How to be more mindful at work and why should you care?

What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is to pay full attention to the present moment without judgement. When you are in a meeting, exercising mindfulness means that you are not thinking of the stuff you need to do when you get back to your desk, or daydreaming about what you are going to do after work. Mindfulness means you are 100% committed to the present moment, your attention is 100% focused on what is being said, and people’s behaviours around the table.

Nowadays our computers and phones make it very easy to switch from one thing to another. You can have multiple windows open, you can have multiple tabs in your browser, you can quickly check your messages while waiting for a page to load… Overtime (years) you start having difficulty focusing and working on more complex tasks because your mind keeps wandering. You may already have experienced the shift.

Also, being more mindful means that you will register information that you wouldn’t have noticed before. In the meeting situation, you will detect people’s subtle body movements when they are getting bored or in disagreement, or register information in what is being said that you may have missed. Not only will you be more perceptive but you will remember better too.

But importantly, you will nurture your ability to work on deeper work.

Let’s look at some ways to increase your mindfulness.

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5 ways to be effective, rather than just being productive

What does it mean to be effective rather than productive. Productive minded people tend get things done, regardless of how difficult things are. Tasks are just a checkbox in a list. Effective people look at the outcome, the long term impact and consciously pick tasks that yield the biggest results. Effective people understand prioritization and importance of tasks.  

The highest-performing 10% of workers tend to work for 52 minutes followed by a 17-minute break. (more…)

Interview with Dan: Becoming a professional golfer through 10,000 hours of deliberate practice

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Dan used to be the average 30 year-old man until April 5, 2010; that was when he quit his day-job as a commercial photographer to become a professional golfer, although he had never played 18 holes of golf in his life. He has embarked on a 10,000 hours journey that will end in December 2016, confident that success comes from practice and not from talent. Every step of the “Dan Plan” is being documented on Dan’s website and on a support network created on social media sites. Let’s see what Dan has to share with WeekPlan readers in terms of productivity and motivation more than 5 years after starting his unique project!

WeekPlan: Let’s start with the first question: was this the first time in your life when you embarked on such an out-of-the-norm adventure?

Dan: My initial reaction to this question was “Of course!”, but then I realized that when I was 20 I left university to head out on my own and travel around the world for about a year.  It wasn’t nearly the same type of quest that I am currently on, but it was groundwork for a larger “project” in my life. I am not sure how A led to B, but without the earlier exploration I am not sure I would have had the courage to embark on the current plan. It’s hard to jump off a high-dive board when you don’t know if you can swim, but when you take it one step at a time, this makes progressing through life stages seem natural.

WeekPlan: Do you remember what prompted you to start “The Dan Plan”? How did the idea grow in you?

Dan: Originally I was looking for the next challenge in life. After a number of years as a commercial photographer I had found some success, but I was ready to make a transition. I wanted to do something completely new to me in order to see how far an average person could go in a new pursuit starting later in life. I was on a road trip in Omaha, NE visiting my brother and he took me out to play a par 3 golf course on my 30th birthday. I was horrible at the sport and afterwards we were talking about whether it was nature or nurture that made someone successful in an endeavor like golf. After a lot of internal debate I decided the only way to answer this question was to quit my job and go all-in.

WeekPlan: We believe the vision one has of his own goals help provide motivation during difficult times. How did you visualize your Plan at the beginning? What helped you keep going?

Dan: When I started I had no clue what I was doing or how I was going to do it, but, as you said, I had a vision of where I wanted to be. It wasn’t immediately clear how the day-to-day would go, but having a concrete idea of where I needed to be helped actualize my interim goals and kept me on an upward path. There were numerous tough times along the way, but after a while I realized that all hard times are eventually followed by a breakthrough and an elevated time – the nature of a fluctuating world.

WeekPlan: Did you use any specific tools and techniques to stay on track? For example, how do you handle weeks when you are too busy to practice or too tired?

Dan: At first it was very tough, and by “at first” I mean the first couple of years. I didn’t understand the nature of improvement and I became frustrated at times when there would be a setback in my progress. In the same vein, I had lull days where my energy level was very low and I would feel exhausted for no apparent reason. After a while I realized that these things are cyclical and learned that there were times where it was best to push through and times when the only option was to walk away and come back with a fresh mind/body.

