Tag Archives: self-care

Getting Things Done Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

With everything technology has given us in the ways of getting in touch with one another, the demands that come with being always connected has set work culture up to be quite a free-for-all, one with numerous competing bids for our attention. When you can talk to anyone from anywhere, anytime, you can be reached everywhere, all the time. Unless, of course, you’ve taken precautions.

When you have a good system in place to filter those demands, that takes a weight off you. Still, there are always days where it’s all you can do to somehow slog through your workload.  It can be wearing on a daily basis, but consistently having bad days? That’s a recipe for burn out, mentally and emotionally. In that case, prevention can help things from getting worse.

Related article:  Technostress: Rise Against The Machines

Assuming that you got a good set-up going for you, what else can you do to make it easier to still get things done when you’re hit by one of those zero-motivation days?

Certainly mindfulness is a very good skill to develop. It’s something that can help you distinguish and filter out the noise from the signal. Mindfulness also helps you cut through the distractions that swarm in and eat at your focus. But since mindfulness is a practice that you can get better at over time, what other things can you do to help you focus the work you need to finish today, even when you’re really not feeling it?

Quick spot-check:

  1. Are you watered? Dehydration can lead to headaches and fogginess, you delicate flower you, and could be why you’re wilting. Coffee still counts as a liquid, but the caffeine can act as a diuretic. Go get water-water. Whether carbonated or flavored, get water. Please steer away from sodas and other sugary drinks — they’re not good for you in the long run.
  2. How’s your blood sugar? Is it crashing? Speaking of sugar, when was the last time you ate something substantial, and not artificially flavored? Do yourself a good deed and treat yourself right. It’s not just garbage in, garbage out when it comes to sustaining yourself.  Eat real food.
  3. How’s your breathing? Slumping in front of your computer screen doesn’t only play havoc with your spine, it compresses your lungs and you don’t get as much air as you need.  Go take a brisk walk, preferably outside if you can. Stretch your legs. Pull your shoulders down and back and breathe into your belly, exhaling slowly through your lips. Get your blood oxygen up.
  4. Do you need to go to the bathroom? Go to the bathroom. Wash your face and your hands while you’re at it to clear up your head and shake off the mood. Use cold water to wake yourself up. Continue reading Getting Things Done Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

How DIY Doesn’t Mean DIAY (Doing It All Yourself)

Working smart is one of the keys to creating a good living, and so is working hard. One pitfall to look out for is thinking that working harder will help you solve everything thrown at you in the course of running your business.  For your own sake,  don’t try so hard at trying that you get in your own way (advice that relies on the Taoist concept of wu wei — more on that in a little bit.)

A ‘Renaissance man’, as we understand the term, is someone who’s good at whatever they turn their hand to, and that basically encompasses everything, if you go by the definition given by the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Seeing as the phrase was coined in the 1400‘s, however, six hundred years has still not been enough to take this ideal to its logical conclusion. See, the times have very much changed.

Look at how much the sciences, arts, and humanities have expanded and deepened in all that time. Leonardo Da Vinci is a popular example of genius, and honestly, people with creative brains like his are statistical outliers.

Given today’s demands for specialization, it is very rare to find actual ‘experts-in-everything’. The bulk of people with notable successes can come from backgrounds out of the norm, or have been relentlessly putting in the work over a long  time — and then were discovered as ‘overnight sensations’.

And whoa, but isn’t that image exciting? Isn’t it seductive ? To think,  with just a little more push, you could be a sensation yourself.

 

The phenomenon of ‘overnight successes’ can often overlook years of work, or the set of circumstances that made these people successful (luck, family background, wealth, opportunities, etc).  But true renaissance men (in a non-gendered blanket term) today? Still statistical outliers.

The image lingers because it’s so compelling — think of John Wayne and the “Lone Cowboy’ hero image , and throw in the Lone Ranger too. And oh, hey, bootstrappers. The people who built empires out of their garages.

Stories like that are inspiring. We can dream big while we’re plugging away at our projects.

