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Professional Parents who I’ve worked with frequently struggle to find balance in their life where they don’t have to sacrifice success at work for success at home. We know that it takes a certain amount of time and effort to achieve a high level of success at work. After all, if you’ve found that working 12 hour days gets the job done best, you’ll always continue to work 12 hours.
If you’re now forced to work 10 hour days or less, you will feel you were not getting as much done, and therefore not likely to get as much work done.
This leads to a feeling I call guilt-guilt. You feel guilty if you don’t put in the hours. You feel guilty if you continue the way you have been going as you’re neglecting other areas of your life.
Often times, in my clients at least, this leads to in-action and stagnation. Often I’ve found that people will neither progress as fast in their career nor gain that Holy Grail of work-life balance. Your attention is split between work and non-work. And when this happens, neither task gets the focus it deserves.
We’ve spoken about the power of focus in a few other blog posts, so I will not dwell on it here. However, we will look at how this balance can be achieved without feeling guilty and without losing out on either account.
A recent study has shown that most people are only productive less than 30% of the time as work. Productivity time here being describes as time which is spent fully focused on one task. The study found one software firm where productive focused work accounted for an average of only 20 minutes per employee per day!
Another term I use, optimum productive time is time which is spent doing one task and being in a state of “flow” where you literally zone in on that task at the expense of other things happening around you. Have you ever been so focused on something that someone has come up to you, started talking to you, and you weren’t even aware that they were talking until they raised their voice: “Hello?!”Or we’ve responded with verbal nods and then thought to ourselves: “What did Sarah just say?” We’ve all been there! Fortunately for us (and not Sarah), this is valuable time and the amount of work we get done is huge compared to when our attention is split.
It has widely been documented that it takes time for us to get into that “flow” state and this ranges from 10-15 minutes per instance of focus. So if you have two projects on the go, you may have booked in some time in the morning to work on both projects and then have meetings relating to both of these in the afternoon.
Your day might go like this: Project 1 is scheduled in from 9am – 10:30am. You switch to Project 2. Before you can do this, you check your emails. It takes 15 minutes to get through them. You move on to Project 2 and it takes another 15 minutes to get into flow. You’re half way through and someone comes over to ask you about plans for lunch. As you’re going into flow, its time for lunch.
When you come back a little early from lunch, it takes you 15 minutes to get back into flow, and 10 minutes of your meeting is spent in pleasantries with the project team and the director of the other department. It takes another 4 minutes before you feel like you’re falling asleep. You find yourself with 3 more tasks to do for the project and as soon as you finish with that meeting, your boss adds on another task – though not before asking you about your recent trip to Malta with the family. You try to get emails cleared before the next meeting and the phone rings. Your partner wants you to come home on time so that you can pick up your toddler from the childminder’s as you’re invited to dinner with a family friend. Before you can get into flow, it’s time for your second meeting. You barely make it on time to the childminder’s place, and all you want to do at this point is sit down in front of the TV with a large glass of wine.
The above is a fairly generous account of how much time can be lost to switching between tasks. And although you managed to get some work done, it was nowhere near as much as you pictured yourself doing when you were planning the day the previous night.
Now let’s chunk together the related tasks so that there is less time lost and rerun that scenario.
You realise you have some natural breaks in your day and decide to plan around that. In the morning, you start work on Project 1. You made a few phone calls yesterday and got the meeting for Project 1 moved to the morning citing other meetings and tasks from your director. No one wants to take it up with your director as to why they’ve given you tasks which overlap with your meeting, so they graciously accept. You’re in flow soon after starting working on the project and you stop by your friend’s desk on your way to the meeting to plan lunch. When you’re in the meeting, you’re already clear on what you need to do so you don’t take on too many more tasks and push back on another department’s requests and ask them to discuss with your manager where necessary. That buys you more time.
