How to do more in less time.

We all have one thing in common. I’m not just referring to us humans. I’m talking about dogs, cats, wasps and all the other stuff.

It’s the most precious resource of all. We don’t know how much we have but we assume it’s plentiful. Unfortunately, once it’s gone, it’s gone and we can never get it back.

Of course I’m referring to time.

 

How to do more in less time

 

I recently had a birthday, which has put me twice as far away from my birth as it has from my retirement. This made me reflect on my life and the time I have left.

Then I realised I’ve no idea how much time I have left. So I should be grateful for any time I have now.

Therefore I’ve come to the conclusion that, while I still have some, I need to treat my time with a little bit more respect.

Up until now I frittered it away with gay abandon like it will never run out. In actual fact, I’ve been a fool thinking I own any time at all. This is not the case, time owns me but I can use it.

 

How to do more in less time

 

So why not use it wisely? In short, I can invest in it.

This is why this week I’ve broken down and planned my day into 5 minute chunks. I know… it sounds nuts.

Initially I did a working version on a spreadsheet but now it’s all in a cracking little app called cal on my iPhone. So I know exactly what I should be doing at any time of the day.

 

How to do more in less time

 

You’re probably thinking I’m a spreadsheet loving, lunatic. Well you’d be right but I’m also getting more done in less time.

Whereas before I used to stare zombie-like into space trying to think about what, of the many things I’d forgotten to do. Now I know exactly what I should be forgetting, when and how much time I should spend forgetting about it

 

How to do more in less time

 

So I focus on the one thing I’m meant to be doing until it’s time to move on to the next thing.

More often than not I finish the thing I’m meant to be doing, in the allotted time, therefore confirming Parkinson’s law:

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

I have a process, a system that works and it frees up a lot of my time.

So rather than before, where I had little bits of time here and there, which I would waste doing nothing, now I have a bigger chunks of spare time to waste.

Besides I try to convince myself that it’s not a waste of time if I enjoy wasting it.

 

Screenshot 2014-02-13 19.42.04

 

By the way have you worked out how old I am? Only ask because I’m so old, I’ve forgotten.

 

 

One-word-that-will-helps-me-think-more-positively

I read an excellent article by Geoffrey James called, “How To Make People Happier At Work – A Question You Should Ask Every Day”.

I’d encourage you to read the article.

It’s premise revolves around a, “simple question which makes people remember what they truly value and appreciate”.

Before I reveal the question, the article backs up how important the language we use is, in regard to how we think.

If we use the correct language it can motivate and inspire.

One-word-that-helps-me-think-more-positively

The question in the article, which promises to make people feel happier at work is:

Just out of curiosity, what do you like best about your job?

This is clever is because it doesn’t give the respondent the opportunity to search for any negatives. It only allows them to come up with the positives.

Ok they can reply with, “Nothing” but by this admission they’ll soon discover they’re in the wrong job.

Language is so influential in the way we think. Most words can be classified into positive or negative.

For a list of positive words click HERE

One word that helps me think more positively is: challenge.

Wherever possible I try to substitute the word “challenge” in place of the word “problem” and it works.

One-word-challenges-ahead-post

A problem has a negative connotation that suggests there’s nothing to be gained by encountering one, which is always untrue.

If you have a goal in mind and you encounter, what is in your head, a problem, it can cause you to stumble even stop in your progression.

It can be regarded as dead end, which possesses no benefit.

If I regard any unexpected bump in the road as a challenge, then I’ll tend to attack it with enthusiasm in order to find a solution. This is because I know that finding this solution will make me more likely to achieve my goal.

Every problem you have generates stress, whilst every challenge is a chance to learn and find a solution – (click to tweet)

What would you prefer a problem or a challenge?

It’s up to you.

one-word-that-helps-me-think-positively

 

one-way-deal-stress

There’s a great little survey on the BBC’s health website entitled, “How stressed are you?

I used to get a lot more stressed than I do now and that’s why this article stood out to me.

My stress would normally manifest itself in frustration then anger. Here’s a few examples of how stressed I used to get.

– I’ve smashed many an item including a 42 inch TV.

– I’ve been involved in numerous road rage incidents.

– In a fit of rage I threw a wall paper scraper at my brother, when we were children, which caused him to be hospitalised.

