10 ways to stop feeling overworked and overwhelmed

Effectively managing our professional and personal lives is a problem we all struggle with. Maybe that’s because we look outside ourselves for solutions: software, apps, devices, time management systems.

Scott Eblin, author of Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative, says,

“The only person who is going to keep you from feeling overworked and overwhelmed is you.”

So how do you pull it off? It starts with making one overriding commitment: You must commit to intentionally managing your time so you have a fighting chance of showing up at your best–your most inspired, your most productive, and your most “in the flow.”

So how do you do that? Here are Scott’s tips:

1. Recognize and overcome the tyranny of the present.

People who are always “in the moment” don’t look ahead and make plans to pursue their goals and dreams. Though there are certainly things you need to do every day, much of what you think you need to do isn’t particularly important–especially where your long-term goals are concerned.

That’s why you should…

2. Ask, “Is this really necessary?”

Challenge your basic assumptions about your regular habits. Do you need to have that meeting? Do you need to create that report? Do you need to respond to that email? In many cases you don’t, but you do anyway simply because that’s what you’ve always done.

Eliminate as many “nice to do” tasks as possible–not only will you have more time, you’ll also have more time to be effective where it really matters.

3. Push reset on your calendar.

Sometimes the answer to “Is this really necessary?” is “Yes, but not right now.” What is the most important thing you need to do today? What tasks will keep you from getting that done?

The same is true if something important pops up: Immediately reset your calendar and reprioritize. Getting stuff done is fine, but getting the right stuff done is what really matters.

4. Understand and set your operating rhythm.

We all work differently. Some like to hit the ground running. Others like to start the day by reflecting, meditating, and thinking. Some like to work into the night.

The key is to understand not just how you like to work but also how you work best. You might like to work late at night, but if you’re tired or frazzled by a long day, you won’t perform at your best.

Do some experiments to figure out what works best for you. While you won’t always be able to stick to your plan, you will always have a plan to return to.

5. Schedule the most important tasks first.

What are your priorities for the month? The week? Today? Determine what they are and do those things first.

Why would you work on less important tasks when the truly important items are where you create the most value–whether for your business or your life?

6. Give yourself time for unconscious thought.

Giving yourself time for unconscious thought is key to making smart decisions when you face complex problems. Research shows people tend to make their best decisions when they have an opportunity to review the data and facts and then focus their thought on something else for a while.

How? Take a walk. Do a mindless chore. Exercise. Do something where your body goes on autopilot and your mind does too. You’ll be surprised by the solutions you can dream up when you aren’t purposely trying to be creative.

7. Set boundaries.

No one can or should be on 24/7. Yet you probably feel you are–because you allow yourself to be.

Set some boundaries: the time you’ll stop working, certain times you’ll do things with your family, certain times you won’t take calls, etc. Then let people know those boundaries.

Other people won’t respect your time unless you respect your time first.

8. Be strategic with “yes” and “no.”

You can’t say yes to everything. (Well, you can, but you won’t get everything you say yes to done–so in effect you’re still saying no.)

Sometimes you simply need to say no. Other times you can say, “No, unless…” and add stipulations. The same is true with yes: Saying, “Yes, but only if…” creates guidelines.

Always consider the effect of a request on your most important goals. An automatic yes also automatically takes time away from what you need to get done.

9. Tame your distractions.

Most people are distracted over 30 times an hour: phone calls, emails, texts, office drop-ins… The list is endless.

Schedule blocks of time when you’ll turn off alerts. The only way to stay on schedule is to work on your own schedule–not on that of other people.

10. Remember your impact on other people.

If you’re a leader–and since you run a business, you definitely are–you naturally impact other people. You set a direction. You set a standard.

You’re a role model.

Be a great role model: a person who gets important tasks done, who stays on point, who focuses on achieving goals and dreams … and who helps other people achieve their goals and dreams.

That’s reason enough to manage your time so you’re consistently at your best.

re-blogged extract from Jeff Haden’s Blog on Inc.com

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3 Factor – Employee Engagement

engagement

3 Factor – Employee Engagement

I recently attended a talk by Sir Harry Burns the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland around his study around early intervention with young people in order to empower them to turn their lives into something more positive. He is a fantastic presenter and the evidence he has collected around brain development and what can positively or negatively affect it is fascinating and made me think about how leaders could adopt this to enrich the life’s of their employees.

