Thursday, October 23, 2014

LIFE Tip -6 Subtle Things Highly Productive People Do Every Day

 BY Eric Barker
Ever feel like you’re just not getting enough done?
Know how many days a week you’re actually productive?
People work an average of 45 hours a week; they consider about 17 of those hours to be unproductive (U.S.: 45 hours a week; 16 hours are considered unproductive).
We could all be accomplishing a lot more — but then again, none of us wants to be a workaholic, either.
It’d be great to get tons done and have work-life balance. But how do we do that? I decided to get some answers.
And who better to ask than Tim Ferriss, author of the international bestseller  The 4 hour workweek.

(Tim’s blog is here and his podcast is here.)
Below are six tips Tim offered, the science behind why they work, and insights from the most productive people around.

1. Manage Your Mood

Most productivity systems act like we’re robots – they forget the enormous power of feelings.
If you start the day calm  it’s easy to get the right things done and focus.
But when we wake up and the fray is already upon us — phone ringing, emails coming in, fire alarms going off — you spend the whole day reacting.
This means you’re not in the driver’s seat working on your priorities; you’re responding to what gets thrown at you, important or not.
Here’s Tim:
I try to have the first 80 to 90 minutes of my day vary as little as possible. I think that a routine is necessary to feel in control and nonreactive, which reduces anxiety. It therefore makes you more productive.
Research shows how you start the day has an enormous effect on productivity and you procrastinate more when you're in a bad mood.
Studies demonstrate happiness increased productivity and makes you feel more successful.
As Shawn Anchor  describes in his book The Happiness Advantage:
Doctors put in a positive mood before making a diagnosis show almost three times more intelligence and creativity than doctors in a neutral state, and they make accurate diagnoses 19% faster. Optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56%. Students primed to feel happy before taking math achievement tests far outperform their neutral peers. It turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive.
So think a little less about managing the work and a little more about managing your moods.

So what’s the first step to managing your mood after you wake up?

2. Don’t Check Email In The Morning

To some people this is utter heresy. Many can’t imagine not waking up and immediately checking email or social-media feeds.
I’ve interviewed a number of highly productive people and nobody said, “Spend more time with email.”
Why is checking email in the morning a cardinal sin?You’re setting yourself up to react.
An email comes in and suddenly you’re giving your best hours to someone else’s goals, not yours.
You’re not planning your day and prioritizing; you’re letting your objectives be hijacked by whoever randomly decides to enter your inbox.
Here’s Tim:
Whenever possible, do not check email for the first hour or two of the day. It’s difficult for some people to imagine. “How can I do that? I need to check email to get the information I need to work on my most important one or two to-dos?”
You would be surprised how often that is not the case. You might need to get into your email to finish 100% of your most important to-dos. But can you get 90% done before you go into Gmail and have your rat brain explode with freak-out, dopamine excitement and cortisol panic? Yes.
Research shows email:
  1. Stresses you out.
  2. Can turn you into a jerk
  3. Can be more addictive than tobacco or alcohol
  4. And checking email frequently is the equivalent of  dropping your IQ by 10 points.
Is this really how you want to start your day?

Great, so you know what not to do. But a bigger question looms: What should you be doing? 

3. Before You Try To Do It Faster, Ask Whether It Should Be Done At All

Everyone asks, “Why is it so impossible to get everything done?” But the answer is stunningly easy:
You’re doing too many things.
Want to be more productive? Don’t ask how to make something more efficient until after you’ve asked “DO I need to do this at all?"
Here’s Tim:
Doing something well does not make it important. I think this is one of the most common problems with a lot of time-management or productivity advice; they focus on how to do things quickly. The vast majority of things that people do quickly should not be done at all.
It’s funny that we complain we have so little time and then we prioritize like time is endless. Instead, do what is important … and not much else.
But is this true in the real world?
Research shows CEOs don’t get more done by blindly working more hours, they get more done when they follow careful plans
Preliminary analysis from CEOs in India found that a firm’s sales increased as the CEO worked more hours. But more intriguingly, the correlation between CEO time use and output was driven entirely by hours spent in planned activities. Planning doesn’t have to mean that the hours are spent in meetings, though meetings with employees were correlated with higher sales; it’s just that CEO time is a limited and valuable resource, and planning how it should be allocated increases the chances that it’s spent in productive ways.

