“It’s important to invest in yourself.” I’m sure you’ve heard this before. But what does that really mean? In the last five or six years – and in the last two years in particular – I’ve created opportunities to invest in myself and have learned a few things about not only what that means in terms of how and where to invest, but also how the long-term outcomes from these investments have increased my personal capacity and self-worth as an individual.
When I talk about investing in yourself, I’m not only talking about taking those HR trainings at work to build your understanding of your professional work, I’m also (and more significantly) talking about developing a set of personal values (exclusive of those on your work’s mission statement) and finding things you love to do and diving into them.
Determining Your Values
I have spent quite a bit of time honing in on my personal values. Not what the values of my workplace are, but what my own values are in terms of putting words to my moral framework and life non-negotiables. By thinking through these and getting them down on paper, I am able to know more clearly where my hard lines are, when I’m drifting from my center, and why the choices I make are important to me in the broader scheme of things. Knowing my own values concretely is also helpful in job searching to ensure that I’m interviewing to find a place that aligns with what is important to me as a human being.
How do you go about determining your values? Making a list is a great place to start. If you need some inspiration, Google is great for coming up with keywords that resonate with you. Then work through the list, defining each value in terms of its meaning and why it is important to you. This doesn’t have to be a one and done thing either. Refining this list takes time. Ultimately, the goal is to end up with a set of values that make you say: “Yeah, that’s me and I’m proud of who I am and what I stand for.”
Doing What You Love
Again here, I’m not talking about doing work that you love (although it’s always an awesome bonus to have a job that’s really a career). What I mean when I say find things you love and dive in to them is about building your passions. Invest in the things you love to do. For me, some of those things are quilting, playing the piano, baking, and doing the crossword puzzle.
In the world of quilting, I’m definitely an amateur. I’m inspired by my grandma, an avid quilter, and incredible artists like Bisa Butler. Just this weekend, I started a two-part quilting class to deepen my understanding of the technical side of this art form. I’ve been quilting independently for some time, but had never taken a formal class. What did I dive into today that will increase my capacity not only as an artist but also as a person?
Tricks! – I learned a few sewing-specific secrets for making sure my corners align perfectly and which way to iron down my seams. (This is definitely sewing-based knowledge, but allows me to be confident in my work.) It was elating to know some “insider” secrets to this art.
Slow and Steady – It’s not a race and precision is key. If I make a mistake, no worries. Start over. (That’s what a seam ripper is for!)
Relax! – I’m not always great at this. Cutting and piecing allow me to get into a groove and tune out what’s happening around me.
Ultimately, I left today tired and proud of the work I did with increased confidence in my abilities. What’s better than that?
In truth, really all I’m getting to is: invest some time – in you!
Work from home has become the “new normal” for many people. (Yes, it’s totally okay to gag at that phrase, happens to me every time.) Get up. Get dressed. Have breakfast. Scan the news (or Twitter). Roll from the kitchen to your desk (or make the kitchen table your desk). And it’s time to go.
Working from home (or at least working from home on the daily) was not part of the original plan for many people. And I need to pause here first. Many folks don’t have the luxury of working from home. Postal workers, healthcare teams, grocery store staff, mall workers, many more, and even folks in my own field – dubbed the “helping professions” – still head into the office on the reg.
For those people who’ve had their work spaces changed by shelter-in-place orders, there are some challenges that come along with that. Do you have a comfortable space in which to work where you’re not killing your eyes, back, and hands? Are you taking care of kids, parents, or others while also working? Do you have the ability to have quality internet at home, or has your ability to produce at the same level as in the office decreased?
Working from home changes dynamics. It violently tilts the more level playing field of office space where teams typically have the same equipment, surf the same Internet, meet in the same rooms, and shows variances. What space do you work in? What part of your home do you want your colleagues to see? Is your cat the newest Zoom meeting participant?
Ultimately, what I can suggest to employees and employers is the following:
Set good boundaries.
When it’s starting time, it’s starting time. When it’s quitting time, it’s quitting time. Open your computer at the start of the day and close it at the end. I also turn on my work phone at the start of each day and off at the end. I try to stick to my schedule as much as possible. Having little “rituals” like this, combined with a set schedule (when possible) help define work time from personal time when doing both in the same physical space.
