Posts Tagged “need”


If you want to be more productive in your life, you’ll have to change some of your current habits.

Self-awareness is key, so you first need to be aware of the things you do (or don’t do), the toxic impact that they may be having on your life, and where they could be holding you back from accomplishing your goals.

These four habits can absolutely damage productivity, but there’s a clear path on how to break all of them.

1. Texting Every Five Minutes

On average, we spend over four hours a day on our phones, which includes 85 texts that we send (for adults under 45).

Pretty crazy, right?

The reality is, every time you reply, you’re resetting your focus and hindering optimal productivity.

How to Break It

The first step to help text less is to turn off notifications to keep you from being distracted when new ones come in.

If you’re too tempted, commit for a specific duration of time (for example, one hour) to not look at your phone—you’ll get used to this over time.

2. Saying “Yes”

Saying “yes” certainly has its benefits, especially when presented with an opportunity that’ll show the depth of your capabilities. But this can be an unbelievably slippery slope.

Once you become stretched too thin, you’ll no longer be able to deliver quality work across various projects, and they’ll all begin to suffer. On top of that, while your intentions may have been in the right place, it may prevent future opportunities from coming across your plate.

How to Break It

When presented with a new project, stop and think for a minute before saying “yes.” Consider the short- to long-term impact, and start getting comfortable with saying “no.”

Trust me, your boss will appreciate the fact that you’re being honest, especially if various projects could be negatively impacted.

3. Getting By With Being Disorganized

Personally, this has been the bane of my professional existence. Sure, a messy workspace could mean you’re a genius, but if you’re organizationally struggling, it can be damaging to your productivity where you’ll be left playing a perpetual game of “catch up.”

How to Break It

First, you should declutter, physically and digitally. If you’re willing to part with the messy desk, it’ll be a cathartic exercise to actually have a fresh space to work at.

Next, think about how you’re prioritizing and what tools you’re using to monitor all the tasks you have. Over the years, I’ve become intimately familiar with the likes of project management tools like Basecamp, Trello, and Asana, but have also upgraded my notes and to-do lists with the likes of Evernote, Todoist, and Dropbox Paper.

Regardless of what you use, do some “grooming” and prioritize by those tasks with the highest weight.

4. Living Without a Schedule

It’s 9 AM Monday morning, and you’re digging yourself out of the abyss that is your email inbox.

But five minutes later, you get pulled into an urgent meeting that ends up lasting two hours while there was a time-sensitive email that you missed.

Ever happen?

Where there are definitely intangibles that you can’t get away from, taking an extra step to control what you can with a schedule you create will pay long-term dividends (especially for your sanity, too).

How to Break It

Spend 30 minutes on a work night (or Sunday) to plan out your day. Check your email, plan your to-do list, and know exactly where you’re going to allocate your time. Block out 30- to 60-minute time slots on your own calendar to ensure you stay on-schedule and on-task.

With the additional visibility, you can plan ahead fewer surprises, and if something unplanned does happen, you’ll know exactly where you need to pick things back up.



Did you take the job to make friends? No, probably not. That would be quite low on the list of good reasons to accept an offer.

But having them sure is a perk, isn’t it?

Working with people you like can literally help power you through the day.

And in case you think this is an exaggeration and that work pals are just good for grabbing a beer with at the end of a long week, take this statement about the crucial nature of work friends from the infographic below: “Office friendships have a direct link with engagement and productivity.”

The infographic is, in fact, full of insightful nuggets, but as someone who values your work friends, you probably won’t be too surprised at the findings.

Those seemingly pointless conversations you have with co-workers while waiting for the coffee to finish brewing or on your way to a meeting? They’re not nothing. In fact, the data shows that having friends at the office can actually help your career.

A few minutes of non-work related banter can be viewed as a distracting force, or it can be seen as an engagement-enhancing break. So, it’s not just your social life that stands to benefit from these relationships but your professional life, too.

Think about it: When you’re in good spirits, you’re likely to find it easier to complete your to-do list—from the tedious, mundane tasks to the ones that require more creative energy.

You don’t have to have a best friend—though if you’re lucky enough to have a work BFF , well then, you may be one of the 50% of people who say that it’s resulted in having a strong connection with the company .

But just having any friends means you’re likely to be happier at work, and if you’re happy, you’re engaged, and when you’re engaged, you produce better work. You open yourself up to challenges. And maybe you even propose new and exciting ideas to your boss, bolstered by your co-workers’ praise and encouragement.

The fact is, the workday can be long and exhausting, so it really helps if you’re surrounded by people who you actually enjoy. What’s more: “The more friendly you are with the people you see every day, the happier you’ll be,” explains Muse writer Kaitlyn Russell .

So, the next time you catch yourself not doing your work and instead chatting with a colleague, go ahead and pat yourself on the back for cultivating those work relationships. It means you’re going places.