OK, you’ve cleared the decks. Your head is serene, you’ve gotten the email monkey off your back and you know what you need to do.
Now we have to face one of the biggest problems of the modern era: How do you sit still and focus?

4. Focus Is Nothing More Than Eliminating Distractions

Ed Hallowell, former professor at Harvard Medical School and bestselling author of Driven to Distraction, says we have “culturally generated ADD.”
Has modern life permanently damaged our attention spans?
No. What you do have is more tantalizing, easily accessible, shiny things available to you 24/7 than any human being has ever had.
The answer is to lock yourself somewhere to make all the flashing, buzzing distractions go away.
Here’s Tim:
Focus is a function, first and foremost, of limiting the number of options you give yourself for procrastinating… I think that focus is thought of as this magical ability. It’s not a magical ability. It’s put yourself in a padded room, with the problem that you need to work on, and shut the door. That’s it. The degree to which you can replicate that, and systematize it, is the extent to which you will have focus.
What’s the best way to sum up the research? How about this: Distractions make you stupid.
And a flood of studies shows that the easiest and most powerful way to change your behavior is to change your environment.
Top CEOs are interrupted every 20 minutes. How do they get anything done?
By working from home in the morning for 90 minutes where no one can bother them:
They found that not one of the twelve executives was ever able to work uninterruptedly more than twenty minutes at a time—at least not in the office. Only at home was there some chance of concentration. And the only one of the twelve who did not make important, long-range decisions “off the cuff,” and sandwiched in between unimportant but long telephone calls and “crisis” problems, was the executive who worked at home every morning for an hour and a half before coming to the office.
(For more on how to stop procrastinating go here.)
I know what some of you are thinking: I have other responsibilities. Meetings. My boss needs me. My spouse calls. I can’t just hide.
This is why you need a system.

5. Have A Personal System

I’ve spoken to a lot of insanely productive people. You know what none of them said?
“I don’t know how I get stuff done. I just wing it and hope for the best.”
Not one. Your routines can be formal and scientific or personal and idiosyncratic — but either way, productive people have a routine.
Here’s Tim:
Defining routines and systems is more effective than relying on self-discipline. I think self-discipline is overrated.
Allowing yourself the option to do what you have not decided to do is disempowering and asking for failure. I encourage people to develop routines so that their decision-making is only applied to the most creative aspects of their work, or wherever their unique talent happens to lie.
Great systems work because they make things automatic, and don’t tax your very limited supply of willpower.
What do we see when we systematically study the great geniuses of all time? Almost all had personal routines that worked for them.
(“Give and Take” author Adam Grant consistently writes in the mornings while Tim always writes at night.)
How do you start to develop your own personal system? Apply some 80-20 thinking:
  1. What handful of activities are responsible for the disproportionate number of your successes?
  2. What handful of activities absolutely crater your productivity?
  3. Rearrange your schedule to do more of No. 1 and to eliminate No. 2 as much as possible.
(For more on the routines geniuses use to be productive click here.)
So you’re all set to wake up tomorrow with a system and not be reactive. How do you make sure you follow through on this tomorrow? It’s simple.

6. Define Your Goals The Night Before

Wake up knowing what is important before the day’s pseudo-emergencies come barging into your life and your inbox screams new commands.
Here’s Tim:
Define your one or two most important to-dos before dinner, the day before.
Best-selling author Dan Pink gives similar advice:
Establish a closing ritual. Know when to stop working. Try to end each workday the same way, too. Straighten up your desk. Back up your computer. Make a list of what you need to do tomorrow.
Research says you’re more likely to follow through if you’re specific and if you write your goals down.
Studies show this has a secondary benefit: writing down what you need to do tomorrow relieves anxiety and helps you enjoy your evening.
(For more information on setting and achieving goals click here.)
So how does this all come together?

Summing Up

Here are Tim’s 6 tips:
  1. Manage Your Mood
  2. Don’t Check Email in The Morning
  3. Before You Try To Do It Faster, Ask Whether It Should Be Done At All
  4. Focus Is Nothing More Than Eliminating Distractions
  5. Have A Personal System
  6. Define Your Goals The Night Before
The word “productivity” sounds like we’re talking about machines. But the funny thing is that much of being truly good with time is about feelings.
How should you strive to feel when working? Busy, but not rushed. Research shows this is when people are happiest.
I couldn’t have written this without the help of Tim Ferriss and Adam Grant. Both volunteered their very valuable time.
Was that a waste on their part? They definitely won’t get those minutes back.
Helping others takes time but research shows it makes us feel like we have more time. And it makes us happier
Once you are more productive, you’ll have a lot more hours to fill. So why not use them to make others and yourself happier?

