What’s the best predictor of success?

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This is a guest post by Emily Heaslip and originally appeared on Vervoe.com

I’ve always struggled with the term ‘soft skills.’ Having technical skills (hard or ‘critical’ skills as they’re called) backed up by higher education, along with positional authority, are to a great degree predictive of success. However, it’s been my experience that inter-relational skills (soft) are just as if not more predictive of success. Anything I’ve ever accomplished in my career to this point (both personally and professionally) has been because of an ability to get things done through and with people.

The data backs me up on this perspective and has for some time. These inter-relational skills are critical and are in demand in nearly every company and every industry. A Wall Street Journal survey of 900 executives found that 92% said these kind of skills were equally important or more important than technical skills. But 89% of those surveyed said they have a very or somewhat difficult time finding people with these kind of attributes. Likewise, LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Report discovered that the four most in-demand inter-relational skills are leadership, communication, collaboration, and time management.

Are inter-relational skills a better predictor of success? According to Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence at Work, yes! His research of 500 executives found that emotional intelligence was a better predictor of top performance than previous experience or IQ. Additionally, CEOs at some of the world’s top companies (Amazon, Xerox, and Tesla, to name a few) lead with emotional intelligence and have designed their entire corporate structure around these kind of skills.

The majority leadership style today in this country is still directed authority and those who have this skill often assume that inter-relational skills are only good for creating a fulfilling and pleasant work environment. However, the link between profit and leaders with high emotional intelligence is clear. In one study, CEOs whose employees rated them high in character had an average return of 9.35% over a two-year period, nearly five times as much as companies with CEOs who had low character ratings. The case for recruiting for these kind of skills is strong, and there’s something to be said for balancing good leadership and communication with individuals who have honed their talent.

This is not to say that hard skills should be ignored. Without specifically required knowledge, achieving desired objectives is very difficult. Cal Newport, author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You, believes that to have a successful career, you must develop skills that make you an expert in something. There will always be a market for those with a depth of knowledge in one thing and certain fields will always demand new hires with niche skills and technical training. Newport argues that the more mastery you have in a skill or field, the more control and satisfaction you’ll have over your career.

While it’s true that technical masters do become top CEOs (Steve Jobs and Bill Gates for example), other experts note that eventually, inter-relational skills and emotional intelligence must be learned. Many programmers, for example, have some of the basic hard skills that it takes to run a company but fall short on key EQ traits like listening.

Truth be told, the best leaders that started out as experts in their field, can and do learn and acquire really good inter-relational skills over time.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit that like button below 👍 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

Moving Toward Success In Life by Focusing on Responsibility

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This is a guest post by the fabulous Lucy Rose.

As Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” Self-improvement is the development of self-awareness, allowing you to change your habits, build the best version of yourself, and as a result, enhance your quality of life. However, it is not a quick fix, and takes continuous and honest effort. Through the help of coaches, books, and communities, you can get what you need to foster self-improvement. The first step starts with you. Invest in a coachread books, gather a supportive community or combine these steps to help improve yourself. But first, determine what needs to be improved.

Looking into the Mirror

One of the best steps towards self-improvement is to self-reflection. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are some unresolved issues that have played a pivotal role in how you go about your daily life? The key to engaging in self-reflection is to be completely honest with yourself. It can be easy to let ego get in the way of seeing what areas of yourself can be improved. It’s important to develop self-awareness and set goals for potential growth. Self-reflection sometimes involves others as well. Asking friends and family for feedback can give insight to how others perceive you. It is always easier to focus on the good aspects of one’s self rather than the negative. However, a key factor in self-improvement involves a careful focus on responsibility.

Learning to be Accountable

Taking responsibility means having accountability not only for your actions, but for your life. Going forth in improving yourself, you have to mature. Stop blaming other people or situations for misfortunes and negative outlooks on life. Life is unfair and although you could have been the victim and those feelings and thoughts may be justified, where does blaming get you? It only leads to resentment and powerlessness blocking you from living a more fulfilling life. In the end, your life is about you, not them. Reclaiming this power will only make your life better.

Accepting responsibility also accepts emotions as a part of daily life. Acknowledge your emotions, the positive and negative. No one can be happy all the time. Thus we have to make sure we realise what actions we are taking when we feel emotions. Taking responsibility of your emotions and being honest with yourself allows you the opportunity to improve yourself.