– I once beat my sandwiches into a pulp after my mother made them incorrectly.

This is how the stress test went for me.

ONE-way-to-deal-with-stress-Stress-Test

If you feel stressed to the point where it’s impacting your happiness then I’d suggest you seek advice. This article on the NHS website is very useful as is their list Ten stress busters.

The sources of stress are very personal so I can only speak from my perspective on how I think I became less stressed.

I got tired of getting worked up and anxious about issues out of my control.

The trouble is, at the time, I didn’t see that these issues, were out of my control. This word control has a lot to do with it.

I had to stop and really question the use of me getting wound up about things, regardless of whether they were in my control or not.

I came up with 3 reasons for not getting stressed:

1. It’s bad for my health.

2. It doesn’t help or find a solution for the issue I’m getting stressed about. In fact it probably complicates it.

3. It makes me unhappy.

This may sound like a crazy solution but it worked for me. I chose to close my eyes, breathe calmly, smile and think, “Let go, it doesn’t matter”.

Like I said, I CHOSE to do this.

It didn’t come natural at first because it’s counter intuitive to the way I’d normally react but after a while it becomes habit, then second nature.

one-way-deal-stress

Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t work everytime and I still lose my temper but not as much as I did.

This may not work for you but what I will say is this:

You can only deal with ONE issue at a time, so only focus on ONE issue, the most important one.

Once this is sorted then move onto the next.

So write a list of things that are causing you stress. Remember these can only be issues you have control over.

Put the most important to the top of the list then take action to deal with this one, completely ignoring the others until this one is done.

If this doesn’t help you, look at the Ten stress busters list on the NHS website and pick just ONE that you think will help.

Personally I think exercise is hugely underrated when it comes to mental well being.

If you find something that works for you I’d love to hear about it.

 one-way-deal-stress

 

 

 

A colleague approached me the other day and said, “Maybe you could help, a friend of mine is really depressed. Do you have any ideas on how to help her?”

I can only go on personal experience, so I asked, “Does she exercise?”

“Yes, she’s really healthy”

“Does she eat healthily?”

“Yes”

“Is she sleeping well?”

“I think she suffers with anxiety”

At the time, all I could suggest was for her to get a pen and paper out and make 2 columns, entitled:

What am I worried about?

What can I do to change this?

I figured that any worry which could be dealt with would no longer be a problem.

Conversely there was no point devoting any time to worrying about problems that could not be solved.

worry-dont-worry-Chart

Later I sat down and Googled, “How can I stop worrying” and over 40 million results were returned.

I read about half a dozen articles and below is a quick summary of the points that made sense to me.

worry-stop-worrying

First of all you need to set aside some, “Worry Time”, to deal with your worries on your own.

You probably need a maximum of 10 minutes.

This time needs to be at the same time everyday and preferably towards the end of the day.

This is because if you start to worry in the middle of the day, you can put it off until your official worry time, where you’ll really indulge those worries.

You need to split this ten minutes into two five minute sections.

In the first five minutes you create your worry diary.

 

1. Worry Diary

Write down to columns:

What am I worried about?

What can I do to change this?

Write all your worries down and try your best to solve them.

If there’s any worries you think you can’t solve, then try to work out logically how likely they are to happen.

Feel free to download and use this document:

My Worry Diary

In the second five minute period you need to practice:

2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being mindful of the present.

Just spend some time breathing calmly and being aware of the present moment you’re existing in.

This is because most anxiety is future based and yet all the future is made up of, is tiny bits of present moments.

So if you’re happy in the present, your future will be too.

Do this for around a minute.

 

3. Gratitude

Write down three things you’re grateful for.

 

Carry out these three steps every day for at least 21 days.

 

worry-dont-miss-the-sun-rain-quote

I’ve created a little survey online that I’d love you to fill out, so I can learn more about worry / anxiety.

Your can fill it out completely anonymously and it will only take around a minute to complete.

Please click HERE is you’d like to complete it.

The other night I was putting Fred to bed and as usual, I took Monty with me.

mistake-I-made-with-my-son-monty

Whilst I’m reading a story to Fred, on his bed, I normally lay a few toys on the bedroom floor for Monty to play with.

I say, “play”, what he actually does is put them in his mouth, drop them, accidentally hit them away from him and then roll around, from his back to belly, in order to grab them again.

Then he repeats the above process.

Anyway the other night, for some reason I put Monty on the bed and tried to read Fred a story. After the story I went to kiss Fred and he pushed me away.

So I attempted to kiss him again and before I got there, heard an almighty, “Thuuddddd”.

I quickly turned and saw that Monty was now on the floor, motionless and silent.

freds-bed

The bed was about 2 foot tall, which is a big fall for a 6 month old baby not even 2 foot in height.

For the longest second ever, the world became as silent and motionless as Monty on the floor.

My heart, shocked by the moment forgot to beat.

As I looked at him lying there, I felt myself being zoomed out, so far, from the situation that my arms weren’t long enough to reach him.

I was hovering in vacuous void way above him.

Then the silence was ripped apart by a huge, “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” exploding from Monty’s lungs.

The world started turning again.

I came back to earth, scooped him up and consoled him.

“What happened?”

I turned to see Meagan, with a shocked curiosity on her face, standing there.

She’d run upstairs, on hearing the bump.

“He.. he fell off the bed!”

She took a step towards me, grabbed Monty out of my arms and gave him a protective cuddle, whilst quickly examining him.

“You could’ve broken his neck!!!”

My heart, as if to make up for the recent rest, was now beating at twice the pace.

After settling down and thinking about the situation, I realised one thing.

I’d made a mistake.

This is not a bad thing.

Learning from mistakes makes us better humans, it’s what forms the curve in the learning curve. (click to tweet).

Therefore a mistake is the best chance we have to learn. If we learn from them they transform from a mistake into a lesson.

They only remain a mistake if we fail to learn from them.

 

the-worst-mistake-anyone-can-make-is-being-to-afraid-to-make-a-mistake

What did I learn?

3 things:

1. I shouldn’t never have put Monty on a high bed unsupervised. I won’t do it again.

2. To make mistakes (and therefore learn) you have to take some kind of action. If you don’t do anything you can’t make a mistake and there learn and get better.

3. Never mess with a mother’s pride and joy or you could make a mistake you’ll never have the ability to learn from.

 

Mistakes-One-Who-Makes-No-Mistakes-Never-Makes-Anything

To save you time, this post will only take you 1 minute to read.

30th Birthday cakes for Hayley Birthday time

Just before I left the house, at 5am, this morning, I had a quick glance at Facebook on my phone.

The top post on my news feed was this:

“30 tomorrow! Holy Moly!”

It was posted by a colleague of mine, Hayley.

I’d agreed, with another colleague, to get Hayley a gift card between us.

I’d forgotten.

The nearest shop open at that time of the morning, was Asda, a two mile detour. Not too bad you may think but I was on my bike!

I did it but arrived in work at 5:56am, 4 minutes before our show goes live on air.

I normally arrive in at 5:30am, which gives me half an hour to prepare for the show.

The odd thing was, I did everything I needed to do in that 4 minutes.

How?

Because it conforms to Parkinson’s law:

Parkinsons law about time

 

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”

Most people could probably do, what they do in a 9-5 day, in 2 hours. Why don’t we?

Because we don’t have to.

Have you ever been in a situation where you REALLY needed to get something important done in a limited amount of time? Did you do it?

Of course you did, do you know why?

You had a deadline.

So if you want to get something done, give yourself a deadline BUT don’t just set this deadline in your head.

Focus on the task you need to do and set a countdown timer on your phone, with an alarm to go off when times up.

You have to start with the understanding that you cannot go over this time period. Once the time is up, that’s it!

I guarantee you’ll get it done.

That’s one minute of your time and 37.59 minutes of my time.

A goal without a dream is just a deadline time

Ps – Can you spot which cake, above, isn’t a real ?

Pps – Happy Birthday Hayley

____________

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I’m subscribed to a lot of email newsletters and blogs. Most of them I delete without reading, unless their headline grabs my attention.

James Clear happiness

I can honestly say when James’ weekly email drops into my inbox I never delete it without a read through.

It always contains value and insight.

He writes about how it’s possible to use our daily routines to improve our performance and therefore achieve more.

James has had and continues to have a very interesting life.

Here’s a few interesting things that’s happened to him in life so far:

He won $10,000 in a competition and lived off of that money for the next year while he started his first business.

He built that business to $20,000/month without hiring any employees.