And sometimes trying to fulfill our dreams by following the old scripts can make us sick. “Going it alone,” and “doing all the things!1!1”, and putting letting rest, re-connection and recreation down by the wayside is like pouring out your energy on barren ground, and leaving no reserves.
Continue reading How DIY Doesn’t Mean DIAY (Doing It All Yourself)

What To Do When You’re Having A Bad Day At Work

You can generally depend your business to have a particular rhythm to it, once you’ve been at it long enough. Sure, there are the kinds of businesses where you can’t really have the same day-in, day-out predictability of so-called desk-jobs, but even then, when  you’ve gotten the hang of stuff, you develop the kind of insight and mind-set, and prepper skills that helps you handle the ups and downs that come with your chosen field.

In emergency situations, you may even had the foresight to have laid out back-ups and alternative, just in case. In the immediacy of things when surprises, mix-ups, or emergencies happen, you’d do well to practice on-field triage: attending to the salvageable and savable while assessing the ‘least injured’ — and checking the irrecoverable just to make sure.

Triage helps when you’re in the crunch. In non-crunch time, disciplined ‘triage’ is simple prioritization skills:  You do the important and helpful, and drop the unimportant and seductive. This lighter-hearted ‘triage’ can help you especially when bad days happen. Continue reading What To Do When You’re Having A Bad Day At Work

How Having Clear Priorities Lessens Overwhelm

Putting it simply, you won’t be able to function at your best if you ‘re not able to manage your stress. And to to do that effectively  you need to get to the root cause of of your particular stress points, which is different for everyone. Stress is endemic in today’s world, and while businesses, organizations, and governments are focused on addressing it due to the massive negative effects it has on worker and citizen’s mental and physical health, productivity, and quality of life, it is up to us on an individual level to actually make the moves and take specific actions  so we can go and live the best life we can — or at the very least hurt a lot less while doing so.

This certainly applies to anyone who have ever gone and created and run a business of their own. The internet has given us a whole virtual frontier of opportunities to become entrepreneurs, and in itself also is an incredibly fast-paced and competitive environment where we have to be agile and responsive if we’re ever to make it. And that’s stressful.

Now, one of the biggest contributors  to the feeling of overwhelm and stress is the lack of clarity about priorities. Whether working for ourselves, with, or for others, the  waves of conflicting demands that come in the form of emails, phone-calls, personal requests, requisitions, orders, instant messages, and our own personal To-Do lists make for a formidable forest of ‘open items’ to accomplish, a forest that we very easily get lost and bogged down in.

The error comes in assuming you can juggle your top priorities.  That’s what all the productivity gurus and books have been saying for the last decade — make a list, arrange in order of priorities, and there you go. And yet hundreds– if not thousands –of new titles on productivity and ‘Getting Things Done’ are still published every year. People still have trouble getting their priorities in order because admittedly, we get so many demands on our time it’s hard to keep a steady eye and a clear head in all of the details. Continue reading How Having Clear Priorities Lessens Overwhelm

Self-Improvement for The Entrepreneur

One of the most effective practices to success in your business is encouraging a positive mindset in facing challenges. When you work on stretching and expanding your capabilities and skills, your  potential for success can surprise you.  These skills include the specific abilities you use in your work (for example: coding and design,  data analysis and interpretation, planning ), but also extend to the so-called ‘fuzzy areas’ which include interpersonal relations, personal improvement, and risk-taking. When you strengthen your skills, you grow more confidence in your ability to handle difficult situations and adversity, and make a working  relationship with discomfort.

See more here: Welcome To The Discomfort Zone, Part 1 and Part 2

Learning and growth is a life-long road, and taking it asks for active engagement and real labor, hitched to  the relentless desire to become a better person in the time that we have. We are all mortal, and within mortal limitations we have only so much influence , and only so much time to exert it — we we better be frank with ourselves about where, why, and how we spend both.

Time won’t let you be the same person you were ten, five or even a year ago.  Nor will  you be able to say you’ll be the same person in another year’s time. That’s why you need to take the wheel and work on developing yourself and mastering the good habits you want to serve you. That means being able to accept that you will be facing challenges all your life. Continue reading Self-Improvement for The Entrepreneur

How to Ease Your Everyday Pressure

Pressure is inescapable now. We’re  still have only so many hours in which we can act, but the demands on our time are endless.  One simple distinction that can help us put things in a more helpful light is this: Learning to perform under pressure isn’t the same thing as reducing the pressure we feel during the daily performance.

