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Self Development

Regain Your Focus for a Prosperous 2013

You’re already one month into the new year and aren’t quite meeting the new year goals you set for yourself. Here are seven ways to regain your focus.

Jane Porter

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Focus

As an SME owner, you are no doubt familiar with spending entire workdays jumping from one task to the next. To help you cope, try these seven ways to regain your focus in as little as 60 seconds.

1. Refresh your business goals

You may lose focus if you fixate on negative thoughts about your work – email is overwhelming; there’s not enough time; no end is in sight. If you’re unfocused because of such distracting feelings, take a minute to redirect your mind by reminding yourself what made you get into business in the first place.

You might think of three work-related things you’re grateful for or read a client testimonial to motivate you.

2. List your top priorities

Sometimes, you may have trouble focusing because it’s hard to decide what you ought to do first. In such instances, take a minute to write down your top priorities or tasks for the day. You can always look at that to-do list, and it will get you back on track. It shows you concretely what you need to do.

3. Synchronise breath and body

When you close your eyes for a minute and concentrate on the sound and feeling of your breath, you re-energise the body with oxygen. Take a minute to coordinate your breath with a word or movement. For example, you can mentally say the word ‘here’ with each inhale and ‘now’ with each exhale.

You can also lift your arms overhead with each inhale and lower them with each exhale. When you match your breath with a word or movement, you are synchronising the frontal lobes of the brain that help you focus, the motor cortex that controls movement, and the speech centres of the brain.

4. Drink a glass of water

It may sound simple, but if you’re having difficulty staying on task, pause and drink a glass of water. While your impulse might be to grab a cup of coffee, too much caffeine can leave you frazzled. Try water instead. Not only will getting up to pour yourself a glass force you to change your thought process, it also will keep you hydrated, which makes you more alert.

5. Download an awareness chime

Some smartphone apps can help you refocus by sounding an awareness chime at random times throughout the day. Some examples include Insight Timer for $2 and ZenChimes, which is free. As an alternative, try snapping your fingers as a mental trigger. Just to have those little auditory pings throughout the day will remind you to get into focus.

6. Clear your desk – and mind

When your desk is cluttered, your mind can be cluttered, too. If you’re feeling unfocused, take a look around your workspace to see if papers are piled up everywhere. If so, place everything on your desk in a box and put it out of sight.

When we see a pile of papers and other things, we immediately go into anxiety. If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. At the end of the day, spend half an hour organising what’s in your box so you know what your next priority will be.

7. Use distinctive objects

While it’s important to keep your workspace free of distracting clutter, it can be useful to place an object on your desk that triggers you to refocus. It could be something as simple as a flower, a candle or even a can of beans. By associating the object with the need to stay on task, you will be reminded to get back to work each time you look at it.

Hot tips

Improve your time management

Don’t be stuck doing what you’ve always done. You know there are better solutions than those you have already implemented for getting things done better, faster and smarter, but you’re just not finding the time, or the inclination, to make a change.

Organisational guru and GetOrganised founder, Tracey Foulkes offers these five simple tips you can start on today.

  • Wake up earlier. Instead of rolling over and hitting ‘snooze’ use this ‘quiet’ time to take care of a critical high value task, reading in your area of expertise, doing something towards reaching your goals and/or exercising.
  • Do the most important things first. Critical and high focus tasks are often left for later in the day when you are tired and less productive. To enhance team productivity, get your group on board to tackle the most important, highest value task on their list first thing in the day before diving into email or attending meetings.
  • Don’t check email first thing in the morning. Email has that uncanny ability to suck you in and chew you up for the day. Schedule three or four half-hour pockets of time throughout your day to read, respond, schedule, file or delete your mail.
  • Say “No” more often. Easier for some than others but saying yes when you should say no really saps time and energy.
  • Spend the last five minutes of your work day prioritising. Choosing today what needs to be done tomorrow takes away the guesswork and lets you dive in to productivity from the get go.

Jane Porter is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in publications including BusinessWeek Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Men's Health and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She has a bachelor's degree in English from Brown University as well as a masters of fine arts in creative writing from Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C.

Self Development

5 Inspiring Quotes From Madiba To Stir You Into Action On Mandela Day

In honour of Mandela Day, here are 5 of Nelson Mandela’s most inspiring quotes.

Casandra Visser

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Bouncing Back

nelson-mandela

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

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Self Development

25 Bad Words That Make Other People Feel Inferior

If the harshest thing you have to say about someone is partly true, say the other part.

