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Manage your energy not your time!

time management

Effective time management is one of the attributes we most frequently expect from a good employee or manager. But is it really possible to manage time well?

Time is, in fact, a non-renewable resource. It does not depend on us, and in reality, the only thing we can do is to make the most of it.
The problem with time management lies not in the fact that the techniques and tools do not work or are not available. We’ve all heard of scheduling, prioritizing, and multitasking being important — or nowadays, multitasking being passé. The resources are out there, but even if we take time to schedule our day, vowing solemnly that we will not look at our email until we write that overdue report, most of us still check our email all the time to see if anything important has arrived.

While working, we need to face many challenges, and usually the common denominator is a focus on “faster, better and more accurately.” Realization of professional goals requires high performance, commitment and perfect time management. This is not always consistent with taking care of our own mental and physical resources. The consequences of all of the above are excessive stress and possible burnout.

The good news is that, in contrast to time, energy is a fully renewable resource.
There is a common belief that, to achieve success, a manager or employee should spend as much time at work as possible. Meanwhile, taking care of all the needs of our body (physical, psychological or mental) is the key to proper energy management and, at the same time, the basis for efficient operation.

Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr are the creators of the energy management idea in which they minimize the role of time management in favor of energy management, claiming that the better employee is one who’s able to effectively manage their energy resources. The better he does this, the better he performs at work.

We have four sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
By taking care of all these sources, optimal form can be achieved.

Physical energy – there is no great surprise here that it depends on diet, amount of sleep, and physical fitness.

Emotional energy – this comes from the emotions we feel and our ability to control them. The more positive emotions we have, the higher our energy levels are. Key features that drive positive emotional energy are: self-confidence, self-control, interpersonal skills and empathy.
Negative emotions are not always bad and they trigger our survival instinct, but also they cost us a lot of energy and are useless in terms of performance.
The ability to trigger positive emotions during periods of intense stress is the foundation of effective action and activity that brings joy, a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction with oneself, and is a source of emotional renewal and regeneration.

Mental energy – this manifests itself in the perception and interpretation of reality. Mental energy also includes the perception of difficulties. If we look at the difficulty as a challenge, it creates a motivational component to it. The word “challenge” includes the positive energy necessary to take steps. It is something that a person can cope with by basing it either on their own experiences from the past, or by seeking support from others.
Constant mental activity protects the brain against a decrease in efficiency associated with age as well.

Spiritual energy – this has its origin in the personal values system and should not be misinterpreted as any religious system. The proceedings in accordance with one belief make sense, confirm the rightness of actions, and are a source of satisfaction.
Spiritual energy gives us power to act in all areas of life. It fuels passion, perseverance, and dedication.
Spiritual energy is maintained through a balance between dedication to others, and properly understood care for oneself.

Achieving high efficiency is possible with the proper care of each of these four energy sources. The starting point for energy management is to balance our own resources, to identify the deficiencies, and to take concrete actions to increase and maintain the balance among them.
Focusing on these activities brings measurable effects: increased productivity, better mood, and, as a result, the satisfaction of functioning at a high professional and personal level.

There is more to life than increasing its speed. ~Mahatma Gandhi

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Slow it Down!

rush

Most of us are or have been there: work with the constant demands of getting things done ASAP, family and household duties, social responsibilities and us trying to work out the schedule as efficiently as possible. Even the technology around encourages us in participating in a fast-paced life and does not leave us much space and time just to breathe.

(This article was originally written for Huffington Post and can be found here)

It seems that we all create fully booked calendars hoping to find a rich and meaningful life. But how many of us fall into bed each night completely exhausted? How many of us have wondered where their time went after a long busy day and wished the day had been longer? And finally, how many of us get up the next day and start the race all over again?

We often assume that a state of being extremely busy is required to live our lives fully and completely. We want to have it all and we want to have it quickly, but is this constant business really supporting our lives? Who has never dreamed of taking a day off just because?

There is a price for this lifestyle: stress, loss of productivity, burnout, deterioration of relationships, decrease of creativity and innovations, and a feeling that time is slipping through our fingers with life passing by.

Carl Honoré, journalist, speaker and advocate of the “slow movement,” says:

“We are hurrying through our lives, that’s we are living the fast life instead of the good life”.

So what does it mean to slow down?

After Carl Honoré, slowing down means being mindful and taking the time to enjoy what we do at the moment we do it. It also means not to overbook our schedule, to make choices, to set up priorities. Slowing down does not mean that we are idle or unproductive. There are many benefits to slowing down: by slowing down we take the time necessary to make better decisions, and we become more creative, less stressed out. Physically we also feel better, more energetic, and we are less sick. Our relationships improve. We feel better about ourselves.

