How to be more self-assured and get more done during the week

How to be more self-assured and get more done during the week

Learn to call upon the Self-Assured mindset

If you are not a naturally Self-Assured person, this quality may feel elusive to you. How can other people speak out so confidently, even when no one else agrees? Where does their courage come from? Why aren’t they as phased by setbacks?

All people have some mindsets that come naturally, and some that take more effort to tap into. No one mindset is better than another, or more indicative of emotional intelligence. Rather, all tendencies are valuable at different times, depending on the demands of the situation at hand.

Self-Assured is one of the eight Agile EQ mindsets. If it is one of yours, see Your Self-Assured mindset in Agile EQ. For other folks, let’s look at ways to stretch into self-assuredness, and discuss when and why you may want to.

Why do it?

In many settings, people don’t take you seriously unless you project confidence in your own ideas and abilities, even if you’re second-guessing yourself on the inside. When you downplay your ideas or speak tentatively, it can come across like you’re doubting yourself, which is an invitation for others to doubt you as well. Practicing the Self-Assured mindset is a good way to give your ideas a fighting chance.

Situations that may call for the Self-Assured mindset

The goal of Everything DiSC Agile EQ is to help people learn which mindsets are most appropriate or effective in a given situation, and to be comfortable calling on them, even if they take more effort than instinctive reactions. You might need to be Self-Assured when

  • making your needs known
  • leading a team or project
  • inspiring a sense of confidence in your abilities
  • making a case for a course of action
  • signaling your conviction in an idea or belief

How to be more Self-Assured

Recognize your thoughts

The ways to practice the Self-Assured mindset will be different for people of different DiSC styles. That’s because everyone is driven by different automatic thoughts that subconsciously direct their choices and behaviors. Being more Self-Assured may mean pushing against thoughts such as:

  • It’s OK if I don’t get what I want.
  • It’s safer to keep a low profile.
  • It’s arrogant to assume I know best.
  • I want to do what’s best for the team.
  • I don’t want to be a burden.

Set goals

Once you recognize these thoughts, you can be more intentional about setting goals toward comfort with the Self-Assured mindset. The intensely-personalized Agile EQ profile (see sample) presents beginner, intermediate, and advanced goals for each learner, based on how they answered the assessment questions, their own natural mindsets, and how much effort it takes them to stretch into the mindset in question. Some example goals for being more Self-Assured are:

  • I’m comfortable questioning ideas or policies that don’t make sense to me.
  • I tend to state my opinions firmly and confidently, even if I know they will be unpopular.
  • I’m OK being a little blunt with a colleague every once in a while.
  • I push back if I think I’m handling a bigger workload than is fair.
  • I typically take on leadership opportunities when they present themselves.

Start practicing

The small, daily steps that will help move you toward these goals are different for everyone, and are laid out in detail in the Agile EQ report. But in general, here are some tips for being more Self-Assured:

  • Don’t overprotect yourself from mistakes. You might be wrong. It’s OK.
  • Develop a realistic view of the stakes of sharing your opinion.
  • Develop clear ideas of what you want.
  • Be up-front about what you believe.
  • Use language that projects confidence and expertise.
  • Get better at delegating.
  • Take charge even if you don’t feel like an expert.

If you are not a naturally Self-Assured person, you’ll likely feel discomfort as you begin this work. You’ll probably make mistakes. If you do, congratulations! You’re learning and building a new skill. Have you ever started lifting weights after not exercising for a while? Your muscles ache. You are frustrated at not being stronger, and dispirited at the long road ahead. But if you do just a little bit, most days, you start to see progress. Your body responds to what you are asking of it, and you build new habits.

Emotional intelligence is a skill, and as such, it improves with practice. The research shows that anyone can develop agility and EQ, no matter their starting point. Once you begin, it’s quite empowering to realize all of the options available to you in a given situation—to know that your natural reaction is not your only choice.

How to be more self-assured and get more done during the week

Are you as confident as you’d like to be? Few people would answer “yes” to that question. But, according to Becky Blalock, author and former Fortune 500 executive, anyone can learn to be more confident. And it’s a skill we can teach ourselves.

