Life is short: Here’s what’s important to you today

Life is short:

You’ll often hear people talk about the importance of money in terms of living life in the modern age.

Let’s be honest, it’s difficult to live without money today, is it not? Certainly, it’s up there with oxygen and water for sustaining life.

Nevertheless, we must also remember that life is short. And sadly for some people, it’s very short indeed.

So, while money’s important, it’s not an ideal means for measuring success, is it? Not real success in life anyway.

Misplaced priorities:

In the modern age, it’s easy to become obsessed with money.

However, the accumulation of money for its own sake should never be the underlying motive that drives us, surely? That can only lead to a life of misplaced priorities, I think.

If your approach to life includes an obsession with money, then you’ll be doomed to disappointment, and I think you’ll realise that eventually.

One day you’ll look back and wish you’d spent a bit more time with family, friends, and loved ones, of that I’m quite sure.

So what would be an ideal measure of success?

A measure of success:

For me, a better measure of success is whether we’re feeling fulfilled by what we’re doing.

If our work is something we’d do as a hobby if we couldn’t get paid for it then that’s a better way of gauging success. As the legendary investor, Warren Buffett once said, “Look for a job that you’d take if you didn’t need a job.”

A sense of purpose and work that is fulfilling and truly absorbing is a much less stressful way of living.

Enjoy what you do:

Enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy, if you possibly can.

If you enjoy what you do, you’ll do it well, and the money will follow anyway. If you do your work exceptionally well, then people will notice. And once you get noticed, you’re on your way to genuine success.

Never be driven by money alone.

Never accept a job simply because it’s well paid.

It’s nice to have a good salary, of course.

However, once you get used to the money, you still have to spend a third of your life doing the work for which you’re being paid well.

And doing work you don’t enjoy is a significant price to pay in terms of your emotions, stress levels, and the potential impact it will have on your health.

Time is precious:

If life’s short, then our time is very precious, surely?

What’s the point of working every hour you’ve got just to become rich, only to die suddenly of a heart attack having had no time to enjoy the fruits of your labour?

What a waste that would be. Being the richest man or woman in the graveyard is hardly a title worth having, is it?

So my underlying message to you today, dear reader, is to find work you enjoy doing and to make sure you leave a little time to enjoy life too. A little ‘me time‘ is essential for everyone.

No one’s life is perfect:

Don’t forget that everyone faces challenges, occasionally. No one’s life is perfect. We all have problems.

Inevitably, your life will have its ups and downs. However, make sure there are more ups than downs in your life, as far as you are able.

Take some time to smell the roses and have a laugh.

As the old Music Hall song used to say; “enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.”

You wouldn’t want to live forever, but you should be living your life to the fullest today.

Life really is short and it’s definitely later than you think. And as we say where I come from, “you’ll be a long time dead.”

So go on, live life and live it now. And if you’ve yet to find work you enjoy doing, keep looking.

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The real cost of television? The answer will surprise you

The real cost of television

Have you ever considered what the real cost of television is and the effect it has on your life?

When you’ve worked hard all day, I’m sure you find it so easy when you arrive home in the evening, to have a bite to eat and then relax in front of the television. You just passively watch whatever’s on offer because it’s your time now, right?

If you’ve worked hard all day, you deserve a rest, surely?

Anyway, you’ve got a nice television, and it cost you a lot of money, right?

So, of course, you want to make the most of it, don’t you?

If you’ve spent all that money, why would you want to waste such a fine piece of technology by not using it? Surely that’s a reasonable argument?

Opportunity cost:

Well, it’s an argument, of course, but have you ever given serious thought to the real cost of that television to you?

How much do you think it actually costs?

Now, I’m not referring to the price tag in the store when you purchased your television, though even that’s not insignificant.

I’m referring to the opportunity cost of the time wasted passively watching television.

Never forget, time is money.

And time wasted watching television could have been used doing something that would have been far more profitable for you, at least in the long term.

