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5 Steps to Conquer the Cycle of Overwork and Have Your Most Productive Year Yet

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It’s long past 6pm and you’re still sitting at your desk, pouring over reports and notes from an earlier meeting. Your caffeine pick-me-up has long faded and you are finally considering leaving for the day, only to look up and find that at least half of your co-workers are still firmly glued to their own chairs.

You resign yourself to another couple of hours of work before you head home, crash on the couch and get up and do it all over the next day. Sound familiar? This cycle of overwork is far too common, and often it creeps up on us before we realize it. You may work for a company that values a great deal of face time, to the point of creating an atmosphere where hours on the job are more highly valued than actual productivity.

You may be a part of a team that thrives on the adrenaline rush of trying to finish a project at the last minute to meet an important deadline. Or you may have gone with the flow early on in your job, and now find yourself surrounded by colleagues who routinely send emails at all hours and expect you to make yourself available around the clock as well.

These situations result when there is no clear alignment between your values and the expectations of your boss or colleagues, leading to undue stress and diminished productivity. Over time, the constant stress will negatively impact your health, relationships and reduce your overall quality of life.

The good news is there are ways that can help you regain control of your time, tipping the balance in favor of a more manageable work environment which sets you up for maximum productivity.

Here are the five simple steps:

1. Set boundaries

You don’t have to make a broad announcement to your whole office that you will no longer answer emails in the evenings for them to get the picture that work is no longer going to follow you home. Write down how you envision your workday to get a clear idea of what is most important to you and then start turning your vision into a reality.

Be polite but firm when someone asks (or demands) more of your time or energy than you are willing to give (say by asking you to put together a few slides for tomorrow’s presentation at 11pm). It may take time, and there may be some pushback, but eventually the people around you will realize that your time is valuable and that you will expect them to treat it as such (or compensate you adequately for what it’s worth).

“I encourage people to remember that “No” is a complete sentence.” – Gavin de Becker

2. Compare yourself less

Every workplace has someone who boasts about how late they stayed, or how many hours they’re working (how many of those are spent watching YouTube is another story). Competing with someone who keeps this kind of schedule is a recipe for unhappiness.

Have confidence that if you do your job well you won’t need to prove your worth by clocking in extra hours, especially at the expense of spending quality time with family and friends. Work on developing meaningful pursuits outside of work so you always have something to look forward to, allowing you to more easily ignore any side eye from colleagues when you promptly leave at the end of the workday.

3. Take your breaks

Research shows that short and frequent breaks help with overall stamina and even to reduce minor aches and pains associated with long periods of sitting. Moreover, breaks can help spark creative thinking, allowing you to find unique ways to problem solve and perform your job better.

Trying different techniques can help provide some structure if you are not used to taking regular breaks, while helping to increase your focus on a given task. Even something small like not eating your lunch at your desk once a week can help ease stress when you’re feeling overworked.

4. Socialize with your colleagues

It might be tempting if you have an ever growing pile of work to hunker down with your headphones on and not acknowledge any of your coworkers but this type of mindset is counterproductive in the long run. Not only do employees with weak social ties have much higher mortality rates, they also report feeling less happy in the workplace.

Fast-paced and challenging work environments call for greater outlets to release stress. A weekly social lunch with colleagues or writing a simple thank you note can help make your job more enjoyable and feel less hectic even if your overall hours do not change.

“I absolutely love to relax and have fun. I like socializing; I like chatting. I like dancing, mixing with friends.” – Gwendoline Christie

5. Invest in professional development

According to a study of working-age Millennials, the number one source of frustration in the workplace is a lack of company support for training and professional development. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work on your plate, taking a seminar or an evening class may seem impossible, but it can provide an excellent outlet away from the daily grind of your 9 to 5.

Furthermore, gaining additional skills may boost your overall productivity and may make you a more attractive candidate come promotion time or if you decide to take your talents elsewhere.

The average person will spend close to 10 years of their life at work, which may feel like much more if you’re overworked and overstressed, but even small changes can have a huge impact on your wellbeing at the end of the day.

How do you stay sane when work seems like it will never end? Please leave your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Life

Don’t Want To Feel Like A Failure Anymore? Stop Doing These 6 Things

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Image Credit: Unsplash

It’s pretty annoying isn’t it? All those great and accomplished people telling you that FAILURE is a necessity on your way to success. Yeah, that’s easy for them to say; they’re already ‘on the other side’! You on the other hand, are still struggling all day everyday to get your business lifted off the ground and are really not that sure if you’re indeed going to make it.

There’s that little voice in your head that keeps telling you that you don’t have the stuff to make it all happen. Not now and not ever. You feel like a failure…it’s holding you back and you don’t know how to deal with it. Well you could do yourself a favor and start dealing with it by doing the following things:

1. Stop Denying You Feel Like A Failure

Telling yourself things are going great when they’re not is one of the biggest, though most useless, coping mechanisms human beings deploy in rough times. Common denial signals among entrepreneurs: trying to regain more control by working even more hours and on the other side compensating this by letting go of all this control by partying and drinking way too hard.