Responsibility over one’s action and mind means a variety of things. Having a consistent sleep schedule, eating healthy, exercising regularly, avoiding toxic influences, reflecting on one’s self. One of the most important realisations of taking responsibility for your life is having integrity and credibility for yourself and for others. You can’t take responsibility if you do not follow through with actions you determine will improve your life. It’s important to stick to your word. This will help you stay focused on your goals and ambitions. By taking responsibility for you own initiative, responsibility for your own success.


Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit that like button below👍. It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

6 Books That Will Make You More Productive And Change Your Life

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Books are the lifeblood of knowledge. Books go deeper than a YouTube video or a blog post and help us to understand a topic in its entirety. This week, I want to share six books I have read over the last six months that have really helped me to grow and develop myself and I hope in turn they do the same for you.

So here goes in no particular order.

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Ready For Anything by David Allen.

Few people realise that the father of GTD, David Allen, has written more than the productivity bible, Getting Things Done. Among those books, Ready For Anything is the follow up to GTD where David Allen explains some of the finer points of how GTD can work for you and some of the more deeper levels of GTD.

The book is a collection of essays David wrote for the GTD Connect community. It is easy to follow and over time can serve as a quick reference guide for those time you feel a little lost or ‘fall off the GTD wagon’

This is a brilliant read and shines a light on some of the more deeper concepts of GTD. If you do consider buying this book, I recommend you read Getting Things Done first as this will give you the context to take your GTD practice to a much higher level.

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Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

While most people know pilots use checklists to ensure the safety of their planes, few know that checklists are also extensively used in the construction industry as well as in surgical operating rooms.

Atul Gawande explains that the humble checklist can also help us to ensure we are doing the right things at the right time and that we don’t skip essential steps when it comes to achieving our goals and successfully completing projects on time.

I learnt the value of not skipping steps years ago when I sold cars for a living. There was a concept called “the six-month salesman” where after receiving training in the art of sales, a salesperson would grow over-confident and start skipping steps in the sales process at around the six-month mark. When that happened, their sales would begin to fall and their performance would suffer.

The Checklist Manifesto will give you the inspiration and know-how to create your own checklists for those important areas of your life.

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5 AM Club by Robin Sharma

This was definitely my book of 2018. Robin Sharma writes these books differently, choosing to impart his wisdom through the format of a novel. In this book, we are taken on a journey through the eyes of an embattled entrepreneur and a struggling, yet a talented artist.

The book takes us to Mauritius, Rome, São Paulo and South Africa and along the way we learn the power of waking up early, exercise and giving ourselves an hour of power every day. Through the power of story, Robin Sharma teaches us some of his greatest wisdom.

If you only read one book from this list, this is the one to read.

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Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

A scientific book that is readable — a rare book indeed in my experience. In this book, Daniel Kahneman shows us how our brains use two types of analysis when presented with a situation. System one and system two.

System one often leads us to form erroneous conclusions and system two adds the all-important context and analysis. Unfortunately, type two is lazy and will often defer to system one — the less intelligent part.

This book gives us a fascinating insight into how our brains work. Understanding why we think and interpret things as we do and goes a long way to helping us to overcome our worst traits when it comes to productivity.

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The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday

This is a brilliant book to help you keep things in perspective. There are 366 mini-essays of no more than around 500 words and you read one a day — hence “The Daily” part of the title.

Not only is this book inspiring every day, but it also shows us that we control only two things in life — our thoughts and our feelings. When you get control of those and do not allow anyone or anything takes that control away from you, you begin to really enjoy life and focus on the things that will improve you and the quality of your life.

What I find with this book is that no matter my mood, or how I feel about something, with quotes from Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus, this book really helps to set me up for a day of gratitude and philosophical thought and brings me valuable perspective and context when I need it most.

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The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday

A second book from Ryan Holiday and again a book on the Stoics. This is one of those exceptional self-help books that motivates and educates at the same time. The basic tenet of Stoicism is that we cannot control what happens to us, all we can control is how we react to what happens to us.

This book shows us how by taking obstacles and bad events that happen to us and turning them around we can gain insights and knowledge that improve us as people. We can use the three disciplines of Stoicism — perception, action and will — to take these negative events and use them to build stronger and better lives.

When I began reading this book, it was a book I couldn’t wait to pick up again the next day as it inspired and energised me.

With around six months to go this year, these six books are worth a read. That’s just one book a month, reading these books will not only improve your productivity but also your perspective and understanding of life.



Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit those clapping hands below many times👏 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

Are You Focused on Process or Outcome? Why Project Success depends on this Question.

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I work with a number of large companies and it always strikes me as crazy that at certain times of the year someone decides it’s time for a sales campaign and then a flurry of meetings begin where everyone throws in their ideas about what type of campaign they will do and how it will be measured and who will be responsible for it and then they do exactly the same campaign they did last year.

A lacklustre campaign is then developed and run and at the end of the process, it’s never mentioned again until next year.

This scenario is repeated year after year and no one ever stops to ask if this is achieving what they want it to achieve. It’s as if because it has always been done this way they have to keep doing it.

Many years ago in the U.K., we all looked forward to the annual Boxing Day sales (26th December) all the big stores began an ‘everything must go’ sale that ran from Boxing Day to usually the first week of January. In most cases, it was the only sale a store had all year and we all got excited. We even saved money just for the sales.

Then some clever person came along and thought, why don’t we have a sale at the end of every season? And so began the end of season sales and then the every week sale.

The problem with having a sales campaign every week is nobody looks forward to the Boxing Day sales anymore. Nobody saves money to spend in the sales and stores have become so desperate, they begin their end of year sales at the beginning of December, and in many cases even earlier.

What has happened is a loss of sight of the outcome — to clear out the old stock to make room for the new stock. — It has just become a process. Something they now do at the end of every season. There’s nothing special anymore. Nothing for the customer to get excited about. But the question still needs asking, why? Why are we having a sale? Because the competition is doing so? Because we want great short-term sales results? Because sales performance is not very good and we need to boost our figures?

In our own personal lives, we often do something similar — New Years resolutions and the desire to lose weight before going on holiday — We plan the same things year after year and eventually lose sight of why we are doing it. We just go through the motions and when we just go through the motions, the goal becomes irrelevant and we just follow the process we followed last year so we can say we tried and we failed again.

When you stop and think. Get clear about the outcome you want to achieve and know exactly why you are doing it, your outcomes improve. The “how” becomes obvious and your energy and enthusiasm for doing your projects increase and you know, with clarity, when you have achieved it.

That’s the secret to accomplishing anything. Understanding your “why”.

If you are doing something ‘just because’ you are either going to fail or your results will be poor. Unclear outcomes and unknown whys never achieve very much.

It is true, the process is what will get you to the result you want. But before you begin the process you need to take a step back and clearly define the outcome you want. Start with “what is it we want to achieve?” And “What will successfully achieving this outcome look like?” Write the answer’s to these questions down and make sure everyone in your team fully understands them.

Next comes the why. Why are you doing this project? Ideally, this needs to hit an emotion. “To safeguard our jobs” might be a bit extreme and does not really hit the right emotions — fear is never a good reason for doing something. But “to make it more affordable for our customers to receive the benefits of our products” works better. Particularly if you are sincere about wanting to help your customers.

Likewise on a personal level. If your reasons for losing weight and getting fit is to look good in your swimwear, you will probably find vanity is not such a good motivator. But if you want to lose weight and get fit so you can spend more time playing football with your kids, now you have a strong personal why. It also becomes apparent that this is not something you should start thinking about at the beginning of the summer. This is something that should be built into your daily life as a matter of course.

In both our personal and professional lives, being very clear about what we want to achieve and why is crucial to our success. Clarity of outcome and strong, emotional whys gives us the right motivation to push forward when things don’t go according to plan and that is why it is vital we spend enough time defining the task and knowing why we are doing it so when things do go wrong we have a strong fallback position from which to launch a big push.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit the like button below 👍 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

How Your Reasons For Doing Determines Your Level Of Happiness.

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Your happiness comes from your reasons for doing whatever it is you are doing. It’s your reasons for doing it that ultimately leads to you feeling happy, satisfied and fulfilled.

When we get our first job, most people do it for the money. We fall into the trap of get a well-paying job, buy a nice house, buy a nice car, go on nice holidays etc. It’s all about the money and what money can buy us.

At some point, though, we discover having that nice house, car and those increasingly expensive holidays no longer give us the buzz they once did. So we buy more and more expensive luxuries and the thrill we feel having those new things lasts less and less.

So what really is the secret to feeling happiness, joy and fulfilment? It’s your purpose — your reasons for doing whatever it is you are doing. When you do something for someone else and you see the smile and gratitude on their face, the feeling of happiness stays with us all day. When you give a friend a piece of advice and they act on it and it enriches their lives, the feeling we have, knowing we helped them — even in a small way — is lasting.

