How To Work Smarter Not Harder

How To Work Smarter Not Harder

If your everyday workload regularly leaves you feeling overworked, overwhelmed and frazzled then it’s time to work smarter not harder.

We all have the same amount of time available to us but have you noticed that some people are able to get much more done while remaining calm and unflappable… but how do they do it?

It’s not by working longer and longer hours!

Yes I know that for many women, you have gotten to where you are from working hard. Putting your head down, working hard and doing great work has been the foundation of your success … but there comes a time when just working a harder is no longer enough.

I see way too many women who are exhausted and depleted from trying to maintain their high standards while keeping on top of the workload.

If this is you, it’s time to find some new ways of getting it all done.

Here are 7 habits to help you to work smarter not harder.

1.  Be intentional and focused. I am a huge advocate for the power of intentions. I know that this one small habit is the difference between achieving what is most important or getting caught up in “busy work.”

Do you know what is most important to you, your career direction and progression and what will get you noticed by those that matter?

To boost your productivity and effectiveness, make time each month and each week to review and set your focus. Get crystal clear on the biggest priorities and create space in your week to get these things done.

2.  Make quicker decisions. If you procrastinate, over analyse or get stuck seeking the opinions of every man and his dog before you make a decision … it’s time to stop!

I am not suggesting that you make snap decisions that are irrational and without consideration, but painfully slow decision making is holding your back and impacting your reputation as a leader.

3.  Say no to perfectionism. This one goes hand in hand with making quicker decisions. I get it. Like so many women you want to do your best work. You were rewarded at school and at uni for perfecting your assignments but in the working world your perfectionism is holding you back.

I see many smart women falling behind when they get into leadership roles because their perfectionist tendencies slows down delivery or they don’t even give their ideas the light of day, waiting for the ideas to be perfect.

The solution that works for many of my perfectionist clients is to set a new benchmark. Where in the past they would not see a project, report or email as complete until it was 100% perfect… the new benchmark for the majority of their work is now 80% – saving time and effort without significantly impacting the value of their work.

4. Put your needs first… and say NO. Yes ladies. I know how much you struggle with this one but this is important. Too often I see fabulous women making time for everything and everyone else, at the detriment of their own work performance and energy levels.

Next time you have a board report, strategy paper or major project that needs your concentrated time and attention block out some time in your diary to get it done… interruption free! Make an appointment with yourself .. and stick to it.

5.  Discover your productivity zone. When and where are you most productive? Is it early in the morning before the team come in or is it after dinner once the kids have gone to bed or some other time through the day?

And know your productivity is also likely to be impacted by your environment. Do you like the hum of activity around you or do you work best in a quite, uncluttered airy space?

We all have our own productivity zone. When and where is yours? I know that I do my best work before 11.00 am sitting in my favourite local café.

6.  Turn off distractions. This one really is too obvious but had to be in the list. Have you noticed that we respond like Pavlov’s dogs, reacting to the buzzing and binging of our social media, emails or phones?

And as much as we think we can multitask – we may do this better than the blokes – but still we loose our focus and concentration every time these micro interruptions come our way.

So ladies… it’s time to disconnect from your devices, even if it is just for a few hours each day.

7.  Prioritise your self care. If you want to accomplish more, make it a priority to nourish your soul, your body, and your mind. I am not exactly a pro at this one; I mess up all the time.

I do however know that if I have a super busy week then the best preparation to getting it all done is a good night sleep, time spent moving my body, good nutrition and focusing on filling my soul and clearing my mind.

 The choice is now yours!

If you are struggling to get it all done and your “to do list” is a source of stress and tension for you, choose one (or more) of these habits to slot into the way you work.

Let’s make life a little easier (and a lot more fun) by working smarter not harder!

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Your professional reputation is at stake

Your professional reputation is at stake

 

How you show up at work matters. The type of energy you bring to your work impacts your effectiveness while also shaping your professional reputation. It’s not something many of us give much consideration to, but it can absolutely influencing our outcomes and whether or not new and exciting opportunities come our way.

So let’s pause and reflect on the type of energy you bring to work every day.

Imagine for a moment that you are encased in a bubble and in that bubble is your energy. That energy could be positive, energetic, loving, inspiring, compassionate, caring or it could be negative, stressed, anxious, angry, sharp, and abrasive, abrupt.