What you’re doing is denying yourself the opportunity to actually feel what’s going on and acknowledge the problem; that both you and your business are in a bad place. Without acknowledging it, it’ll be pretty difficult to actually STOP feeling it. And remember, just because you feel like a failure, this does not mean that you indeed ARE a failure!

2. Stop Making It Bigger Than it Really Is

This is one of those other ‘fun’ things human beings do; we blow things way out of proportion in our heads! In business, when you lose that big client you’ve been working on for weeks, it feels like it’s the end of the world. You start doubting yourself, your strategy, your entire business model right up to the point where you barely sleep because you’re working on pivoting the whole thing.

But what if that customer simply didn’t have the money to go for your service anyway? Or what if they just decided to go for someone who is cheaper but who offers less quality? Does that mean there’s something wrong with YOU? Or that this was the ONLY customer out there and that you’re now doomed forever?

Of course not, it simply means that THIS CUSTOMER wasn’t a match. It’s a bit like dating actually…So if you take this into consideration, could it be that you just feel like a failure instead of really not succeeding in that what you want to at this point in time?

3. Stop Thinking You’re The Only One Who Feels Like This

You’re not! With the possible exception of the true sociopaths, that feeling you’re feeling is very normal to EVERYONE. It might not seem like it on the outside – because people don’t like to acknowledge this remember – but I can guarantee you that it’s true. But unlike 99% of the world’s population, YOU’RE not going to let this feeling stop you in your tracks. Are you?

4. Stop Thinking You’re Supposed To Be Superhuman

In fact, it’s very likely that you’re already doing, learning and succeeding at WAY more than most other people are. But for entrepreneurs, somehow, that never seems to be enough. You don’t just want to be successful after a few years of hard work (which is normal). You want to be successful after only a few months. Because you’re special…or at least you think you are…

Well, here’s the truth: you ARE special! But…it’s just not very likely that you’re one of those – very very rare – entrepreneurial superstars that – seemingly – just added some hot water and got instant business success as a result.

5. Stop Being So Incredibly Stubborn

Entrepreneurs are stubborn…almost by default. It’s what makes them push forward in the hardest of times. But…if you’re not doing the right things right you might just be hammering a square peg through a round hole. Which will only add to that frustrated feeling you’re already having. So why not stop being so stubborn for a moment, stop hammering away on that what obviously is not working and ask for help?

No matter who you ask – a business mentor or coach, a befriended entrepreneur – someone with a neutral perspective on you and our business will be very likely to see what’s going on with a lot more clarity than you can and can guide you to a place that will feel a whole lot more comfortable.

6. Stop Being Afraid Of Failure

I know, I know, you’ve heard this a million times before and you wouldn’t be in this pickle if you could do this. Right? I’m right there with ya!

But, if you get really rational about it, what’s the worst that could happen?

  • You might have to get a ‘real’ job for a while and start over on the side;
  • You might not be able to afford your rent anymore…but with Airbnb on the 1 hand and couchsurfing on the other, you should be able to work it out somehow;
  • You’ll have all the more experience to start over a whole lot faster;
  • You’ll be no less respected by anyone because it’s clear you gave it your all;
  • In a few years, when you’re an established and supersuccessful entrepreneur you’ll also have a cool failure story to tell;
  • None of your limbs will fall off;

Now that’s not too bad for a plan B is it? Failure is such a negative word. And the associated feeling is terrible and numbing. But really…how is giving it your all and not succeeding really the same as failing? Shouldn’t the definition of failure not be along the lines of ‘not even trying’ or ‘giving up when it gets hard’?

In other words: stop beating yourself up over this!

There’s really no need to feel like a failure at all because you’re sticking your neck out, you’re trying to make a difference and you’re still moving upward on that treacherous entrepreneurial mountain.

And that…is what success REALLY is.

Those Who Failed Their Way To Success

Quotes To Live By:

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want” – Richard Yates

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

“We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie

“Success is stumbling form failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill

“Don’t let success go to your head and failure to your heart” – Will Smith

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Why You Never Have Enough Time and What You Need to Do About It

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Has this ever happened to you? You had an assignment, and the deadline was far away. You didn’t work on it much, but in the back of your mind, that insistent little voice was always whispering, “I gotta get this assignment done.” (more…)

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6 Unusual Exercises to Effectively Increase Your Creativity Faster Than Ever

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how to increase your creativity faster
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Although a vast majority of people think that creativity is something you are born with, the truth is a bit different. While we cannot deny that you need natural talent to a certain extent, stimulating creative thinking is indeed a matter of practice. If you give this thought a bit of thinking, you can realize pretty quickly that even the most fascinating and creative minds have faced the lack of creativity at some point in their lives. (more…)

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Life

3 Psychological Facts That Can Unleash Your Inner Power

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Some people will achieve great things. Others won’t. But why is that? We’re all just “talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe,” as Joe Rogan puts it. So why do some “talking monkeys” build 7 or 8 figure businesses, travel the world, and live the life of their dreams while the rest of us… well, wish we were living the life of our dreams. (more…)

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