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Ways You Can Start To Read One Book Per Week

Reading is something that I have always loved to do. One of my favorite things to do with my parents growing up was to visit the bookstore. I’d save up a few bucks, head over to my favorite authors, and pick out something new. Then I’d get into trouble staying up late with a flashlight so I could finish that book as soon as possible.

I’ve lost the habit of getting lost in a good book as I’ve grown older. Some of it has to do with the amount of time I spend online. When I’m writing, I try to avoid reading just so I don’t inadvertently copy the work of someone else.

Yet there is a lot of value which can come from reading books. Fictional books take us to new worlds to challenge us. Non-fiction books ask us to set aside our preconceived notions to teach us something new. Every book we read encourages us to read another book. And another. And then another. I’ve found that it is often more important to understand the book than it is to sit down for a few hours to read it cover-to-cover.

Here’s how I’ve started coming back to reading books, at least one per week, and maybe this process can help you as well.

#1. I spend time with the promotional materials. I treat the back cover and the flaps of a book, if it has one anyway, as if it were a 30 second movie promo. I like to picture the plot, see what the character looks like in my mind’s eye, or have a chance to evaluate the learning opportunities being offered to me. If I’m interested, then I keep going. If not, then I put the book down.

#2. For non-fiction books, I cheat and look at the final conclusion. The whole point of a non-fiction book is to provide a fact-based argument. It must have a conclusion to be a valid read. If the conclusion isn’t there, then I put the book down. I do that if the conclusion is a yawner as well. If I’m intrigued, then I work backwards through the material to see how that conclusion was reached.

#3. I skim past repetitive dialogue. Honestly. How many times can a character “smirk” in a book? Using a thesaurus is a lost art today. So is the inclusion of meaningful dialogue that moves a plot forward or helps you as a reader to put yourself into the shoes of a favorite character. If the dialogue is repetitive or the descriptions pointless, I just skip them. Sometimes you can skip entire pages and not lose your place.

#4. Focus on the Table of Contents. I love books that have a thorough Table of Contents. This is another test that lets me know if the book I’m thinking about reading is going to be worth my time. I’ll linger over particularly interesting phrases or even skim through a specific chapter to check out what the author has to say. If I stay intrigued, then I finish the book. If not, it sits on the bookshelf unread.

#5. I engage with the text. I’ve started to take notes as I read, both fictional and non-fiction books, because this helps me to “experience” the text in a different way. I’m doing more than absorbing information or using my imagination when I’m writing down key points. This allows me to retain more of what I read so that it becomes useful data I can recall if needed.

Reading books like this is definitely a change from what I used to do in my youth. I’ve also found that I tend to remember details more clearly with this process and that helps me get through books more quickly.

Do you love books as much as I do? If you read on a regular basis, I’d love to hear about your reading process and how it has helped you.

3 Things You Should Do At Every Meeting

Meetings can be beneficial when proper preparations are made for them. The only problem is that many people treat meetings as an unwanted necessity instead of something that can potentially benefit them. I see this happen all the time. People go to meetings without even thinking about the topics that will be discussed, feel lost during the meeting, and then don’t apply any of the concepts that were communicated to them afterward.

This is why I’ve instituted what I call the “post-meeting wrap-up.” It’s a few minutes after a meeting where we informally get together and go over the key points that were discussed one more time. If assignments were handed out, I’ll review those one more time. The goal is to cover these 3 things.

#1. Review the decisions and steps decided upon.

There can be a lot of information offered in a meeting and sometimes people get lost trying to sort out the data. By taking a few moments to review the key decisions that were made and what the next steps will need to be, I can make sure that everyone gets onto the same page. This lessens the amount of time spent individually reviewing these topics with those who might have gotten lost in the shuffle.

I like to use flow charts to communicate which people are responsible for specific action steps because this gives people a visual reference to understand what their role happens to be. Flip charts, spreadsheet handouts, or your preferred tools can also work here to reinforce the decisions made and actions that must be taken.