Keep communication open with your supervisor and team members.
Check on each other. Set regular meetings to engage with folks. And if you’re not feeling like being on video, it’s okay to express that (virtual burnout is real, folks).
Show everyone some grace.
We’re going to have days when we don’t motivate well. Sometimes the internet might go out. Your six-year-old is going to throw a tantrum during a big meeting (or someone else’s six-year-old is going to throw a tantrum during a big meeting). Be kind – to yourself and to others.
What other tips do you have to make working from home easier? Share them in the comments or tweet us @BizGalz.
We’re in tumultuous times. Such unprecedented times. Times of uncertainly. We’ve all heard the ads and the reporters and gotten the emails and seen it on the telly. Frankly, I wish people would find more creative ways to talk about what’s happening in society and the world and also look at the possibilities that come from how we can each build upon ourselves – to take the tumultuousness and see about creating intentional happiness – in the times we’re in.
Last week The New York Times Magazine featured a series of essays on “What We’ve Learned in Quarantine.” One of the essays talked about the process of caterpillars turning into butterflies, highlighting that we typically talk about the “before” of being a caterpillar and the “after” of emerging as a butterfly, but spend little time looking at the messy and crowded process of being cocooned inside the chrysalis itself. Sam Anderson writes:
“It turns out that the inside of a cocoon is – at least by outside-of-a-cocoon standards – pretty bleak. Terrible things happen in there: a campaign of grisly desolation that would put most horror movies to shame. What a caterpillar is doing, in its self-imposed quarantine, is basically digesting itself. It is using enzymes to reduce its body to goo, turning itself into a soup of ex-caterpillar – a nearly formless sludge oozing around a couple of leftover essential organs (tracheal tubes, gut).
Only after this near-total self-annihilation can the new growth begin…. These parts gorge themselves on the protein of the deconstructed caterpillar, growing exponentially, taking form, becoming real. That’s how you get a butterfly: out of the horrid meltdown of a modest caterpillar.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but over the last 10-12 weeks, I’ve found myself in various stages of this caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation. I’ve put opportunities in my path to force thinking, conversation, and growth. One of these is a course on well-being.
Through this course, I was introduced to an awesome tool to determine my Signature Strengths, which are basically the top characteristics of my emotional quotient (or EQ). (If you have the cash to spare, I highly recommend getting the expanded results at the end to learn more about your strengths at all levels.) If you know me even a little, you won’t be surprised to know that Kindness was my number one strength and that Leadership and Love of Learning also made the top five.
I could have easily read the report and put it to the side, but as part of the course I was taking, I was encouraged to stretch my strengths. For the last four weeks, I have been flexing my Signature Strengths, focusing on one each day and finding ways to deepen my understanding of each trait and to use that day’s strength in creative ways.
As I stretch myself in the daily actions of exhibiting kindness, learning more, recommitting to the principles of servant leadership, finding beauty around me, and deepening my social intelligence, I find myself making sense of the growth goo into which I have been submerged and intentionally solidifying into the person I am becoming. The person I want to be.
This is, by no means, and easy process. Growth sucks sometimes. We are brought face-to-face with ingrained aspects of ourselves and the lives we live and have to make decisions on if we are going to continue down the path we are on or if we are going to pivot. In creating intentional happiness for us and the world around us, it is ultimately up to each of us to ask ourselves the questions:
Am I happy?
Am I making others happy?
Are my actions hurting or helping?
Am I a force for good in the world?
What can I change today to make myself a better person and the world a better place?
I left my job a few months ago. I had been sitting on this decision for a while. I liked my work. I was invested in our mission. I enjoyed interfacing with many of my coworkers. What I didn’t love was a continued expectation for excessive overtime, that work was to take precedence over personal and family commitments, that almost complete projects were upended (more than once), and the repetition of “we’re family” was part of the workplace culture. (It’s not healthy, I promise, and having leadership that uses that language puts workers – you and I included – at a disadvantage with our time and financial value because “family” workplaces expect employees to give more (or all) for less.)
I’ve burnt out before.
Burnout is no joke. Dragging out of bed and through the day bleary-eyed. Difficulty concentrating. Taking hours longer to complete a task because I. Just. Can’t. Move. Any. Faster. Having to bribe myself to go to work. All the signs were starting to show. What was most frustrating for me was that I had tried to address my concerns about unmanageable workload early on (starting more than a year before giving my notice). During one exchange when I asked how my boss would like me to prioritize certain types of tasks, I was (unhelpfully) told, “It all just needs to get done.”