You clear and respond to some emails before lunch. When you come back from lunch, your partner calls to ask you to pick up your child on you way home. You start working on project 2. It takes you 15 minutes to get into flow, but your focus hasn’t shifted when you go into the meeting. Someone tries to interrupt your state and when they come and talk to you, you start the conversation with “How can I help you?” instead of “Hey, how are you?” which is an open invitation for more conversation. They swiftly move on to bother someone else and waste their time instead. Your meeting goes well and you go straight home from the meeting. You stop off at the childminder’s place and have plenty of time to have a chat before you have to get home and be ready for that wonderful dinner with great company, absolutely stress free.
As you can see, having fewer transition times leads to better work flow and productivity. As your state is not interrupted, you’ll get a lot more done and be ahead of schedule on a few things without making many other adjustments.
Of course there are other things you can do to make sure you have squeezing the juice out of each day and making sure you have more time for your family on a daily basis. In order to maximise the benefits of the time you save from switching tasks, you must also eliminate distractions from your productive time. Here’s a few things you can do which will save you those precious moments and claw back more time for you:
There are other ways to get the most out of your time too. Of course your mind-set and psychology is a big part of this.
You can find out more by checking out my online video programme: Close the GAP. It’s a short course packed with actionable advice on how you can add up to 2 hours more free time to your day, and how you can double your productivity so that you can excel both in your career, and your non-work life.
This course is guaranteed to free up more time for you to spend with your loved ones.
Today’s blog post will be short and sweet. I want to share something interesting I learned from my 4 year old son.
Whenever talking to him about something in the past, he calls it yesterday. For example, I’ll ask him when did you last eat pasta? He’ll say “yesterday”. If anyone tries to tell him otherwise, “nope, it was yesterday.” When he wants to defer something that he doesn’t like doing, usually going to nursery or having a bath, he’ll say “No daddy, that’s tomorrow.”
He’ll place something that he doesn’t like into the future so he doesn’t have to worry about it. However if it’s something he wants or likes, e.g. if you tell him he can have his favourite toy truck later, he will say “No, now is later!”
After a few of these simple exchanges, I learned that things in the past should be left in the past. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was, it’s gone. Don’t let it bother you. Conversely, if you’re afraid of something or feel something may not go to plan, leave that to the uncertain future. Do not let those things that haven’t occurred yet bother you.
There’s a old saying that goes “A coward dies a thousand deaths, a hero only once.” If you live in constant fear, it will inhibit you from doing the things that will bring you great rewards. You have to feel the fear and do it anyway.
You have many important goals, that you are drawn towards. Things that if you could have, be or do, they would bring you pleasure. These things you should not leave to the future. You need to go do them now. Let go of your excuses as to why you can’t do those things. Later is now!
Are you fed up of making decisions that are costly, not just financially but also sometimes emotionally and spiritually?
I know I’ve been there a thousand times in the past where I’ve made terrible decisions, even if my guy instinct tells me otherwise.
Now I go through a series of steps each time an important decision has to be made. I have to say that I still get the occasional decision and actions wrong (just ask my wife) but I now make better quality decisions almost every time.
One thing that I must stress right at the beginning here is that your intuition is one of your most powerful tools in your arsenal to actually making sound decisions.
At times you will feel that you followed your intuition and it still lead down the wrong path. However in hindsight, I’ve found that I’d not read my own inner alarms correctly. Learn to listen to your intuition more and you will make much better decisions.
An invaluable tool I have found is a guided self-hypnosis on YouTube. Listen to this when you have some quiet time. Listen to it a few days in a row. Then you can start changing some of the questions you ask yourself or add new ones. I often listen to meditations, and then alter them to suit my own needs. This will serve you greatly.
Truth is, we disregard so many of our “gut-feelings” that we have about anything. Learn to trust yourself again and get make much better decisions.
What I learned was, a lot of the inner alarms go off when we go against our own core values. What are values you ask? Values are the ideals or emotions that we hold dear to us. To find out your values about something, ask yourself “what do I value the most in _______”. So to get your life values, ask yourself, “What do I value the most in life?”
To get your values about business, ask yourself “What do I value the most in business?” You get the idea. Write these down, ideally you want to get at least 5 values for each area of your life. and you can then put them in an order of importance – what we call a hierarchy.