Time collapsed. Due to the the leveling of borders brought about by always-on connections and electronic tethers, we jam more and more into a finite box measuring 24 hours. We need to sleep, eat, and take care of ourselves and the ones who matter to us as well —  sooner or later something’s got to give, and until then it’s our nerves which bear the strain of it all. That’s why the chief pressure point is how to deal with pressure:  what can you do to lessen it, to de-pressurize without further harm to yourself or others?

Getting better at doing the job isn’t always the perfect solution, either. Usually, the reward for doing good work is more work.

No, the pressure that we want to alleviate is the one that comes from the heavy weight we look to bear every day, without any seeming relief.   It’s like a mad Greek divine tragedy: Atlas was made to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, while Sisyphus was sentenced to roll a boulder up a hill and then watch it go back down, only for him to repeat the cycle again. Every day.

Practicing mindfulness and mastery  can help us to perform better under pressure, but we need to learn to concentrate reducing the daily emotional and mental pressure as well. Both skills are needed to make the best use of your powers and time without burning out, breaking down or flying apart. Continue reading How to Ease Your Everyday Pressure

Sweep Your Way to An Easier Workload Tomorrow

  • “Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today!
  • “First things first.”
  • “If you don’t have the time, make the time.”

What does time-pressure, GTD and prioritization have to do with house-cleaning? Stay with me.

Unless you’ve been raised completely unaware of one of the most basic of household chores, to get a really clean floor, you need to sweep before you mop. In this metaphorical scenario, sweeping is preparation, mopping is action, the clean floor is the finished, desired goal.

Get it? Not yet?

Okay, say you want really clean floors. Maybe your in-laws are coming to your new home, or you’re planning an open house to show it off to prospective buyers, whatever. You just want a really nice, clean floor. For purposes of this exercise, you don’t have carpets. For those, there are vacuums.

  • You get stuff that’s not supposed to be on the floor, off the floor. Clothes, books, gear, whatever. Off, back to their proper places, all of it off.
  • Then you get out the broom and start sweeping out from under chairs, tables, and sofas. You capture the small debris and the fuzz-bunnies.
  • You then work your way out from all the corners of the room, sweeping towards the center, and end up with a collection of dirt that you sweep up into a dustpan. You throw that stuff away into the garbage can.
  • You can prepare your preferred cleaning solution, diluted in water, to use with the mop.
  • Then you get out the damp mop to make sure you get the really small stuff off the floor — schmutz, ground-in dirt, dried-up spills, tracked-in street-crud etc.
  • You mop. If you’re the really, really picky sort, you mop with cleaning solution (twice) and do a final mop up with plain water.

Boom, clean, fresh-smelling floors.

Continue reading Sweep Your Way to An Easier Workload Tomorrow

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

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

How’s Your Schedule 2: Reducing Stress

15 February 2011, by A. Cedilla

Logically and realistically speaking, there are certain essential principles that we need to build our schedules on. Being aware of these principles would make it easier for you to put yourself in the right mind-frame to make a good schedule, one that factors in the essential parts of your days, your weeks, and your months.

(As an aside, we’re not really wired for long-term focus right out of the gate. That kind of focus takes discipline and some training — and sometimes a singular obsession.

The usual way we deal is to break things down in a logical progression of stages, and attend to each stage before going onto the next. You focus on the work-related snafu front of you, and don’t think of the potluck party next Saturday, for example.)

Think of your schedule not just as something that keeps your time and your activities in sync, but also as a sort of “coming soon” announcer’s service, a time-radar which pings you on what you can expect in the next few weeks, or next few months.

Doing so helps ease what’s “coming soon” and helps you not to stress about next year — the mind can only project that far for so long without going a little wonky in fear, anxiety or hype. So, back to principles: Continue reading How’s Your Schedule 2: Reducing Stress