And as you move around the office, in the tea room, in meetings, sitting at your desk… your energy is bumping up against other people and is having either a positive or a negative impact.

Your energy will absolutely shape the opinion others have of you and influence the mood and the moral of the team.

Recently, I caught up with a senior leader whose energy dial was tuned into the land of frustration, crankiness and in a constant state of fighting against the system.  At every turn, all they could focus on were all the things that weren’t working and how a particular global decision was negatively impacting on them and their team.

They shared with me that they were constantly tired and feeling like they were in a “battle”.  They weren’t sleeping well and there is no doubt that they were gaining a reputation for being a negative influence around the office.

This was so unlike the bright, bubbly, solution-focused energy they usually brought to the leadership table.

So my question to you today is…

  • What energy are you known for around the office? 
  • Are you having a positive or a negative influence on those around you?

Let me channel Oprah for just one moment. One thing I know for sure is that….

Your energy is more contagious than the common cold!

And your energy also impacts your own personal productivity, the decisions you make and the effectiveness of your communication. It’s pretty difficult to think strategically or creatively or to build effective relationships with people when you are in a really crappy mood!

And most importantly, how you show up every day will absolutely be influencing your professional reputation.

The way you show up around the office will shape how people see you and feel about interacting with you. They will be silently judging whether they like working with you and whether they see you as an effective leader.

So let’s put on our big girl pants and take a little responsibility. 

It’s time to be more conscious of our energy and agree that there may be times when we’re not bringing our best selves to work.

HERE ARE 3 ENERGIES YOU ARE BEST TO BANISH FROM YOUR BUBBLE.

1. Overwhelmed Crazy Women. Yep … this is the crazy woman who is about to go into melt down. I know that you know her. Maybe you know her rather too well.

If you are familiar with this women, you know that it’s like her brain has been hijacked by an alien. She is unable to function effectively and she emits a chaotic energy. Her decision making powers have gone out the window along with their usual calm, rational efficiency.

Generally the trigger will be an unusually high workload that has spiralled out of control and ironically her response makes getting through her growing “to do list” almost impossible to complete.

2. Negative Nelly. Unfortunately this energy is all too common in many workplaces.   I know her well… she chose to show up in me for a time some years back. Ugly but true.

She genuinely loves to get involved in idol gossip that has nothing to do with her. She is fuelled by wingeing and complaining and has an incessant focus on problems outside of her control.

The glass is always half empty and she has every reason under the sun why things wont work. The Negative Nelly loves to blame others and make excuses… and rarely takes any responsibility.

3. Don’t Come Near Me … because I’m about to snap. Ahh… scary! If you are taken over by this energy, look out. You are about to get a reputation to be hard to work with and may well find your colleagues giving you a wide berth.

Some of your team will be scared of you, some wont trust you and some will choose to avoid you as best they can.

This angry ant is like a pressure cooker, on the verge of exploding. She can at times say things she doesn’t really mean but once they are out… she cant take them back.

And the choice is entirely yours…

Just like the leader who I met with recently, we all have the choice of how we show up and how we respond to situations around us.  So if you recognise that you have let one of these unresourceful energies out to play a little too often… think about what impact it is having on you, your work performance, your team engagement and ultimately your reputation?

Perhaps it’s time to upgrade the energy in your energy bubble!

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Your words hold the power

Your words hold the power

 

Your ability to influence, engage, inspire and drive performance from your team all stems from your language skills. The effectiveness of your relationships, your ability to build trust or your skill to craft powerful communications by email, through reports or to be delivered from stage all rely on your mastery of language.

You can create the best strategy in the world but if you can’t communicate it in a way that inspires action and full engagement from the team, what’s the point?

What I have discovered is that the power of our language is influenced less by how well we did in English class at school and more to do with our certainty, what we think about ourselves and our passion for the work we do.

Powerful language comes from a powerful belief in you!

Yes it really is that simple.

What you believe to be true (whether it is true or not) influences the words you use on a consistent basis. If you don’t believe you are worthy of your position, if you don’t believe the targets really can be met, if you don’t believe in the talents of your team… it will come out subtly in the words you use.

Your words leave clues.  

They are a signpost to what you are thinking and what you believe. They influence your actions and behaviours and the response of those around you.

It is the smallest tweaks to your language that can make the biggest difference.

Here are 4 easy tweaks to communicate more powerfully

1. Believe in YOU. 

It all begins here. If you don’t believe in you, no one else will. Notice where you doubt yourself. And know that much of what you believe about yourself is complete bunkum!

