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5 Ways to Be More Productive in the Office

5 Ways to Be More Productive in the Office


    Have you ever felt like you’re constantly chasing your tail at work?

    Too many scheduled meetings and then there’s the emails flying into your inbox so fast you barely have time to look at them? And yet, at the end of the day you haven’t got much done. Nothing to show for the hours of ‘hard work’ you’ve put in.

    There’s nothing worse than having an unproductive day at the office. And yet in my opinion it’s pretty easy to waste a lot of time in an office environment.

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    There are ‘unsaid’ rules that we abide by:

    • Meetings are important.
    • Email is king.
    • We must ‘look busy’ even if we’re not.
    • We must ‘look stressed’ — otherwise we can’t possibly be busy.

    The best thing you can do is throw all of these outdated rules out the window and replace them with one rule:

    Focus on output

    Not how many minutes or hours you ‘put in’, but the ‘results’ you ‘get out’ of your day.

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    The thing is, a lot of people don’t really care about results – they just care about ‘feeling busy’ and working long hours for the sake of it. But when you switch from a ‘busy’ mindset to a ‘results’ mindset your whole world starts to change.

    You have more time to spend on the important things, which equates to more results.

    Here are my top 5 tips for being productive in the office:

    1. Prioritize

    Focus on a maximum of 3 priorities each day.

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    This means ‘ignoring’ everything else on your list…until tomorrow. When we’re distracted and overwhelmed by a long list of ‘to do’ items, we can find it hard to focus on getting ‘anything’ done and procrastination takes over! Cut back and focus on the 3 most important things ONLY.

    2. Always do the most important things first

    Never, never, never start your day with your easiest or most liked tasks. Always start off with the hardest, most important task. Because this is the only way you’ll get it done.

    If you leave the hardest task until last guess what happens? You run out of time and it doesn’t get done. By tackling your hardest task first you can be certain it will get done no matter what happens.

    3. Take control of email

    For many of us, email is like a wild beast that takes over our office life. Take control of your email by limiting the time you spend checking and replying to emails. Just because there are emails there, doesn’t mean you have to reply to them all immediately. The world won’t end if you reply to an email an hour or two after it was sent.

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    I recommend only checking email 3 times a day max. Once in the morning, once just after lunch and once late afternoon. You’ll notice how much quicker you reply when you do it in bursts too. See my recent email tips for more tricks to control your emails.

    4. Make all meetings 20 minutes long

    Meetings can be the biggest waste of time. There’s an unspoken rule that all meetings must be for an hour. Why? How can all ‘topics’ neatly fit into a one-hour time slot?

    Cut down meetings to a 20 minute maximum. One way to speed them up is to do meetings standing up – people seem to magically get across their point much quicker when they’re not lounging around a board room table.

    5. Always have an agenda for all meetings

    Many meetings run over because there’s no structure to them. Insist all meeting owners provide a full agenda before any meeting detailing exactly what they want to discuss. This forces the meeting owner to do a lot of the work before the meeting and reduces any time wastage during the meeting itself.

    (Photo credit: Fast Typist via Shutterstock)

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    Zoe B

    A strategist, coach and blogger who shows people how to stop what isn't working for them in life and to start to plan the life they really want.

    How to Increase Brain Power: 10 Simple Ways to Train Your Brain 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 12 Inspiring Quotes from Richard Branson that Enrich your Life 7 Irritating Thoughts That Throw You Off Track How to Overcome Boredom

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2019

    How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Get Unstuck

    How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Get Unstuck

    There are plenty of people who successfully made a career change at the age of 40 or above:

    The Duncan Hines cake products you see in the grocery store are a good example. Hines did not write his first food guide until age 55 and he did not license his name for cake mixes until age 73.

    Samuel L. Jackson made a career change and starred alongside John Travolta in Pulp Fiction at the age of 46.

    Ray Kroc was age 59 when he bought his first McDonald’s.

    And Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart at the age of 44.

    I could keep going, but I think you get the point. If you have a sound mind and oxygen in your lungs, you have the ability to successfully make a career change.

    In this article, I’ll look into why making a career change at 40 seems so difficult for you, and how to make the change and get unstuck from your stagnant job.

    What’s Holding You Back from Making a Career Change?

    There are a flood of amazing reasons to make a career change at 40. Heck, you could argue the benefits of making a career change at any age. However, there is something a little different about making a career change at 40.

    When you are 40, you probably have lots of “responsibilities” that come into the decision-making process. What do I mean by responsibilities, you ask?

    Responsibilities tend to be our fears and self-doubt wrapped in a bow of logic and reason. You may say to yourself:

    • I have bills to pay and a family to support. Can I afford the risk associated with a career change?
    • What about the friends I have made over the years? I cannot just abandon them.
    • What if I do not like my career change as much as I thought I would? I could end up miserable and stuck in a worse situation.
    • My new career is so different than what I have been doing, I need additional training and certifications. Can I afford this additional expense and do I have the time recoup my investment?
    • The economy is not the best and there is so much uncertainty surrounding a new career. Maybe it would be better to wait until I retire from this company in 15 years, and then I can start something new.

    If you have experienced any of these thoughts, they will only pacify you for a short period of time. Whether that time is a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years.

    Since you know that you prefer to do something else for a living, you start to feel stagnant in your current position.

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    Your reasons for inaction that used to work are no longer doing the trick. What used to be a small fissure in your dissatisfaction in your current position is now a chasm.

    Ideally, you never stay in a situation until that point, but if you did, there is still hope.

