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The 10 Biggest Blunders That Keep You Away From Success

The 10 Biggest Blunders That Keep You Away From Success

Success. What is it and why is it that some people seem to be blessed with success all the time and others just aren’t?

It’s not magic. There are simple traps that many of us fall into that hold success just out of reach.

First of all, let’s define the word “Success”. According to Miriam Webster online there are two very different definitions of “Success”. Here they are.

Success:

“the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame”

“the correct or desired result of an attempt”

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If you want wealth, respect, or fame, the first one is for you. If you have a particular aim or goal in mind, definition number two applies.

In either case, success can be achieved by anyone, but you must be cautious, as there are some very real traps that can keep you from achieving your goals and success. Here are the main ones:

1. Ignorance

It sounds simple enough but you would be surprised at how many people are rock-headedly ignorant and think they know it all! Thinking you know it all already is a sure way to keep from learning anything about what you need to know to be successful. The people who are the most successful in their chosen fields have decided that they needed to learn everything they could about their field, and they never would have done so if they had already thought they knew it all.

I have seen people who are stone cold failures and still will not listen to anyone who tries to help them learn something. It is sad really because their situation will never change until they decide that there is something to learn, and then set about trying to learn it.

2. Too much useless or false information

This is a big problem because the question arises: “How do you know if information is true or not?” There is soooo much false information out there, so it can be difficult‒if not impossible‒to tell which information is true.

Well, I am here to give you a valuable piece of information and it is this: if you use the information as recommended and it works, it is true. If not, you either did not use It correctly or it is wrong. Try it out and see if it works. Then you’ll know.

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Another way of deciding whether information will be useful is to look at the source of the information. Is it credible? Has the person who is giving you the information had measurable success with it? These are simple quick and easy tests you can run through to see if information is valuable.

For example, imagine that a person is trying to sell a learning method. If they have a lot of successful students who can learn and apply the information and then become successful with it, you can bet that the claims they are making are true.

3. Being superficial

Whether you are studying for your field or working in your field, put your heart and soul into it. While learning, learn everything you can. While working, do everything you can. Find out about all the inner workings of the various aspects of your job. Be very curious and ask yourself why things are the way they are.

Remember, your work should be something you are passionate about. If you are not, your chances of success are limited. The passionate people are the ones who draw others to them and take the time and expend the effort necessary to get ahead. The absolute worst thing you can do is work just for a paycheck.

4. Taking shortcuts

This is similar to my last point except that even passionate people can be tempted to take shortcuts. Remember! If there is not enough time to do it right, there is even less time to do it over! Sit down and do the job properly. This is true with every job in life. Put your attention on it, send the distractions on their way and get it done right.

5. Listening to naysayers

You know those annoying people who come to you saying, “It can’t be done.” or, “Its been done before.” or, “What makes you think you can do it when so many others have failed?”

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These people are simply trying to stop you for reasons that they are not saying. Perhaps you being successful when they have failed makes them wrong in some fashion. Perhaps they are just jealous. Perhaps they have been listening to too many other naysayers. In any case, this has nothing to do with you. Their failures are their failures and have nothing to do with your success.

6. Settling for “Plan B”

Plan B is the plan that you were told you should have to “fall back on,” especially if you have chosen a career in the arts. I don’t know where this idiocy came from because when you look at it, there is art all around you. There are movies and films and music everywhere. It stands to reason that someone somewhere is paying for it.

If you have a passion for something other than a “real job” go for it! Find those who are successful and find out what they did to be successful, and then do that! It really is that simple. There are steps to success in any field and most people who are successful in their fields are willing to help an enthusiastic person find their way. Find out the steps that lead to success and take them.

7. Not keeping your focus.

It is so easy to get distracted in this day and age. Everywhere people and various media outlets are desperately trying to get your attention. A lot of what they are pumping out is really interesting too!

More than ever we have to manage our distractions and be ruthless about not allowing them to take over. Schedule your time for the things you know are distracting but do not lead to your goal. You don’t have to give up your favorite distractions but you do need to manage them and keep them from eating all your time and energy.

8. Failing to write out the steps you need to take daily to move forward toward your goal.

This is so important, and it ties in nicely with my last point. Distractions can easily creep in when you don’t have a clear idea of what you need to actually do to move forward.

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In my line of work, I have so many projects and I love taking on more. If I don’t write down a “battle plan” of the things I need to get accomplished every day, I can pretty much call that day wasted. I will get up and fog around the house doing nothing of value until I realize that it is time for my afternoon appointments.

If I have a battle plan or a “To Do” list, not only do I get more done, but I can look at it at the end of the day and see how productive I was. This aids morale because you are as happy as you are productive in life. When you see that you have gotten a lot done, you are a lot more motivated to do more.

9. Underestimating the amount of effort required to achieve your goal.

It is sometimes very difficult to know how much effort you need to expend to really get moving on a path toward success. In that case, it is safer to overestimate than underestimate. Assume that you will be working your buns off. If that large of an effort is not required, it will be a pleasant surprise. If it is, you will be ready.

Any goal that you are going after will require effort and in most cases, lots of it. If you are ready for it and willing to expend your effort smartly, you will succeed.

10. Thinking that someone else’s definition of success will work for you.

At the beginning of my post, I gave you two definitions of “Success,” but there is another definition that is infinitely more important‒your own, personal definition of success. Sit down and write it out exactly. What does success mean to you? Without a clear idea of what you are going after you will not be able to reach it. If you know exactly what you want, you will know with each and every action you take whether or not it is taking you closer to your goal.

Once you do that, look at the traps and make sure you are not falling into them. They can be insidious, meaning they can sneak up on you. Be aware and keep a copy of this article in hand and refer to it every so often.

Write me and let me know how it is going. You can put your note or questions in the comments section and I will respond.

Good luck!

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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