Deep down, I suspect, in your heart, you know that dear reader, don’t you? Nevertheless, knowing and acting on the knowledge you possess are two different things.

The importance of time:

How often do you hear people say things like, I’d love to earn more money; I’d love to have a better job; I’d love to learn another language; I’d love to learn to play the piano; and so on? Then you’ll hear them say if only I had the time.

Do you recognise yourself anywhere there, dear reader?

The simple fact is that when it comes to time, we all have exactly the same amount, 168 hours each week. It all comes down to how you choose to use and prioritize your time.

Time is a resource, like any other:

Successful people recognise that time is their most precious resource and they use it wisely.

People who succeed have a genuine sense of purpose and they’re very focused on their goals. They know what they want and they have a plan as to how they’ll get it.

Do you have a genuine sense of purpose, dear reader?

Have you got a clear idea in terms of where you’re going?

Do you know what it is you want out of life?

Life can be better:

Perhaps life is something that’s just happening to you and you’re just going with the flow?

That’s an acceptable strategy if you’re willing to accept whatever life throws at you.

However, you must ask yourself: Are you really happy with your life and the share of life’s pie you’ve been given so far, or do you want more?

Well, let me tell you this, dear reader. For things to improve, you must first learn to use your time wisely.

Remember: Time is more important than money because you can always get more money, but you can’t get more time.

Secondly, you need a clear sense of direction and your own plan for how you’ll get to where you want to go. Without direction and a plan, you’ll be destined to be used as part of someone else’s plan.

However, that’ll only be for as long as you can serve some useful purpose for them.

Once you no longer serve any purpose for them you’ll cease to be part of their plan. And then you’ll be scratching around looking for another way to earn a living.

The world is an unforgiving place, that’s for sure.

Be a person of value:

Work is just doing stuff for other people in exchange for money.

However, we don’t just get paid for the hour. Our pay is dictated by the value we put into that hour.

The more value we can add the more we’ll earn.

And to add more value we must be increasing our knowledge and skills constantly.

We reap what we sow.

If we fail to reap, we cannot sow.

And how can you reap if you spend your life passively watching television? Time wasted cannot be recovered.

You’ll get out what you put it:

In my experience, we get out of life exactly what we put in. The more we put in the more we’ll get out.

The obvious question is, how can you get more out of life?

If you’re happy to go through life passively watching television but struggling to make a decent living then that’s fine, if that’s what you want. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Waste as much of your time as you like.

However, if you want more than that then it’s time to start designing the life you want and avoiding time-wasters like television.

It’s time to decide where you’re going; and what you want out of life. It’s time to develop your plan for success. And above all, it’s time to stop wasting your time.

You can be a winner. Anybody can.

However, it does require some effort on your part and a clear sense of direction though. That’s a given.

A great source of inspiration:

And if you’re going to be a winner, in addition to using your time wisely, you’ll also need a constant source of inspiration to keep you motivated.

One of my greatest sources of inspiration is the late, great, business philosopher Jim Rohn.

You’ll find plenty of videos featuring Jim Rohn on YouTube.

However, you might also consider buying one of Jim Rohn’s books or even an audio recording to listen to in your car or on your smartphone or iPad.

One Jim Rohn book (also available as an audio recording) that I can highly recommend is The Art of Exceptional Living.

You can check it out on Amazon if you CLICK HERE.

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How to develop effective time management skills

Time Management SkillsTime Management Skills:

Developing effective time management skills is an essential ingredient for success, and I’m sure you’ll agree. You can’t add real value without making the best use of your time.

However, making the best use of it is not always easy in practice, is it?

So, how good are you, dear reader, at managing your time?

Do you have a reputation for being ruthlessly efficient and productive, or are you someone who’s always struggling to keep up?

When someone asks you to do something in the office, do you accept their request without question and simply add the task to your ‘To Do’ list? If you do, you’re not alone. Many people will do that, in my experience.

