Not Enough Time? Here’s the Fix

If you ask average person to do an additional task, they say they are usually too busy to take on anything new. Their typical response: “not enough time.”

If you ask the same question to a busy person, someone who clearly has a packed schedule, sits on boards, volunteers their time for charitable causes, is an executive or on track to become one, they will think for a moment and then give you one of two replies: 1) “Sorry, I can’t take that on because …” (they tell you why) or 2) “Yes, I can do that. When do you need it by?”not enough time

Not enough time? Give a busy person something you need done and they will find enough time to get it done.  They work late, cut down on television, get into the office early, squeeze out time during lunch or on the weekend and get assistance when they can. They are busier than most, yet they know how to manage their time well enough to be able take on new tasks. It’s not that these people do anything extraordinary. Yet we see them as extraordinary because of the amount of things they are able to accomplish. How do they do it?  For starters, they don’t complain. It’s not in their nature to whine about problems. They don’t focus on “not enough time.”  They would much rather put their energies toward finding a solution.

Which one of those reactions best describes your behavior? Are you the “not enough time” person or the “sure, I’ll do it” person?  You can mold yourself  by asking these simple questions that adjust your frame of reference and have a big impact on your ability to manage your time:

  1. How much time will this task really take?
    1. Are you just being bothered because someone asked you to do something that wasn’t initially on your plate or does this task really require a major investment in time?
    2. Or are you disturbed because of the nature of the person who made the request?
    3. Will you meet new people and expand your network of contacts as a result of working on this task?
    4. Will this add to your resume?
    5. Will you be doing someone a favor (which is a good thing, by the way)?
  2. What are the ramifications if you personally don’t take on this task?
    1. Is someone using you as a crutch to avoid doing the work themselves? If so, then that’s a good reason to use the opportunity to encourage them to stand on their own feet.
    2. Would the task not get done at all if you didn’t agree to do it?
    3. What are the benefits to all involved if you did this task?

Dig deep and you will probably find that you have the time to do a lot more than you do now. Your actions will change your reputation so you are regarded as the highly prized person that people turn to when they want to get something done. There is always enough time.

Negative Words That Hinder Progress

i'm bored“I’m bored.”

Those are two of the most negative words you can say – and think. There are so many things in this world to do. So many places you can go. So many people you can help. There is no reason to ever be bored.

A study reported in the Journal of Neuroscience reports that negative words shut down higher level mental processes in your brain.

When I hear someone say they are bored, it always surprises me. Lazy Sunday mornings are a great time to catch up on reading, learn something new, practice an instrument or go for a stroll.

If you find boredom setting in, don’t say those poisonous words “I’m bored.”  Instead, reset your thinking. Get your bucket list out and pick a goal you want to achieve before you die. Take action at that very moment to make strides toward that goal.

Don’t have a bucket list? Then it’s a great time to write one – it’s a lot of fun since it is a painting of words that describe experiences you want to have in your life.

Avoid turning on the television or hopping onto Facebook. Take a slow moment in your life and turn it into a deliberate pause, one that gets you thinking and taking action.

You will feel a dramatic change, one of accomplishment and not boredom.

Benefits of Vacation

No time for the benefits of vacation? Many of us work long hours and take little time off to unwind. The thinking goes like this: the more I work, the closer I will get to my goals. One of those goals may be to earn more money.

Think back to a morning when you had a good night’s sleep and ate the right foods for breakfast so your body was full of energy. How productive were you at the office that day? You were probably crushing it! No obstacle could get in your way. You made the calls you needed to make, your enthusiasm on the phone was contagious and you probably made significant strides to accomplishing your goals.benefits of vacation

Now think back to a time when you didn’t get enough sleep or perhaps you ate something that didn’t agree with you which caused your mind to be distracted. Your productivity was low. You probably procrastinated on some important tasks and you definitely didn’t feel like you made progress toward your goals.

But I’m Running a Company

Senior positions often require an intense amount of work. I used to think that the “go, go, go” attitude was the only way to success. I found myself burning out and not being able to focus, then wondering why I wasn’t achieving the things I had hoped.

It was all caused by stress. I didn’t give myself permission to relax. Yet the moment I took a step back and allowed myself to not think about work, the moment I let go of the pressure of performing, I very quickly became more productive and full of ideas.

One key is to make sure you don’t spend vacation time being as busy as you are at work. You’ll be more tired when you’re done and will feel that to get the benefits of vacation, you need to go on another vacation.

Benefits of Vacation

A vacation has a way of restoring energy just by changing your environment. Taking time out for summer reading, relaxing on the beach or under a shady tree and letting your mind wander enables your thoughts to go beyond the confines of your office.

It is, as my old colleague, Larry Robertson, says, a deliberate pause. This break allows you to decompress so that when you return to work, you think entrepreneurial thoughts. It allows you to imagine scenarios that you can pursue. It allows you to spend structured time day dreaming, connecting dots and slowing down.

Even if it takes you a little time to adjust back into the work day, that’s okay. Vacations are as important as breathing.

So relax. Work will be there when you get back.

Passion and Work

I hear a lot of people say the old saying about passion and work: “love what you do and you’ll never work another day in your life.”

That’s hogwash.