Begin by forgetting the notion that confidence, leadership, and public speaking are abilities people are born with. In fact, research shows that being shy and cautious is the natural human state. “That’s how people in early times lived to pass on their genes, so it’s in our gene pool,” she says. “You had to be cautious to survive. But the things they needed to worry about then are not the things we need to worry about today.”

How do you teach yourself to be more confident? Here’s Blalock’s advice:

1. Put your thoughts in their place.

The average human has 65,000 thoughts every day, Blalock says, and 85 to 90 percent of them are negative–things to worry about or fear. “They’re warnings to yourself,” Blalock says, and left over from our cave-dwelling past. It makes sense–if we stick our hand in a flame our brain wants to make sure we don’t ever do that again. But this survival mechanism works against us because it causes us to focus on fears rather than hopes or dreams.

The point is to be aware that your brain works this way, and keep that negativity in proportion. “What you have to realize is your thoughts are just thoughts,” Blalock says. They don’t necessarily represent objective reality.

2. Begin at the end.

“There are so many people that I’ve asked, ‘What do you want to do? What do you want to be?’ and they would say, ‘I don’t know,'” Blalock says. “Knowing what you want is the key. Everything else you do should be leading you where you want to go.”

3. Start with gratitude.

Begin the day by thinking about some of the things you have to be grateful for, Blalock advises. “Most of the 7 billion people in the world won’t have the opportunities you do,” she says. “If you start out with that perspective, you’ll be in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day.”

4. Take a daily step outside your comfort zone.

There’s a funny thing about comfort zones. If we step outside them on a regular basis, they expand. If we stay within them, they shrink. Avoid getting trapped inside a shrinking comfort zone by pushing yourself to do things that are outside it.

We’ve all had experiences where we’ve done something that terrified us, and then discovered it wasn’t so bad. In Blalock’s case, she was visiting a military base and had gotten to the top of the parachute-training tower for a practice jump. “They had me all hooked up, and I said, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t do this, I have a small child at home,'” she recalls. “The guy took his foot and pushed me off the tower. When I got out there I realized it wasn’t that bad.”

We won’t always have someone standing by to kick us out of our comfort zones, so we have to do it for ourselves. “Just act!” Blalock says.

5. Remember: Dogs don’t chase parked cars.

If you’re running into opposition, questions, and doubts, there’s probably a good reason–you’re going somewhere. That doesn’t mean you should ignore warning signs, but it does mean you should put those negatives in perspective. If you don’t make changes, and challenge the status quo, no one will ever object to anything you do.

6. Get ready to bounce back.

“It’s not failure that destroys our confidence, it’s not getting back up,” Blalock says. “Once we get back up, we’ve learned what doesn’t work and we can give it another try.” Blalock points out that the baseball players with the biggest home run records also have the biggest strikeout records. Taking more swings gets you where you want to go.

7. Find a mentor.

Whatever you’ve set out to do, there are likely others who’ve done it first and can offer you useful advice or at least serve as role models. Find those people and learn as much from them as you can.

8. Choose your companions wisely.

“Your outlook–negative or positive–will be the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” Blalock says. “So be careful who you hang out with. Make sure you’re hanging out with people who encourage you and lift you up.”

When she quit her C-suite job to write books, she adds, some people were aghast and predicted that no one would read them while others were quite encouraging. It didn’t take her long to figure out that the encouraging friends were the ones she should gravitate toward.

9. Do your homework.

In almost any situation, preparation can help boost your confidence. Have to give a speech? Practice it several times, record yourself, and listen. Meeting people for the first time? Check them and their organizations out on the Web, and check their social media profiles as well. “If you’re prepared you will be more confident,” Blalock says. “The Internet makes it so easy.”

10. Get plenty of rest and exercise.

There’s ample evidence by now that getting enough sleep, exercise, and good nutrition profoundly affects both your mood and your effectiveness. “Just moderate exercise three times a week for 20 minutes does so much for the hippocampus and is more effective than anything else for warding off Alzheimer’s and depression,” Blalock says. “Yet it always falls of the list when we’re prioritizing. While there are many things we can delegate, exercise isn’t one of them. If there were a way to do that, I would have figured it out by now.”