Shifting your negative beliefs will automatically change the way you communicate and is absolutely the fastest way to tapping into your most powerful influencing abilities and being recognised for your impact.

2. Speak of what you want…. not what you don’t want. 

This helps to focus the mind to achieving a positive result rather than avoiding a negative result. Here are a couple of examples to get you started.

  • Don’t be late to today’s meeting ===> I’d appreciate you being on time (or early) for today’s meeting.
  • I hope I don’t mess up my speech at the conference ===> I’m determined to present clearly and with unwavering confidence
  • It’s important we don’t miss budget ===> Let’s focus this month in lifting sales and exceeding budget expectations

3. Eliminate words that drag you down. 

Words have energy. Some are light and filled with possibility and some are heavy and block progress. The goal is to eliminate the words that are heavy and drag you down. My clients know that there are some words I don’t allow them to use!

I was speaking with a client this morning who described “dreading” relocating to head up a different geographical region. After a brief discussion focusing on the positives associated with the move, she shifted her language around the move to it being a “huge opportunity for a fresh start with amazing people.” And with this change in language came a sense of excitement, possibility and energy.

4. Limit Negativity. 

Sometimes our language displays negativity or a lack of choice. If you are one of the many who fall into negative patterns with your words (happens to me too!), here’s a handy guide for reframing what comes out of your mouth so it’s empowering.

  • I can’t do it =====> I choose not to
  • I really should =====> I would like to or I can
  • I have to =====> I really want to
  • I’ll give it a try =====> I will do this

Which of these simple tweaks could you implement today that would have you communicating with more impact and influence?

Remember: When you align your thoughts with your words and your actions, amazing things happen.

And it starts with YOU. Change your beliefs, change your words, change your outcomes. Good luck !

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Our mindset matters – even more…

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Jane Benston

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Does Happiness Matter To Leadership Performance?

Does Happiness Matter To Leadership Performance?

 

How happy are you in your current role? Pretty simple question really but not one we ask ourselves that often. Maybe it’s because we don’t really want to admit the answer.

And what does happiness have to do with work, career and being a productive, inspiring, high performing leader anyway? I’d suggest… a lot.

Think about it. When do you do your best work?

Is it when you are wallowing in you own self pity party, day dreaming about getting as far away as you can from the day to day grind of your uninspiring job with uninspiring people that leaves you cold? I would think not!

Happiness is at the core of creating a productive team culture, where collaboration and supporting each other to achieve exceptional results are the norm. It’s important for sparking creative ideas and innovative problem solving.

And it all starts with you.

If, as a leader, you’re not happy and having some fun… it is very unlikely you will cultivate a team who bring a fun, happy and engaged energy to their work. 

Know one thing for sure… you set the tone and your energy and behaviours are contagious.

Intuitively, we know this is true… and now research from the fields of positive psychology and neuroscience are making a clear connection between happiness and success. It turns out that when your brain is in a positive state, it is actually primed for higher levels of success and performance.

So it would make sense we seek happiness… not just because it feels good but also because it has a powerful impact on our work performance and outcomes.

Start here to improve your happiness... and your results.

1. Choose your attitude.

Your attitude has a powerful effect on you and the people you lead. What impact do you want to have on them?

If you are filled with negativity and bring a grumpy or, may I say, bitchy or gossipy energy into the office… you will be influencing the general actions and behaviours of your team.

It is your responsibility to set the tone for your team…. regardless of the tone being generated above you. You may not be able to influence a shift in the broader company culture… however, you can influence the culture of your team by choosing your attitude wisely.

The attitude you bring to work will have an impact on your own personal work performance, the effectiveness of your relationships and the way you are being perceived.

And most importantly… your overall level of happiness.

2. Reassess your role.

Does your role bring you joy and happiness? We spend a large part of our lives at work… let’s make sure it’s work that makes us happy. We do our best work when we are engaged in work that we are passionate about and that allows us to put our greatest skills and unique talents to work.

And doing work we are proud of matters! Making a real contribution, having an impact and being able to influence the direction or business outcomes is what brings many of us the most joy.

So, if you have found yourself in a role that no longer inspires you to do your best work and leaves you feeling depleted, disengaged or unfulfilled… it might be time to consider what’s next.

Life is too short to be stuck in a role that does not make you happy!