Friday, October 10, 2014

MONEY Tip- The Millionaire Mindset: 6 Mistakes the Rich Never Make

by Molly Triffin

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately—or you avoid network news like the plague—you’re probably pretty familiar with these terms … and the implication that true wealth in America is too exclusive for most of us to ever attain.
Well, the truth is you don’t have to launch a blockbuster tech company, sport the last name Buffett—or pursue the kind of career that could be featured in a Michael Lewis book (Although let’s be real—those things don’t hurt.)

What you do have to have? The right money mind-set, as well as the financially savvy habits that go with it.
“The primary difference between the wealthy and the rest of us is that they’re in control of their money—they don’t let money control them,” says Jaime Tardy, a business coach and author of "The Eventual Millionaire" who has interviewed more than 150 millionaires on how they accumulated their wealth.

“They have taken the time to learn how to work successfully with money, and as a result, they are the captain of their ship,” she says. “On the other hand, if you approach your finances from a place of fear or ignorance, you’ll be like a boat floating around the ocean without a motor.”
And that type of aimless attitude is what can lead you to make serious dollar-sucking mistakes—unless you learn to adopt some key good money habits of the wealthy.
So with that goal in mind, we rounded up the biggest financial blunders many people make—but prosperous folks avoid at all costs—so you can start to put their strategies into action to boost your own net worth.

If you’re not a numbers person, it can be tempting to mentally cut yourself off from your finances, whether it’s neglecting to stay on top of your investments or blatantly ignoring your bank statements. But that’s a huge no-no—and those with sky-high bank accounts certainly don’t amass big bucks by being blind to their balance sheets.
“If you don’t have the facts about your financial situation, money will stream through your hands like water,” Tardy says. The consequence? You could land in debt, make poor investments—or end up flat-broke when you retire.
The Get-Rich Fix “Some people assume that you have to be an investment banker to understand money, but the wealthy weren’t born with some secret know-how—it’s a gradual learning process,” Tardy says. “If you’re procrastinating about facing money because you’re scared of what you’ll find, you have to dive in. Even if it’s not what you wanted to see, the truth will allow you to make decisions and move forward.”

If you’re starting from scratch, the first step is to gather some basic information from your bank account, like how much you earn and what you spend, so you can figure out what you’re netting each month—and gauge whether your fiscal position is improving or getting worse. Once you have all the facts, you can start making thoughtful decisions about what you need to do in order to start growing your money.
On the other hand, if investing is your money blind spot, facing the facts might mean building up your knowledge base by listening to podcasts, signing up for a seminar or hiring a financial adviser. “Just make sure it’s a trusted source,” Tardy says. “Learn from people who are already where you want to be.”

Money Mistake #2: You Overspend

When you think about the type of lifestyles the rich can afford, you probably picture luxuries like a ski chateau in Chamonix or a closet full of Manolos. But wealthy people are more down-to-earth than you might imagine.
“Millionaires aren’t out there buying Lamborghinis,” Tardy says. “They make purchasing decisions based on their current financial status and their goals. They’re rich because they’re good at keeping money—not spending it.”
The Get-Rich Fix Have your eyes started to glaze over from having the importance of proper budgeting hammered into you repeatedly? We get it. Despite their best budgeting attempts, some people still find it difficult to keep tabs on their spending.
Unfortunately, we can’t give you a free pass to throw this crucial money to-do out the window—but Tardy does have a solution for making it a bit more bearable.
“Make budgeting a game by giving yourself an interesting new challenge every week,” she says. “See how little you can spend on groceries, or even skip food shopping one week and invent meals using what you already have in the cupboards.”
The key is to identify the system (or mind trick) that you’re most likely to stick with—and then do it.

Money Mistake #3: You Neglect to Adjust Your Finances Following a Big Life Event

When you get married or a parent passes away, your bank account is probably one of the last things on your mind. But if you postpone adding your spouse to your will, canceling your joint account after a divorce or signing on to your new company’s 401(k), your bottom line will take a hit.
“Successful people understand that every transition you go through has a financial implication—and they make sure to build a plan for those turning points,” says Pete Bush, a CFP® with Horizon Wealth Management in Baton Rouge, La.

