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How To Provide Feedback Instead of Criticism

You’ve just worked hard for a week on a project at work. It’s finally finished and you’ve turned it into your boss. You feel great because the work you did was awesome… except your boss thinks differently. Are you about to receive feedback that can improve your work?

Or are you just going to be criticized in some way?

Criticism is often viewed as the best way to hold people accountable, but what it really does in this instance is place the blame on someone specific. Accountability should be about delivering on a commitment or a promise instead of the foundation of a blamestorming session. It is a thoughtful process which looks to encourage people to step up their game instead of tearing them into shreds.

You can’t control how your boss will react to the project you’ve just submitted, but you can control how you provide feedback to others. Consider these options instead of getting angry the next time you feel like there was a lack of follow-through on something.

#1. Make sure there are clear expectations that have been communicated.

The most common reason why something doesn’t get done to a certain set of expectations is because no clear definitions have been set or communicated. People need to know what is expected of them to be able to achieve specific goals. If they have to guess at what needs to be done, the results will almost always be inconsistent.

#2. The right people need to be doing the job.

Would you give an employee who just started today a project that is critical to the survival of your company the moment they walk into the office? Of course not. Yet this is what happens all of the time to workers today. They are given assignments that don’t fit within their skill set, but are expected to deliver as if they have a PhD on the subject matter. Criticizing someone who did their best on a project they weren’t really capable of completing in the first place will only create resentment.

#3. Let people measure their own performance.

When clear expectations are set forth, there should also be clear measurements in place that let people track their own performance. We are always our own worst critic. We all take pride in our work. Most workers will hold themselves above the measurements that are put in place because they don’t want to think of themselves as failures. Providing advice on how to help each worker meet those expectations is the best feedback you could provide.

#4. There must be expected consequences.

Once a project has been completed, you have three options available to you: reward, repeat, or remove. If you feel like the expectations laid out weren’t clear because there was a general failure across the board, then repeat the project with a clarified set of expectations. If the job meets or exceeds your standards, then reward the workers in some way. If the work didn’t meet expectations and you were clear about what needed to be done and the assignment was given to the workers with the right skill set, then change the roles of those workers.

#5. Keep an open dialogue.

When there are open lines of communication available to people, they’re more likely to discuss the challenges they face during a project. Saying that you have an “open door policy” is a cop out. People don’t just generally approach someone if they think it might get them into trouble. You’ve got to engage people consistently to make sure an open dialogue can be achieved.

Feedback helps people to grow. Criticism tears people down. You might not know how your boss will react when you submit your work, but by using these options, you can make sure you’re giving people the feedback they need.

5 Ways to Unlock the Potential of Your Weekend

For the world’s most successful people, the weekend is more than an opportunity to kick back and relax. It’s the chance to invest into different priorities. Instead of going into the office, checking emails every few hours, or taking business calls, the weekend is a chance to spend time with family and friends. It’s a chance to recharge for a new week of productivity.

Why is this so important? Of course your family and friends appreciate your time. Studies have also shown that once an individual works 55 hours in a week, their productivity levels decline to virtually zero. Someone who works 70 hours per week is producing at the same levels as the person working 55 hours per week.

Yet the weekend can provide some traps that can kill your future productivity as well. Avoid these traps and you might just find success knocking at your door.

#1. Sleeping In

If you have a sleep debt which needs to be erased, then go to bed earlier on the weekend instead of sleeping in. Because you get up later than normal for 1 or 2 mornings, you’re actually resetting your biological clock. This will make it much more difficult to wake up when the alarm rings on Monday morning. Get up at the same time every day and your mind will be ready to get some work done after the weekend.

#2. A Full 2 Days

Weekends deserve some adventure. They deserve some family time. What often gets neglected is the personal time a person needs as well. Try to give yourself some personal time in the morning when your mind is the most awake. Consider adding some meditation to this time as well. Then think about scheduling a day trip or a partial day trip with family or friends instead of a weekend-long adventure for best results.

#3. No Fun

You’ve worked hard all week. You should be able to have some fun on the weekend. There will always be dishes to wash, laundry to do, and repairs around the house which need to get made. If that’s all you ever do on the weekend and you hate doing chores, then you’re not having any fun. Those chores can be set aside for awhile so you can do something relaxing or pursue something you’re passionate about. Painting, writing, composing, long walks by the beach – forget the excuses and just go do it.

#4. Staying Connected

If you’re still plugged into the rest of the world during the weekend, then there will always be the temptation to work. You might be able to fight it off for awhile, but eventually you’ll cave in. It happens to the best of us. To make the most out of your weekend, try disconnecting yourself from all of your electronic devices. Burnout quickly happens when you’re forcing yourself to be on-call 24/7.

#5. Zero Preparation

The weekend is also a great time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past week. This reflection time allows people to prepare themselves for the week ahead. You don’t need to spend a lot of time in preparation – just 30-60 minutes on a Sunday evening will do. If you can make this time happen, then you can make the coming week a little easier to navigate.