He’s been a basketball player, trained as an Olympic weightlifter and was chosen, in 2012, as a finalist for the Travel Photographer of the Year award, for covering the September 11th Memorial in New York City (which included this photo):

 tower 7-final16 James Clear happiness

 

Here are 9 things that give James Clear a little bit of happiness…. 

 

What’s the last thing that made you laugh? 

Parking James Clear Happiness

This picture: Nailed it!

 

 

What’s your favourite book?

Complications Atul Gawande James Clear Happiness

Complications by Atul Gawande.

I love medicine and this is a thoughtful look at what it’s really like to be a surgeon and a human who makes mistakes.

 

 

What are you grateful for today?

The opportunity to do work that I love.
 

 

 

What’s your favourite film?

Shawshank Redemption - James Clear Happiness

The Shawshank Redemption.

It’s a classic.

 

 

What’s your favourite little pleasure? 

mcdonalds fries James Clear Happiness

Eating McDonald’s French fries, which I usually do about once every 2 or 3 months.

 

 

Do you have a favourite quote?

It is not the critic who counts;

Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;

Who strives valiantly;

Who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;

But who does actually strive to do the deeds;

Who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt

 

 

Which person inspired you or which person do you think is inspiring?

My grandpa inspired me. He was a leader, a family man, and most importantly — he was happy.

 

 

What one event has been the most memorable in your life?

Fields

Walking in the fields on my grandparent’s farm.

If I was taking the last walk of my life, I think that’s where I’d like to do it.

 

 

Is there something that’s happened to you, which at the time was seemingly negative but eventually turned out to be positive?

All the time.

Whenever I make a mistake (which is often) it seems like a negative at the time. But pretty soon, I move on and people get over it, and I’m better off and wiser for the mistake.

_______

James Clear writes at JamesClear.com, where he shares ideas about using behaviour science to master your habits and improve your performance.

For fresh ideas on how to live a healthy life, both mentally and physically, join his free newsletter by clicking HERE

James is on Twitter: James Clear

James’s Linkedin profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jamesclear

 _______

You can subscribe to this blog by clicking HERE

If the label is attractive, are you more likely to buy?

I ask this because Monty our 6 month old, is a near perfect baby. He’s so happy, every time I speak to him he beams with a big gummy adorable smile.

Monty

Notice I said, “near perfect”, this is because he doesn’t sleep!!!

He does a maximum of three hours. So to help Meagan out, who deals with Monty over night, I give him a, “dream feed”.

This involves me sneaking into his room at night, two hours after we’ve put him down and putting a full bottle of milk to his mouth. Without opening his eyes, his lips find the teat and he starts sucking.

It’s cute because he’s a baby and it’s called a, “dream feed”.

If I did the same, with one of my favourite foods, it wouldn’t be so cute.

Lemon Cheesecake

The image of someone shoving lemon cheesecake into my gob, between my grunts and snores doesn’t evoke the same, “ahhhhssss”. Plus the action would, more than likely, be entitled something like, “fatboy feed”.

Let’s be honest, all Monty is doing is filling his face whilst snoozing but the label is different and so we see it as so.

What something is called, directly affects our attitude towards it.

Apple call their new product releases, “events” and everyone, including the media reacts to them as such. If they were called, “new product releases”, they’d just be treated as an advert, which is the last thing they want.

Companies sometimes give an employee a change of title, without any pay increase, to make them feel more important and it works.

What would you prefer to be known as, “a senior domestic hygiene technician” or “a cleaner”?

couchpotato

Recently, a weight-loss company decided to recruit a paid couch potato to eat high fat foods, so it advertised for a “product testing associate”.

A colleague recently went for an ear test and it turns out she has an “Audio Processing Disorder”. When she asked what that meant, she gathered it was a nice way of saying that she’s a bit thick and doesn’t listen to people.

So if you have to do anything, you don’t like doing, don’t call it by the process you dislike, relabel it as the result you desire.

For example if you don’t like doing exercise but like the result it gives you, relabel it as, “slim attainment session”, “happiness investment plan” or “well being treatment therapy”.

If you don’t like cleaning but like the feeling you get when it’s done, relabel it as a, “shiny satisfaction strategy”, “hygiene enhancement goal” or “feel good activity procedure”.