So now you have your intuition in check, and you ensure that you check each opportunity an decision against your values. One way you can go a step further is to ask yourself the question: “What would Person X do?” Where Person X is someone you admire, who had sound values and someone you would like to emulate. When making business decisions, I ask myself, What would my coach do, what would Richard Branson do, and What would Donald Trump do?
I can’t think of anyone else who would be better at making business decisions than these people. They work for me but you may need to change out to other people. Having read the biographies of these successful people, I have an insight into what these people may be thinking, as well as the mistakes they have already made.
A tip about my mentors and coaches, they are not only great decision makers, but they’re also a phone call away if I need to run something past them. Another great reason to get yourself a coach and a mentor (ahem!)
And remember, to live in Prosperity.
To your Success,
I truly feel that in order to get the best out of ourselves, we need to be in an optimum state.
What do I mean by that?
If you know you have a job to do, or something to accomplish, it really helps you if you are mentally prepared to give your best, or be in the best possible state for that particular action to take place. For example, if I am going to be delivering a talk, presentation or seminar, I need to be in a state of high energy and high listening mode. Why? My audience will feed off that energy if my energy is low. If I’m not in listening mode, then I will not be open to take on feedback that I am getting from my audience, especially non-verbal cues. I’ll discuss this in another blog post in more detail.
Another example might be, for me to give my best when I am writing this blog, I need to be in a creative state. For me, I get the best results when I’m feeling really creative. Wouldn’t you agree?
One of the ways that can help you get into the right state is to watch your language patterns and use positive language. Instead of saying “oh, I don’t feel creative at all!” Change your inner and outer dialogue to say “I feel superbly creative. I’ve got great energy and that means the creative juices are really flowing.” Saying this a few times will actually get you into the right state, allowing you to be much better results.
One thing that can stand in your way even if you use the right language, is allowing your mind to focus on the negatives in the given situation. If you want to have high energy because you have a speech to deliver, but you focus on all the things that could go wrong, you will sadly lose your state. You will not achieve that state no matter how much you tell yourself that you are in that state if you focus on the opposite, or on things that make you uncomfortable. Take a mental check that you are focused on the right things, and the right results.
Believe it or not, how you use your physiology, your body language has a huge impact on how you come across both to yourself and to others. Try telling yourself you’re really happy with a big frown on your face and looking down. It simply doesn’t work. Alternatively try to have a big grin on your face, look up at the sky, and try telling yourself you’re depressed. That one might actually make you laugh as it did when I tried it. So it is important to have your physiology, how you use your body to be in tune with the emotion or state that you are trying to achieve.
In order to achieve what I call Peak State, a state where you are positive, you feel unstoppable and you get great results, is to combine all of the above with some great affirmations. One of my personal favourites is “Every day, in every way I’m getting stronger and stronger!” For this to work, as well as saying the right words, you should focus on this and truly believe that this statement is true. You must also use your physical body to gesture and put real energy behind the affirmation. Say it a few times, say it like you mean it, and put real emphasis on the words. You will feel incredible and will be empowered to take action on any goal or task you need to do.
And remember, to live in Prosperity!
To your Success,
Most people recognise that they cannot do to many things at once. Any time we try to achieve many goals all at once, we find that we spread ourselves too thinly.
For example, if I take any one of my major goals, to lose weight and get fit, I find that I have many tasks that I need to do to achieve that goal. Some of those are high priority tasks which need to be done right to help achieve my goal. I have many other separate goals (as well as some goals which link into one another, you know what I mean) and each of these has major tasks which I must complete. Can you imagine how trying to achieve all these goals by doing all these tasks at once might result in overwhelm?
In fact it’s been proven that you can’t really do any two meaningful tasks at the same time. For example, if you’re trying to read a book or listen to the radio, you’re not actually fully attentive to the book, neither to the radio. Your mind is actually flicking between the two at a very fast rate. This is why sometimes you hear something interesting on the radio, and you then find you have to go back and read that paragraph on your book over again.