All of these individual things aside, I knew months before I finally left that the time was approaching. It took me a while to get all the pieces in place. Was I in a financial place where I could leave? How long could I manage to be unemployed without incredible strain? Was it the right time? Would things get better? Should I give it another chance? How much longer could I go before burnout really got me? I’m sure there’s a point in my life where I would have up and walked off a job. (Actually, I have up and walked off a job.) But this was not that place or time.
I have value outside my job.
We’ve been conditioned (very much so in the United States and also in other parts of the world) that our job – the type of job we hold and rank within it – determines our value as a person. I’ve been to countless networking events and social parties where the first question I get asked is, “What do you do?” I’ve tried to flip this on its head by replying with my hobbies, but the follow-up question is always, “No, what do you do for work?” I realized probably close to a decade ago that this question is very much a matter of people determining each other’s status and worth in society and have made a concerted effort to flip the script on this question by opening my ask with something else. Really, anything. “Do you have any pets?” “What’s your favorite dessert?” “What are your hobbies?” The possibilities are endless.
Know Your Priorities.
In reality, our work is only a part of us and what we do. For me, work ranks third in what I view as important in my life.
1. Family: Myself, my immediate family, my chosen family, those for whom I would literally drop everything no matter what.
2. Community: The people and places with whom/where I collaborate and in which I invest my time, talent, and treasure in order to leave the world a better place than I found it.
3. Career: A job (hopefully one I like a lot) that allows me opportunities to share my abilities and positively impact our mission as a whole. The vehicle that keeps a roof over my head and food on the table and allows me to fully invest in #1 and #2.
It’s taken time to find my own value (yay, life experiences!), but as my own understanding of my value as a person has matured, my patience for people who don’t respect the autonomy of others (be it in learning or communication style, preferred hobbies, style of dress or physical expression, etc.) has gone down. I am a baker. A pianist. An activist. A bookworm. A yogi. A gardener. A cat mom. And so much more.
Even with all the uncertainty that comes with not having another job lined up, I knew it was time when the time came. I was on the precipice of burnout. I wasn’t feeling valued. When I did set my end date, I gave a statistically long amount of notice. I was honest in my reasons to leave in the hopes that systemic change could happen for others. I hope I set my team up for success. I wish no ill on my colleagues and hope that their work towards the mission continues successfully.
Quitting can be scary and that’s no lie. There’s the aspect of not knowing how others will react when you give your notice, what they will say about you (to your face or behind your back), or if you’ll simply become a pariah for the last few weeks you’re there. And it was scary. But it was also an incredible, empowering step in staying true to myself and doing what I needed to do – for me.
The closer I got to my last day, the prouder I was of myself for making this choice. The closer I got to the uncertainty of what was next, the stronger I felt in my decision.
I’ve carefully selected a handful of fields I feel I will really enjoy. I’ve curated a list of important interview questions to make sure I’m valued from the beginning (including questions about work/life synergy, workplace culture, the cohesiveness of mission/vision/values, and more). I have some incredible friends helping me on this journey and while I really don’t know what’s next, I know I can do it.
The person who can bring people to the table and facilitate a consensus has influence and power because the pool of people who already agree with and want what you have to offer is relatively shallow. But, if you?re skilled at persuading those who are undecided or even hostile to your point of view, the pool of people you can work with is deep and wide.
If you?re in business ? no matter the business ? you?re in the business of communication.
In this context, all communication is about persuasion.
Persuasion vs. Manipulation
Everything you say, write, and do should persuade the other party to engage with and eventually work with you in some way, but it’s critical to understand that persuasion is a process that results in them changing their mind from one way of thinking to your way of thinking and that action must be taken in line with that shift.
You can get people to act the way you want without persuading them. People will act against their goals and values when forced or manipulated to do so. We?ve all seen how people who yell, threaten, and subvert can get their way. Force and manipulation are ways to get results and gain power quickly, but that way is never acceptable or a good long-term strategy because as soon as the victim can get away, they?ll revert to their former way of thinking and doing. We all know that once the pressure is off or more information comes to light, the victim of that behavior goes right back to the way they thought about and did things before.