If we are doing a job for the money, we soon begin to hate the job. We resent having to go to the office every day. Our commute becomes a drudge and we spend most of our time complaining about email, our boss and colleagues.

But if you are going into work because you are doing a job that enables people to look their best by designing great clothes for them or you design beautiful buildings that give people a comfortable and safe place to live. That’s a purpose worth going through traffic hell for every morning. It’s your mindset for doing the work that brings you joy. Not the paycheque at the end of the month.

Too often the deciding factor for taking a job is the salary. Yet, that will never bring you fulfilment, joy and happiness. Whether you do a great job or an average job you still get the same amount of money each month. But if you took a job because of what that job will enable you to do to help people live better lives, now if you do a great job your sense of fulfilment and happiness increase massively. Improving the way you work would mean more people benefit from your efforts. That’s an incentive worth getting out of bed for.

Of course, we need a certain amount of money to survive, we need to eat, to have shelter and we need to be able to move around. But a lot of what we use money for we don’t need. We just think we need because everyone else has it. I would certainly not say that money is not important. It is when it becomes your purpose. When it becomes your purpose you will never have enough. And the more money you receive, the pleasure it brings diminishes. Yet when your purpose is about giving and helping others, the joy you feel increases.

How this affects your productivity.

When you look at your projects list, what are the reasons you are doing those projects? Do you have a clear purpose for doing them? When you go to the gym what are your reasons for doing so? Why are you trying to achieve your goals? When you have a clear, higher purpose for doing everything you do, you will find your energy and passion increase. The closer that reason is to helping other people or making the world that little bit better, your sense of fulfilment will improve and so will your enthusiasm for doing the tasks or completing the projects.

This really is a simple mental shift. Rather than focusing on the material benefits to you, focus on the benefits you will give to others. Going to the gym means you are keeping yourself strong and healthy so you can be there for your family. Doing the accounts for the small business that needs your help so they can thrive and support the community by providing jobs and a service people want.

Whenever I sit down to write a blog post, record a YouTube video or podcast, in my mind I see the people I am trying to help. I have a clear vision of the difficulties they are facing and how I might be able to help them with some advice, or a new way of doing something. That’s all the motivation I need to write, record or prepare. Knowing that somewhere, maybe, I have helped someone become less stressed and be able to spend more time with the people they care about.

Every piece of work you do has a higher purpose than money or personal material benefit. It is when you focus on those higher reasons you will discover long-lasting happiness and joy and a passion and drive for what you do.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit that like button below.👍 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

How Becoming More Productive Improves Critical Soft Skills.

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To get ahead in your career it is not enough to have the right degrees from the right universities. Today, to make sure your career moves in the right direction, you need to develop a number of critical skills that collectively are known as “soft skills”.

Soft skills are skills that are developed through practical experience. Communication, decision making, negotiation and conflict resolution, for example. Skills that cannot be taught from a textbook or in a lecture hall. These skills can only be developed by practice. School and university curriculums are, for the large part, built around the tired old tell teach method where a teacher or lecturer stands at the front of the classroom or lecture hall and tells students what to learn. Not a very useful way to prepare students for the realities of the modern world. School and university do not prepare you for life, they prepare you to pass exams. The development of soft skills — skills that are essential for life — are left to outside influences. Your friends and parents. Life experiences and the skills you get from reading the right books and applying what you learn to everyday life.

However, one skill tops all of them because it is a skill that develops all other skills and that is time management and productivity. Here are six ways improving your time management and productivity skills will improve all other soft skills

Communication.

Most people’s relationship with email is bad. Email is considered annoying, stressful and overwhelming. Yet, it is the primary form of communication in business and being slow to respond to a colleague or customer ‘s email causes delays in projects and important decisions as well as frustration from the people that are waiting for you to reply.

When you become better at managing your time you become better and faster at responding to your emails. You are in control of your inbox and know what’s in there, what needs responding to, reading and deleting and you have time to respond in a timely manner to all important emails.

Decision making (critical thinking)

If you practice a system such as my COD system or David Allen’s Getting Things Done you learn to make decisions quickly. You ask the right questions about what something is: “What is it?” Is it relevant to me? What’s the next action? Etc. With practice, you develop decision-making skills that can impact your whole life.

