Stop Apologizing And Say These Things Instead

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If you’re someone who knows the value of a good apology–not just for mending fences but also for strengthening relationships in every area of life–you’re way ahead of most people.

But if you apologize constantly for every little thing–whether or not it’s warranted–listen up. You may be standing in the way of your own success.

The habit of injecting the word “sorry” into every other sentence you utter might seem harmless on the surface. But it can undermine your authority and your confidence, portray you as weak and indecisive, and even damage your credibility.

Worst of all, over-apologizing can desensitize your listeners when you want to deliver a sincere and necessary apology. The more you say you’re sorry, the less power it has. Remember the boy who cried wolf? If everything rises to the need for an apology, then nothing does.

RECOGNIZING THE PROBLEM

Do these casual (and unnecessary) apologies sound familiar?

  • “Sorry, can you repeat that?”
  • “I’m sorry, but I disagree.”
  • “I have no available appointments this week. Sorry about that.”
  • “I’m sorry, but I have to let you go.”

Though often attributed to women, apologizing isn’t just a female problem. Psychologists tell us that people who compulsively apologize for small infractions may be manifesting anything from a nervous tic to a social disorder. Frequent apologizers may be insecure, introverted, or just overly self-conscious. They may have been raised in strict families or put a high value on getting along with everyone. Sometimes the habit is an unconscious reaction to stress or anxiety.

What makes some of us fall into this counterproductive habit? It might be performance anxiety, such as our first day on a new job, or when we lack confidence in our ability to run with the “big dogs.” It’s almost as if we’re apologizing for taking up space, which is no way to make a good impression on a job or with a client.

More often, though, over-apologizing is an unconscious habit that’s annoying at best, and at worst, sends one or more unwanted messages that can really work against us:

  • I’m not sincere.
  • I’m afraid of you.
  • I don’t trust you to give me what I want if I’m not super nice.
  • I don’t think I’m good enough to talk to you, ask for anything, or even be here.

DIAGNOSE YOURSELF

Ask yourself you’ve ever said you were sorry for any of the following:

  • Saying no
  • Winning
  • Asking for a raise you deserve
  • Getting angry about an injustice
  • Having an opinion
  • Feeling an emotion
  • Crying
  • Fainting
  • Throwing up
  • Being injured
  • Tending to your own needs

Did you answer yes to four or more of the above? Read on.

CONSEQUENCE OF TOO MUCH “SORRY”

If we don’t need to apologize for having an opinion, needing help, or just being human, then what are we trying to accomplish through this behavior?

Sometimes we apologize to deflect, in advance, a negative reaction to what we’re saying. It’s as if we’re trying to smooth ruffled feathers before the ruffling begins.

It’s true that an apology, especially a sincere and necessary one, can actually take the heat off. The over-apology habit may begin innocently when we spontaneously apologize for a real offense. Our opponent softens or even backs down, saying, “Don’t worry about it, it’s nothing.” BAM! A magic bullet, we conclude. But then, as the quick and insincere apology becomes our weaponry of choice, we become almost addicted to it. Serving as both sword and shield, the frequent apology appears to disarm our opponent while protecting us from further attack.

So how do you break the habit?

INSTEAD OF SAYING, I”M SORRY”

In all your communications, but especially on the job, be brief, specific, direct, and unapologetic. Simply state the problem and how you’ll fix it. And then shut up.

If you’re uncomfortable delegating scut work, try this: “We’re in a crunch, and all these files need to be cataloged by end of day. Do you have what you need to get started?”

If you’re constantly apologizing for what you can’t control, try this: “I know I’ve had to reschedule this meeting several times. Thank you for understanding.”

If someone mistreats you and you start to get emotional, try this: “Hey, that hurt,” or “That isn’t helpful.” You can even say, “I need a few minutes to collect myself,” and then leave the room.

Pro tip: You can leave any room under these circumstances. Even if you’ve just been fired. No apology necessary.