Instead, I would recommend that you focus on one goal and one activity at a time. If you’re going to read, some soft music which is not going to be a distraction would be ideal.
If you do focus on the most effective task which will yield the biggest results, you may find that you don’t try to do too many things at once. You may even find that by focusing on just the most effective tasks, you can make time for one or 2 extra actions per day which help you towards the other goals. But by not doing only these highly effective tasks, you will feel that emotion of overwhelm and will find out you burn-out quickly and often.
To your Success,
I’ve heard this phrase a few times recently while at work. People telling other people “You’re only Human”, and although it’s said with the best of intentions, I’ve found it can have unintended consequences in our psychology.
When we’re not taking about others’ expectations of us, which can sometimes be unrealistic, I feel we really are putting false limitations on what we ourselves are capable of. This seemingly innocent phrase comes pre-loaded with an embedded command saying “You’re limited in what you’re capable of and responsible for”.
Lets explore this a little further.
We all know that what we are beyond human beings, is energy. And energy cannot be destroyed and therefore doesn’t have a beginning or an end. We also know many people who have achieved an incredible amount in their lives. Would you tell these people that they’re only human or limited in their potential?
When we tell someone, you’re only human, its usually after something hasn’t gone right or as we expected. And we all know that whenever something can go wrong, it usually will (Murphy’s Law). Ultimately we must accept responsibility for whatever has taken place.
Now, we might not be directly responsible for something going wrong in the world or something happening we didn’t expect, but we are response-able. That is, we are able to choose our responses to what’s happened.
I am reminded of the story of Victor Frankl – a man who survived from the Nazi concentration camps when all others around him were dying. He realised that our minds are the last freedom that no-one can take from us. That we can choose how to respond to anything that happens outside of us.
Next time you hear someone else or even yourself use this phrase, remind them that we’re not JUST human, we are HUMAN: Helpful, Unique, Magical, Abundant and Nurturing!
Welcome to the final part of the Destiny by Design series. Wow, you’ve really come a long way if you’ve read all the past 6 posts in this series. Give yourself a pat on the back for being such an incredible human being. you have shown that you are truly committed to your growth and are set to become a leader in your own life; someone others can model and be inspired by.
Let’s recap our journey. In Part 1, we took the time to Decide what our goals should be. In the 2nd Part, we tested our goal to see if it fit in with our values and beliefs. We then found some strategies in seeking new levels of Knowledge and understanding to help us get even closer to our goals. We then set some deadlines and milestones in place to help make our goals Timely. Remember, what gets measured gets done. Of course, there is no achievement without taking time to Initiate our goals and taking action.
In the 6th Part, we learned lessons in Perseverance, knowing full well that things will get in the way and instead of taking the easy way out, you have set yourself up so that you not only follow through, but take the best possible actions.
Now, finally at the end of this journey, we must take time to really “Sharpen the saw” and realise that any change we make must first be internal. You can’t change your results if you don’t change your thinking.
Take up your success journal and draw a line down the middle of the page. label the first column “Things I’m great at”. In the second column, write “What’s not perfect yet”.
Now think, in relation to your current goal, and keeping in mind everything we discussed in the previous sections, write out a list of things you need to celebrate and also things to work on which will help you get closer to achieving your goal.
On a separate piece of paper, revisit the area of values and beliefs and write down what must change in your values and beliefs in order to excel in this area. Write down some new beliefs to help you get there faster and add them to your list of daily affirmations.
Next, I would like to point out to you two things that’s will set you apart in your field and help you achieve all your goals. Firstly, your Self-belief will be the thing that gets you through the toughest times. Have a strong ‘Why’ which will compel you to move towards your goal. Tony Robbins says that the only reason you are not achieving your goal is you don’t have a strong enough Why. You associate more pain to doing the thing than not doing it. This must change and will only happen through some empowering daily habits. Affirmations are a big part of this.
Second, become a leader in your life and your field. If you want to work out and lose weight, decide that you are going to be a shining example of this for your family and others around you. There should be no doubt in your mind about the achievement of your goal.
