Chapter 2 : Improving for Success

How to manage your schedule and stay stress free

In today’s busy world staying on top of things and being able to successfully manage your schedule is essential if you want to remain stress free, a schedule is all about planning your day more efficiently which ultimately ensures that you get everything accomplished that you wish to. The most efficient way to do this is to list your time and tasks in order of priority and determine what top priority is and to set out goals in your life that you want to accomplish.

Determining goals and priorities

In order to be able to manage your time more efficiently and get the most out of your day you must be able to be in control of your life and decide exactly what it is that you want out of life and what you need to do in order to reach what you want. The next decision is managing your priorities efficiently; you do this by determining what is more important to you. The next step is analyzing what you do with your time by finding out exactly how much time you spend on a particular task in life, a journal will help you greatly with this part and you should make a list of your schedule and daily life and determine exactly how long you take on certain activities. Activities you should include could be working, studying, exercising, sleeping and relaxation, once you have done this you can then go on to evaluate the use of your time and determine the best schedule for making better use of it.

Matching available time with your priorities

In order to best manage your time and make your day more efficient you need to take a look at the detailed list you prepared and use your time to match your priorities. As well as taking into account the amount of time you actually spend on each task you should also ask yourself if you are spending enough quality time on a task. A good example of this would be that if you studying then are you studying when you are likely to take in more information or is studying fitted in whenever you can, if you are leaving studying until the end of the day then you are likely to be tired and wont concentrate as well as you would earlier on in the day.

Tips for managing your time more efficiently

  • Break down large tasks into smaller ones and tackling each individual part one at a time can ease the stress considerably than facing one larger task
  • Get rid of routine tasks, if a task is done just out of routine instead of necessity then eliminate it if possible.
  • Look at your habits to see if they could be changed, maybe you could do certain things different ways and save yourself some time in the process.
  • Evaluate yourself to determine if you are a morning person or night person and organize tasks to use whatever time suits you best.
  • Learn to say the word “no” when asked to do something for someone, don’t be continually put upon by others who know you cannot refuse them, its ok doing favors but it can take considerable time from your day.

Top 10 Time Management Skills

The secret to managing time successfully is being able to manage yourself, although we often think we don’t waste a minute of our time in reality this is far from true and there are many ways which we can manage ourselves more efficiently which ultimately leads to more successful time management. In order to successfully manage time there are strategies which you can use to stay more in control and relieve stress which plays a big factor in successful time management.

  1. Attempting to do too much – in today’s busy world many people want things done yesterday and this only leads to rushing around and not doing a task properly, it also leads to mistakes and half-finished work with no real feeling of having accomplished anything with your time.
  2. A lack of priorities – this is the single biggest cause of time wasting, in order to successfully manage time we have to know exactly what our priorities are for the day, by not prioritizing we spend too much time on the minor things and not enough time on the important ones.
  3. Interruptions – we all get interruptions in our day, this could be someone dropping in and asking if you have a minute to spare, which usually turn into a half hour or more. Knowing how to successfully deal with interruptions in your daily life is essential to time management.
  4. Procrastination – thinking about what you have to do instead of actually getting on and doing it is one of the biggest time wasters in your day, reduce the amount of time that you spend thinking and this leaves you more time for doing.
  5. Learn to say “no” - many of us just cannot say the words “no” when asked if we mind doing something, this is usually out of fear of upsetting the other person, but if you are taking on the responsibilities of others then you are taking time away from your own workload or tasks and essentially robbing yourself of that precious time which leads to stressing you out.
  6. Clutter – look around your desk or workspace, do you know where everything is? If you are asked for a file can you lay your hands on it or do you have to go rummaging to find it?, a cluttered desk or workspace is a time waster.
  7. Set deadlines for yourself – work out a reasonable deadline for a particular project and make sure that you stick with the deadline.
  8. Manage your e-mails and phone calls - where possible manage when you read your e-mails and take phone calls better, this was you are not continually breaking off to answer a call or reply to an e-mail. Set aside certain times when you check your e-mail and reply to them, the same applies to phone calls, it is surprising how much time can be wasted throughout a day by stopping and starting a project or task.
  9. Use an activity planner – setting your day out in a planner can help you save time, a planner will allow you to allocate tasks to time slots and this way you can plan your day out and maximize your time more efficiently.
  10. Avoid multi-tasking – starting many different projects at the same time is not a very efficient way of managing time, try to complete one project before starting out on another, this gives you the satisfaction of seeing the project complete and knowing you have accomplished something with your time.

There is no “I” in TEAM: Team Building Basics

Team building is important for home life with your family team and in business with your work team. What a team effort does is place the focus on the many and not the individual. Let’s take a closer look.

What a Team is:

Teams work together for one common goal. A team has one aim. They have a common goal for which every teammate has shared responsibility for completing and meeting that one goal. Everyone in the team understands the goal and is highly committed to it. To improve teamwork you simply must make sure that everyone on your team understands the goal and are all committed to meeting that goal.