I’m always on the lookout for the next productivity hack that’ll make my workweek shorter. But even with all that time spent experimenting with lists and apps, I still had that window each week when I was pretty much just running out the clock.

Maybe, for you, that window is when you’re easing into work on Monday. Or during that funky 3 PM to 5 PM window right before the Friday finish line.

Whenever it is, it’s exactly when you should dive into Entrepreneur Sol Orwell’s Research-Plan-Connect (RPC) activity. It’s just what it sounds like: a block of time away from deadline-driven work to focus on these three categories: researching, planning, and connecting.

Ever since learning about it, I started setting aside time on my schedule to work on things that get me ahead, rather than things that just hit deadlines. And after doing it for three months, I’ve found that I’m actually reading all those articles I save and emailing the people I’d been meaning to reconnect with.

I’ve been able to accomplish big things, while also building my skills and network in ways that would’ve taken me much longer if I’d simply followed my old “I’ll fit it in here and there” approach.

Want to give this a shot? Here’s what you might do during your new RPC time:


I’m a reformed article hoarder. I used to have weeks when I saved industry articles with all the intentions of reading them—and just never gotten around to it.

Looking back now, it seems pretty obvious to block out time to, you know, read them. But setting that time aside—specifically—makes all the difference.

Or, if you’re not sure where to start, investigate the things that’ll help out you on the job. These could include anything from new tools or resources, to conferences you’re considering attending, or workshops you feel would benefit your team.

If you can book a skill-boosting webinar during your research window: perfect.

And that potential client you’ve been cyber-stalking? Yeah, that’s actually just research.

I set Google alerts for topics related to my industry. This way there’s a curated round-up of news ready for me to absorb each week. It’s how I stay fresh and “in the know.”


Type A’s: rejoice! And non-type A’s, I promise you’ll find this worthwhile, too.

If you RPC on Fridays like me, planning for the week ahead during this block will be a no-brainer. But it doesn’t have to be on Fridays, and it doesn’t have to involve your weekly planning, either.

When you need to, seize the time to outline big projects or your goals for the quarter.

Maybe even use the time to review your personal development plan—and think about how you’ll meet larger goals to advance in your career.

Use your planning window to break that Herculean task you have coming up into small, manageable chunks; and when you get back to it, you’ll have a real, live step one (and two and three).


Connect time is all about warming and building key relationships with co-workers, clients, business partners, work friends from previous jobs—the list goes on.

I’m not suggesting you suddenly jam all of your coffee dates into back-to-back meetings and come back to work jittery, or stare, unblinking at LinkedIn. (Though, if you’re always putting those things off for “when you have time,” this is a window to do them—within reason.)

It can be as old-school as popping a thank you note or birthday card in the mail, or as informal as sending out a heartfelt tweet. One-on-one brainstorm sessions, chats with your mentor, and Friday happy hour mingling all count too!

Finally, if you want to be truly successful with this approach, remember: Don’t kid yourself.

While you don’t want to be a stick in the mud (like telling your networking contacts you’ll only meet during this window, their schedule be damned, or feeling like you have to split each block into perfect thirds), you do need to be honest about the difference between making it work for you, and pretending that cat videos are “research.”

If you use this new work schedule for all those career-boosting activities you typically back-burner, you’ll find yourself looking forward to—and benefitting from—what were once the least-productive hours of your week.



When you think about advancing your career, what do you think about doing? Learning new skills? Building your network? Maybe pursuing a side gig?

These are all great options for getting ahead at work. If you’re gunning for a promotion or simply want to make yourself more marketable for future opportunities, you can’t go wrong by expanding your knowledge and building relationships.

But as you solidify your plans for advancement this year, I’d like you to also consider a different approach: letting go. Sometimes the thing holding us back isn’t a lack of something—it’s our refusal to ditch something that’s become outdated or irrelevant. Check out the list below, and ask yourself if you can make room for those new skills or relationships by abandoning that which you no longer need.

1. An Unhelpful Mentor

You will always need people who can help you professionally. There are plenty of examples of top performers who access coaches or mentors to help them navigate difficult decisions or major changes. Because relationships evolve over time, however, it’s entirely possible for someone to be influential and helpful at one point in your relationship, and then become problematic later on.

As you progress in your career, someone who was once a great mentor may grow competitive. Or he may simply get stuck in an outdated mindset while you (and your company) move on. Whatever the reason, if you outgrow a mentor, consider letting go of the relationship—at least in its current form. You don’t have to cut ties completely or end a friendship, but you don’t have to hold onto this person as your career guru, either.

2. An Irrelevant Goal

Goals are obviously important. If you aren’t working toward something concrete, after all, then what are you doing? And yet being inflexible in the pursuit of your goals may lead to trouble in some situations. A leadership change at work, a transfer to a different department, a new opportunity, or any other number of unforeseen changes could all impact the feasibility of any given goal.