If something goes wrong on your watch, try this: “The project took longer than I expected. I’ll have it for you first thing tomorrow.” Then stop.

Helpful hint: If you missed a deadline because of your own poor time management, then you should apologize. But don’t offer an apology on behalf of a team member or a difficult client.

CASE STUDY: HOW TO SPOT WHEN YOU DO NEED TO APOLOGIZE

A guy I’ll call Roy worked in the accounting department of my organization. Roy seemed to enjoy jerking my chain by routinely withholding information and taking forever to provide numbers I needed to do my job.

The showdown came one day when I needed some of Roy’s data to complete a report that was due on my CEO’s desk the next day. Roy informed me I’d have to wait a week. I’d had enough. Through clenched teeth, I said, “I’d hate to have to tell the CEO that his proposal got stalled on your desk.” The next morning I still had no report from Roy. Instead I had a note from human resources.

Apparently, in HR speak, my remark amounted to a threat toward a subordinate, a huge workplace blunder. Implying Roy’s job might be in jeopardy if he didn’t cooperate was, well, harassment. The HR director strongly suggested an apology to Roy would help me avoid any “unintended consequences.”

Deeply humbled, I swallowed my pride and went to Roy’s cubicle. I apologized for misusing my position to pressure him, and I showed appreciation for the thankless job he did every day. “I know you have a lot of conflicting priorities, and I was just trying to muscle my way to the top of the pile,” I said. “I’m sorry I did that. It won’t happen again.”

I had Roy’s report that afternoon, and ever afterward he was pleasant and cooperative. That’s one of the magical things that can happen when you apologize appropriately. I call it the paradoxical superpower.

TRANSFORMING EMPATHY INTO STRENGTH

Before we toss the baby out with the bathwater, it’s important to recognize several positive character traits behind the habit of over-apologizing. For instance, it may arise in someone with strong empathy for others. Empathy–the ability to consider another’s point of view and understand the feelings she may be having–is rapidly becoming a critical soft skill. Someone who knows when and how to apologize appropriately has a huge advantage in the empathy column. A study by researchers at Harvard and Wharton business schools showed that certain apologies can even increase trust.

SO WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE THE OVER-APOLOGIZER WHO WANTS TO REFORM?

First, take comfort in the fact that you’re probably a good, considerate person who wants everyone to get along. You’re also likely to score highly on the empathy scale, a huge asset in business and life. What you don’t want is to appear to be afraid of the space you occupy, to be someone who lacks the courage of her convictions, or who doesn’t feel entitled to speak her mind.

Like any other bad habit, overcoming it takes practice. You’ll try avoiding the words “I’m sorry” for a while, stumble, and get back on track. Try taking a friend or trusted coworker into your confidence about what you’re trying to accomplish, and agree on a high sign she can give you if she hears you apologizing unnecessarily. Then reward yourself for the effort.

And keep at it. What you lose by giving up the emotional currency of frequent apologies, you will gain back in personal confidence and self-esteem. That’s something of real value. Bottom line: Don’t apologize unnecessarily–know how to recognize when a sincere apology is necessary.


This article originally appeared on Career Contessa and is reprinted with permission. 

The Perfectionist’s Guide To Accepting Criticism

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ILLUSTRATION: ASHLEY SIEBELS

Criticism is hard. People naturally lean towards wanting to be right all the time. Who wants to be told you are wrong, or that you need to fix X, Y, Z? Very few. However, there is great growth and development that can occur when we open ourselves to constructive criticism. What do you need to do to get better at accepting “no” or “do better”? Follow these five steps.

1. Accept that perfection is fiction.

Did you know that you are not right 100 percent of the time? Even if you feel that you are, you are not. You will never know everything, nor will you always know what to do. Constructive criticism offers you the advice and insight that you need to improve in your career and in your life. It might not always be easy to hear, but it is needed to progress and develop as a person. Once you accept this fact, it makes receiving constructive criticism that much easier.