11. Breathe!

“This one is so simple,” Blalock says. “If you breathe heavily, it saturates your brain with oxygen and makes you more awake and aware. It’s very important in a tense situation because it will make you realize that you control your body, and not your unconscious mind. If you’re not practicing breathing, you should be.”

12. Be willing to fake it.

No, you shouldn’t pretend to have qualifications or experience that you don’t. But if you have most of the skills you need and can likely figure out the rest, don’t hang back. One company did a study to discover why fewer of its female employees were getting promotions than men. It turned out not to be so much a matter of bias as of confidence: If a man had about half the qualifications for a posted job he’d be likely to apply for it, while a woman would be likelier to wait till she had most or all of them. Don’t hold yourself back by assuming you need to have vast experience for a job or a piece of business before you go after it.

13. Don’t forget to ask for help.

“Don’t assume people know what you want,” Blalock says. “You have to figure out what that is, and then educate them.”

Once people know what you want, and that you want their help, you may be surprised at how forthcoming they are. “People are really flattered when you ask for advice and support,” she says. “If someone says no you can always ask someone else. But in my experience, they rarely say no.”

Like this post? Sign up here for Minda’s weekly email and you’ll never miss her columns. Next time: Why–and how–to unplug every day.

Imagination, Creation and Everything In Between

Today’s lifestyle is rush rush rush.

Self-care is something I’ve heard a lot about this week so I thought it was a good chance to focus on it and remind myself and others why it is so important, for in the end it actually helps you get more done in your life.

Today’s world is so busy and everything must be done now. My own life, for example, consists of looking after four school aged children, after school sport and training for it, my own sport (volleyball FYI), group personal training twice a week, a husband that works away most of the time and then there is the general stuff like running a household and all that comes with it. In there I also find time to write. Some of these activities have very specific deadlines, others are more flexible, but the upshot of it is that it all has to be done that week. Some of it I could give up, like volleyball, but then I would miss out on having fun with friends and this is where self-care comes into it.

If I focus solely on my family and put myself last, I end up tired, out of sorts and more often than not, sick. That helps no one. For starters I make a pretty shocking patient (I either want sympathy all the time or don’t believe I’m that sick and get worse from disregarding advice), my husband or mum have to help me look after the kids and everything tends to fall apart to some extent. However, if I take the time to do something for myself, I’m happier and everyone else around me feels the effect of it.

Self-care for me is taking time to exercise at least three times a week, reading everyday, a bubble bath a couple of times a week and catching up with friends and family. These activities take a few hours max, sometimes they last only five minutes, but when the time is up I have recharged and I feel capable of continuing on at full speed. This has a flow on effect with my writing. I often find that when I take these moments for myself I come up with ideas and solutions in regards to what I am currently writing. This happened yesterday when I was catching up with my brother and dad. Talking with them gave me an idea for a plot hole I was struggling with and last night I was able to fix it.

Self-care can take many different forms. Reading is one of them.

In the end it comes down to this, if you don’t take time out for yourself, eventually you will run dry and be unable to help anyone. It’s like the airplane safety drill, put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then help others, passing out isn’t going to help anyone.

How to be more self-assured and get more done during the weekHow many times have you found yourself wondering where all the time went over the last week, especially on the weekends? Seven days is a lot of time to get things done, but so often we’re juggling a million things that time just seems to evaporate. The trouble is between all the things we juggle from commuting, studying/working, attending meetings, going through our inboxes, running errands, and spending time with family and friends, one week can quickly evaporate into four and then an entire month has disappeared into oblivion. Months can spiral into quarters and then years; crap and then we’re old!

Even though we may not have the bad ass powers of X-Men’s Quicksilver to move at super fast speeds and manipulate time to our advantage, we do have the ability to break time down into small increments. Think about it – there are 10,080 minutes in one week. Assuming eight hours of sleep each day (which is probably more than most of us get on average), that leaves 6,720 minutes or 112 hours to do all sorts of incredible things!