I define persuasion as respectful communication based on pure motives the result of which is an action that benefits all parties.
Why Persuasion Matters
If you?re self-employed or a salesperson, you must be able to articulate the value of your product or service and make sales.
If you?re a leader in a company or the chair of a committee, you must inspire confidence in those who follow you and empower them to act quickly and enthusiastically to get things done.
Unless you?re selling on price alone, this is not a one-time thing. You must continually be engaged in conversations that demonstrate the value of your proposition and partnership to everyone around you.
Persuasion requires mindful interaction.
People, not Facts, Persuade
Persuasive people understand that facts alone do not persuade. It is how the facts are presented and how well they fit with the other person?s perspective that matters because if the other party views the facts as irrelevant to their situation or the solution presented as too onerous, they?ll look elsewhere for a better solution to their problem.
Worse, if they agree on the facts and solution proposed and are willing to take the action required to solve their problem but do not like the presenter or the idea of entering a strategic partnership with that person, they will go elsewhere. The result of that is frustration and lack of results and possibly income for the presenter/would-be persuader.
Therefore, your communication must be strategic, based on shared values, and solution-oriented. It cannot be those things if you don’t identify the most pressing problem the person you want to work with is facing, what motivates them (personally and morally), and exactly where and how you who you are and what you do overlaps those things.
To identify the needs and wants of the other party, you must gather around the table.
Bring People to the Table
The table can be conversations on social media, email exchanges, phone calls, or in-person meetings. The platform doesn?t matter as much as the interaction that happens when you meet there. To attract people to and keep them at your table, you must demonstrate your professionalism and that you have the social skills to be good to work with.
Here are some tips:
? Find common ground.
? Use language that appeals to the person you’re trying to persuade. For example, when I talk to athletes, I use sports metaphors and language that includes “finish line,” “competition,” “win,” etc. When I talk to a new father or mother, I use words and phrases that connect to their concerns and our shared experience as parents.
? View yourself and your offering from the perspective of the person you’re talking to.
? Anticipate challenges and offer options that address the real obstacles the other party may have implementing your solution.
It is during these conversations that you will come to understand the needs and wants of the other party and how what you have to offer can satisfy both. You will also be building a connection and trust with the other party and offering a solution to their problems. The goal of this stage is agreement. However, verbal agreement alone doesn’t get the job done, nor does it mean you’ve persuaded.
The True Test of Your Powers
A call to action is the true test of your persuasive powers because many humans are agreeable by nature, finding it difficult to challenge others in conversation. However, when it comes to a buying or buy-in decision, something that requires them to act in a way that costs them something, people are more likely to say ?no? or put the decision off. This may seem like a failure, but it?s not the end of the discussion. This is an opportunity to ask more questions and to verify that you?ve understood the problem as the other party sees it. It?s an opportunity to creatively solve a problem together using the skills and resources at your mutual disposal.
However, this may also be an indication that you?ve given all you can and should, and now the other person needs time to digest and answer your call to action after they?ve tested your ideas and verified your credibility.
Give People Space to Digest and Reflect
Persuasive people understand that time can be their friend and that high-pressure tactics are the tools of forcers and manipulators. Few people have the stomach to stay at the table with manipulators. Keeping people at the table requires respect and patience.
Always leave a seat at and keep inviting people back to the table because those who return are often the ones who become the most loyal clients and vocal supporters.
Remember, negotiation is a process of communication. Persuasion is a series of small yeses, the result of which is action and long-term, meaningful change.
Whether you?re a board member, executive, committee chair, salesperson, or freelancer, the better communicator you are and the longer you can keep people at the table, the better your chance of creating long-term success for all parties and being recognized by others as a true leader and someone worth working with or buying from.
I?ve never been a fan of the ?How are you doing?? conversation. Don?t get me wrong, I know that people mean well when they ask this question! But, it?s usually a pleasant way to start speaking to someone, when they are in a good place. This conversation doesn?t really set people up for dealing with ?you know what? I?m not so great at the moment?.
