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Dealing with Procrastination and Overcoming It

We all procrastinate from time to time, sometimes even more than we would like to admit to ourselves. Procrastination is part of our lives. Usually, it’s those ordinary things – like sorting documents, looking over bank accounts, or tidying the things on your desk. But often it’s the bigger things that necessitate more time, more commitment and energy that put us at more risk of failing or looking foolish. Such actions include things like updating our resume, looking for a new job or even pursuing a long held aspiration.

Of course people tend to get very creative with the reasons why now, today, just isn’t the right time or they are not in the right state of mind. But people don’t stop here reasons may vary from too stressed, too risky, too busy, too broke towards too disruptive, too inexperienced, too young, too old, too uncertain. From time to time these reasons are valid and we have to be prepared for that. Typically, they are just excuses that keep us from doing what we really have to do and experiencing the emotional hardship inherent in making meaningful changes in our personal and professional lives.

At the heart of things we have fear.  It is a potent and instinctive emotion and represents the reason why we want to shield ourselves from pain (including the emotional side of things) and somehow ‘demands’ us to get away from anything that might be threatening. If left unresolved, fear can lead us to the hope that if we procrastinate longer, our situation will miraculously improve, or our problems will magically disappear into thin air and be replaced with a lot of courage. We often tell ourselves that ‘one day’ we will be ready to make that big change, or take that big chance and in that ‘one day’ the timing will be better, our confidence will be soaring and the circumstances will definitely favour us.

Unfortunately the reverse is generally true. As the days go by, our fear grows stronger, until it will eventually lead to our ever-growing burial ground of unfulfilled dreams and untapped potential. Philosopher William James was not wrong when he talked about the impact of procrastination on our lives: “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an unfulfilled goal.”

There are a few methods through which you can get yourself going when you feel procrastination is creeping up on you.

  • Acknowledge the situation

Firstly, it is recommended you openly acknowledge that you’re starting to procrastinate. Procrastination can sneak up on you in many forms and when you least expect it, so it’s essential for you to be vigilant. Afterwards, ask yourself why you are doing it, what is your underlying reason and then start searching for the right approach to tackle this issue.  Stanford philosophy professor John Perry created the term ‘structured procrastination’. The idea behind it is that people procrastinate by doing the least important tasks on their to-do lists, so professor John Perry says that we can trick ourselves by pushing down our important tasks from our to-do list and our trivial ones to the top.

  • Be brave all day everyday

When you start working on reducing your procrastination, building momentum is crucial. Commit to yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone at least once per day. It can be something really small and it should be right at the start. In the end, it doesn’t matter how fast you are going, as long as you are taking the necessary steps in the direction you feel is right. So take that first step, then another, and so on because after all life is worth enjoying.

  • Spreading procrastination times throughout the day

The fact that we live in the real world means that there are and will be days in which we’re tired, even though we try so hard not to be. Taking this factor into account, you could organise a schedule of well-timed ‘mini-procrastination’ sessions between each task. Instead of waiting for a big break when you want to do whatever you want offer yourself 10 minutes between each task. In those 10 minutes you can do what your heart desires: check Facebook, make a dinner reservation, weekend plans or any other pleasant activity. You will be surprised by the amount of work you will accomplish when you don’t feel bad about procrastinating. Also, you will soon realise that you’re not indulging your procrastination, but actually set up a few breaks. Breaks are guilt-free and they mentally recharge you for the rest of your day.

  • Break your important tasks into smaller ones

The bigger the goal the more difficult it is to actually start working on it. Shortly after, you begin to feel overwhelmed and procrastination is only a step away. So when you feel out of your element, try and break your task into more manageable steps, as small you feel you need. Soon enough, the steps you have to undertake will simply unfold in front of you.

  • Channel your fear

As mentioned earlier, fear is a very powerful emotion that can keep us from becoming the best version of ourselves. Our brains are hardwired to survive, so in the moment you feel fear our instincts tell us to sit tight because nothing bad can happen this way. But if you manage to focus your fear, it can work for you and not against you. Pull out a pen and paper and write down the cold hard facts if you would continue to do nothing. Be honest to yourself, the purpose of this exercise is for you to understand that the fear you are experiencing at the moment is more manageable that the one you would feel when things are left undone.

