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You can only pick one

Decision tree

We make thousands of decisions every day. Those decisions add up to become the person we eventually become. Like it or not, you are the product of every decision you have made so far: good or bad. If you have ever attended an economics class, you must have heard of opportunity cost. In very simple terms, if you had ₦1,000 today and had to decide whether to buy shawarma or yahuza suya, the option you chose not to buy is the opportunity cost.

Decision making
Still thinking?
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Strive to Change

Transformation

Goals are meant to help you grow. In order for growth to happen, there must be change. Therefore, an ideal goal should be one that changes you. It’s normal to fear change. There is comfort in staying within the known. That is why you will always find proponents of this is the way it has always been done philosophy. However, if you seek to become a better version of you over time, you must learn to set goals that:

Challenge you to improve

The ideal goal is one that is just beyond your comfort zone. It should be tough enough that you can’t get it done without trying just a little bit harder but not so tough enough that you lose hope and give up. Picture it this way. If you were teaching a four year old how to be a goalkeeper and kept kicking the ball towards him with all your strength, that child will soon give up football (if you don’t damage him first). The ideal thing to do will be to kick the ball towards the child with just enough force that the child can find it fun and actually react to. If it’s too easy, the child will get bored. If it’s just challenging enough, the child will want to try harder. If it’s too hard, the child will give up and cry.

Upward pointing arrow
Consistently making small improvements
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Work smarter, not harder

Work smart not hard

Due to the ongoing pandemic, a lot of people are still working from home. If you have failed to put in place a system for keeping track of the hours you clock in while working from home, you might find yourself working longer hours than you used to yet still achieving less. People have told me they have attended back to back online meetings all day. On the surface, this looks like a productive day but if all they did was attend meetings, when are they supposed to work on their important tasks. No one is hired to attend meetings.

A hand ticking a checklist
Did all your important tasks today get done?
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Today can be the new beginning

Make today amazing

How are you holding up? If you are still alive and healthy, that’s a lot to be thankful for this year. The pandemic is still ongoing and different places are adapting to it differently. Earlier in the year, you probably had to accept the painful reality that you are no longer on track to achieve your goals. No one was prepared for the pandemic. It was a lot to take in.

Not all people and industries adapted fast enough. Some were able to come up with ways to ensure they continued working. Many teams had to learn to work from home. The transition has not always been easy and some people do not have the luxury of being able to do that. If you have found a way to continue working remotely, that’s great.

A cat meowing at a man working on a laptop
Is this your new normal?
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Is your productivity off (ii)?

An icon of a crying figure sitting at a desk with a pile of papers

Last week, I wrote about how we all have days with low productivity and why you shouldn’t beat yourself up too much if you have a single off day once in a while. If, however, all your days are starting to look like a chore, you may need to ask yourself a few questions. Some of the reasons you suddenly find yourself unable to finish scheduled tasks could be:

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Is your productivity off (i)?

An icon of a crying figure sitting at a desk with a pile of papers

About a month ago, a friend complained about no longer having the will to complete her tasks. She simply did not have any zeal or passion to do anything. I was a bit concerned and reached out to her. She is one of the most productive people I know and thankfully, after a few days, her productivity slump ended and she was able to continue working.

Arrow pointing down icon
Did your productivity take a nose dive today?
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Do what matters first

Priority

In the famous book “Eat that frog” by Brian Tracy, the author advocates that you should start your morning with the task that you are most likely to procrastinate on because you consider it the most difficult part of your day. The logic is if you had to eat a live frog first thing in the morning then you can go through the rest of your day knowing the worst of it is behind you.

I am a great advocate of this philosophy. I believe in utilising your early morning hours to get your most important tasks done. Even if that’s the only thing you got done that day, you can smile when you do your evening review because you know you got one task that mattered out of the way.

A frog on a leaf
Frogs are best eaten first thing in the morning
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What did you do this morning?

Sunrise

“Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

St Francis of Assisi

I’m a big fan of the early morning hours. I relish getting as much tasks as I can out of the way before noon. There is something about the first few hours of the day when you are awake that provides a huge productivity rush. For me, it tends to be the hours when I have the fewest distractions. Whose house am I going to visit or call at that hour? I have also just woken up from a good night’s rest and I am ready to tackle a difficult task.

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Learn to say “No” (ii)

No

Last week’s article was about the power of “No.” A simple word but with great power to help you take control of your schedule. Hopefully by now, you have had some practice with saying “No.” The goal is to eventually reach a level where you learn to say “yes” to opportunities and “no” to distractions.

With practice, it’s easy to know when to politely redirect your colleague’s offer for last minute help on a project they had two months to work on. Outside the workplace, however, it can become more difficult to decide which tasks to give up. Let’s examine the following list:

  • Take minutes of the meeting of market women’s association.
  • Service the generator at the orphanage
  • Do the book keeping for the Youth association
  • Read to five year olds at the library
  • Deliver the opening speech at your nephew’s speech and prize giving day

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Learn to say “No” (i)

No

“Poor planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on mine.”

-Bob Carter

What do you do when someone asks you to do a task you would rather not? Picture this scenario. You are working on a project early in the morning, trying to build momentum. Someone approaches. They ask if you have five minutes. They need your help to go over a report that they have to submit later today. What do you tell them?

You have three options. The first is to say “No. Go away.” That would do the trick and you might be able to get back to work after that but it won’t win you any allies that way. The second is to say “Yes” and allow the person take control of your schedule for the rest of the morning. You know the report was supposed to have been their responsibility and you feel they shouldn’t bother you. It’s not your job to look over their report. Yet you also feel you could do a better job of it than your colleague. Maybe they need a little help after all and you know you could write a better report than them. So you check the report and it’s a mess and you end up having to rewrite parts of it. By the time you are done, you have “helped” your colleague write a report and they can turn it in just in time. Then you go back to your original task and curse the fact that since you have wasted so much time you now have to work after office hours to finish your work.

No
No words necessary

Continue reading “Learn to say “No” (i)”