Asking questions such as “what is it?” And “What do I need to do next to move this forward?” Helps to develop your ability to make decisions based on available facts and information quickly and decisively. The very skills companies are looking for when hiring potential executive level employees

Conflict Management

You might be wondering how being better at time management and productivity can help with conflict management but it does. It does so because when you are better at managing your time you are able to give people better attention. You are not just physically present, you are also mentally present.

Being present and giving another person your full, undivided attention means you are able to listen and understand their perspective and are able to make better and fairer decisions about what to do to resolve issues before they become conflicts. When you are in control of all that is coming your way and have a system in place that allows you to compartmentalise your work, you become much better at managing people and their issues.

Stress management

This may be an obvious one. When you are in control of your time and have your work and commitments prioritised and organised you will experience a lot less stress. Stress in the workplace is generally caused by over-committing to work and increased workloads that pile up. Not knowing what needs doing and by when leads to panic setting in and this causes stress.

When you write everything down and have everything organised in its rightful place you feel in control. You know what needs doing and by when and you do not feel overwhelmed.

Flexibility / adaptability

Having a time management and productivity system in place means you can handle any changes that come your way with ease. All projects change over time. Outcomes change, timelines change and so do the people involved in the project. When you have all your next actions organised in a list you can change them, adjust timelines and adapt.

When you don’t have a system in place any changes to a project you are working creates uncertainty, a lack of clarity on what needs to happen next and a lot of confusion. Being a productive person allows you to accept changes and adapt accordingly.

Leadership

When you are in control and you know what the outcome is you are leading. Too often, we are doing work each day that has no clearly defined goals or outcomes and we just keep out heads down, do the work and not worry about which direction we are going in.

Organised productive people know the outcomes of all their projects with clarity. They know what the outcome needs to be and they lead their teams forward knowing they are going in the right direction. With that clarity of purpose comes clear communication which ensures all team members are moving in the right direction with purpose.

So, If you want to improve your overall soft skills, start by improving your time management and productivity skills. That one skill will lead to improvements in all other soft skills and allow you to build a career of success and fulfilment.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit those clapping hands below many times👏 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

The Fun You Can Have By Finding Your Own Solutions.

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Every day I see on my Twitter feed requests to app developers to add more features. Things like adding a calendar view to a to-do list app or making an app more GTD (Getting Things Done) friendly. And yes some of these features might be nice, but when you reach out to other people to solve your problems for you you are missing out on an opportunity to learn some very valuable lessons.

There’s a very good reason for not wanting developers to solve your problems for you and that is learning for yourself how to overcome minor issues. If life was as easy as requesting someone else solve your difficulties for you, we would already have been replaced by robots and computers. We haven’t and that’s because we have the ability to solve problems far better than a robot or computer can.

One of the biggest drags on a productivity system is not learning how to use your tools. If all you do when you come up against an issue that your current app does not solve is go looking for another app that will do what you currently want to do, you will only find later the new app doesn’t do something else you want to do so you switch again. You end up in a never-ending cycle of app switching and never spending any time learning how to get the most out any single app. Often all you need to do is spend a few minutes on Google and you are likely to find a workaround or a simple solution to your issue.

One of my favourite past times is to take a problem, look at my existing apps and figure out a solution to the problem only using the tools I already have. In almost every situation I have been able to find a workable solution. I have never felt the need to reach out to developers and ask them to add another feature that would solve my problem.

One of the most important skills one could have is the ability to solve problems. We see this again and again in articles about skills a person needs to protect themselves from automation. Asking someone to solve a problem or difficulty for you does not help you learn how to solve problems. You are just delegating responsibility to someone else. Instead, why not spend some time and figure out a solution yourself using only the existing tools you have.

When the Apollo 13 space mission developed problems and put the astronauts in a life or death situation, Mission Control did not ask developers of the software to come up with a fix or a new feature. What happened was a team of amazingly talented people, together with the astronauts, looked at what resources they had available and came up with a fix that would get them safely back to earth.

This scene from the film, Apollo 13 demonstrates perfectly how this team of incredibly talented people solved problems.

It’s easy to write on a resume “I have good problem-solving skills”, but the question is: do you? Is your idea of problem-solving reaching out to developers and asking them to create a fix for you, or is it something you relish solving for yourself?

Real problem solving is taking a set of imperfect circumstances and finding a solution using only the things you have available to you. Problem-solving is not about asking someone else to fix it for you.

