Lifestyle Action Plan – part 1

slide2An action plan is a list of steps designed to take you from where you are to where you want to be.

The most important part of any action plan comes after you compile it. It will be no more than a piece of paper with words on it unless you actually take action on the things you list in the plan.

Use a piece of paper, a journal or the template available in the Everyday Productivity Workbook to draw up your Lifestyle Action Plan, using the findings from your Lifestyle Self-Audit.


Subscribe to Everyday Business Skills to download a FREE copy of the Lifestyle Self-Audit and Lifestyle Action Plan worksheets from the Everyday Productivity Workbook, and be the first to know when Everyday Productivity is available for purchase.

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Health and fitness

Write down the steps you intend to take to either maintain or improve your current level of health and fitness.

  • Exercise 

Be as realistic as possible. If you need to lose some weight, by all means set yourself a weight goal but don’t kid yourself you can do it in a few weeks. Go back and read some of those sites you found searching online for ‘body weight’ to help you work out a realistic time frame. If it’s a long time since you exercised regularly, start with walking for ten minutes a day instead of rushing off and joining the gym. We’re talking about establishing new habits. They take time.

  • Eating

If you don’t do the cooking in your household, discuss your plans with the cook. If you eat out or buy take away all the time, consider learning to cook or reverting to home cooked meals. Do some research online to get an understanding of what healthy eating looks like. Hint: fresh food figures in it a lot. If you have no idea when it comes to cooking, let me suggest a little book I wrote for guys living alone: Cooking 4 One. It’s about the basic processes. Cooking is not that difficult but, again, it’s a choice.

Looking after your brain chemistry

  • Alcohol
  • Recreational drugs
  • Narcotics
  • Medicines

If you want to be productive and to lead a healthy life, you’re not going to make it while you’re abusing your brain.

If you need to take action to address substance abuse, it will not be easy, and you will need to be honest enough with yourself to seek help.

  • Cigarettes 

If you want to give up smoking, type ‘smoking consciously’ into your search engine of choice for information on how you can quit.


This is a draft of material that will eventually appear in Everyday Productivity, the next title in my Everyday Business Skills books.  Please feel free to offer feedback in the comments.


Peter Mulraney has forty years experience working in schools, banking, and government. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

Lifestyle self-audit part 2

slide2Money matters

I assume you know how much you earn each month; but do you know how much you’re spending?

No, I’m not going to ask you to keep a spending log but I am suggesting that you invest the time required to get a firm understanding of your current cash flow situation. However, if you find that you can’t account for a significant amount of your spending, then you might want to keep a spending log for a week or more to see where those missing dollars, pounds or euros are going.

This is an exercise that is best completed using a spreadsheet but it can be done on a sheet of paper with the aid of a calculator.

What you need to complete this exercise is a copy of the accounts that you pay and your bank account statements, and I recommend that you do it for a complete financial or calendar year.

  • If you are an employee, use your net income; that is, the amount you actually receive from your employer – that’s the amount you’re trying to live on.
  • If you’re self-employed, use your gross income. Taxes and levies are expenses you need to allow for each month. Even if you only pay them quarterly or annually, you need to have the cash to do that at the time. You also need to account for your business expenses as well as your personal expenses, and know the difference between the two if you want to avoid disputes with the tax authorities.

Draw up a table with months across the top and a list of income and expenses down the left hand side.

moneymatters

Group your personal expenses into two categories: essential and discretionary.

Essential expenses are the things required for survival; like food, water, housing, electricity and clothing.

Discretionary expenses are not related to survival. They’re expenses you have a choice about, things like going to the movies, eating out, a new pair of shoes, cigarettes and life insurance.

Some of your expenses will be regular in the sense that you need to pay them every month or quarter. For example, expenses like rent or mortgage payments are usually both fixed in amount and regular in frequency of payment. Food and utility payments, on the other hand, may be regular in frequency of payment but variable in amount. Items like car expenses may vary both in frequency and amount.

How many credit cards are there in your household? Remember to include any loan and credit card repayments you are required to make as expenses.

To keep things simple, I suggest you create an expense called ‘petty cash’ as a catch all for the money you spend on low value items like coffee and lunch during the month. The important point is to get it as accurate as you can without stressing over every dollar, pound or euro.

