Rituals Help You Increase Efficiency by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

We’re all searching for ways to be our best version of ourselves. Sometimes, we can make great strides through habits that are simple, yet very effective. We often look for complicated means to reach our goals, yet overlook some simple tricks that can maximize our efficiency. Establishing rituals is one of these.images3

Simple rituals, like answering email first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening, can help you to maximize your time. When you have set routines for doing things, you tend to be more focused on the task at hand, rather than drifting from one task to another without any plan or schedule.

Another way that rituals increase your efficiency is by helping you to ensure that you don’t forget any important tasks. If you get into the habit of, for example, taking the deposit to the bank every day at 4:30, you’ll likely never miss making your regular deposit. However, if you take it in the morning sometimes, and in the afternoon other times, it never becomes a habit, so you’re more likely to forget it all together.

Establishing rituals is really just another way of scheduling your time. It’s been proven over and over that people who schedule all their important tasks each day are more productive than those who don’t work on a set schedule.

Creating a ritual of touching base with important clients and peers can also help you to be more successful in your business. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details of everyday life and fail to keep in touch with people who give you energy, help you in business, and make you feel more connected. You may even feel guilty about taking time away from work to do this. But, making it a point to regularly interact with people who are your best supporters regularly offers immeasurable benefit to your life.

Just a few simple rituals added to your day may be all you need to greatly increase your efficiency and help you establish the routines that ensure your most important tasks are always managed. Your day will be more productive, and you’ll have a sense of calm knowing that you have a routine that keeps your business running smoothly.

Are You Getting Enough? by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Sleep, that is. Many people look for all sorts of ways to improve their productivity without ever realizing that they might be inadvertently reducing their productivity by burning the proverbial candle at both ends. sleep4

Sleep deprivation can cause a lot of problems, and can interfere with out ability to get things done. When we’re tired, we work more slowly and we make more mistakes. We can also be indecisive, feeling that every decision we make is a big deal. In addition, we may have poor judgment, so those decisions we make may not be good ones. Lack of sleep significantly affects our brains, causing lack of focus and clarity.

Over time, lack of sleep can also lead to health problems. When we don’t get enough rest, our immune system is compromised, so we’re more likely to catch colds and other viruses.

Lack of sleep also negatively affects our moods, making us irritable and cranky. We find ourselves unable to enjoy the things we used to, which leads to further stress, and, potentially difficulty sleeping.

Our bodies need between six and nine hours of sleep each night. Experiment with both the short and long end of that amount, and see how much sleep makes you feel best. Once you’ve determined where your body functions optimally, aim to get that amount of sleep each night. A good sign that you’re getting the right amount of sleep is when you wake up just before the alarm goes off.

If you don’t get enough sleep because you suffer from insomnia, try natural remedies, like essential oils or breathing exercises to help you fall asleep more easily. If these don’t work, talk to your doctor about other methods to help you get back into a natural sleep pattern.

Ensuring you get plenty of sleep is a simple way to help ensure you stay healthy and productive. You’ll think more clearly and make better and faster decisions. You may have become accustomed to being tired, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t suffering negative effects because of it. Take the time and the steps you need to get enough rest to ensure you function at your very best.

Building Resilience – Tips for Getting Through Tough Times by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Every facet of life brings challenges, though it’s true that some periods of our life are more challenging than others. It’s said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so we can take comfort that we can come out of challenges stronger on the other side. resilience4

During the tough times, it’s important to have coping skills that can help you weather the storms, whether these are in your work life or your personal life. Here are some tips to help you get through the challenges you face now, and to make you more resilient for challenges that lie ahead.

  1. Focus on one day at a time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we try to tackle too much of a challenging situation at once. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is take the steps we need to get through today, or to make the next decision that impacts our current challenge. Then, work on figuring out another challenge tomorrow.
  1. Talk it out. It’s important to have a sounding board when you’re going through a tough time. Depending upon the situation, you may need a business mentor, a friend with a listening ear, or a professional counselor. The worst thing you can do is hold it all in. Even if talking provides no tangible advice, you’ll feel better by getting your feelings and fears out in the open.
  1. Use the challenge to create a learning situation. If your business is having trouble, consider taking a class or getting a business mentor to teach you some new skills. If you have financial troubles, choose a book to teach you new investment or money saving skills. Using the challenge as a learning opportunity will give you new skills and help you know that you are doing everything in your power to work through the situation.