Most people have juggled the idea of saying ?I?m fine? to just get the conversation over and done with OR telling the truth and admitting that they aren?t in a great place. A lot of the time there?s an internal conflict because we struggle to ask for help, or want to keep up appearances. But ultimately, that?s not sustainable. We all need to rely on our friends and loved ones when things are tough, that?s what they?re there for after all. The one constant in life is that there will be highs and lows that we all have to go through. However, you do not have to do that alone.
So, if you?re fighting your own battles, here are some tips about dealing with tough times and, hopefully, they will help you to accept that it?s OK to not be OK.
Don?t feel guilty about sharing
Guilt is a strong emotion and when you?re going through a tough time, you become more aware that others are also experiencing difficulties that you know nothing about. This can be one of many reasons that stops us from opening up and sharing with the people who truly care. You have no reason to feel guilty about sharing your thoughts and feelings. There are people in your life who care and want to know when you aren?t at your best so they can step in and be there for you. Remember, you deserve to be looked after too.
Find someone you trust and start talking
When you?ve managed to get past the feeling of guilt, think about the people who you really trust and lighten the load by talking to them about what you?re going through. The closer you are to that person, and the more you feel you can trust them, the more comfortable you?re likely to feel.
Learn to say no
Having time to yourself is equally important as helping others. A bit of time out can do you a world of good, so again, don?t feel guilty about saying no. Taking time out to clear your mind and channel your energy into the things that you care about gives you the opportunity to focus on the things that make you happy.
Pay attention to your self talk
During periods of high stress, you need to be kind to yourself. That means positive self-talk and accepting that you need time to bounce back. Challenge any negative self-talk that you catch yourself saying and offer more supportive ones.
There are many more things you can do to take care of yourself during tough times, but starting with these can put you in the right direction. Stay strong!
We have got to get out of the ?win-lose? mindset and start celebrating each other’s success. Some of us are there, but I still see it as being so incredibly prevalent, particularly in the workplace. If someone you work with succeeds, that?s (not necessarily) a direct correlation to you losing (your job, a promotion, etc.). I?m not saying it doesn?t happen, but I?m saying the chances of it happening must be smaller if we work together instead of competing against each other all the time.
I know, ?collaboration? has become such a (barf!) buzzword. What I?m really talking about is about making space for others to come up around you. We have got to stop stepping on each other and being afraid of others? success. Getting even more specific, I?m talking about white women not being afraid of the success of anyone who doesn’t look like them ? and speaking of women of color and minority backgrounds, in particular. Seriously. If you?re guilty of this, it needs to stop. As a white woman, I am telling you ? other white women ? that you will be amazing if you allow women who are not like you and don’t look like you to enter your spaces, take your place on panels, speak at conferences, and be part of your mastermind groups.
Next time someone is looking for a speaker, recommend a woman of color (and not only to speak on diversity topics!). Are you not sure where to start?
I?ve got some suggestions for you.
(Click through to find each woman on Twitter!)
Amber Lee ? Lifestyle, Blogging, Millennial women, Health & wellness, Entrepreneurship
Angela Hemans ? Twitter marketing, Marketing, Building your brand online
Antoinette Minor ? Podcasting, Entrepreneurship
Contrecia Tharpe ? Branding, Communications, Marketing, PR
Eulanda Shead Osagiede ? Travel, Entrepreneurship, Living your best life
Faiza Yousuf ? Building communities for women, Technology, Coding
Gennette Cordova ? Philanthropy, Activism, Nonprofits, Empowerment
Jade Phillips ? Entrepreneurship, Branding
Jasmine Powers ? Digital Strategy, Marketing
Joy Donnell ? Writing, Branding, Public Speaking
Kavita Chintapalli ? Social media strategy, Ending violence against women
Lisa Fitzpatrick, MD ? Healthcare, Public health, Health literacy, Health tech
Melissa Kimble ? Relationship building, The creative movement, Branding, Writing
Nora Rahimian ? The music biz (production, best practices, etc.), Women?s rights, Activism, Art as a vehicle for social change
Sabrina Medora ? The culinary world, Entrepreneurship, Branding, Marketing
Sherese Maynard ? Healthcare, Healthcare IT, #WomenInHIT
This list barely scratches the surface of the incredible, talented, powerful women of color doing amazing work in the world. Let’s keep it growing! Tweet me at @AnOrchidInBloom and let me know who you’d like to add.
