This time of year, it is REALLY hard to stay focused, remain positive, and be productive.
If you’re feeling a little bit “stuck” these days, unfocused on your work or unable to move forward you’re NOT alone.
In my work providing consulting to entrepreneurs, start-ups and business owners, and delivering career coaching to job seekers there seems to be a general malaise affecting our collective ability to remain productive.
For example, can you relate with any of the following:
* By now our New Year resolutions seem like a VERY distant memory;
* We have this stressful event in front of us called filing our taxes;
* Our business is experiencing flat or (even worse) declining sales;
* My job search is stalled!!! Heck, no-one is even responding to my inquiries;
* Mother Nature has been bombarding us with snow and freezing weather for over TWO months…enough already!
As hard as it might seem to stay on track or get BACK ON TRACK, here are a few sure-fire ways you can pick yourself up and march proudly forward into Spring.
How You Can Unstick Yourself:
* Change Your Priorities: in the spirit of…”if it ain’t broke, break it” sometimes we need to take a step back and ask ourselves: are we really focusing on the right things.
* Revisit Those Annual Goals: Circumstances change often at a rapid pace. So, are the goals you set for yourself in 2013 still goals you want/need to be striving to achieve. Are your annual goals still realistic?
Gain some perspective by asking yourself: “Are the goals that I set for myself at the end of last year still relevant?” If they are…great. If they’re NOT…change them.
* Nurture Your Spirit: listen up! We have been in a recession/Depression SINCE 2008!
If you think you have not been personally affected by the trauma of these past six years you are fooling yourself. We all need to “check in” with ourselves to make sure we’re alright. You can achieve peace of mind and renewed clarity for regaining productivity through meditation, by taking a yoga class or beginning/resuming a fitness regimen, playing a musical instrument, even singing. BEST of all, I recommend my clients go to their very own “quiet place” every day for 15 minutes and just sit alone and do deep breathing exercises to open your mind.
We all need to disconnect from the world, in order to recharge our batteries. Leave the cell phones, tablets, laptops and computers behind! Take a few minutes to nurture your essence and fall back in love with yourself.
* Go Back to Basics: If the things you’re trying to achieve are not happening, perhaps you’ve overcomplicated things. Go back and look at what you are trying to achieve and strip down the associated tasks to their most basic elements. It is the Samurai pursuit of perfection. The concept here is to devote a lifetime of trying to be “perfect” yet knowing full well that perfection is a motivating force but NOT achievable. WHY? Because we are all humans, and as human beings inherently fallible. It is okay to fail, heck it is even DESIRABLE assuming we learn, adapt and adjust for survival. Be DARWINIAN!
* Lean on Your Support Network: Pity the American “Cowboy” culture and individual ruggedness of trying to “go at it alone.” News flash, John Wayne and the great push West in pursuit of gold are long since gone. In today’s hyper-stressful, always connected, global competitive world we need to fall back on our support networks for fuel.
Lean on those that know us best and care for us most as a source to validate our sense of belonging and self-worth in the world.
It is so easy to fall into the trap of mistakenly believing we are all commodities and don’t matter, especially folks that suffer day in and day out to survive in corporate work environments where the human spirit is devalued and employees are under-appreciated.
Seek out those friends, family, family of friends, friends of family that support you. Conversely avoid like the plague those people that only deride you and contribute negativity to your life.
* Block Out Interferences: You know it, I know it, we ALL know it. Interferences are a fact of life. You need to keep them at arms length, whether it’s the phone, email, intruding friends and family. We need to set up defenses to protect our castle, so any way you can block out those interferences will help you survive these times of emotional duress.
What are the moats, draw bridges, and burning oil strategies you can employ to defend your CASTLE of being productive? Block out times, set out of office greetings for email when you don’t want to be disturbed, leave out of office greetings on your voice mail.
