Posts Tagged “successful”

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You know those days when you leave work feeling amazing, pumped that you were highly productive? On the flipside, I’m sure you have days that are just the opposite. Ones that leave you feeling frustrated, wondering whether you got anything done. What if there was a way to end every day knowing that it was successful?

Unfortunately, there’s no bulletproof formula to guarantee this, but there are certain practices you can follow that’ll help.

Here are five habits that, if practiced daily, can boost your success at work:

1. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Gratitude journals have grown wildly popular and I can understand why. Earlier this year, I started a journal and committed to writing down one thing I’m grateful for every day. At 159 days in, I’m still going strong. I found that expressing gratitude every morning before work gets me in the right mindset and helps me prepare for the day’s challenges.

But don’t take my word for it. A study by UCLA found that people who regularly wrote down what they were grateful for were more optimistic and cheerful than those who didn’t. Interestingly, they also had fewer doctor visits and fewer work absences. Expressing gratitude daily is a simple, quick practice that has a massive impact, and there’s even an app for it in case you’re not a fan of physical journaling like I am.

2. Reduce Context Switching

Context switching is when you jump between various, unrelated tasks. You’re heads down on a project but get interrupted by an urgent message. A few minutes later, a conversation between co-workers distracts you, and, after you finally refocus, you remember an email you should have responded to earlier in the day. Does this sound like your day?

While rapid context switching may seem like the norm of the modern worker, Jessica Harris from Trello explains how it comes at a high cost:

We spend an average of just one minute and 15 seconds on a task before being interrupted.

It takes an average of 25 minutes to resume a task after being interrupted.

Heavily multitasking can temporarily lower your IQ by up to 15 points.

You probably can’t eliminate context switching altogether, but being mindful of the productivity damage it causes will allow you to create rules to avoid distraction (more on that in a second).

3. Create “If/When-Then” Plans

I learned about this habit from Robert Cialdini’s book, Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade. Here’s how it works. You pick a cue, then pick a desirable action that you can link to that cue. Here are a few “if/when-then” rules I follow:

If/when I need to work without interruption, then I leave my desk and find a drop-by room.
If/when it’s time to eat lunch, then I order a salad. Boring, I know.
If/when I get a calendar invite for Thursday (when my company has a no-meeting policy), then I move the meeting to a different day.
Research suggests that people who use “if/when-then” planning are between two and three times more likely to achieve their goals. This type of planning is effective because you’re proactively creating automatic responses. When situations arise that might prevent you from reaching your long-term goals, you’ve already decided how you’ll act.

4. Exercise—Even if Only for a Few Minutes

You know you should exercise—the benefits are significant. But knowing isn’t the tough part—it’s finding time in your busy schedule to make it happen.

Running, cycling, or going to the gym may be ideal, but all you really need is a few minutes. One option is the 7-Minute Workout. It’s an intense workout you can do almost anywhere and is proven to deliver results.

Taking a short break to go on a walk is a great way to reduce stress. A few years back I committed to going on one walk in the middle of the workday.

These quick strolls elevated my heart rate, for just a few minutes, and it enabled me to go back to my work with renewed focus. So, even if you don’t have time to hit the gym, exercising for only a few minutes each day is still worth it.

5. Have a Shutdown Ritual

Eric Barker, a best-selling author who wrote an entire book on success, teaches the importance of having a “shutdown ritual” in which you take the time to close out the day’s business and prepare for tomorrow. His research found that the simple act of writing down the things you need to take care of the next day can settle your brain and help you relax.

My shutdown ritual includes making a concise list (no more than three) of the most important things I need to do the next day. Since committing to this practice I’ve found that I think less about work when I’m out of the office. My ritual also includes cleaning my desk and shutting down my laptop, practices signaling that my work day has come to an end.

It turns out that implementing this has been found to relieve anxiety and help you enjoy your evening.

One final thought. While each of these five habits is intended to help you be more successful, it’s important to also pause and take a moment to define what success means to you.

These are guidelines, and, ultimately, you’ve got to create your own standard of excellence and measure progress accordingly. Because real, lasting success comes by aligning your actions with what’s most important to you.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-habits-thatll-ensure-youll-end-every-day-feeling-successful?ref=carousel-slide-0

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Have you ever heard about someone “cutting the line” to land their dream job?