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/catherine-orer/my-very-own-3-steps-to-de_b_10360486.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/margiewarrell/2013/03/25/why-you-procrastinate-and-how-to-stop-it-now/#583832c51837

https://www.forbes.com/sites/vanessaloder/2016/04/15/10-scientifically-proven-tips-for-beating-procrastination/#7c78426c296a

https://www.themuse.com/advice/advice-procrastination-no-routine-change

Overworked Employees: Signs and Prevention

Every manager dreams of having a team full of hard-working employees, people who, on a daily basis, come in engaged, focused and prepared to reach all of their goals. And while everyone can appreciate employees who are very productive, there is a fine line between productivity and burnout when we talk medium to long-term. Unfortunately, that line is not hard to cross. All they have to do is start believing they have to work longer hours, even though business hours were over a few hours ago.

Perhaps there are managers out there that don’t want to realise this is a rising trend. In 2015, a report from Workfront “State of Enterprise Work” analysed the working hours of more than 600 employees. 52% of them have said they work longer not to catch up with assignments but actually to get ahead. This statistic raises a number of questions:

  • Do employees think this is what is expected of them?
  • Where does this feeling of working longer hours come from?
  • Are employees trying to avoid getting overwhelmed by work?

Perhaps an even better question would be:

  • Why don’t managers acknowledge this?

Managers have the responsibility to establish an environment where employees know and feel that they appreciated for their efforts instead of constantly questioning themselves and think they need to put in more and more work. Although the latter scenario may sound ideal, it is as clear as day that it leads to exhausted and even burntout employees.

Your business may be flourishing, but if you do not have any workers left to run the operations smoothly, employee turnover levels may change quickly. If you feel your employees have been neglected or have been overworking themselves, it may be time to take action and prevent anyone from quitting. Here are a few quick steps to implement in order to boost morale and bring back engagement at respectable levels.

Employee attitude shift

When employees start getting exhausted and frustrated about their workload, their attitude starts to drift towards a more negative perspective on work-related issues. Perhaps you have noticed some of your workers being angry and extremely irritable with frequent outburst towards their colleagues. It is a very clear sign they are over-worked and over-stressed. They may require some time off work or if deadlines are piling up the manager should be directly involved in dealing with day-to-day tasks and activities.

Higher working hours/week

In the vast majority of companies, the typical employee works more than 40 hours per week, more often than not it goes beyond 50 hours. In John Pencavel’s Stanford study, he has discovered that productivity reaches its maximum potential at around 49 hours, after that it dips down dramatically. If your workers are constantly working over 50 hours a week, it may a clear sign of exhaustion. Long hours lead to lower engagement levels, frustration and eventually burnout, so it is essential that the manager checks the average working hours put in by his team. Also, try and encourage your staff to work more reasonable hours in a week.

Vacation Days

There are situations in which employees do not use up all of their vacation days. This typically happens when they are over-burdened with work or they feel they haven’t pulled up their weight in the past few weeks or months. This where the HR department has to keep a close eye on employees, who do not use their vacation days in order to relax and decompress.  A quarterly review of this situation is imperative so that companies avoid burnout employees.

Increased employee turnover

It is common knowledge that stressed and exhausted employees are always susceptible to quitting. Obviously, this happens because employees have stopped being happy and they start seeking other employment opportunities. Providing flexibility for their work schedule can go a long way to reducing unwanted stress. Some people may be excellent workers during the early hours of the morning while others are night owls; allowing your employees some leeway with their schedule can be a simple way to create a happier and more productive work culture. Also, provide your employees with a Goals and Objectives document. This enables you, the manager, to have discussions with your staff regarding new projects or deadlines in order to mutually determine project priorities, shuffling due dates and rebalance workloads.

“Unplugging” from work

This has to start from the manager exclusively, by avoiding sending emails or texts during night time. Managers have to show faith in the importance of their employees’ life. A life in which they work, they have time for their hobbies and time to rest. Everyone needs to detach from work, which nowadays automatically means to spend time away from our smartphones and gadgets.

Bottom line is, there has to be respect for the people who work for you. It is essential for the manager to provide work for his employees, tasks that are challenging and exciting whilst at the same time making sure they do not overload. With the right balance and tension between projects can help create a wonderful working atmosphere with properly engaged and motivated employees. Managers should be mindful and keep an eye on for various signs that their team might reach the burnout point. Employees tend to keep their thoughts and ideas to themselves, afraid of what might happen if they confront their managers. This is why it’s up to the managers to observe and adjust any unfair situations that may develop in the workplace.

Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.

Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

 

https://www.inc.com/mandy-gilbert/what-to-do-when-everyones-overworked-and-theres-a.html?cid=hmpopface5

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/286777

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/how-to-manage-a-staff-that%E2%80%99s-overworked.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2015/11/08/8-signs-that-you-could-be-accidentally-over-working-your-team/#1f52711a5899

Inspiration at Work: Importance and Significance

Inspiration at work is always an added bonus. When we are inspired, everything we have to do simply clicks. We feel that our work has purpose and all of our skills are being used in the best way possible. In layman’s terms, we are doing what we are supposed to be doing. Unfortunately, inspiration can come and go as it pleases; it can vanish into thin air. This usually happens when your boss gives you a negative review on some of the work you’ve done or you’re simply content about a particular task at hand. Even if you are one the few people that have a job that they love, it’s in our human nature to experience periods of time when we have to dig deep to find some excitement about your job.

Todd Thrash and Andrew Elliot, two psychologists who have been studying inspiration in the last few decades, have spotted 3 elements which occur the moment a person is inspired:

  1. The person sees new possibilities.
  2. Receptive to outside stimuli.
  3. Energy and motivation.

Inspiration does not represent a static state of mind, which is fortunate for us because it means people can cultivate it. Although we cannot force inspiration upon us, we can create an environment that favours inspiration.

Feeling stuck is a normal reaction when you don’t feel inspired. The key here is not to wait for positivity to hit you because your inaction is your worst enemy in this scenario. Studies in cognitive behavioural therapy have concluded that people’s behaviours alter the way they feel and think. Consequently, when people act differently they feel differently. Instead of waiting for a change coming out of thin air, try and put yourself in motion somehow. You are in control of your work environment and not the other way around. This can help you discover new methods in which you can solve your duties.

Continuous learning is very important. If you have a good number of years of experience and have excelled in your field, it is somehow natural to think that you may not require additional training or learning. However, researchers have discovered that when we stop believing we require further expertise we become more close minded or as it also known ‘earned dogmatism’. If we train ourselves to always be fresh and on top of things the more likely we are to get inspired. Given the fact that nowadays it has become more and more difficult to have some time for ourselves, it is absolutely vital we devote at least a few hours a week for enlightenment purposes only in order to assure ourselves of longer periods of inspiration and engagement. For example, Bill Gates used to take a few weeks of work twice a year just to map out new ideas.

Making new friends is always a good idea. When we spend time with people they affect our mood and energy, whilst also having the same conversations with them week in, week out. It is recommended to start and meet new people. It is important you try and meet people who can challenge you mentally and do things differently from you. These types of people can stimulate new ideas with the added bonus of learning from their vast experience.
Furthermore, think about friends whose qualities you admire tremendously. Try and focus on qualities, not perfection. They do not even have to know you are trying to emulate them in certain aspects. It is actually better to be a distant observer due to the simple fact that you can extract and dissect the necessary information much easier.

When questioned, most entrepreneurs and business people say that their passion and inspiration derives from their desire to serve their customers, to lead a company in an upward direction and to support the development of a product that may revolutionise the market. Unfortunately, inspiration and passion can fade away and, of course, people start questioning themselves. It happens over the course of one’s life, to discover that their once meaningful job has become close to meaningless. It begins with the slow erosion of spirit and enthusiasm due to the fact that there is no longer any purpose in their work. People start feeling trapped, restless and they see no end in sight.

This happens because people start confusing the achievement of daily goals with accomplishing truly meaningful work. Thus, they continue to worry and set goal after goal, until they realise boredom has set in. When this happens, it is imperative that people respond to this problem through a conscious choice on how to solve it. More often than not, people don’t realise they are fed up with their job because they lose track of what is meaningful about their work. In their attempt to separate their work and personal life, some people go to such an extent that they do not bring their values into the office environment. Even more so, they engage in activities that clash with home persona.  Some people discover that their work has become their life, even though their family is what they value most, but they still work 12+ hours and miss birthdays and holidays in order to be successful at work.

Like all things in life, there is no one-size-fits all solution. There is no one method that can bring back your passion and inspiration. There is a combination of strategies that can guide you towards the path you desire, but that must be discovered on your own, due to our uniqueness. The only common trait in everyone’s strategies should be reflection – evaluate where you stand at the moment, where you’re headed and what you really want to become.

Inspiration isn’t elusive. It is within our grasp if we search for new opportunities from which we can extract new ideas and insights. Even though sometimes it may not feel like you’re getting the best deal out of a situation, it will still push you to new boundaries and experiences which will inevitably lead to something that resembles inspiration.

Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.

Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://hbr.org/2002/04/reawakening-your-passion-for-work

https://hbr.org/2017/09/how-to-rediscover-your-inspiration-at-work

https://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/8-ways-to-be-re-inspired-at-work.html

Remote Work – Better for Productivity?

Few people know that the 8-hour work schedule has its origins from the times of the Industrial Revolution and not the Information Age. During the second half of the 18th century, the standard norm was workdays of 10-16 hours due to the fact that factories required to be run 24/7. This type of schedule had become absolutely brutal and exhausting for workers, but change only started to happen with 1817 when Welsh activist Robert Owen advocated for 8-hour workdays, his slogan being: “Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”

Close to a century later, in 1914 to be exact, the 8-hour schedule became the norm when Ford Motor Company started working on 8-hour shifts whilst also doubling workers’ wages. The result was obvious for everyone to see, a dramatic increase in productivity. Nowadays, it may seem unfathomable to work for more than 8 hours, but history offers us a lesson into how things have developed along the way. At the moment, we may witness another disruption into the workday schedule. In a recent research revolving around this issue, it was suggested that in an 8-hour shift, the average worker is productive for a mere 2 hours and 53 minutes.

It is becoming more and more obvious to many of us that the modern workplace is not the well of productivity everyone hoped for. Furthermore, for many of us, the workplace is actually filled with distractions of all natures. Combine this with the everyday hassle of commuting and you got yourself one long day of work. Of course, situations such as these can be avoided through a flexible schedule arrangement, this being an option more sought after than ever before.

In one of the most recent FlexJobs surveys on remote work, it has been discovered that 66% of professionals they’ve interviewed said they would be more productive if they could work from home, rather than the office. The most common reasons why they favoured working from home:

  • 76% wanted fewer disruptions from co-workers.
  • 70% reduce stress levels from commuting.
  • 69% wanted to avoid office politics.

The survey also revealed something incredible, only 7% of the people interviewed said that they are productive during regular office hours. If only so very few people are productive during their regular schedules, then there is something inherently wrong with our traditional workplace model.

In the past, there were fewer distractions and fun past time activities. Also, there was no internet and the sheer volume of information that we are being bombarded with. Due to these changes and shifts in programmes and schedules, there are people that don’t fit into the normal productivity ranges. There are people who are at their best really early in the morning, while others’ productivity goes through the roof during night hours. That is why it is a bit foolish to expect that all your employees to give their best during the 9-5 programme.

Your average worker gets disrupted every 3 minutes, and recovering from that is time-consuming. We need, on average, about 23 minutes to return to a task after being disrupted. Furthermore, discoveries in the field of neuroscience have all but confirmed what we were all thinking: the human brain cannot concentrate for 8 straight hours.

One of the career specialists at FlexJobs, Brie Reynolds, said that given the meteoric rise in remote work and freelancing, workers have become more aware of the future of work environment. This has risen from a simple combination of factors that encompass demographics and remote-friendly technology. Millennials have been growing up with technology by their side, so it is more than natural for them to expect they can work remotely. There are companies that now offer flexible hours to their new employees. And if your job requires the simple use of a laptop, then you can basically work full-time for any company in the world. At the moment, what we are experiencing in the workforce, is a hybrid model where people work alternatively from home and from the office.

For employers, Reynolds has a simple suggestion: “crafting remote programmes which help employees be at their productive best, whilst keeping the good parts of in-office interactions.” For the time being, the hybrid model seems to the best approach, given the simple fact that many companies are still struggling with coming up with the necessary tools and programmes in order to make remote work a success for their operations.

However, in a recent Gallup survey, it has been revealed that although remote work is on the rise the United States, employees that work exclusively from home are the least engaged. The reasons for this are isolation and ambiguous job descriptions. There are some companies that have been successful in implementing a proper remote work programme. These organisations, as pointed out by Gallup, were disciplined in creating proper plans and processes for this to work. Some of the techniques they have used include:

  • Face-to-face meetings with remote working employees.
  • In-depth training programmes.
  • Implementing a ‘buddy system’ for new employees during their first few months.

Implementing successful remote work programmes is going to require a lot of work for your organisation. However, given the fact that more and more talented workers want flexible working hours (and it cannot be negotiable), you simply cannot ignore this trend.

Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.

Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

http://fortune.com/2015/08/04/brian-shapland-productivity-at-work/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/irisleung/2017/08/31/report-only-7-of-workers-feel-productive-during-regular-work-hours/#10571760744e

https://www.inc.com/melanie-curtin/in-an-8-hour-day-the-average-worker-is-productive-for-this-many-hours.html