 

  1. Work on your issues daily, but don’t obsess over them. Worry does nothing to solve problems, but does a great deal of harm to your psyche. Learning to relax and get your challenges off your mind periodically will help you keep your sanity, and help you have the clarity needed to face your challenges sensibly.

 

Use these tips to help you ensure you’re using every challenge to teach you and make you a better leader and a better person.

Resilient Leadership by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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Leading an organization can be tiring. It’s likely you have way more on your plate than you ever imagined when you began your journey. When the demands become tiring, and you believe you have more than you can manage, keep these tips in mind so that you can stay resilient in meeting your job’s demands. index

  1. Keep the end result in mind. It’s easy to get bogged down in details and lose sight of the overall goal of your business. When you feel this way, remember your goals and envision yourself reaching that final milestone. It will invigorate you to move forward, and prevent you from feeling like every task is a meaningless drudge.
  1. Don’t try to do it all at once. We sometimes impose unnecessarily aggressive schedules on ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with this, as long as you remember that the schedule is aggressive and that you don’t always have to work so furiously. Have a wish list timeline and a realistic timeline. Work toward the wish list timeline most of the time, but remember that the realistic timeline still gets the job done. Don’t try to pack too much into each day.
  1. Take time to recharge. It’s not unusual to find business leaders burning the midnight oil on a regular basis and failing to take breaks for vacations and holidays. In the long run, this is not a good way to operate your business, because it drains you of your energy and enthusiasm. Proper nutrition, exercise and a good night’s rest every night so that you can be productive during the day. Eight hours of true productivity is far more valuable than twelve hours of lackluster performance. Taking regular holidays and vacations to recharge your batteries will make you more resilient overall. After a break, you’ll come back to work in full focus and with renewed energy.

Staying in the race for the long haul requires stamina. Your business goals will required sustained work and focus to achieve. That’s why it’s so important to pace yourself, stay motivated and recharge when needed. There’s a long road ahead, and you need to ensure you will have plenty of energy for the finish line.

The Lessons of Adversity by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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We all go through difficult times, and often when we’re experiencing these difficulties, we can’t possibly imagine how any good could come from them. However, whether it’s business or personal struggles, there are always great lessons that come from adversity. As you’re facing troubles, taindex3ke comfort in these four great things we gain from facing adverse situations:

  1. Adversity makes us resilient. The old saying that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is true. We gain strength from each trial, making us better able to face new trials as they come along. This strength will help us to continue to persevere to meet our goals. Each time we make it through something, we know we can make it through something else.
  1. Adversity makes us think about things differently. When we face difficult challenges we have to question our traditional thinking patterns. These extraordinary challenges require extraordinary problem solving skills, helping us to broaden our minds and learn new ways to handle problems.
  1. Adversity makes us grateful. If every pursuit is easy and every day is sunny, we lose appreciation for the good things and the things that do come easily. Troubles make us appreciate the good times even more and make us grateful for those who support us in good times and bad.
  1. Adversity brings wisdom. As we go through challenges, we gain experience and wisdom that help us avoid challenges in the future or know better how to manage those that come. Often, our adversities are of our own making, but pushing through them gives us the wisdom to avoid similar mistakes later.

It can be difficult to remember the great lessons that adversity brings when we’re in the middle of a challenge. But, as we look back on the many challenges we’ve faced and how we’ve overcome them, we begin to see how those troubles have shaped who we are.

Each adversity brings new strength, and makes us think “outside the box” once more. For our struggle, we are rewarded with accomplishments and wisdom to help us meet even greater challenges, along with gratitude that allows us to appreciate all we do accomplish.

Self-Mastery – The Art of Holding Yourself Accountable by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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indexThe ability to hold yourself accountable to your commitments each and every time is difficult to do, but will help you to increase your effectiveness and productivity by leaps and bounds.

Self-mastery requires essentially holding yourself to a “no excuses” level of accountability – even on commitments you’ve made only to yourself. This level of self-discipline will help you in several ways.

