How would you feel if you had enough time to get everything done AND you still had time to relax and enjoy the company of friends and family? You’d feel AWESOME, right? What would you do with that extra time? Take a long, hot bath? Go hiking? Sit down and read to your kids?
What if I could snap my fingers and give you an extra hour in your day? Or maybe a FEW extra hours? In a way, I can. Because I can give you the tools to be more efficient and, ultimately, it will FEEL like several extra hours have been added to your day—hours that don’t have to be spent catching up on work, racing from one task to the next, or worrying about how to get it all done.
You’re invited to join me for an exclusive FREE webinar where I’ll be sharing 10 simple but POWERFUL strategies for managing time effectively.
In this session, you’ll get tangible, real solutions you can put into place immediately to gain a better sense of control over your life and work.
Limited to 100 participants so register TODAY!
Even if you’re unable to attend the live session, register anyway. I’ll send you a link to watch the recorded version online when it’s ready.
Those who attend live will be given the opportunity to participate in a Q&A session. Only 100 participants can join the live session so please come early so secure your spot.
This webinar is celebrating a special promotion I’m running. If you’d like to pick up a copy of my Career Success Combo Kit, which includes my two most popular e-workbooks (on the topics of Time Management & Stress Management) you don’t want to miss this 50% off sale. It’s the LAST TIME these e-workbooks will be offered together at this low price. Learn more here >>
Written by Chrissy Scivicque, July 05th, 2011 | 4 Comments »
Admittedly, this post is a little late. The Oscars were several weeks ago now but, for those of us who love movies, fashion, and snarky commentary from Joan Rivers, this year’s ceremony won’t quickly be forgotten.
In case you missed it, the show was widely panned by critics who placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the two young hosts: Anne Hathaway and James Franco. Franco, in particular, received a brunt of the criticism because of his lazy demeanor. Some people went so far as to suggest he was stoned during the telecast—an accusation I think is probably unfounded, considering what we know of this man. In truth, it’s probably much more likely that he was just the victim of his own overly ambitious schedule. Those who still think multi-tasking is legitimate productivity technique, pay close attention. This is what it looks like when the quest for productivity goes wildly out of control.
Who Is James Franco?
First off, here’s a little background for those of you who don’t really know who James Franco is or why we should care: He’s a 32 year-old actor with a pretty stellar list of credentials including a Golden Globe for his performance as James Dean and mainstream pop culture cred for playing Harry Osborn in the Spider Man trilogy and for his role as a loveable pot dealer in Pineapple Express. This year, he was also nominated for the Oscar for Best Actor in 127 Hours, making his hosting gig even more unprecedented.
However, the most impressive thing about James Franco isn’t his acting resume; it’s his extra curricular activities. The list is pretty incredible…and very odd. A few of the most notable things he has done include a guest role on General Hospital (which he called “performance art”) that mirrored his actual life, a generally well-received book of disturbing short stories called Palo Alto, and various multimedia art projects that have been on display at Sundance and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
On top of all this, he’s an almost compulsive student. After earning his Bachelor’s Degree in English from UCLA, where he took 62 credits per quarter (the normal max is 19), he then simultaneously attended graduate school at Columbia University for creative writing, NYU for filmmaking, Brooklyn College for fiction writing and North Carolina’s Warren Wilson College for poetry. Now, he’s a Ph.D. student studying English at Yale and also attends the Rhode Island School of Design.
I’m pretty sure he’s not a pothead. That kind of schedule doesn’t exactly align with the typical stoner mentality.
But keep all of this in mind as we explore the Oscars debacle and how this uber-productive person got in over his head.
Watch Out for Diminishing Returns
Now, James Franco is kind of known for that squinty eye thing. It’s actually pretty adorable. But during the Oscars ceremony, he looked downright out-of-it. At one point, he even stumbled over his words so badly, I don’t blame people for thinking drugs could have been involved. But that’s what happens when you’re exhausted. Running around the globe—from graduate classes to film sets and back again—must cause an unbelievable strain on the body and mind.
In a recent interview, Danny McBride, Franco’s costar in an upcoming movie, said the following:
“There was a teacher that he had at school in New York, and James (Franco) had missed a class or two because of filming, and (the teacher) basically said if he didn’t come to this class, he would be dropped from the class. So for the last half of the production, James (Franco) would finish shooting Monday night, get on an airplane in Belfast (Northern Ireland), fly to New York, go to the class, get back on a plane, fly back to Belfast and come back to work every week.”
If this is any indication of how this guy manages his crazy schedule, it’s no wonder he was out of it.
