Five Ways You are Making Your Work Harder than It Has to Be

Are you overwhelming yourself?

“I’m so busy.”

“I’m overwhelmed.”

“There’s too much to do.”

Do you ever say that? Feel that? I do.

But sometimes, we’re our own worst enemy.

We can be the blame for our own overwhelm. Here are a few ways we sabotage ourselves, which fall into four categories of  stress and opportunity, a line of thinking I’ve been considering lately.

H – Habits
O – Organization
P – People Skills
E – Email

  1. We don’t keep up with email. By not using the ADD method (act on, delegate, or delete) on a regular basis, we create a stagnant puddle of information that zaps a little bit of energy every time we look at it. (Email) 
  2. We pack too much into a time period. I’m guilty of this. I THINK I know what I should be able to get done in a day, but don’t leave adequate breathing space to think, deal with interruptions, or account for technology issues. (Organization) 
  3. We make relationships difficult.  I like to say, “We don’t have time to be difficult people.” (Notice I didn’t say “be around” difficult people.) We can easily create energy zapping drama by misconstruing a colleagues words, being too sensitive to other’s tones, or snapping at those getting in the way of our agenda.  This can lead to relational issues that take a lot of  time to figure out, and may even draw from the energy of other co-workers or bosses that have to step in to get the parties on the same page again. (People skills) 
  4. We don’t practice adequate self-care. You can’t pour from an empty pitcher. We need regular rhythms of rest and self-care to be our best for our work. But we cut corners on exercise, nutrition, and rest. Then we wonder why we feel grumpy or fatigued.  (Habits) 
  5. We don’t utilize good systems. We react to the tasks that come our way based on the urgency of the moment, rather than having an effective system in place to capture the task and assign it a time. I’m working on this myself–responding, not reacting. As an administrative professional, I tend to try to get everything done quickly, because it’s my job to take care of those details. But I can only take care of so many details in a period of time. It’s better to have a system to capture the tasks and plan a proper time to deal with them. (Habits, Organization)

So the next time you say, “I’m overwhelmed” ask yourself, “Am I overwhelming myself?” You may not like the answer, but honest consideration will help you make some changes.

*****

 

One potential solution to overwhelm is to get some assistance. Our unique model of a virtual service collective puts a team at your disposal without the headaches of managing one, and the freedom to use us on a sporadic or minimal basis. Because of these flexible models, you can retain an assistant even if you don’t own your own business. Click here for more details.

A Free Tool to Help You Face the Overwhelm in Life

A project sponsored by the Give HOPE Fund

The project itself was a picture of life.

It involved people.

It was a journey over time.

There was a need for funds.

There was a shift in focus.

There were edits, and edits, and edits.

There was creativity.

There was logic.

There were hiccups.

There was joy.

Doesn’t that sound like many projects–or even life itself? Going from “Start your engines” to the checkered flag involves a series of twists, turns, bumps, re-starts, pit stops, etc. I’m delighted to share with you that we’ve crossed the finish line on a major project.

One of HOPE Unlimited’s core reasons for being is to provide hope to others. The usual focus is to give hope in the overwhelm of careers and small business, but the foundation of the values behind this business is my view of lasting hope.  We use what we call the Give HOPE Fund to sponsor projects and other initiatives that will give back and help others.

For several years, I served on the board of Life In Abundance, a non-profit that provides counseling and life coaching to women, and has also started a program called Wings, (Women In Need Gaining Strength.) I continue to serve as a board advisor.

I also have a friend and former colleague, who years ago felt called to write Bible studies. I watched her go through seminary training while also keeping up with full time work at a church where I used to be on staff. After she graduated, a thought came to mind to make a connection.

HOPE commissioned Barbara Lynn Seibel to write a study for Life In Abundance that would encourage those going through unemployment or underemployment (something I have experienced several times in my career.) So she selected a Psalm and began the process.

Once the first draft was done, Stephanie Baker, the Executive Director of LIA (and co-author with Karina Whisnant and me of Organizing from the Heart,) reviewed it, and felt it was so meaningful that it may be even better as a study for anyone going through a disappointment or troubling time of any kind. So Barbara went back to the drawing board to re-vamp the study.

