Welcome back! This is part two of how to achieve more, faster in the second half of 2019. In case you missed the first 5 strategies – here you can access them.
As a short recap, the first 5 tips were there to guide you in to levelling-up in your role, to create your battle-board, to attack the low-hanging fruit first, to establish the “done-by-one” approach and to send your ask/help/delegate e-mails first thing in the morning. For those who missed these I really encourage you to use the link above.
Just to put your mind to rest – I don’t ALWAYS apply all of those tools or stick to them religiously. I use what makes sense to me – and yes, there are days when I cannot manage to get the most important things done-by-one or there are also days, when something in my life keeps me so busy emotionally that I find it hard to level-up in my daily role.
(Self)Improvement is supposed to bring more peace of mind – not less
The short version of the above: don’t beat yourself up for not always being super-efficient or effective. Growth or improvement of areas in our life are supposed to bring us closer to the life we strive for – not to add an additional burden.
There is always a fine line between staying in our comfort zone, for example, “oh…this does not feel good”, “this is too much effort”, or even, “I don’t feel it” (This last one, even now, still brings a smile to my face).
Therefore, if you join me in this journey, I will help you avoid stressing yourself out with becoming this best version of yourself (whatever this ultimately means for you).
Most of us are stressed and often overwhelmed with the tasks of our every-day-life already, so whatever improvement measures we take are supposed to make our life better in the long run – not more stressful. Remember to allow for some discomfort when you start changing habits or establish new ones. In case you missed it, all of those tips are nothing else than new habits.
I experience that myself in my life: I can tell you, I did not always enjoy my morning yoga, when I was determined to establish it as a daily routine. Thoughts like “why am I doing this to myself” came up as part of my mind was making an attempt to convince me to just stay in bed a tad longer rather than bending my body into strange postures. Now, I don’t just enjoy it – my body demands it and the effects are awesome.
"The same will happen when you start changing your productivity habits."
Your workload will probably not get dramatically less any time soon – so you had better find approaches to deal with it in a way that serves you, your team, the people around you and yield those amazing results.
5 More Strategies for faster progress
Now to the heart of this post by coming back to the tips – here are the remaining 5:
6. Divide and conquer
Often, we believe we HAVE to do everything ourselves. Let’s be honest: sometimes we don’t trust the people around us enough to do the job properly, or we have not learned how to delegate properly, or we don’t want to ask for help.
As a result, you work your butt off and the list is simply not getting any shorter, you’re getting more and more stressed out and don’t progress with the important stuff anymore.
The solution: divide and conquer. Remember strategy no 5 (here you can find the first 5 strategies)? Send those ask/delegate e-mails first thing in the morning? Find out what you can delegate or pass on and what only you dan do, establish what is important and find someonewho can support you.
“I don’t have anyone (or the right people) to support me”, you might say. Well, then find some! How and where? Well, I hire my own (adult) children from time to time to help me out with some jobs. Translations, social media contributions, stuff in and around the house to give me more time for learning or my job. That works for me, as I run my own business.
Meanwhile I'm looking for other solutions - and one is to get yourself interns. Particularly when there is a hire freeze in your organisation. One option is to check in with any nearby university and look for students who are keen on work practice on a part-time or even full time basis. That often results into a great win-win-situation.
"If you have a team, delegate more."
Find out what talents and interests the people in your team really have - the experience shows that, if people are interested in a task, they learn quickly and are keen on doing a good job. If you don’t find the required skills, teach them. Long-term that will save you tons of time and help you AND the team progressing faster.
7. Guarantee recovery time EVERY DAY
Well, now here’s a challenge. Too much to do, demands from all sides pulling at you - your job, your spouse, your family, yourself….how the heck is it possible to build in recovery time EVERY DAY?
I have made a clear choice: I simply take the time for it. Regardless of how full my agenda or to-do-list is. The reason is simple.
In the past I have neglected myself a lot. As a single mum with 2 kids and no financial support other than my own income, I worked A LOT. Long hours, often work in the evening and at weekends, as everything had to be crammed in. What I quickly sacrificed was ME. I feel into bed really tired every night and often already fell asleep on the sofa whilst trying to read - often of course business books. I believed there was no time to do anything for my recovery and when there was a bit of an opening, I was so tired that I had no energy to do anything – back to the sofa and a book that took way too long to read.
Recovery had to wait until the next holidays.
"What I didn’t know at the time was, that small things and steps go a long way. "
It’s actually comparably easy to find and establish those little islands of recovery every day. You might disagree. For me it's a matter of focus and priority, as I know the price that I would pay if I don't make this a priority is too high and I'm not willing to pay it (anymore).
What I do are my energy exercises (waking up my body’s and mind’s energies), which takes me 2 minutes. That is followed by some 20 – 30 minutes yoga. Depending on my time, I add perhaps 15 minutes meditation – if it does not work in the morning, I do it before going to sleep. And I walk. Almost every day, even if it is only for 15 or 20 minutes. Mostly in the evening and in nature.
"Moving, breathing in the fresh air deeply and just being present or letting my thoughts drift - the effects are amazing in terms of mental and physical recovery."
Choose whatever activities suits you. You could just sit and be alone listening to relaxing music for some time. You could get up every hour, stretch, drink water and breathe deeply…whatever you choose – just do it daily and you will be rewarded with continuously higher energy.
