How to Overcome Distractions In Order To Perform Better

How to Overcome Distractions In Order To Perform Better

The biggest challenge of most high-performers is to focus on their work 100% without getting interrupted in their state of flow all the time by their surrounding or their own thoughts. Overcoming distractions is key to do work we can be proud of, as it will help us get it done in less time and with less frustration. The following productivity hacks are meant to guide you to achieve just that.

Multitasking is the enemy of great work

As employees are drowning in information overload, multitasking became a buzzword and for long it was believed to be a virtue of the best performing members of a team. However, studies have shown that the human brain can only pay attention to one mental task at a time and when we think we do more we are actually just switching our attention rapidly from one task to another.

Everything that interrupts you lessens the strength of your attention and you waste valuable time picking up the threads from where you had left off. Multitasking is the biggest lie of the 21st century and you should eliminate it from your dictionary right away.

Pavlov’s dog and your smartphone

Every time your phone beeps as a new email appears in your inbox your body gets a hit of dopamine and you will feel an irresistible temptation to check what it is. Most of the time you won’t even realize that you interrupted your work because you are so used to reaching for our phone as soon as you receive some news. After you get back to your work-flow it might take minutes to find your focus again and you risk forgetting a valuable idea which was just about to unfold in your mind before you got that message.

In order to prevent this you should put your phone into silence mode and close the tab of your inbox until the task you are working on is complete. We usually don’t even reply to these emails and messages after we read them but they urge us to worry about something unrelated to what we are focusing on. So stop the beeping – nobody gets hurt if you don’t respond to these messages for an hour.

Optimize your level of stimulation

Depending on whether you are an introvert or an extrovert and how alert you are to your surrounding in general, you should rethink the way your working environment is built up. The number of people around you and their temperament, the pace and volume of music that plays, the outside noise and passing lights –these are just some of the things your brain perceives passively around you.

Some people prefer to work in sheer silence while others need some background noise that motivates them to focus on their task even more. Maintaining your attention is a skill you can improve but while you practice you can simply optimize your environment in order to get the best results.

The art of simplicity

Minimalism is not just a style of interior design. It is a new trend in shared and individual working spaces alike where people prefer to eliminate everything from around them that is not strongly related to the very thing they are working on. Family photographs, awards, pile of books and notes all go to the drawer and all that stays on the desk is the device used for working and a notebook with a pen at the very most.

It is incredible how your nearest environment can influence how your mind works. Believe it or not, it will feel extremely liberating to remove all those unnecessary things from your desk and discover the power of simplicity.

Being in the present

No matter how much we change our environment and adjust to the people around us, our thoughts might still wander while we attempt to focus on a mental task. When these moments occur, you can use this simple technique to bring your attention back to the present moment. Find something right next to you that you can examine with your eyes. It may be the pattern of the wooden table or the wrinkles on your own hand. Just observe it until you get back to your awareness of the present moment and then get back to your work.

It might seem odd at first but it will help you focus on the now through your senses instead of time-travelling in your head to past memories and daydreams.

The Difference Between Being A Boss And Being A Leader

The Difference Between Being A Boss And Being A Leader

Leadership takes so much more than just a nice sounding title. It is about bringing the best out of people and inviting them to work for a mission you set for your business. We all have good days and not-so-good days at work but our behavior should mirror the traits of a leader at all times. Keep in mind these main differences between a boss and a leader and be your best self!

Boss: Dictates
Leader: Shows example

Many of those who sit in a leader’s chair just give orders and take pride in people following them blindly. However, a real leader shows an example by demonstrating values and the right attitude that others will be excited to acquire. Being a leader takes being a role model and focusing on what you can give to your employees first, rather than the other way round.

Boss: Tells
Leader: Listens

You never know if the best idea for a solution comes from the leader board or from a newbie who brings a new perspective to the team. Encourage your team members to speak up at all times and make your workplace as democratic as you can. It will pay off later and it will create a positive working environment.

Boss: Whom people fear
Leader: Whom people respect

Leading by fear is only intimidation and it won’t make talented people stick to you for too long. However, if you gain their respect and appreciate them for their work, they will multiply their efforts to help your business thrive and even if they leave your company they will spread good words about you. It’s up to you how you want to be remembered.

Boss: Uses people
Leader: Develops people

The only thing that an employee will appreciate more than a high salary is the opportunity for growth. Investing in the development of your team’s skills should be a priority regardless of your cash flow because what they bring to the table will ultimately predict your future success or failure. Make trainings and learning sessions part of the monthly routine and you will attract people who are driven and future focused, just like you.

Boss: Says I
Leader: Says we

It is a common misconception that leadership is a solitary role. You cannot achieve great results if you operate separately from your team and if you act superior then people won’t have the courage to involve you into their thinking process. When you lead a team, you are still part of that team you just give more guidance to them.

Boss: Takes credit
Leader: Gives Credit

People thrive on appreciation. You could not have achieved success without them so make sure you mention their names as often as possible in front of others and tell a few good words about them. This is the single most efficient way to engage them and to create a happy work environment.