You do have more time than you think

There truly is a lot you can accomplish with all of those 112+ hours if you put your mind to it. Of course it’s not easy to work multiple jobs, juggle family, squeeze in exercise, run errands, catch up with friends, and build a business all at the same time. We’ve all been overwhelmed with endless lists of to-dos many times. But we ultimately do have the ability to make our own choices and determine how our time is spent.

  • My first piece of advice is to be selfish with your schedule. There are a ridiculous number of distractions these days that will easily eat up your time if you’re not careful. For example, one of the first things I gave up when I wanted more time for myself was social media. There’s no need for me to share pictures and posts of everything I’m doing with the world and I don’t need to know the day to day details of what my friends are doing either. I already actively share bits and pieces via Untemplater and save a lot of time by staying off of Facebook and Twitter.
  • Get used to saying thanks, but no thanks. I’ve also become used to politely decline social invitations when I have a lot on my agenda. It’s hard to start saying no if you’re the type who has always said yes to everything, but it gets easier and is definitely worth it for your own sanity. Same goes for work and doing favors for other people. You will get buried if you say yes to everything and possibly even treated as a push over. Know your own limits and get used to saying no. Start putting your to-do list first you’ll start freeing up time to get more done each week.
  • Also, take full responsibility for all of your actions. You will only end up hurting yourself in the end if you waste time blaming others for how your time is spent each week. Sure, there will always be events and incidents that pop up which are entirely out of your control, but don’t get hung up on them. Take responsibility for everything that is within your control. We are only as productive as we choose to be. Prioritize!
  • Make fewer decisions for increased efficiency and happiness. Having choices is great but it can also be super exhausting and time consuming. Use automation and repetition whenever you can to help reduce the number of decisions you have to make every day. You don’t have to turn into a robot, but work on simplifying your routine so more parts of you life can function just fine on auto pilot. Decrease the amount of choices you have to make and you’ll be surprised at how much more you get done each week.

If you care about something enough, you will make time to get it done!

Time slows down when you get more done

I’m sure you’ve had days that seem to just drag on forever, usually because you’re bored or are coping with the agony of waiting for something out of your control. It’s easy for time to move slowly during those types of frustrating scenarios, but I believe we can also learn how to appreciate and slow down when we do what we love and get more things done as a result.

One of my weaknesses is wasting time thinking about all the things I need to do without actually doing any of them. I’ve had this bad habit of overthinking things since I was a kid. It’s part of my perfectionist streak that tries to sneak out when I’m not paying attention. The way I combat it is not letting the pressure of a giant to do list overwhelm me to the point that it zaps all my motivation. What helps me a lot is tackling things a little bit at a time. I’ll pick a few things I want to do in five minute increments, start my timer and go.

Try it! Five minutes doesn’t sound like a lot, but even just five minutes are so much better spent doing something versus just thinking about something. Do enough incremental tasks every week and you’ll whittle down your to-dos in no time.

Celebrate your weekly highlights

Time will definitely escape you if you never keep track of your accomplishments and are lazy all of the time. That’s why I strongly suggest you keep a written log, or at least a mental one, of all the things that you’re happy about and proud of each week. Giving yourself recognition not only feels great, it will also help you improve your time management skills. Why? Accomplishments and success are extremely addictive! The more you celebrate your weekly highlights, the less and less you’ll let time escape you because you’ll continually want to make better and better use of your time. Are you ready to get more done each week now? I sure hope so!

Be your own boss and set your own schedule

Are you a disciplined person who dreams about being your own boss and setting your own schedule? Or are you worried your employer is going under? Break free! If you’re burnt out of your day job, believe that you have options and can turn your career around for the better. I didn’t believe I could escape the grind for the longest time, but fortunately I wised up before stress destroyed my life. I never would have thought I could negotiate a severance package and get paid to leave a job I grew to hate, but I did! Learn how you too could get paid to leave your job like I did and open your eyes to new opportunities.

Untemplaters, how are your time management skills? How do you get more done each week? What are some distractions you regularly struggle with?

More In News

Note: August 2019 – this Fact Sheet has been updated to reflect changes to the Withholding Tool.