Unlocking the potential of the weekend ultimately means letting go of your professional responsibilities. Think of it as a “mini-retirement.” Sure – there will be interruptions and emergencies that happen and will need your attention. What is more important is your mindset. If you can bring all of this together and give yourself permission to let things go over the weekend, you may find your productivity levels can skyrocket.

5 Top Ways to Reduce Stress

Around the first of the year, most of us begin turning our attention to ways we can improve our lives. That is why January is considered one of the most stressful months of the year. Just trying to set and keep our New Year’s resolutions can be quite stressful. However, stress can happen at any time. Maybe it’s the meeting you’ve got with your boss at work tomorrow. It might be the roast that you just burned that has you dealing with stress. Whatever the cause of your stress might be, these 5 methods are proven to help you reduce the amount of stress you have in your life on a daily basis.

#1. Follow Your Passion

When your career path follows something you’re passionate about, it is a lot easier to combat the stress which comes with any type of work we do for a living. The love you have for what you do makes you mentally more resilient than if you’re just working to earn a paycheck. It’s also important to include habits you’re passionate about outside of work as well so you don’t feel like you’re 100% on call for professional demands.

 #2. Avoid Toxic People

Toxic people are around you every day. Unfortunately we can’t always avoid these people because they might be our family or friends. What you can do, however, is take a vacation from that toxicity. Take a break and allow yourself to decompress. Don’t let them talk to you, comment on your Facebook posts, or interact with you in some other way. Once you’ve had a chance to get away from that negativity, you can make a better decision about how often you wish to interact with these folks in the future.

 #3. Simplify

Having clutter is a guarantee that stress will be lurking around the corner. Clutter comes in many forms. You might have far too many clothes in your closet to maintain. You might have dozens of emails that are cluttering up your account. There might be a handful of voicemails you’ve been putting off hearing. Simplify your life, take out the clutter, and there won’t be as many worries that can cause you stress in the future.

 #4. Embrace Your Creativity

We often judge our own efforts at creativity against those who are better than us. Maybe you won’t be the next James Patterson or the next Picasso, but your creative efforts are just as important as theirs are. The goal isn’t to stress yourself out over the fact that you’re not making millions of dollars from your creative endeavors. You should be having a creative outlet simply because it is an easy way to deal with difficult emotions that can be the foundation for stress to build upon.

 #5. Learn To Say No

It’s hard sometimes to tell people “No” when they need a favor, but you’ve got to think of yourself first and them second. You can’t really help someone if you aren’t at your best. You’ve got enough stress to handle without trying to bear the stressful burdens of others at the same time.

These methods are proven to help you remove stress from your life. It takes time to develop these habits, so get started today and you’ll begin building a wall of resiliency that helps you refuse to have more stress in your life from now on.

7 Habits of Highly Productive People

How do some people always seem to get stuff done on time and still have time to spare? It’s because they have adopted the 7 habits of highly productive people. There is no secret to unlock or some hidden wealth of energy that people can tap into to stay productive. It is simply a choice to include these habits into everything they do. That means these habits can also work for you.

#1. Eliminate everything but your needed tasks. Distractions limit your productivity. Even something as simple as an email notification is enough to take your focus away. To stay productive, it is important to eliminate everything you can that could distract your from your needed tasks.

#2. Use the best tools possible. You could write something on a typewriter. You could also write something on an Apple MacBook with word processing software in a complete office suite. Which will help you create something more quickly and with high quality? The best tools will help you create the best possible results every single time.

#3. Be ruthless. You’ve got to tell your co-worker to stop coming around at 8:30 with their coffee to discuss what was on TV. You need to tell your boss that your protected time means they need to leave you alone unless there’s an emergency. Put your foot down and lock your office door. Turn off your smartphone. Disconnect the internet if needed. This is a place where you compromise will only make you less productive.

#4. Keep the negative away. Focusing on the negative will only sap you of the energy you need to stay productive. That means staying focused on the positive things of life can help you stay more productive. Keep people who are negative or toxic at an arm’s length. When you are positive, you can see up to 50% more results than if you’re neutral or negative.

#5. Be proactive about your investments. If you spent an extra 30 minutes now to save 3 hours of work a week from now, would you do it? Taking time to find ways to delegate tasks, automate responsibilities, or discover a faster way to get something done is a time investment which is worth making. Sure – it costs more now, but it also means you’ll make up that time over the long run so you can be more productive.

#6. Make it simple. Often people are busy because they are choosing to be busy. This means you can also choose to simplify your tasks. Remove the clutter that keeps your mind active, but your productivity levels low, and you’ll find that simplicity can tremendously enhance your overall productivity.

#7. Keep an open mind. It’s nice to think that we know everything, but that’s simply not the case. Someone might have a better idea. By keeping an open mind instead of being insistent that things happen a specific way, you can always make sure your productivity levels remain consistently high.