How to Improve Teamwork:

Make sure that at all times everyone in your team understands the common goal and is fully committed to it. Without any of this in place, your team and the goal is in danger. You can make sure your team is working together by:

  • Making sure the team’s goals are clear
  • Making sure everyone in the team feels ownership and commitment to the goal
  • Ridding the team of anything that is inhibiting them from reaching the goal

A team is then working together, not as individuals, but as a whole to meet one common goal.

Types of Teams and Team Members:

Individual – A great team player is someone who is self-disciplined, likes to work and accomplish things. The team leader must take this person and help them meld into a team to work with other people and not just as one.

Small Teams – Small teams can be difficult because the team might overall feel as though they are inadequate. The team leader must help them see that they are not, and can work towards one common goal. In small teams, individual personalities and inhibitors can easily effect the rest of the individuals in the team. This is where the team leader needs to immediately address these issues and resolve them within the team.

Team Islands – Team islands, is of course a group of many different teams. The team leader should make sure that each team island respects the other teams. The team leader must make sure that although they are different teams that they can work together when they need to.

Large Teams – Large teams don’t often have that many problems, as there are so many people working towards the same goal. No one feels that they should “make waves” in such large teams, they would rather work as a team and accomplish their goals. When a new employee comes into the team their behavior might be different than everyone else’s, but they will soon meld into the team’s behavior with the team leader’s help.

So, in conclusion, a team consists of a group (small to large) of people who are committed to meeting one common goal. The team leader must keep their team motivated to achieve that goal. The team leader must make sure the goal is clear to everyone on the team, be able to find inhibitors and remove them, and therefore keep their team working towards the same goal with understanding and respect for one another.

Teach Yourself Effective Public Speaking

As a first-time public speaker, you may have a terrible fear gripping you at the very thought of standing in front of an eager crowd. Your legs shake. Your hands shiver. Your throat dries up. Your tongue gets frozen. Your mind becomes blank. You probably feel a little nauseous. Really, you would rather die than be there because that seems like the only relief. The good news is that you aren’t alone in your fear. Most public speakers have been fearful when they began. They simply persisted and learned to overcome the fear. You can too.

Learn to woo your crowds, before they boo you. This you may do successfully by getting to know the members of your audience. Find out about those that have come to hear you. You may have to do a little bit of research to know their average age, education or their level of awareness of the subject you have chosen for your speech and so on. It is also important to gauge their mood.

Understand what message they want you to deliver. Learn how best to package that message in your speech. Design your speech to suit the level as well as the mood of your audience. Choose the most suitable words and expressions possible. Think about appropriate body language to fortify your speech. Establish and maintain eye contact with the audience. If you do, people will pay better attention to your speech. Intersperse it with a few spicy or humorous anecdotes to make it interesting. Remember if the crowds think you are a bore, you may hear them snore. In certain circumstances, encouraging audience participation will do the trick of beating boredom.

Speech organization

Effective speeches are always organized very well. You must have a catchy beginning, an informative middle and a stimulating closing. The opening of your speech should be such as to rivet the attention of the audience. Remember that the closing will decide the degree of success of your speech. However, the bulk of your speech lies in the body, the middle, where the main points and sub-points are presented. In the end, a brief summary of the speech will have to round it off. The end is just as important as the beginning because it is what the crowds take home with them as they leave.

Preparing yourself

Writing down your speech, revising it to your satisfaction, rehearsing it systematically and, standing in front of a mirror or imaginary crowds, delivering it are a few of the steps you can take in order to ensure your success as a public speaker. The better prepared you are with your speech; the higher will be your chances of facing your audience fearlessly. Also, it will help you to give a more effective and impressive speech.

Do proper ground-work and arm yourself with appropriate preparation. The more prepared you are, the more confidence and less fear you will have. You will be able to stand in front of large audiences and captivate them with your well-rehearsed speech. You will receive your reward for your labor when they stand up and clap and applaud.

Improving Your Listening Skills

In order to be able to communicate successfully with others we have to develop our listening skills, truly listening to what someone is saying and understanding them is the key to effective communication. While the majority of us think we listen to what others are saying, in fact very few of us actually do listen intently and this is where misunderstandings can arise, which leads to difficulties and sometimes arguments.

Most of us has, over the years developed poor listening habits and have continued through life with these habits, some of the most common habits that people have developed which leads to poor listening skills include.

  • Listening without really hearing what the other is saying, which often leaves us missing the point
  • We allow other influences around us to distract us and drift away from the conversation
  • We pretend we are listening when in fact we are thinking of something else and only hear snatches of what is being said
  • Very often start out listening then if we think we know what is being said, interrupt the person before they have finished talking
  • A person can often hear what they want to hear, or what they think they should be haring which is often very different from what is actually being said
  • We often assume we known why something is being said and jump on the defensive side
  • We cant wait for an opportunity to butt into the conversation with our own point of view

These are the most common mistakes that many of us make when it comes to listening, or rather, not listening. However by realizing your mistakes and attempting to change them you are more likely to be aware of your mistakes, and this makes changing bad habits easier. To develop positive and effective listening habits you should follow the following tips.

