Beware of Parkinson

Beware of Parkinson.

Would you like to get more done in less time? Want to boost profits in your business, get promoted quicker of be a stress free parent? Then beware of Parkinson.

“Parkinson’s Law” states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. Or in other words, we always take as much time as is given to do a job. For example, if your boss gives you a week to complete a project, it will take you a week. You would normally do most of the work for that on the last day too! If your boss gave you two weeks to complete the same project, guess what? It would take you two weeks to do (and most of it would get done in the last 2 days).

I remember when I first started writing this column and was given my deadline for publication. I had an article to write and sat down in the morning to write it. I needed inspiration, so I walked to the shops to get a newspaper, food and drink then read the newspaper – one hour gone!

I thought for a while and jotted a few ideas down, that took another hour. Decided I could have better ideas and started again, one more hour. By this time it was time for some lunch and then a walk after to get some fresh air, another hour and a half had gone by. I then spent half the afternoon writing the article, before completely rewriting it in 20 minutes just before deadline. It had taken me all day to do something that now takes me 20 minutes. I can only look back and imagine what else I could have achieved if I’d been more efficient.

If this sounds like you there are a couple of quick and easy things you can do to get more done or create more time for you.

First, stretch yourself. If you think it will take you an hour to do a piece of work, give yourself 45 minutes. When you move your deadlines closer you can achieve amazing things. How many times have you managed to complete a task that you’ve been putting off all day in the 15 minutes before deadline?

Now, make a list of tasks you suspect you could do quicker, set some tight deadlines and go for it. The more you practice, the better you’ll be!

Become a Master Communicator

Become a Master Communicator
Communication is the basis for any human interaction. It could be verbal communication, body language or even a look or a touch. No matter what type of communication we are talking about it always serves the same purpose: to convey an idea, a thought or a feeling.
Communication is the basic, most natural ingredient in human interaction and yet a lot of people struggle with it. How often do you find yourself being misunderstood and frustrated? How often does an innocently meant comment turn into a full blown argument?
So what is this elusive key to communication? What is the one thing that we can do today on our quest for mastering communication? If I had to sum it up in just one word, it would be this; listen.
If you want to be understood you first need to understand. If you want the other person to “get it” you need to develop your listening skills first. In order to be a better communicator you need to first become a better listener.
Here are 5 easy tips to help you master communications:
Listen to the other party all the way through. We usually think about what we want to say next and we don’t really listen. Learn to listen with intent.
Repeat what the other person has just said to clarify. Ask if that was what they wanted to say. Make sure you understood them and are not imposing your own ideas on what was just said.
Ask if you feel a piece of information is missing. Don’t make assumptions; always ask so you will have the full picture.
Acknowledge the other’s feelings. When the subject of discussion is emotionally loaded, don’t dismiss the expressed feelings as being irrelevant. Tell them you have heard what they are saying and feeling. Don’t judge them; empathize and embrace.
Resist imposing your thoughts, ideas or beliefs. Offer a different perspective or show a new path, by all means. Be cooperative and supportive and you will have a better chance of avoiding conflict.
It takes a lot of practice mastering the skill of being a good listener so don’t put this off – start today! At first it might feel like a huge effort but soon enough it will become like a second nature. The rewards of becoming a good listener are enormous and greatly outweigh the efforts.

Get Things Done

Why is it when we have so much to do, we end up doing so little? Is it because when we’re confronted with so many tasks, we find ourselves so overwhelmed that we end up doing none of them? If so, how do we turn this thing around?

It can be simple. We need to get rid of that feeling of being overwhelmed, or at least, overcome it. The way to do that is to prioritise.

Look ahead

The first step of prioritising is working out what needs to be done, as well as the order that these need to be accomplished. A lot of people make the mistake of concentrating on easy tasks. You may get a lot of things done this way but not the really important things, the ones that actually make a difference.

Make a list

Make a list of all the things that need to be done. Now, organize these activities by urgency – must do’s, should do’s, and can do’s.

Must do’s are urgent and highly important activities that need to be accomplished right away to avoid consequences.

Should do’s are important but not urgent activities that can wait a while before you have to face the consequences of not fulfilling them.