  1. You’ll be more productive. If you never wimp out on what you’ve decided to do, you will accomplish more in your business and personal life.
  1. You will make commitments more thoughtfully. Once you have internalized being so accountable, you’ll find that you don’t rush to make commitments. This helps you to prioritize your life more appropriately.
  1. You will improve your reputation with peers, employees and personal contacts. A person who always keeps his or her commitments is viewed as particularly credible.

How Do I Increase My Self Mastery?

Of course, all of this is more easily said than done. Particularly when you’ve only promised yourself you’ll complete a task, it is easy to find many excuses to put the task off or forego it altogether. There are some simple ways, however, to help increase your chances of sticking to the commitments you make.

  1. Believe in what you are doing. It’s much harder to flake on a commitment when you truly believe in the overall goal you are trying to reach. For example, before committing to volunteering your time to a charitable organization, be certain that you are really passionate about the cause. When you have that passion, it’s much easier to live out the commitment than when you are “ho-hum” about the cause. You don’t have to say “yes” to everything.
  1. Plan and Schedule. Double booking yourself or failing to consider your other commitments can make it very difficult for you to do everything you’ve promised. Schedule your time for every commitment you make – even those you make to yourself. For example, if you’ve committed to working out more regularly, make an appointment on your calendar to go to the gym. This won’t automatically make you more excited about working out, but it will eliminate the excuse that you don’t have the time. Schedule time with family and down time for yourself, too.
  1. Share your commitments with others. Use your family and friends to help you stay accountable. Share your goals with them and ask them to check in with you about how you’re doing. Keeping your commitments to yourself a secret only makes it easier for you to let these fall by the wayside. Having an accountability buddy can also be a great support system.

Personal accountability is a challenge for many people. Things like scheduling too many things, being tired or needing down time can all get in the way of keeping up with your commitments. But, when you plan appropriately and examine the commitments you’re making, it’s much easier to do what you say you

Can People Really Count on You? by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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Your index2integrity is an important part of your personal brand. Most leaders have the best of intentions when making commitments but may fail in the follow through due to unforeseen circumstances and or poor planning. In order to protect your reputation, it’s very important to be a person of your word, ensuring that others can count on you to do what you say you will. Here are three tips to help you make the right commitments and keep them.

Keep a calendar. People who consistently keep a calendar are much better at juggling their commitments, which helps ensure they don’t over commit. If your calendar is part of your everyday life, you will always know what you can commit to, and what you can’t.

Prioritize where you will donate your time. As a leader, you are likely asked frequently to give of your time. In order to avoid being spread too thin, it is important to know which organizations have highest priority on your list. This will make it easier for you to weed out the things you simply don’t have time for when life gets busy. If you have identified volunteering at your child’s school as a top priority, for example, you will know that during busy times of the school year, you are unable to take on additional volunteer activities. When things slow down, perhaps during summer vacation, you can take on volunteer work with another group.

Learn to say “no”. Many of us hate saying no, particularly to a good cause. But, it is better to say no upfront when you know your schedule doesn’t really allow the time to do what you’re asked than to back out at the last moment or do a poor job because you were out of time.

Communicate proactively. Let people know when you’ve run into an obstacle. For example, if you promised a customer an answer to his question today, but you still don’t have the answer, it’s critical to call him today anyway. Giving him the update that you are still waiting for an answer and giving him a new commitment for getting back to him will assure him that you are someone he can count on to do what you say.

Being a person others can count on is an important character trait. Your reputation and your personal brand depend upon your ability to keep your word consistently.

Focus Can Make A World of Difference by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Today’s world is full of distractions. On an average day, we are constantly bombarded with input, from text and email messages, phofocusne calls, social media notifications, and face to face interactions. Each of these distractions can be valuable to our lives, but it is critical to learn how to turn them off and focus on the task at hand.  Here are some of the benefits you’ll see from enhancing your focus.

  1. Greater productivity. It is estimated that distractions like texts, social media, etc. can eat up 10% of our day, even when we are focused on other things. Ten percent more time in your workday is like adding an extra 50 minutes to your day. Think of how much more you could get done if you got back 50 minutes.
  2.  More timely effort. Are you often late finishing projects and reports? Learning to focus more acutely can help you to get things done on time.
  3.  More leisure time. When you focus, you can finish your day more quickly, giving you better balance between work and home.

