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With U.S. unemployment coming in at a healthy low of 4.10 percent last quarter, and better-than-average employment figures across the globe, job seekers have new choices. “Get a new job!” may be at the top of many resolution lists, but before you push “send” on that employment application, you might want to take a few things into consideration:

1. Finding a new job is not as simple as it appears

The number of people looking to ditch their current jobs and find other employment was estimated by some to be as high as 50 percent in 2017 (although our DecisionWise employee survey results show that figure to be less than 20 percent). Whether it’s 20 percent or 50 percent of the world’s population on the job prowl, competition may be steeper than one might think.

Now, further complicate this with the notion that millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce in 2020. In the competition for the perfect job, there is a high degree of likelihood that your job-hunting competitor may be very similar to you when it comes to skills, experience or education. And, while you’re actively searching for that ideal job, you may not be giving your current role the attention it (and your employer) deserves.

Related: How To Optimise Your Productivity After Quitting Your Job

2. You will be starting over

While the possibilities of that new job and compensation package may be enticing, that move may be financially taxing. Many companies have benefits policies that do not kick in for a period of time.

The paid time off and vacation time you’ve previously earned won’t transfer across companies. In many areas, you will be starting over.

3. Job switching is stressful

Workplace adjustments like changes to a different line of work, changes in work hours or location or new work responsibilities can significantly impact personal health. The Holmes and Rahe stress scale ranks a change in employment as one of the most significant when it comes to life’s stressors. When the average workweek for many of us is 45-55 hours, some of us spend as many as half our waking hours at the office. That’s a significant chunk of one’s life to disrupt.

4. You’ll be the newbie

Remember those new employees that you were asked to train – all of those questions and mistakes? Well, now that’s you! For the first three months of employment, you’re more of a liability than an asset, regardless of how valuable you think you are. Mastery takes time. Yet, mastery has repeatedly been shown as one of the key factors in job engagement. Institutional knowledge that comes through tenure is highly valued by most organisations.

Are you ready to spend a good part of 2018 as an apprentice again, acting as the learner rather than the expert? Many employees tie a sense of self-identity and worth to the expertise, title and necessity of their job. That change may have more of a psychological impact than you realise.

5. Relationships take time

A new job means a new team, new customers and a new boss or subordinates. Connection to others around you continues to show up as a primary factor in employee engagement, not to mention the ability to get things done. All that effort to build relationships in your current job won’t be transferred to your new role.

Additionally, trust typically must be earned over time, and that absence of trust may impede your short-term effectiveness. Relationships and trust take time to build. Remember, you will likely be starting over.

Related: 10 Things You Must Do Before Quitting Your Job To Start Your Company

6. Growth often involves pain

When professional growth opportunities are absent in an organisation, you get stagnation, boredom and attrition. Those who remain in growth-impaired environments are operating on autopilot. They aren’t mentally present; their minds are not on their work. Errors happen and quality drops. Indifference sets in when work becomes routine. While a no-stress job seems ideal to some, challenges and growth are key components of employee engagement.

Growth most often occurs when we are stretched beyond our comfort zone. Yet, when some people run up against challenges, they take the easy way out by looking outside the organisation. Consequently, they never grow because the grass is always greener elsewhere. Which brings up the next point.

7. Maybe the problem is you

In 2017, employee engagement firm DecisionWise analysed more than 24 million employee survey responses gathered over three years. When it came to disengagement, the findings weren’t completely surprising: fully disengaged employees rarely turned the engagement corner. According to the study, if I’m disengaged in my current job, I’m likely to disengage in my future job.

Why are you thinking of making the switch? Is it the working conditions? Compensation? Bad boss? These are valid reasons. However, often it’s not just this job; it has become a pattern. What’s the common denominator here? Are most team members always doing less work than you do? Are all companies made up of tyrants? Will the people at your new job really value you more than those at your current job? Or, maybe… just possibly…is the problem, you? Look in the mirror. As they say, “wherever you go, there you are.”

Before you rush out to fulfill that job-change resolution in 2018, consider the above. Maybe that switch isn’t what you want after all.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Tracy Maylett, Ed.D is CEO of employee engagement consulting firm DecisionWise and author of the books, MAGIC: Five Keys to Unlock the Power of Employee Engagement and The Employee Experience.

