All posts by Kirstin O´Donovan

Kirstin O’Donovan is the founder of TopResultsCoaching and author of The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Time Management. Kirstin is a Productivity coach, who specializes in helping individuals gain control over their time, to feel more productive and organized to successfully achieve their goals. Want 7 Simple Strategies to Triple Your Productivity? - Free Access to E-Course @ www.topresultscoaching.com

THE CHALLENGES OF COPING WITH CHANGE AND TIPS ON HOW TO EFFECTIVELY DO SO

 

“Change is the only constant in life” is one of Heraclitus’ most accurate sayings; withstanding the test of time, it is now even more appropriate in today’s society than it has ever been before. With ever growing demands on our time, and a rapidly growing and developing technology industry that is constantly changing and shaping the workforce, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the changes that more often than not catch us unaware – in our personal and working environment.

Change is one of those inevitable forces in life – whether we choose to embrace or resist it – we have to expect it. Why is change such a challenge to deal with, and how you can manage it more effectively?

Why Is Change So Difficult To Cope With?

If you’ve ever felt utterly helpless to do anything about your change-related anxiety and stress, don’t worry, it’s perfectly natural. The first step to dealing with the problem, as with everything else, is understanding the issue, inside out – in this case, rather literally.

The problem with change is that we have a very natural resistance to it and the natural impulse that we have towards homoeostasis is not to be underestimated! It is a self-regulating system that is an essential life-sustaining force. From body temperature to heart rate and hormonal activity, the system makes sure that your body is not subjected to conditions that pose health risks, any longer than you are able to sustain them.

Homoeostasis is a system designed to keep stable conditions and quickly respond to any changes by resisting them and restoring the previous conditions. If this seems like biological mumbo-jumbo to you, you’d be surprised at how much this affects our everyday lives, including our behavioural, emotional and psychological patterns.

In more behavioural terms, homoeostasis manifests itself in our desire for routine and our wariness of change. On a more personal level, this may be seen in your unwillingness to leave an unhealthy relationship, and at work this may be reflected in your despair over a new set of procedures (which inevitably affects your work productivity and could stunt your career development).

It is also important to understand that you may experience homoeostatic fear regardless of the nature of the change; the system does not distinguish between good or bad changes, change is change, and so it is up to you to challenge the system and form your own perceptions of the changes.

Here are some ways that you can start to embrace change quicker and stop resisting the inevitable.

  1. Perception is everything:

According to Wayne Dyer, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – he was definitely on to something there. No two people are likely to react in the exact same way when presented with the same situation, or in this case, change. Your attitude towards the changes you’re facing heavily impacts how well you deal with and adjust to them.

Challenge yourself to identify as many reasons as you can how the change will benefit you. This will help you achieve some clarity over the bigger picture, and to gain some control over the situation.
The more reasons you can find, the quicker the resistance will fade. ALSO, get clear on the cost of not changing, what happens if you don’t change and what does that mean for you?

Remind yourself of the benefits of change BUT also, the consequences of not changing!

2. Deal with the changes head on:

Instead of avoiding the change, take a proactive stance, take charge of the situation, and either search for a solution or an effective way of working around and/or within the change. Avoiding the problem doesn’t make it go way, it only makes it grow over time.

If the change feels too scary to confront, what will make this change easier?  Maybe you need more clarity on what the change means (common in a work environment) or maybe you need more support and you will feel better – you won’t know until you ask yourself, simple but not common practice.

3. Stay flexible:

As the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs into one basket – don’t make elaborate, long term plans that rely on everything staying exactly as it is. Don’t focus on what you don’t know or can’t do, but rather what you do know and what can you do with it and how can it help you with the change.

Be flexible along the change, change is not one stage. Have an open mind, ask questions and seek out any opportunities that will make the change process more effective. Chances are, things won’t always go according to plan, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, that is the reality.

4. Do not alienate yourself from the situation:

One of the most tempting things to do during a change is to emotionally and physically detach ourselves from the situation. Think about how the change makes you feel and how you want to feel about it, only then can you go about changing your attitude towards it. It is not the event which causes the emotions, but the meaning we give it.

If you are feeling bad about the change, ask yourself: what beliefs or thoughts are creating these feelings? And challenge those beliefs and thoughts for ones that will serve you better.

5. Accept the resistance:

Very simple, because it will always be there to some degree. You don’t have a choice in feeling the resistance or not, but you have a choice over how you manage it!