Choose your attitude, choose your career path, choose to fire up your right brain, choose happiness!

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Jane Benston

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Shatter Your Inner Glass Ceiling?

Shatter Your Inner Glass Ceiling?

 

Women continue to struggle to make their mark on the corporate landscape with the numbers of women securing leadership roles remaining stagnant at unacceptably low levels.

For many women, the glass ceiling is real although often subtle and hidden.

Those seeking leadership roles talk about bumping up against the many barriers to securing a seat at the table, including unconscious bias, lack of access to internal networks of power and influence and the need or desire for greater flexibility.

But it is not just the external barriers that are hampering women’s advancement. Of equal importance is the inner glass ceiling holding many smart, capable and talented women back from the top jobs.

In conjunction with learning how to overcome the external barriers, women need to work on clearing the gunk and smash through their own self-imposed, unconscious limits.

What is the Inner Glass Ceiling?

The Inner Glass Ceiling is the incessant self talk going on in a woman’s head. Yes, men experience this too but it seems to be to a lesser extent. Women internalise what’s going on around them and are more susceptible to patterns of overly critical self talk; the need to be perfect, fear of not being good enough or of not being worthy, just to name a few.

Because how we think determines our actions and behaviours, the internal inner gunk gets in the way of many women being seen as strong leaders. The negative self talk often leads to fear, inaction and shying away from doing what it takes to achieve their potential and to be seen, heard and valued as a leader.

Everything starts with what we think!

Your inner world shapes your outer world. 

If you don’t fully believe in yourself, your brain isn’t able to visualise your goals or motivate you to take action. If you have any self-doubt, hidden fears or uncertainty, you’ll sabotage your efforts and be prone to procrastination or perfectionism.

Doubts and self-limiting beliefs can hold us back from voicing our opinion, speaking up in meetings, saying yes to the big opportunities, presenting with confidence or generally showing up as a strong decisive leader.

We all have an inner glass ceiling…

It’s created from our experiences, parents, teachers, thoughts, fears, beliefs, perceptions, and internal brain patterns from a very young age. What we believe and think affects us at EVERY level of our leadership and life success!

I have worked with many women who come to me saying they know they are capable of so much more but are frustrated that they are stuck and holding themselves back for no apparent reason.

Sarah was a great example of this. She was achieving ok results as a sales manager but no matter how hard she worked she couldn’t break through to make serious improvements for herself or her team. She knew she was sabotaging herself and that she wasn’t living up to her full potential.

Sarah’s inner glass ceiling was showing up as a lack of confidence, self worth and beliefs around her ability to make sales. We worked together on breaking through these limits, replacing old, disempowering beliefs and generating new habits to reinforce a new way of thinking and acting.

And the result; Sarah has recently been recognised as the top performing sale person within the business. But the benefits don’t end there. She has also achieved some personal goals that up to now had only been a dream.

To shatter the inner glass ceiling …

Sometimes I would have liked to take a massive swing at mine with a big sledge hammer!

Seriously… it’s as simple as learning how to release the old patterns and the self-imposed, unconscious beliefs and replace them with new, empowering ones.

It’s about retraining your brain to get rid of negative limiting beliefs, habits and behaviours and reinforce the right positive beliefs, habits and behaviours to support the achievement of all you are capable of.

The good news is that brain scan studies have proven that you can re-wire and strengthen the key areas in your brain that control your conscious thoughts and unconscious feelings and emotions influencing every decision you make and action you take.

Once the glass ceiling is shattered, the transition to achieving a new level of success happens with much less effort. While before it may have seemed like you were constantly pushing up hill, suddenly doors open and opportunities show up.

So, for just a moment, imagine what would be possible for you if you were to shatter your inner glass ceiling.

The answer to getting that next position, promotion or pay rise may not be to work harder or to learn more. It may well be to invest in shattering your inner glass ceiling.

Sometimes it only takes the smallest adjustment to totally alter the course of your life!

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Our mindset matters – even more…

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Jane Benston

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Why This Job?

Why This Job?

 

Why is it that you do what you do? Of all the jobs and all the companies; why this one?

If you were to think back to when you said YES to the role that you are now in, what was it that excited you? Can you remember?

Interestingly, research has shown over and over again that it is rarely about the money. Provided our remuneration is OK, money rarely drives leaders to excel, to engage more authentically with their team or dare to venture into unchartered waters seeking the results they know are possible. What drives us is way more personal than that.