How to Minimize Distractions

When we find ourselves not getting things done, we often turn to new systems or programs to help us. But, at the end of the day we all have the same number of hours. Deciding up front how we will use those hours and sticking to the plan is what keeps us productive and prevents distractions from getting in the way. Here are three ways to help make a plan and stick to it.

  1. Prioritize what needs to be done. Write down your tasks and categorize them as “must do”, “need to do” or “nice to do”. It’s best to do this at the end of the day for the next day.
  1. Carve out time on your calendar. Book time on your calendar for the tasks that must get done. Then, move on to the tasks that need to get done. If there’s time left, do some of the “nice to do” things. Don’t forget to schedule a little time for unexpected situations that will arise, but don’t give these too much time.
  1. Stick to it. Making the schedule is easy; sticking to it is harder. But, once you get into the routine, you’ll find that living by your calendar helps keep you on task, and having a set amount of time to get through those tasks helps you to push off the distractions that beg for your time.

Focus is a habit. As you work on it, focus does become easier. And, as you see the rewards that come with finishing what you start, and going home on time, you’ll be even more dedicated to moving those distractions off to the side.

 

Why Willpower Is Not Enough by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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Commitment is one of the most important aspects of success, regardless of the type of goal. Commitment, when it is true and deep, is a great fuel for moving forward. It is important to understand, however, even when you are deeply committed to a goal, you must have the systems in place to help you meet that goal.images

Too often we want to rely on willpower to help us meet our goals. However, relying on willpower is often ill-fated, as it is a resource that runs out quickly. We only have so much mental and physical energy to support willpower, and soon we give into our old habits because we are drained of this energy.

Rather, to meet goals, it is important to have systems in place to help move you forward. These systems will operate when your willpower fails, helping you to stay on track.

A simple example is of the proverbial dieter, who has vowed to give up cookies. This dieter is much more likely to be successful if she ensures that she doesn’t have access to cookies in her home than if she buys cookies, ostensibly for her family, relying on her willpower to refrain from eating them. It is likely that there will come an evening, after a long hard day at work, when she is tired and hungry. The cookies on the shelf will seem to be calling her name, and it will be too much for her willpower to overcome.

Systems set you up to be successful. Systems can be routines that help you stay on track, or even support people who hold you accountable. Systems can also be substitutes, helping you to replace problems or obstacles with more acceptable means. Using the example above, support systems might include dieting with a buddy, while substitutions might include buying low calorie cookies to help avoid a feeling of deprivation, allowing the dieter to have a snack.

Change is difficult, and making real change takes a period of practice. Having the systems in place to help you develop the right habits and keep them, will help ensure your success in making the changes you need as a leader.

The Value of Disconnecting by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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The expectation in today’s world is that we are always connected. We have 24/7 access to news and social media and connect with our friends in an instant. This instant access has its perks, but it also has its downfalls. Taking a little time to disconnect from electronics can provide several important benefits. Consider these things you might gain from unplugging for a while.index2

Less stress – The requirement to be “always on” and “immediately responsive” creates stress. Unplugging for a while can allow you to destress and relax.

More intimate connections – When we’re always plugged in, we may connect with more people in a day, but the connections are more superficial. Take a little time to have a face to face conversation with someone you care about with no interruptions.

Greater mental focus – Constant connection often equates to constant interruption. When you really need to focus on something, disconnecting while you work may help you to do a better job and get the job done more quickly.

Easy Ways to Make Sure You Disconnect Regularly

Disconnecting from technology will be most beneficial if you practice it regularly. Here are some simple rules you can use to help you avoid being overly connected and allow you some time to recharge.

  1. No phones at dinner. When you sit down with your family for a meal, make it a rule that phones are not welcome at the table. This allows you to have conversation with each other face to face.
  2. Turn off your phone at the same time each night. There’s no reason to stay on the phone until bedtime every night. Shut down well in advance of bedtime to allow yourself to wind down.
  3. Wait to look at your phone and computer first thing in the morning. Give yourself an hour to get ready for the day before you begin the day’s connection. Have coffee (or your favourite beverage), take a shower and allow yourself to wake up in peace.

Technology is a beautiful thing. But, it’s not so beautiful when it controls your life. Take charge of your connection time and recognize when enough is enough.