Can do’s are activities that would be nice to do at some point, but won’t affect you if you don’t get around to doing them.

Reward yourself

You’ll find that you get more things done if you’re looking forward to something. For example, if you finish all the must do’s by lunch time, treat yourself to a nice lunch. Rewards don’t have to be expensive or time consuming, but it has to be able to create anticipation and motivate you towards reaching your goals.

3 Simple Techniques to Get Motivated

3 Simple Techniques to Get Motivated
Successful people are almost always motivated; this is why they are able to accomplish more in their lives than others. If you want to be successful and produce great results you need to learn the highly effective habit of being able to motivate yourself whenever you need to.
Truth is, staying motivated all the time is not something difficult to achieve. As long as you follow some simple techniques, you will be able to do it. The key is, are you willing to do what it takes to stay motivated? If so, read on and follow through these 3 simple techniques.
What is your Motivation?
Most people stumble because they either don’t know why, or don’t have a strong enough reason, to be motivated in the first place. If your reason for achieving something is strong, you will do whatever it takes and you will have the drive. On the other hand, if your reason is weak, you will find excuses to put things off and procrastinate. Once you discover your true motivation, use language to match it. Get rid of “I should”, “I’d like to”, “I might try” and replace them with “I will” and “I must”. It’s amazing what happens!
Focus on the Benefit
You must (we’ve started with the “must” already!) focus and think about the rewards of your accomplishment, not the process. People can get overwhelmed if they think it’s going to be a big effort. Imagine having achieved your goal, how would you look and feel? What would be different? Now imagine looking back at how much the effort was worth it. It is the reward that will motivate you.
Make a Public Commitment
Whenever you tell everyone about your goals and dreams, you are putting yourself on the line. You know very well that when you do this, you will be more committed to achieve it because your reputation and integrity is at stake. This is why most people do not dare to make a public commitment; they know that when they do it, they have no turning back but to do whatever it takes to achieve it.
So what will you do this week? What must you do to achieve that? What is the benefit of following it through? How will you feel when you’ve achieved it? Who are you going to tell?
Have fun experimenting and enjoy the benefits.

Learning How to Get More Things Done, Quickly

Learning How to Get More Things Done, Quickly
Do you ever find yourself wondering how you’re going to get everything done today? Have the tasks mounted up so much that you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? Or do you just have one really important task that seems to be taking so long to complete? The kind of task that if you just got it done would either benefit you so much or allow you to relax once it’s complete?
You are far from alone. I’m sure most of us can relate to at least one of those scenarios, most of us several of them for most of our lives.
The good news is that we can start to get more things done in a shorter space of time, quickly and easily. Regular readers of this column will know that I love tips and techniques that are simple and quick to implement. They don’t get much simpler and quicker than today’s.
It is commonly accepted that any task we are working on expands to the time we have available. For instance, if we have a task that might take 30 minutes but we have all afternoon to do it – we will allow it to take all afternoon. Generally by allowing distractions, surfing the net, making unnecessary calls, drinking lots of tea etc.
In 1992 university student Francesco Cirillo was struggling to keep his mind on his studies and was falling behind. He needed to find a way to boost concentration and keep focussed. All he had to hand was a pen, a piece of paper and a tomato shaped kitchen timer. With this he created The Pomodoro Technique (pomodoro is Italian for tomato!).
It’s so simple and yet so effective – I know it works as I used it to write this article in 12 minutes instead of the usual 45!
Here’s how it works, it will appear too simple but go with it!
Choose a task. Set a timer (you don’t need a tomato shaped one!) for 25 minutes. Work relentlessly without distraction until the timer goes off. Take a 5 minute break away from the task. Set the timer and start again. If you use 4 “pomodoros” take a longer break of 15-20 minutes after the fourth one. Repeat until task completed.
Let’s see just how much we can get done today. Maybe you can “ketchup” with some outstanding tasks (sorry couldn’t resist!).

Overcoming a Fear of Failure

Overcoming a Fear of Failure

How many times have you not taken action because you are afraid that you might not get it right? Do you keep putting things off because you need more information or whatever you are doing needs a little more work? Do you always want to be perfect at what you are about to do even though you’ve never done it before? And then bottled out at the last minute for fear of looking foolish? Or that you might make a mistake?