All too often we get so caught up in the day to day, busyness of our work, we loose sight of why we are here and what it was that sparked our interest in the role in the first place.

So why here, why this job?

This is the question I asked the leaders at a team retreat last week. There is no doubt that the question caught many of the leaders off guard. It is not something that we often think about.

For one it was because they loved the idea of working with a progressive innovative business, another saw it as a great opportunity for growth, while for a another it was that the role gave him the opportunity to continue to work in the retail industry without working weekends and so allowed him to get involved in his kids sporting activities for the very first time.

Why we do what we do is deeply personal to each us and drives a sense of purpose and meaning.   It connects our work with what is most important to us while keeping us engaged, even when the going gets tough. It directs our actions and helps us to stay focused and committed.

And one of the added benefits is that if fuels our passion. When you do work that is aligned to what is important to you it is easy to love your work. Your excitement will excite others who will want to get involved in what you do. As Simon Sinek in his book Start With Why and his block buster TED talk has said, “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

Understand Your Why To Land Your Next Ideal Role

So how do you answer that sticky first question so often asked in a job interview; “Tell us a little about yourself?”

It is one so many of us have stumbled over in the past. I know I have. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of regurgitating a bland summary of our CV. When we do this it doesn’t give the interview panel anything new or substantial to help them see why we are the ideal candidate!

This question is the perfect opportunity to share with the panel what drives you at your core and how this matches with the goals and values of the business.

Recently I assisted a leader prepare for a job interview for a senior marketing role. By tapping into her WHY, Susan was able to not just speak about WHAT her skills were and HOW she had demonstrated them in the past; she was also able to clearly articulate WHY she was so passionate about the businesses primary product.

And did it help her land her dream job… absolutely. She received feedback it was one of the primary reasons she was chosen for the role.

The power of being connected to “WHY this job” is truly compelling.

It will drive outstanding performance, gently nurture you through fear and uncertainty and fuel your passion. It will stand you apart as a leader and have you recognised as the type of leader the organisation feels lucky to have on board.

So stop focusing quite so much on WHAT you do as a leader and start reconnecting WHY you do it.

Take some time to reflect on the following questions;

  1. What drew you to your role in the first place?
  2. Why did you say YES to the role and not some other role?
  3. Does the role still meet your personal WHY?

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Right now, our resilience is being tested. With increased uncertainty, massive disruption to our day to day lives and the threat to our physical, mental and economic health, focusing in on building resilience has never been so important.

Jane Benston

Our mindset matters – even more…

There is much of this Covid-19 crisis that we can’t control. But what we can control is our mindset. How we choose to respond to the changing landscape is totally up to us… and could be the difference between just surviving it or truly thriving through this.

Jane Benston

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As we begin the run down to the end of the year, are you beginning to feel the pressure to get projects completed, lift the team to new levels or ramp up efforts to meet KPI’s and budgets?

Women often tell me they are already running hard and are not sure how they can do even more – both in and out of work…

Jane Benston

5 Questions To Ask To Get Unstuck

5 Questions To Ask To Get Unstuck

 

Has your career come to a grounding holt, where you are no longer being recognised, rewarded and promoted? Perhaps you are feeling bored, lacking challenge and missing the opportunity for growth. Are you wondering why it is that your career progression has plateaued over the last few years, leaving you less than excited about going to work every day?

Becoming stuck at the same place in our career usually dosen’t happen over night. It creeps up on us until one day we wake up and say how did this happen??

So how does it happen?

The simple answer is that you have been playing way too safe!

Too often we do what feels comfortable. We take the familiar route; doing what we know without question we can do well. We say yes to the projects that are similar to the ones we have had success in previously. We take the path of least resistance, avoiding “risky” innovative solutions and do what we can to fly under the radar to avoid the possibility of even more work coming our way.

The comfort of what we know is all too alluring…. but often not at all satisfying. When we think about the things we are most proud of, they are very often those things that stretched and challenged us.

If you want to achieve new results, hit new targets, be seen, heard and recognised for all you are capable of, then you must be willing to do what you have never done before. And yes! That means stepping outside your comfort zone.

Our growth, joy and fulfilment comes doing the things we have never done before. The magic happens beyond our comfort zone!