Get With The Times!

Whether we like it or not, in order to succeed in today’s society we need to comfortably go with the flow of change and effectively adapt and adjust to various new situations (scary as that may be).

Industries all over the world are looking for flexible, motivated employees who cope positively with change, and not only take it in their stride, but actually thrive on it – this is the recipe for success.

Apart from the obvious career benefits, it isn’t difficult to see how change management strategies can help a person overcome personal issues and allow them to pursue their dreams confidently and take up opportunities effectively – this could be you!

Grab homoeostasis by the horns and take control of your own mind, body and life!

 

Discover 7 Easy Ways to Help You Achieve Your Goals

Everyone knows that goals are supposed to be the way to help you get what you want in life, set a goal and achieve more. Why do so many people fail to achieve their goals though? It seems so simple; think about what you want, have an intention to achieve it and hopefully your life will change. There are many reasons why you might not be achieving your goals.

Unfortunately, thinking alone will not get you anywhere, neither will simply having a good intention without being prepared for challenges, or not having clarity where to start, or sometimes not even knowing what you want. The real difference lies  in how effectively you set your goals and how much support you give yourself to achieve them after you set them. What I want to do is show you some things you can do to help you boost your success in achieving your goals.

Get clear on your goals – Decide what you want and get clear on your goal as well as:

-your deadline
-how you will measure your goal
-what you need to do to achieve it
-what resources you have and what you will need
-your obstacles and how you will overcome them
-what action steps you need to take

1. Plan effectively

You need to look at your end goal and determine what steps you need to take to achieve your goal. Then you need to include these steps and schedule them into your diary/calendar. Remember to only plan 75% of your time, take routine tasks into consideration, batch where possible and also plan according to your energy levels.

2. Do something

Take action. Planning but then giving into procrastination is not going to get you any results. Most of the time we have a good intention to achieve our goals, and then we hit resistance when taking further action. Preparing for your obstacles and also working through them when they arise are key to achieving your goals. You will come up again resistance often, everybody does, this is called homeostasis, a natural resistance to change. The key is to take action and have plans to keep you moving forward.

3. Keep your goal top of mind

Motivation is pivotal to achieving your goal. Motivation gives you that boost you need to keep going when you feel like giving up. Everyday looking at your goal, reaffirm it to yourself, visual it before you go to bed. Make it part of your daily routine, feel it.

4. Keep focused

Always stay focused on your thoughts and what you are feeling. Are you focusing on what you want to happen or what you are scared will happen? Focus on what you want and not on what you don’t want. Review your goals and progress regularly as well.

5. Commit and Persevere

To achieve any goal, you must be committed and persevere, even when you feel like giving up. Some days will be easier than others but to achieve any goal, you must persevere until you obtain it. Too many people have given up just before they finally achieved success.

6. Act as if

Always believe and have faith that you will achieve your goal and take confident action. To believe in only those things which you can see is not belief at all. If you don’t believe it will happen, it won’t happen. Whatever you believe, you are right. Act as if and expect the best to happen.

7. Journey, not destination

Lastly, stay present, enjoy it, it is about the journey and not the destination. Don’t feel like everything will be fine only once you reach your goal. Find the things that you can be grateful and happy for now and remember that reaching your goal will just make things much better, but don’t have the mindset of ‘when…I will…’

If you have a burning desire to achieve more than you currently are but you feel lost and stuck, remember, it is better to work through those emotions now than to give up on your dreams forever.

Get Motivated – 5 simple ways that really work!

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily. – Zig Ziglar

If staying motivated were so easy, a lot more people would reach their goals and achieve more in life. Without motivation, taking action is almost impossible, it feelings like you are dragging yourself up a hill with a 100 tons behind you, just not fun at all.

Finding the motivation you need to achieve your objectives is an on-going effort and something you need to do regularly. Here are 5 simple ways to get and stay motivated from the outset.

1. Belief comes before motivation

There is a fine line between setting a huge goal and an unrealistic goal. There are many people who favour the idea of setting large almost unreachable goals, stating the bigger the better. However, although it might be very inspiring, if you can’t see yourself reaching it, you will struggle to find the motivation to take action. Inspiration and motivation are different.

Visualize yourself achieving your goal, how hard is this for you to do? What feelings come up for you? First you need to believe in yourself and then you will feel more motivated to take action.