Branding is more than just a concept that large organisations should be aware of. We live in a world where at the click of a button, you can find out what people do for a living, for who and (if they?ve thought about this enough) why they do what they do. Now the real question is, what do you want people to say and think of you? Or even better, what is already out there?
Anyone can now develop a finely tuned personal brand and become established in their field of work. This takes time, effort and thought. You have a voice of your own and have an opportunity to contribute as a leader in your field. Your brand is the recipe for your success as it can be the difference between people genuinely remembering who you are. And it is always worth investing the time in developing your brand so that you?re in control of the narrative. So with that in mind, here are a few tips for shaping your personal brand.
Find the right platform
First things first. If you?re going to start working on your personal brand, you need to understand where your ideal audience is to start working on your online presence. Whether that is through a personal website, Twitter, LinkedIn or events, you need to know where these people come together to speak about the things that matter to them. That way, you can be present and start to build relationships with the people who are sharing their opinions and could potentially hold some influence.
Be a valuable source of information
Every piece of content that you share or create serves a purpose. From the articles that you write to the quotes that you post, they should be adding value to the conversation that you are taking part in. Search engines and social media platforms are already full of a never-ending stream of content. The last thing you want to do is just add to the noise!
Practice what you preach
Consistency and authenticity are key with all brands, whether they be people or large organisations. But before you ask anyone else to follow a particular path or take an action, you should be doing so yourself. The purpose of a personal brand is to amplify the values that you stand for and that can only happen when you are matching the expectations that you have set.
Use your voice
Trying to be something that you?re not, or who you think other people want you to be, is a recipe for disaster. But, more often than not, people do this without realizing. You have to uncover what it is that you stand for and that means taking the time to really think it through and asking yourself thought provoking questions. Ask people around you what they hear when you speak ? often they can see elements that you may miss.
Accept and embrace imperfections
Perfect doesn?t exist for a reason. It?s unattainable, unreal and most importantly unrelatable. People are influenced and inspired by the people that they can relate to; the people who they see a piece of themselves in. And that?s why it?s important to show the unpolished side of yourself. The side that makes mistakes, hits road blocks and occasionally feels demotivated. Because that way, you can show that you overcame all of those challenges to get to where you are right now. People like fighters, and your imperfections can prove that you are just that.
When confronted?Well…confronted is too strong a term?Let me begin again
When some boss friends confided that the religious undertones in my website were a turn-off, it became a concern for me. They admitted that if they didn?t know me already, they would worry about being judged, preached to, or that I would try to convert them into nuns standing on street corners, in a sandwich board, screaming lines from Exodus. (Can you picture it?)
I am a United Methodist through and through BUT I don?t preach and don?t judge when talking to my clients (although, I have cussed out my computer and bad drivers from time to time). A while after I met my boss friends, they learned that I have a strong faith and want to help churches and faith-based organizations spread their word, their work, and
Everybody get together
As a digital marketing specialist, I thought it would be smart to create a second website called Covered-Dish.com. Covered-Dish.Com focuses on digital marketing and web design for faith-based organizations. On my original website, PetreyDish.com, I removed all mentions of faith. Well, almost all. I kept some details in my bio.
Here’s why I split my business (web-wise) in two
? Remove possible confusion
?Remove religious undertones
? Strengthen religious tones
? Better SEO
? Better targeting for
?Prevent secular businesses from being biased (no preaching or quoting
Does it take twice as much time to market?
Surprisingly… No! Yes, I did create a separate Facebook Page and Instagram account. I?m not really focused on those at this time, but they are there and I post sporadically. When I do spend time on social media marketing, it takes about ten extra minutes. Hootsuite has been a great help with that. Hootsuite allows me to schedule out posts in advance so when the ideas are flying and get knock them out and get them scheduled. I also make sure to spread them out so it?s not ten posts one week and then nothing for the next two weeks. Some consistency is important.
I am focusing more on the websites for now. Using the same article, I can change ?business? to ?church? or ?faith based organization? and change ?clients? to ?community? to create two different pieces. One for each site. I also reword the content a little so it?s not exact because Google is a smart bot and doesn?t like it when posts are too similar.