FS-2019-4, March 2019

The federal income tax is a pay-as-you-go tax. Taxpayers pay the tax as they earn or receive income during the year. Taxpayers can avoid a surprise at tax time by checking their withholding amount. The IRS urges everyone to do a Paycheck Checkup in 2019, even if they did one in 2018. This includes anyone who receives a pension or annuity. Here’s what to know about withholding and why checking it is important.

Understand tax withholding

An employer generally withholds income tax from their employee’s paycheck and pays it to the IRS on their behalf. Wages paid, along with any amounts withheld, are reflected on the Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, the employee receives at the end of the year.

How withholding is determined

The amount withheld depends on:

  • The amount of income earned and
  • Three types of information an employee gives to their employer on Form W–4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate:
    • Filing status: Either the single rate or the lower married rate.
    • Number of withholding allowances claimed: Each allowance claimed reduces the amount withheld.
    • Additional withholding: An employee can request an additional amount to be withheld from each paycheck.

Note: Employees must specify a filing status and their number of withholding allowances on Form W–4. They cannot specify only a dollar amount of withholding.

Everyone should check withholding

The IRS recommends that everyone do a Paycheck Checkup in 2019. Though especially important for anyone with a 2018 tax bill, it’s also important for anyone whose refund is larger or smaller than expected. By changing withholding now, taxpayers can get the refund they want next year. For those who owe, boosting tax withholding in 2019 is the best way to head off a tax bill next year. In addition, taxpayers should always check their withholding when a major life event occurs or when their income changes.

When to check withholding:

  • Early in the year
  • If the tax law changes
  • When life changes occur:
    • Lifestyle – Marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, home purchase, retirement, filing chapter 11 bankruptcy
    • Wage income – The taxpayer or their spouse starts or stops working or starts or stops a second job
    • Taxable income not subject to withholding – Interest, dividends, capital gains, self-employment and gig economy income and IRA (including certain Roth IRA) distributions
    • Itemized deductions or tax credits – Medical expenses, taxes, interest expense, gifts to charity, dependent care expenses, education credit, Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit

How to check withholding

  • Use the Tax Withholding Estimator on
    The Tax Withholding Estimator works for most employees by helping them determine whether they need to give their employer a new Form W-4. They can use their results from the estimator to help fill out the form and adjust their income tax withholding. If they receive pension income, they can use the results from the estimator to complete a Form W-4P, Withholding Certificate for Pension and Annuity Payments PDF , and give it to their payer.
  • Use the instructions in Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax.
    Taxpayers with more complex situations may need to use Publication 505 instead of the Tax Withholding Estimator. This includes employees who owe, the alternative minimum tax or tax on unearned income from dependents. It can also help those who receive non-wage income such as dividends, capital gains, rents and royalties. The publication includes worksheets and examples to guide taxpayers through these special situations.

Change withholding

To change their tax withholding, employees can use the results from the Tax Withholding Estimator to determine if they should complete a new Form W-4 and submit to their employer. Don’t file with the IRS.

Those who don’t pay taxes through withholding, or don’t pay enough tax that way, may still use the Tax Withholding Estimator to determine if they have to pay estimated tax quarterly during the year to the IRS. Those who are self-employed generally pay tax this way. See Form 1040-ES, Estimated Taxes for Individuals, for details.

How to be more self-assured and get more done during the week

The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

It’s easy to think about getting organized, but sometimes it’s hard to actually be organized. And what does it mean to “be more organized” anyway? Well, it can be always knowing where everything you need is, arriving places on time, or generally being prepared. What it comes down to is feeling like you’re in control of your day.

You might not be able to feel 100 percent organized every minute of every day, but by forming good organizational habits and establishing a solid daily routine, you can definitely feel more organized most of the time.

Here are 10 ways to improve your daily routine so you can feel more organized.

Leave Your Keys and Phone in the Same Spot

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The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

Leave your keys, wallet, cell phone, headphones, and other such accessories you carry day in and day out, in the same place every single time you walk through the door. Have a spot in your entryway (or entrance) for these items so you are never running around, late for work, wondering where your keys and phone are hiding.

Buy or re-purpose something you like to look at to hold your “smalls.” Items such as an entrance table or wall-mounted key organizer are great for storage.