If you want to become better organised and more productive, then focus more on your system and less on the tools. Once you have mastered the art of collecting, organising and doing (C.O.D) and can do everything you have planned to do each day (the 2+8 Prioritisation System) without any difficulty, you will find you have less need for the tools you use and your productivity will skyrocket.


Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit that like button below 👍 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

Why You Should Be Scheduling Me Time every day.

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It’s very easy to be dragged kicking and screaming through the day by events outside our control. From bosses demanding more work, partners and family members asking us to do little favours for them and friends on social media asking (indirectly, of course) to like their latest picture of them drinking a cup of coffee. We all fall into this routine and for many, it becomes the sum total of their lives. Living their day to day existence on the demands of other people.

The damage this does in the long-term is incalculable. It’s not that running around after our highly strung and disorganised boss for one day is going to hurt our career prospects or damage our health, but when this is repeated every day it does damage our wellbeing and our own personal development because it stops us from working on our own lives, doing the things we enjoy and spending time with the people we love and care about.

One of my language student’s average attendance rate is one class every six weeks. She’s supposed to have a class every week, but she always has some crisis that needs attending to. It could be her boss has just given her some urgent work to do, or one of her colleagues is upset and needs someone to talk to. I’ve heard all the excuses. From having to go to the bank to not feeling very well. She’s mastered the art of finding excuses.

The thing is, learning English is something she decided to do as a valuable self-development activity. Learning a language might not be urgent or result in an immediate benefit. But it is something you do for yourself. Likewise, if you were learning anything such as a musical instrument or martial art. None of these will result in an immediate benefit. Before you receive any benefit there will be a lot of hard work, consistency and frustration. But the benefit to you by pushing through those difficult times is worth it.

Anchors keep you grounded.

It is important to have a few anchors for your life. Things like having a morning routine dedicated to your own self-care. Having time dedicated to physical exercise each day, quality time to spend with your family and an evening routine again dedicated to your self-care. These are essentials that should be non-negotiable. Your boss, customers, friends and colleagues should not be allowed to take that time away from you and the only way that happens is if you let them.

The skill is learning to protect your time and to say no. Of course it easy for me to write that, much more difficult to do, but then learning to drive a car is difficult if you have never driven a car before. With practice, driving becomes an automatic response. You don’t need to think about starting the engine and driving off after a few weeks of consistent practice and the same goes for learning to say no. At first, it will be very hard — uncomfortable even — and you will feel guilty, but after a little time your default response will change from yes to no and then you will find it easy to protect your time and the activities you have decided are important to your life.

Learn the skill of saying “no”.

And that is the skill — turning your default “yes” into a default “no”. We are programmed from an early age to please people and a part of pleasing people is to say “yes” to their requests. If you want to take control of your day, though, you are going to have to default to “no” and to protect your valuable time. Unlike money and material things where if you lose those you can always get them back, time is something once gone has gone forever.

I protect two-and-a-half hours each day for “me time”. I have forty-five minutes for self-development and fifteen minutes for quiet reflection every morning. I also have thirty minutes dog walking and fifteen minutes for planning each day as well as forty-five minutes for exercise. That’s just two-and-a-half hours out of twenty-four. Of course, in that twenty-four hours, I need to include sleep, washing and eating time, but time focussed on me is just two-and-a-half hours. If I am available for my bosses, colleagues, friends and family outside of those hours each day, then I have nothing to feel guilty about. And that is how I see it. I dedicate two-and-a-half hours to me-time every day and outside that time I am available to anyone else if I can help them.

Those two-and-a-half hours each day keep me grounded and focused on what is important to me. I see them as a vital part of my personal wellbeing and would never consider sacrificing even one minute for anyone else except in an extreme emergency.

Saying “no” is not selfish.

It is not selfish to give yourself some me-time each day — in fact, I would argue it is vital to your own wellbeing — because when you take care of yourself you will always be in a better position to help other people with your energy, knowledge and strength. When your life is a spiral of drama, gloominess and negativity you are not going to be of much help to anyone. When your life is a beacon of energy, light and positivity you will inspire others to lift themselves up and be like you. That is not being selfish, that is giving back to the world at large and one very strong reason why you should be protecting your me-time every single day.

So how much time are you going to give yourself every day? What will you do with that time and how will you protect it from the demands of others? If you haven’t answered those questions yet, perhaps now would be a good time to do so.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit that like button below👍 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

How To Break Your Negative Patterns Of Behaviour.