2. Classify the source of the criticism.

When criticized, you should always consider the source. Is the person criticizing you coming from a place of positivity, or are they trying to hurt or discourage you?  If you determine that the source is not malevolent, then you can give weight to what is being said to you.

3. Try to live past your feelings.

Joyce Meyer teaches that people need to live past their feelings. Our feelings can betray us more often than we like to admit. Sometimes you might feel hurt or offended not because of what is being said to you,  but because you didn’t feel like you should have been criticized or scrutinized. You must separate yourself from your feelings and address the objective facts of what is taking place. You can ask yourself:

Is this constructive criticism?
Was it said with the intention of hurting me?
Was it shared in an offensive manner?
Was there a purpose for sharing constructive criticism?

4. Take the time to appreciate the lesson learned.

I believe there is glory and growth that takes place in the uncomfortable experiences we have. Receiving constructive criticism can feel quite uncomfortable and revealing; yet, it is so needed. How do we become better speakers, writers, doctors, teachers, politicians, scientists, or salesmen without receiving constructive criticism? We do not. Appreciate the people in your life who are providing the wisdom and insight you need to improve yourself. As long as the criticism isn’t provided in a harmful way, then you should appreciate every lesson you learn from the experience.

5. Implement the improvements right away.

One of the best ways to deal with constructive criticism is to begin implementing the improvement it brings to your life. My life motto is to learn something new and meet someone new every day. When it comes to constructive criticism, I try to implement the needed change immediately, so I develop a new habit from the improvement to better myself. What is the point of learning something and doing nothing with it? Learn, accept, and implement. Don’t you agree?

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.

How To Make Yourself Do Something You Don’t Want To Do

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How to make yourself do something you don’t want to do
[Photo: Olga1205/Pixabay]

I am so grateful that I get to write for a living. I also really, really don’t want to start writing right now.

That’s more or less my constant mind-set. When I manage to get started I get a lot done, but I rarely want to get started on something that I know will take a lot of time or effort. This leads to me to fall back into the dopamine-rich environment called “internet,” where algorithmically designed distractions devour time until it’s 5 p.m. and oh well, I’ll seize the day tomorrow.

You’ve been there. We’ve all been there. There’s a “thing” you should be doing, but for some reason just can’t get started on. Maybe the thing is setting up a website. Maybe the thing is a coding project you’ve been putting off. Maybe the thing is something small like a phone call you need to make. Whatever the thing is, you just can’t get started.

I can relate. Which is why over time I’ve found ways to force the issue on myself. Here are a few tricks I and a few of my coworkers use to get started, even when we really don’t want to do the thing. In other words, how to motivate yourself to start a task when you don’t feel motivated.

SCHEDULE THE THING ON YOUR CALENDAR, SO YOU ACTUALLY DO IT

I’m very good at feeling like I have plenty of time to get things done. When I feel this way I take it easy, only to wonder at the end of the day where all of my time went. That’s why I started planning things in advance. Every workday morning, after breakfast, I look at my to-do list, my inbox, and my calendar. I then figure out how I’m going to use my unscheduled time in order to accomplish what needs accomplishing by putting each task on my calendar.

This does two things. First: It forces me to see my time as a resource I have to allocate. Second, adding things to my calendar means notifications on my phone and computer throughout the day, reminding me of the intention I set for myself. It’s amazing how that reminder can keep me motivated.

TELL SOMEONE ABOUT THE THING SO THEY’LL KEEP YOU ACCOUNTABLE

I’m really good at lying to myself. I can convince myself that watching a YouTube video right now will help me get this article done because it will help me relax, which will make it easier for me to write. I can then convince myself that the next video will help me relax even more, and so on and so forth.

You know who doesn’t fall for that? Literally anyone outside my own brain. Which is why telling someone else about the thing I need to do is a good idea. Find someone you trust to keep you accountable and tell them what you intend to do.