Sound familiar? It certainly does for me. I always wanted to be the best at everything I decided to do. The problem was that for many years I stopped myself from taking opportunities because I didn’t want to fail, didn’t feel quite ready. My fear of failure would take over and I would bottle out. I wouldn’t put myself forward in case someone laughed at me. Of course, now I realise that by doing that I wasn’t learning and growing. I was devastated that I had stopped myself from learning from experience.

When I started my initial learning and training to do what I do today (that seems so long ago now!) I began to realise that it’s OK to make mistakes and that in fact if you are not making mistakes you are not living your life to its full potential. It’s when we make mistakes that we learn the most. Think back over your life to the times when you grew and developed most as a person. I am sure that it will be the times when things were not going as well as you would like, the failures, the challenging times. So give yourself permission to make loads of mistakes so that you can learn and grow.

In fact I recommend you remove the word failure from your vocabulary. Ok so it didn’t quite turn out how you wanted, that’s ok. I like to think there is no failure only results and feedback. Maybe the result is a message that you need to change direction or try a different approach. So learn from what happened and move on. It’s much more fun than living life not taking action because you might fail. There’s no fun in that, trust me.

Overcome Your Fear of Failure by taking action today and see what happens.

Whatever you do, enjoy the results!

Would you rather be right, or successful?

Would you rather be right, or successful?
You can’t fail to have noticed that there’s quite a lot of football going on at the moment! Whether you love it or hate it, it has been difficult to avoid. If you hate it and did manage to avoid it, well done to you.
Being born in Wrexham to English parents, I consider myself “Welshlish”. That way I can have the best of both worlds. It also means I can get excited about the World Cup but not devastated if things don’t go too well.
However, after watching England versus Germany on Sunday all I can say is “Oh dear!”
For me it wasn’t the manner of defeat or that it was the worst defeat in World Cup history for England that was the worst thing, it was much worse than that. It was the overall “British” media reaction to the defeat.
When things started to go well, one newspaper got right behind the team saying that they could now go all the way. Days later after the Germany defeat the headline in the same newspaper was “We KNEW this was going to happen”. How very sad.
And therein lies the lesson; you can be “right” or successful, you cannot be both!
Allow me to explain. People use justification and prediction to make allowances for failure. Put another way, you can defend your existing beliefs if you wish, but it’s not going to get you a different result.
You can justify why you’re overweight or you can start to change your eating habits and exercise.
You can rationalise why your relationship is no longer passionate or you can surprise your partner with a special date for two.
You can blame everyone else (and the current climate) as to why your business isn’t working or you can solve the problems and start making money again.
You can “believe” you’re addicted to Nicotine or you can give your children the best gift ever and seek help to become a healthy non smoker.
It’s very easy to “play safe” and have excuses that protect you from “losing”. However, if you want your life to be extraordinary, an example to others, you MUST do things differently to everyone else.

Ask yourself “Do I want to be right (by fitting in with general consensus of how the world is) or do I want to be successful and happy?” then go and do something different!

Four Top Tips to Beat Procrastination

Four Top Tips to Beat Procrastination
Procrastination is a time and energy drainer. Have you ever experienced having something really important to do and found yourself doing absolutely anything else other than that important task in hand? You know the impact of not doing something and yet somehow get drawn to the virtually useless tasks of reading emails, watching TV, surfing the internet or a sudden urge to do any easy task which doesn’t really matter.
You’re not alone. Procrastination affects even the most motivated of people from time to time. The procrastination can be a result of an underlying fear of failure; so if we never do the task we can never fail is our unconscious thought. Or we may have simply built a task up in our mind to be bigger and more overwhelming than it actually is.
Here are some simple yet very effective steps to getting lots done in a short space of time.
Out of your head and onto the page
Once the mind is cluttered any task can feel overwhelming, however simple. Whether you use post its or a “to do” list, once the tasks are out of your head and on paper the mind is instantly de-cluttered. This allows you to think more clearly and put things in perspective.
Prioritise your Top 10
It is a fact of life that we will never have time to do everything we want or need to do, yet somehow we find time to do the pointless things. It’s only because we can miss what’s important when we get caught in the cycle of doing “stuff”. Work out the 10 things that will give you the most benefit this week and work on those relentlessly.
Put time limits on your tasks
Go through the list you made of your top ten priorities and then put reasonable time estimates on how long you believe you need to complete the task; then stick to those like they are deadlines. It is true that a task expands to fill the time allotted so be strict with yourself.
Create an accountability system
Once you’ve imposed your time limits for your tasks, create a way to be held accountable. Working with a coach is one of the most effective methods for this. If you’re not ready yet to hire a coach, then partner up someone who also wants to move past procrastinating on his or her projects and do a weekly check in.