Then, we utilized Raydell Tedder, and Amy Tedder of AT Your Design, (both are members of HOPE’s collective) to proof the study, and do the layout/design, utilizing creative elements such as images to color, hymn scores, and journaling space.

I had the privilege of being involved in the creative and management process, and HOPE was able to fund the whole project, which tangentially involved quite a few people due to how the Give HOPE Fund is, well, funded.

It is with grateful joy that I present to you completely free of charge the following study.  It is the property of Life In Abundance, and they produce an encouraging blog, so if you’d also like to receive their posts, you can visit their site. However, they graciously agreed that HOPE and Barbara could share the study directly on our sites as well.

This study is based on the Psalm, not any particular church, denomination, etc. We hope it will be an encouraging exercise to many who feel overwhelmed, or even just unsettled, by anything. I’d love to hear how it impacts you. Contact me to let me know!

Click on the image to download.

LIA Psalm 3 study COVER

Why You Should Be a Professional Fountain

Venetian fountain

“I took this picture of a fountain at the Venetian for you.”

A friend was on vacation, which included a visit to Las Vegas. Knowing my love for fountains, she sent a photo by text of a fountain at the famous hotel.

My online nickname for certain things is FountainB.

My town is named after a fountain.

I collect pictures of fountains for a Pinterest board.

Why the interest in fountains?

I already like water features, but I’m actually not sure where the interest in fountains started. However, the more I consider them, the more I can sense connections between fountains and my philosophy of life, much of which connects to my professional life.

Here are a three ways fountains can inspire us professionally:

Fountains are a source of refreshment. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a fountain. They are often the subject of pictures, and some become famous. I remember viewing an Instagram story of someone visiting the Trevi Fountain in Rome. It was a natural gathering spot. There’s just something refreshing about stopping and enjoying a fountain, whether it’s the cool spray you feel, the steady splashing sound, the artistic presentation or the group of people all enjoying the same thing.

Professional application: Are you refreshing to be around? Do your clients or teammates feel like their life is better because you are in it? Are you a “fountain of information/wisdom” for them?

Fountains are rhythmic. Fountains repeat the same movement constantly. The water is pulled up from pool are travels out through creative outlets. They are consistent. This rhythm and consistency reminds me of efficient systems in place in our work life–the routines and strategies that keep us moving forward and completing the tasks on our plates.

Professional application: Do you have a rhythm to your work life, that allows for spurts of energy and focus and then some time to step back for rest and refueling? Have you thought through strategies that will make you more efficient and help your work flow more easily?

Fountains need refilling and care. The person filming the Trevi fountain mentioned that it had recently been cleaned. Because of evaporation and mineral deposits, and trash from people throwing things into it, fountains need regular maintenance. How true for us as well. We cannot go full-out seven days a week and expect to be effective for the long-term. We also can’t hang on to the “trash” thrown our way by people we can’t control.

Professional application: What are you doing regularly to maintain your health and spirit? How do you handle the negativity that comes your way?

Drawing a parallel between a water feature and our professional life may seem unusual at first, but the next time you see a fountain, let it be a reminder of refreshment, rhythm, and refilling, and become a pro at being a fountain.

Forget What You Give. Remember What You Receive.

I am not sure of the source of this quote. But it’s a very wise one regardless. (If anyone knows, please let me know.)

“Forget what you give. Remember what you receive.”

There’s a lot of wisdom there.

I confess that I don’t always forget what I give. There have been plenty of times that I remember giving something to someone (or a group) and noticing when I didn’t get thanked. In fact, one time years ago at a former workplace, I’d gotten frustrated for not being recognize for a project I’d done–ironically to show appreciation to a particular department.

One of my bosses (who confessed he’d experienced similar struggles) approached me to talk about this tendency I had. I’m glad he did. It was a helpful exhortation which turned me toward a philosophy of not tracking the expressions of recognition I thought I “should” receive. That makes any acknowledgment I may get even more fun!

Here are some ways we forget to “forget what we give.” We tend to remember:
  • the thank you note we never received for the wedding/birthday/holiday gift we gave;

  • the favor our coworker doesn’t seem to want to return after “all we for her when she was swamped with her project;”

  • the lack of a raise or bonus despite all our efforts at work (especially when others seem to get them.)

