your Ego Serves You Well

The One Time Your Ego Serves You Well


    I’m sure you’ve heard that the ego is a bad thing.

    While stereotypical egotistical behaviour is never a good thing, there is one time when your ego serves you well. It’s when you let it do what it does best…make you think of yourself first.

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    Many of us have been raised to think this is a bad thing – that we should always put others first. The problem with putting someone else first is that unless that person is putting you first in a reciprocal fashion one hundred percent of the time, it is a downward spiral. It may be a very slow one, but if you are not caring for your own needs first, you can end up at the bottom of the food chain, so to speak. If you put others before yourself, everyone else will get taken care of and you will be last; and since there is always someone else who needs something, you will not only be last on the list, you may never get anything you need. If you put yourself first, you can take care of your own needs quite quickly and then tend to others that need it.

    Remember what flight attendants always say during the pre-flight briefing on an airplane?

    “People travelling with children or persons requiring assistance should don their own mask first before helping the other person.”

    Have you ever thought about why they say this? It is because if oxygen levels are dropping, there may only be time to put one mask on before you pass out. If you put your child’s mask on first, while he/she will have oxygen flowing, he/she may not be old enough or know how to put yours on you. You have to put your own mask on first to save you both. Is that being selfish?

    No…it’s being smart.

    As a volunteer firefighter, we have to take care of ourselves first, too. On the fire ground, there is nothing worse than a “man down” — knowing that one of our own is in trouble really makes it difficult to focus on the job we have to do. Our instructors often remind us in drills that if we hear of an emergency situation, we are to continue to do the job we’ve been tasked to, unless we are asked to help directly with the rescue. We always have a dedicated rescue team, called a Rapid Intervention Team (RIT), standing by when a team goes into a burning building. If we are careful and make sure we don’t get into trouble in the first place – run out of air when we go interior, or fall through a weak floor because we forgot to check it – then we can do our job to maximum capacity and so can everyone around us. Then we can save the victims and/or prevent the fire from spreading any farther.

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    Putting yourself first doesn’t have to take much time. Trained firefighters can don their full protective gear in less than a minute, some of which is done en route, and then they can focus on the job at hand, being courageous and saving the day and all that. How can you make sure to put yourself first? What one or two things do you need each day to start your day in the best possible way? Answer these questions for yourself and then make the commitment to take time for yourself each morning, no matter what.

    The one time it is alright to put someone else before you is when you do so consciously. This means that you carefully and selectively allow one or two people’s needs to come before your own (usually these are children), but then you firmly draw the line there so you do not end up at the bottom of your list. So if you have small children, by all means, care for them first — but don’t let anyone else creep up that list ahead of yourself.

    Put your own mask on first.

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    (Photo credit: Leo Reynolds via Flickr – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

    How about a unique spin on things?

    These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

    1. Empty your mind.

    It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

    Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

    Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

    Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

    How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

    2. Keep certain days clear.

    Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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    This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

    3. Prioritize your work.

    Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

    Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

    Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

    How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    4. Chop up your time.

    Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

    5. Have a thinking position.

    Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

    What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

    6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

    To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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    Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

    7. Don’t try to do too much.

    OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

    8. Have a daily action plan.

    Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

    Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

    9. Do your most dreaded project first.

    Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

    10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

    The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

    11. Have a place devoted to work.

    If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

    But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

    Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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    Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

    12. Find your golden hour.

    You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

    Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

    Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

    Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

    13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

    It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

    By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

    Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

    14. Never stop.

    Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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    Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

    There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

    15. Be in tune with your body.

    Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

    16. Try different methods.

    Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

    It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

    Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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