They’re the people getting the perfect position without ever submitting a resume, or negotiating a sweet signing bonus plus five weeks vacation, or getting hired for a role the company created just for them. How do they do it? Are they just naturally golden? Or do they know something you don’t?

While you might use the word lucky, these folks don’t necessarily move more talented; they’ve simply perfected a way of approaching the job search in a manner others haven’t been trained in (or are fearful of adopting). This out-of-the-box approach gives them a notable advantage when it comes to standing out.

So what do they know and how can you follow their lead to make your next transition not only more quickly, but more successfully as well?

Do what they do:

1. High Performers Don’t Follow the Application Rules

The standard approach to applying for a position is to follow the application instructions outlined in the job post and get in touch with an internal recruiter. But high performers know that there’s a back door—and that it’s often a better bet.

My client Eric did exactly this. He reached out to people within the company in similar roles to the one he was interviewing for. If the conversation went well, he asked his new contact to introduce him to the hiring manager. (And if you’re unsure of how to go about that, here’s how you can find an in .)

You can identify and contact future co-workers or the hiring manager directly (often through LinkedIn ), both to build relationships and to do a little under-the-radar investigation about the company culture.

Just like knowing the hostess at a popular restaurant shortens your wait time, you too can cut the line. Instead of waiting with the crowd, your future boss picks up the phone to recruiting and says “I just talked to Eric, can you make sure he gets an interview?”

2. High Performers Don’t Focus on the Interview

Instead of focusing on scoring an interview at any cost, they decide whether or not a company or position is even worthy of their time. They want to know whether it’s a fit before they sit down across the table from a hiring manager. In other words, it’s having the confidence to remind yourself you’re in control.

For example, you can do a little private investigation work on the company, hiring manager, and other employees. See how they’re talked in the news, and how management responds to press (both good and bad). Regarding your prospective teammates: What kinds of causes do they support? What types of people seem to be employed there? What do they all do in their off hours?

Ironically, this confidence makes these professionals more desirable than the average candidate. When you’re being selective, you do your homework, and that means going into the interview process with a greater level of knowledge and conviction about the organization.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-keys-to-having-a-successful-job-search-that-a-lot-of-people-dont-know-about?ref=carousel-slide-0

Leonardo da Vinci. Marie Curie. Thomas Edison. Beatrix Potter.

What did all four of these people have in common?

Not only were they all highly motivated and creative individuals, but they also all kept some form of an idea journal.

An idea journal is not a diary where you have to record all of the details of your day. Rather, it’s a place where you jot down daily goals, achievements, observations, ideas for projects, quotes, or other bits of inspiration.

If you’re working on a project, you can fill your journal with updates on your progress, thoughts on how to improve the project, and anything else that motivates you. A writer’s might be filled with ideas for stories or articles or blog posts. An artist’s might contain sketches or inspirations for drawings. Ultimately, the idea journal exists as a private place to plant your thoughts and watch them grow.

Here are four reasons why some of the most successful people keep one (and you should, too):

1. It Helps You Remember and Develop Ideas

Leonardo da Vinci may not have kept an idea journal strictly speaking, but he did fill hundreds of pages with sketches, scientific diagrams, ideas for new inventions, and reflections on art. These pages were bound together as books after his death.

To make his writings even more private, da Vinci often employed a kind of shorthand and didn’t worry about perfect penmanship or proper punctuation.

What he did care about was carefully recording his lab notes and his many ideas for new inventions—everything from a flying machine to a submarine prototype.

Whether you’re researching an article or a novel or planning any kind of project, you need a place where you can organize all of that material. Like da Vinci’s notebooks, an idea journal helps you clarify your thoughts and express them more clearly. The action of writing down an idea forces you to think more deeply about it.

2. It Helps You Evaluate Lessons Learned

Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only person to win in multiple sciences. She also kept detailed lab notebooks that described her discovery of two elements: radium and polonium. These notes gave her a permanent and immediate record of her experiments and accomplishments.

Though you may not be a scientist, an idea journal acts as a lab notebook of sorts. While working on a project, you can use it to record each step of your journey: the difficulties that set you back, the hurdles you overcome, the milestones you make, and your final achievements.