What would it be like to give something and then put it out of our mind?
  • We could enjoy the “thank you’s” that do come as blessings in an of themselves, not the completion of a checklist we have in our minds regarding how someone else should acknowledge us;

  • We could be surprised by a “return favor” instead of expecting one;

  • We could appreciate the richness we live in each day rather than the dollars we don’t have;
  • We could unclutter our mind from carrying around thoughts of what people owe us.

That leads to the second part: remember what you receive.

How grateful are you for what you receive on a daily basis? Do you focus on noticing your abundant blessings? Here are some ways we can remember the right things:
  • When we experience an inconvenience, be thankful that it was simply that. (Many people are suffering far worse.)

  • Make a point to notice at least one small “love note” a day that you receive from God, friends, coworkers (for example, that coffee someone brought you.)

  • Graciously thank someone who has done a kindness for you recently. Send an email, text, or note or make a phone call. Better yet, thank them just for being your friend!

  • Receive well the kindnesses that others show you. For example, I’ve learned not to say, “You don’t need to do that” when someone offers me a gift (i.e. picking up my tab.) Instead, I’m learning to say, “Thank you for doing that” or “I accept with appreciation!” This also applies to accepting compliments with grace. Please don’t diminish the opinion of others by telling them they shouldn’t have complimented you!

You received without paying; give without pay.  Matthew 10:8b  

Try remembering and forgetting the right things. You may find yourself a little less overwhelmed!

Four Ways to Grow as a Pro

development

“I barely have time to get my work done. Who has time to watch a webinar?”

Do you ever feel that way? If so, your point is valid.  Many of us tend to put off our professional development, but there is high value in learning new skills, refreshing our perspective, and as Stephen Covey put it, “sharpening the saw.”

Here are four ways you can incorporate professional development into your busy life:

Harness your commute time. There are multiple podcasts that can help you learn and expand your perspective, with a bonus of not starting your day in a bad mood from listening to the news or talk radio.

Arrange to attend a conference once a year. Make the case that it is valuable for you to get away, even if it’s for a local one-day workshop.  Not only will you gain from the presentations, you will make valuable connections with others.

Create a sustainable book reading goal. Since 2012, I’ve had a practice of finishing one book a month. That doesn’t mean start and finish…it means finish a book I have not yet completed. This plan seems to work for me. Maybe you could read one book a quarter, or a book every two weeks. Shoot for something you know you can sustain over time. Check out my books and others here.

Join a membership site/Become a blog supporter.  I have belonged to Platform University for years because it offers a central place for resources related to building an online business. There are membership sites for almost any industry or interest, and you can drill down with their classes and discussions. Alternatively, you can follow the blog and social media presence of writers you find beneficial. This method is typically free, although some providers use sites such as Patreon to obtain financial support. (At HOPE Unlimited we have “HOPE Helpers.”*)

Use an aggregate app.  Apps such as Feedly or Flipboard help you capture blog posts and articles into a central place to form a type of customized newspaper.  Electronic assistants such as Alexa, Echo, etc. can do the same thing, allowing you to select news and tips that you would like to listen through each day.

Your professional development is your responsibility. Continual learning will keep you sharp, which is of great value in an ever-changing, fast-paced world. Be intentional about your growth.

*Tip: if you benefit regularly from an author/speaker, show your support by purchasing their books and products, or becoming part of their membership community. It matters. 

Like what you are reading? Sign up to receive HOPE Hints–posts, tips, tricks and updates–in your in-box on Mondays.

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7 Exercises You Can Do Right In Your Chair

Guest Post by Dave McDonald

You may be an overwhelmed professional, but you can manage your energy better if you move regularly. My thanks to Dave McDonald of The Great Outdoors Fix for this guest post and infographic.  (If you receive this by email and cannot see the infographic well, click here.)

Beth

 

The lack of physical activity might be the biggest factor why you are gaining weight. This is why if possible, you have to keep moving. The nature of your work is not important. The point is to do exercises just to keep the fat burning. Even if your job requires you to sit in front of the computer for the entire day, there are still activities that you can do. For instance, you can do some stretching or leg exercises without disturbing other people in the office.