These two qualities will go a long way. Fully 80% of your success will come from these principles.
Together, these two work to form something even more powerful, the power of self-discipline. For if you have a strong Why, a lot of self-belief, and you are committed to bring a leader, a shining example, you will read the rewards of having great self-discipline which is the only principle which will guarantee your success in everything you put your mind to.
Thank you for coming along on this powerful journey, and being truly committed to your growth. I commend you for taking action.
Now you might be thinking, what I’d the next step for me? What else can I do to ensure my success? You might also want to revisit these 7 steps in more detail.
I would like to invite you to download my guide “7 Steps to Designing Your Destiny”. When you do, you will also receive these 7 Steps in 7 short videos which I’ve prepared especially for you.
What more? Of course you want more! It’s why you’re still here reading this. If you happen to be in London, you are more than welcome to join me at my next Meetup Event or seminar, details of which are available on the Events page of this website. I look forward to you joining me on my all the various Social Media channels available at the top of this page.
And remember, to live with Prosperity!
To your Success,
Welcome to the sixth part in our Destiny by Design series. By now you have gone through the last 5 posts of this series and are well on your way to getting equipped with all the tools you need to really make a difference in your life and that of others. I applaud you for sticking with me on this and being committed to your future.
In this part you will have a lesson in perseverance. Many dreams die at the front porch because we simply do not follow through when we have setbacks.
Can you think back to a point in your life when you had the chance to do something great, and follow through on a goal or dream you had? Do you remember a particular incident or setback which occurred after which your brain just said “Nope, too difficult. There’s no hope,” or that dreaded outcry “Told you it wouldn’t work!”
That last one might not even have come from you! I remember more than one occasion where some other well-meaning person said those words to me, and my heart sank.
Naturally when these things occur, we have a hard time following through. Picking ourselves up, dusting off the dirt and carry on carrying on.
I’d like you to now take up your success journal and on a new page, write down such a situation in the past where you didn’t take action on your goal after a setback.
Write down what happened. Why did you suddenly stop? What was your inner chatter?
What were people around you saying? Was there someone who was not very supportive? Equally was there someone who was on your side but you failed to listen to their reasoning or their message of support?
Write down what happened as a result of you not taking action.
Now write down what would have happened if you had taken further action despite something going wrong.
What would you have done differently? Who could you have spoken to? Gotten help from?
What would have been the end result of you taking the action and finally achieving that goal despite all odds? What would that have done to your self-belief and confidence?
Now think of the goal you are currently working on. What unfortunate event or setbacks have you already encountered? What challenge are you going through right now with that goal?
If you’re going through more than one challenge, write down your biggest one right now. For example, my goal might be to lose some weight but my challenges might be that I don’t have a good eating pattern, I don’t have an effective exercise plan I can stick to. But my biggest challenge is I cannot keep to a plan when I do have one.
Now write down ways you can empower yourself to overcome this challenge. What could you do differently? At this point your coach our mentor can really help you get a set of possible solutions. In the above example, my possible solutions could be to join an expensive gym, because the pain of having to pay out a lot will push me to actually go and make the most of it. Another might be to get a workout buddy and plan together how we are going to achieve our fitness goals.
As in the previous post, find the one thing that will give you the biggest results. For me, it would be far more effective to have a friend to work out with than just joining an expensive gym. For me, the pain of spending a lot of money will lose its novelty, but working with someone else will keep me motivated for far longer! What would work for you?
Any time you have setbacks or challenges, think of the best thing to get you over that hump and commit to doing those things on a consistent basis.
And remember, to live in prosperity!
To your Success,
Welcome dear reader to the fifth part of the Destiny by Design series. If you’re following this series from the beginning, you are truly a remarkable person. You are someone who is really committed to excellence and achieving results.
By now you have Decided on your goal, you have added more Energy to your goal, have discovered the best source of Knowledge and made sure your goal is Timely and procrastination is taken care of for good.
Now is the time to really start getting the results you deserve, and the way to do that is Initiate your goal. Let’s start taking some real action!