WeekPlan: The theory behind your plan is that skill comes from practice more than raw talent. Do you still feel the same now, more than 5 years after starting “The Dan Plan”?

Dan: After five years of this pursuit I definitely still believe that skill comes from practice. I have always believed that there are certain genetic traits that can be advantageous to specific pursuits, such as having a large amount of fast twitch muscles helping someone’s chances at being a sprinter or on the contrary a composition of slow twitch muscles aiding in distance running.  Outside of extreme examples of very specific athletic pursuits the main difference between success and failure is amount of work put in and the willingness to accept and understand failure.

WeekPlan: Have you been enticed to start new ideas / plans during that time? I often have ideas that get me excited momentarily. What allowed you to stay focused on “The Dan Plan”?

Dan: There are always new ideas and thoughts. I have had loads of ideas in the past five years, but I told myself that I would see this through so that it is keeping my on track for what I want to do in the coming future.  I enjoy what I do and still have so much to learn.

Consider joining a mastermind group to achieve faster

If you are reading this blog, chances are you like to challenge yourself and you are likely in a situation today where you are being challenged.

I am the founder of WEEK PLAN, and running a business is a continuous stream of challenges. When you are working on the same thing day in day out, you start losing perspective on what you are doing and it becomes hard to figure out what the best next step would be.

When I started feeling I was the limiting factor in my business, I looked for external help. First I asked for feedback from my direct friends, but realized that most of my challenges were so specific that they couldn’t relate to my challenges and couldn’t offer me any relevant advice. This is when I decided to surround myself with people who were in a similar situation to mine.

My story with mastermind groups started in 2010, when I started a founder mastermind breakfast (you can still read the blog post I wrote at the time) where we would meet over breakfast and chat about our challenges and try to suggest solutions for others. I also wanted to be able to share my progress with people I knew from France (I am French but I live in Australia) so I also developed a web application that allowed us to reproduce what I was doing during the mastermind breakfasts online. Later on, I joined forces with the excellent coach James Short to help organize mastermind groups around the world. Nowadays I am not involved with this anymore but James is still at it and reports great results from his participants.

In this article, I would like to offer a practical guide on how to start being part of a mastermind group.

What is a mastermind group

Napoleon Hill popularized the concept of mastermind groups in his book “Think and Grow Rich”. He described mastermind groups as being a key component to success. Here is a video where you can see him explaining the concept:

A mastermind group is a regular meeting of people who share a common goal and are looking to encourage and help each other improve.

Why it works

  • Accountability: You are held accountable to the achievement of your goals. Just knowing you have a regularly scheduled meeting will internally drive you to make progress. Nobody wants to be seen as lazing around while others are making huge progress in their business
  • Perspective: Each individual has a unique history and set of skills. When you expose your challenge to someone else, you are likely to get a solution you may not have been able to think of.
  • Synergy: The interaction of several trusting people can produce a combined solution greater than the sum of their separate solutions.
  • The explainer effect: When you have to explain a problem to someone else, often, the solution becomes evident to you as you are explaining the problem.
  • Resources: By being part of this group, you gain access to everyone’s personal network.

How to be part of a mastermind group

Online

If you want to join a group online, you can check out Fizzle (for entrepreneurs) or Online Peers.

Alternatively, you can create a private Facebook group and invite people to it. The benefit of the Facebook group is that people are more likely to interact with the group because the messages will appear in their Facebook feed.

Offline

Check out the website Meetup.com. You will likely find groups around your area that meet around your topic of choice. You can go there and recruit people for your own mastermind group for example.
Starting your own meetup group is also possible but may take a bit more time and effort to put in place.

WEEK PLAN

I am considering organizing mastermind groups from within the WEEK PLAN application. If you are interested in giving it a try, please drop a comment to show interest.

Productivity strategies of super achievers (video)

I found a great video with Darren Hardy than lay down a list of actionable techniques that will help you get more done of the the right stuff.

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How to break bad habits (video)

Habits are powerful and a double edged sword. Good habits make us do good things without needing any willpower. Bad habits make us do bad things, and we usually need a lot of willpower to undo them.

This great animated video from Epipheo explains how habits work and how you can acquire new habits.

How to hack your to-do list (video)

This great video explains some great concepts to use when using Week Plan, like why it is important to dump all your tasks out of your mind.