Analysing your data

When you have filled in the table, total your expenses for each month. Then, for each month, subtract your total expense amount from your monthly income, and record the result in a separate row labelled cash flow. If you used a spreadsheet, you might want to graph that result. It’s also valuable to compare the total of your annual expenses with your total income for the year.

  • If your annual expenses equal your annual income, you need to do something.
  • If your expenses exceed your income  – you definitely need to do something.

Hint: If you have credit cards and you can’t clear the debt in a particular month, you spent more that month than you earned. If you have rolling credit card debt, which you never seem to be able to pay off, you’re spending more than you earn.

In the final analysis, if you need to do something, there are only two things you can do: earn more income or spend less money. If spending less is your only viable option, you need to draw up a plan – also known as a budget – and apply self-discipline.


This is a draft of material that will eventually appear in Everyday Productivity, the next title in my Everyday Business Skills books.  Please feel free to offer feedback in the comments.


Peter Mulraney has forty years experience working in schools, banking, and government. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

Lifestyle impacts on productivity

slide2

By lifestyle, I mean how you’re living your life. In this chapter we’re focusing on what you do when you’re not at work. One of the reasons I chose to start with lifestyle is that it’s something you can address without drawing attention to yourself at work. It’s also an easy way to show you that you can do something about your behaviours – once you become aware of them and their potential consequences beyond your front door.

Sleep deprivation

If you’re still wondering what influence your lifestyle choices could possibly have on your productivity, type ‘sleep deprivation’ into your search engine of choice and hit ‘enter’.

Here’s a list of some of the effects of sleep deprivation* you’ll find that relate directly to work performance.

  • Reduced alertness
  • Shortened attention span
  • Slower than normal reaction time
  • Poor judgement
  • Reduced awareness of the environment and situation
  • Reduced decision-making skills
  • Poor memory
  • Reduced concentration
  • Increased likelihood of mentally ‘stalling’ or fixating on one thought
  • Increased likelihood of moodiness and bad temper
  • Reduced work efficiency
  • Loss of motivation
  • Errors of omission – making a mistake by forgetting to do something
  • Errors of commission – making a mistake by doing something, but choosing the wrong option
  • Micro-sleep – brief periods of involuntary sleeping that range from a few seconds to a few minutes in duration.

*Source: Better Health Victoria

Living in separate boxes

separateboxes

We tend to divide our work and home lives into separate boxes and ignore the impacts each has on the other. You’re no doubt familiar with stories about workaholics, people who destroy their family lives by spending too much time at work. Those stories actually illustrate the interconnectedness of the different parts of your life, so it’s really not all that surprising, when you think about it, that your home life can impact your work life, and, therefore, your productivity. And, it’s not just your sleeping pattern. It’s all those things, like the following, that can cause you stress.

Relationships

If things are going well in your relationship with your significant other, chances are you’re feeling good about going to work and the state of your relationship is not distracting you from the task at hand. If, on the other hand, you’re experiencing some relationship issues, you’ll probably be finding it difficult to concentrate on the job. You may even be having some trouble sleeping, and we’ve already seen what that can do. This is one aspect of your life you can do something about if it’s causing you stress and impacting on your productivity. You might only need to talk to your partner. You might need to make some behavioural changes or get help to sort out your issues. You may need to end the relationship. Point is, you can either do something about it or simply hope it will go away. The choice is yours.

Money

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Most money problems are self-inflicted. Sure, there will be times when something comes out of left field that you weren’t expecting but, if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know that your money problems are the result of spending more than you earn. Take a look at your credit cards. They exist to allow you to do just that.

If you’re worrying about how you’re going to pay this month’s bills when you’re supposed to be working, you will not be as productive as you could be. The good news is money problems are fixable, if you’re prepared to exercise some self-control when it comes to spending. But, again, the choice is yours to make.

Health and fitness

Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy, especially when it comes to how you look after your body. You eat fast food. You settle for being a couch potato. You mess with your brain chemistry by drinking too much alcohol or using so called recreational drugs and narcotics, or overusing medical opiates. You reduce your lung capacity by smoking cigarettes or weed, despite all the health warnings on the packet. If you’re a ‘party animal’, you might want to go back and read that list of effects of sleep deprivation, and ask yourself why they do blood tests and impose sleep restrictions on pilots and people operating machinery in underground mines. You might only be operating a computer but you’ll face the same problems.

