One morning, I had an appointment with one of my customers at 9 a.m, so I figured I would leave the house at around 8:15 a.m.
with my son, who I was dropping off at school. The plan seemed reasonable with plenty of time to spare to gather my thoughts before walking into the meeting.
At 8:05 a.m., I tell him to make sure everything is ready. Shoes, lunch, school bag – the usual stuff that an elementary school student would need for his day. Then, half-way to the school, I hear, “Oh no!” from the back seat. I say, “What happened?”
“I forgot my violin.”
My first reaction was to frown. My first thought was, “I will be late.” Next thought was that we would lose a sale because, since I am late, he would think that our company was unreliable. A whole bunch of scenarios ran through my head within 30 seconds.
But then, I just sighed and thought this – “There are much worse things that could have happened today.” At the next intersection, I circled the car around and headed back to the house. I hear, “I’m sorry.” To which I replied, “It happens.”
I really wanted to give him a lecture on being prepared. Instead, I told him to get ready to sling-shot out the car so he can run into house to grab his violin. He laughed and went in, and I smiled.
1. Business versus personal life
What I have learned is that what happens in one part of my life does have an impact on the other. If I don’t create business, that immediately affects my personal life, but seldom do we think that our personal life impacts our business.
I could have easily scolded my 10-year-old, and make his morning terrible.Most likely, I would have felt bad, and that would have affected me during my meeting. However, I walked into that meeting happy and came out with an opportunity that was unexpected.
A great personal life does indeed result in good business fortune.
2. Being in control of the small choices
Every day, we make a series of decisions that will nudge us closer to being extraordinary, keep us in status quo or further down the path of destruction. They may seem negligible at the time.
Yes, I could have been really angry at my son and blurt out what immediately popped into my head. However, as the adult with some level of emotional maturity, I chose to be in control of situations like this. Where do uncontrolled choices lead you?
I made a choice that nudged me toward my happiness, and I got a nice big hug from my boy as he started his day. For me, I get to add another dollar to his university fund!
3. Having a ‘why’ for goal-setting
My ultimate goal is to live a happy and fulfilling life. With that in mind, I can’t sweat the small stuff. Overall, the turnaround time was seven measly minutes. Those seven minutes could have cost me a whole lot more in my life than in my business.
Since, I remind myself of my goals and strongly connect them to my “why.” It helps me focus on how my business goals are created and results in providing the life that I want for myself and family. So, does the dog wag the tail, or the tail wag the dog?
As much as you teach your children about life, there are many lessons to be learned just by interacting with your children. I’ve probably made millions and lost millions because of how I reacted with my children. Thank goodness that my children have balanced that scale somewhat in our favour.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Is There A Link Between Physical And Financial Wellness?
To reduce stress and find your feet, get going down the road to better financial and physical health. Here are some ideas:
Many of us have goals connected to both physical or financial health, but would you have expected them to be linked? According to some new studies, they are. In one study by Momentum (UK), a survey “show[ed] a clear and significant relationship between overall wellbeing and Financial Wellness”. They looked at established areas of economic wellbeing, and asked respondents about their feelings towards their physical health.
The survey found that “39% of people in ‘excellent health’ reported feeling confident about their finances in the long-term. Of those who reported being in ‘poor health’, just 18% were confident about their long-term finances.”
Stress is at the root of many health complications and diseases. It stands to reason that one of life’s biggest stressors, money, would be linked to health. This goes both ways though, so if you are less stressed about money, you are likely to have better health. To reduce stress and find your feet, get going down the road to better financial and physical health.
Here are some ideas:
Just as you’d make a food diary to figure out where you’re eating badly, you should also keep a spending diary. Log every cent you spend, both fixed and variable, and after just a few weeks you’ll notice where the pitfalls of your spending habits lie.
Work on healthier eating habits and healthier spending habits: Try grocery shopping with a list when you’re not hungry, to avoid buying all the things that expand your waistline and shrink your bank balance.
Do some exercise(s)
Exercise is key when it comes to physical health, but you can do some spending exercises too. Once you’ve tracked your spending, allocate all of it to named expenses. Then play with the numbers and aim to reduce your spending to increase savings.
Figure out the sweet spot between what you get in and what goes out, to figure out spending and savings goals. Then at the end of each month, do a reconciliation to see if you reached your goals. Just as you may aim for a personal best when running, so you can aim for a PB in your spending habits too.
Eat at home
Think this one isn’t financial? Think again. Eating at home is better for your health, but it’s also better for your wallet. Aim to eat at home 70-80% of the time, and take a packed lunch to work (leftovers work a treat, as long as you plan for them). If you buy lunch every day at R40/day, you can save R200 a week or nearly R10 000 a year. That’s a quite a lump of cash you could be saving for retirement.
Related: Is Sitting the New Smoking?
Save to splurge later
Several new studies link good savings habits in early life, to better health later in life. A life you’ll actually be around to see, if you’re healthy that is. According to this article, a new study in the Psychological Science journal found that “people who value their future selves enough to regularly put money aside in a nest egg, are more likely to also make healthier choices in the present to improve their health in the future”.
So there you have it. A few steps you can take now to improve your financial wellbeing and your physical health, to ensure you’re healthy, well and cared for when you retire.
15 Scientifically Proven Ways To Work Smarter, Not Just More
Nobody cares how busy your are or how work you late, they just care what you get done.
Whether you’re working a traditional 9-to-5 gig or running your own business, we all struggle with productivity. For many this is a daily struggle. The good news? That struggle will be a thing of the past if you implement these 15 scientifically-proven methods for increasing your productivity.
1Track your time
Time tracking will boost your productivity by allowing you to see how much time you’ve spent on a task. The task may be invoicing or emailing, the tracking will be be done the same. You will also know how much time you’ve wasted. Have you counted all the times you’ve checked your phone when you receive a notification?
Researchers found people who were assigned to wear a pedometer walked at least one extra mile per day on average. It also improved their overall activity levels by 27 percent.
There are hundreds of companies that offer everything from clock timers and time sheets to automated business process features. You can get faster at invoicing, project management, collaboration platforms, payroll software and more. I recommend choosing the right Calendar to help with this.
However, choosing the best time tracking tool for you can be overwhelming. The good news is we’ve already put together a list of 101 time tracking companies for you to check out.
Related: Work Smarter Says Matsi Modise
2Unplug every 90 minutes
If you’re like most people, you’re probably busy responding to emails on the morning commute. You may be answering the phone whenever you have a break – but you’re working non-stop. This is not as uncommon of an occurrence as previously believed. But, we weren’t designed to work like that.
The fact is that our bodies and minds actually follow a daily cycle called a circadian rhythm. “…these are the physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle. These respond primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment.”
It’s the same rhythm we follow for healthy sleep patterns. We shift between several 90 minute cycles of truly deep restorative sleep. This sleep is then followed by a lighter, dream-filled REM sleep.
When it comes to productivity research shows that going full-throttle for eight hours straight goes against this design. We cycle through ultradian rhythms. In other words, the brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before it needs a break.
That’s why it’s suggested that you carve your workday into a trio of 90-minute chunks. This change will put you in the patter or order, to achieve maximum productivity.
3Take a nap
Yes. You read that correctly. Studies have found that taking a 20 minute nap in the afternoon can make you more productive. A little nap will recharge, refresh and reinvigorate both the body and the brain. Naps also make you feel more relaxed and will extend your life by preventing risks like heart attacks.
No wonder Google, Pfizer, Proctor & Gamble and Saatchi & Saatchi have added Energy Pods (or Sleep Pods) to their work spaces.
4Work in natural light
A study conducted by the neuroscience program at Northwestern University found a strong relationship between workplace daylight exposure and office workers’ sleep, activity and quality of life.
The NU study stated that the employees who worked in natural light slept on average 46 more minutes per night. Workers slept more soundly and efficiently, and reported higher quality of life scores than those who did not. Windowless workers had lower scores in measurements of physical problems and vitality. It proved those who didn’t work near daylight also had less quality sleep.
The NU study goes back to the original proof of the circadian rhythm. So, it’s not surprising that natural light can impact your productivity and energy.
What if you don’t work in an office that has windows? A quick fix would be to purchase a natural light lamp that can simulate natural light. If that doesn’t work, consider working remotely or finding a new job where you can bask in the sunlight.
5Evaluate your internet speed
A Boston-based Analysis Group, via The Washington Post, cities that those with high average internet speeds were more productive. The report added that the cities that offer 1G or higher in internet speeds reported a higher per-capita GDP. The results were analysed next to those cities lacking high internet speeds.
This may sound like common sense to you. Realise how much your productivity will improve when your internet speeds-up. You have probably become accustomed to waiting for webpages to load.
You can run a speed test tool to find out how much speed you’re actually getting. This tests speeds from your current provider. You can also use an internet speed estimate tool. With the test you will get an idea on how much speed you should sign up for.
6Bring the outside, in
Research shows that as individuals we can be more productive after spending time outdoors. Being surrounded by trees and rocks can stimulate and inspire creativity and productivity. Unfortunately, not all of us can get outside every day.
To get around this, bring nature inside by investing in plants. Plants increase our happiness and productivity, while reducing stress. This may have something to do with the fact that plants can reduce the chemicals emitted into the air.
Rodale’s Organic Life has eight recommendations for plants that improve productivity.
7Plan your day the night before
Planning your work day allows you to schedule work on your meaningful goals. You can write these goals to do within the first few hours of the day.
When you’re able to accomplish these goals, your mood will improve. Accomplishing your goals will eventually make you even more productive. Creating a plan also relieves anxiety and leaves some free mental space.
Research has discovered that when you create a specific plan you’re behavior is likely to follow the plan. Don’t hold on to the notion that you can just think through your plan. A study had participants write a report two days after Christmas about how they spent their holidays.
One group was asked to specify where, when, and how they were going to write the report. The control group was asked to write the report, but didn’t create such a plan.
Of the participants who made a plan, 71 percent sent the report back in to the researchers. This is compared against the 32 percent of participants who hadn’t formed a plan.
Sonja Lyubomirsky, one of the leading happiness researchers, describes this in The How of Happiness:
“In sum, across all the domains of life, happiness appears to have numerous positive by-products. Few of us have taken the time to really understand [these]. In becoming happier, we boost experiences of joy, contentment, love, pride, and awe. We also improve other aspects of our lives. Energy levels, our immune systems, our engagement with work and with other people, and our physical and mental health benefit.”
A study from the University of Warwick also found that happiness made people around 12 percent more productive.
“We have shown that happier subjects are more productive, the same pattern appears in four different experiments. This research will provide some guidance for management in all kinds of organisations. The goal, striving to make their workplaces emotionally healthy for their workforce,” said one of the researchers Dr. Eugenio Proto.
If you want improve your happiness, start with the basics like taking care of yourself. This includes exercising, meditating and eating healthy. Start expressing gratitude and surrounding yourself with optimistic people.
9Avoid the news
Living in a world where we’re plugged in 24/7 means that we’re bombarded with news. You may not even want to hear about the particular news story you’re hearing. The problem as Buffer’s Joel Gascoigne explains – the news is negative. The ratio of bad news to good news is around 17:1. As previously mentioned, happiness influences productivity – skipping the news may help you.
Constantly consuming this unhealthy information can affect your mood and prevent you from bettering yourself. For instance, instead of watching the 24/7 news cycle, you could hit the gym. Consider strengthening a skill, or reading a book that’s inspiring to boost your productive and happy self.
10Take breaks with a friend
Sociometric researchers found employees who spent their lunch breaks with others were 36 percent more productive during the week. The same study also revealed that this same group were 30 percent less likely to become stressed. Even when the company went through a round of layoffs later in the year, there was less stress.
Those who were more productive and less stressed were those who socialised. Socialising helps clear the mind and allows us to decompress. Talking to others gives us the chance to gain a new perspective on a problem or task. Companies like Google have been pushing for campus style workplaces. In these workplace employees will all collaborate and interacts with each other during the day.
What if you work from home or are a freelancer? Call a couple of friends and have lunch with them.
It’s true. A study out of the University of Melbourne suggests that procrastination can sometimes be good. Dr. Brent Coker found that those who browse the internet while working are more productive than others who don’t.
“People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration,” Coker said. The study found that those who spend time on websites like YouTube were more motivated. A reasonable amount of time provided a nine percent raise in productivity. Those without the YouTube benefit (I love this) were not as productive.
You can use YouTube to watch clips making you smile or even instructional videos that can help you become more productive. The boss may like the instructional videos from YouTube better than the humors ones.
12Adjust your thermostat
Researchers from Finland found that performance increases with temperatures up to between 69.8 degrees and 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This correlates to 21 degrees to 22 degrees Celsius. The study was conducted at Helsinki University of Technology, Laboratory for Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning.
The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Environmental Energy Technologies Division at Berkeley concurred with the Finland study. Berkeley also found the highest productivity at around 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
A Cornell study suggests that chilly workers make more errors. More errors can potentially increase a worker’s hourly labor cost by 10 percent. Warming up, “typing errors fell by 44 percent and typing output increased 150 percent…”
Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute studied clutter on productivity. They discovered that too much clutter causes brain activity to decrease. Your brain becomes overly distracted by the clutter preventing you from being able to accomplish more.
How often have you had to stop working on a project because you had to look for a tool that you needed? When you find what you need how long does it take you to get back on track?
Keep your workplace clean and organized. Always put things back where they belong.
Mental clutter also hinders productivity. June Saruwatari is a best-selling author of Behind the Clutter. Saruwatari recommended that you to create a to do list each evening or morning. She suggests that you prioritise the list, and then reflect and reorganise it. As you cannot get everything done in one day, this allows “everything in it’s own mental container. You only open the lid when we are ready to deal with it.”
“The brain cannot be in two places at once, so what people are referencing as multitasking is actually what neuroscientists call task switching and that means rapidly moving back and forth between different tasks,” states Devora Zack, author of Singletasking: Get More Done – One Thing at a Time.
Task switching, warns Zack, not only lowers productivity by 40%, it also shrinks our brains. “When you overload your brain trying to get it to task switch, you shrink the grey matter in your brain,” she says.
This means that our brains and bodies should be in the same place and focused on one thing at a time, aka single tasking. You can start by eliminating distractions like turning off auditory dings or pop-ups, cluster-tasking emails, jotting down any distractions so you can revisit them, and carving out around 15 minutes for quiet reflection.
15Listen to music
Noise can be distracting. But, the right noise does have the power to boost productivity. Music in particular can help with focus and concentration when working on repetitive tasks. What kind of music though? The nifty app called focus@will contains a unique library of instrumental music that will increase your attention span and general concentration.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
I Started Saying ‘No’ To These 6 Things. My Life And My Business Got A Lot Better
The most difficult obstacles to get past are the ones we place in front of ourselves.
I’m a people pleaser. It’s hard for me to say “no” to people who ask for something – despite a reluctance inside of me. This has gotten me into trouble more than a few times in life and especially in business. Time is precious and slips by quickly but there is also no lack of things that have to get done in an entrepreneur’s life.
For 12 years, I took life a day at a time. I had a dream but no goals for making it real. I just woke up each day hoping for something more. In 2011, I had had enough and began chasing my dream of starting a lifestyle business. This meant more work on top of a service business that took 60-80 hours of my week. It didn’t take long for me to realise that something had to give. I had to learn how to say no to open up room for the things that were important.
Seeing how much time and energy was freed by saying no, I started looking at all the other areas of my life. Here are six things I said no to. Saying no helped me live a much better life and create the kind of business that I love.
1Other people’s baggage
Life is hard for all of us. Sometimes it’s easier to push your baggage onto someone else, maybe even without you realising it.
If you are trying to make changes in your life and someone reacts a certain way because of their baggage, it’s up to you to say “no”.
You don’t need any more drama in your life. For me, this meant ignoring some people on social media and purging negative people from my life. It meant ending the business partnerships that were not in alignment with the direction I was taking my business.
2Situations that I knew would make me angry
There are things in life that you know you don’t want to do. For years, I just rolled with it. I went to gatherings and hung out with people who I knew would make me angry. I got on “get-to-know-you” calls with entrepreneurs who were all talk and no action.
I entered into collaborations with business owners that weren’t serious. When I said enough and stopped, it felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. It freed my mind and business and helped me focus.
3A business that I absolutely hated
I had a service business in the vendor industry for 12 years and hated it. I felt stuck and believed that someone like me – a high school dropout – couldn’t do better. In 2011, I said “no” more and worked hard for four years to make my dream of being a global lifestyle entrepreneur a reality. I now wake up loving what I get to do for work and traveling the world. Saying no led to happier days.
4Unhealthy habits that felt good
I love food. I said yes to junk food and no to healthier choices. This, as you can imagine, led to major weight gain. At one point, I was 193 pounds overweight.
I started saying no to unhealthy choices and started exercising, I’ve lost 121 pounds so far this year.
Today, I have more energy, focus and confidence. Life is better. I wake up ready to work on my business. I feel great when I travel for consulting presentations at multinational corporations.
Purging negative people from my life and saying no to what they tried to project into my life led to relief and happiness. These relationships included romantic relationships, friendships and business connections.
It was hard, but I had to say no. Toxic people will keep you off track and make your life unenjoyable. Purge negativity from your life and business whenever it’s possible.
6Holding onto the past
I had a messed up childhood that involved physical and mental abuse. I chose to be homeless at 17 instead of continuing to be beaten with lamp cords. The demons from my past threatened to destroy me as I grew into an adult. I had to let go. I had to say no a lot more. I had to forgive to begin the healing process. I don’t know what you have or are facing. I do know that to heal, you have to let go.
Just because you’re saying no right now doesn’t mean you’ll have to say no forever. Life has seasons, and some are busier than others. The point is to make sure you’re doing the things you want to do and that lead to the kind of life and business you want.
Don’t let other people’s motives make decisions for you. This is your life. This is your business. You get to decide. Say no to things that don’t make sense for you. Say no to things that don’t feel right to you. Trust your intuition. You know whether or not you want to do something. Don’t be pressured into saying yes.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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