Have you heard about GRIT? New research has shown that GRIT is responsible for kids to get better grades and for Leaders to become stronger. GRIT is also what it takes to get really good at being productive.
To be productive you must learn to focus long term
Anyone can focus for a second or two. Heck we can focus on a task for a few minutes fairly easily, as long as we aren't interrupted. But how do you focus on something for longer than that? Sure shutting the door helps. Reducing outside distractions is important. I love headphones for that. But the interruptions still come. They still hit us. Again, and again and again.
Distractions pummel us
Just like pounding rain on you as you run to your car or someone winging a ball at you in a game of dodgeball, distractions at the office are ruthless. Someone interrupts. The phone rings. You hear a conversation that you wish you hadn't because now, you should probably go intervene.
Before you know it, you are way off track.
Here is what works for me.
1) Decide - Just decide to focus. You simply have to decide that you will focus. I learned a long time ago that if I decide ahead of time, how many reps I will lift, how much I will spend or how far I will go, that is exactly what I do. But I can't be wishy washy about it. At back to school time I said "I'm only going to spend about $100 on a pair of runners" for my daughter. Instead it became closer to $140 because I was not firm.
To get through the distractions, get gritty
If only it were that easy. The truth is, it takes what Angela Duckworth calls GRIT. I have to dig my heels in. I need to be determined. I must be firm with someone who comes to my door to talk to me by saying "not now". I have to be persistent in sticking at it. Sometimes it requires a high level of will power. Actually, most days it does! I in fact, have to be a Women with Grit.
Decide, be determined, get focused, and be productive
Setting your mind to completing a task can go a long way to getting it done. Decide what it is you need to complete, in what time frame, and get going.
Watch below for more about getting focused.
Jam packed schedules are normal right? Everyone is running from place to place; from meeting to meeting, and from conference call to conference call. It's just the way it is. B.S!
For those of you that don't read short hand, that's Bull Shit.
That is the way we have made it. And we will continue to make it that way if we (and by we, I mean you and I) don't do something about it.
Put a stop to your crazy schedule and in doing so, help each other out by adding these three things to your schedule now.
Once a month: Set your priorities for the month. What projects are you working on? When are the due dates? Back things up to make it manageable and not last minute. Reflect on what you need to get done to meet your personal goals.
Annually: What do you want to accomplish this year? Personally I mean. Finish a course? Get a promotion? Read a book? Take time to look at what you want in addition to all that is expected of you in your Leadership role. Block off time to do this. Plan it in. If you don't you will hit the end of August wondering why over half the year feels like it's gone and you've still got so much to do.
Schedule 15 - 30 minutes a day to reflect. Our best learning and growth happens when we look back over what happened, what we did and how we responded. Taking time to look back at your day will give you guidance and direction moving forward as well as the opportunity to acknowledge yourself for successes you may instead have simply overlooked while running to the next appointment on your calendar.
TAKE YOUR BREAKS! Yes, I am yelling. If I could, I would stand on top of a tree and yell it for everyone to hear. This is vital to Leadership success. We were not meant to run at full adrenaline all day. You know this, but I will repeat it again. It is not healthy, at all to not take breaks.
Welcome to my first of a 4-part series on cleaning your office.
August is, I hope, a slower time for you. There tend to be a few less meetings. Those people that send you work maybe are on holidays. Usually there are fewer deadlines.
Is seems like a fabulous time to spend a bit of time cleaning your office allowing you to re-group before the September craziness starts.
Lets start with your desk.
Three steps to cleaning your desk
DO NOT start with sorting.
But what if I forget something?
You might have a fear that putting the other “stuff” away that doesn’t currently belong on your desk will have you forget it. In my experience, that doesn’t usually happen. If it is something important, put something on your to do list, on your calendar or my favorite, send yourself an email. Then put the file/pile/book/form away until your really do need it. The rest, the stuff you actually do forget about, probably wasn’t really important in the first place ;-)
Clearing your desk will clear you mind. A calmer you will emerge.
Today I am going to point you back to the last four weeks of blog posts and videos about saying “No”.
Maybe you missed all of them or didn’t have time to read or watch each one. Here they are again for you to review. There are four key messages in the posts that I want to make sure you get.
Key Messages about saying "No"
Check back in August for my four part series on cleansing. No, it won’t be about drinking lots of weird fruit juice. It will be about cleaning your office, your calendar, your email and your briefcase. August is typically a slower time for most people. It might be time for you to do a bit of “spring cleaning” of your workspaces.
Getting clear on your "No"
Last week I talked about how to say "No". Review that blog first if you didn't get a chance to read it and watch the video. It is important to get it down so that you feel relatively comfortable about what you are saying "No" to and practice saying “No”.
Are you getting pushback on your "No"
Possibly you have said "No", and you are getting push back. Your boss says, basically, you can't say "No". Perhaps they didn't hear you or maybe they didn’t hear you correctly. Maybe they did hear you and don't believe you. They don’t believe you really mean it. At any rate, here is how to handle these situations.