2. Must be worth the effort

While this may sound obvious, the reward you get needs to clearly outweigh the effort you are going to put in, by far! If you want to lose weight and you have to change quite a bit in your routine, from your diet to exercise regime; that is a lot of effort you need to put in.

You will only feel motivated to put in all the effort you need to when you can clearly see the rewards you will get back after some time. Seeing yourself slimmer and feeling better is not enough to give you the impetus to make such a big change. You might need to put your thinking cap on and come up with 50 reasons why the reward is greater than the effort.

The reward has to mean so much to you that you are willing to put in everything you have got to get it. Find the massive reward and you will find the motivation. Doing something because ‘you should, have to, or need to’ is not motivating at all.

3. Get organized and put a plan together

Being more organized actually helps you to stay motivated. When you are not organized, you lack a lot of clarity, you feel more stressed, overwhelmed and all over the place. Motivation doesn’t work well in these conditions.

If you want to boost your motivation and chances of success, map out a plan of where you are now and how you will get to where you want to be. When you can connect the dots and clearly see how you can get to where you want, you have a boost of motivation to get there.

Your goals need to be more organized so you have more energy to be motivated and clarity on what action you must take to achieve what you want.

4. Align your feelings and thoughts

To be motivated, your feelings and thoughts need to be aligned. You might set out to achieve something and you have decided on a few action steps you need to take. When it comes to taking action however, you feel stuck, something is holding you back.

Your feelings are not aligned with the action and so, you get stuck. The opposite is true as well, you might feel fine about the action, but if you have an underlying feeling that it isn’t the best choice for you, you probably won’t feel so motivated.

Ensure that you are not imposing any feelings or taking actions that you actually don’t resonate with. When you have a vision, and you are clear on the right action you need to take, backed by the right feelings to get you there, motivation will follow right behind. If you miss out on one of these, you will probably get stuck.

5. Create a motivating environment

Most of us are predominately visual and respond much more to visual stimuli than what we hear or feel, for example. Having post it notes, inspiring images, quotes, and motivating reminders will go a long way to staying motivated. It is easy to get distracted and caught up in the routines of each day and lose motivation unintentionally. Reminding yourself constantly of what you are working towards will help keep you focused and your energy high and visual reminders are the best way to do this.

The only difference between being super motivated and not motivated is you. Motivation is a choice you make; you decide how motivated you actually want to be in life. Whether you are easily motivated or not, there are many ways to get and stay motivated if you really want to.

Can’t Keep Up? How To Take Control Of Your Time Thieves

How often do you feel overwhelmed and snowed under with an endless list of things to do? I bet more often than you would like to admit. With the ever-increasing fast paced world we live in, we are expected to continuously take on more, deliver better results and do this, within the same amount of time, or less!

No wonder stress has now become a word in our every day vocabulary and this 24/7 lifestyle is directly undermining our health. How can we keep up with all the demands? Well first, we might need to take a different approach and look at how we might be contributing towards the situation from the outset.

Surveys continuously find shocking results regarding how productive we really are. In a survey done recently, it revealed that most people only use 60% or less of available work time, in other words, even though they were physically at work five days a week, they were only productively using three days.

How easy would it be to immediately list all the areas where you are not being productive? For most people, they have no idea and this is normal, we are all blind to the limiting habits we might have and the things we do which waste time.

If you can’t keep up, the best thing you can do is pause and take a moment to identify your time thieves. You need to take responsibility and control of the situation.

Here is a simple, but highly effective way to take control of your time thieves in 4 easy steps.

Step 1 – The activity

Grab a piece a paper and pen and draw 4 columns. You will use the first column to write down the activity that you feel steals a lot of time. What isn’t working for you at the moment in other words? You might feel that checking and replying to emails chew up a large chunk of your time, distractions or interruptions.

Write down everything that comes up in the first column. Once you have listed all the different areas, you are ready to move into step 2.

Step 2 – The Cause

I am not talking about looking for something to blame for your circumstances. Your finger can always be pointed back at yourself. If you blame others for interruptions, you might need to acknowledge that you play a part in allowing those to happen. If you feel you have too much work, where can you talk responsibility to delegate or be more assertive and talk to management about your workload?

Most of the time, we don’t want to see how we could be any part of the cause. However, the more ways in which we can take responsibility for the cause, the easier it is to fix it as it is more in our control.

Use the second column to write the causes next to all the activities that steal time. What is contributing to this situation? Let’s use the example of emails, you might note here that friends sending personal emails takes a lot of time and is very distracting. Perhaps you developed a habit of checking and re-checking your email every five minutes. Write down everything you can think of.