Alternatively, perhaps you’re the type who thinks carefully relative to your priorities before you accept such a request. Now be honest. We’d all like to think we’re the latter, when in fact far too many people are the former I think.

Productivity is what matters:

In the world of work, it’s easy to confuse being busy with being productive, but these two concepts are not the same thing at all, are they?

For instance, you can be busy doing things that don’t need doing at all. Whereas being genuinely productive means delivering real results from high-value tasks, which can only be done by someone with your skills.

And let’s face it, reputations are built by being productive, not merely by being busy. It’s the results you deliver, not the energy you expend, that matter most.

Time is your most precious resource:

How often do you hear someone say, “Oh, I would love to do that, if only I had the time.

And yet we all have the same amount of time, i.e. 168 hours per week.

Time is simply a resource like money, although it’s more important than money. I say that because you can get more money, but you can’t get more time. None of us can do that, can we?

So you must learn to use your time wisely. Time is your most precious resource, so you must develop effective time management skills.

High-value tasks must take precedence:

Modern pressures mean it’s easy for us to try to do too many things. We can all be a bit like that, including me, dear reader.

Our lives are cluttered with too many activities, too many objectives, too many distractions, and far too many demands on our time.

The result is that we tend to lose focus on what matters most and in the end we don’t do anything as well as we should have done.

In my experience, in most jobs, you’ll find that 90% of productivity is down to completing the top three or four major activities within that job. What I call high-value tasks.

If you take the top three major activities – the high-value tasks – associated with your job and focus on those to the exclusion of just about everything else you’ll almost certainly maximise your productivity and efficiency.

Most common time management mistake:

The problem is, when we’re working, we seem to find it easier to focus on minor tasks and random actions requested by other people.

We feel obliged to accept requests from others. It’s a common mistake of which we can all be guilty.

Now, while tidying up all those minor tasks might make us feel like we’re achieving some quick wins, we’re usually fooling ourselves.

By the end of the day, we’re usually left with a sense that we haven’t done all we should have done, and that leaves us feeling stressed.

And that’s when we start to think about how we might improve our time management.

We can’t do everything, nor should we try:

We must recognise that we can’t do everything, but we can be selective about what we choose to do.

And if we’re going to get those major tasks of higher value completed, then they must take precedence over those low-value, minor tasks, which can always wait if necessary.

High-value tasks should always take precedence over low-value tasks.

Work smarter:

People often think of time management as a skill that would allow them to work faster. Well, let me tell you this: that’s not the idea at all.

Effective time management skills allow us to work smarter rather than harder.

Instead of getting lost in the minutiae of everyday life, with effective time management skills, we focus on and prioritise those things that will add the most value to our productivity. In other words, we focus on high-value activity.

The law of three:

So. if time management is an issue for you, dear reader, start by taking a good, hard look at your list of daily activities and asking yourself these three questions:

  1. What single task can only I do and, when completed by me, will add the most value to the business?
  2. What’s the second task on my list that only I can do, and when I’ve completed it, will allow me to add the most value to the business?
  3. What is the third task on my list that only I can do and that, when completed by me, will add the most value to the business?

Once you’ve identified your list of three major, high-value tasks, that’s where your focus should be each day before you touch any other minor tasks or accept random requests from other people.

Most powerful time management tool:

The point of work is to deliver results. You’ll deliver the best results if you concentrate on your top three major tasks first.

And never forget that you’ll be judged by the results you deliver. No one cares what you have to do for someone else, they only care about the results they expect from you.

Your time is your time, and you must decide how it is to be used most effectively.

Just because someone asks for a piece of your time doesn’t mean you’re obliged to give it to them at the expense of your productivity. Never be afraid to deploy the most effective time management tool of them all.

And what is the most effective time-management tool? It’s the word NO.

Think of the word NO as a baseball bat.

Whenever someone requests that you do something, NO is how you can whack that request right out of the ballpark.

Be in control of your time, at all times:

You’re not obliged to agree to a request even if someone asks nicely. It’s reasonable to be working to your priorities.