#2. Get communication points developed.

It always happens. Once I’m out of a meeting, someone comes up to me and asks me what happened. I want the people in my meetings to have the same answer when they get asked this question. It eliminates a lot of the gossip which develops when different answers come from meeting attendees.

To do this, I like to ask the group what they felt were the most important items we discussed during the meeting. We’ll talk about what the vision of our action steps happens to be, what our mission statement will be as we move forward, and the value of the core ideas we’ve all discussed. It’s not that I want people to hand out a scripted response. I just want us all on the same page, communicating the same ideas from the individual’s perspective.

#3. Ask for feedback about the meeting.

It would be naïve to think that I’m perfect in every meeting. I might forget to send out planning materials. My presentation might have been a little confusing. People in the meeting might not have felt included. Sometimes I can catch these issues on my own, but I want to catch them all so I can make each meeting be a little bit better. That’s why I always ask for feedback before everyone heads back to work.

I prefer asking for feedback immediately instead of waiting to send out an email later because the meeting is fresh in the minds of its participants right after it concludes. An email for feedback is also easy to delete or ignore. This allows me to make sure everyone got the message I wanted them to receive and vice-versa.

Meetings aren’t always fun, but they can be useful with the right plan of action. These are the steps I follow and it has helped me see a nice increase in productivity levels and consistency in the action steps which we take afterward.

Do you have strategies that you use to make meetings more effective? I’d love to hear about some of the ideas you’ve implemented to make your meetings more productive.

How You Can Be an Extrovert in Your Next Meeting

I hate talking in meetings. Even “hate” may not be a strong enough word. Everyone watches you talk, judging every word you say, waiting to pounce on something with which they may disagree. You have to convince everyone of your expertise, become vulnerable, and sometimes you even have to speak above the loudest voices in the room. It’s enough to turn even the biggest extrovert into an introvert.

That’s actually my secret to being able to engage in meetings. You can become an extrovert by following many of the traits introverts have when it comes to a conversation. I listen first. I process all of the information that is coming my way. Then I speak only when I have a well-thought opinion that can influence the discussion in what I believe will be a positive way.

There are other ways that can help you engage confidently with others during a meeting when you don’t really want to say anything. Here are some of the methods that help me and hopefully they’ll be of help to you as well.

#1. Do your prep work before the meeting. It always comes down to your information. If you don’t know what’s going to be discussed at a meeting, then you’re going to have a steep learning curve in a chair that will probably be uncomfortable. Take an hour or two before the meeting, go through the information that will be discussed, and you’ll be able to think on your feet – or in your seat – more effectively.

#2. Be forthright. There will be questions that someone may ask that you cannot answer right away in a meeting. Instead of trying to fake it to make it, try offering a honest approach. I like to say something like this: “That’s a great question. I’ll need to think through that for a bit to give you a good answer.” You can ask people to come back to you. You can say you need time to research the subject. If you need extra time, I’ve found there’s nothing wrong in asking for it.

#3. Practice your public speaking. Whether you’re in a meeting with 5 people or 500 people, the butterflies in your stomach will float around when it’s time to make a presentation. This is why I make sure there is time to practice my presentation before I have to make it. My family are often my first draft volunteers, but I also try to make sure I have a dress rehearsal with some trusted co-workers. This way I can get feedback, know where my stumbling points are, and be able to reinforce my confidence. I also highly recommend Toastmasters.

#4. Learn to ignore your discomforts. Some people get so worked up that they get sweaty or red in the face when they have to speak in meetings. I’ve even met folks who break out in hives – as if they were allergic to speaking during a meeting. People go to meetings for ideas. They’ll ignore your discomfort if you can present a solid idea. As you get more comfortable, these physical symptoms will typically disappear as well. Take a few deep breaths, push forward, and you’ll find people are listening more than they are looking.