    4 Tips To Change Your Career at 40

    You do not have to feel stagnant in your current role any longer. You can take steps to conquer your fears and self-doubt so you can accomplish your goal of changing your career.

    The challenge of changing your career is not knowing where to begin. That feeling of overwhelm and the fear of uncertainty is what keeps most people from moving forward.

    To help you successfully change your career at the age of 40, follow these four tips.

    1. Value Your Time Above Money

    There is nothing more valuable than your time. You are likely receiving a pay-check or two every month that is replenishing your income. Money is something you can always receive more of.

    When it comes to your time, when it is gone, it is gone. That is why waiting for the perfect situation to make a career change is the wrong mindset to have.

    Realistically, you will never find the perfect situation. There will always be something that could be better or a project you want to finish before you leave.

    By placing your time above money, you will maximize your opportunity to succeed and avoid stagnation.

    If you feel disconnected when you are at work, understand that you are not alone. According to a Gallup Poll, only 32% of U.S. employees said they were actively engaged at work.[1]

    Whether you think your talents are not being properly utilized, the politics of promotion stress you out, or you feel called to do something else with your life; the time to act is now.

    Do not wait until you retire in another 10 to 20 years to make a career change. Put a plan in place to make a career change now. You will thank yourself later.

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    2. Build a Network

    Making a career change is not going to be easy, but that does not mean it is impossible.

    One benefit to being further along in your career is the people you associate with are further along in their career as well.

    Even if most of the people in your immediate network are not in your target industry, you never know the needs of the people with whom they associate.

    A friend of mine recently made a career change and entered the real estate industry. The first thing he did was tell everyone he knew that he was a licensed real estate agent.

    It was not as though he thought everyone he knew was getting ready to sell their home. He wanted to make sure he was in the front of our mind if we spoke to anyone purchasing or selling their home.

    You may have had a similar experience with a financial adviser canvasing the neighborhood. They wanted to let you know they were a local and licensed financial adviser. Whether you or someone you knew was shopping for an adviser, they wanted to make sure you thought of them first.

    The power of your network being further along in their career is they may be the hiring manager or decision-maker.

    You want to let people know you are considering a career move early in the process, so they are thinking of you when the need arises.

    Let me put it to you in the form of a question: When is the best time to let people know you have a snow shoveling business?

    In the summer when there is not a drop of snow on the ground.

    Let them know about your business in the summer. Then ask them if it is okay to keep in touch with them until the need arises. Then you want to spend the entire fall season cultivating and nurturing the relationship. As a result, when the winter comes around, they already know who is going to shovel their snow.

    If you want to set yourself apart from your competition, start throwing out those feelers before the need arises. Then you will be ahead of your competition who waited until the snow fell to start canvasing the neighborhood.

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    Learn about networking here: How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

    3. Believe It Is Possible

    One of the greatest mistakes people make when they want to try something new, is they never talk to people living the life they want.

    If you only talk to friends who have not changed their career in 30 years, what kind of advice do you think they will give you? They are going to give you the advice that they live by. If they have spent 30 years in the same career, they most likely feel stability of career is essential to their life.

    In life, your actions often mirror your beliefs. Someone who wants to start a business should not ask for advice from someone who never started one.

    A person who never took the risk of starting a business is most likely risk adverse. Consequently, they are going to speak on the fact that most businesses fail within the first five years.

    Instead, if you talk to someone who is running a business, they will advice you on the difficulties of starting a business. However, they will also share with you how they overcame those difficulties, as well as the benefits of being a business owner.

    If you want to overcome your fears and self-doubt associated with changing your career at 40, you are going to need to talk to people who have successfully managed a career change.

    They are going to provide you a realistic perspective on the difficulties surrounding the endeavor, but they are also going to help you believe it is possible.

    Studies show the sources of your beliefs include,[2]

    “environment, events, knowledge, past experiences, visualization etc. One of the biggest misconceptions people often harbor is that belief is a static, intellectual concept. Nothing can be farther from truth! Beliefs are a choice. We have the power to choose our beliefs.”

    By choosing to absorb the successes of others, you are choosing to believe you can change your career at 40. On the other hand, if you absorb the fears and doubts of others, you have chosen to succumb to your own fears and self-doubt.

    4. Put Yourself Out There

    You are most likely going to have to leave your comfort zone to make a career change at 40.

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    Reason-being, your comfort zone is built on the experiences you have lived thus far. So that means your current career is in your comfort zone.

    Even though you may be feeling stagnant and unproductive in your career, it is still your comfort zone. This helps explain why so many people are unwilling to pursue a career change.

    If you want to improve your prospects of launching your new career, you are going to need to attend industry events.

    Whether these events are local or a large conference that everyone attends, you want to make it a priority to go. Ideally you want to start with local events because they may be a more intimate setting.

    Many of these events have a professional development component where you can see what skill-sets, certification, and education people are looking for. Here you can find 17 best careers worth going back to school for at 40.

    You can almost survey the group and build your plan of action according to the responses you receive.

    The bonus of exposure to your new industry is you may find yourself getting lucky (when opportunity meets preparation) and creating a valuable relationship or landing an interview.

    Final Thoughts

    Whatever the reason, if you want to change your career, you owe it to yourself to do so. You have valuable in-sight from your current career that can help you position yourself above others.

    Start sharing your story and desire to change your career today. Attend industry events and build a mindset of belief. You have everything you need to accomplish your goal, you only need to take action.

    More About Career Change

    Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/HY-Nr7GQs3k via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] News Gallup: Employee Engagement In US, Stagnant In 2015
    [2] Indian J Psychiatry: The Biochemistry Of Belief

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