One of my gorgeous clients, Katherine, discovered this recently. She had an opportunity to speak and share her story at an event but felt that it was beyond her. She had an amazingly inspiring story of courage and achievement to tell but felt too scared to step out onto the stage. After a little work to raise her confidence, sense of self worth and belief in her abilities, she accepted the challenge and quite simply must have been brilliant.

By accepting the challenge, she has now been asked to speak at 3 more high profile events. And as you can imagine, opportunities have opened up for her because of that one brave move.

Everything that you want is available to you too. All that is required is for you to do the things that you have not yet done. This is true for my life and for so many of the women I work with. We must be willing to shift the status quo in our own lives, shake things up a little and to step into the unknown, where, yes, there is risk, but also so much more opportunity.

Here are 5 simple questions to ask to help you get unstuck.

1.  Where in your work are you playing safe? Are you shying away from speaking up in meetings? Are you keeping your innovative ideas to yourself out of fear of ridicule or rejection? Have you passed up opportunities or failed to apply for a promotion?

2.  Where have you have been doing the same thing over and over? Are you doing what you have always done and hoping to get a different outcome? Better results come from trying new ways, innovative strategies, extending the boundaries of what has been done before.

3.  What would happen if you began doing the things that felt scary or outside your comfort zone? Imagine if you did muster up the courage to take on a bigger role, greater responsibilities, a challenging project, the opportunity to speak at an event or simply to broaden you network.

4.  If you could not fail, what would you attempt to do? We all have dreams! What are yours? In the busyness of the day to day to do lists, both at work and at home, we get lost in the minutia of the same old same old. But it is for this very reason you have lost the spark for your work. Dig into your past swag of dreams and bring them to life again.

5.  What is it costing you right now to stay stuck? Ok this one might hurt a little, but lets get real for just one moment. What is it costing you to stay stuck? Is it your health, your mood, your connection with those you love, your sense of fulfilment, career progression or is it quite simply that you want more from life and your work than you what you have right now??

The good news is that change can happen quite quickly once you realise you are stuck and begin doing some things differently. Even the smallest changes can create momentum towards a more rewarding career. The only question for you now to answer is “What are you prepared to do to create that change?”

NEXT STEPS?

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The 80/20 Rule: Stop Wasting Your Time

The 80/20 Rule: Stop Wasting Your Time

In a world where the most valuable commodity we have is TIME, finding ways to maximise our results with less effort is paramount to our success and sanity.   We seem to be in a constant battle to “get it all done” while struggling against distractions, putting out the spot fires and completing low value busy work that can chew up most of the day.

I am all for finding ways of working smarter not harder… and embracing the 80/20 Rule is one of those ways.

The 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts. I think we know this instinctively. There are days that we get stuck in the busy work and make very little progress on the things that are going to make a difference. And then there are days when we focus our energy and efforts on the big ticket projects that will have a real impact on results of the team and the business.

It is on those days when you focus on what will really make a difference, that you will get seen, heard and applauded.  It is on those days that you will get flagged as someone who deserves the next big opportunities. It is because of those days, that you will get recognised for what you are truly capable of.

And all too often when work gets busy I see women working harder and longer hours, when really a better solution would be to pause and identify where to target their efforts. Great results more often come from working smarter not harder.

I wonder, are you focusing on the tasks that will produce the biggest results?

Here are my top 5 ways to put the 80/20 Rule to work for you.

1.  Know your core work.   At the heart of the 80/20 Rule is understanding what is the core of your role. By using the 80/20 Rule we can identify the most impactful tasks and understand where to focus our time and energy.

It is all about clarifying those activities and tasks that will get you the best results with the least amount of time and effort. Learning to recognise and then focus on the 20% high return activities is the key to making the most effective use your time.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you to identify the core of your work.

  • What have you been employed to deliver?
  • What are the key outcomes expected of you?
  • What are the few things if done well will mean that you are doing your job well?
  • What are the numbers/KPI’s that matter most?
  • Which aspect of your role does your boss focus on?

Once you know the answer to these questions you will be clearer on where to prioritise your efforts and what things you must never drop the ball on.

2.  Let go of the less important. So for all the perfectionists out there, this may be a bit challenging. But sometimes we just have too much on the plate to do it all. It is time to give up trying to do it all and focus on 20% of tasks that are going to give you the biggest bang for your buck and only tackling the rest once the big ticket items are taken care of.