#5. Contribute by asking questions. Sometimes there really isn’t anything for me to say during a meeting, but I might be asked to contribute anyway. In those times, I like to ask questions about what I’ve heard. I always write down a question or two so I can start a discussion if called upon and this helps as it seem like I’m speaking when in reality I’m encouraging others to speak instead.

You can hate meetings, but still get a lot out of them with the right approach. Take the lessons learned from the introverts and use that to be an extrovert when needed at your next meeting, even if you don’t want to be there.

How do you handle dealing with difficult speaking situations at work? I’d love to hear about some of your strategies and coping mechanisms and how you use them.

Is That Meeting Really Necessary?

The email notification comes in at the worst possible time. I’ve got 5 things that need to be done, all with critical importance, and not enough time to even get one task completed. Another meeting has been scheduled and it has been “strongly suggested” that I attend. Just about any issue that comes up at work prompts us to schedule a meeting these days, doesn’t it?

Sometimes meetings can be a good thing. Often meetings are treated as if they were a Google search instead. If a solution isn’t found instantly, let’s see if someone else can do that for us, right? Here is the process I try to follow when I’m deciding whether a meeting is necessary or not.

#1. Review the situation. Sometimes all I have to do is ask someone a question if I’m seeking clarity on an issue. Sometimes I can coordinate with others over the phone or with emails so the structure of a project can be created. Instead of resorting to a default “let’s call a meeting” attitude, my rule is to strategically review each situation and to only call a meeting if I’ve exhausted every other resource.

#2. Who has the expertise? Just because I’ve been assigned a project doesn’t mean I’m the expert. Sometimes I need a little outside advice to make things happen. That’s a great time to schedule a meeting because you are bringing in resources you need. Far too often, however, the temptation is to seek out that advice when it may not be needed because I’d rather procrastinate on the project. That’s a bad time to schedule a meeting. Sometimes you just need to staple your pants to a chair and work.

#3. I need an answer right now. When I’m about to finish something, but I need a second opinion, it’s nice to have a real-time conversation with someone. I’ve found there’s no better way to get the feedback you need for a quality result. Sometimes that feedback doesn’t need to happen right away, which means a meeting isn’t really necessary. I can send an email or a voicemail and wait for them to get back with me. If I need fast feedback, then a meeting can be a good thing.

#4. What is the purpose? I like to have face-to-face meetings when I’m negotiating something. Although you can do this over a video call, the body language of the person across from me is something I want to see and only a face-to-face meeting can really convey that. Answering questions, training classes, or even conflict resolution can happen outside of a traditional meeting structure quite often and take less time when you do. That’s why I feel it is important to look at the purpose being considered first.

#5. What will be the time demands? If I pull 5 people into a meeting which lasts an hour, that’s 6 hours of productivity that may be loss [when I include myself]. Now think about 20 people in a 3 hour meeting or some of the other marathons we’ve all attended in the past. The time of a meeting must meet or exceed the value of each worker staying productive with their assigned tasks. If it does, then let’s do the meeting. If not, then let’s communicate in some other way.

I’ve found that by following this process, it has been possible to reduce the number of meetings I’ve had to request. As for the meeting requests you’ll receive… that’s a different story. How have you worked to reduce the number of meetings you’ve had to call at work? I’d love to hear some of your ideas and how they’ve worked for you.

How To Deal With a Boss That Is Narcissistic

If we haven’t had to work for one, we’ve seen others who have. It’s the boss who thinks their team is working for them instead of the company. I’ve seen such high levels of narcissism where a boss has specifically told people that they didn’t care what the company policies say or what the mission statement is. The order was simple: “I’m the boss and you’ll do as I say.”

It can be very difficult to deal with a narcissistic boss. Difficult, but not impossible. Here’s how I’ve worked on coping with this situation in the past and the insights I’ve gleaned from those experiences.