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One of the reasons we fail to achieve our goals or new year’s resolutions is we fail to build the right habits to achieve whatever it is we want to achieve. Most of us are very good at coming up with ideas about what we want to achieve, what we want to change and even how we will do it, but when the new year begins we fail to develop the necessary habits to make those plans and ideas become reality. As the saying goes: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got”. At the core of this saying lays the cause of so much frustration and many excuses.

So, if it is the patterns and habits we follow every day that prevent us from making the necessary changes needed to achieve our goals then it follows that once we are aware of our habits and daily behaviours, we can make a few simple changes to gain some spectacularly positive results.

A typical example.

If you wake up in the morning at the latest possible time , turn on the news, check your email while rushing to shower and get out the door to catch the bus, spend all day dealing with crises before heading home to eat an unhealthy dinner while sat in front of the TV watching programmes you are only half interested in and repeat that pattern every day, then the outcomes you currently have will continue. They will continue until you break that daily pattern.

To break that pattern, try waking up one hour earlier and doing thirty-minutes exercise and thirty-minutes reading a book while drinking a nice cup of coffee, before unhurriedly stepping into the shower and leaving the house to catch the bus in a relaxed, content state.

You do not have to do this in one big change. If waking up one hour earlier scares you, then begin by waking up thirty minutes earlier. Just make sure that with this extra time in a morning, you have a plan to do something positive that will benefit you and take you a step closer each day towards achieving your goals.

Likewise, when you get home in the evening you could cook yourself a healthy meal before heading outside for a 30-minute brisk walk around the block. You do not have to do anything extreme, just change a few behaviours.

Jim Rohn said “success is a few simple disciplines practised every day. Failure is a few errors in judgement repeated every day” When you really begin to understand that to change anything about yourself and your life all you need do is change a few simple habits and begin practising more positive behaviours each day, positive change can and will happen.

Review your daily behaviours and habits.

To start this change, look at your daily behaviours and habits and identify those that are destroying your health, opportunities and success. Which of your daily habits place a drag on your health and productivity? Which ones leave you feeling stressed and exhausted? These simple questions will lead you to identify what is damaging your chances of achieving your goals and New Year’s resolutions.

Once you have identified the patterns of behaviour that are destroying your chances of success, you can then begin the process of turning them into more positive habits and behaviours.

Don’t change everything at once.

Now the secret here is to not try and change everything all at once. What you are doing is developing new habits and behaviours and you have plenty of time to make the changes you need to make. Trying to do everything all at once will likely lead to failure. It is far better to create a twelve-month plan and divide that into quarters. Then, in the first quarter focus on changing your morning habits. In the second quarter change your evening habits and in the third quarter change whatever else you want to change. Plan for the long-term and take things slowly.

Robin Sharma says “All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and so gorgeous at the end.”And it is true. If you have always woken up at 7:30 AM changing that to waking up at 6:30 AM is going to be hard at first. Your body clock is used to waking up at a particular time and is going to fight you. But you need to stay focused on the task. When your alarm clock goes off at 6:30 AM, and it is freezing cold and every bone in your body is screaming at you to stay in your warm, cosy bed, you have to fight to win the battle and you are going to have to do that every day for a few weeks. That could be for as long as ten weeks. (It takes around sixty-six days to install a new habit) Prepare yourself for the fight. Visualise yourself waking up early and make sure you know exactly what you are going to with your new found time.

You can change — anyone can.

Whatever it is you want to change, you can do it. Change can be difficult — it can at times appear impossible — but by focusing on your daily patterns of behaviour and taking things slow and not trying to do too much at once, you will soon start to see and feel the benefits. Positive change in life not only improves the quality of your life, it also enhances your feelings of happiness, accomplishment, and fulfilment as well as improving your self-discipline and natural energy levels. There are so many reasons for you to begin making positive changes in your life, the only question left is: when are you going to start?


Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit those clapping hands below many times👏 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

How To Stop Procrastinating Once And For All.

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Many of you, I am sure, have big dreams. Things you want to accomplish in your life, goals to achieve and a lifestyle you want to create. Yet, despite having these dreams and aspirations, you never seem to be able to get round to doing anything about making them happen.