Step 3 – The Solution

In the third column you will write down the solution, what are you going to do differently? How can you overcome this? Using the same example as email, perhaps you can schedule time to check your email at certain intervals instead of every five minutes.

If you are worried about not responding to an email immediately, you can put an auto responder to quieten your mind. ‘Please note I only check my email at the following times, xxx, if you require immediate attention please call me.’ Perhaps you need to create folders and follow the zero inbox rule. There is always a solution; you just need to be open to finding one.

Step 4 – Evaluation

The last column can be used to take down any notes, comments and monitor your progress. Remember that this document isn’t meant to be cast in stone. It is a document that you use to support you in identifying time thieves, to gain awareness around the causes and then use it as guidance to improve them.

Sometimes it isn’t extra time that we need, but actually some skills to help us to manage our time better. We were not taught how to manage stress, workload and responsibilities in school, but it has become an essential skill to have in life, whether we like it or not. Failure to adopt and master these skills will cause you to feel like you just can’t cope.

Get creative and think about what you can do to make life just a bit easier for yourself.

Unless you decide to take control of your time thieves, they will take control of you, don’t doubt it! You always have a choice in life, what do you chose?

4 Ways To Develop a Mindset Geared For Productivity

I’m a big fan of using whatever tools I can find related to managing time more effectively: apps, programs, software, techniques, anything!

I eagerly try out whatever I can get my hands on and there are some amazing tools out there to really boost productivity. So far, great… but bad news for the lazy ones: What isn’t available to purchase or try out though, is your mindset.

The focus seems to be on everything outside of us, but not a lot of attention is given to how productive your mindset actually is. You can implement as many systems and structures, but unless you mindset supports the change you seek, your efforts may remain fruitless.

Here are 4 ways that you can develop a mindset that is geared for productivity.

Think and don’t thought!

You see, every day you have thousands of thoughts bombarding your mind, apparently you have around 60,000 to 70,000 a day.

What is the danger here you might wonder? Your thoughts come directly from your beliefs about the world. Your thoughts lead to your feelings, your feelings to your actions and your actions to your results. You have to challenge your thoughts and not simply react to them. You may have many limiting beliefs that are not serving you, and you act on them.

Thoughting doesn’t require effort, but thinking does. Thinking is about giving your mind and thoughts targeted direction, gaining awareness around them and working with them to produce better results.

Thinking is like being in the driving seat of your mind and thoughting is like being in the passenger, you might have some input, but you end up wherever you are taken. Ask yourself honestly, how many of your thoughts do you simply react to, compared to the amount of effort you put into ‘thinking’?

What excuses do you come up with?

It is normal, almost instinctive and you are most likely blind to the number of excuses you give yourself each day. I can’t do this because I don’t have time, I am not organized, I am stressed, I am tired, etc

Are they really excuses? I am going to challenge you here, or are they “ways to justify inaction”? It is very common to come up with excuses because subconsciously you actually fear taking action, or you don’t feel confident, motivated or perhaps you want to stay in your comfort zone.

What you might really need to do is get out of your own way. Just as you would challenge your thoughts, you must challenge the excuses you come up with. Excuses don’t allow you to deal with the real issue and they keep you from being productive. Don’t build a habit of always coming with excuses for everything.

Do you play the blame game?

How often do you blame others for the way you feel? For the reason why you are not able to do something or why something is delayed or difficult.

Blaming has no place in the world of productivity. Blaming others for your results is not going to make anything better and certainly not empower you. Blaming ‘so and so’ because they didn’t really understand you, or deliver the work on time, or whatever reason you feel, is like being on the “effect” side of life.

To be productive you need to be on the “cause” side of life, take responsibility for your results, independent of the good or bad. Ask yourself how you have contributed to this situation or what you could do better next time and move on.

Are you too subjective with time?

There is real time and then there is your own sense of time. Remember the last time you felt that time just flew by so quickly, you felt amazed. How about the last time you felt that time really dragged by and it seems like forever.

If you find that you always over schedule your agenda, or you under-estimate how long a task will take, your subjective and objective views of time are quite different. Perhaps you think you have all the time in the world to do something, so you procrastinate, only to end up in a battle to get the work done in time.

Having a mindset geared for productivity, combined with the time management tools and techniques to support you, will transform your results for sure!