Create a Task List or Checklist

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The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

Make a new to-do list every day based on the previous day’s list and anything that came up since the last list was created. Even if you’re not a big list maker and only jot down the big projects, look at it every day and cross off what you’ve completed (or what you’ve deemed no longer relevant). Not only will this help keep you on top of your tasks, but it will also make you feel productive when you cross off that item after it’s been completed.

Make your to-do list at either the beginning or end of the day. Mid-day is too late for the current day, and often too early to have a real sense of the following day.

Check Your Bank Balance Online

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Bonnin Studio / Stocksy

Do a quick scan of your checking and savings accounts. Keeping an eye on your financial accounts allows you to see what you spent the previous day so spending doesn’t get out of control. It also allows you to notice fraudulent charges as soon as they happen. Plus, looking at your savings puts you in the right frame of mind each morning to continue saving.

Carry a Small Notepad

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The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

A small, pocket-sized notebook (yes, you read that right) is essential to an organized life. Use this to write down items for your shopping list, errands, to-dos, and random thoughts, and carry it with you everywhere you go. It’s endlessly portable, user-friendly, and never needs re-charging. You never know when you’ll need to quickly jot something down like upcoming events, shopping lists, any notes you want to remember, the money you’ve spent, or a running to-do list to accomplish.

Declutter Your Wallet

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The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

Organizing your wallet is one of the best, quickest, and easiest organizing projects to instill as a daily habit. Tackle this one whenever you have some downtime—like sitting on a train or in front of the TV on a weeknight.

Declutter your wallet by first filing away any receipts you need to hang onto, then shredding and recycling the rest. Then, go through your cadre of rewards cards, making sure the ones you use the most are front and center. Don’t forget to remove any loose change and store it in a jar or other designated container in your home. There’s no need to carry around the extra weight.

Spend 3 to 5 Minutes on Your Meal Plan

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The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

Check with your meal plan either every single day or every few days to make sure you’re still on track. Daily is best, because then it becomes a habit, and you can update it as necessary while you also look at your calendar.

Daily meal planning to-dos include checking out any meals you know you’ll need to make and adding the items to your shopping list, then crossing items off your list you’ve already purchased. Finally, schedule time to grocery shop and cook.

Lay Out Your Clothing for the Next Day

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The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

Laying things out beforehand makes you feel more orderly and efficient. There is no time that is more critical than in the morning when you’re rushing to get yourself (and possibly others) ready for school or work. That’s why we recommend laying your clothing out the night before. It saves you time in the morning from staring into your closet wondering what you should wear.

Once you get into the habit of prepping things before you need them, you’ll never go back.

Prep the Launch Pad

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The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

Much like laying out your clothes, prepping your foyer or launchpad area is going to make you feel good about getting out the door quickly the next morning.

How you prep your launchpad will depend on your life and schedule. Maybe you need to lay out the ingredients for breakfast and lunch, or re-pack and refresh gym bags, work bags, and school bags. Check the weather report and locate umbrellas, if necessary. The more you can do in the quiet evening hours, the less hectic your morning will be on the way to work and school.

Follow a Routine

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Trinette Reed / Stocksy

Have a plan of what you need to get done and when you’re going to check those action items off your to-do list. Sticking to a routine helps to automate tasks that need to get done —whether you dread them or not—because doing something every single day will make your brain happy and help to create good habits.

Try this out by making a general plan for your day and stick to it for a week.

Do the Dishes

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Leah Flores / Stocksy

Many people will tell you to make your bed every morning to start your day off right. And you should—studies have shown this helps calm people down and sets a positive tone for the day. There’s another way for you to feel more organized and a lot less cluttered: Do the dishes.

If you cook most weeknights, make sure the dishes are done every night before you go to bed. Studies have shown that people with clean kitchens cook more.

How to be more self-assured and get more done during the week My grandmother has always had a way with words. When she was on her game, she’d have you rolling with laughter – and it was usually when she was trying to be serious that she was the most hilarious. I say “was” simply because she is in her eighties now and is in the early stages of dementia. The grandmother I knew and the one I know are very different ladies.