No, I didn?t get a second business license. I did not set up a second billing system. I do not have a separate location or a different pet to have in the office for my Covered-Dish.Com clients. For clarity and to appease the Biblically sensitive, I made a simple change in marketing strategy and use the same email on both websites. Have my main site and marketing more secular and have a second site be more Peace, Love,
Can?t we all just get along?
For crying out loud!
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
There is a difference between having a lot of things to do and getting a lot done. But, we?re often told that being busy must mean that you?re productive.
Productive by definition means ?achieving a significant amount or result,?while busy is ?having a great deal to do or keeping oneself occupied?. The very difference between the two is that productivity produces results. Being busy just means using (or in some cases wasting) a lot of time and probably not getting the end result that you?re looking for. So how do you know if you?re really being productive? Here are 7 ways to determine whether you?re good at keeping yourself busy, or super productive.
1. Busy people find it hard to prioritize. Productive people have (only a few) priorities.
We?ve all heard someone say ?there aren?t enough hours in the day?, I?m sure you?ve even caught yourself saying it a few times (I know I?m guilty?????). How would you feel if I said there is no such thing as being too busy?
If a task, project or objective is important to you, you will find a way to incorporate it into your timeline. Having three or four priorities allows you to stay focused and work towards achieving the desired result. Having 20 priorities creates a headache and doesn?t give you time to complete anything. So when you find yourself running out of time, ask yourself if you have prioritised too much.
2. Busy people have ?things to do?. Productive people have a mission to complete.
Busy people hide their lack of focus by creating a longer list of things that should be done. There isn?t a sense of direction in their actions, just a multitude of things that consume their time.
Productive people are on a mission. Their actions are driven by the conscious decision to achieve a particular result and everything that they do is geared towards it.
3. Busy people always say yes. Productive people know the power of saying no.
Busy people often over promise and under deliver. In their attempt to fit more into their never-ending to-do list, they take on projects and make promises that simply can?t be kept. They often do this with the best of intentions(after all we can?t complain about the person who wants to help everyone). But you also have to know when it?s time to help yourself, and that comes with knowing when to say no.
Productive people understand that time is of the essence and that, to produce quality work, they need to have time and space. They say no, not to upset people, but because they?re aware of their limits. Because sometimes you have to be a bit selfish to get things done.
4. Busy people focus on ?doing?. Productive people gain clarity before taking action.
Documenting your decisions can be one of the best things that you can do. It allows you to clearly understand how your actions are having an impact on your life and what you need to do in order to progress. Taking mindless action doesn?t produce a lot of results. We live in a world where people are more interested in updating Instagram than they are proactively monitoring their personal growth. Don?t fall into the trap. Make sure that everything you do is inspired by your personal mission.
5. Busy people have too many options. Productive people focus on a few.
Everyone goes through a stage of wanting to do it all: to travel, save money, move out of home, get a degree, learn a language or get promoted at work. However, you do get to a point where focus becomes a necessity. You may want to do all of those things, but it is impossible to do them all at once. If this year, I want to start saving for a deposit on a flat, it?s probably not the best time to book flights to travel the world. So make sure that you know what you have to trade off in order to get what you?re aiming for. Remember there has to be some short term sacrifice for long term gains.
6. Busy people talk about time flying past. Productive people talk about what they?ve achieved.
As they say: work hard in silence and let success make the noise. Busy people might have a lot to do and not too much to show for it. Not because they aren?t capable of doing better, but because they are channelling their energy into for too many things.
Productive people can tell you exactly what they have achieved in the past few days, weeks or months because progress is their aim.
7. Busy people multitask. Productive people find their focus.
Focus can do so much for you.
In theory, multitasking seems like a great idea. Why not kill two (or more) birds with one stone? It sounds like you?re getting double the amount of work done in a shorter amount of time. But, what it really means is that you don?t finish many tasks because your time has been divided. Productivity is completing a task to a high standard and doing that requires focus.
There are plenty of great ways to do this. If you haven?t heard of the Pomodoro technique ? check it out! You set a timer to 20 minutes and the aim is to focus on one thing and should you get distracted (by checking your phone, running off to get water, surfing the net), you have to reset the clock. Brutal? Maybe. Effective? Most definitely.
Think about how much you could achieve when you?re being productive. Don?t allow your potential to go to waste by consuming your time with ?busy?. Instead of focussing on how much you have to do, focus on how completing each task will bring you one step closer to achieving your goal.