The 3 R's of making "No" mean "No"
I'm on your side
It is probably hard for you to say “No” the first time around. Having to do it a second time will be even harder. I’m rooting for you to do it. I know you need less on your plate so that you can move towards more balance in your life.
I am tired of seeing burnt out leaders.
It ticks me off ever time someone starts beating themselves up because they are disorganized, because they messed up, when they dropped a ball or they are reminded once again that they cannot be everything to everyone.
It is NOT your fault!
You are not disorganized!
You messed up because you are overloaded with responsibilities.
"It's not the same as it used to be" said a middle aged Team Leader to me last week.
No, you have got that right! It is not.
Instead of managing one group home a few years back, she now has two. Yet she has no more resources than she had a year ago. She echo's a similar story for a lot of leaders.
We have hit the tipping point.
Actually, we passed it a while back! We cannot pile any more work on to Leaders. They are doing more and more and more and struggling to do it well. They are dropping things, messing things up and making unnecessary errors. Then, they feel bad for this. They blame themselves and damage their confidence in the process. What is really happening is that they are tasked with way more than is humanly possible for one person to do.
Are you one of these leaders?
It's time to put your foot down. It is time to say"NO". It is time to say "I can do only this much."
I am not talking about delegating necessarily. Those below you have more than they can handle in most situations also. It is about truly saying "NO! We don't need to do that, pick that up or be responsible for that."
"NO! I will not attend that meeting."
Send me the minutes and I will look over them if/when I have the time and it is truly a priority."
"NO, I will not complete that report by tomorrow morning."
I will however focus my attention on it three days from now when I am finished dealing with this priority issue that is in front of me."
"NO, I cannot cover off that program and deal with the things on my plate right now too."
I can however provide you with a template I used to check off everything I need to make sure is in place when I go away for a week and give responsibly of the program to someone else.
"No, I already have more than I can handle. "
Listen here as I encourage you to say "No" more often.
Guest blogging for me today is Zara Lyttle MSW RSW.
Zara just completed her Master's in Social Work. I remember a time long ago (or so it seems) when I was working on my degree, working full time and raising my family. It was extremely difficult.
Many women want to make this journey. They don't want to decide between career, education and raising their family. They want to do it simultaneously and actually find the experience rewarding.
How do you do that though? in the face of overwhelm and the bombardment of doubts, how do you stick to the path?
Zara found a way and shares her story here. You will find some great lessons for anyone trying to live life to the fullest!
Starting the journey
As a mother of two young children working part-time as a professional in the social work field I encountered a unique opportunity when my son was a year old. It was the chance to take my Masters in Social Work near my home community in Northern Alberta. This was something I always wanted to do and my husband encouraged me to apply. I knew I would be embarking on something that would change my daily life and future direction. I also know myself and if I was accepted into the program, I would commit myself to completing it. Here I am 3 years later and I am proud to say I did it, I have my Masters in Social Work! I want to describe to the reader the process of how I was able to manage multiple roles which still ensuring I cared for myself and was “Present” as a mother, wife, friend, professional, and student.
Supportive employers help
When I started my program I knew I would have to continue work part-time. Luckily I had a flexible employer that let me do a great deal of my reporting work from home. This eased the pressure on my time for attending block week classes and doing my practicum three days per week. The support from my employer was just a piece of the puzzle that was my support system while I completed the two year masters program.
Build a large support network
The biggest support I had was my husband. He provided the encouragement when I doubted being able to juggle everything. He took time off work to care for our children while I was away and generally was just there, telling me how proud he was of me. It wasn’t easy as we didn’t always have a lot of time together, but we soon fell into a routine of “scheduling” time together as almost a reward for me completing schoolwork. It was a motivator for getting my work done.
Another huge support was my mother, who helped me get through a move partway through the program, also provided child care, and allowed me to complain about my workload while still reminding me that I “could always quit if I wanted to”. It was funny, that reminder that I was making a choice to do the coursework was a motivator for me. She kept me sane through the process.
Surround yourself with positive people
Altogether, I took support from friends and family when I needed it and was encouraged all along the way. One friend let me stay with her during my block classes and listened as I excitedly told her what I was learning. I encourage anyone wanting to go back to school for higher education to surround themselves with positive people who love you and will give you the support you need. You also have to be willing to accept that support, as that isn’t always easy either!
Be present each moment along the journey
Lastly, the most important piece of advice that I believe can help anyone attempting to juggle the multiple roles we all have in life is being “present” in the moment. My focus was that for each task, each role I was mentally and emotionally “present” for them. It wasn’t always easy when I had papers due, family commitments, and work reports upcoming. I had to commit myself to being present at all times. When I was with my children and husband I focused on them. When I was writing a paper I focused on that. When I was at practicum I focused on that. Well…you get the idea. Being present was a constant exercise in focus that I believe allowed me to accomplish what I needed to while still being a mother to my children (which was the most important thing to me in the whole process).
This was my visual cue I carried around with me during the two year program. Good luck to all those that embark on the journey of balancing roles and being “present”. It can be done, but not without support …
A key element to leadership growth is having someone to lean on. Someone to take the heat off on those incredibly stressful days.