These 7 habits of highly productivity are easy to incorporate into your own routines. To make them work, however, there must be at least some willingness to change. You must decide that you want to be more productive. If you’ve made that choice, then these habits are going to open up a brand new world for you to enjoy.

How To Turn Around Any Bad Day

Bad days are going to happen. It’s just a fact of life. What happens when the bad day strikes, however, is up to each of us. We have a choice to make: we can settle for the negative energy the bad day wants to give us… or we can choose to be happy. That’s right – happiness is a choice we can make even on our worst days.

How can you turn around any bad day to make it better? Here are some easy ways to make it happen.

1. Find the Source

Something has to be causing your bad day. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep last night for some reason. The morning commute might have caused a tension headache. There’s a deadline looming and you need to fit 8 hours of work into a 4 hour window and you don’t know how you’ll do it. When you can find the source of what is causing your bad day, you’ll be able to start working on turning things around.

2. Find Gratefulness

The problem we all tend to have with genuine gratefulness is that it requires a certain level of humbleness. There must be a willingness to acknowledge that there are other people in this world that are having days worse than the one you’ve got going on. If you’re getting 3 square meals per day, have a warm home at night, a loving family, money in the bank, a job you love, or the chance to watch your favorite movie tonight with your favorite ice cream – well, you’ve got something that others don’t have.  Choose to be content and a bad day will have less power over you.

3. Create a Plan

Once you’ve made the choice to not let the negative energy of a bad day get to you, then it is time to take action. Create a plan that will take you through the steps you’ll need to follow to overcome that energy. Choose a healthy snack over a candy bar. Take a different route home. Ask for an extra hour at lunch to take a walk through a local park. When you can embrace positive energy, the negative energy doesn’t stand a chance.

4. Find Solutions

Now that you’ve got a plan in place, it is time to take control. Find solutions that will help you continue to overcome the negative energy from the bad day. Place yourself into situations where you know a positive outcome will occur. Take time to focus on your breathing. Instant message a friend and talk about the good memories the two of you have shared. Remember: the bad day only stays in control because you allow it to be in control.

5. Be Realistic

A bad day gets worse if you try to choose happiness and fail in your efforts. Be realistic about what you can do. Your boss probably isn’t going to let you take a 3-week trip to Tahiti with a moment’s notice. You probably won’t be winning millions of dollars in the lottery today. What you can do is pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and take a successful step forward toward happiness in a way that works for you.

The most important thing we can do is learn from the experiences our bad days provide us. This knowledge can help us to prevent future bad days from getting their negative claws into us. Choose happiness, make it happen, and you’ll be able to turn around any bad day.

Your First 10 Minutes Could Change Your Life

When everything is in its proper place, anything becomes easier to do. You’ll find this concept practiced in kitchens, large offices, and even at home when you’re trying to figure out what to wear in the morning. It’s kind of hard to wear a scarf when you can’t remember where you put it, right? And what happened to those keys that you’d swore were placed on the table?

We lose a lot of time every day trying to find things that are out of place. We also lose a lot of time jumping right into a project without creating a plan of action to accomplish the chores that need to get done. This is where the first 10 minutes you spend in the morning could become 10 minutes that change your life.

It’s Better To Plan Instead of Immediately Do

What’s the first thing you do when you first wake up in the morning? Or the first thing you do when you get to work? Many of us have developed the habit of getting to work immediately on our routines. A routine is our comfort zone. Having them is a good thing. Getting into them without a plan, however, may not be such a good thing.

When we have a plan that prioritizes everything that needs to get done during the day, we give ourselves the opportunity to be able to accomplish more. This is because we have willpower early on in the day thanks to our high levels of energy. When that energy level starts to decline, so does the desire to get work done.

And no – caffeine is not a good substitute to boost lacking energy levels. With up to a 12 hour half-life, you could wind up robbing yourself of sleep if you have an afternoon pick-me-up. Plan for your toughest tasks to get done right away. Put the easiest tasks at the end of the day. That way you’ll find your routines can make you more productive simply because you’ve got a plan to follow based on your natural energy levels every day.

It Is Important To Have Specific Goals

Just setting a task goal to complete isn’t good enough to maximize productivity. There must also be some specificity to the work that needs to get done. Instead of saying you’ll get through your emails by the end of the day, for example, you could say that you’ll read through all emergency emails at the start of the day before doing anything else.

Including specific tasks to complete is also important. You may need to collect sales figures for a presentation. There might be accounting numbers that need to be submitted for the monthly budget. Create as much specificity as possible and it will become much easier to follow the plans that are developed within the first 10 minutes of your day.

We all are tempted to hit the snooze button when the responsibilities of the day beckon. If we can resist that temptation and instead use that time to plan out what we need to get done for the day, each task will seem easier to complete… and that could lead to a lot fewer bad days on the horizon.

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