Goofing Off Is Good For You And Your Business

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In a world of hyperfocus and constant busyness, how can goofing off be good for you? That’s just being lazy. I eat people who goof off for breakfast!

Hang on. This isn’t about goofing off all the time and just expecting great things to happen. It’s about giving your brain a break and allowing your subconscious mind and creativity to flourish.

 

We’ve all had it happen to us. Emma Seppala of Stanford just wrote a great article on how scientific research is proving it.

I’m lucky enough to know Dr. Harold Finch. He played a key role as a project director for the Apollo spacecraft program.

He was trying to figure out how to keep the astronauts safe from the dangers of the heat and cold extremes in space. Harold concentrated and focused on the problem. He came up with all kinds of ideas and none of them worked.

One day while he was taking a break and going to eat some great Kansas City barbecue – goofing off – he came up with the solution. The idea just popped into his head. It was brilliant in it’s simplicity and it’s still used in space today.

As Harold was waiting on his lunch he was watching a chicken being cooked on a rotisserie. Hey, didn’t that keep the chicken from being burned on one side and uncooked on the other? Couldn’t we rotate the spacecraft so it would create an even temperature on all sides? Wouldn’t that protect the ship and the astronauts? The Barbecue Roll was born.

Goofing off works!

Here are some ideas on how to goof off with great results.

  • Spend some time focusing on your goal, problem, or project to prime your conscious and subconscious minds.
  • Schedule in 10-15 minute breaks every hour or so to purposefully unfocus.
  • Perform some stretching exercises
  • Do a mindless task and let your mind drift. I work mostly at home so I love to do the dishes, shave, or shower. It’s stuff I have to do anyway and it gives me time to just think in silence.
  • Take a walk. New research shows this really ramps up your creativity.
  • Drive in total silence on the way to and from work and just daydream.
  • Work at creating new experiences in your daily life to give you new ways to look at the same things. Take a different road to work. Eat at a new restaurant. Work with a different team. Visit a new place.

You never know when goofing off might give you a Barbeque Roll moment.

How to Really Use LinkedIn – Not Just To Get A Job

Podcast interview included

social media

With all the social media sites out there it’s hard to keep up with them all. The big question is, which sites should you spend your valuable time on that will actually give you a great return on that investment?

One outlet that has the ability to really help your career and your business is LinkedIn.

I used to think it was just a way to put your resume online when you needed a job. It has changed greatly over the years.

It is now a site that can help you connect with potential customers, partners, entrepreneurs, employees, and more. Used correctly, it can help you grow your brand, establish you as an expert in your field, and help you sell your service or product.

My friend, Mike Montague, co-wrote a new book on how to best use LinkedIn. He covers:

  • How to build a winning profile that attracts great connections
  • How to decide who to connect with
  • How often to post on LinkedIn
  • How to prospect for clients
  • How to avoid common LinkedIn mistakes

You can get the ebook in PDF format for free here.

You can listen to my interview with Mike here:

Before You Give Up – Read This

almostthere

You’ve been working really hard and you’re frustrated. All the big ideas, extra hours, sacrifices, and effort you’ve put in have gotten you…what?

Nothing.

Maybe.

But what if you’re this close to a breakthrough? What if that last little bit of work will put you on a path to something that could really change your life?

My first job in talk radio was not as a talk show host. I was working for minimum wage doing all the grunt work and overnight shifts. I even had to buy time to get a chance to be on the air. Fairly quickly they were “kind” enough to let me provide a show for the station for free, but I wasn’t getting paid. Ouch.

Even though my wife’s job and my part time job as a mental health counselor were earning enough to support us, I felt like I was letting her down. I told her I was about to quit the radio dream and get a full time counseling job.

She convinced me to stay at it at least until the end of the year. (She’s awesome.) About a month later I was offered a full time job as a talk show host on the number one station in town.

I was reminded of this while I was watching The Voice with my daughter. One of the contestants is married with children. He’s a teacher and sings on the side. He’s been doing it for over a decade without much success. He told his brother he was about to give up on the idea of a singing career – and then he got a spot on The Voice.