When you think about it, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that if you’re overweight, unfit, and mess with your brain chemistry and lung capacity, you probably won’t be at your best when you turn up for work.

But there’s more to wellbeing than physical fitness and healthy eating habits. There’s also how you look after yourself from a mental or spiritual perspective. If you want to operate optimally in the workplace, you need to give yourself some downtime and have some fun. You’re not going to be productive if you’re running on empty most of the time. Fortunately, there are ways of addressing these issues but they all require one thing: self-discipline.

Family responsibilities

The extent of your family responsibilities changes with time. If you have young children they get sick, they have trouble sleeping, and they’re involved in all sorts of things. If you have elderly parents you may end up with carer responsibilities. Point is, if you have family responsibilities there will be times when they impact on your work commitments. If they’re regular and ongoing, it’s probably a good idea to discuss them with your employer and plan around them. There is no point in trying to hide them. That’s a stress you don’t need. Sometimes you have family emergencies and you either can’t go in or you need to leave work early. You need a plan for how you’re going to handle those emergencies that includes how you’re going to meet any critical deadlines.

If your employer is unsympathetic to supporting you meet your family responsibilities, it may be time to find a new job or to seek help from your wider family or the community. Sometimes people only need to be asked.


The next step is to conduct a self-audit of your lifestyle choices. A self-audit can help you become aware of behaviours that may be impacting on your productivity – if you’re honest with yourself. Your findings will either confirm that you have no issues or that you have a few things to attend to in your own time that may help you increase your productivity.


This is a draft of material that will eventually appear in Everyday Productivity, the next title in my Everyday Business Skills books. Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing a series of Everyday Productivity posts, and providing you with an opportunity to download a free copy of the workbook to complete the exercises designed to help you get the most out of the content. Please feel free to offer feedback in the comments.


Peter Mulraney has forty years experience working in schools, banking, and government. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

Productivity – an overview

Productivity in the workplace is a measure of your effectiveness – with a focus on both the quality and quantity of the work you do.

Your personal productivity is influenced by a range of factors:

  • Lifestyle
  • Attitude
  • Work Environment
  • Habits
  • Tools
  • Skills
  • Knowledge
  • Community

productivity

Lifestyle

Lifestyle is about how you’re living your life. Your lifestyle choices impact your productivity in the workplace. The secret is becoming aware of how what you’re doing when you’re not at work is influencing your productivity at work.

Attitude

Attitude or mindset is about how you approach things mentally. If you hate your job, you’re going to find it difficult to be more productive. If you’re set in your ways and not open to change, you’re going to struggle with doing things differently, which is often a key ingredient for increasing productivity.

Work Environment

If you work in an environment that does not encourage change or innovation, you’re likely to meet resistance whenever you try something different. Sometimes you have to take a risk and lead from where you are, even if you aren’t in charge. And, more importantly, when you are.

Habits

Your daily habits either facilitate or impede your productivity. You need to bring your habits into awareness and to assess their value. Some of them may have to go. You may need to develop some new ones.

Tools

There are plenty of productivity tools or apps available on the open market – but what’s available in your workplace? If you’re self-employed you get to experiment and choose. If you’re an employee you’ll need to master what’s available.

Skills

What are the skills required to do your job? Do you have them? Can you learn them? Are you prepared to invest in your own education?

Knowledge

What do you know about your job or your role in the workplace? And, just as important, what don’t you know about it? What knowledge do you need to have to be more effective? Are you prepared to get that knowledge?

Community

Who are the people around you? Are they supportive of your desire to increase your productivity? Does your productivity depend upon the actions of others?


If you want to increase your productivity, you’ll need to address each of these factors.


Peter Mulraney has forty years experience working in schools, banking, and government. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

Millionaire cashflow

Millionaire_Cashflow

The people that become millionaires understand this diagram, and exercise the self-discipline required to direct 20% of their income into savings, so that they can convert their savings into income generating assets.

Being wealthy is not the same as having a lot of income. It’s about creating or owning income generating assets.

If you spend all your income on your lifestyle you can have a great time – until the income stops.

Like everything else in life it comes down to the choices you make.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter.