Monthly Archives: May 2014

How to Deal with Distractions At Work

Distraction, procrastination and time-sinkholes comprise the terrible trio of the epidemic afflicting today’s working population.

Individually, we are pressed for time, scattered in our focus, and always trying ‘just to catch up.’ Collectively, we dribble away millions of man-hours of labor and lost productivity, and are left with an exhausted, anxious and fed-up work-force.

What can you do — on your own terms — to turn things around?

  • First, take rightful ownership of your time.
  • If you’re working for someone, they’re paying you for results.
  • You discipline yourself to get those results with the least amount of strain or stress you can, you’re half-way there already.

Get to those results, and you control the time you save yourself, for yourself. Look out for number one, that’s the ticket. They get their results, you get your control and ownership of that freed time — to live your life, you know?

You keep training yourself to manage your energy and time, to approach work with a calm and clear head, you cultivate a habit that will help you handle stress in a healthier way.

Result: You will still possess your time, it’s really a matter of training yourself to see how to partition it clearly to get the best results for yourself.

 

How to turn things around.

Be ruthless. Workplace pressures are difficult to influence. Unclear and haphazard business practices, a negative work environment, co-workers who don’t pull their own weight… there will always be things you can’t quite screen out at work, but what you can do is use the pressure to focus on what is in your power to change: your mind-set and your attitude. That is where everything starts — in your head.

In your head, you can imagine your actions and responses. You not only think, but predicts, assess, plot, and practice.

See, reactions happen in reflex. Something happens, you react.

Responses are thought out. Something happens, you take even a few seconds to breath and think about what is happening and how best to handle the situation, and you respond.

Planning and preparing ahead are vital, because it’s usually the small, regular irritants that suck us dry, and the rarer out-of-the blue events that can derail our day. Prepare ahead of time.

If you know what’s distracting you and you don’t do anything to deal with them, all the bitching in the world won’t change a damn thing. You have to take an active role in dealing with the things you don’t want to get the things you do want. No one else will do it for you. Continue reading How to Deal with Distractions At Work

The Difference Between Professionals And Amateurs

The question is old, and the answers are too, just varying with time and culture. The Greeks preferred to live a life of leisurely exploration of the mind, looking down on labor as necessary but beneath them, while in Indian culture work belonged to the first half of life, the next half meant for pursuing generosity and enlightenment.

In the hard-hitting Western culture, work is mostly about money: earning it, going after it and making more of it. That’s why when you ask what the difference is between a pro and an amateur, the most obvious answer in America is: “One gets paid, the other works for free.”

Aside from getting paid, what else marks the difference?

  • Pros do the ground work long before they need to roll things out. They keep their skills fresh, updated and relevant to the times.
  • They focus on the bottom line because they know it’s an important marker of their effectiveness, and as the result of their labor, they want it to count for something, in both financial reward for themselves and its utility for the people it’s meant for.
  • They know the value of their work and set its price accordingly

Pros and amateurs can possess the same basic knowledge in how to do what they do, but knowledge of the process does not equate to doing the work.

Professionals do the work, which includes reading the fine print, delivering what they promised, and keeping business relationships cordial, respectful and strong.

 

The uncertain economic climate has driven hundreds of thousands into a near-permanent state of anxiety and faith in a bleak future. While we’re told to “Keep going! Take charge!” going full-steam ahead won’t take us anywhere good without a definite direction, the experience to weigh choices under stress, and the discipline to handle the unknown.

Taking control helps alleviate anxiety because this time you are choosing the consequences of your actions. It’s no longer a question of If-this, Then-maybe. It’s “I choose this, this is what I’m going for.” Professionals go for it. They take calculated risks.

 

Everybody starts out as a novice. The fastest and most basic ways to learn is to copy someone who already succeeded at doing what you want to do. When you can do that well enough and understand the reasoning (the how’s and why’s) behind the process (the skill), you push yourself to go beyond the basics.

You go beyond the guided learning stages to develop a riff of your own. That development process asks you to accept that you’ll make mistakes, and that those mistakes will grow your experience more than rote study.

The biggest difference between amateurs and people who are good at what they do is that amateurs primarily think of what’s in it for them. The professionals go beyond that simple mindset and push themselves to provide things that are unique, valuable and useful for the people and the market they’ve put themselves to serve. Professionals get out of the way of The Work. Continue reading The Difference Between Professionals And Amateurs

Keep Your Work Satisfaction Up With Small Daily Victories

Have you ever watched “Office Space”? What about “The Office”, in either its British or American incarnation? Popular movies and television shows like these source a lot of their material from real-life workforce experiences and complaints, and in the very best human tradition, what we can’t change, we make jokes about. After all, laughing beats crying any day.

In real-life however, using just humor to survive working in a less-than-stellar environment can only take you so far.

Two big factors in that contributes to dissatisfaction in the work place is happiness and productivity, and they’re linked. It’s easy to admit to an idle fantasy of being paid to do nothing, but from many accounts shared online, jobs where you finish early and then spend the best part of the working day staring at the walls (or playing Solitaire), or being drowned in relentless waves of paperwork, or working on projects that get nowhere, are wearing on the soul.

As seductive as the fantasy is, the truth is that we’re not really made for scut-work. Past a certain age, our own development pushes us to find meaning in the work we do, pride in it, and no small sense of satisfaction in work done well.

When you are proud of and satisfied in the work you do, you are driven to keep that streak going. And continuing this happy event contributes to your own success:  we all want to know that our time, our efforts and our energy were well spent.

One of the ways we can get in the way of our own steady string of accomplishments is the lack of commitment. Sure, it’s nice to to be appreciated. Recognition and respect are great extrinsic (that is, external) motivators, but where it counts is the inner driving of our hearts. That’s where intrinsic factors come into play.

Things get stale. You do the same things over and over, getting the same acceptable results, but, and say it with me, ” [your] heart’s just not in it anymore.”

You just do the work on autopilot and your mind wanders onto other things, the way it’s wired to do when it it doesn’t find new stimulation. Our brains do that…and this phenomenon can work against your progress if you don’t fight it.

Given that the enemy lies right in your own head, finding the reserves to commit to daily skirmishes with work-connected boredom can be quite hard. What can you do? Continue reading Keep Your Work Satisfaction Up With Small Daily Victories