There is not a ready-made and given solution to achieve slowing down, as each and every one of us is individual and will have to design and work on our own solution. However, you don’t have to stage a revolution in your life: starting with few small changes might be already a good beginning.

To start with, take a good look at how your life looks. Keep a journal of your activities and regularly review how you have been spending your time. Are you satisfied with this picture? Some people only live for the weekends, surviving the week by counting down the days. Is this you? If so, how would you want your week/day to look like? How do your energy levels change during the day/week?

Once you answer these questions and have some clarity, you can decide what you want to do and what possibilities you have to improve your situation and slow your life down.

“Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.”

—John DePaola

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How to survive dismissal?

clear vision

On average, we change jobs five times in our lives and it is not always a planned change. There is a high probability that you will lose a job at least once in your lifetime. To make it less painful, it is good to take care of your freedom while you are still working.

A loss of employment is a traumatic event for many of us. However, it is important to realize that the trauma depends largely on our beliefs and decisions taken in the past.

There is not a single job that lasts for life. We often think that others might lose their jobs, but it is not going to happen to us. Although we might acknowledge the statistics, we often think we are above them until we receive an invitation for a Friday afternoon meeting from HR. We then feel hurt and usually ask where the sense of justice is.

There are two important pillars of your identity: professional and personal. Taking care of both is fundamental to your well being. If you do, then losing a job does not mean losing everything. People often neglect their private lives and build their identity around their company’s values. When they are laid off, they do not only experience anxiety about money or career, but, above all, the loss of identity. This is very painful. Smart employees maintain a balanced life and build a career around their private goals, so the self-esteem is not dependent on company or position.

Building a partnership relationship with the employer is equally important. While working, rather than passively submit to the company’s vision, keep in mind your own development goals. Learn what you think is important and necessary, not only what your employer needs. The point is to be attractive in the labor market, not just to the company itself. This way you minimize the emotional costs of a dismissal.

The time you learn about the loss of a job is not easy, but it’s also a time to negotiate with your employer. As difficult as it sounds, it is important to stay cool and not let yourself be guided by anger or disappointment, that way ensuring the best possible conditions for your leave. Do not hesitate to tell the employer what kind of support you need. Usually companies prepare a notice in accordance with the Labor Law and employment contract. However, conditions may be changed by mutual agreement. You may, for example, trade a long notice period for payment or the opportunity to benefit from outplacement assistance.

While working, we are often consumed by the company’s affairs, internal policies and responsibilities. While looking for a new job, you might want to think about your development. The free time you suddenly have can be seen as a resource to use. Having said goodbye to your former employer, you face new opportunities and it is only up to you whether you can recognize them.

How can you take care of your mental strength before and after the loss of a job?

1. Do not waste time on self-pity.

Do not complain about the circumstances and how badly you were treated. Take the responsibility for the roles you play in your life and understand that life is not always easy or fair.

2. Do not allow others to take control over your emotions.

Don’t say for example “My boss makes me feel bad,” as it is you who decide how you respond in every situation and you have control over your emotions.

3. Do not waste your energy on things you cannot change.

Focus on the things you can control. Sometimes your attitude could be your best friend.

4. Do not expect immediate results.

Invest your time and effort in what you are good at and understand that achieving success takes time.

Being out of the comfort zone costs us a lot of effort. We are forced to drop our old comfortable habits and take on new challenges. When you look at the loss of a job as an opportunity or turning point, then you free your motivation and mobilization to act for your future benefits.

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Always stand on your own side!

8

It was my pleasure to be part of GoWoman.nl event. I was asked to run a workshop for women of all kinds.

We women tend to underestimate ourselves. We are perfectionists and always tend to pursue the idea only if we are 100% sure we are qualified. And even when we think we have what it takes we often doubt about our skills and abilities.

I decided to talk about simple steps we all can make to empower ourselves.

REMEMBER:

Be kind to yourself. Give yourself the right to make mistakes and reward yourself for each success!

Each of you is different and has different set of skills. Your skills are needed.

Name your skills, resources and all you can do well.

The time you take to reflect is a priceless investment towards your confidence and wellbeing.

I hope you all feel a bit more empowered and I am looking forward to meet you during the next workshop.

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Is Your Life About a Journey or a Destination?

steps

“Life is what happens to you, while you are busy making other plans.”
–“Beautiful Boy,” John Lennon

(This article was originally written for Huffington Post and can be found here)

Goals, targets, destinations, deadlines – we are all surrounded by these words.

How often are our bodies in present times but our minds are moving into the future?

We seem to be chasing the end result while convincing ourselves that once we achieve the goal we will be happier and more fulfilled in our lives. Happiness seems to be this unreachable, future thing as the end has become more important than the means.