All too often we feel obliged to do things for other people when we should have just said politely, “No, I’m sorry, but I can’t do that right now for you because I have to deliver this by 5 pm and it’s a priority.”

If our productivity matters to us, and it should, then our focus should always be on our major, high-value deliverables.

Unfortunately, we allow ourselves to be driven by the agendas of other people.

However that’s not good for our productivity, nor is it good for our well-being or stress levels.

People will take everything you’re prepared to give:

I can tell you from experience that other people will take everything you’re prepared to give and a bit more besides. That’s the nature of people.

However, if you fail to deliver what you’re being paid to deliver, then no list of incidental work completed for other people will be accepted as an adequate plea in your defence when your boss wants to know why you’ve failed to deliver your high-value results.

If you’re painting my house, I’ll measure you on the quality and timeliness of your work, not the amount of help you gave to my neighbour by, say, looking after her dog.

What you do for other people is irrelevant to me, should you fail to deliver what I’m paying you to deliver.

Focus on your priorities:

In reality, if your colleagues can’t get something done by you, they’ll simply ask someone else. So let them.

Why worry? Just be very polite when faced with a random request, but say NO firmly. I can tell you this: you’ll have to be disciplined, but it’s a habit worth developing.

We can all be guilty of expending far too much of our energy helping other people achieve their aims, to the detriment of our interests and our ability to deliver high-value results.

To achieve anything of significance in life, we must be focused on our major activities.

We must concentrate on completing our big three major high-value deliverables daily and focus relentlessly on working towards achieving our own goals generally.

The need for balance:

If you’re asked to do something, then it’s perfectly reasonable to say NO, if doing otherwise would prevent you from delivering the results you’re being paid to deliver on time.

Yes, of course, occasionally there will be tasks you’re obliged to accept for whatever reason.

However, mostly being firm in declining such a request is a sign that you’re assertive and in control of delivering as much value as possible.

Another polite but firm response to a request might be something like, “Sorry, I would love to help you with that, but I cannot right now because I have my hands full with the deadline for this project.

As with everything, there is a balance to be struck, of course.

Sometimes it’s in your interest to do someone a favour because one day you might need them to return that favour. That’s reasonable, provided you always retain a primary focus on keeping your main things the main things.

Conclusion:

You should always ensure that you’re making progress towards achieving your big three deliverables and your own goals generally.

It’s perfectly reasonable to have your agenda and a desire to achieve your own goals and add the greatest value only you can add.

If you want to make a difference, focus on your three major activities.

Those activities that only you can do.

And to ensure that you’re doing that, don’t be afraid to use the most effective time management tool of them all whenever necessary. Use the word NO politely but firmly.

Always keep the main things the main things.

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Time Management SkillsDid you find this article interesting and useful?

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How to get along with people and make the world better

How to get along with peopleHow to get along with people? It’s a classic problem. We don’t have to like people, but life’s better if we can get along with them. But how?

Life’s great challenge:

Dear reader, do you have problems getting along with other people?

Do you find it difficult to deal with some people as you go about your daily routine?

Well, it’s true; some people can be challenging and quite difficult at times. I’m sure most readers will have had that experience occasionally.

However, in my experience, most people just want you to be nice to them. They want to be respected for who they are and treated with courtesy.

I’ve learned over the years that if you respect people and take a genuine interest in their lives, then generally they’ll respond warmly to you. Not all, perhaps, but certainly most people.

How to get along with people:

Think about it.

We all just want to be treated with courtesy and respect and appreciated for who we are and what we do, don’t we? Certainly, I do. Don’t you, dear reader?

If we accept that as true, then the way to get along with other people is not difficult, surely?

The trick is to treat people with courtesy and respect, regardless of who they are or what they do. Treat them as you would prefer to be treated.

Be kind and considerate to them as individuals, and there’s a good chance that they’ll treat you well too.