* Pursue Your Passions: Write down all the things you absolutely love to do that you are good at. It can be past jobs, volunteer work, hobbies. Make a list, but don’t edit yourself. The goal is to capture every item, write EVERYTHING down. Once you have a comprehensive list going back as far as you can remember, highlight the things you have done in the past that you were really good at AND you loved to do. This is absolutely CRITICAL…they have to be BOTH!
Either you embrace these passions as hobbies, outside interests. Better yet, perhaps there is a way to package those into your next job or (even better still) is to pursue these passions as a business you can launch.
* Take a Vacation: Nothing helps clearing the mind, refueling the cells and re-acquiring clarity of focus quite like getting away does. Take some much needed (and deserved) time out. It doesn’t have to be an expensive or lengthy trip, just get in the car and go. Drive to a nearby lake or beach, head up to the mountains, visit the shore. It’s called mixing things up. Taking a little unplanned time to get out of a rut can be very empowering and help you regain your productive ways.
Well, that’s it for now. Let me know what you think!
Now…go recharge those batteries, it’s going to be a GREAT second quarter, an amazing spring, and fantastic rest of the year. It’s time to regain your productivity MOJO!!!
When I coach my business clients how to communicate effectively one of the first things we discuss is their use of email communication.
The truth is, email enables us to be much more efficient in our business communication. However, it also can pose many unplanned crises when we are not careful about the tonality we use in our written correspondence.
The primary challenge in using email is, the recipient uses their own tonality as they read your email message and their perceptions of you and your relationship with them will cause them to apply an emotional component to your message that may or may not accurately depict the intent of your message.
Therefore, there are a few guidelines you can follow:
1. Never EVER send an email when you’re angry – It may feel good (for a brief moment) but the repercussions can be deadly.
2. Avoid using emoticons – they may be cute, but they dilute your reputational brand by showing a lack of professionalism.
3. Try not to bombard the recipient – if you find yourself writing the next great American novel, chances are that email is not the right delivery mechanism for what you’re trying to convey. Call them instead.
4. Don’t email someone the first time you are attempting to contact them – with spam filters someone that has never received an email from you before may have your email land directly in their spam folder. So, have them be on the look out for your email by calling them first.
5. Have someone proof your message – use quality control by having someone read any and all highly important email communications for grammar and content.
6. Use larger point sizes and easy to read fonts – fonts without headers and footers (ex. Arial, Geneva and Tahoma) tend to be easier to read. You should also adjust your settings so the point size is not less than 12-point. Hint: letter point size refers to height. 72-point is ONE inch tall.
7. Use a signature block – always have a signature block with all of your contact information at the bottom of your email. You can create a signature block in your email settings.
8. Use “Out of Office” greetings – if you are going to be away for more than three (3) business days, be sure to set an out of office greeting.
9. Empty your in-box immediately – apply the same rule of thumb for your email that you should for all of your paper documents. Immediately move all emails into folders, so you can go back to them/find them later.
10. Empty your email folders on a regular basis.
11. If an email is very important, call the recipient to confirm they received the email.
12. Use engaging, creative subject lines – they can’t read your message if they don’t open it. Ensure they open your email by engaging them in the subject line. Consider it the equivalent of a headline in a print ad.
13. Leave the “TO” field blank – If you are working on an email in DRAFT mode, leave the recipient box empty until you are absolutely sure it is ready to send.
14. Test it out on yourself – If the email is important enough, send it to yourself first as a test to see how it looks and reads. Better yet, send it to someone whose opinion on such matters you trust.
15. Use the Carbon Copy (:CC) and Blind Carbon Copy (:BCC) lines judiciously.
16. Organize your email folders the way you organize your business folders. Keep it simple so you can find emails quickly.
17. Keep a separate file for the people you communicate with most frequently.
18. Use a “CLOSE” – If you are going to follow up with them on a set day and time or want them to follow up with you, indicate it at the end of the message.
19. ALWAYS be cautious of the REPLY and REPLY ALL functions. They can be deadly when you want to reply to one person on the distribution list and you send your response to everyone. This can be especially damaging when what you have to say about one or more of the people on the list is less than flattering.