The average employee spends 13 hours each week on email. That, plus endless lists of to-do items, hours of seemingly pointless meetings and unexpected interruptions creates noise that prevents productivity, inhibits creativity and gets between you and the day you hoped you’d have. So what can you do about it? Take a deep breath, imagine the life you want to have instead, and create a plan to make that happen.
Below are ten steps, inspired by the advice of Entrepreneur.com writers and contributors, that can help you take charge and help you craft the professional and personal life that works for you.
1. Define success. Only you know what will make you feel fulfilled. When you want to achieve a goal, whether it’s starting a new business, writing a book or running a marathon, start with the end in mind. Write it down and refer work toward it every day.
2. Visualize that success. Think back to a time when you accomplished something that really made you proud. Now imagine the best possible outcome of your new venture and hold on to that feeling – and that image of yourself. Work for that future you and don’t hold that person back with your own pessimism.
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3. Forget entitlement. You aren’t destined to succeed because you went to a certain school or have a certain background or contacts. Don’t expect that what you want will fall into your lap or that you are more deserving than someone else. Focus on the work or expect to miss out on something great.
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4. Think small to think big. You can’t change your ways overnight, so set small, achievable milestones and slowly build momentum toward your goal. Don’t set yourself up to fail by taking on too much too soon.
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5.Consistency is key. Procrastination can quickly turn to panic, kicking your brain into crisis mode. That’s bad for creative output and your health. Start early and give each milestone the time it needs.
6. Prioritize. Do the most pressing or important item on your to-do lists first. Even if you think knocking off a couple of smaller tasks will help you tackle the big one, willpower is often at its highest at the start of the day rather than at the end of it. Monitor yourself to understand when you are the most productive and organize your schedule accordingly.
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7. Delegate. You can’t do everything. Think about what someone else can take on, at work or in your personal life, so you can devote more time to your new priorities. Learn to let some tasks go and relish in the new perspective you’ll get in return.
8. Find collaborators. To make these steps stick, enlist likeminded friends, colleagues and family members who will hold you accountable, celebrate your achievements and share their insights. Support can come from the unlikeliest of sources. Just make sure you're open to the possibilities.
9. Stay motivated. To keep engaged and weather any setbacks, make yourself a “motivational manual.” Look to quotes from people who inspire you or playlists of songs that boost your creativity and productivity. Create an environment where you can thrive.
10. Take stock and try again tomorrow. If you feel like you have too many plates in the air, stop and just focus on one at a time. Try spending time on one project every day and see how much you accomplish.