I love simplifying things and what I took away was 3 things that help empower people are

Control – having a real sense of control over their working lives, the how, what, when etc

Sense of Purpose – knowing that you are making a difference or heading towards a worthwhile goal

Community- seeing that you are part of the team, company,organisation etc

So how do you do this, well you can hold back on  the fancy questionnaires and start having conversations with your staff around these 3 pillars and really listening to them and empowering them. As Sir Harry Burns talked about, this is not about doing things to people it’s about enabling them to do it for themselves.

Here’s a crazy idea, you could do it in 30 days. Here’s a Ted talk about just that

Let me know what you think about employee engagement in the comments section below and if you would like to read more about how to build the 3 factors into your working life.

VAMOS!

We are all looking for ways to be more efficient in the workplace and unfortunately it seems to be about rationalising or cuts however what if you get an extra 23 % productivity with out cuts?

Interested?

Well there was a study by Bath university around discretionary effort of 700 people and they realised through the study that 3 things would help this Ability, Motivation and opportunity. However I have recently noticed in organisations going through change that employees need more that these 3.

VAMOS the Spanish for to go

V= vision and I am not taking about the interchangeable, sometimes unmemorable cliches that I have seen, what I am talking about is what the manager sees as the future of the team,department etc. Talking about what they picture as a positive future, in turbulent working environment employee need to know that their boss is guiding them to a better place.

A = ability when asking employees to do more, due to changes in the workplace, have you as there manager talked to them about development or a skills gap and empowering them to get the development they need.

M= motivation… There are many theories on this and I have blogged about a few, however, the easiest way to find out what motivates them is ask them, many managers make assumptions about their employees, this can have the opposite of the desired effect.

O= opportunity; whether it is outdated processes, systems, IT or employees getting dragged into other duties that distract them from doing what they are employed to do. It’s your duty as a leader to cut through these distractions to allow the employee to do what they do best.

S= Specific outcomes. Setting expectations / targets whatever you want to call them mean that employee know exactly what they have to do to be a success. Sounds simple however you would be amazed the amount of employees I meet that find it difficult articulate what a good day looks like or their boss changes the goal posts so often that they don’t know what good looks like.

Hope you had a great weekend

Martin

Mindfulness starts with monotasking

 Mindful Leaders or mindfulness in leadership is seen as the current leadership behaviour most in demand.

‘Some of the recent difficulties of Hewlett-Packard, British Petroleum, CEOs of failed Wall Street firms, and dozens of leaders who failed in the post-Enron era are examples of this.(lack of mindfulness)’*

Q: What is mindful leadership, and what are its benefits?

A: Mindfulness is a state of being fully present, aware of oneself and other people, and sensitive to one’s reactions to stressful situations. Leaders who are mindful tend to be more effective in understanding and relating to others, and motivating them toward shared goals. Hence, they become more effective in leadership roles.*
Mindfulness isn’t new, many cultures have used it for hundreds of years and even in western businesses it has been celebrated. Daniel Goleman wrote about it in 1990 although he called it Emotional Intelligence and many now see this as more important in a leader than IQ.
Now cast you mind back to your working day; did you or people around you?
  • check emails when talking to someone on the phone
  • constantly think about all the work you had to get through when you were at a meeting
  • do work when on a conference call
  • Flick between tasks due to interruptions
  • eat lunch,work, text, check social media
  • MY FAVOURITE sit in a course or meeting glued to your blackberry only engaging when it suited you

This is not an exhaustive list of multitasking, please add your own examples

What’s more is that Clifford Nass, a researcher at Stanford assumed that those who multitask heavily will nonetheless develop some other outstanding skills. He thought that they will be amazing at 1. filtering information, 2. being very fast at switching between the tasks and 3. keeping a high working memory.

He found that none of these 3 points are true:

We were absolutely shocked. We all lost our bets. It turns out multitaskers are terrible at every aspect of multitasking.

People who multitask a lot are in fact a lot worse at filtering irrelevant information and also perform significantly worse at switching between task, compared to singletaskers.

Now most studies all point towards the fact that multitasking is very bad for us. We get less productive and skills like filtering out irrelevant information decline.

So before you book your meditation classes (I thoroughly recommend meditation but that’s another post). its back to basics. Plan our tasks. Be present. Complete one thing at a time and do it well. Pay attention to the people around us that we are interacting with…really listen and observe before taking action or speaking.

The number 1 complaint I have on Change courses is that people don’t feel they are being listened to. Such a simple habit / behaviour to help people through change.

If you would like to know more about mindfulness you could start here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wherever-You-There-Are-Mindfulness/dp/0749925485

* extract from HBR

Let me know your thoughts in the comments box

A great TED video about monotasking is below.