3.  Learn to say NO. Your value comes from doing your core work… and doing it well. If you get caught up saying YES to EVERY project or fiddly job that comes along, then you will never have the time or energy to do the work that will really make a difference.

4.  Protect Against Distraction. The modern world is filled with distractions with beeping smart phones, Facebook messages, emails that ping even in the middle of the night and people wanting a piece of you at every turn.

To be more productive and focus in on the important tasks we must learn to interrupt the interruptions. We must build a fortress around ourselves and carve out some sacred space for creative thinking and high productivity.

I do this by taking myself to a local café where I DON’T have internet access. It is here that I can focus in on the core activities that will make the biggest difference without the distractions of all things digital.

What can you do to reduce the distractions?

5.  Time slots and Batching. Everyone has a time slot in their day when they do their finest work. Do you know when yours is? Mine is definitely before midday so I schedule a couple of morning blocks of time each week, keeping these reserved for writing, creative and strategic work.

Consider batching the “mindless” busy jobs (eg: responding to simple emails, phone calls) or less intense meetings for your less productive times of the day and reserving chunks of time in your diary for your core work. And YES you will need to schedule it into your diary. If it is not in the diary, generally it doesn’t happen.

Applying the 80/20 Rule is not only about productivity and effectiveness. It is an effect way to maintain your sanity in this crazy busy world and get you recognised for your ability to get extraordinary outcomes. Lets commit to taking the time to recognise what is giving us 80% of our results and focus our attention on that.

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Who is holding you to a higher standard?

Who is holding you to a higher standard?

Do you hold yourself to a higher standard, where you are constantly pursuing your personal best, taking action and extending beyond your personal comfort zone? Or do you let yourself get away with slacking off, taking the easy road and settling for second best?

Let’s admit it… we all slide into taking the easy road from time to time and that’s ok for a while. But, when it becomes our new normal, it will quickly lead to little more than mediocre results and ultimately a mediocre life!

I know that mediocre is not what most of us want out of life or from our careers.

Career opportunities and results that get us seen, heard and valued don’t fall out of the sky. They come to those who consistently show up, play a bigger game and strive for excellence.

This morning, in my quest to meet my standards for health and vitality, the gorgeous girl in the exercise DVD that I was jumping around too (yes I know exercise DVD’s are a little old school and daggy but much more appealing to me than heading out in the cold Melbourne winter mornings) pointed out that we always have a choice regarding to what level of energy we put into the exercise.

We can choose to “just get through it” or we can raise our standards and give it everything we’ve got in that moment and achieve results we have never achieved before.   

So this morning I allowed Erin from the SHRINK SESSIONS WORKOUT to hold me to a higher standard as I pushed myself a little harder, following her high energy moves mixed with a load of positive affirmations to keep me going. 

Gosh it felt good … once it was done!

Where in your work are you choosing just to “get through it?”

Our career success is a culmination of the decisions we make, the action we take and the standards we hold ourselves accountable to. If you are merely getting through your days at work, doing what you can do to fly under the radar, stay out of trouble and focusing on ‘just getting job done… then it is time to ask …. “Is this what I really want?”

In speaking with hundreds of smart professional women across the country, I know that many of you want so much more than that. You want to feel fulfilled, challenged, valued and recognised for the great work you do. You want to make a difference, have an impact and to be involved in work that is meaningful.

To achieve all of this, you need to be holding yourself to a higher standard.

Or have mentors, confidants or friends who will tell you when you are slacking off.

Recently, while on a trip to Bali, my girlfriends called me out on where I was playing small. They helped me realise that I had been operating within my comfort zone, which ultimately would not see me achieve the goals I have set for myself.

They called me out on my own s#*t and are now my guiding angels, keeping me accountable to the promises I made to myself to not just take the easy road but to do the things I had been avoiding and shying away from. Yes some of these actions scare the pants off me… but by staying focused on why I am doing it and the celebrations that will come on the other side, I know that I can stay on track.

While only you can really hold yourself to a higher standard, your support team is critical to cheer you along, hold you to account and to believe in you even when you don’t fully believe in yourself.

Ask yourself today:

  • Am I proud of the standard of my work and my efforts?
  • Am I letting myself down in any area – eg: managing the team, responding to requests, the quality of my reports, the persistence to always be improving results etc
  • Am I constantly stretching and growing? When was the last time I did something that was unfamiliar?
  • Am I taking the opportunities that come my way or am I sticking with what feels comfortable?
  • Am I seeking feedback on my performance with an open mind towards performance improvement?
  • Am I challenged, engaged, inspired by my work
  • Who in my network will give me honest feedback and hold me to account if I was to let my standards slip?
  • Who in my network will support me on my quest for continuous improvement? 
  • How can I access more support to hold me accountable?

