When I work with patients, I always ask them whether they’re doing their life’s work, because I truly believe that how we spend most of our day, and whether it’s in line with our life’s work, affects our health. When I ask a woman if she’s doing her life’s work, way too often, she stares at me blankly.
So how can you tell? How do you know if you’re doing your life’s work? There’s no easy answer to that question other than “You just know.” But to give you a sense of what it feels like to discover and then commit to fulfilling your life’s work. I’ve created this list of signs for you.
“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!” ~Tony Robbins
Being productive feels good. On those days that I manage to do all the things on my excessively long to-do list, I just feel amazing. But then, there are those days where I don’t quite hit the mark, and I find myself feeling less than stellar.
I love my work, and though I occasionally have a tendency to take on too much, I still keep plugging–most days. And then, there are those days where I just feel like I can’t get anything done. What about you?
Do you ever feel like your productivity level is slipping a bit?
Maybe you thought you’d get four projects done today, but you completed only two. You ask yourself where the time goes and you’ve noticed you’re feeling disappointed in yourself and how you perform at work or at home.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone–this is all part of being human. But there are some simple things you can do to increase your efficiency and get more out of your life.
Hit the ground running. Be ready to go to work as soon as you arrive, whether you’re commuting an hour to your corporate job or 10 steps to a home office.
Using the example of work, visualize yourself on the way into the office, and then think about what it’s going to be like when you get there. Do you have three large stacks of paperwork to do? Articles to write, research to do? Phone calls to return?
Think about what you’ll do first. Perhaps you can complete that project you started last Friday with just a couple more hours of work. Put your mind ahead of your body’s arrival so you can get started quickly.
Learn to anticipate. When you consider what will be happening next, you’ll be ready to meet whatever challenge is occurring at the time.
For example, at home, you might think, “I know the kids will be hungry for a snack. I’ll get out that fruit salad from yesterday and give them glasses of juice right away so I can get to the laundry.”
Anticipate what might happen, and have a plan.
Develop a method of keeping track of tasks that works for you. Whether it’s speaking your list into your smartphone, jotting down things to do in your calendar, or carrying a spiral notebook, having a running list to look at or listen to will help you get more things done.
For me, it’s all about Google Calendar–I can have multiple, color-coded calendars in one, and I can share various calendars with various parties. In my case, I have a personal calendar as well as various work/editorial calendars, among others. All sync to my phone, and for the really important stuff, I set reminders to help me remember–sometimes several.
Whichever method you choose, be sure it’s convenient and works for you. Having some way to check-off items is helpful so you can tell at a glance which tasks you’ve completed and which ones remain–this also increases your sense of accomplishment and can help encourage you to keep on keeping on.
If you don’t already have a calendar or task manager tool in place, try a couple of methods until you find the list that’s easiest for you to use. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here. Just find something that fits in your life and go with it.
Politely tell others you don’t “have a minute.” If you’re at work and people stop by your office to chat, feel free to say, “I’m sorry. I can’t talk right now but I’d love to have lunch today and hear more about this.”
On that same note, remember that you are not Superman or Superwoman, and that you have the right to say no, sometimes. For example, in my case, I might need to push back a deadline or explain that my schedule is too full to be on that committee or to plan that party.
I’m not going to lie. This one is hard for me. I find myself saying yes and just “making stuff happen.” But at times, this attitude makes my life more difficult in a number of ways, including lack of sleep, lack of personal time and more.
So sometimes, we all have to be strong and explain that we just don’t have time–and if possible, we can offer alternative options, but if not, we just have to politely say no.
Keep meetings brief. If you’re in a position to have control over meetings at work, make a goal to meet for 30 minutes max. If you go into a meeting with a written agenda, you’ll be ready to cover your points quickly.
Personally, I have a weekly meeting with my team at Scrubs & Suits. We always try to come in with an agenda, and since we’re a creative and inspired bunch, we have a tendency to get off-track and the meetings can run long. But when I remind everyone early in the meeting that we are limited to a certain period of time, we manage to stay on track a bit more effectively.
So, when you’re leading a meeting, involve the group in helping to manage the time. And, if you’re not leading but you’re attending the meeting, you can do your part by helping the group to stay focused.
Reinforce your efforts to achieve.Praise yourself each day. Maybe you completed a work project you’ve been working on for several weeks or cooked a great meal for friends and family.
Recognize the efforts you make to complete tasks. You deserve it, and you’re worth it–and you don’t need to wait for others to notice. Celebrate yourself, and stay positive about your efforts and achievements.
Allow yourself plenty of time in the morning. If you need an hour to shower, have breakfast and get your task list written for the day, then get up early enough to have your full hour.
And if you work at home, don’t think you’re exempt from this idea. You should still get up every morning (most mornings, anyway) and get ready as you would if you worked in an office–whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or you work from your home office, something about “getting ready for work” will change your mindset and help to increase your productivity levels (and you won’t have to hide when the UPS guy shows up.)