#1. Take care of yourself first. I’ve found that the first thing which tends to disappear when I’m around a boss that is narcissistic is my self-esteem. Without confidence, the narcissism you see every day will wear you down and eventually conquer you. Find an outlet outside of work that can help you deal with these difficult emotions. I’ve found this can really add to my resilience so I don’t end up losing myself in the stresses of the day.

#2. Cater to the ego. Until you find a new place to work, you’ll have to deal with the narcissism on a daily basis. Sometimes I’ve found the best way to handle that is to feed the ego. You don’t necessarily need to be come a “Yes” person, but a little flattery will take you a long way. Narcissists are good at smelling out a pretender, so look for something that you authentically admire and offer that as a compliment.

#3. Take the best out of what you see. I’ve discovered that everyone has moments of perfection which hover around them – even narcissistic bosses. Observe them. See the good things that they do. Find the best and then do your best to emulate it. Communication and vision tend to be two strengths of these bosses in particular, and those attributes are something worth developing within yourself.

#4. Be careful about challenges. Criticism is something a narcissistic boss will never accept. I’ve seen this time and time again. Even a simple challenge, like offering a sandwich for lunch when the boss wants pasta, can be enough to give you a 3 week headache. Remember this: your boss cares about what is good for them. They couldn’t care less about what affects the company unless it’s something that will boost their power, money, or influence.

#5. Avoid the gossip. I’ve seen narcissistic bosses stay at the office for 12 hours every day just to make sure there isn’t anything bad being said about them. Narcissism encourages paranoia, so even if you have the appearance of gossiping about the boss, this perception will become a reality and make your professional life difficult.

Ultimately you’ll need to determine if working for this boss is the right decision for you. Sometimes you can put up with the narcissism, but sometimes it can send you home angry every day and affect every other aspect of life. If you don’t love what you do, then trust me – make a healthy choice and consider leaving. There might be uncertainty at first, but eventually you can find a job… and a boss that you love.

What Is the Right Way To Encourage Accountability?

 

Trying to hold people accountable for their results is often a negative cycle that spirals into an end result of at least one worker leaving a company. When results aren’t achieved, the worker responsible offers an excuse. That excuse makes a supervisor angry because now they’re held accountable for the lack of results. That anger then reduces motivation, which reduces productivity, and at the end of the day you have a group of people acting passive-aggressively with one another.

How you can make sure that you’re encouraging accountability in a positive way? Through the use of structure. Here are some of the key points you’ll want to look at and discuss as you develop an accountability structure.

#1. How do I set clear expectations?

If there is uncertainty about a task which must be completed or a metric which must be met, then it is difficult to hold someone accountable to a specific standard. There are responsibilities on both sides of this equation. Workers must be encouraged to ask questions if they are unsure and not feel like they will be retaliated against for those questions. Specific expectations and standards must also be issued so outcomes can be tracked.

#2. Where are the right people for the job?

Whose fault is it if results aren’t achieved when the tasks were assigned to someone without the necessary skill set? Is it the fault of the worker… or the fault of the person who assigned the task to an unskilled worker? There must be a plan in place which gives skill-orientated tasks to the people who have the knowledge and wisdom necessary to complete them.

#3. What will measure success?

Far too often, workers are told they have failed when they were expecting to be told that they had succeeded. When there isn’t a clear set of measurements or standards in place so success can be specifically defined, then it is difficult to know what issues might exist within a team. Defined targets allow you to work with people who may be slipping.

#4. Is anyone providing feedback?

The problem with feedback is that people often wish to avoid conflict with one another. This is especially true for supervisors who feel like they have a difficult direct report who doesn’t want to listen to them. Yet without honest feedback that is open and ongoing, there is no real way to set out the clear expectations which are needed for an environment which encourages accountability. Don’t make things personal when giving feedback. Just offer the facts.

#5. What kind of consequences should there be?