There’s a limit to how much stuff one person can do before exhaustion sets in. If you want to be productive, you have to recognize when you’ve reached the point of diminishing returns—when you’re so exhausted that you’re actually working against yourself. I think that’s what happened the night of the Oscars.
Multi-Tasking Doesn’t Work
Franco actually started off the evening with his cell phone in hand, taking pictures of the Oscars audience to post on Twitter. Um…kind of a bad idea. In fact, the night of the ceremony, he posted dozens of tweets, complete with photos and videos. This is the very definition of multi-tasking and the resulting unfocused, disinterested, and distracted performance the audience saw is exactly why we should all avoid it.
Franco’s attention was literally split in (at least) two different directions from the get-go. While one side of his brain was thinking, “Focus on your lines, be charming, smile big, make ‘em laugh, blah, blah, blah,” the other side was thinking, “Get a good shot so the Twitter fans will be happy, gotta upload this as soon as I get backstage, wonder if that pic was blurry, blah, blah, blah.”
Doing two things at once might sound easy enough. It might physically even BE easy enough. But mentally, you’re straining your resources. And, when something really matters, you want to be playing with 100% capacity. Divided attention is usually fairly obvious to everyone involved, and most people find it insulting. This is one of the reasons I think people were so outraged by his lackluster performance. It was like a smack in the face for those of us who were expecting more.
Jack of All Trades = Master of None
Poor James Franco turned in a really bad performance as host of the Oscars. And, as it turns out, his peers at Yale also raked him over the coals for his lame Twitter stream. So, apparently, he failed at both things that night. This is pretty typical for multi-tasking. When you try to be a “Jack of all trades” you end up “master of none.”
Who’s to say if the rest of his life will play out the same way? From this perspective, it certainly doesn’t look good.
When I think of James Franco, I remember my number one rule for productivity: If you’re trying to do too much, there’s no system in the world that can help you. Dividing your attention and packing your schedule full to the point of exhaustion is a sure-fire way to end up with a bunch of mediocre performances.
Clearly, a person like James Franco doesn’t want to be mediocre. And when he has his head in the game, he’s insanely talented. But the same productivity rules that apply to everyone else, also apply to him. Multi-tasking doesn’t work any better for famous people than it does for the rest of us. Trying to pack every conceivable goal into the span of a few years might sound great in theory, but I’m guessing that, in practice, it’s a big pain in the ass.
So take heed. Give your full, undivided attention to the one, important task at hand before moving on to the next. No matter how rich and talented and smart you are, human productivity has its limits.
Even an adorable smile can’t change that.
Written by Chrissy Scivicque, March 28th, 2011 | 3 Comments »
Recently, while leading a workshop on the topic of stress management, one attendee mentioned that her boss was a perfectionist and this was placing an added strain on her daily work experience. As a perfectionist myself, I completely understood the dilemma she was facing. All kinds of challenges come up when dealing with this character trait.
Working for or with a perfectionist is bound to cause some tension. In my experience, perfectionists may:
Be overly critical of others.
The drive to make things “perfect” means you have to live up to an unrealistic standard.
Be overly controlling.
Trust is hard to come by for most perfectionists. The only way they can know work is being done up to par is simply to do it themselves.
Have trouble with priorities.
Many perfectionists don’t distinguish between what’s really important and what’s not. It ALL has to be perfect. “Good enough” is never okay even for the small, trivial stuff.
Procrastinate or miss deadlines.
When you’re trying so hard to make things perfect, time often gets the better of you.
So, how do you function around someone like this? How do you manage your workload in an environment where “perfect” is the standard against which your performance is measured? Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind.
Call It Like You See It
If someone—even your boss—is harping on insignificant details, wasting time trying to obtain an unnecessary or impossible level of perfection, it’s your responsibility to acknowledge it. Tell the person exactly what you’re seeing and how it’s impacting the goals of the team. Be respectful and professional, and provide an honest assessment.
Sometimes, perfectionists will get so wrapped up in the minute details, they’ll forget about the bigger picture. Giving them a heads up will sometimes break the spell and help them move forward.
Help Establish Priorities
The simple fact is that, in most daily business operations, there are only a small fraction of tasks that really matter, but perfectionists will often lump everything into one pile. This means that even the trivial, almost irrelevant work is being treated like it could make or break the company. Help establish priorities by discussing the broader impacts of the project at hand. Is it really worth the time and energy being used? Compare it to other opportunities and rank its importance.
For example, if one PowerPoint slide has a slightly fuzzy image, will the audience really even notice? And if so, what will be the consequence? In relation to the other tasks on the to-do list, is the time it takes to fix the image really worthwhile? Sometimes, the answer will clearly be, “Yes, it’s worth it.” Other times, it really won’t matter and you can move on, letting the slightly fuzzy image go by unnoticed.