So, how about you? What are your best tips for increasing productivity and eliminating procrastination from your life? Let’s discuss! Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.
I’m not going to lie. I’ve done my share of gossiping over the years, and I’ve also been the subject of some interesting gossip here and there. But the truth is that negative gossip can be hurtful and can cause a number of issues, both personal and professional.
On a personal level, gossip can become so toxic that it can negatively affect your day-to-day life–and professionally, it can cause dissension among colleagues and can even go so far as to ruin careers or entire businesses.
That’s why managing workplace gossip is important for organizations and for the employees who work there. Here are some important steps you can take as a team and as an individual to encourage communications that benefit your emotional health and career.
Dealing With Gossip as a Team
Consider a ban on gossip. Some employers have adopted an official ban on workplace gossip and require employees to sign a pledge. Opinion remains divided about whether this practice is too extreme, but it can send a strong message.
Encourage open communication policies. A more moderate step is promoting open communication policies. Let employees know that they’re expected to talk directly with each other about conflicts before calling in a supervisor or other outside parties.
Comply with personal blog and general internet use policies. Keep an eye on e-mail and chat too. Appropriate blog and online policies can balance an employee’s right to personal expression while protecting the company and related individuals from harassment, defamation and other threats.
Confront rumors promptly. Minimize anxieties by responding to rumors promptly. Factual information about layoffs or other difficult issues serves people better than leaving them to speculate on their own.
Discuss the impact of gossip. Use staff retreats and other gatherings to remind everyone about the difference between positive communication and gossip. Prevention is better than singling people out after the damage is already done.
Know your legal rights. In general, employers have a duty to take action against verbal harassment if they’re aware of it. An employment lawyer can advise you on what options are available in your individual situation. If you’re on limited budget, your local bar association may be able to help you find free or low-cost legal services in your community.
Dealing with Gossip As An Individual
Share information. Being generous with non-confidential information can put a check on gossip. Keep employees informed with regular progress reports about work issues or projects. If your work is likely to affect someone else’s responsibilities, ask for their input and invite them to meetings.
Be sensitive about appearances. Closed doors can set off alarms even when the explanation is innocent. Let people know that you’re just watching a webinar with the speakers on and it’s okay to knock or send you an instant message if they need something.
Reach out to new people. Resist the tendency to form cliques by inviting someone outside of your usual circle to join you for lunch. Sign up for the company softball team or volunteer for a charity drive.
Walk away. Gossip doesn’t spread easily if it lacks an audience. You can tactfully suggest a more constructive channel for stating a complaint or just remove yourself from the discussion.
Focus on your colleagues’ good qualities. Tensions can build easily at work. Remind yourself about what you like about your co-workers and the things they’ve done to help you in the past. You’ll automatically have nicer things to say about them.
Cultivate relationships outside of work. Devote adequate attention to your private life, especially if you work long hours. Having close relationships outside the office can provide you with sources of emotional support and objective advice when issues arise in the workplace.
Get busy. The best antidote to harmful gossip may be just staying busy. If your day is full of tasks that you find challenging and gratifying, you’re less likely to get distracted by less constructive activities.
An office grapevine run amok can take a heavy toll on morale and productivity. Help your colleagues and yourself to create a work environment where open and respectful communications flourish.
I take the time to reflect on my words and actions and determine if those behaviors exemplify this person. I look at that blueprint each day and take the necessary steps to match my actions with it.
I acknowledge that sometimes I simply react instead of thinking first. I get so worked up by others or unpleasant life situations that my feelings overshadow my goal.
I am a conscious being. I am instantly aware when I disappoint myself by giving into negative emotions. When that happens, I take steps to renew my focus. I realign my actions with my blueprint and all is well with my world once again.
Today, I vow to remain aware of the person I want to be. I commit to carefully assessing my actions to ensure they are aligned with my behavioral goals. I desire to be a better person and acknowledge that there is always room for improvement.
Today’s Self-Reflection Questions:
1. Do I listen to the feedback from others about my behaviors?
2. Is there room for improvement where my behaviors are concerned?
3. How many times do I allow myself to make the same mistake?
I live a complete life. A great portion of my daily exploits focuses on the needs of others. I recognize that I am called to be a helping hand, but I also know when to step back and focus on what is important to me.
In my family life, I cater to the needs of my children. They are dependent on me to provide, guide, and support. I take that role seriously and I know that I am loved for it.
I also recognize that time for myself is essential.
I acknowledge the importance of satisfying my needs. When I feel like my life is off balance, I know it is time to pull away from current concerns and find my center.
When I feel a desire for renewal, I let my loved ones know that I need a time out. I am happy to have a family that understands the need for balance and glad that they’re willing and able to let me take some time for myself.
Today, I commit to having a balanced life, focusing equally on those I love and myself. I make time to strengthen my own well-being and renewal, knowing that taking care of myself enables me to be all I can be – for myself and those I love.
1. Do I ever allow myself to get burned out and exhausted?
2. Have I spent time teaching my children how to bring balance into their lives?
3. How can I make more time for myself?