8. Park 2020 projects, guilt free
How many projects are you working on right now? Too many, I guess. Or you have some on the table which don’t seem to progress, as they just don’t get enough of your attention. Probably with the result that many of them don’t really get any momentum, as you split your time between too many.
Perhaps you have others which you want to start and haven’t done so yet.
What both scenarios guarantee is a constant level of feeling overwhelmed and stressed. There is this little voice in your head telling you that you “should” have done more to get things moving and bingo! – the guilt kicks in. And guilt slows us down.
Neither of those feelings are particularly performance-enhancing...
...so what can you do?
Park some of your projects in 2020.
Simply re-evaluate which projects are critically important NOW to progress your business or results and park those you can.
“I can’t park any”, you might come back with now. In that case, my friend, let’s talk and I can help you changing your perspective and help you prioritizing.
In all my 30 years in business I have NEVER experienced that all projects were critical at the same time.
It’s on us to become more realistic AND to give ourselves the permission to park those projects which will be great for your business, but not necessarily right now.
"You will find out that suddenly you free up so much emotional and mental energy!"
I experienced that myself. For months I stressed myself out as I planned to open a membership AND create my signature program as an online course this year. I felt miserable as the latter did not seem to happen! Meanwhile, when planning my days, I remind myself daily that there IS a project (in fact there are two big ones) which I still plan to realize and I know that it won’t happen this year – so they are parked. I am excited about 2020.
Are there any projects you want to start and somehow you know you don't have time? Move them to 2020 and focus on those you can finish or significantly progress this year.
This, by the way, has nothing to do with giving up. It is simply re-prioritizing. Be a bit more gentle and forgiving towards yourself. Sometimes there is grace in saying not now.
9. Stop wasting time
I know that I’m making myself really unpopular now. We all waste time, and I’m not talking about the moments when we’re not productive. Those can actually be quite valuable, for example when we just have a walk or sit for a few minutes doing nothing except being present – letting time pass by.
I’m talking about time we spend with completely meaningless stuff. This happens too often.
"The no 1 time waster in organisations is probably useless meetings."
(here’s a great planner that helps you identifying if this meeting will waste your time).
The no 1 time waster for a lot of us in other parts of our life (AND sometimes even in the business environment) is browsing. It’s so damn easy to get lost in it, right? We look up one thing and that leads to the next, leading to the next. You get my gist.
It happens to me if I’m not super aware: someone stated something, I question it and go back to my best friend of knowledge: Mr Google. And quickly half an hour passes while I’m looking for “the truth” or answers (and the internet has so many to choose from!!). Sometimes I do this just for the purpose of proving someone wrong (driven by the desire "to be right" before I notice it...that's a topic for another time). Very tempting and a complete waste of time!
So, the first step is to raise your awareness of how you spend your days and which activities are time wasters. If you just start with those 2 above – meetings and pointless browsing – I’m pretty sure you will save a LOT of time already, which you can use to progress things that are worthy.
"In a nutshell: do less of the dumb stuff and your productivity will explode! "
10. Refuse mediocracy
Now, this tip has a massive potential to be mistaken for perfectionism which is rather a hinderance than a benefit for progress. Let me explain briefly: Perfectionism means that it will never be good enough – you will always find ways of improving the report, the presentation, the article you’ve written. Resulting in never adhering to deadlines or massive procrastination.
"Perfectionism is mainly driven by fear."
That we or our work is not good enough for the one who receives or judges it. And it stands in our way of progress.
What I’m talking about is excellence rather than mediocracy. The definition of what counts as excellence in your job or tasks is up to you (well, and probably up to your job description and your organisation too). So, go and define what is excellent nd what is good enough to help you (or your organisation) to get the results you wish for.
I’m also talking about challenging yourself and showing up for your life. The life you choose. Not the one that is just coming along and you’re just going through the motions.
You are important. And you’ve got something to give and to contribute to this world. If your current life and job reflects it or not is up to you to decide. And this you will know deep in your heart and your soul if you dare to be honest to yourself.
When you ask yourself this question, you might find that it’s time to move on and to re-align your path to what you really want in your life and career. Because if you do, you will find it so much easier to deliver excellence and to progress at a much higher pace, because you know your “reasons why”. This will help you to feel alive and energetic.
My secret sauce for the moments of discouragement
Now you’ve got 10 tips to progress faster in the second part of 2019 – which one do you like the best? Or do you feel overwhelmed by all those tips and tricks that get thrown at you all the time?
If the latter is the case and you feel really discouraged, I’ll give you my secret sauce for these kind of situations: Either I have a walk with my dog or get on the back of my horse and go out into nature – that always make my heart sing.
Or when I’m in a more pragmatic mood I look at what I can do to generate progress in the next hour: call this potential client, write this e-mail or blog, put together a plan for the next days. That generates momentum, and with it comes motivation. Or I call a friend and have a rant. Talking about it makes it much smaller – and sometimes even disappear.
So, which of the 10 tips are you going to implement in the second half of 2019?
PS: In my last article I promised you to show you my battle board. Well, it turned out that there were other things coming in my way and I’m still working on it. So, bear with me – I will share it soon.
PPS: Remember when I said to consider what action you can do to generate progress in the next hour? Opening a dialogue with me is one of those actions. If you're interested in really FAST results (latest after 3 sessions) for your productivity, communication or simply better and more relaxed state of mind, drop me an e-mail at [email protected] or apply for a quick 15 minute call through this questionnaire.