The bottom line: if you have a passion and pursue it, that’s a wonderful thing to do in your life. You will be happier. But that doesn’t guarantee that you will make money from it, which means you may still have to “work.” To make a career out of your passion, you need customers. Otherwise, your passion is a hobby.

Passion by itself doesn’t make money

I know a lot of people who love to paint or write music. There is no question they should pursue their talents. It will make them happier and feel more satisfied.

When you have a stack of your paintings in the basement or a library of your own music on your computer, what’s next? If you want to monetize your passion, you must think like a business person.

You may have heard stories of famous actors losing all of their money because they were not financially savvy. They were remarkable at their art, their passion. Yet their lack of business awareness led to financial insecurity. Dancers, pottery makers and others start studios only to have their business of passion fail within a few years.

For passion and work to go hand in hand, you should not only learn how your industry operates, but also explore alternatives to traditional ways of earning a profit.

For example, if you love writing music, being a famous performer isn’t your only path to success. Many artists now license their work to stock music libraries where they earn a small royalty for each use. Some even give their music rights away for free to companies to use in their marketing because the exposure helps them leverage their other work. Got a friend who runs a company? Offer to write a jingle for them. Want to be a movie maker? Make a video for a company – if your video goes viral, you’ve got a promising way to make money from others who want the same results.

Separate passion and work

There is a myth that if you pursue what you love, then money will follow. That is largely untrue. To see money from your passion, you need to actively pursue it. And if you don’t enjoy the money-making part of selling your passion, then well you’re back to working, right?

If your passion doesn’t involve business or pursuing money in some way, a more liberating mindset is to separate passion and work. Acknowledge that you will have to work to earn money. A dancer has to promote her studio. This requires marketing and sales skills, plus bookkeeping and management to operate the business (the IRS doesn’t care about your passion, just that you paid your share of taxes).

Hire people to support the skills you don’t have, but don’t think for a minute that you can only focus on your passion and not your business. Someone will take you for an uncomfortable ride if you only pursue your passion.

4 Ways to Balance Business Networking with Family Time

Got kids? Me, too. Need to attend business networking events while being sensitive to family time? Ditto.

Juggling family time and squeezing out an opportunity to attend business networking events can be tricky. Here are 4 ways to help with your balancing act:family time

  • Pick 3 “must attend” business networking events per quarter. When you have little ones at home, your time is no longer your own. You won’t be able to attend every event you want.  Find an average of one networking event per month that you would classify as “must attend.”  This means that by attending this networking event, you feel will learn something new or meet at least a handful of useful new contacts. Read more: How to Decide Which Networking Event Works Best for You.
  • Coordinate with your spouse. Having a supportive spouse is critical to managing work and family. This means if your spouse works, you should be sensitive to his/her requests as well. Coordinate who will pick up the kids after day care or after school activities are over while you attend the business networking event. Read more: Organization Tips for Parents.
  • Rely on your extended network of school friends. Schedule a weekday play date or homework time at your child’s friend’s home. You might find that your extended network is happy to help you periodically when you have to attend a business networking event, even more so if you return the favor. Read more: Setting Up Play Dates.
  • Don’t feel guilty about events you can’t attend. There will always be another seminar, another conference or another meet-up.  However, you can never get back time you lose if you missed your child growing up. Go to the soccer games, birthday parties and everything else you can attend. You will feel far more guilty later on if you lost that precious family time with your child. Read more: Letting Go of Guilt.

3 Ways to Acquire New Skills

In this fast-paced modern business environment, the most important skill you can have is knowing how to acquire new skills. It doesn’t matter if you know how to write software code in the  programming language du jour or if you are the world’s fastest widget maker.  Those skills will be obsolete in a matter of years and a crop of recently trained people with newer skills will take over the hottest jobs.

The old thinking of “if I have this skill, I should be able to get a job” no longer works. Getting stuck in that mindset will harm your career. Making yourself pliable and open to new options is the key in today’s era of change.

Here are three ways that will give you the power to acquire new skills:

1. Read daily. Reading constantly will keep you in the loop about trends so you will know what’s coming and can take action to stay on top. If you see that your sector is declining, explore opportunities in sectors that are growing before it is too late.  Read more than the news.  Books give you a deep dive into subjects that can add to your reasoning process and build new skills. Read everywhere you can. The beauty of devices like the iPad is that you can access your newspaper, magazines and books whenever you want. In fact, a Pew eBook survey reported that 20% of Americans are now reading on electronic devices.

2. Have lunch with at least four people you don’t work with every month. That works out to one lunch a week away from your day-to-day colleagues. Meet with old business acquaintances to see how they are doing, with people you recently met at that networking event last month and with someone you just connected with on LinkedIn – this will capitalize on the strength of weak ties. Reaching out beyond your current circles exposes you to a wealth of information that can guide you to make the most opportune career decisions.

3. Join the board of a non-profit organization. Giving back to the community is important. Joining an organization is good. Getting on its board is better. Your leadership role will allow you to contribute more and, politics aside, can be rewarding in ways you may not initially imagine. The interpersonal involvement opens the door for sharing ideas and seeing the world in different ways. This helps shed light on skills that you might want to acquire so you can contribute more to your community. A side benefit is that you meet others with similar interests. When you need assistance, the community you help will typically be there to help you, too.

Other resources: 40 Useful Sites to Learn New Skills

What other habits do you have to acquire new skills? Please share in the comments below.