What if you’re that close?

Before you give up, do a double check:

1) Remember why you want this. Is that why still strong for you? Why are you working this hard? Why are you doing what other people aren’t willing to do? Isn’t is because then you will get to do what other people aren’t able to do?

2) Review the progress you’ve made so far. You might be surprised at what you’ve already accomplished.

3) Review your plan. What parts are working? What parts aren’t working? What could you change to get better results?

4) Imagine what your life would be like if this started turning around for you? What would change? How would that impact you, and those around you? How would it make you feel?

5) Give yourself some grace. Maybe you just need to slow down and take a bit more time on this. Maybe you’re burning yourself out and expecting too much too soon. Go for smaller successes and then build to bigger things. You’re human, and that’s ok.

6) Email me before you give up and see if I can help you!

My next post will be about when it’s okay to quit. I know I just said don’t give up, but I’ll explain the difference.

Question for comment: How do you keep going when you feel like giving up?

Outsource What You Don’t Want to Do for Almost Nothing

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Are there things you have to do, but you don’t really want to do?

Um, Greg, is this a trick question? Does a one-legged duck swim in circles?

Sorry.

Here’s the point. You can outsource almost everything you don’t want to do – and most of it doesn’t cost very much. Why waste your precious time doing things you don’t like and might not be very good at?

How much more could you get done if you focused most of your time on the things you love to do and do well? At work? At home?

Yes, it costs money. But not as much as you might think, and how much more money could you make focusing on your most important things?

As I was writing my book (shameless plug – makes a great Christmas gift – especially for your college educated son living in the basement playing video games all day) I realized I didn’t want to spend the time and effort creating the cover, formatting it for print and digital outlets, and doing the final editing. I also knew I couldn’t do those parts of the book as well, and as quickly, as people who do that sorts of things as their main job.

So, I outsourced all of it!

I used a website called Fiverr. You have tons of people and organizations from America and all around the world to choose from. Each one’s performance is rated by the users and you can reach out to them before you put down your money to get the job done. All the work is based on $5 gigs.

My front cover was $5. My back and side cover were another $5. A digital 3D photo for my website and Amazon was $5. You get the idea.

I had several people in the business tell me it would cost several hundred dollars to get my book cover created. I did it for $15 plus tax. Sweet.

Here are some other websites that can help you outsource your unwanted tasks:

Peopleperhour
Guru
Upwork
Elance

As I ramp up my business on helping people find and pursue their Passionate Purpose I plan to spend my time on what only I can do and outsource the things I’m not as good at, don’t like to do, or don’t want to spend my valuable time doing.

Think about all the things you could outsource at home and at work:

  • Video editing
  • Grocery delivery
  • Research
  • Web design
  • Research
  • Graphic design for covers, logos, banners, etc.
  • Creating Power Point slides – Great ones
  • Podcast editing
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Bookkeeping
  • Cleaning: It doesn’t have to be a weekly maid. How about once or twice a month? How about only the really tough stuff, like the bathrooms, and the windows?

Do what you love, what needs your touch or voice, and what creates the most for you. Outsource the rest.

Question: What have you outsourced? What has worked well and what hasn’t?

What Would Happen If You Assume It’s Possible?

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You can’t do it. It’s impossible. Can’t be done. There’s just no way. You’re wasting your time.

When you say that, your brain doesn’t even try to come up with options. It just says, “OK, guess I don’t need to think about how to make that happen. I’ll just move on to trying to figure out the next thing they should stuff in our pizza crust.” (Maybe that’s just my brain.)

If you believe it can’t be done, you will never do it. You will never even try to do it.

But what if?

What if you assume it is possible? What happens then?

You start to imagine how it could be done. Your brain starts a new kind of innovative, inventive, creative and productive thought process.

You’ve asked your brain to find a solution so it’s working on it.

Remember the Apollo 13 space mission? After the fire and oxygen problems, imagine if the astronauts and engineers had said, “There’s just no way we can fix this.” Not good.

Instead, they said, “Failure is not an option.”