The Get-Rich Fix Whenever your life takes a turn in a new direction, find time to sit down, look at your finances and adjust them accordingly. “Think about it like football,” Bush says. “The coaches have a game plan heading in. But let’s say the quarterback, running back and linebacker get hurt in the first quarter and are out of commission. Their original intention is now irrelevant, and they have to come up with a new blueprint.”
Money-savvy folks understand that even when you’re in the midst of a big event—like sleep-training your 6-month-old—it’s still important to consider your balance sheet … and open that 529 college savings plan that will help you save up thousands of dollars for the big financial burden coming in 18 years.
“Life transitions have many different components to them: logistical, emotional, spiritual, familial and, yes, financial,” Bush says. “Count the financial piece among the others and give it equal weighting. It may not be the most urgent, but at least if you recognize up-front that it’s in the mix, you can make a plan to deal with it.”

“Rich people will rarely be caught paying bills late, bouncing checks or carrying a high-interest card because they hate to waste money.”

Money Mistake #4: You Waste Cash on Fees

It’s one thing to burn through $100 on a fantastic meal at your favorite restaurant. Hey, at least you enjoyed yourself! But it’s entirely another to trash 100 big ones on overdraft fees or missed payments.
“The difference between wealthy people and everyone else is that the rich watch where their money is going, and they protect their wealth by making sure none of it slips through their fingers,” says David Bach, vice chairman of Edelman Financial Services and author of "Smart Woman Finish Rich " “Rich people will rarely be caught paying their bills late, bouncing checks or carrying a high-interest credit card because they hate to waste money.”
The Get-Rich Fix Automate, automate, automate. We’re only human, after all, and we’re bound to miss a payment or overlook a bill at some point. So put safeguards in place that will lower the risk of those inevitable blunders.
“Set up auto-pay features to take care of your key bills—mortgage, car payment, insurance, credit cards,” Bach says. “Late fees can add up to a fortune.”
Of course, that also doesn’t give you license to simply coast. “Rich people read their statements, checking regularly for mistakes,” Bach adds. “They know that if they catch errors on their bills, they can call their provider and get them fixed ASAP.”

Money Mistake #5: You Focus on Saving More—but Not Earning More

If you’ve decided that you need to scale back on your spending, and your first inclination is to sacrifice your daily Starbucks fix or unplug every electronic item in your house when you’re not using them—stop right there.
Millionaires aren’t in the business of wasting money, but they also recognize the greater importance of earning additional income as a way to attain financial goals faster. “[Wealthy people] understand that while there is a limit on how much you can save, there is no limit to how much you can make,” Tardy says.
In other words, even though slashing your expenses by $50 or even $100 a month will boost your bottom line a little bit—raking in thousands more from a salary bump will have a much greater effect.
The Get-Rich Fix If you’re feeling a pinch, invest your time more wisely by seeking out ways to earn more. An obvious place to start is by examining your current salary. If you haven’t asked for a raise recently, and know you’re delivering value to your company, schedule a meeting with your boss to make your case for earning more.

Another strategy? Use the hour you would have spent researching the cheapest online purveyor of dish detergent to brainstorm ways to bring in a side income.
“The key is figuring out what skills you have that can be of value to others and then determining how to charge for that value, whether it is a side venture, helping a friend with a project, or some other way of plugging into an opportunity of trading your value for [someone else's] money,” Bush says.

Money Mistake #6: You Obsess Over Price—and Sacrifice Value

Sometimes our frugal intentions end up sabotaging us: You buy cheapie $50 shoes instead of a good-quality $200 pair that will last longer. Or you make repeated repairs to your gas-guzzling, circa 1992 Volvo station wagon rather than spring for a new model.
But rich people know better.
“Wealthy people understand that the cheapest route isn’t always the most valuable,” Bush says. “They are able to take the long view and consider how what they pay today compares with the worth over time.”
The Get-Rich Fix Part of the solution is changing your mind-set from “find the rock-bottom price” to “find the best value.” Then do the math.
“Take the ‘bargain’ and ‘value’ options of whatever you’re looking at—a mortgage, car loan, etc.—and run the cost out over a reasonable time for that transaction,” suggests Bush. “Compare them both ways, taking into consideration your cash flow, and see which works best for your situation.”
So let’s say a car dealership offers a low rate or 0% interest if you finance a vehicle over three years versus a higher rate for five years. If you plan on keeping the car for seven to ten years, what is the total price of owning it over that time frame? The longer you finance something, the lower the monthly payments—but the more it costs over time. So it’s not as much short-term pain, but it gives you less to build savings with over the long term.
Also, remember that enlightening experiences are inherently more valuable than material goods. “Once you have an abundance of stuff, you quickly realize that you don’t need more of it,” Tardy says. “Millionaires understand that valuing the experiences that change you as a person—be it travel or skydiving—will do more for you than just getting the iPhone 6, when the iPhone 5 worked just as well.” (By the way, Tardy knows several millionaires who still have the iPhone 4!)
So start paying attention to what you are doing when you feel happiest and most alive—and put your financial efforts into creating more of those moments.