One of the biggest reasons for this is procrastination. We think about what we want, begin to give some thought about how we will achieve it and then get pulled away by another blog post on motivation or productivity or a video by Mel Robbins or Robin Sharma. It becomes a never-ending cycle. We sit down with the intention of finally doing something about what we want and get dragged off in directions we had not intended to go.

So how do you overcome this?

Be specific

Nine times out of ten the reason you never actually start doing what you need to do is that you have not clearly defined what it is you actually want. You may have a vague idea — to build a solid financial foundation for your future, for example — but it is only a vague idea and every time you sit down to develop a plan you begin to feel overwhelmed, so a Ray Dalio video on investing seems close enough to make you feel like you are doing g something.

To avoid this kind of procrastination you need to get very specific. What do you define as being financially secure? How much money do you need? What investments will you need to make? How will you grow your investments? Unless you answer these specific questions, you will always struggle to get started. The task will always feel too big. The solution is the break things down into bite-sized chunks so you can begin moving forward and building momentum.

Be intentional.

Whatever it is you want to achieve unless you are intentional about doing what you need to do to make it happen it will never happen. Knowing you need to start exercising is very different from intentionally starting to exercise. As Tony Robbins says, you need to “turn your shoulds into musts” “I should start exercising” is never going to happen. “I must start exercising” has a much greater chance of becoming reality.

To do this use your calendar. Whatever it is you want to change or begin doing, schedule time on your calendar to do it. Often to make something happen consistently, you need to have a regular time to do the activity. If that is exercise, get it on your calendar. If you want to master a new language, get your study time on your calendar. If you want to save more money, get putting money into your savings account on your calendar.

Whatever it is you want to do, be intentional. Set a day and a time when you will do what needs to be done and stick to it. You don’t accidentally roll out of bed at 5 AM in the morning and go out for a run. You go out running when you intend to wake up early and go out running.

Be consistent

Consistency is the key component of any person’s success. Without consistency, nothing will change. Saving $100 in January and then not saving anything else until July is not going to give you the results you want. Likewise, if your goal is to wake up early and you only get up early once a week, you are not achieving anything.

When you consistently schedule your activity on your calendar, when the time comes to do whatever you need to do arrives, you don’t need to think about what to do next, you will know exactly what you need to do and you will do it. I set my exercise time at 2 PM every Sunday to Thursday. I know exactly what I need to be doing at 2 PM on those days. It’s on my calendar and I know exactly what I want to do. There is no procrastination, no matter how tired I am or how cold or wet it is outside. If my calendar says I am going running at 2 PM today, that is exactly what I will do.

Be Aware.

Being aware of what you do when you procrastinate helps you to stop yourself from doing it. If you find yourself aimlessly scrolling through Instagram frequently, don’t let yourself go near Instagram until you have completed the task you want to complete. In extreme cases delete the app from your phone. Although this is not necessary if you cannot resist the urge, delete it. Alternatively, hide it on a screen you rarely go to so the temptation is not there.

Knowing what your procrastination habits are goes a long way to helping you avoid situations where you procrastinate. In the past, I have found following the political machinations in the UK one of my bad procrastinating habits. I ended up deleting all news feeds that contained UK political news and now only allow a limited amount through into my RSS reader, Reeder. That way, I am not distracted whenever I am doing research for courses or articles, but I still get to know about the antics of the politicians in Parliament when I catch up on the news later in the day.

Be disciplined.

Discipline, along with consistency, are two of the most powerful traits of highly successful people. Without discipline, you will never get yourself out exercising or sit down to study applied economics. You need discipline and the good news about discipline is it is like a muscle. The more you exercise it the stronger it becomes.

To develop your discipline all you need to do is start small. Begin by limiting your social media time to lunchtimes and evenings for thirty minutes, for example. Learn how to say “no” to yourself. When you find yourself procrastinating, say “no” to yourself and stop doing whatever it is you were procrastinating with. Go for a short walk, or get up off the sofa and do the dishes. Do something other than what it was you were procrastinating with.

Over time you will find yourself being stronger mentally and that will set you up to be much better at preventing yourself from procrastinating.

Procrastination is not all bad. There are times when your brain needs a distraction to be creative. Procrastination is bad when it is stopping you from doing your important work or is not allowing you to get on with achieving your goals. When that happens you need to take steps to stop yourself. Be specific about what you want to achieve, be intentional with your time consistently and be aware of your procrastination triggers These habits will allow you to develop the necessary discipline to be more focused on what you want and will take you further towards achieving the success you are capable of.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit that like below👍 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.