Yes, there are stressful days as a leader!
I remember frustrating teleconferences that I had to endure in the past. Or a conversation with a team that went all wrong. And I certainly remember days that I just wanted to cry because it felt like I would never get it all done.
It was those days that I would text a friend, call a co-worker or reach out to a peer leader. Not because they could fix it, but because they could understand where I was at and encourage me to go on.
There were other times as well. Times that I made it through everything and wanted to celebrate. Or if I had just received some good news; a contract, a good score on an accreditation process or got a good resume come across my desk. Those times I had someone there to reach out to as well and get a virtual high five!
Now, I have friends that I call, email, Skype or hangout with on Google hangouts. It's the same for us. We cheer each other on in our business development. We suggest supports and resources. And we laugh at ourselves together making YouTube videos!
Here is my latest video - Building your support network. Watch it now! And then phone a friend. Text a colleague. Email someone who might need cheering up. Or ask for cheering up yourself.
Leadership doesn't need to be lonely!
Listen here as I share more about Thriving!
I am super excited to present you with another blog from a guest blogger. This time it is Robert Manolson BA, CCDP, Creator & Facilitator Powerful Play Experiences.
A few years ago I attended one of Robert's sessions. I love his energy and the fun he created in the room.
I don't think we have enough fun at work. We get bogged down in the "stuff" that shows up every day. The clients I work with want to enjoy life more. That can happen at work too!
Robert presents a powerful message about the value of adding fun into your day.
FUN AT WORK is permission for a time out from an all too busy world of work to feel engaged, manage stressors, open lines of communication, and strengthen employee relationships.
FUN AT WORK achieves the goal of simply bringing people together in a most unique experience. Through the sheer magic of playing together, we create a feeling of community in which team members at work are truly connected, operating more effectively with each other and generating more excitement and energy at the workplace.
A lighthearted introduction to a serious topic that prompts the obvious first question:
Does your Employee Health & Wellness Policy include FUN AT WORK? And more importantly, in your capacity of leadership and influence, are you spearheading a healthy Work-Fun Balance at your workplace? And if not, what's stopping you?
It's really all about big picture thinking and a big picture approach to creating a healthy workplace culture and a healthy workplace environment. In fact, take a look around and check out the number of companies and organizations committed to this whole new attitude towards FUN AT WORK as part of their refreshing approach to Employee/Team Health & Wellness.
Raising Fun Levels
What if your team members had permission for FUN AT WORK, permission to play at work, to interact, to laugh, and to engage in play experiences that totally generates a buzz of excitement in the workplace? Isn't it really all about happy staff? 100% of people surveyed agree that they all can use more FUN AT WORK, generate more excitement and energy, and create a dynamic team of individuals working together as partners in their department's success. That's a pretty bold statement. Agreed? But if asked, wouldn't your employees also clearly state that they too could use more FUN AT WORK? After all, the atmosphere at work is much more appealing and people even report an increased feeling of “community and connectedness” in the workplace.
1. When planning for the upcoming year the first step to best address incorporating FUN AT WORK is to organize a set of standards in your best practices model around the driving belief that we need to have more fun. Your ability to focus on enhancing the value of your department's services by totally integrating this attitude into your best practices model results in organizational learning opportunities, AGMs, meetings, staff appreciation events, etc., that are more appealing, invigorating and leading edge for staff and management.
2. Over the past couple of years, it's quite encouraging to see more and more companies wanting to increase fun levels at their workplace. They believe in the value of fun and play as solutions to workplace challenges. While there may be different reasons or objectives as to why they want to harness the power of FUN AT WORK, there are common threads. And although we can streamline these common threads to nicely fit into one or more of the following intentions, it is vital to be clear as to your FUN AT WORK intentions that best fit your particular workplace.
3. Ultimately it does starts with you when including FUN AT WORK in your Employee Health & Wellness Policy. Because FUN AT WORK is a whole new attitude and a vehicle for positive change, you need to embrace a refreshing, personal philosophy towards FUN AT WORK and play.
Because decision makers are motivated to get their employees happy to be where they are and all pulling in the same direction, the range of service providers as well as the techniques they apply continues to grow in popularity. There's been a noticeable increase in adventure activities, extreme sports and creative variations on the deluge of reality shows we see on television. How complex does this have to be? The only limits are your imagination. My general rule of thumb is to involve a broad range of staff and management in the planning process, yet keep the process simple and filled with lightheartedness. Most significantly, the value of FUN AT WORK means giving attention to people's concerns for their own physical and emotional safety. A safe experience is played with a responsibility that nobody is hurt. After all, at the end of the day it's really all about a smile on everyones' faces.
Now, go ahead. Make it happen!
Robert Manolson is the Creator & Facilitator of Powerful Play Experiences and is in the business of FUN AT WORK. He leads organizations in Workplace Fun & Wellness Workshops and believes that each day and every day we must re-energize and ignite our spirit within through the power of play and the value of FUN AT WORK. Contact Robert at www.powerfulplayexperiences.ca
I lead a full life full of love, adventure and growth. Check out my latest thoughts here.
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