John Rampton

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word-choice

Did you know that in every language, there are more negative words than positive ones? It seems we need lots of words to describe our negative feelings, but we’re content with a handful of positive ones.

For instance, researchers have found that most cultures have words for seven basic emotions: Joy, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, shame and guilt.

That’s one positive emotion, and six negative

It’s no wonder so many of us have a hard time keeping our negative comments in check. Over the past six months I’ve been working on the verbal language that I’ve been using that I don’t even realize hurts others and in some cases makes them feel inferior. I even noticed that I’ve used a couple on my personal and business website. This is a “no-no” that I needed to fix.

This post will list 25 negative words you should avoid…so that you stop hurting, belittling and intimidating those around you!

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Self Development

How To Control What You Can And Influence What You Can’t In Your Life

Every day you need to get up and face numerous challenges. Here’s how you can keep your head in the game — even when all you want to do is quit.

Erik Kruger

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resilience

On Monday you wake up ready to take on the world. You’re focused, determined and business is doing well. Tuesday feels like you’re invincible and things could not be going any better. Wednesday, your world collapses. You doubt your ability to deliver to your clients. You wonder whether you should still pursue the same business. You think that quitting at this stage is easier than dealing with the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. And you are dramatically reminded that entrepreneurship is hard.

Mix in human nature and it becomes borderline insanity to try and build a business. And yet, the reward is worth it. I therefore want to share three strategies that might help you cope with this tough but deeply rewarding pursuit.

Influence and control

Most of the things in business and life are out of our control. You cannot control how other people react to your service or product. You cannot control how your employees will show up. You cannot control how the market will react and how that will affect your business.

Related: How You Can Do Big Things

This makes it very important to control what you can and then influence the rest to the best of your ability.

So, what can you control? You can control your actions, reactions and perceptions of the challenges you face. Meaning essentially, that you can control yourself and your efforts.

Do this with excellence and you will automatically influence the people around you and the situations you find yourself in.

Override your moods

If we only did the hard work when we felt like it, we would hardly get anything done. Our moods fluctuate like the tides of the ocean. Not because we are temperamental but because the external world has a profound impact on us.

When you wake up to news that the economy is in recession, it has the potential to plant seeds of doubt in your mind. When you receive an email from a disgruntled customer complaining about your service, it has the potential to ruin your day.

The fact is that you can receive a hundred testimonials singing your praise, but you will obsess and become despondent over that one negative comment.

This means that we have to move beyond our emotions. Sure, they are important in the decision-making process and for fostering meaningful relationships. But you cannot allow them to dictate when you will do work.

In other words, work hard, irrespective of your moods, especially on the days when you don’t feel like it.

Create a calibration practice

One of the best ways to deal with this rollercoaster effect is to create a daily calibration practice. I am a big fan of any action taken on a daily basis. Not only because of the accumulation effect that occurs over time, but also because it keeps you focused.

So, what does a daily calibration practice look like?

It differs for everyone. It could range from meditation to a vision board to journaling to listening to a specific playlist of songs. My suggestion is that you give journaling a go.

Because it’s sometimes difficult to start a new calibration practice, I have included my journaling template for you.

It’s called ‘J1G’ (pronounced as jig). I use Evernote or a notebook from HumanWrites for journaling purposes.

J: Journal

For the first few minutes, simply allow your hand to run across the paper. The idea is for you to dump as many of your thoughts onto the paper as possible.

Some questions you can answer in this section are:

  • What am I currently excited about?
  • What am I currently worried about?
  • Where am I currently winning?
  • What can I learn from what happened yesterday?

1: The one thing that you want to get done today

In this time, I usually have a look at my to-do list and decide which one action I want to get done today. Write it down and then expand on why it is the most important action. How will it move you or your business forward?

Related: Better Thinking For A Better World

G: Gratitude

In the last section, you simply write down three things that you are grateful for. Trust me, this is an important daily practice, but even more so on the days when you feel as if life is beating you down.

When you focus on the things that you are grateful for, you crowd out fear and shift your state of mind to a more positive and productive one.

The punch line

If you can stick to the three ideas I outlined above, I guarantee you will develop more resilience and perseverance. You are an entrepreneur because you chose to be one. Do not allow life to impose its will on you. I have no doubt that you will be better off because of all the challenges you face. Not in spite of them.

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