Boss: Blames
Leader: Fixes

Sometimes things go wrong and it might be the fault of a single person or an entire team tossing responsibility and pointing fingers at each other. Either way, blame is a force of destruction in any company and you need to create an environment where people don’t go stressed out if they make a mistake but rather admit it before a small problem grows big and take responsibility for it, including you. If your team cooperates well then you don’t need to be afraid of facing a dormant issue that was swept under the carpet months ago.

Boss: Stressed
Leader: Passionate

Leaders have the ability to influence people around them with their energy, whether positive or negative. If you look stressed out and tired it will convey a message that people cannot count on you or that you cannot even take care of yourself which is not a favorable judgement… Mindfulness exercises can help you overcome stressful situations and stay positive and powerful so that you can be on the top of your game at all times. At the very least just optimize your sleeping and eating habits and learn how to manage anxiety. Even better if you coach your employees on it too!

Remember, your personality will represent your company for outsiders and your own employees alike so your personal growth should always be a focus. If you are balanced and fulfilled in your work then nothing can really go wrong.

5 Books to Read That Will Make You Stand Out From The Crowd

5 Books to Read That Will Make You Stand Out From The Crowd

We are living in a rapidly changing world where it is really hard to be original. The immense amount of new ideas and businesses push humanity forward but it also makes it hard for us to keep pace and stand out as an individual. These 5 books will help you question the outdated rules of society and find your own voice while living your life on your own terms.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

After reading this book you will forget about the myth of being simply talented and understand how the combination of hard work and opportunities helped some of the most successful people on Earth achieve their goals in life. Gladwell points out that carrying a cultural heritage and being different can not only be an advantage but it could be the very reason why some people succeed.

Being stubbornly faithful to your identity and embracing the characteristics that make you stand out from your surrounding will make you go a long way. The Outliers will prove this statement with countless intriguing stories from the business world.

The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

This book from 2007 is already considered a classic read, especially among entrepreneurs, as it proposes a fundamentally different approach to work to people who try to succeed in the 9-to-5 world. According to Ferriss, flexible working hours can enhance your productivity in leaps and bounds because it will motivate you to get your work done in less time instead of filling up the entire day with unnecessary to-dos.

With the Four Hour Workweek, you can simplify your life and optimize your earnings to a level where you can make a living from a few hours of super-productive work a week. It’s a must read for entrepreneurs and everyone else who don’t want to follow a 9-to-5 schedule anymore.

The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani

This is the latest and most technologically hooked-up book from the entire list from the founder and CEO of Mindvalley who has interviewed many of the most extraordinary minds of our time. He provides a hands-on guide for anyone who feels ready to question the rules of society and build a life on their own terms.

The book takes a holistic approach and talks about the outdated rules in relationships, education, spirituality, work, and so on, and gives you a way to improve all areas of your life at once. You can also get to know the real reasons of happiness and the way we form particular beliefs and habits in our lives if you read all these thought-provoking chapters. You have been warned: Once you read this book, it is like taking the „red pill” and entering the matrix. You will never see the world as the majority of society anymore.

Originals by Adam Grant

How Non-Conformists Move the World – the subheading of this edition sums up the essence of this brilliant book well and after getting to the end of it, you might just feel like to go out and change the world yourself. Adam Grant’s thoughts are surprising and powerful and his stories will show you how to choose the right idea, speak up and act at the right time and the right way, and manage your self-doubts.

All ground-breaking innovations and movements had been criticized or ridiculed at first in history, but with the help of this book you can find the way to create value and let your voice be heard.

Million Dollar Women by Julia Pimsleur

Although this book is addressed to women who try to work their way up in the business world, it is an inspirational piece for all who are committed to building a successful company no matter what it takes. The chapters provide a step-to-step guide from starting small through getting investment all the way up to turning your company into a million-dollar business.

The kind of candor and persistence that reveals itself through the words of Pimsleur will make you want to rewrite your business plan right away and dream bigger than you ever have. It is a truly motivating read and a must-have on the shelf of business women who still doubt that gender differences can stop them from success.

4 Ways to Eliminate Stress From Your Life For Good

4 Ways to Eliminate Stress From Your Life For Good

Excessive anxiety makes us age faster, ruins our health and our willpower to do the things we really love. It is the most problematic side-effect of our fast-paced age and so one of the easiest ways to improve our overall well-being is to reduce stress in our everyday lives. It’s time to enjoy every moment and to show your positive side to the people around you!

Playing vs. working

People often divide their life into boxes and separate the time of enjoyment from the time of working. Yet, why couldn’t the two exist at the same time?

„I don’t think of work as work and play as play. It’s all living.” –Richard Branson

Work takes up a significant amount of time of our days and the key to living a fulfilled life is not to wait until the weekend, the holiday, or our retirement but to make our time spent working as enjoyable as we can. Surround yourself with people who make working fun and get creative: no matter what you do for a living you can always find a way to make a game out of it. Make office hours the highlight of your day and you will never hate Monday mornings anymore!

Meditating during the day?