The idea journal helps you avoid repeating mistakes in the future. And, you can flip through it to see all the steps you took toward completing your goals.

3. It Motivates You

Here is a photo of a page from one of Thomas Edison’s notebooks. He writes at the top of the page things doing and to be done. His to-do list runs for several pages and includes an amazing number of ideas, including an electrical piano, “unflammable” insulating material, ink for the blind, and an apparatus to help the deaf.

Edison’s to-do list shows how we can use an idea journal to warm up our creative muscle. Your lists can reveal to you a detailed picture of the things you’re passionate about and can even show you what field of study you should pursue.

Best of all, it motivates you to fight procrastination, list your goals, and start working to accomplish them. It reminds you to not abandon your dreams, but continue to strive to achieve them.

4. It Makes You a Better Observer

Beatrix Potter is most famous for her children’s stories about Peter Rabbit and her beautiful watercolor illustrations. However, she was also keenly interested in the natural sciences, especially botany.

From the age of 15, Beatrix Potter kept a journal in a secret code she had invented. The code was not cracked until 15 years after her death. Potter’s journals are filled with accounts of the long walks she took and her observations of the natural world. It was in this journal that she began to outline her scientific theories. She also recorded her opinions on society, fashion, art, and current events.

Potter practiced her observational skills by writing in her journal. Your notebook will train you to be observant as well. Writing encourages you to be curious, ask questions about the world, think innovatively, and find creative solutions to the problems you encounter.

 

Ready to start your idea journal?

Ultimately, there are no rules set in stone when it comes to making yours. It’s up to you to decide what to fill it with—just remember that its purpose is to inspire you.

An idea journal doesn’t have to be a physical notebook, although writingwith a pen and paper will give you the feeling of creating something and make your ideas that much more real.

Personally, I have several idea journals. For example, I love using Evernote to store the many articles and quotes I collect when I’m researching writing projects. Evernote has a feature that allows you to save anything you see online—including text, links, and images—into your account with a single click.

Additionally, I journal almost every day using an app called Day One that has a simple and elegant interface.

Ultimately, the idea journal is a portable laboratory where we can record our own unique perspective on the world, note the things in our lives that awaken our muse, and experiment with new ideas.

Source: http://inkwellscholars.org/4-reasons-to-keep-an-idea-journal/

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We all often face the same problem: The workweek drags by at a glacial pace, while the weekend speeds past us before we even realize what’s happening.

Mathematically, of course, it all makes sense. But, what if you could change that? What if you could use your time so efficiently that you had all of your important to-dos wrapped up by Thursday?

Even if you can’t actually pack up, leave the office, and take every Friday off (we wish, right?), wouldn’t it be nice to know that you have that whole “bonus” day to stop putting out fires and instead get a jumpstart on next week—or even use that day to tackle those bigger ambitions that have been permanently parked in your back seat?

I know, it sounds impossible. But, skepticism aside, it’s totally doable if you use your time effectively. In fact, numerous companies have actually begun instituting flexible or four-day workweeks for their employees.

So, how do these people manage to pull this off? It’s not as tough as you think.

1. They Schedule Intentionally

You’re aiming to view Friday as the extra day tacked onto the end of your workweek—a day when all of your weekly tasks are finished and you can finally have a clear head and a somewhat empty plate.

This means you’ll want to avoid scheduling meetings, phone calls, and other important get-togethers on that day (unless it’s just a casual coffee get-together with a networking contact). Instead, you want Friday to provide a large chunk of totally uninterrupted time that you can use however you’d like.

Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder and CEO of Asana, swears by this no-meeting structure—although, he implements it on Wednesdays for his team. “With very few exceptions, everyone’s calendar is completely clear at least one day out of the week whether you are a maker or manager,” he says in an article for Inc., “This is an invaluable tool for ensuring you have some contiguous space to do project work.”

This intentional scheduling applies throughout your entire workweek. In order to set yourself up for an empty Friday, you’ll also need to keep a close eye on your schedule during the other days as well.

No, you don’t always have complete control over your calendar. However, it’s important that you frequently check through your schedule to see how your week’s shaping up. If you think you have far too many commitments and not enough time to actually work, you’ll need to see what you can move around or back out of.