Let’s say you set a goal to increase revenue for a specific product line, but your supervisor tells you she wants you to increase revenue on a different product line. If you can’t do both, you better align yourself with the company goals or you may land in hot water.

While you certainly don’t want to get in the habit of abandoning a goal the minute you feel challenged or stressed, you do need to get in the practice of periodically evaluating whether your goals are still high priority.

3. An Outdated Approach

No one plans to be the person who blurts out, “But we’ve always done it that way!” And yet, when we get comfortable, we become afraid of change and seek security in what we know.

Ask yourself if you’re sticking with something—a routine, a software system, a practice—because it’s familiar. Do you feel a twinge of fear when you think about modifying your approach? That twinge is the beginning of the “We’ve always done it this way!” mindset.

There’s certainly a benefit in knowing a particular tool of your trade backward and forward. You can work quickly and confidently when you’re at ease with your processes and technology, but getting stuck is dangerous. Committing yourself to exploring even one new thing a year in your industry can help you avoid attachment to products or practices that are increasingly outdated.

4. Technology

Think about an interaction with a colleague or friend that was profoundly impactful. Did it happen over text or an email? Unlikely. If you need to make a convincing argument, elicit assistance, make a difficult decision, or deliver an apology, technology is an aid, not the vehicle for communication. Make an effort this year to set your phone down, walk out of your office, and engage with people face-to-face.

Of course, seeking worthwhile and meaningful interactions with colleagues is only one reason to let tech go when possible, but there’s also an argument for increased productivity. How many minutes a day do you lose to mindless scrolling on Facebook? How long does it take you to coin the perfect Instagram caption?

I’m not saying to abandon your apps, but to look at much you . Wrest back control of your time before your boss takes note of your distractions. You’ll likely be amazed at how your productivity blossoms when you control your use of technology instead of the other way around.

This is certainly not a comprehensive list of all the things you might consider ditching. Most of us have habits, relationships, beliefs, and practices that warrant occasional scrutiny to determine if they still have a place in our lives. If you haven’t considered this before now, it’s a good time to review your plans to determine what you want to add, and what you want to leave behind to make this your best professional year yet.



We have been hearing a lot lately from leaders in politics, education and the business sector about the innovation boom and the need to expand our knowledge jobs. This is a positive shift. Our economy needs to diversify if we are to compete globally now, and into the future.

What is missing from this conversation, however, is recognition that skilled trades remain the superstructure on which the rest of our economy relies. We don’t often talk about the importance of skilled trades, but  these skills are the backbone of our economy.

Thanks to a record infrastructure pipeline, construction-related trades are booming and employers are crying out for skilled workers in these areas.  Emerging sectors, like advanced manufacturing, are also marrying traditional trade activities with higher level, technology-related skills. The problem is that our apprenticeship system is broken and the flow of young, job-ready, skilled workers is a drip when we need a flood.

In the March 2016 quarter, the total number of Australians undertaking an apprenticeship or traineeship declined 10.2 per cent compared with the same period in 2015.  Increasingly, young people, their parents and, often, their advisers at school, do not see an apprenticeship as a desirable career pathway.

On the other hand, employers complain about a lack of job readiness and adaptability on the part of workers who are starting out in their trade.  As a result, rather than take on apprentices, employers are increasingly resorting to skilled migration and other band-aid solutions. We need to solve this mismatch between what young people want from their careers and the skills employers are looking for by fixing our apprenticeship system.

The good news is that our political decision makers are finally taking note. In the meantime, the business community is proposing some real change. In our recent submission to the current NSW government review, the NSW Business Chamber called for reforms to the way that apprenticeships and traineeships are delivered in this state.

We need both tiers of government to work together on a public awareness campaign that turns the attention of parents, educators and young people to the outstanding opportunities that an apprenticeship can offer.  As outlined in the 2015 Australian Jobs Report, 85.5 per cent of apprentices are in full-time employment six months after completing their training, in comparison with only 68 per cent of bachelor-degree graduates achieving the same outcome. Secondly, we need to look at the success of specialist vocational colleges in countries such as Germany and Britain, and, examples such as Western Sydney TAFE at Nirimba, which allows students studying their HSC to undertake vocational studies – or even a higher education course – in a single location.  This model must be expanded.

The modern trades need workers who are adaptable, with skills that can be used across a wide range of tasks, some which might not be specific to a single trade qualification.  Flexibility also needs to be applied to the way in which we develop apprenticeship pathways.  Currently, the only channel for an employer to ask for a new apprenticeship is through an agonisingly long and bureaucratic process via a government-appointed advisory body. Wouldn’t it be easier if employers could apply directly to the Department of Industry to create apprenticeship pathways?