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Finding the Time and Energy to Manage your Stress

I know – you’re too stressed and don’t have the time for stress management. Right? Wrong.

Richard Hawkey

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I’m not going to sit here at my warm keyboard, sipping a mochachocca latte and preach about how easy it is to find time for this. Chances are if you are experiencing excess negative stress you are probably somewhat overwhelmed and are having trouble focussing on getting through today’s ‘to do’ list, let alone on life balance.

So, what I will do is introduce two techniques that may help you tame the stampede of demands on your time and energy into something less frantic; giving you a chink in the chaos to pause and try one or two resilience-building activities (see the previous column: The resilience-building toolkit).

1)Cost : Benefit – many of you will be familiar with the two by two matrix, it is a model much favoured by business schools the world over. The real power in using this particular version is that it helps remove emotion from your prioritisation decisions.

  • List all tasks that you have to do (at home and at work – remember, we don’t magically leave our private life at the door when we swipe our access cards; mercifully that kind of outdated management thinking has gone the way of leg warmers, shoulder pads and other abominations from the 1980s).
  • Assess each task against the two dimensions – i.e. how much will benefit (time, money, energy, happiness) will task A give you versus how much will it cost you (in time, money, energy, happiness)?
  • Learning to stand back and be objectively honest comes with practise. Be brutal.

2)Delegate S.M.A.R.T.E.R.“….but it’s quicker if I do it myself”.  I used to say this all the time – it’s the classic refrain of the terminal perfectionist slash Type-A personality. Firstly, understand that you often cause your own stress by having stratospherically high standards and by arrogantly assuming no one else is as capable as you – apologies if that sounds too brutally honest, but it’s true. Learn to say ‘no’ and accept that you cannot be everything to all people and you cannot do everything your way.  Delegation is an art, consider the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. technique as a paint-by-numbers:

Be Specific in your instructions; ensure the task is Measurable; mutually Agree on what is being delegated; ensure the delegation is Realistic, both in terms of the task itself and the skills set of the person to whom you are delegating; the delegation must be Time bound and Ethical; it must also be Recorded.

Just get started

I understand that for many people relinquishing control isn’t easy – we like our comfort zones, no matter how uncomfortable they may be! My advice here is the same as it has been throughout this series of columns: start small and practise. Don’t set unrealistic expectations that you will become an expert delegator overnight when you have spent a lifetime doing everything yourself.

Don’t overanalyse why you have no time – try these techniques, celebrate the successes, use the time freed up to invest in yourself (not to take on other tasks!) and repeat the cycle.

Remember: small changes add up to make a significant difference; however, the horrible, awful truth – and you know this – is that if you do nothing, nothing will happen. With regards to stress, that’s not strictly true – if you do nothing, it is likely to get worse.

**In the next column we will re-open the resilience-building toolkit and describe more practical tools, tips and techniques to help you manage your stress and build resilience **

Richard Hawkey is an anti-stress evangelist, author, speaker and productivity consultant. Having suffered from a stress-related breakdown himself, he has since combined this general management and leadership experience with the profound lessons he learnt from mismanaging stress and subsequently burning out. He is the author of Life Less Lived and the founder of equilibriumsolutions – which has developed the first online stress management tool aimed at both employees an employers. Richard can be contacted at richard@equilibriumsolutions.co.za

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Self Development

How You Can Make Failing Part Of Your Growth Strategy

Here’s how you can make failing forward part of your growth strategy.

Entrepreneur

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The concept of ‘fail forward’ basically means that it’s okay to fail as long as you learn from your mistakes. Once you shift your mindset regarding failure, it becomes an asset to your growth. What’s not to like about learning?

Here’s how you can make failing forward part of your growth strategy.

1. Take risks

If it’s okay to fail as long as you learn from it, then it’s okay to embrace the idea of taking more risks. Try new things and see if they’ll work. If they don’t, then at least you’ve tried and learnt.