  • Even if what the talker is saying is boring, you really have to force yourself to listen intently to what they are saying and not be tempted to drift away into your own world. As well as focusing on what they are saying, watch their body language such as eye contact, hand movements and head nods.
  • Listen to everything they are saying even if this means acknowledging the unpleasant or what you don’t particularly want to hear.
  • Try not to draw any conclusion before you have heard everything the person is saying to you, don’t butt into the conversation before they have finished by guessing what they are going to say.
  • Question the speaker in a non-judgmental way, by asking questions in this manner you will very often find that what the speaker has in mind and what you assumed are two different things.
  • When unsure ask them directly if what you think is actually what they meant, this can very often alleviate or stop any misunderstandings from occurring.

The more you practice improving your listening skills the easier it becomes until you develop these new habits as second nature. You will then find that you get along with people easier and are less likely to get into conflicts through misunderstandings.

Learn How to Say No

Generally speaking, people can’t say no to someone asking them for something because they are so worried about upsetting the person or lack the courage to turn down the request. People often dislike disagreeing, or believe saying yes is easier than saying no. Others can simply not say no. However, there are often instances where it is best to say no to a request and it is important to learn how to utter that small little word, “no.”

Adopt simple strategies to say no, politely but firmly. You don’t need to cook stories up in order to refuse. You don’t need to offer lame excuses. You can say no without being dishonest.

Look at some of the umpteen ways you can say no:

  • No
  • I can’t accept this, with my present commitments. I’m sorry.
  • I’m rather quite busy now. I must decline.
  • I don’t think I have the time for it, as I am in the middle of something important.
  • After looking at my calendar, I found that I already have prior commitments.
    • No. I would only be able to do a mediocre job right now.
    • No. I don’t have any spare time right now.
    • Not this time, please give me more notice next time and I’ll work it into my schedule.
    • I can’t.
    • Why don’t you try someone else? I’m not the right person for this..

There are a hundred other ways of saying no without feeling uneasy or hurting others by being blunt or even rude. If you aren’t sure, you can always ask for time to make the decision without feeling guilty. You may say you will have to think about it. If somebody persists with the request when you want to say no, you may have to be assertive and firmly decline. You don’t need to risk over committing by saying yes when you actually want to say no.

In extreme cases, people unable to say no to their bosses, who demand much more work than they can reasonably manage to do within a specified time, end up either not doing the job at all or doing it poorly. In either case, they are unnecessarily putting their jobs on the line. If you can show your boss, the reasons for not being able to accept the extra responsibility, you may be able to convince your superior about your inability to accept the additional work. You can perhaps make a list of all the projects that have already filled your plate. Perhaps you can suggest alternative strategies or others whose workload is lower or competence levels higher for accomplishing that particular piece of work. In any case, don’t accept anything that puts your job at risk or makes you suffer later.

Undoubtedly, learning to say no is a must have skill for everyone. Saying no at the right time can help you to gain respect with your peers and help avoid bitterness from those to have to hear it.

Avoiding Temptations to Live a Better Life

Although life to some extent has gotten better with advancements in technology over the past few years in a way we have taken steps backward also, we now have the internet available to us 24/7 which gives us access to a wide range of entertainment that we didn’t have years ago. TV sets have got bigger and we can gain access to R rated movies with the click of a button, video games have took off in a huge way and children are now running around in their virtual world brandishing guns, knives, bombs and going on killing sprees in extremely gory detail.

Everyday the newspapers splash headlines of murders, robbery and rapes but is there any wonder when we are constantly being bombarded and tempted with movies, games and some of the things the World Wide Web has to offer.

Sure we can choose not to watch the movies, not to play the games or to delve into the seedier parts of the World Wide Web, but the temptation is there and not everyone can resist, we all know that temptation is just that, if we think we shouldn’t do something then we cannot resist doing it or taking a peek, if nothing else but out of curiosity. But does it hurt us, can what we see or do really influence us in our actions in life, some of course argue that yes it does, being continually bombarded with violence and sex can change how we think and feel so the possibility of it gradually beginning to affect our thoughts, feelings and actions is extremely likely.

If violence is portrayed as being fun in video games then aren’t children getting the wrong idea? When younger people, particularly girls, see size 0 women parading on the catwalk are they going to eat that healthy balanced meal that you put in front of them or are they going to nibble on a lettuce leaf to shed yet more weight?

The Internet allows us to parade our lives for all the world to see by way of blogs and chat rooms, would we leave our front door wide open and encourage strangers to walk in off the street? Only a fool would do that yet we allow not only our children unrestricted access to the net but we also do it ourselves. We write blogs, fill in profiles, post photos of ourselves and where we live, we even put our phone number down on the profile sometimes, while there are many good uses of the Internet such as bringing families and loved ones closer together, it can also be used by the spider cunningly faking, just sitting and waiting to draw some unsuspecting person deeper into their web of lies and deceit and then when all seems well, will strike with sometimes deadly force. Advancements in technology aren’t bad, its how these advancements are used that is the problem and the type of person we can become from using them constantly, we have to avoid temptation if we are to live a better life in the future.

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