Is there anything recently that caused you to say it can’t be done?

A potential customer you don’t think you can land?

A new business venture you really want to try but you don’t see how you can make it work?

Creating a lasting relationship with someone you might want to spend the rest of your life with?

Buying that new house?

Taking on a new project?

What would happen if you assume it’s possible, say failure is not an option, and start some imaginative thinking on how to do it?

If you start asking the right questions, you might be shocked by the answers your brain comes up with.

Let me know.

Sometimes Less is More

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Try harder. Work harder. Do more.

Does that sound like the voices in your head? Maybe that’s just me. (Maybe I should see someone about that.)

We all work hard and want to succeed. That’s a good thing. But, the idea that you must go 100mph all the time to get ahead is just wrong. (Try going 100mph off a cliff and see if going all out all the time still makes sense.)

Sometimes letting off the gas a little is what is needed. Sometimes we need to let someone else have the spotlight. Sometimes we need to listen – really listen. Sometimes we need to stop working so hard, slow down, think, create, and plan.

I went to a musical last night. One of the actresses was a good singer, but something didn’t quite feel right as I listened. Then it hit me. She was belting out every lyric. There were no dynamics, no highs and lows, loud and soft.

Don’t get me wrong, she could really wail. But, there wasn’t as much feeling and emotion in the songs as there could have been. By trying too hard all the time she was actually hurting her performance.

Do you ever do that? I know I do.

If you find yourself pressing too hard today, trying to top someone else’s story, trying to make the most and best comments at the office meeting, or trying to cram too many things in your day, slow down.

Back off for a minute. Re-evaluate. Prioritize. Be more selective about what you say and do.

Let me know how it works out. I’m going to try that today.

Who Else Wants to Get More Done in Less Time?

Do-Less-Achieve-More

You are working harder than ever. From the second the alarm clock goes off until your head hits the pillow at night you are working. It’s slowly killing you and you’re starting to notice that all that work isn’t doing as much as you thought it would.

It’s time to spend less time working to do more.

Ok, get the guys in the white coats. Greg’s really lost it this time.

Nope, never been more sane. I’ve noticed that when I’m trying to put out all the fires and be all things to all people, I let other people determine my priorities. You know what happens then? My most important tasks don’t get done.

When I decide my top three priorities and take them one at a time until they’re done, I get more important things done. That helps everyone more.

Here’s how you do it, depending on if you’re self-employed or you’re an employee.

Self-employed:

1) Ask yourself: What is the most important thing that if you got it done today would make the biggest difference to your business?

2) Do that until it’s done. I know sometimes “things come up.” But you need to schedule time for your most important activities or something will always “come up.” At the minimum, work on this task for one hour. Then take a break for emails, phone calls, fires, etc. Then repeat the process.

3) Repeat steps one and two for your three priorities until you’re done for the day.

4) If time remains, do the next thing on your list.

5) Celebrate a great day! Go for a walk with your spouse. Eat some boiled peanuts and watch a martial arts movie. (Wait, that’s just what I like to do. Sorry.)

If you’re an employee:

1) Meet with your boss and ask him/her and work out what the companies goals are for you – short and long term. What does he expect from you? What are the top three most important things he expects you to get done?

You might think you know this already. Hey, you might. But, you also might be surprised just how different your ideas of what is important are from what your boss thinks.

2) Focus 80% of your time on those top three things your boss wants done. Do this in one-hour increments. Tell everyone, no interruptions during that time. Set a timer. You will be shocked what this type of focus will do.

3) As you show your boss how much important work you’re getting done, see if he will delegate some of your less important work to someone else. (You will be surprised how often the answer will be yes.)

4) Use the other 20% of your time to do the less important but necessary tasks of your job.

5) Win the office fantasy football pool. Whoo hoo! (Whoops, sorry, that’s my stuff again.)

Let me know how this works!

Working Too Many Hours Hurts Everyone

We tend to think that working long hours shows we have a strong work ethic. It’s proof we’re not lazy and it will lead to more success.

Some of us even get in competition with our buddies on how many hours we put in.