2. They Focus on Priorities

You start your week with the best intentions and a laundry list of things you’re going to tackle in the office. But, when Friday rolls around, you’re shocked to realize that you barely accomplished any of them. You were too caught up in the emergencies that cropped up.

As Stephen R. Covey, the incredibly successful businessman and author, said, “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”

People who get everything wrapped up before Friday know the value of effective prioritization, and many of them use the time management matrix developed by Covey in order take a step back and readjust their focus on the things that are critical, rather than time-pressing.

Oftentimes, there’s a big difference between how you’re actually spending your time and how you should be spending your time. And, if you want to have Friday reserved as free space, you’re going to need to constantly evaluate your priorities and ensure that you’re channeling your energy into the right things.

3. They Tune Out Distractions

Of course, you’re going to need to maximize every single minute of the days you actually do have. And, that means minimizing distractions as much as possible.

If you can’t focus at your desk with the office chatter and phone calls happening around you, try to find a quiet spot (or, if you’re desperate, some noise-canceling headphones) so that you can get into a groove and zone in on whatever you’re working on.

Another distraction you’ll want to keep at bay? Emails. So, close out that browser tab and resist the siren song of your inbox. You can even take a cue from Tommy John’s CEO, Tom Patterson, and set an out-of-office message that lets everybody know you’re only reading your emails at a certain time. That way, you won’t feel as tempted to keep checking in on your inbox.

4. They Find Shortcuts

You might hear the word “shortcut” and assume that means shoddy work. But, that’s not what this strategy is about at all.

Successful people are always concerned with producing top-notch results—however, they also find little ways to save time in the process. So, take a page from their book and have a good, hard look at your routine. Are there places where you’re spending a lot of unnecessary time?

Perhaps it’s a document you’re repeatedly drafting. Create a template so you always have the barebones in place. Is it an email you’re always sending? Save a canned response so you don’t have to draft the same message over and over again. Is there a menial task you need to complete daily or weekly? See if there’s a way you can automate it.

These changes seem small. But, if you managed to save yourself 15 minutes each day between Monday and Thursday, that’d be an entire hour by the time Friday rolls around. See? It all adds up.

Cutting a day out of your week might seem like a surefire way to get far less done. However, that’s not always the case. In fact, four-day workweeks have been proven to offer plenty of benefits—including increased productivity, higher levels of engagement, and happier employees.

Studies also show that longer hours don’t always equal more tasks being accomplished. After a certain point, we check out and our productivity either flat lines or takes a total nosedive.

So, even if your office won’t officially implement a compressed week, you can still roll up your sleeves, make the most of Monday through Thursday, and reserve Friday as a more low-key day when you can tackle bigger projects or set yourself up for success next week. After all, there’s no better way to head into the weekend.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-successful-people-finish-all-their-work-by-thursday-stressfree?ref=carousel-slide-5

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The old adage states that rules are meant to be broken. And, in fact, many of today’s most revered leaders echo this time-tested mantra: Sir Richard Branson once uttered the sage advice, “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”

But while the rule-breaking approach certainly lends itself to disruptive ideas, innovative thinking, and challenging the status quo, don’t let the bravado fool you: Leaders do follow rules—just not always the rules taught in Management 101.

Below are a few out-of-the-box guidelines that some of the most famous leaders in recent history swear by—and how you can incorporate them into your own life.

Rule #1: Don’t Waste Brain Power on Trivialities

When it comes to leadership style in the most literal sense, Mark Zuckerberg is famous for his, let’s call it, “dorm room chic” fashion choices. His grey hoodie is an inextricable part of his public persona. Steve Jobs is another iconic figure who’s famous for a signature ensemble: Even Jobs’ LEGO character dons the black turtleneck.

There’s a well-documented reason why some successful leaders wear the same thing every day, and it’s not because they’re making a thinly veiled statement about corporate fashion: It’s to avoid decision fatigue, or the mental paralysis that results from information overload. The theory posits that your brain has a limited amount of decision-making power, so using it for trivial things—like your daily outfit or how to cook your eggs in the morning—is ultimately wasteful of a finite resource.