Accountability isn’t going to be effective if there isn’t a consequence for a failure to meet expectations. There should also be positive consequences for those who are accountable and meet expectations. You basically have 3 choices: rewards, repetition, or release. Without clarity in this area, there won’t be any desire to be accountable because there is no reason, either positive or negative, to try to meet the goals which have been put into place.

Encouraging accountability must be more than just an angry statement that occurs when failure happens. It must occur on both sides of the aisle so that the right people are doing the right job with clear expectations. With open communication, honest feedback, and traceable metrics in place, the negative cycles can be eliminated so that productivity can remain where it needs to be.

8 Ways To Recognize Burnout In Yourself

 At one point last year, I worked for over 100 straight days. At first, the idea of being ultra-productive was inspiring to me. It felt like I was taking charge of my world, influencing others in positive ways, and that was an amazing feeling indeed. Over time, however, those feelings started to go away. Instead of feeling inspired, I was beginning to dread the alarm waking me in the morning.

There were some days I would look at myself in the mirror and wonder what I was doing. Then I would grab some coffee and get to work. At the time I didn’t recognize it, but this was clearly I sign that I was headed to burnout.

In retrospect, there were a lot of warning signs that were telling me that it was time to take a few days off to take care of myself. Are you experiencing any of these burnout symptoms right now?

#1. 100% Exhaustion. Do you get 8 hours of awesome sleep, but wake up tired? That happened to me a lot. I made up a lot of excuses about this fact and compensated with caffeine, but that didn’t change the fact that I felt physically and emotionally tired.

#2. Poor Eating Choices. I started replacing vegetables with potato chips. The potato chips eventually got replaced with Twinkies. Coconut water turned to soda, which turned to energy drinks. When you’re tired, you try to eliminate that feeling by consuming high sugar, low calorie foods and for me, every substitute made me feel worse, so I’d compensate with an even worse eating choice.

#3. You Never Relax. Even when I wasn’t working, I was thinking about working. I could stress myself out thinking about a deadline that was more than a week away. The number of headaches I started to get could be tracked daily near the end of my 100+ day stretch.

#4. Fun Disappears. I could plan fun activities, but they didn’t seem fun. The only real enjoyment I remember having during that massive stretch of work was when I was actually working. I felt out of place if I wasn’t working and that prevented me from being able to relax.

#5. Insomnia. I’m not one for racing thoughts in my mind 24/7, but after awhile that started to happen when I’d try to get to sleep. I’d plot out my work for the next day. I’d think about the things I could have changed over the course of the day. I’d worry about what others were thinking about me. Eventually I had to put a white noise machine into my bedroom to give my mind something else to focus on while I tried to get to sleep.

#6. Always Irritable. I was buying groceries one day near the end of my 100+ day stretch. It was taking longer than normal to scan the items. “Can’t you hurry it up?” I asked impatiently at one point. The cashier gave me a strange look. Then she told me it would be $101.97. I remember that specifically because I then snapped. I’d expected it to be $80… but I’d grabbed two steaks and forgot about that. Irritability and burnout go hand in hand.

#7. Isolation. I could recognize that I was irritable. I felt like people didn’t deserve that kind of treatment. That’s when I started to isolate. I told myself it was because I didn’t want to hurt others. The fact is I was isolating because I didn’t trust anyone but myself to get the work done.

#8. Negative Work Quality. There was also a distinct decline in the quality of my work once I reached the end of my 100+ day stretch of work. It’s what eventually caused me to give myself a thorough evaluation. If I didn’t give myself a break, then the potential was there to lose a lot of business.

Burnout is something we often joke about, but I discovered that suffering from burnout is no laughing matter. Give yourself an honest evaluation today. Are you suffering from these symptoms? If you are, then burnout could be right around the corner.

Are there symptoms of burnout that you have recognized in your life? What are they and how do you cope with them? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this important subject.

3 Ways You Can Conquer Your Next Networking Event

One of the challenges I found when advancing up the corporate ladder of success was the need to be networking. As much as I’d like to take credit for all of my successes, the fact is that other people were also influential in my ability to get a job done. We all need a network of people to help us every day as we continue along a path of advancement.