 photo from

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

LIFE Tip- If You Truly Value Yourself, Then You Need To Stop Saying These 4 Things

by Carol Morgan

Do you value yourself enough?
Well, up until recently, I sure wasn’t.
A couple of weeks ago, I had someone tell me that I was not charging enough for my keynote speeches.
My first reaction was confusion, plus a little bit of self-deprecating humor.
I thought, “Why don’t you think I’m charging enough? Am I completely out of the loop for the going rate for someone like me to speak at corporate events? Or, on the positive side, I’m just really that awesome and I could be the next Oprah?”

Anyway, a conversation about it ensued, and then I came to the conclusion that she was right: I’m not charging enough for my keynotes.
But I refused to think that I was out of the loop that much. So I had to turn to other possibilities.
If I’m undercharging, does that mean that I don’t value my message, or my work, or even myself? I didn’t think so. But I had to dig deep and think about it.
What were my subconscious thoughts that were blocking me from thinking I that I should charge more? I had a few answers…such as my older sisters saying things like, “You’re a doctor?!” or “People actually listen to you? Bahahaha!”
Keep in mind, my sisters are only teasing me. They are actually very supportive. But in the back of my head, I am just their little sister.
Could that be holding me back? (Actually, I have a whole other article to write on that topic sometime. That will be fun.)
I regularly speak and write about the subconscious beliefs we all have that are holding us back. But it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I had to analyze my own hidden beliefs.
In the past, I’ve written about what to do (or think) when other people don’t value you. But what if you are the one who is not valuing yourself enough?
Here are four things that may be going through your mind without you even knowing it.
And, of course, all of them are holding you back. Do any of them sound like you?

Self-Destructive Things You Need To Stop Saying

1. “I’m just helping people. I don’t need money for it.”
Helping people is great. We should all be helping people.

 money for a service is called an energy exchange. If you do nice things for a friend and you never get thanked (or maybe they never do anything nice in return for you), well, you’re kind of getting used.
The same thing applies to getting paid for services. Money is an energy exchange – a symbolic “thank you.” And it’s a vitally important one too. Without it, you have the potential of being used.
2. “I feel bad taking money from people.”
Do you feel bad collecting your paycheck? No.
Do you think that McDonald’s feels bad for accepting money for your Quarter Pounder with Cheese? No.

Do you think that a movie star has a problem accepting money from their blockbuster? Of course not!
It all sounds kind of silly when you re-frame it like that, doesn’t it? So why would you ever feel bad for accepting money from people? As I said in #1, it’s simply an energy exchange. Think of it as doing the person a favor by allowing them to be a giver.
3. “They can’t afford it, so I’ll take whatever they can give me.”
If they can’t afford you, then maybe they should find someone else. And I don’t mean that in a condescending way.
But there is always someone who will do the job cheaper than you…at least, there should be. You see, if you are the one at the bottom of the barrel who is accepting everyone’s sloppy seconds, then you don’t value yourself enough.

4. “I’m humble. I’m just lil’ ol’ me.” 
Ah….being humble is a great characteristic, isn’t it? Well, not when it comes to money!
To be humble is to not value yourself and your talents. Now, I’m not telling you to become conceited and stuck up. But you need to know that being proud of yourself and your accomplishments is not conceit.

We are all valuable and accomplished in our own ways. Have someone read your resume out loud to you. Trust me, it will give you a whole new perspective, and you’ll finally realize how awesome you are.

The Takeaway

If you heard your own voice in these four statements above, I challenge you to re-program your subconscious and get rid of these self-defeating ideas. They are hogwash! They are only true if you think they are true. Otherwise, they are just unproductive lies you are telling yourself and they are holding you back. To value yourself, you need to rid yourself of them. Start cheering yourself on today.
Cheers! To your success!