While we’re not advocating tossing out every wardrobe item that’s not on the grey scale, there is a valuable takeaway here: Prioritizing decisions is a crucial element of successful leadership. Look for opportunities in your own life to cut out or delegate choices that you don’t need to make—it can be key for reducing decision fatigue and freeing up extra brain space for matters that matter.

Rule #2: Fail, Fail Again

Growth through failure is one of the most prevalent themes touted by modern leaders.

James Dyson, for example, famously tested 5,127 prototypes of his revolutionary vacuum cleaner before releasing the version that finally went to market. Airbnb faced numerous VC rejections before finally successfully securing funding. Google Glass was probably one of the most famous failures out there.

I could go on and on. If you think about it (or do a little research), you’ll find that nearly every notable company has experienced spectacular failure at some point on the way. That’s because if you’re taking the risks required to do big things, things are bound to not work out as planned from time to time. Or, as author and speaker Ken Robinson says, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

So how can you use failure to propel you forward like the great leaders of our time, rather than letting it get you down? In their book The Other “F” Word: How Smart Leaders, Teams, and Entrepreneurs Put Failure to Work, John Danner and Mark Coopersmith suggest this: Expect that disasters will happen and plan for the worst of them ahead of time; aim to recognize failure early and respond as it’s happening; and if everything falls apart, analyze what went wrong and put those lessons into everything you do moving forward. And, we’d add, make sure you take care of yourself along the way and surround yourself with colleagues and comrades you’re certain will have your back in a slump.

Rule #3: Always Ask for Criticism

On the path to successful leadership, feedback walks right next to failure. Not only is it important to “never stop iterating,” but it’s also crucial to seek honest feedback from consumers, colleagues, and your own team members.

In a 2013 TED talk, Elon Musk advised about the importance of seeking negative feedback, particularly from those closest to you and your business. “Really pay attention to negative feedback, and solicit it, particularly from friends,” he says. “This may sound like simple advice, but hardly anyone does that, and it’s incredibly helpful.” Bill Gates backs him up, suggesting leaders pay close attention to any negative points of feedback from users or customers: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning,” he once famously advised. We’d note that this also applies to unhappy teammates, bosses, or anyone else you work closely with.

While it’s never fun to face your shortcomings, it’s important to take them seriously (but not personally) if you want to move forward. First things first, figure how much of the feedback is a fact or an opinion. While both may be worth addressing, this simple distinction is important. If need be, ask more questions of the person giving you feedback to really try to understand the crux of the problem. Then, start creating a plan to solve it, working with a trusted friend or advisor if you need some help understanding how to move forward.

And, of course, make sure to also remind yourself what you’re doing well along the way, to help keep your spirits up!

Rule #4: Have Confidence to Ask for What You Need

People often think successful leaders have gotten to the top by throwing themselves into their work, sacrificing their life for long hours at the office, and always being available. And while, yes, for some this is true, more often leaders are able to succeed because they are thoughtful about what they need to make all aspects of their lives work—and aren’t afraid to ask for it.

Sheryl Sandberg is one of the most famous proponents of this rule, and one of the disciples of Sandberg’s philosophy is Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit. Brown-Philpot’s list of accomplishments is lengthy; her resume includes names like Goldman Sachs and Google, and she’s the founder of the Black Googler Network, a cornerstone of the company’s revamped diversity efforts. But, in her Lean In story, she shares that some of her successful decisions came not because she threw her life to the side, but because she figured out what she would need to balance everything. “Never be afraid to ask for what you need to make your whole life—not just your work life—work for you,” she shares.

Asking for the things you need to maintain work-life balance, as well as asking for support from employees, colleagues, and trusted confidants is paramount for successful leaders to avoid burnout and, ultimately, be better at what they do.

So, if you think a weekly work-from-home day, the opportunity to leave the office a little earlier to pick up your kids, or something similar would make you a more balanced person and, in turn, a better professional, don’t be afraid to approach your boss and see if a flexible arrangement can be worked out.
Becoming a leader isn’t easy, but the good news is, those who’ve come before have left a playbook that’s worth paying attention to. Begin to follow these rules, and you’ll likely get closer to success than you ever imagined.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-rules-the-most-successful-leaders-live-by?ref=carousel-slide-0