That first networking event made me so nervous. Forget about just having sweaty palms. I was pretty sure there was sweat dripping down my sleeves. I thought for sure everyone would see me as a rookie, an inexperienced manager at best, and that I would ruin my chances of further advancement before I’d even settled into a new position. That nervousness propelled me to look at how others have conquered networking and it lead me to develop my 3 steps to networking success.

Preparation won’t take away the nerves, but it can make them manageable. Here’s what I do.

Step #1: Know How You’re Different

I often thought that I needed to be just like everyone else in order to be successful. When you blend in, you become a team player. That might work well for job security, but I’ve found that does very little for networking. If you want to conquer your next networking event, then you need to find what sets you apart from everyone else on a professional level.

Your passionate love for German Shepherds might make for some interesting small talk, but that won’t help you form a long-term networking relationship. No one has your exact experiences. Take the most intriguing parts of your personal story and use them to spark incredible conversations. By knowing how you’re different, you’ll know how you can begin to network.

Step #2: Be a Niche Expert

People network professionally because they want to increase their levels of influence within their own circles. This causes them to seek out experts, both locally and globally thanks to sites like LinkedIn, because outside expertise becomes their expertise. I’ve found that when you know everything there is to know about your part of your industry, no matter how large or small that section happens to be, then you become influential.

“What do you do?” is a come ice-breaker question at a networking event. This is the perfect time to offer your niche expertise. “I manage a landscaping business where we transform unused space into natural masterpieces.” It really only takes once polished sentence to convey that you know what you’re talking about.

Step #3: Take Command

There will always be leaders and there will always be followers. It seems like everyone at a networking event wants to be a leader, but that is only a surface observation. I’ve been to dozens of networking events and I can tell you that most people would rather be at home or they’re attending because there is an open bar.

If you want to form a networking relationship, then take it. Offer your expertise in exchange for your central positioning. Host networking events instead of attending them as you grow more comfortable with this process. Become the “go-to” person everyone else wants to have on their team.

Conquering a networking event isn’t easy to do, especially when you’re first getting started. With enough preparation, however, I can attest that you can do anything. Take the first step today. It could be something as simple as starting a Facebook group. When you show that your experiences are valuable, you’ll be able to have people come to you.

Once I discovered that truth, gone were the sweaty palms. Adopt these steps and hopefully you’ll conquer your next event.

6 Proven Methods Which Maintain Your Professional Focus

Do you feel like you don’t ever seem to get things done at work? You might plan the perfect day as you’re getting ready, but once you get to work, emails, emergencies, and co-worker distractions change your plans. By the time lunch rolls around, you’re lucky to have even started when you had planned to have finished.

This desperate push and pull on your time doesn’t have to rob you of your focus. These proven methods can help you stay on schedule, stay adaptable to changing work needs, and not feel guilty about taking a 15 minute coffee break if you get a little thirsty.

#1. Take your work offline. Most workplace distractions originate from an online source. Your email and the internet are massive time killers. You can spend 15 minutes composing and email and not even realize it. If you need to stay focused, then unplug your internet connection. Turn your smartphone off. Should someone need you to do something, they’ll come find you.

#2. Swap out your office chair. Sitting at your desk can be incredibly taxing on your body. If you have neck, shoulder, or back pain after a day at work, then this is evidence that your chair is giving you some trouble. Try sitting with proper posture, but that might not be enough if your chair isn’t being supportive. Consider swapping out the old chair for a new one… or try a modern stand-up desk where you don’t even need to sit at all.

#3. Create a list and stick to it. This method has some pros and cons to it. If you fail to accomplish your list, then you’re going to feel even worse about your focus. What a list can do, however, is help you to prioritize what needs to get done. Put items that aren’t due for a few days at the end of the list. A daily and a weekly list can help you stay focused because the required tasks stay within your field of vision.

#4. Install your own deadlines. If a project isn’t due until next week, there’s a good chance you’re not going to start it until next week, right? At work, we are a deadline orientated people. When there is a strict deadline in place, our focus increases because we feel a need to meet that obligation. Instead of looking at the final deadline, try creating daily deadlines for specific tasks to improve your productivity.

#5. Change how you work. Many professionals work in linear terms. This means they start at 8am and keep working until their first break, starting at the beginning and working until the end of what needs to be done. If there is a particularly large task, then the work can seem overwhelming when you get started in the morning and cause you to lose your focus. Break your time and your projects into chunks that are more manageable so you can benefit from a sense of accomplishment every time you achieve something.

#6. Improve your foundation. If you didn’t get much sleep the night before, then your day at work becomes more difficult. The same is true for your lifestyle habits which may alter your energy levels, brain power, and even your emotional stability. Try to add some daily exercise to your routine, look at your eating habits to see if improvements could be made, and establish a bedtime routine if needed. Having a huge caffeine intake to get started shouldn’t be your go-to solution.

Maintaining your professional focus in the hustle and bustle of modern life can be difficult, but it can be done. Look to these 6 proven methods for inspiration to find your focus today.

6 Proven Methods Which Maintain Your Professional Focus

Do you feel like you don’t ever seem to get things done at work? You might plan the perfect day as you’re getting ready, but once you get to work, emails, emergencies, and co-worker distractions change your plans. By the time lunch rolls around, you’re lucky to have even started when you had planned to have finished.

This desperate push and pull on your time doesn’t have to rob you of your focus. These proven methods can help you stay on schedule, stay adaptable to changing work needs, and not feel guilty about taking a 15 minute coffee break if you get a little thirsty.

#1. Take your work offline. Most workplace distractions originate from an online source. Your email and the internet are massive time killers. You can spend 15 minutes composing and email and not even realize it. If you need to stay focused, then unplug your internet connection. Turn your smartphone off. Should someone need you to do something, they’ll come find you.

#2. Swap out your office chair. Sitting at your desk can be incredibly taxing on your body. If you have neck, shoulder, or back pain after a day at work, then this is evidence that your chair is giving you some trouble. Try sitting with proper posture, but that might not be enough if your chair isn’t being supportive. Consider swapping out the old chair for a new one… or try a modern stand-up desk where you don’t even need to sit at all.

#3. Create a list and stick to it. This method has some pros and cons to it. If you fail to accomplish your list, then you’re going to feel even worse about your focus. What a list can do, however, is help you to prioritize what needs to get done. Put items that aren’t due for a few days at the end of the list. A daily and a weekly list can help you stay focused because the required tasks stay within your field of vision.

#4. Install your own deadlines. If a project isn’t due until next week, there’s a good chance you’re not going to start it until next week, right? At work, we are a deadline orientated people. When there is a strict deadline in place, our focus increases because we feel a need to meet that obligation. Instead of looking at the final deadline, try creating daily deadlines for specific tasks to improve your productivity.

#5. Change how you work. Many professionals work in linear terms. This means they start at 8am and keep working until their first break, starting at the beginning and working until the end of what needs to be done. If there is a particularly large task, then the work can seem overwhelming when you get started in the morning and cause you to lose your focus. Break your time and your projects into chunks that are more manageable so you can benefit from a sense of accomplishment every time you achieve something.

#6. Improve your foundation. If you didn’t get much sleep the night before, then your day at work becomes more difficult. The same is true for your lifestyle habits which may alter your energy levels, brain power, and even your emotional stability. Try to add some daily exercise to your routine, look at your eating habits to see if improvements could be made, and establish a bedtime routine if needed. Having a huge caffeine intake to get started shouldn’t be your go-to solution.

Maintaining your professional focus in the hustle and bustle of modern life can be difficult, but it can be done. Look to these 6 proven methods for inspiration to find your focus today.

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