Likewise, relabel things you like doing, which are bad for you, with negative labels. For example:

chocolate 002

Chocolate eating = flab boost treatment.

Spending money unnecessarily = debt development project.

Cigarette smoking = slow lung death strategy .

Henry Food

I think I might go and do a bit of dream research now.

 

As I left work yesterday, I shared the lift with a colleague, who has a great voice.

I said to them, “When are you going to send out your voice over demo?”

voiceover

A few of us have been gently nagging this person because we know they want to do it and would do well but unfortunately they have a negative attitude.

Their insecurity means they’re prone to criticising others, rather than, “doing” themselves.

In fact they said to me yesterday, “A friend of mine just sent out a tweet saying, she’d just done a voice over for some company in America. The thing is she’s not good at it”.

I thought, “They’re better than you because they’re actually doing the job. Ok you may have a better voice but you’re not doing the job so you can’t be better than them”.

What I said was, “There’s two types of people in this world; there’s the people that do and the people who criticise the people that do. Which do you want to be?”

This person’s biggest obstacle to their own success is themselves.

I said to them, “Do ONE thing today, just ONE thing, that will edge you towards getting a few voice over gigs”

“Yes I might do”

“What do you mean? “Might do”? What are you waiting for? A big sign? It’s not going to happen, you’ve got to take action and make a start right now. You don’t want to look back when you’re too old and think, I wish I’d done that”

If you're waiting for a sign this is it

And fair play they said, “Ok I will do”.

“So what are you going to do?”

“I’ll listen to my voice over tape”

“Good because if you do just ONE thing everyday, by the end of the year you’ll have made amazing progress, I guarantee it”.

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 13.09.26

I’ve just started using an app that I find excellent for scheduling daily tasks, it’s free and it’s called Any.do – it only took me around 10 minutes to figure it out and I love it! 

If you use any apps that make your life easier, or more productive, I’d love to hear from you.

May not be there yet quote

How to make the right decisions at work…

At work we’ve just had our regular milk delivery cancelled.

 

How to make the right decisions at work...

 

It’s been cancelled because it’s too expensive to get it delivered and invariably lots of milk ends up being poured down the sink because it doesn’t get drunk.

So now, somebody pops to the shop to buy what is needed.

Due to this system, sometimes, first thing in the morning there may not be any milk, until someones been to the shops.

There’s been a few people moaning in the office saying, “Aww what a bunch of cheapskates! Why don’t they just cancel the tea and coffee too!”

 

How to make the right decisions at work...

 

What this person fails to understand is that the free tea, coffee and milk we get are perks. We’re not entitled to them. So we should feel grateful.

I asked this person, “If this was your business and you saw this waste happening everyday, what would you do?”

They replied, “I’d probably cut down on the amount of milk ordered but I wouldn’t stop the order”

I then replied, “Even if you knew there was a more cost effective way of doing it?”

They thought for a second then said, “Yes in fact I probably would get someone to pop to the shop actually”.

 

How to make the right decisions at work...

I don’t run my own business but for as long as my memory stretches back, my father has run his own business.

Therefore I’ve always been aware that every resource he’s used, for his company, has been paid for out of his own pocket. So I’m very aware of waste.

During my career whenever I’ve found myself in a quandary as to what to do, when working for someone else, I’ve always asked myself this:

“What would I do if I ran this business?”

Whatever the decision I came to, it may not have been the best possible option at the time but it was always in the best possible interests of the company.

Nobody can ask more of you than that.

That’s why I’ve popped this suggestion in our company suggestion box.

“In order to achieve the maximum amount of efficiencies in respects of milk delivery, I propose we acquire a company cow.

 

How to make the right decisions at work...

 

Ok there will be the large initial outlay but over the long term I believe the cow will more than pay for itself and not just in the financial sense.

I believe with its arrival will evolve a new company camaraderie borne of shared ownership, cow care and maintenance.

It’s also been proven that stroking animals can lower stress levels and therefore contribute towards a relaxed, more productive working environment.

Couple this with the fact that no more man hours will be spent going to the shop but milking the cow instead, which in turn will not only lead to a new found respect and appreciation for milk as a resource but less waste, then I think you find I have a very good point”.

 

How to make the right decisions at work...

 

Maybe this explains why I don’t run my own business.

 

 

 

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