Related: Flourishing Through Failure And Finding Fortune

2. Learn constantly

Failing and learning shouldn’t be one-offs or isolated incidents. They should weave together in a constant stream of learning that builds and rewards as we move forward. That way, we can improve and eventually succeed more often than we fail.

3. Search and reapply

Learn from each other’s mistakes. Marketing is a spectator sport — you can learn from watching each other’s brand activities — both the wins and losses.

4. Accept failure

This one is the hardest step. It’s not easy to fail. It’s not something we’re taught to do. It distracts us from our mission and it takes time away from being successful. Or does it? If you start failing forward daily, not only for yourself, but for your teams as well, you will create an environment where failing forward is accepted and embraced as part of a learning culture that seeks continuous improvement. That improvement includes actively learning from your individual and collective mistakes.

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Self Development

Listening To These 8 Audiobooks On Success Is A Better Use Of Your Long Commute

Commuting is mostly just unpaid work, unless you make an effort to learn something along the way.

John Boitnott

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Commutes are getting longer, and in some cities they’re up to two hours each way. I have a friend in Los Angeles who does this. He passes the time with audiobooks. Now that’s still a lot of time to be stuck in transit, but he doesn’t view it that way. He says it allows him plenty of time to feed his personal and professional goals.

I’ve spent years listening to literature in the car while commuting, but somewhere along the line I switched over to books on business and personal improvement. I mostly gravitated toward amazing people who built their success from scratch and who experienced tremendous hardship. It stands to reason that if you’re dealing with hardships like a long commute, it’s important to hear motivational words that can help you transcend the difficulties.

Here are eight audiobooks that will help grow your success, both personal and professional, on your next commute:

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Self Development

3 Questions To Guide You To Success In 2018

Most of the goals we set have some external component to it. Some component that we cannot control. Yet, we act like we can.

Erik Kruger

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3 Questions To Guide You To Success In 2018

Goal setting as a concept makes perfect sense. At the most basic level you decide on the destination and then plot the way to get there. But as with many things, we like to overcomplicate that which should be simple.

Before you know it, you end up with 2 big goals in 15 different areas of your life and 100 micro goals that will help you reach your 30 big goals.

Complicating something simple. Some of the biggest obstacles to people in reaching their goals are:

  • The overestimate the effort it will take to achieve those goals
  • They want to go from 0-100km/h in the blink of an eye
  • Life is dynamic and static goals often do not make sense
  • They get so entrenched in the day to day running of things that goals get pushed aside.

What if instead of goals, we just focused on giving our best every day?

Of course, you still want to have an indication of where you are going.

But, if you are giving your 100% every day then you can forego the micro goals for a better way of calibrating your compass… using questions.

Related: Goal Setting Guide

I suggest you ask yourself these three questions regularly:

1. What does better look like?

The question at the heart of development and incremental improvement. This question allows you some creative space in which you can imagine a better future.

  • What does better health look like?
  • What does a better business look like?
  • What does better customer service look like?
  • What does better leadership look like?

By reflecting on this question, you materialise the gap between where you are and where you could be. Now, the only thing that is left is to align your daily actions with the better future you imagined.

2. What can I control?

Borrowed from Stoicism this question highlights the power of decision in your life. Epictetus said we should always be asking ourselves: “Is this something that is, or is not, in my control?”

Once you ask this of yourself regularly you will feel more in control of your life and more in control of your business.

Why?

Because your focus is solely on the things that you can influence. It restores the belief that you can actually impact the world around you in a meaningful way.

3. Was I impeccable with my actions today?

One inherent flaw with goal setting is that the goal setter often feels judged. As if we need more of that. In addition to the constant negative self-talk we have to endure we now have an additional source of judgement – whether we reached our goals or not.

As we discovered in question #2 We cannot control everything. Most of the goals we set have some external component to it. Some component that we cannot control. Yet, we act like we can.

So, instead of judging yourself, commit to giving your best every single day.

Related: The Tim Ferriss Approach to Setting Goals: Rig the Game so You Win


Accountability

What I love most about these questions is that they provide a built-in layer of accountability. Use them every day.

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