Work Life Balance

How To Work 10 Hours Less Each Week

We often equate working hard, long hours with being successful, when in fact, you’re just heading for a burnout. Here’s how to work less, while getting more done.

Pieter Scholtz

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“The key to increasing profits is to convert unprofitable interactions into profitable ones.”

John D Rockefeller, a man who commanded incredible amounts of money, once said: “Those who have leisure time to spend pursuing their passions and dreams experience the real wealth in life.”

Knowing how to spend time is a more valuable skill than knowing how to make, manage, invest and spend money. It’s wise for entrepreneurs who want to be truly successful to master the use of their precious and irreplaceable time. What I have found most interesting is that those who know how to manage, budget and save time — rather than letting it manage them — will always find it easier to make money.

Learning how to lop ten hours off a typical work week without sacrificing any income may take practice, but it’s easier and faster to accomplish than most people think with these three steps.

Step One: Fire extraneous customers

The first rule of any time management system is to utilise the time we are allotted most wisely. As the saying goes; Time is money. The thief to be most wary of, is the one who steals our time.

Related: Work Less, Work Better. Use These 5 Steps to Design Your Perfect Week

So the rather controversial first step is to eliminate wasted time on customers who tie up sales representatives with inconsequential sales, steal your valuable time with constant complaining and waste your accountant’s time chasing them for payment. You need to either get rid of them or transform them into customers who proactively feed the bottom line. While this approach may sound radical, it makes practical sense to only focus on customers who respond with profitable transactions.

Firing customers may involve deleting dead-end leads from the client database. Or it may mean sending customers or clients to a business that more appropriately matches their price demands. Or you could adjust the magnets that are attracting those unwanted customers in the first place. Examples of this are discounts, freebies or products in the business that are not related to the core business model. Concentrate solely on products and services that produce the most profit and cull the dead weight ones that don’t contribute their share to the bottom line.

You could spin those lines off as stand-alone businesses and sell them to another entrepreneur or upgrade to premium versions that offer higher profit margins. Profit is always the goal and is the most important barometer of success.

Step Two: Double the conversion rates of transactions

conversion-rateMoney is a fabulous timesaver and those who know how to make money more efficiently can leverage it to carve out more time for themselves. The key to increasing profits is to convert unprofitable interactions into profitable ones. This is a fool-proof formula for saving more hours each day without compromising on productivity or earnings.

Most people crawl toward retirement. Innovative entrepreneurs sprint there in record time. If you invest in a mutual fund or pension plan it may take decades to get enough of a nest egg to make it possible to semi-retire and take ten hours off each week to play golf or spend time with family. However, increasing profits in a business can be done in a matter of days or weeks.

To prepare for your profit-boosting initiative, gather accounting data and metrics to get a clear picture of where your profits come from, how many contacts are made with customers each month and how many customers make actual purchases. An easy way to harvest such information is by using software connected to point-of-sale terminals or cash registers.

Next, launch a marketing and advertising push to generate new customer leads, to encourage existing customers to buy more and to promote the most profitable products or services.

Related: How To Work Less And Still Get More Done

Part of this effort should involve a new way of looking at the business model. Most entrepreneurs see the future of their companies in terms of products and services that fill a particular market need or niche. Find the right merchandise and the customers will come. Build the best resort and it will be booked a year in advance. Another way to view the marketplace of opportunity is to reverse that point of view. Instead of looking for the ideal items to sell, invest in purchasing the loyalty of the perfect customer. Rather than chasing market share, chase ‘wallet share’ or more profitable customer-based transactions. No matter what a business sells, it’s ultimately the customers and how many times they spend money that generates the profits. Invest in attracting and retaining good customers and the rest will take care of itself automatically.

Instead of reinventing the wheel, find out who is buying wheels and make them your steady customers. Then sell them a premium wheel with a wider profit margin. Finally, ask clients to bring in their friends so that you can sell them a set of wheels too.

Once an expanding customer base is established, use incentives such as superior customer service, in-house financing, exclusive product lines and preferential customer perks to inspire clients to double the number of their monthly transactions.

Try up-selling customers to premium products. Cross-sell them to accessories or add-on features. Even down-sell to them by offering a more economical version of the product they can’t yet afford so that they don’t take their business to a competitor. At the same time, continually make a choreographed effort to generate fresh leads for potential new customers.

