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The Way to Success: Know What It Looks Like

The Way to Success: Know What It Looks Like

I’m waiting for a meeting. It’s a biggie: depending on the report I give, someone either keeps or loses their job, in the next 20 minutes. I’ve already had two big meetings today (on of them resulting in a contact for my company which on its own takes us 20% of the way to our annual targets!). I’ve got a huge meeting to come with a very influential man in my field.

I really can’t afford to screw up at any point at all today, so I need to stay calm.

The killer question is “How?”

I’ve written in a lot of other places about tools and tricks. Here I want to concentrate on just one more – and it’s so simple I feel embarrassed typing it.

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But here goes…

Ready?

Know what success looks like.

See! Told you it was embarrassingly simple!

Here’s the deal.

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Everyone knows what it feels like to screw up, right? We all know exactly what it feels like to fail – or at least we can imagine it. It’s not hard… the laughter, the mockery, the sense of having let everyone down; the letter saying you didn’t get the job…

But what does success look like?

Okay, for getting a job the result is (usually) getting the job, fair enough (although there are jobs you’re better of not getting, trust me on this as I speak from experience!) but for much of the rest of what we do success is harder to describe.

Let’s take my big meeting last thing this afternoon. It’s with arguably the biggest name in my field (presentation skills training) in the UK and obviously I want him to think well of me.

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I can imagine a million bad scenarios in my head, but how will I know if the meeting has gone well?

Well, the trick is to figure out what ‘good enough’ looks like. That, of course, is easier said than done but the important thing is always (seriously, always) do that before you get involved. Once you’re up to your neck in something it’s impossible to be objective about things, least of all when to call it a day.

A tool we use…

One technique I’ve found to be remarkably useful is to jot down the project on a sheet of paper… make sure you write it down clearly…. and create three columns. (The image is a grab from my iPhone of a whiteboard in our office about a training day we’re planning.)

    The first is the one you’ll find easiest to fill in, so do it first: it’s examples of how you know you’ve screwed up.

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    Fill in the right hand column next – this one is the same items but now itemized as complete success. Instead of the report being late, the report is now (as an example) written a week early, giving time for reflections and reviews.

    With the right hand column filed in it’s much easier to get to the point of the exercise – filling in the middle column… the column of “Good Enough”.

    This middle column matches the others, item for item, but now things are only ‘good enough’. For example, if the first column might include the report being late and the middle column would include it being on time – just.

    Once you’ve done that, you’re finished. It really is as simple as it sounds. Like all good ideas, the main problem is remembering to use it in the first place! The ‘magic’ of it lies in forcing you to be objective.

    Featured photo credit: Sunset via Shutterstock

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    A Simple Tool to Boost Your Motivation Nothing Prevents You From Asking Questions Time Management is a Personal Problem… The Trick to Timing Presentations The Way to Success: Know What It Looks Like

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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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