DO SOMETHING ELSE (THAT YOU WANT TO DO EVEN LESS THAN THE THING)

Still can’t make yourself do the thing? Find some chore you like even less than doing the thing, then do that instead for a while. You’ll be itching to do the thing in no time.

The idea is that you’ll hate doing whatever chore it is you’re doing so much that you’ll be excited to do the thing instead. Cleaning is a particularly good task for this because it’s almost totally mindless, meaning your brain can wander a little while you’re doing it. That scattered thinking is perfect for brainstorming, helping you think up ideas that will come in handy when you finally get back on task.

Don’t open your browser when you’re struggling to get started. Clean the bathroom instead.

TELL YOURSELF YOU’LL DO THE THING FOR FIVE MINUTES

In your head the thing is a massive project that you will never, ever finish or will be painful to do, so you don’t even want to get started. But can you handle working on it for five minutes?

Next time you don’t feel like doing a thing, simply set a timer for five minutes. Force yourself to work on the thing for those five minutes. Everyone can focus for five minutes, right? But the trick is that by the end of those five minutes it won’t feel too bad to keep going.

Oh, and if you’ve got something on your list that will only take two minutes, just do it. Now. Make a habit of doing small tasks immediately, and they will never clutter up your to-do list, leaving you with more mental energy to tackle the big projects.

BREAK THE THING INTO SMALLER THINGS

It’s easy to put off big projects and instead focus on smaller, more manageable tasks, which is why your kitchen looks so clean during tax season. But every overwhelming project consists of smaller, more manageable tasks.

If the thing you keep putting off is some large project, consider breaking it down. Outline all the small steps you need to do in order to complete the thing, then get started on one of those small steps. You can do this using a to-do list application, a text document, or even a pen and paper. Just take the time to break the thing down into smaller things. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to get started on something small.

BRIBE YOURSELF FOR DOING THE THING

Every dog owner (and parent) knows that bribery is a very effective way to reward good behavior. Use that on yourself. Promise yourself something, then only let yourself have that treat if you actually do the thing.

Food works, sure, but so does the promise of time outside, a TV episode, or a phone conversation with a friend. Reward yourself for getting things done and you’ll find getting started that much easier.

This same strategy is the thinking behind the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working for 25 minutes then taking a five-minute break. The five-minute break is a reward for getting through the 25-minute work session.

ASK YOUR COWORKERS FOR HELP WITH THE THING

Are you still not doing the thing? Why not ask your coworkers to help you brainstorm about the thing. The ideas you generate could help you bring new energy into the task, which will make it more likely that you’ll get started.

Okay, you caught me. I couldn’t motivate myself to get started writing an article about getting started at doing a thing (and the irony was not lost on me). I turned to my coworkers for help, asking for ideas. It worked.

People need each other. There’s no shame in it. If you’re stuck in your own head, unable to start doing the thing, ask the people around you for ideas. It will help.

7 Ways Couples Can Practice Self-Care Together

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Self-care is often defined by taking a step away from loved ones to focus entirely on yourself. But carving out moments for well-being doesn’t always necessarily have to be a solo routine. In fact, practicing self-care rituals with your partner has double the reward: Not only are you reaping the individual benefits, but you are also deepening your relationship and connection as a couple. Past research has shown engaging in personal-growth-related activities as a couple actually makes the relationship more satisfying andimproves one’s sex life. (A pretty sweet bonus!)

Here are seven ways to incorporate “couple’s care” together, as recommended by self-care experts:

1. Set aside time each day to talk about your goals together.

Setting and reviewing goals on a regular basis is generally a great way to make sure you’re always working toward your long-term vision for your life, and it can be a great way to feel in control of your present and future. Sharing this habit with your partner, however, can make you all the more efficient and dedicated to those goals because you have someone holding you accountable. Moreover, setting goals together lets your partner know what your vision is and allows your partner the opportunity to be your biggest support system, which in turn creates intimacy.