Step Three: Run your businesses on auto-pilot

Now the business owner has enviable options. One possibility is to close down the business for ten hours each week, take time off and settle for making the same amount of money monthly that was generated before boosting profits by 25%.

Another alternative is to leverage that newfound success for progressive changes and forward momentum. You can maintain the same hours of operation, capture the extra 25% in profits and then wisely reinvest those profits in greater timesaving initiatives.

By working smarter — not harder — through organised systems, cutting-edge technology, innovative advertising and dynamic employee training, you can prepare to put the business into the hands of capable others — which is the next step toward personal freedom. If somebody else is running the store — without any loss of productivity — it is possible for you to literally play golf all day without loss of income.

Related: How To Make More Money By Doing Less Work

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Work Life Balance

Distractions Are Hurting You More Than You Realise: Here’s Why

Research shows that returning to your original focus, following a distraction, takes, on average, a full 23 minutes and 15 seconds.

Jayson Demers

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For most American professionals, distractions are a normal part of life. You’ll get an email notification in the middle of a project, or a text during a meeting, or you’ll notice an interesting article on social media when you’re trying to focus on a solo task.

Then you’ll dive down that rabbit hole to learn more about it.

On a surface level, distractions range from the pleasant and barely noticeable to the mildly annoying, but they may be affecting you more than you realise.

Building and getting back your focus

For some people, passing distractions never seem to cost much time. They’ll take 30 seconds or a minute to look at their phone, or even two minutes to scroll through their Facebook news feed; then they’ll return to work. But, if this doesn’t sound like you, you may be in the extreme minority, considering that 90 percent of employees self-report using social media during work hours.

Related: For Vusi Thembekwayo, Focus Leads To Big Wins

Unfortunately, those minutes-long expenditures are only the tip of the iceberg. The time you spend on the distraction itself is trivial in most cases, but you also have to incorporate, in that “lost” time, the minutes it takes your brain to regain its focus on your initial task. And according to a study from the University of California-Irvine, that return to your original focus, following a distraction, takes, on average, a full 23 minutes and 15 seconds.

In other words, if you’re distracted at least once every 23 minutes, there’s a good chance you’ll never ramp up to your fully focused potential.

The dangers of multitasking

As if that weren’t bad enough, getting distracted also forces your brain to multitask; you won’t bring a project neatly to a close, so you’ll keep working on it to some degree while you attempt to shift your attention to another task competing for your attention.

This is bad for several reasons. According to Stanford neuroscientist Russ Poldrack, if you learn new information while multitasking, that information can get sent to the wrong part of the brain. You may feel that you’re paying attention in a meeting and reading up about a new creative brief at the same time, but chances are you won’t retain information from either source.

On top of that, the brain isn’t designed for multitasking; there are steeper metabolic costs to shifting your attention, which means the brain consumes far more oxygenated glucose during the changeover. If you switch back and forth between tasks often enough, you could feel disoriented, or even exhausted.

In addition, your brain will produce more cortisol, a stress hormone that often leads to irritability, aggression and impulsive behaviour.

The gateway distraction

It’s also important to consider the fact that most of our modern distractions have the potential to occupy far more than just a few minutes of our time. Most social media apps, for example, are designed to be addictive; they give you just enough of a reward to keep you using them; they provide no sense of completeness because of their infinite-scrolling potential and they constantly give you notifications so you can see what’s new.

If you aren’t careful, a quick look at your newsfeed can turn into a 30-minute long dive into the digital world.

Related: This Isn’t The Army: Why It’s Important To Focus On Teaching Instead Of Punishment

When distractions are good

All that being said, there is a case for arguing that distractions can be beneficial. For example, there’s evidence to suggest that mental distractions can aid in pain relief, especially for sufferers of chronic pain. They may also provide short-term relief for anxiety and distress.

In addition, pulling yourself away from a task can give your brain some much-needed time to decompress and refocus. There’s a reason we tend to come up with our best ideas when we’re bored or otherwise unoccupied; the brain has more freedom and leisure to wander to new places and tinker with problems that exist in the background.

If you’re specifically using a distraction to help your brain refocus (and possibly de-stress for a moment), you can actually get some value from your distractions.

Despite some potential benefits (when your distractions are fully under your control), though, for the most part, distractions are damaging your productivity – and in multiple ways.