But research shows that too much work is actually counterproductive. It hurts your health and your productivity.

A new study, published in the Lancet medical journal, showed a correlation with work hours and risk of stroke.

Compared to the “normal” 40-hour workweek, working from 41-48 hours increased your risk of stroke by 10%. If you worked up to 54 hours a week the risk jumped to 27%. The last group working over 55 hours a week saw risk of stroke increase by 33%.

The reason for this isn’t proven yet. The researches think it could be due to increased stress, longer periods sitting at your desk, or just the fact that you have less time to eat right, exercise and take care of yourself properly.

Meanwhile, a Stanford study shows that after you reach 50 hours a week your productivity takes a big hit. Push it past 56 hours and your work starts to downhill fast. When you reach 70 hours a week, you produce nothing worthwhile with all that extra time.

That study focused on munitions workers so it’s not exactly the same for most of us who do office work. However, many other studies show the diminishing returns from overwork and not enough sleep.

You can get away with it in short bursts for big projects, but if it becomes the norm, your quality of work – and your health – will suffer greatly.

Depending on the survey, around half of American workers now say they put in more than 50 hours a week.

It’s time to start asking ourselves what we – and our employers – get for that?

Is there a better way to work less, get more done and achieve more balance in our lives?

Yes!

I’m going to give some ideas on that in my next post.

Would You Rather Be Redirected or Reprimanded?

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Is this a trick question, like does a one-legged duck swim in circles? Or is this just semantics and being redirected is simply a nicer way of saying reprimanded?

Neither. This is a real question and there’s a big difference between the two things.

Most bosses, managers, and even some parents tend to reprimand you when you’re not doing what they want you to do. Very few redirect you.

I’ve been reading The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, and this is how they explain the difference:

Reprimand:

The boss/manager/parent tells you that what you did was wrong. There is a punitive feel to it. It tends to make you feel bad about yourself or get angry with the person reprimanding you.

You usually don’t receive the feedback until your yearly review (unless you did something really wrong). This gets you frustrated because you could have fixed the problem if you were told about it.

It creates an “Us v. Them” mentality.

I had a basketball coach who reprimanded us all the time. The slightest error and he would yank you out of the game and yell at you. The team played tight because we were afraid of making a mistake instead of reaching to play our best.

Redirect:

The boss/manager/parent re-clarifies your mutual goals to make sure you’re on the same page.

He explains to you what you did wrong and gives the feedback as soon as he can.

He lets you know he is truly concerned and pauses to let you reflect on why this should concern you as well.

He then explains how he values you, knows you’re better than the mistake, and still expects great things from you from now on.

When the redirect is over – it’s over.

I also had a basketball coach who worked in a style very similar to this. He would tell you when you blew it – even yell at you at times.

Then he would give a quick instruction on how to do it the right way and encourage you.

Then he would let it go.

I played way harder for him than I did the other coach.

“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success”

– Unknown

Does any of this resonate with you? What can you do to use redirection instead of reprimands in your daily life?

Who Doesn’t Like Praise?

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Confession time. I like hearing praise. Crazy, huh? I’m betting you like it too.

I’m not talking about the “everyone gets a trophy because we all have value,” empty praise. That has been proven to actually hurt future performance. I’m talking about earned praise for a job well done.

A friend of mine this week said, “A raise is great, but sometimes a pat on the back letting me know my hard work is valued and that I’m making a difference is just as important.”

Do you agree?

There are two things people want more than sex and money… recognition and praise.

–Mary Kay Ash

That got me to thinking: When’s the last time I gave someone earned praise for a job well done? Too long.

When was the last time you did?

The New One Minute Manager has a great tip on one minute praises. Yes, you can do it in one minute, make someone’s day and really make a difference. You can use this at work, with your family or with friends. Here’s how it works.

  • Praise the behavior as soon as possible when you see it.
  • Make the praise specific.
  • Say how good it makes you feel to see their success.
  • Pause to let them enjoy your comments.
  • Encourage them to keep up the excellent work.

Is there someone you can use this with today? Why wait?