“You can work on setting your goals together, or set them separately and then share,” says certified life coach Melissa Snow. “This invites conversation about what they are excited about, what their fears are, and how you can help.”

When your partner is involved in your personal development, you’ll feel that much more connected to each other and able to understand each other in much deeper, more nuanced ways.

2. Always have a project you’re working on together.

Whether refinishing a dresser, picking out photos for a new family collage, or practicing a foreign language together, always having a project or hobby in motion allows for a sense of accomplishment as a team. Not to mention, it pulls you away from the habit of plopping down on the couch with Netflix.

“Learning something new is fun, and it also keeps the brain active,” says mindset coach Melissa Wolak. “When you share a project together as a couple, it cultivates teamwork but also an experience where you can learn together, create something new, and you laugh at mistakes.”

3. Read a personal development book together.

Sometimes, to overcome an obstacle or work toward a common goal, outside guidance provides a fresh perspective that a couple can learn together. Reading is a great way to reduce stress and build new skills, and sharing that experience together allows couples to bond over new materials at the same time.

“Reading provides new intellectual stimulation and a conversation topic outside of work and home life,” said Wolak. “On the cognitive side, reading, remembering the details, and discussing the book together are great brain exercises.”

And just imagine how sweet it is to read in bed with your partner.

4. Research your next vacation.

When the going gets tough, you can always daydream about your next getaway–and talking about it with your loved one can make that daydreaming even sweeter.

Whether a staycation, weekend getaway, or monthlong backpacking stint across Europe, life coach Vicky Shilling recommends physically writing down the plans and brainstorms in a notebook to make them more of a reality. “Many of us learn and are stimulated visually and absorb information much better when it’s visually presented,” she says. “Keeping a notebook with your plans will ensure you’re both creating the holiday you want, seeing a combined plan of where you’ll be going and what you’ll be doing so no one is disappointed. Writing down your brainstorms also means you’re not going back to square one every time you discuss it!”

Shilling also adds that keeping your notes will be a great memento, which you can build into a travel journal or scrapbook after your trip.

5. Sit back-to-back and breathe.

Meditation is a tried-and-true way of soothing the mind, finding inner balance, and releasing negative emotions. “When couples take the time and make the commitment to share their meditation practice, they strengthen their relationship and improve their overall well-being,” says executive wellness coach Naz Beheshti. Meditating together also helps an individual become more in touch with their intuition, which can allow them to become more in touch with their partner’s needs without anything being said.

Pick a time, either early morning or just before bed, to sit as a couple and breathe or meditate together. Feeling this stillness as one is powerful. Beheshti recommends a back-to-back position, which allows couples to easily synchronize their breathing because of the physical contact.

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6. Get outside.

While it may be hard to coordinate a trip to the gym together, couples can usually find the time to move their bodies by strolling around the neighborhood. While the endorphins are great, they’re actually the bonus in this situation. Simply being outside has been found to ease stress, as nature has a way of keeping incessant thoughts at bay. Research suggests it can be a particularly connective experience for couples, with the potential to boost trust and even arousal.

“Regardless of whether you have a dog to exercise, getting outside together is an ideal opportunity to combine exercise and fresh air,” said Karen Tindall, a certified life coach in Arkansas. “It creates a time when you can have undistracted conversations away from technology and prying ears of family.”

7. Express gratitude.

Research suggests even thinking about gratitude can have a positive impact, but writing it down can even help you sleep better and aids in reducing depression. When you’re more aware of the things you’re thankful for, you tend to be more mindful of them as they happen throughout the day (“This makes me happy; I’m going to write it in my journal tonight”), thus making your daily gratitude more apparent in your life.

While many people keep gratitude journals, it’s more commonly an individual practice. But why not share this beautiful habit with your partner? Adding this to your regular routine allows for the chance to communicate with your partner in a sometimes vulnerable way.

Marriage and family therapist Erica Basso recommends writing down three things you love about your partner and three things you’re grateful for that you’ve noticed them do recently; then share them with your partner to turn that gratitude into a shared experience. You can do this weekly or even daily.