Set high standards, relentlessly pursue your goals and surround yourself with people who will lift you higher.

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Our mindset matters – even more…

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Jane Benston

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Women often tell me they are already running hard and are not sure how they can do even more – both in and out of work…

Jane Benston

Mindset: How leadership success is an inside job

Mindset: How leadership success is an inside job

So often we think about leadership growth in terms of learning new skills, gaining more experience or expanding technical knowledge. While these are all critically important elements of leadership success, they will only get you so far.

The difference that makes the difference is working on our mindset. There always comes a time when we need to work on our inner game to maximise our outer performance and results.

Our mindset influences our productivity, our courage, our confidence, how we present ourselves, the language we use, the conversations we have, how we respond to the challenges we face, the opportunities we seize, whether we are intimidated or bold or whether we lean in or fade into the background.

Our mindset impacts everything we do everyday and in every part of our lives.

Mindset is….

Mindset is our habitual patterns of thinking combined with our beliefs and values…which determines our actions and ultimately our outcomes and results.

Have you ever wanted to achieve something but felt like you were holding yourself back? I see women getting in the way of their own success every day. We all do it. Me included.

It is a bit like having one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the break!

All that happens is that you end up going no where fast. It leaves you exhausted and frustrated and wondering what you are doing wrong. This chaos is created when what we think we want is not in alignment with our values and beliefs.

I recently worked with an extraordinary leader who was clear about the type of leadership role she wanted to move into but had been unsuccessful in the job hunt for more than 6 months. She was highly skilled, talented and experienced but had created an unconscious belief that she wasn’t worthy of a well paid role, that she wasn’t old enough and was fearing how her relationship with her partner might change if she was “successful.”

These unconscious beliefs were holding her back and sabotaging her performance during job interviews.

Through our work together she reframed some hurtful past experiences, eliminated her fears and changed the way she saw herself. She grew in confidence, developed a strong professional presence and to her delight, soon after, landed the perfect role she had been hoping for, for so long.

Our natural reaction when we hit a career plateau or road block is often to work harder, learn more, do more when really the place to focus in on our mindset.

When we start here and make a transformation in our mindset everything else follows.   The results we achieve on the outside are directly linked to everything we are within.

Here are my tips to get your mindset transformation started….

1.  Recognise Resistance. Resistance to change, growth or new things often relates to an internal struggle. Recognise it for what it is…. a sign alerting you to conflict between your conscious thoughts and your unconscious inner ‘stuff’ getting in your way and needing your attention before you move forward. Pay attention to the resistance and ask yourself; “What is this about?”

2.  Uncover and challenge limiting beliefs. Our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us generally guide our action, behaviours and outcomes. Identify the beliefs you have about yourself that are standing in your way (ie: I’m not good enough, I’m too old, fear of success, fear of failure etc) and question whether theirs beliefs are relevant, real or serving you.

Given that our beliefs are unconscious and usually remain hidden even to ourselves… the very act of identifying and question their validity is enough to transform our thinking, actions and behaviours.

3.  New Level, New Devil. Regardless of how much work you have done on your mindset in the past, there is always more. As one of my mentors once said to me… “New level, new devil!” And she was right. Every time we raise our expectations of ourselves and look to play a bigger game there is a new layer of “gunk” to work through.

So next time you hit a speed hump in your pursuit of career and leadership success… take some time to work on up levelling your mindset. It will not only pay dividends with your career but also in your personal life.

LET'S CONNECT

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Front view of young woman doing yoga exercise indoors at home, meditating.

Resilience. A key foundation to thrive…

Right now, our resilience is being tested. With increased uncertainty, massive disruption to our day to day lives and the threat to our physical, mental and economic health, focusing in on building resilience has never been so important.

Jane Benston

Our mindset matters – even more…

There is much of this Covid-19 crisis that we can’t control. But what we can control is our mindset. How we choose to respond to the changing landscape is totally up to us… and could be the difference between just surviving it or truly thriving through this.

Jane Benston

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Women often tell me they are already running hard and are not sure how they can do even more – both in and out of work…

Jane Benston