Don’t Take It Personally
Working for or with a perfectionist means you may often feel like you’re being subjected to a special kind of torture. But keep in mind: It’s not you. It’s them. The critical eye with which they look at you and your work also points right back to them. They see everything as imperfect and that’s a painful way to live. Most perfectionists recognize it’s a problem, but still have a hard time setting aside those instincts. So just remind yourself that YOU (and your work) aren’t the problem.
Be Understanding…and Patient
At the end of the day, perfectionists only want to do their very best. And they want the same from everyone around them. Irritating as it may be, it’s still a noble cause. Cut the perfectionist in your life a little slack. It can be a slow road to recovery. Though of course, he or she may never get there.
A few years ago, I actually worked for a gentleman who made my perfectionist tendencies look microscopic. There were days when, after redoing a task multiple times to meet his ridiculous expectations, I thought I would simply explode. But we slowly figured out how to make it work. Sometimes, I would just bite my tongue and follow his lead. So he eventually learned that, if I was willing to battle it out, he was going too far.
There’s no easy way to work for or with a perfectionist. But with these tips, you’ll be better prepared for the inevitably difficult road ahead.
Decisions are an inescapable part of life. We all have to make them and, big or small, the process can be daunting. How do you know you’re making wise choices? What if you’re blinded by circumstances, emotions or bad intel?
When it comes to making any kind of major career decision, serious deliberation is in order. But, even with careful consideration, bad decisions still get made. Below, I’ve outlined six common traps that inevitably lead to regrettable career decisions.
1. Make your decision…then justify it.
Confirmation bias happens when your brain only sees evidence to support its decision. So, imagine you have a new job offer that you’re considering and you think to yourself:
Taking this job would be a really good career move for me. But I guess I should weigh the pros and cons before accepting it…
Your mind is made up. You’re taking the job and any effort spent evaluating the decision will only confirm that it’s the right move.
When facing any major decision, give every option a fair shot. Refuse to take sides until all the evidence is in.
2. Ask everyone you know for advice.
Wanna get totally confused? Just share your dilemma with five friends and family members. It’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll get five different points-of-view and no one will offer you the wisdom you’re really seeking. Sure, they all love you, support you and want what’s best for you. Each person will sound really convincing as well. But you’re the only one who matters.
Asking for advice will only fill your head with the opinions of others. Plus, they’ll dump their fears and biases on you as well. All of these things will only serve to mask your own true instinct and intellect.
If you absolutely must get an outside perspective, find one that’s truly objective. Hire a coach—someone who isn’t personally involved in your life or your situation.
3. Let fear steer the ship.
In general, a decision that stems from any emotion is usually not as sound as one that is based on fact and reason. When the emotion in control is fear, the outcome is even worse. Fear will push you into irrational decisions. It will hold you hostage and keep you safe in your tiny comfort zone bubble. Fear will never, ever support your higher aspirations. Recognize when fear pops up and be brave. Remember that fear is a sign you’re on the right track.
4. Hold tight to your beliefs, even when evidence proves otherwise.
In the book Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, authors Ori and Rom Brafman refer to the concept of “commitment”—the natural inclination to hold tight to our beliefs. This is sometimes so strong that we make completely irrational decisions just to support the ideas we’re already mentally, physically and emotionally attached to.
…whether we’ve invested our time and money in a particular project or poured our energy into a doomed relationship, it’s difficult to let go even when things clearly aren’t working.
So, let’s say you’ve always wanted to be a nurse ever since childhood. You spent years in school being trained to do the job. You truly believed it was the only thing you were meant to do with your life. And now, after several years in the field, you’re unhappy. It’s not providing you with the fulfillment you once imagined it would.
Many people end up in situations exactly like this. But they’re so committed to the earlier belief that they’re unable or unwilling to see reality, much less make a decision that goes against that belief.
Allow your beliefs to evolve when evidence justifies it. Never let your earlier commitment to something—or someone—prevent you from doing what feels right.
5. Think in black and white.
When facing a major career decision, it’s easy to get stuck in an “A” or “B” mentality. You see only two choices and nothing in the middle. This is a limiting thought pattern that prevents you from truly understanding the vast number of opportunities that surround you.
In truth, there is always a middle road. When you catch yourself thinking in terms of either/or, step back and say, “Yes, AND…” Yes, you have those two options. AND what else?
6. Get stuck in thinking mode.
This is called “analysis paralysis” and it happens to the best of us. After spending a certain amount of time doing your research, you have to stop thinking and start doing. How long you spend is up to you. But be cautious of getting so bogged down in decision making that you never actually take action on a decision. Give yourself a pre-determined time limit and once it’s reached, game on.