We focus so much on the destination that we lose all the learning, experiences, blessings and enjoyment on our way and the moment we reach our destination, we often feel there is something missing and we still have dissonance, emptiness in our life and it is not what we thought it’d be or hoped for. As a result, we keep looking for contentment and fulfillment in the future again.

It is difficult to avoid a result-driven world nowadays, but if we are mindful on our way, we can still reach the destination while enjoying the ride.

As you start, you need to know where you are going, so just before you embark on your journey, ask yourself:

How will it improve my life?
Is it aligned with my values?
Do I really want to do it?
Is it possible?

Once you set up the destination and the route in your navigation system, you are confident and committed and you can start the journey itself.

It doesn’t mean you won’t have to change it and be blind to opportunities on the way. The definition of a journey itself suggests that the whole process is dynamic and could be navigated, corrected and improvised. Like a good captain on a ship, you adapt to the current situation and act accordingly and decide if you stay the course or change the track.

By living the journey step by step, milestone to milestone, celebrating the wins and embracing the defeats, you become wiser, bolder and happier with every lesson you learn on the way.

By being present in the moment and focusing on the journey you will give yourself more flexibility to move towards the destination, and as it happens in life when the goal changes, you will have no regrets as you started for the destination, but you were enjoying the journey itself.

If you have put in your best effort and accept that the results are not always in your control, you become more mindful of events and your surroundings, hence more empowered, and if any hindrance arises, you will be more aware of it and you will find solutions.

Now do you take this journey just for the sake of reaching the destination, or do you respect it as a separate adventure that will lead you to the destination? It will have its own beauty, challenges, barriers, learning, rewards, experiences and wins, and in the end, the journey becomes the main focus and the destination the outcome.

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” — Don Williams, Jr.

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People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.

feedback

This sentence has quickly become very popular on social media and reached a massive amount of likes and comments. So, how is it possible that employees for years, every day for eight or more hours, are working with someone and never mention they feel that they are badly treated?

(This article was originally written for International Coach Federation and can be found here)

I read about test results where managers were evaluating their own job while their employees were evaluating managers. Ninety percent of managers evaluated themselves as good bosses, but only 30 percent of employees felt that their bosses are good superiors. How is it possible that so many managers were so wrong?

Managers often seem to think that communication between them and the staff is open. Meanwhile, it is often a case that that communication is closed from the very beginning and those lower in the hierarchy prefer to stay rather silent, nodding rather than denying, muttering rather than openly express their objections.

In his book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey uses the term “emotional bank account.” Covey says that every human being owns an account to which you make payments and take out your funds. Payment is the recognition, kept word, understanding, help in a difficult situation, benevolence, etc. Withdrawals are often the inverse of payments – unfounded criticism, the conversation interrupted with receiving SMS and peeking at your computer (“talk, talk, I have a divisible attention”), broken word, a lack of understanding. The status of your account, as in all banks, depends on the relationship between the payments and disbursements. If it turns out that our relationship with employees is weak or non-existent then we are overdrawn and we have to deal with this as we deal with all debts. We need to pay it off.

A good conversation is the payment to your emotional bank account. Prolonged absence of a conversation is withdrawal. By canceled or postponed talks, conversations thrown out of the schedule by the “more important” jobs, managers are losing a relationship with employees and indirectly they lose control. When there is no conversation, questions remain unanswered, frustrations take a toll and mistakes are made.

Each conversation should go in two directions. While most of managers know how to give feedback, how many are really open to receive it? Receiving feedback is as important as giving it not only for personal and professional development but for strengthening relationships at work.

Some coaching skills might proof very helpful as how to deal with receiving feedback.

1. Be approachable and make time and space for real conversation. Remember, fear of having to deal with defensive behavior and justifying might make employees hesitant to give feedback in the first place.
2. Listen to understand. It is not only the best way to learn more, but to make a real connection with other employees.
3. Ask powerful questions to clarify and understand the feedback.
4. Ask for examples and stories that illustrate the feedback.
5. Summarize and reflect what you hear so you and your employee are on the same page.
6. Don’t be judgmental. You have an opportunity to learn about yourself and how your actions are interpreted and in the end it is up to you what you do with this knowledge.

Talking about how people are doing at work, what they need, is an essential tool for relational disaster prevention, but let’s do not underestimate receiving feedback as a good management tool either.

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How not to drown after promotion?

deep water

So, you have been promoted! Congratulations! In the beginning you might be guided by conflicting emotions – from extreme excitement to a fear of defeat. This transition period might be the biggest challenge during your work life. It could be a source of motivation and inspiration, but at the same time it is a nerve wrecking time and can cause huge stress as well. The key to success is to accept the fact that all changes you must begin first and foremost within yourself.

(This article was originally written for Internations and can be found here)

To adjust yourself well to a new environment ask yourself first:

  • Where are you now?
  • What has changed?
  • Who are you now?
  • What is important to you?
  • What is expected from you?
  • How do you define a success and defeat in this position?