Granny has never been large in stature – I’m not even sure she ever made 5′, but she has always been one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known – away from home as well as at home. It always made her furious if she didn’t get everything done that she wanted to. I can remember even when I was very, very young thinking that she was quite possibly the busiest person in the world. She worked full time at a job she absolutely loved, kept a spotless home, was active in church and was very involved in a homemaker’s club as well as a bridge club (those ladies took their card games very seriously, let me tell you). In the summer, she could always be found working in one of her three rose beds, her garden or another part of her amazingly beautiful yard.

Even after she retired, she continued to wake up around 6:00 am, make breakfast, clean house, work in the yard, run errands, grab lunch, do more yard work, clean up, make supper, take a hot bath, and settle in for a little reading and/or watching baseball with her husband.

If, during the course of one of her packed days, she missed something along the way, she’d say she didn’t get “diddly squat” done. This meant that she probably only worked in two of the three rose beds or that she hadn’t vacuumed her basement that day.

Diddly squat to her was different from the rest of us.

I’ve grown into her genes in a few areas – I have a passion for cooking, flowers, and birds, an obsession with magazines and baseball (except I bleed Cardinal’s red whereas she’s always been a Braves girl) and I love getting up early. I’ve also become the owner of a few of her phrases. Diddly squat would be one of them. It’s a pretty good one – I highly recommend it.

I also have a distaste for diddly squat days. Sure, a nice relaxing day is a dream come true every now and again (Sundays, I’m looking at you), but even then I want to look back at the end of the day and see that something was accomplished.

Even if it’s just making the bed!

My biggest problem is that I’m easily distracted. Make that VERY easily distracted. I can be working along just fine on, say, an article for a website, then glance out the window and see that one of our bird-feeders is running low. Naturally I just HAVE to go outside and refill it right then and there.

Then, while outside, I may see plants that need watering and a cat or two in need of a little attention…

By then I have to wash my hands before getting back to…. okay, what was it I was doing??

Story of my life.

Something that has helped me is actually painfully simple. I’m a list making fool. To get anything accomplished, I have to make lists and, with all due respect to St. Nick, I check them a heck of a lot more than twice.

I’ve noticed that on days when I write down my goals and check them off as I go along, I get everything done. On days when I think I can fly solo – without the list – inevitably, something’s left undone, unfinished, or forgotten about. I made that mistake yesterday, for the first time in weeks. I was scrambling at 11:00 last night trying to catch up to everything that had eluded me during the day. Not a heckuva lot of fun.

Needless to say, I have my beloved, much ballyhooed list today. Right in front of me with my purple pen ready to put a gratifying check mark before each goal as they’re met. Each swoosh feels like a pat on my psyche’s back.

An organized mind is much more productive than an unorganized mind.

If you feel like your day just isn’t big enough for you to fit your life into, you might want to give list-making a shot. It’s a goal’s best friend and a distraction’s mortal enemy.

Where do you go to apply and when can you expect the money?


If you were eligible for unemployment compensation as of Aug. 1, 2020, with a weekly benefit of at least $100, you may begin receiving an extra $300 per week soon if you are not receiving it already. The $300 stipend was authorized in an Aug.8, 2020, Presidential Memorandum issued by President Trump. It is officially referred to as Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) and is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  

CNBC reported that the Lost Wages Program was ended by federal officials Sept. 5, 2020, due to the depletion of funds. A FEMA spokesperson was quoted as saying that all states and territories that applied by the Sept. 10 deadline would receive six weeks of Lost Wages funding.  

The Aug. 8 memorandum was in response to the end of the CARES Act $600-per-week unemployment boost, which expired July 31, 2020.   Initially, the memorandum called for states to kick in an extra $100, raising the total weekly payment to $400.   States complained that their depleted budgets did not allow for the extra payment, so the White House said that the first $100 of regular benefits paid by the state could count as the state’s share.  

Key Takeaways

  • The Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program was enacted to provide $300 to $400 in extra pandemic-related compensation to unemployed and underemployed workers.
  • States and territories had to apply by September 10, 2020, in order to receive funds.
  • To be eligible you must have been unemployed August 1, 2020.
  • Funding was authorized through December 27, 2020, but was not expected to last beyond September 2020. It was ended Sept. 5.