Replace Fear with Curiosity

Replace Fear with Curiosity.

I read a short story this week that I’d like to share with you.

We all have fears, some more life limiting than others; some essential, some not. The story made me stop, sit and think for a good hour or so about my life so far. Here it is;

In 1911, for reasons no one has ever been able to ascertain, a man appeared, naked and alone, in the foothills of Mt. Lassen in Northern California. With the help of two anthropologists from Berkely, it was learned that he was the last remaining member of a once strong tribe of Native American Indians known as the Yana. Although accepting the friendship of the Westerners who took him in and gave him a home at the local University, he would never share his real name, and he became known as “Ishi”, which translated simply as “man”.

Having never before lived in what his benefactors called “civilization”; he was continually being introduced to things he had never before experienced. On his first visit to San Francisco, Ishi was taken to the Oroville train station. When the train approached, he walked quietly away from his travelling companions and hid behind a pillar. When they beckoned for him to join them, he strode forward and boarded the train.

Back at the University, he was asked about his strange behaviour at the train station. Ishi told him that when he was growing up, he and the members of his tribe would see the train pass through the valley. Watching it snaking along and bellowing smoke and fire, they thought it was a demon that ate people.

Amazed, Kroeber asked “How did you find the courage to get on the train if you thought it was a demon?”

Ishi replied, “My life has taught me to be more curious than afraid.”

This weeks experiment

It hit me that we can all sometimes be afraid of trying new things. Usually fear gets in the way, even if we don’t consciously know what that fear is (it’s not normally a people eating demon, but can sometimes feel that way!).  It could be fear of failure, looking silly or not being very good at something.

What would happen if we swapped that fear for curiosity? What if I succeeded? What if I looked good? What if I am actually good at it?

Pick one thing that you’ve been putting off trying, grab a big bag of curiosity and see what happens!

How to Keep Yourself Motivated

How to Keep Yourself Motivated
Did you make yourself New Year’s Resolutions this year? How are you getting on with those? If they’ve fallen by the wayside you’re not alone. Research shows that almost 50% of people will have broken theirs already.
Keeping a high level of motivation and getting things done isn’t always easy. So how can we keep motivated and get things done?

Devise a New Plan
It’s a lot harder to keep yourself on task if you don’t have a plan. If you are just trying to figure life out as you go along you aren’t going to take it as seriously. Part of your plan should be setting yourself mini goals and writing them down. Writing goals and plans down makes you almost 10 times more likely to stick to them.

Reward Yourself
Completing a task or achieving something feels great on its own. However, if you build yourself a reward system it intensifies the feeling and pulls you towards achieving more. A much better feeling than pushing yourself to do something. That’s the reason for your goals being “mini ones”, get yourself used to the feeling of achievement.

Go Back the Future
If the thought of going to the gym or clearing out the spare room that you’ve been meaning to do for months isn’t the most appealing thing that day, you may need to shift your perspective. Think back to how great it felt when you achieved something before, that feeling of relief at getting it done and that it wasn’t so much effort after all. Now, imagine how good you’ll feel after you’ve achieved this task and what difference it will make to you.

Add Some “Words of Power”
When we don’t do something it’s usually because we tell ourselves things like “I know I should go to the gym but I just don’t feel like it”. Destructive words that make our bodies slouch and refuse to move. Swap that phrase however for “I don’t feel like going to the gym but I’m going to do it anyway” and things feel different. Train yourself to use that phrase at the end of every sentence when you’re feeling less than motivated and see what happens.
With just a little bit of effort you could soon be an unstoppable motivation machine.
Have fun experimenting and enjoy the results.