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Face Challenges Head On

Facing a challenging situation? Contemplate how to proceed, and take swift action

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As more people are out and about, you’ve got some decisions to make. Things in your life and likely in your work have changed since March, 2020.  You’re facing some challenges, and accompanying decisions, with a dwindling amount of time to move forward.

The late Earl Nightingale, renowned motivational speaker and author, once said you can’t get to second base if you won’t take your foot off first. You can’t attain what you want if you remain “one of the timid feeders in the lagoon” who fears to venture out into the deep blue sea.

Action is Invigorating

If you’re facing a challenging situation, after contemplating how you’re going to proceed, your next step, invariably, will be to take action:

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* Use the phone now and call whomever you need to contact.
* Buy the plane, train, or boat ticket and meet the people you need to see.

If your challenge involves spending money, review your budget and if you have the means, move the requisite funds into place. If you don’t have adequate funds, list possible ways to help you acquire them.

Identify things that are no longer valid or in the way. Then, without remorse, remove them from your life. If you need motivation, announce your intentions to somebody else, or commit yourself on paper.

Deadly Sin or Divine Aspiration

Like clockwork, when you decide to tackle a challenge, someone will come along and try to tell you not to do it. That someone could be a board member, a key staff person, a vendor, or one of your long term members

“It can’t be done.”
“It shouldn’t be done.”
“You can’t do it.”
“You shouldn’t do it.”
“You’re going to fail.”

Don’t be surprised if you hear these kinds of admonitions. The typical person dislikes change, doesn’t see the possibilities that you see, and can’t envision a successful conclusion. Hence, you can’t take a quick survey of others and expect any meaningful input.

It is valuable, however, if trusted peers point out specific hazards to your goals. For example, if others can offer relevant, factual information that you need to know to fully understand what it will take to achieve your goals, then more power to them and to you.

If you understand the impediments that you face, you’re better off than if you proceed blindly. When you understand the pitfalls and still commit to proceeding full speed ahead, then the choice is indeed yours, and it’s a grand one.

Let’s Get Unreasonable

Some say that nothing of lasting value is accomplished by reasonable men (and of course, women too). It is the unreasonable people — the discontented, the dreamers who still keep their feet firmly planted on solid ground, or the visionaries — who improve peoples’ lives, or, in rare instances, help to advance society.

The reasonable man or woman can talk himself or herself out of anything, no matter how great the merit of the venture or cause. You probably could stand to be bit more unreasonable when it comes to your challenges.

Don’t Take on too Much at Once

Concurrently, executives and high achievers in general face the problem of taking on too much. They’ve been so effective at accomplishing things in the course of their career that they start to think they are capable of accomplishing even more. Their productivity causes these otherwise worthy individuals to create longer and more involved to-do lists than the rest of us.

Many people unconsciously ensure that they’ll never get to the end of their list by continuously adding more tasks after accomplishing even just a few. Over-achievers seem to derive some kind of motivation from never completing everything on the list for a given day.

This kind of approach to managing one’s to-do list is fraught with problems. It is both rewarding and appropriate when you cross off everything on your list and feel complete about your achievements. When you’re able to finish your lists 2 to 4 times a week, you actually come back to work the next morning with more energy, focus, and direction than you might presume.

Completions Yield Satisfaction

Conversely, when you leave the office with unfinished tasks for that day’s to-do list, you unconsciously engender a situation in which you never quite feel complete or satisfied, and you find yourself in a perpetual “striving” mode.

In the short run, it’s okay to leave unfinished tasks, especially when you’re on a specific campaign or project. In the long run, however, continuously over-extending your daily to-do list can have a harmful, de-motivating effect on your life.

It’s understandable that highly ambitious career types want to achieve as much as they can and, if employed by others, desire to greatly benefit their organization.

If you’re not careful, however, and you attempt to accomplish one major task after another instead of alternating large and small tasks, your productivity will actually suffer, as trying to tackle one major task after another can be mindnumbing.

Keen Choices

So, choose to tackle a handful of key tasks each day, alternating them with minor tasks so that you can maintain a fairly high level of energy and allow yourself to leave the workplace with a sense of completion.

