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Unplug For Greater Productivity

Unplug For Greater Productivity

Power Plug

    We’ve all experienced those days when we sat down at our desk with a long list of things to do, and yet somehow hours later we realize that we haven’t done much, aside from checking our emails 5 times, spending hours at Lifehack.org, and instant messaging everyone we know.  For those days, when you can’t seem to beat the buzz, the greatest possible way you can ensure productivity is to disconnect from the electronics.

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    Now I’m not against the use of electronics to aid in productivity, far from.  In fact, I probably couldn’t live without my Blackberry.  But sometimes a disconnect from electronics all together will allow for a clearer mind, a mind which can become a productivity machine.

    Remember paper and pens?  Well they’re making a comeback.  It turns out that when we disconnect we don’t have to fight our own minds trying to distract us.  There is no email on your Moleskine, no instant messenger on your legal pad.  No, here all we have is a blank paper waiting for you to create.  And there is something liberating about filling a page in a notebook with your own work.

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    Here’s a strategy that I use when my electronics fail me.  First I have a notepad on my desk labeled “Distractions.”  I write down every thought that is distracting me from my task at hand, and during my scheduled breaks I can knock out the distractions, or make notes of my next action on each.  This allows me to safe keep the ideas that come during productive moments, but allows the moment to stay productive.

    Next I use an old fashion to-do list.  Generally my Blackberry serves this purpose well, but unplugging is unplugging, so I use my Moleskine for this task.  For my to-do list I take into account my energy levels, the amount of time each task will take, the lengths and times of each scheduled break, and anything else that needs to be addressed during my “analog” time.  This ensures that nothing will take me away from peak productivity.

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    Finally, there are a few things that you just can’t get around, as far as a digital disconnect goes.  For these tasks I use as rudimentary tools as possible.  Obviously you don’t want to hand write a large amount of text, especially if it needs to be in digital format.  So why not pick up an inexpensive netbook, disconnected from the internet, for these tasks.  Or at the very least, use a minimalistic text editor like JDarkRoom to minimize your distractions.  By keeping things as simple as possible, we allow for less distractions and more productivity.

    Even if you can’t unplug completely, there are easy ways to decrease the noise and get things done:

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    • Schedule the times you check your email, and limit this to 2 to 3 times per workday.
    • Take a media fast; you already know the economy isn’t doing well, how many articles do you really need to read about it?
    • turn off the music; it might be soothing, but music with lyrics tend to take our attention away from our work, and even the little distractions can kill productivity.
    • exercise the 2 call rule;  if someone calls twice consecutively, it’s probably more important than a regular call.
    • Let all other calls go to voicemail;  if you are in a position where you can call people back at scheduled times, let them know this in your voicemail greeting and stick to that schedule.
    • turn off all notifications;  alarms, instant messages, email notifications, and any other notifications that will pop up and distract you from your work.
    • Schedule unplug times;  You may require the use of a computer for your job, but you could probably get away with unplugging the ethernet for a scheduled period of time (if all else fails, act like you don’t know how it got unplugged).

    Like I said, when used properly the digital world is one of the greatest tools man has available.  But this great tool can also lead to distractions that keep us from our work.  Unplug when the need arises and create those precious moments of peak productivity.  When you  find those extra hours eachday, you’ll be thankful.

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    Ibrahim Husain

    Ibrahim is a management analyst who writes about communication tips on Lifehack.

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    Published on February 18, 2020

    How To Set Strategic Goals For A Successful Life

    How To Set Strategic Goals For A Successful Life

    There are different types of goals that you can set in your quest to become successful in life. However, when it comes to taking a leap, changing status, identifying opportunities, maximizing possibilities, and surmounting obstacles, Strategic goals are the kinds of goals that can take care of everything in the bottleneck and help you move from your current state to wherever you desire to be.

    Strategic goals produce strategic results and these include attaining positive change and repositioning of your life and status, gaining competitive advantage, achieving optimum performance, and living a balanced life, etc.

    In this article, I will share some insight into the thought process that leads to setting strategic goals, and how you can develop and make use of strategic goals to boost the key areas of your life. You will also find specific examples of strategic goals for your personal development.

    What are Strategic Goals?

    Strategic goals are specific objectives and results that you as an individual aims to achieve over a period of time, usually three to five years [1]. They are long term in nature and often emerge when you engage strategic thinking or undertake a strategic planning process.

    Perhaps, what differentiate setting strategic goals from other types of goals is that they are based on strategic response to some identified opportunities or challenges. When you want to make a new move or make major changes in your life, what you need are strategic goals.

    How to Plan for Strategic Goals

    In the strategic planning process, Environmental scan and SWOT analysis are two important tools you can utilize in your evaluation. Although these tools are primarily used in business, they can be applied to your personal situation as well and will be very helpful to you in setting your strategic goals for success.

    Environmental Scan

    Environmental scanning is an ongoing tracking of trends and occurrences in an organization’s internal and external environment that bear on its success, currently and in the future [2].

    The results of this scanning are said to be extremely useful in shaping goals and strategies.

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    As an individual, internal and external situations affects your success and future too and you need to track them to be succesful. Your internal factors include your strengths and weakness. You have control over these two and you can utilize, manage or improve on them for your own success.

    Brian Tracy highlighted 9 factors that can influence your personal success, they include education, skill, contacts, money, good work habits, positive mental attitude, positive image, creativity, and character.[3]

    Other factors that can affect your success also include market trends, economic outlook of the country you live in, government policies, advancement in technology, family situation, social influence, etc.