The list of benefits that daily meditation has on our health and self-awareness is endless. No wonder it has become one of the top tools for boosting happiness and productivity among successful people today. Meditation draws the attention to the rhythmic flow of breathing and thus calms the body and the mind at the same time.

This element of meditation, however, can be practiced throughout the day as well. Most of the time when we get confronted by somebody or we hear some stressful news we are not aware of the fact that we get nervous and we rather try to hide even the slightest sign of it in order not to seem weak. Yet, if you get into the habit of self-awareness and we pay attention to your rising heart-rate and the speed of our breath, you can also turn your body back to normal which will calm down your mind as well. It is as simple as taking a few deep breaths and observing your body for a minute. Integrating these micro-meditation practices in your day will significantly decrease your stress level.

Transform your energy

In one of the most popular TED talks given, Kelly McGonigal talks about the fact that stress is only harmful to us if we believe it so. It means that our body reacts almost exactly the same way when we get anxious about something we fear like when we feel excited about something we are looking forward to. There are situations when we need a high level of energy to perform better, like when we give a talk on stage.

If we change our internal chatter to „I am so scared of speaking in front of all these people” to „I am so excited to share my ideas with so many people who came here to listen to me” then our energy will not just be beneficial for our performance but our health as well. It is just a matter of perspective to turn our worries into excitement but it makes a huge difference in managing our stress levels.

Be unshakable

Although there are a few situations that make most people stressed, we all react to different situations in our own ways. What makes you irritated may not even get noticed by other people around you, yet in other situations, you get surprised that somebody got so frustrated over an event that would not affect you at all. One of the key reasons for this is that we learn how to react to distinct situations from our parents, relatives, and other people in our immediate environment from an early age.

For example, if your parents used to always get annoyed while driving you might also pick up the habit and get angry at other drivers on the road. It is often our own mental constructs that make us feel uneasy and so the most important thing to remember is not to react immediately. This way you can take a moment to reflect on your own behavior. Many of our emotional reactions are learnt and so we can also unlearn them in order not to waste our energy on things that are not meant to create turmoil in our minds.

If you master these techniques, you will be able to stay calm in even the most disturbing situations and your happiness will be unaffected by the minuscule troubles of the world around you.

5 Phrases That Make You Sound Unprofessional

5 Phrases That Make You Sound Unprofessional

We are often unaware of the expressions we use at work, even when the situation requires us to stay professional and confident in a debate or a discussion. The words we say influence how others we work with judge our personality and expertise and so it’s worth paying attention to our communication with them. Here are a few phrases you should eliminate from your dialogue.

It’s not my fault!

You have been in business long enough to know that there is always something that goes wrong. It will be very tempting to blame it on somebody else or the circumstances in the heat of the moment because your instinct tells you that it will make you look better at that certain situation.

But the truth is: It won’t. Finding the one to blame should never be a focus of a professional discussion. Instead, you should take responsibility for your part and turn the discussion towards solving the problem. Probably the hardest words in the English dictionary are I apologize, but if you can say it without shame you will earn respect and find a good solution much faster. The more determined you seem to clean up the mess the more people will trust you in the future.

I don’t have time for this.

I get it, you are busy and you are pressed for time. It makes you anxious and impatient. But you know, we are all busy and telling how much you have on your plate is not going to convince anyone.

It is not about time but rather about priorities so if you are aware of your freedom of choice it will be much easier for you to decide between yes and no to respond to the person who tries to block time on your calendar. If you want to hear their new ideas but your schedule is full then tell them they have five minutes to convince you or an option to come back next week. If you need to choose between a potential new client and missing an important family dinner again just remember: it’s always a choice you make based on your priorities. Let go of the rest and don’t let time put a pressure on you.

I don’t know/I’m not sure…

Sometimes, you get an unexpected question from a coworker or a client and you suddenly cannot think of anything to respond: that’s when these words might slip out of your mouth and the moment you see the look on their faces across the table you know you shouldn’t have said that.

Saying I don’t know makes you look like you give up or you don’t care enough about your business and it will turn people away. Even if you cannot come up with a perfect answer just tell them you will figure it out, you will let them know by tomorrow or anything that suggests that you will do everything as soon as possible to clear their doubts. If it’s a negotiation with someone who deliberately intends to put you into an uncomfortable situation you can respond with another question or make their question seem unrelated, just don’t wave the white flag with an uncertain response!

I am so tired/hungover/sick.

Complaining in a work environment just spreads negativity and will make you seem like the weak-link. If you really feel unwell you always have a choice to take a day off or work from home but once you enter the office you should give your best even if you slept two hours the night before.

It is essential to take responsibility for all your actions inside and outside of the workplace and to keep all areas in your life under control. Complaining doesn’t fit into professionalism.

Believe me…

Even if it is just a figure of speech, if you beg people to trust you or believe your words it will have the opposite effect. If you show integrity with your everyday efforts and you articulate your statements with unshakable confidence then people will believe you. It’s that simple.

If you notice that people look unsure or puzzled around you, it is better to ask them about their doubts and respond to each one of them with candor. Transparency will bring trust and if you stay true to yourself and your point of view they will believe you without convincing.