In the last part of this series, you broke your goal down to things you need to be doing in time intervals leading up to your target date.
Now, take out your pad and paper and write down your first milestone that you write down in the previous post. In my example I said that if I was to do a 5k or 10k run, my shortest goal might be to reduce my time for running 4k.
Write down now, two small actions and one big action towards your short term goal. Commit to competing these actions as soon as physically possible. In fact, if you can do one of those actions right now, stop reading any further and do that action NOW.
Here’s the secret sauce for what to do if your still haven’t taken any action and your still reading. What would be the Very First thing I need to do this? I am talking about literally taking the first possible step towards your short term goal. This might be to get a personal trainer so I can measure my results and speed but also hold myself accountable to take further action. But we’re talking about the First step in completing this action.
The first step might be to look up personal trainers in your area. You can take to the internet or ask friends for personal recommendations. I find the latter usually helps. But we can go a step further. The VERY FIRST step would actually be to turn on your PC or get on to Facebook to talk to someone you already know. Doesn’t sound so scary now does it? Turning on your PC or finding a phone number or connecting to Facebook. So now you really have no excuse. Go ahead and take that first action NOW and remember, to live in Prosperity!
To your Success,
Welcome dear reader to the fourth part of our 7-part Designing your Destiny series.
In the first three parts we have managed to firstly Decide on what our goal should be. In the second part, we have connected our goal to our Beliefs and Values. In the last part we also looked at how we can expand our Knowledge in the chosen area of our goal.
Now is the really exciting part. Here we will look at Timeliness.
This section goes far beyond just setting a deadline for your goals. So if you haven’t already for so, go ahead and set a realistic and specific deadline for your goal. Think about the time you will realistically dedicate to your goals, particularly if there is a lot to learn as we explored in the last part of this series.
Of course, the biggest challenge in setting and meeting the deadlines we set for our goals is that we often do not make time for them. Those ‘other’ things keep coming up. All important and requiring your immediate attention… like those Facebook updates and notifications. Like the kids who need time for you to play with them.
I am talking about, you guessed it: old man procrastination! It is so easy for us to do things that take us back into our comfort zone and distract us from what is much harder. It is far easier to do the easy and fun things which give us immediate rewards as opposed to doing something that is hard but necessary. How do we beat old man procrastination? Let’s evoke this and how it ties into you seeing your target dates. Actually I prefer that to deadlines. Who wants to be dead? lol Seriously I feel that that word itself has negative anchoring attached to it. Hence we don’t follow through.
In the past I found that I was really good at procrastinating. So I choose to do the most effective thing I could think of – put it off. That’s right! Put off putting things off. Just tell yourself, I’d love to put this of right now but I’m just going to put that off. It’s a great way to trick your mind into following through.
So what do we do when this in itself doesn’t work? The only reason this won’t work is if you haven’t given yourself enough leverage in Part 2 of this series. If this doesn’t work, you can also do the following.
First take your goal and break it down in terms of time. So if your goal is to run 10k in 3 months’ time, break that time down into months 1 to 3. Then take the first month and write down exactly what you need to be doing in that first month. Maybe your target is to run 4k and to gradually bring down your time for that distance. You then break down that first month into weeks and write down exactly what you need to do each week. This will invariably make the task much less daunting and far more likely that you will follow through and take action.
Next you want to set up a reward system for yourself for following through. If the goal is to be running 5 or 10k, I would imagine that giving yourself a chocolate bar as a reward probably won’t be the best thing for you. Instead choose rewards which will give you an add boost to your well-being. Perhaps a good fruit smoothie or an afternoon playing Pool. 🙂
Naturally, completing small steps towards your goal can be their own reward. Do you remember the last time you took an action towards your goal in the past, and how it made you feel? Do you remember how good it sounds to hear yourself say YES! I’ve finally done something towards a weight goal. That in itself can and will propel you to take the next step. And the next step. Until you have finally gotten what you set out to achieve.
In the next step, we will talk about Initiating your goal.
‘Till then, remember to live in Prosperity!
To your success,