You’ll work more effectively the next day, as well as throughout the course of your week, month, year, and career. You’ll engender a most definite sense of accomplishment while experiencing, at the least, recurring feelings of work-life balance.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Business

Delegation: An Ongoing Phenomena

Failure to delegate effectively often happens because team leader don’t trust the people with whom they’re working

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For most of your career, you’ve read or heard that one of the key approaches to getting things done is to delegate effectively. This presumes that you have others to whom you can delegate. In my contact with more than 950 organizations over the last two and a half decades, I’ve found increasingly that people have fewer resources, a lower budget, and less staff people. If they want to get something done, often they have to do it themselves!

Assuming you have others to whom you can delegate, the first or second time you personally tackle a particular task yields useful information. You learn more about the nature of the task, how long it takes, and whether or not you enjoy doing it.

By the third time, a task of the same ilk as those you’ve handled before often becomes best handled by someone reporting to you. Such tasks could involve updating a database, completing an interim report, or assembling meeting notes.

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All that You Can

On the path to getting things done, your quest is to identify all those things that you can possibly delegate to others and then prepare those others so that they have a high probability of succeeding. In the course of your workday there may be only a handful of things that you alone need to do because of your experience, insight or specialized knowledge. Everything else that can be delegated should be.

Some people feel they have to take care of everything themselves and to this day haven’t been able to break the habit of “doing it all.” If this someone is in your seat right now, recognize that as a category of one, you can only get so much done.

Many managers and supervisors fail to delegate effectively because either they don’t fully trust the people with whom they’re working, or they’ve always been get-it-all-done-by-myself types.

Take Time before You Assign

Prior to delegating anything to anyone, take the time to actually prepare your staff for delegation. This would involve assessing an employee’s skills, interests, and needs. You could even ask people what new tasks and responsibilities they would like to assume. You might be surprised at the wide variety of responses you receive. There may be people on your staff right now who can help you with tasks you’ve been dying to hand off to someone but didn’t see how or when you could put them into play.

While you want to delegate to staff people who show enthusiasm, initiative and interest, or have otherwise previously demonstrated the ability to handle and balance several tasks at once, sometimes you have to delegate to someone who has not exhibited any of the above. In that case, delegate on a piece-meal basis.

Ensure that the staff person is able to effectively handle the small task or tasks he’s been assigned and does not feel swamped or overloaded. When the staff person demonstrates competence, you can increase the complexity of assignments and even the frequency with which you delegate.

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Business

Multi-tasking: More Harm than Good

In this day and age, where so much competes for our attention, it is easy to stray!

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I belong to a local health club, and while I was there one day, I saw a woman get on the Stairmaster. I watched as she whipped out an mp3 player and started listening to music. Then, to my surprise, she reached into her gym bag, pulled out a book, and placed it on that ledge to read. I almost asked her if she would like a piece of gum!

Today, when so much competes for our attention, it is easy to stray! More often than we care to pretend, in the office and at home, we invite more than we can handle, and then act as though we didn’t. As individuals, throughout society, we are trained to believe that the ability to multi-task is a great attribute. Unfortunately, that’s a big mistake. Here’s why, and how to avoid multi-tasking in the future.

First Things First

What’s the fastest and easiest way to handle six tasks competing for our attention? Identify the most important task, second most important, third most important, and so on, then tackle the first and finish it all the way, move on to the second and complete it, then move all the way down the list.

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Any other way of tackling those items, whether they are tasks for home or work, is simply not as efficient. The catch is, any other way is more psychologically satisfying.  Why?  It’s almost as if juggling projects, switching gears unnecessarily or abruptly, or leaving a job unfinished to start a new project gives you the opportunity to say to other people, “Hey, look at me! Look how involved I am! Look at how busy I am! I’m great at multi-tasking.” A multi-tasker, however, can’t compete with others who tackle their to-do list, one item at a time.

What about doubling up as a procedure for tackling a number of routine items or very simple tasks? You can eat dinner and read a book at the same time. Eating and reading at the same time is relatively harmless.

How about driving and talking on the cell phone at the same time? Driving requires your sharp attention, as does carrying on an intelligent conversation with someone else who is not present; doing both at the same time spreads your attention too thin, with often disastrous results. The same is true for projects you’re working on that require your best thinking.

Tips:
* give yourself 5 to 10 minute intervals to focus on the task at hand
* safe-guard your immediate environment to avoid interruptions
* acknowledge yourself whenever you stick to one task and finish it
* repeat all the above, often, knowing that ‘more often’ is better!

Your Undivided Attention

When you’re working on a new task, brainstorming, engaging in first-time thinking, or doing creative work, it’s vital to offer your complete and undivided attention to that one task before you. To dissipate your attention or otherwise stray means you are not going to do your best work.

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