Are your answers representing your knowledge and facts or are they only assumptions? How can you check it?

Whether you like it or not, your new boss and new team, as well as the new responsibilities will require fundamental changes from you, both in the way you think and the way you act. Are you courageous enough to admit that, having been an expert before, you now have to learn many new things?  You will need a portion of humility and openness as this is the only way you can become an expert again.

Remember that what worked for you at your previous position might not be useful at the new one at all. The conviction about the universal ways of achieving success is wrong as well. Old habits and beliefs plus a ready success solution are a very dangerous mix especially when accompanied by strong emotions associated with change.

How can you control the transition period and make sure you don’t increase the risk of failure?

1. Break up with the past

When changing perspective at your new position, you might start by saying good bye to your previous role in a literal and symbolic way.

Set the date when you will no longer go back to the tasks of your previous work.

Prepare yourself mentally. E.g. try to define a solution that works best for you for a specific problem and finally select another way of solving that same problem.

2. Open up to a new reality

Note the similarities and differences between the previous and the current job and remember that everything you already know is an important resource but in  your new position your skills and resources have  yet to be developed.

3. Deepen your self-awareness

At the end of the first month, compare your old position with your new role.

  • How did you do your job previously and with whom? How does it look now?
  • What was possible and what beliefs did you have? How does it look now?
  • What was important? What is important now?
  • What skills were needed? What skills are needed now?

4. Set goals

The first step in your new role should be setting short-term and long-term goals and expectations. If you don’t set your goals at the very beginning you might end up acting on all fronts, and not necessarily the most important ones.

5. Exit the comfort zone

Do not only what you are good at but also what you have to do (even if some tasks might be completely new to you). In this way, you will discover which skills you have to improve and learn a lot.

6. Deal with the fear of defeat

If you are not afraid to fail, risk-taking seems much less worrying. When you take risks you discover new opportunities and learn from your mistakes.

Remember you can “swim” after promotion. Observe how you role is evolving and adopt what is necessary to remain in control of the process. Good luck!

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Is Your Life Full of Possibilities?

possibilities

Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

(This article was originally written for Huffington Post and can be found here)

How often do you look at others who are achieving their dreams, assuming that they are unique and you do not have such possibilities or the risk is too big or the time is not appropriate?

While you find joy in certain aspects, there is usually something that you would like to achieve or change but somehow you never found courage to make a step towards it. Yes, it is difficult when you have your comfort zone and when you seem to be happy with where you are. Even when you know that change is important, there is always something that makes us stay in the same place.

You should know that there is always the chance to come out on top. Whether you are the type who fears the world changing or it is an event that is major in your life or you don’t start because you are afraid to fail, you can always find a way to deal with it and move towards your goal.

The thing to keep in mind is that this fear does not have to stop you. It is an obstacle, yes, but one that you can go over.

By not letting fear immobilize you, you are able to continue doing what you want to achieve. Even with the fear making things harder, and with the change bringing in some obstacles itself, there are still ways for you to deal with what is going on. For a lot of people, finding that way is difficult as you tend to focus on limitations instead of capabilities.

In order to live a life full of possibilities you need to learn how to recognize opportunities that come in your way. Very often a possibility conceals itself as problem and difficulty and in the end it could be the most unique opportunity showing your true vocation.

So treat difficulties as something that is conducive to your development and as a future benefit that you might not see yet.

When you are focused more on listing all things that could go wrong better think of this one reason it might work. Rather than remaining blind to all of the possibilities, make sure that you are considering the many ways that you can pull yourself up, explore and consider as many options and possibilities as you can.

Positive thinking and enthusiasm for new challenge will give you the strength and motivation to prolonged action and to take numerous chances and will give you nonattachment to failure so in the end you will manage to achieve your goal.

In order to skip limitations answer the questions:

  1. How would it be if there are no limitations and everything looked as if it would be possible?
  2. What does not allow me to live this way?
  3. Which limits are real and which are just beliefs?

See on what can you act and what can be left behind.

With the right attitude and assistance, anyone can deal with their changing lives and go towards achieving their dreams.

Nelson Mandela said “May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears”!

 

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How to balance your work with your personal life?

manhattan

It seems everyone is having a hard time balancing their work life with their personal life nowadays. I have seen corporations where they act almost like sects. Employees have an idea that they belong to one big family and they give it all to it. It is very toxic relationship.

My new piece for International Coach Federation might help along the way!

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Do you know how to play “Corporate Game”?

Do you know how to play “Corporate Game”?

Throughout your career, you will come across many different types of people with a varied approach to getting ahead and getting the job done. I introduce four types of employees (or “players”).

Please read my new article for Internations community here and see if you are playing the corporate game.

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