The 3 R’s to stop you being overwhelmed

Everyone at times can feel as if we have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Many people will grin and bare it, work extra hours and hope that things will get better.

We start saying things like ‘ I wish I had more time in the day’

Sometimes we get through this and sometimes it can have an effect on our home life and health.

The 3R’s is a technique to help.

Relax – Easier said than done, however, putting more and more pressure on yourself is not going to solve anything. Someone once said to me when I was stressing about getting everything done before going on holiday ‘Is anybody going to be physically hurt? Will the department grind to a halt? Is a week away from your desk going to matter?Who can support you when you are away?’. They got me to be more rational about the situation and for me to start seeing who could help.

Ultimately, if you don’t relax and look for support you will burn out and who does that help?

Taking emoition out the equation helps with the next stage.

Review – Take time to review what you have to do

What can you control? Break down everything that you think you have to do using the matrix below. In order to feel more in control and more calm, break down that weight from your shoulders into smaller chunks. What is urgent and what is important. NB. if home life is important to you it should be in the High Importance and Urgent box!

What can you influence? – This is about getting support. We cannot be all things to all people, think about

  • Can I get extensions on timescales?
  • Am I the right person for this task?
  • Am I taking on things because I want to please people around me?
  • Can I delegate some of this work?
  • Is my ego and preference for being in control stopping me from asking for support?

What is outside my control? – Sometimes we put ourselves under pressure by worrying about stuff that is outside our control and influence. It’s a waste of your energy and time. Accept that it is outside your control and concentrate on what you can change.

Re-boot

Just as wehave to re-boot computers when they have taken on new updates or are working inefficiently we should re-boot ourselves after the above.

Think about your

Focus – Stick to what you have planned. Don’t fall back into dealing with box 4

Openness – Be open to other peoples offers of support and advice. Be flexible, tasks will move around the box

Energy – take breaks even if it is just for a few minutes to get your energy back up. Imagine what it will feel like to tackle what you have prioritised.

I haven’t had a TED video on my posts for a wee while so enjoy this one. Funny and helps to look at our perception

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Determination, Inspiration and hard work

 

Martine Wright celebrates a point with Victoria Widdup in their Paralympics match against Ukraine

I watched an interview with Martine Wright the paralympian who lost both her legs in the 7/7 bombings and I have to say it brought a lump to my throat and really inspired me.

After the tragic incident Martine had to re-evaluated her life “I keep asking myself, when does it become normal? Is this normal now?”.

Wright “fell in love” with the sport after turning up late for a “search for a sitting volleyball star” day at Tottenham’s football ground that was attended by just five hopefuls.

Six years on, the 39-year-old former marketing executive was diving and blocking at the net, in front of a noisy crowd which included the London mayor, Boris Johnson, actor Barbara Windsor and Wright’s three-year-old son, Oscar, clutching a banner saying “Go, mummy, go”.

“My motivation, one of my motivations, is I truly believe I was meant to do this journey,”

“I want to do my nation and my family proud.”

This is only one story in so many with the competitors and I wanted to blog about it because it truly inspired me and the paralympics is a shining beacon of what can be done with determination, inspiration and a massive amount of hardwork.

I truly hope that the legacy of the paralympics is inspiring people of all abilities and ages (the oldest competitor is 71)  that they can achieve their dreams and that it breaks down the prejudices between people.

Hope you have a great weekend

 

 

Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

 

 

 

 

 

High Performing Teams – My Top 12 Characteristics

 

 

 

There are many versions of what makes a high performing team and I thought I would write down my top 12. I plan to expand on the characteristics in another post

If you want to use this at a team meeting, let me know and I will also explain how to do an exercise in a future post.

Let me know what you think – what you would add or subtract from the list?

  1. Shared Goals, Vision & Rewards
  2. Open communication
  3. Detailed Responsibilities
  4. Feedback given and accepted as the intent is to make things better
  5. Awareness of individual values and respect shown for these
  6. Awareness of each individuals skills and how they can be utilised within the team
  7. Sharing of business network and knowledge base
  8. Individual autonomy to make decisions
  9. Innovation, creativity given equality with process and detail
  10. Agreed methods for conflict resolution
  11. Positive outlook
  12. Participative Leadership Styles

You know I love TED videos so I have attached:

At TEDxUSC, David Logan talks about the five kinds of tribes that humans naturally form — in schools, workplaces, even the driver’s license bureau. By understanding our shared tribal tendencies, we can help lead each other to become better individuals