I know the title of this article assumes the worst in you and maybe that’s not fair. But let’s be honest here. Statistics show that, right now, about half of you have already given up on your New Year’s resolution. And, in another few weeks, half of the people left will have forgotten all about it as well. It’s not that I don’t have faith in you. It’s the research. How can I argue with math?
So, should you happen to realize that your New Year’s resolution has fallen by the wayside (now or in the future), don’t beat yourself up. You’re not alone! There are several common reasons this happens. Instead of getting down and thinking of this as a “failure“, focus on figuring out what happened. Do some analysis and find ways to ensure that, in the future, things will be different.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of the top eight reasons people don’t follow through on their resolutions and I’ve also provided some tips to make next time more successful. And by the way, “next time” doesn’t necessarily mean January 1, 2012. You can make a resolution any time you’d like. Just sayin.
1. You didn’t make a plan for it.
A lot of people forget that a resolution is really just a GOAL. It has to be treated as such. It doesn’t have additional superpowers just because it starts on January 1. A goal requires structure. Otherwise, it’s a wish.
Next time:Be proactive. Make your plan. Look for possible obstacles and prepare for how you’ll deal with them. Don’t just cross your fingers and hope for the best.
2. You forgot the reasons why you were doing it.
Motivation matters. If you don’t know why the goal is important, it’s easy to drop.
Next time: Clarify exactly why you’re doing this, why you NEED to do this. Write it down. Post it in visible locations. Create small reminders to help keep you focused when times get hard.
3. You didn’t plan for setbacks.
Let’s face it: No one is perfect. We all fall off the wagon at some point. You need a clearly defined plan for what to do when this happens and how you’ll get back on that horse.
Next time: Recognize that things will get hard and unexpected obstacles will get the better of you. That’s no reason to give up completely. Give yourself some leeway. Find ways to forgive yourself and reignite the passion.
4. You didn’t have a strong support network.
Friends and family are important. They can help raise you up or push you down, depending on the nature of the relationship. With any goal, it’s important to surround yourself with people who believe in what you’re doing and want to see you succeed.
Next time: Gather your groupies! Let them know what you’re doing and why and ask if you can count on them to help you reach your goal. If they’re not supportive, keep them at a distance. Who needs toxic relationships anyway?
5. You took on too much too fast.
Many of us get a little over-zealous around the New Year. We want to make huge leaps of progress overnight, but real growth is a slow and steady journey.
Next time: Take it one step at a time. Go in with reasonable expectations and be patient. It’s not about how much you achieve and how quickly. Focus on one, really important goal. Put one foot in front of the other each and every day. Momentum will naturally build as you make incremental improvement.
6. You weren’t accountable to anyone.
Sure, you wanted to succeed. But, in the dark of night when you’re all alone, it’s easy to get persuaded by that nagging negative voice inside your head. You know the one. The voice that says you’re not cut out for this. An accountability partner helps keep you focused and on track, even when you think you’re ready to throw in the towel.
Next time: Find one person who promises to hold you accountable. When you say you’re going to do something, this person follows up to make sure you’ve stayed true to your word. An accountability partner will help silence the saboteur in your head. (And of course, if you need assistance, I’d love to help out.)
7. It wasn’t that important in the first place.
Perhaps you set a goal that others wanted you to set. Or one you felt you “should” set. That’s not very motivating. It’s easy to give up on something that never really mattered that much to you in the first place.
Next time: Choose a goal that matters. Don’t do it for anyone else but YOU. If it’s not something you truly believe in, you’ll never succeed.
8. You’re afraid of success.
This sounds counter-intuitive, I know. Truth be told, a lot of goals sound great in theory but once you actually start thinking of what life will be like once it’s accomplished, fear can easily set in. Sometimes, we’re so attached to who we are and life as we know it—flaws and all—that we unconsciously sabotage ourselves.
Next time: Be prepared for this. Recognize that fear is just another part of the process. Think long and hard about what you want from life and what you’re capable of. While it’s scary to push past your pre-conceived limits, it’s also a necessary part of self-growth. Use fear to fire yourself up.
(Also, consider checking out the awesome e-course called “Fear to Fuel” created by the incredibly talented Karl Staib. This program does a great job of helping you analyzing where fear is coming from and how it can be transformed into motivation.)
So happy New Year everyone! Oh, and in case you need a reminder, you’re awesome. Anything you want, you can achieve. I have faith in you, no matter what the stupid research says about stupid New Year’s resolutions.