    You need to study these factors and review how they impact your success and progress positively or negatively.

    Personal SWOT Analysis

    The SWOT acronym stand for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

    Maximizing your talents and opportunities and managing your weaknesses and threats can boost your success rate in life. The personal SWOT analysis will help in ordering your thinking and give you different perspectives about your life. It will also help you to identify areas where you need development.

    How to Set Strategic Goals

    When you have identified the areas mentioned in the previous section, you will then be able to set strategic goals towards making the needed changes.

    Identify Strategic Issues for Strategic Goals Setting

    Strategic issues are issues that their presence or absence can contribute to your success or failure, or are capable of affecting a needed change in your life. When you carry out an environmental scan and SWOT analysis, you will be able to identify strategic issues and goals towards the end of the process.

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    These issues and goals usually come from strengths to be built on, weaknesses to be strengthened, opportunities to be taken, and threats to be avoided.[4]

    Clarify Strategic Priorities to Set Strategic Goals

    From your analysis, there is the likelihood that many issues will come up. Also, you might find that some of the problems are urgent, while some are important. Therefore, to be able to come up with more definite strategic goals, it is better to focus on the important issues.

    These important issues will represent your strategic priorities. When you know what your priorities are, you will be able to set your goals based on those priorities and create strategies based on your priorities.

    Examples of Strategic Goals for Personal Development

    To illustrate examples of strategic goals for personal development, I will assume that you have taken the environmental scan and SWOT analysis, and you have also been able to identify the issues of importance due to the gaps you have found and what you need to get to the next stage of your life. These have now become your top strategic priorities, say over the next three to five years.

    For example, your strategic priorities for your personal development for the next three to five years can be the following and they can be turned to strategic goals:

    • Develop Self-Confidence
    • Boost Personal Image
    • Advance in Education
    • Acquire More Skills
    • Achieve Work-Life Balance

    1. Develop Self Confidence

    Whatever it is that you do, exuding self-confidence is crucial to your personal success. Having self-confidence can help you perform to your highest potential as it gives you the energy and confidence to take action. It will help you to influence others as you become attractive and noticeable. It can also earn you a promotion at work.

    Plus, you’ll be more positive and make better decisions. Other than that, you will be more productive and be happier.

    The lack of self-confidence can bring apathy. You will be unable to take the necessary actions that can lead to your success thus missing out on great opportunities.

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    If you have identified a lack of self-confidence, you can set a strategic goal to boost your confidence through daily personal affirmations, reading books on personal development, relating more with people who exude confidence, attempting the things that often scare you, and probably also taking the 100 days challenge .

    2. Boost Personal Image

    Like self-confidence, the way you appear to other people says a lot about you and your chances of success. Paying attention to personal grooming; how you look and what you wear can boost your personal image and open more doors of opportunities for you. There are specific ways to dress for success. You can achieve this and still be on a budget.

    Besides dressing, you will also need to learn other attributes like wearing a warm smile when meeting people, giving a firm handshake, practice good walking steps, carriage etc. All of this will say much about your self-image. When you consciously develop this habit over an extended period of time, it becomes part and parcel of you.

    3. Enroll for Professional Masters Degree or Doctorate

    There is no end to learning and education is key to success at any stage in life. No matter how confident you are, there are some opportunities you will never able to access if you do not have the required academic qualifications.

    In your analysis, you might have identified some opportunities in your industry which you have not been able to access as a result of lack of qualification. It may also be that you sense that some new opportunities are emerging in your industry and the technical skills are not readily available. It could be your strategic goal to take an advanced study in that area so that you would have gotten the requirements by the time such an opportunity presents itself.

    A woman once took a study leave at her place of work to earn a doctorate in a reputable institution. She had sensed that there would be an opening in a tenure-based office in her organization and she was interested in that position. She got her degree around the same time the office became vacant. She applied and got the job.

    What a strategy! It may not work out for everyone like that but in her own case, it did.

    4. Acquire More Skills, Develop Existing Ones

    Skills are one of the most important assets that determine success in life. Skill-gaps limit growth, productivity, and opportunities. If you have identified skill-gap in your analysis, it’s about time to set strategic goals to acquire or develop those skills.

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    Some of the skills you’ll probably need most are problem-solving skills, creative thinking skills, management and leadership skills, IT skills, and communication skills. Acquiring and developing any of these skills will require some training, reading, learning, and conscious practice.

    5. Achieve Work-Life Balance

    One of the markers of a successful life is balance. Attaining work-life balance in this ever busy world would definitely require some strategic planning which revolves around time management.

    You have to allocate time and resources to every important aspect of your life: work, family, health, social life, spiritual life, etc and stick to your schedules as much as possible. This can be a long time strategic goal to work your way through such that in the next three to five years, you can confidently say that no aspect of your life is suffering a result of the other.

    The Bottom Line

    Climbing the success ladder in life requires strategies. In order to make strategic moves, you might have to carry out an environmental scan and SWOT analysis to identify your potentials and limitations and also identify the opportunities around you.

    This analysis will open you up to issues in your life that require attention in order to become more successful. You will then be able to set your strategic priorities based on the issues you think are most important to you.

    This then forms the basis for your strategic goals which you can set to achieve over the next three to five years.

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

    Reference

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