Everyone needs a little self-care in their week, and bringing your partner into these practices can be a great way to not only share these benefits with another person but to create the added bonus of creating intimacy—which is itself something that will improve your well-being. So the next time you’re carving out a date night, consider incorporating activities that do both: allow for a sense of closeness and personal wellness.

7 New Self-Help Books That Are Actually Helpful

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By Lizzy Francis

We live in busy times. Burnout is real. With the advent of remote work and the connected work place, people have less of an opportunity to disconnect than ever. Parents are over-worked and trying to be there for their kids and wonder how to make time in the day when they can’t even leave their office behind at the end of the day. Authors and experts have made note of that, and there’s been a bit of a cultural shift of self-help books that focus on helping people, you know, chill out a little. But which are worth checking out? We think that these books, each tailored at making more out of your life through simple steps, paring down distractions, figuring out what you need, and by accepting who you are, are worthwhile. They don’t ask you to give 110 percent all the time and learn to love the office like a family. In fact, the vast majority of them ask the opposite and they have some pretty poignant advice to help keep burnout at bay.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown
In Essentialismauthor Greg McKeown, a CEO of THIS, Inc., and business consultant, makes a case for a more decluttered life. This book could have a lesson for anyone, but Essentialism’s questions: “Are you stretched too thin? Do you feel overworked but unfulfilled? Are you busy but not feeling like you’re getting anything done?,” are particularly trenchant for the modern parent. McKeown asks the reader to engage with what he refers to as a “systematic discipline” in order to get ‘only the right things done.’ This book is helpful for readers who just want to make their lives less busy but more meaningfully full.

Digital Minimalism: The Case for a Focused Life in a Noisy World,Cal NewportIn Digital MinimalismCal Newport, a computer scientist at Georgetown and author of Deep Work, makes a case for a ‘digital detox.’ He argues that smartphones, apps, and screen time have greatly diminished our quality of life, not just because we’re looking at screens and engaging in a non-physical social world, but largely because of what he refers to as a ‘fragmenting’ effect — that the 10 seconds it takes for you to look at your phone greatly diminishes the quality of any in-person experience you may be having at that time. In Digital Minimalism, Newport offers a 30-day plan where followers pare down all non-essential technology, and after those 30 days are over, begin using tech again with intention. It’s something from which all of us can benefit.

10% Happier: How I Tamed The Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, And Found Self-Help That Actually Works, Dan Harris
Although 10% Happier is one of the older entries on the list, having been published some five years ago, it deserves a spot simply because of its measured approach to meditation and happiness. Dan Harris, the author of the book, had a panic attack on national television. This book takes the reader on his journey deconstructing Harris’ own, harmful thought processes about incessant workaholism and explaining how he found meditation that helped him chill but still remain productive. For any parent on the boiling point, a reasonable approach to meditation could be seriously helpful.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Brene Brown
The desire to be the perfect parent, employee, partner or person does not serve you, argues Brene Brown in The Gifts of ImperfectionTrying to be the ‘perfect’ parent or employee is only going to leave you frustrated and let down. So Brown offers ten “guideposts” that will help the reader accept their imperfections and live a more honest and happy life.

#Chill: Turn off Your Job, Turn on Your Life, Bryan Robinson
#Chill is the book for the guy who knows that they can’t really change overnight. For those who bring the office home with them at night and over the weekends, and would rather spend that time relaxing with family and friends, this book gives a bit of a guidebook to engage with a monthly program to “stop the cycle of over-work.” Bryan Robinson largely employs the use of mindfulness and meditation practices that help the over-worked take a deep breath and remain present.

Off The Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, Laura Vanderkam
Time management guru Laura Vanderkam managed to deal with feeling overworked and overbusy by letting go a little bit and telling herself that she has ‘all the time in the world.’ In short, she changed her outlook. And that’s the heart of Off The Clock, a book about personal attitude that employs readers with real tools for dealing with stress from the days where you feel too busy or stretched too thin, requires some brain-training. It also utilizes examples of real people, which helps the concepts feel less abstract and helps the reader see what this looks like in practice.

Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day, Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky
If you lack focus at work, feel like you waste time on social media, or feel like you’ve been busy all day with nothing to show for it, Make Time might be helpful. It’s written by two former creators of Google’s ‘design sprint’, which is known as a period where a lot of work gets done in a lot less time than required by a lot of people working together. Make Time obviously draws on their experiencing “sprinting” by optimizing to-do lists, focusing professional energy, and designating time appropriately. It doesn’t ask for people to go 100 percent at all times — in fact, it asks quite the opposite. Engaging in productivity isn’t the same thing in being healthily productive. This book delineates the difference.

5 Ways To Have The Most Productive Day Ever

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Time waits for no woman, but who says you’ve got the hours to hang around and wait for time? We’ve all got meetings to take, conference calls to make, places to be and deals to close. But instead of getting consumed by the hours in the day, or the lack thereof, here are five ways to watch the clock and have your most productive day ever.

1. Pick a realistic time to wake up

You know your body and you know how much sleep you need to feel rested and ready to take on the day. And yet, we all tend to get a little overzealous when it comes to setting our alarms the night before. If I set my alarm an hour early, we rationalize, I will get a jump on my day.

Call it wishful thinking or good intentions, setting our alarms earlier than needed has the opposite effect than intended. When the early am hits, we hit snooze, falling in and out of that interrupted sleep until the moment we dash out of bed in a hurry. It’s a terrible way to start the day.

One, it makes us feel like we already missed our mark. That even though we didn’t need to wake up early, we should have. This mentality creeps into the rest of our day and doesn’t allow us to be our most productive or confident self. When you start the day disappointed in yourself, it’s that much harder to recover.

Two, alarm-hitting snooze sleep is almost worse than no sleep at all. You’re groggy and multiple studies have shown that this kind of sleep inertia reduces productivity and focus.

So be realistic about what time you need to get up. Pretending you’re going to rise at 6 am is not useful when you could sleep until 7 am and wake up bright-eyed and ready to get after it.

2. Turn your internet off for 45 minutes each morning

Scroll through your emails on your phone quickly to make sure there is no pressing emergency, but once your computer comes to life, switch the internet off.

Give yourself 45 minutes to respond to emails in a thoughtful and valuable manner. We’ve become so concerned with rapid-fire quick responses that our emails are lacking in quality. If you’re the type to email the way you text, this pause will prove productive.

Not only will you think through your answers with more clarity, but you won’t be distracted by other incoming messages, emails, or lose yourself to a Facebook news feed.

3. Time to batch it out

Time batching is a simple way to approach the day that reduces clutter and increases focus. Group activities together (emails, phone calls, blogging—i.e. writing multiple posts at one time) and see how it improves your product.

By batching out the tasks in your day, you can see exactly where your hours (like your money) are going. Productivity breeds productivity.

4. Think about what “Time well spent” really means to you

If time was an app, it would be Postmates: We use it without realizing how much we’re spending.

You can’t purchase more time. Taking stock of your day and looking at how you spend your time will move you into the following days with confidence. If you’re really spending your time “well”— which is different for everyone—it’s infectious.

We don’t want to know how much time we’ve wasted scrolling social media for “research” or texting a colleague.

Watching the clock doesn’t have to be a negative. In fact, watching the clock can help you, professionally speaking. Keeping track of your time worked and just how much you’ve accomplished in a day can be helpful in assessing where you are losing valuable hours.

5. Stop watching the clock

OK. Disregard *for a second* what we said above.

Time batching and keeping track of your hours is important, but only to a point. Within the time that you’ve allocated for yourself, don’t check the clock like a kid waiting for the lunch bell to ring.

Being productive is more important than checking to make sure you’re being productive. If you’re in the swing of it, by all means, keep rolling.