Another strategy is to wait until everyone goes out for lunch and start doing the exercises on your chair. This is if you worry that your officemates will make fun of you. Again, these are simple exercises that won’t make you really sweaty. Therefore, even if you are attending a meeting with your boss in the afternoon, it doesn’t matter. You will still look fine. Just keep doing these exercises to stay in shape.

Once your work is done, head to the gym for more intense exercises. Just keep doing these strategies so you won’t worry about gaining weight anymore. It is just a matter of discipline and consistency in your weight loss strategies. You can do more if you want as long as it doesn’t interfere with your job.

For more information about these exercises, check out the infographic below. It provides the right steps that can be done with ease. Start doing the exercises now before it’s too late.

7 Exercises You Can Do Right In Your Chair!

A Free Path to a Less Stressful Day

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Have you joined our HOPE Academy community yet? There’s always at least one free course available and over the next several months we will be adding more content at affordable prices to help you overcome overwhelm and be the best professional you can be!

We’d love your feedback as we build. Would you take a moment to answer five short questions? Click here.  Thank you!

And don’t forget to enroll in the free course!

 

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10 Apps, Tools and Resources for Your Professional Development and Inspiration

Your growth is your responsibility

read

Who has time for personal or professional development?

Dedicated professionals know that it is important to invest in ourselves. Our physical, mental and emotional health play a role into how we can carry out our professional goals. But it can be difficult to make time for feeding ourselves healthy information and inspiration. Here are a list of ten tools that can make it easier, some of which that I am currently using. 


  1. YouVersion Bible App: This is a great way to carry a Bible with you all the time. It has a wide variety of short and long term reading plans, image making tools, and even opportunity to connect with friends if that interests you.
  1. Abide App: Abide provides audio prayers, music, and scenic backgrounds (among other services, depending on what version you pick).
  1. Calm App:* With lovely graphics and though provoking meditations, this app can help you take a few minutes to focus. As this is not a faith-based app, I challenge myself to connect the word of the day to Scripture.
  1. Feedly: Feedly collects posts from sites/blogs that I want to follow. I scan the feed in the morning, marking articles I want to read in more depth later. Then during short breaks or on weekends, I pull up an article or two (or more) read it, and either save it to a topic board or discard it.
  1. The Skimm*: this weekday email provides a conversational summary, generally fairly balanced, of current national and international event, so you can be prepared for daily “water cooler talk.” Immersing myself in news does not work for me, but I do see value in knowing the basics, and this morning email gives me a quick overview. (Warning…the language used in some of the writing may not appeal to some.)
  1. Greenville Today: In the spirit of Skimm, my local county offers a weekday e-newsletter that summarizes interesting information and happenings in Greenville county.
  1. The Daily Shine* this is a weekday text that can be a source of bright encouragement for your day that I have used in the past.   I also have a group of friends in a text group and we randomly send Scripture to one another from time to time. We call this “Scripture Sisters” – it’s our own form of regular text encouragement.
  1. Newspapers: I don’t typically read newspapers instead staying informed by the summaries above. But I do enjoy reading our local business journal (Upstate Business Journal) usually during a lunch break.
  1. Platform University: I highly recommend that you find a membership site that corresponds to your profession or industry. In my case, Platform has had a major impact on my journey as an entrepreneur and the building of HOPE Unlimited. I make time to watch the training videos and/or read resources, usually over a 15-30 minute period once a week.
  1. Books: since 2012, I’ve successfully had a goal of finishing one book per month. (Note I said finish, not start and finish.) Sometimes its a business book, sometimes a faith based book, and sometimes fiction or a classic. This simple goal (which I track on Goodreads) keeps me reading consistently, although I do feel I don’t read books enough.

BONUS: HOPE Academy This is a branch of HOPE Unlimited where we will be offering strategic courses to help overwhelmed professionals. Have you tried the free course yet?

How about you? Do you have a plan for your professional and personal development?

*Caveat: Many of you know that as a follower of Christ, my faith saturates all aspects of my life. I provide this list with the advice to be discerning. Not every tool completely aligns with my worldview, and I have indicated those with an *.  However, I feel the tools can have valuable elements and are worth listing.