If you want to improve your overall output and de-stress in the meantime, your best option is to limit your distractions by turning off notifications, scheduling your breaks, staying more disciplined with sites and apps likely to steal your attention and communicating to your coworkers about your need to focus throughout the day.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Work Life Balance

Are You A Procrastinator? Don’t Be By Doing These 3 Things

Take control of your time and super-charge your day, making the most of your most valuable resource: Time.

Erik Kruger

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The more time I spend thinking, writing and coaching about how to combat procrastination, the more I realise how much bigger this problem is than I initially thought. Every person reading this column will at some point have fallen victim to this avoidance behaviour. In fact, many of us fall prey to it daily.

If you’re serious about personal and business success, overcoming procrastination should be top of mind. If you’re able to master the ability to not procrastinate, you’ll supercharge your productivity and performance without the need for any new tools, techniques or information.

By simply doing what you are supposed to do, you become more effective. The most powerful truths are often the simplest ones too. Let’s look at three ideas that will help you create momentum.

One: Know Your Style

Did you know there are six procrastination styles? Thanks to the work of Sapadin and Maguire we have identified certain ‘archetypes’ that we can use to relate to procrastination styles. Going through the list is an interesting exercise for raising awareness. It won’t ‘cure’ procrastination but it gives you an interesting starting point for further exploration.

Related: Why Your Procrastination Excuses Don’t Cut It

  • The Perfectionist does not start or finish in case it is not perfect in the eyes of others or self. Typical for creatives and entrepreneurs.
  • The Dreamer wants life to be smooth. They love to dream big without translating it into action. If their dreams never become reality, then they can never fail.
  • The Worrier is always wondering “what if something goes wrong?” They get caught up in their heads and over-analyse the situation.
  • The Defier is resistant to the instruction of others because they do not want to be told what to do. They procrastinate not because of the task at hand but because of their relationship with the task giver.
  • The Crisis Maker likes living on the edge. They feel that the added pressure of a looming deadline makes them work better.
  • The Over-doer takes on too much without establishing priorities and boundaries. They ultimately realise that they are overcommitted and start losing their grasp on the task.

Two: Time Immersion (TI)

I am currently completing my Master’s degree in Coaching. There have been times when I have found it incredibly difficult to motivate myself to do the work. One effective method that has helped me to progress is to focus on ‘time spent immersed’ instead of focusing on a specific outcome.

Instead of committing to a specific number of words or chapters I commit to just sitting down with the work for a specific amount of time. In my case, 45 minutes. This means that for those 45 minutes I immerse myself in the work. Reading a bit here, writing a bit there, and at the end of the 45 minutes I get up to take a break.

Time Immersion has two very important benefits. Firstly, we often procrastinate because a task is hard, and we don’t want to deal with the pain that comes with working on it. By committing to time immersed, hard things become easier. More importantly, they become easier without the judgement of whether you succeeded or failed. Secondly, it creates momentum. With every 45-minute TI session you will find yourself slowly chipping away at the frustration. We all know what happens when you chip away at a big problem with enough perseverance; it will be conquered.

Three: Let go of judgement

Those who procrastinate are not lazy. This is important to understand. True procrastination is a psychological phenomenon driven by our fear of failure, judgement and low frustration tolerance.

This is why procrastinators will often find other ways of keeping themselves occupied. Again, an avoidance behaviour, not just laziness.

If you identified your procrastination style, then this might have already given you some insight into why you do what you do. Knowing this, you can go beyond and examine the beliefs that you have that maintain your procrastinating behaviours.

Related: 4 Cures for Chronic Procrastination

One way to do this is to listen to your inner dialogue. That voice inside your head that loves to pull you down with negativity. Simply listen to the words that ‘he/she’ is using and then make a concerted effort to examine them. This is exactly what a coach would do.

If your inner voice says that you first need more information before proceeding with a task, stop, and ask yourself if that is really the truth.

If your inner voice says that you are a failure and that completing this task will expose you for the fraud you are, stop, and ask yourself if that is really true.

Usually, these irrational beliefs are easily refuted.

Final thoughts

The truth is that you already know enough. You know what to do. You know how to do it. The thing stopping you is your relationship with yourself and the task at hand. You will find the key to overcoming procrastination inside yourself. Spend some time exploring the ideas that I suggested and see your productivity explode.

 

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