You don’t have to like people, but life’s better if you can get along with them. And if you can get along with them and get to know them, then you might just get to like them in time as well.

The world can be a better place:

If we can all get along, then it will make the world a better place.

If we can all be kind and considerate to our fellow human beings, then we could have a world free from strife and tension.

So go on, show people some respect, show them a little appreciation, take an interest in them for who they are and what they do, and above all, never underestimate the power of a thank you.

I always feel better if I think I’m appreciated, and I’m sure you do too. We all do.

So the trick to getting along with people is simply to treat them as you would prefer them to treat you. It works every time for me.

And I’m confident that it will work well for you too, dear reader.

So go on, make every effort to get along with people, and make the world a better place.

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Top 10 Tips for How to Manage Your Time

How to Manage Your TimeHow to manage your time? A question that is frequently asked but few actually manage to master the art of effective time management, in my experience.

If only I had time!” is an expression I hear constantly.

People will say to me, “Oh I’d love to do that if only I had the time.

However, we all have exactly the same amount of time. We all have 168 hours each week and it all comes down to how we make the best use of it. In other words, our priorities.

Time is our most precious resource, wouldn’t you agree dear reader? Yet far too many people don’t use their time as wisely as they should.

So here are my Top 10 tips for how to manage your time.

How to manage your time:

1. Be in control: Just because someone makes a demand on your time, it doesn’t mean that you have to agree to it. You are the captain of your own ship and you should always be in control. And you’re mindset should always be, “I am in control of my life and if anyone wants a piece of my time then they’ll need to provide me with a very good reason as to why I should agree to their request.”

2. Keep your life and your desk free of clutter: Dealing with clutter just stresses you out, so be ruthless and get rid of it. You cannot work efficiently at a desk which is full of clutter. And you will waste so much time looking for things you need. So clear your desk and get rid of anything in your life that will prevent you from managing your time as efficiently as possible.

3. Be organized: A place for everything and everything in its place. If everything is in its place then you’ll know where to find it should you need it. And that reduces clutter and makes for a better environment in which to work, be it in the workplace or in your personal life.

4. Make lists: You need to plan your week and plan each day too. Write it all down so you won’t forget it. Having a weekly planner is a good idea. Knowing what needs to be achieved each week, allows you to identify ‘must do’ activities each day. At the end of each day make a list of what needs to be done the next day in order to achieve your objectives. And do not rest until your list has been completed each day.

5. Prioritize: Everything is urgent these days, so you have to identify those things that are important to you achieving your objectives. Those are then the activities on which you must focus. You should know your priorities and they are the things that will allow you to achieve your objectives and meet your deadlines.

Time Management Top 10 Tips6. Develop routines: Having a proper routine will allow you to get very efficient at what you do. For instance, rather than responding to emails as and when they arrive in your inbox, set aside two or three-time windows each day when you will deal with email. That could be for exactly one hour at the beginning of each day; half an hour just before lunch and then say half an hour at the end of the day just before you leave your desk. Be very strict about these windows for dealing with email and don’t allow email to become a distraction at other times.

7. Set deadlines and stick to them: If you have a piece of work to complete, judge how long it will take, use that to set a deadline for completion and then focus on that work such that you complete it within your deadline.

8. Delegate whenever possible: You should only be doing those things which absolutely have to be done by you. If you are lucky enough to have people to whom you can delegate then make use of them as much as you possibly can.

9. Don’t procrastinate: Procrastination is the thief of time. If you have got something to do, then get on with it. Don’t mess around. The sooner you start the sooner you’ll finish.

10. Learn to say No: Master this skill and it is the biggest time saver of them all. Far too often we agree to do something for someone else simply because we don’t like saying no. It may not even be our responsibility but we do it anyway rather than say no. Always be polite but it is perfectly reasonable to say, “I’d love to help you but I’m busy right now.

Master your time management skills:

Whilst this is not a comprehensive list, it’s a good basis on which to start improving your time management skills.

If you want to be successful then effective time management is an essential skill.

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