This article was originally published on Create and Cultivate.

 

The Single Most Important Action To Take Right Now To Make You Successful

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Throughout the year we make personal commitments of things we want to change for the better. Diets, exercise, family, work, travel etc. For many of us, we take on multiple resolutions with every intention of improving ourselves for the better. Too often, we fail to kick start and sustain the new “US.” Goals become overwhelming and we fall into the trap of never achieving what we set out to do.

The complex formula of success
So much information exists on what success is and how to achieve it. Articles with headings such as “30 Things Successful People Do Differently” capture our attention with the hope of inspiring us to take meaningful action.

The problem is that’s 30 things we are to remember and implement to supposedly achieve success. One article I recently read listed their number one step to success being “Internalizing your locus of control.”

Locus of control? What does that even mean?

These articles can provide meaningful insights but they often overpower us and end up being nothing more than an informative read.

Inspiring? Sometimes. Actionable. No.

Success is not a complex formula. It is far simpler.

Excuses over results
Success can come at any time. We get caught in the trap at looking at success as this grandiose plan that must start and be completed by self-defined timeframes and prescribed results. It becomes so daunting that we give up because we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. As we try to achieve our goals, they don’t come fast enough and we use this as an excuse to give up. We end up being our own worst enemy.

You can either have results or you can have an excuse, but you cannot have both.

Take someone’s plans to lose weight. They set a goal to lose 30 pounds which includes a diet plan and workout regime. They are initially dedicated to working out multiple times a week and stick to a strict meal plan. It’s tough at first but as several weeks go by they start to feel better about themselves. More energy, clothes feeling a little looser and an overall more positive attitude. Then they step on the scale at the end of the month to find they have only lost 2lbs!

The minimal weight loss is deflating after all that dedicated, hard work. They start to lose steam. Workouts get missed. Diets get blown. Before long the excuse “I can’t do this” enters the mind and the weight loss plan is in the scrap bin.

The amazing results achieved in a single month get buried and forgotten. More on those amazing resulting in a minute.

The secret of success: One step
One small step. That is all it is. A single step is all it takes to move towards success. It’s so fundamentally simple and yet so easily overlooked.

It’s the greatest secret never to be told by successful people. We read about other’s success and can’t imagine how we could ever achieve the same. They are so successful and have achieved so many amazing things that we see them in a different league. What we fail to realize is that these successful people all started with a single, first step. Then they took another step and another. Before long they had a mile of steps behind them and the second mile didn’t seem so bad. They kept going and went on to build massive momentum. Always looking forward. Never back.

Sure there are missteps. People outside of the successful stream of consciousness look at missteps as failures. Successful people don’t’ see failure. They see opportunities to learn, reflect and move forward. Always achieving greater success than when they started.

Celebrate each step
Each small step you take is a pause for celebration. Your decision to spend more time with the family. The first day at the gym. Booking that amazing trip abroad. Deciding to make a career change. Those are all small steps worthy of applause

Celebrate each and every step of success along the way.

Imagine how many of us would stick to our weight loss plans if we instead focused on the many positive steps we took in the first month and not the actual loss of weight.

Let’s break it down. Attended the gym. Ate healthy. More energy. Looser clothes. Multiple small steps all worthy of celebration. Each step building on the previous. It’s all about changing your perspective. It’s amazing when you change your frame of mind how you can view something that seemed so insignificant really isn’t. Two pounds is no longer weighing you down. That’s worth celebrating and continuing with your step journey.

You can start your new YOU whenever you chose. Start small and take one little step at a time. Push yourself forward because no one else is going to do it for you. All it takes is a single step.

Clark Glassford is the founder of My Practice Interview. The company’s purpose is to inspire others to achieve their dream career. My Practice Interview provides industry-leading services including tailored resume writing, curated LinkedIn profiles and expert interview coaching delivering results beyond expectations.
www.mypracticeinterview.com

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