Sources of Funding

According to the Aug. 8 presidential memo and subsequent DOL guidance, funds for the LWA program consisted of up to $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF). This amount is further limited by a directive that the DRF cannot fall below $25 billion. This funding is to provide 75% ($300 per week per claimant) of supplemental funds. The remaining 25% ($100) will come from states, either as an additional payment or as part of the claimant’s regular unemployment stipend.    

States and Territories Must Apply

In order for you to receive LWA funds, your state or territory (also includes Washington D.C.) had to apply. States and territories had until September 10, 2020, to turn in that application.  

FEMA maintains an updated list of approved states and territories on its Lost Wages Assistance Approved States webpage. Click on the link for your state to find out when it was approved and how much extra you can expect ($300 for most people, $400 for a small number of recipients).

Once a state or territory is approved, it’s up to that state to come up with a plan to distribute payments to its citizens. Reporting indicates that Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, and Texas are already sending out payments. Others are still working on a payment system.  

How to Qualify and Apply

Not every unemployed person in every approved state or territory will receive LWA funds. To get the extra $300:

  • You must have been eligible for unemployment as of Aug. 1, 2020.
  • Your regular weekly unemployment benefit must be at least $100.
  • You must have become unemployed or had hours reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Beyond stated eligibility standards, it’s up to each state or territory to decide what, if anything, you need to do to actually receive the money. Some states, such as Colorado and Rhode Island, require no action on the part of claimants. For most, however, what you may or may not need to do is unclear. Best advice is to check with your state unemployment office.    

States and territories (not FEMA) will run the LWA program. Most states have not announced how to apply or even if you will have to. Check with your state unemployment office for details.

How Long Payments Will Continue

No matter when you actually receive your first payment, the payment will be based on your employment status as of Aug. 1, 2020. Although LWA provides for payments starting as of Aug. 1 and running through Dec. 27, 2020. The program was designed to terminate sooner if:

  • FEMA spends the allocated $44 billion from the DRF account; or
  • The balance in the DRF account reaches $25 billion; or
  • COVID-19–related legislation is enacted that provides supplemental federal unemployment compensation or similar compensation to unemployed or underemployed individuals.  

Initial funding was for three weeks (Aug. 1–Aug. 22). According to FEMA, “After the initial three-week obligation, additional weekly disbursements will be made on a weekly basis in order to ensure that funding remains available. This is similar to the mechanism states/territories used to draw down Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program funds.”  

Due to depleted funding, the Lost Wages program ended Sept. 5, 2020. However, according to CNBC, FEMA said any state or territory that applied for Lost Wages funding by Sept. 10, 2020, would receive six weeks funding for weeks ending Aug. 1 through Sept. 5.  

One Check or Two

It’s up to states and territories to decide how to make payment to individual claimants. You may receive one payment per week that includes both regular and LWA funds or you may receive two payments. States are responsible for accounting for LWA funds separately from regular unemployment benefits but do not have to pay separately.  

Because time is so precious and our lives are busier than ever, we probably all are inclined to try to push through our workdays and get as much done as possible, noses to the proverbial grindstone. But skipping breaks may actually be counterproductive, says the New York Times.

We know that taking breaks from work is important to stay motivated and focused at work, as well as reduce eye strain and stay active (if we actually get up from our desk chairs). Working in focused 90-minute stretches with breaks in between can help you get more done in less time than working all day long.

Learn to Take “Real Breaks” to Stay Motivated and Creative Through the Day

If you find your attention wandering over the course of the day and you have a difficult time…

The New York Times explains the science behind this:

Mental concentration is similar to a muscle, says John P. Trougakos, an assistant management professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the Rotman School of Management. It becomes fatigued after sustained use and needs a rest period before it can recover, he explains – much as a weight lifter needs rest before doing a second round of repetitions at the gym.

Although you might feel guilty about taking what feel like too many breaks at work, these recharging sessions are really essential for efficient, productive work—even just to keep projects on schedule. You don’t have to force yourself to take a break if you’re on a roll, but if you find yourself drifting or daydreaming, it’s time to get up (or maybe even take a nap).

Now’s a good time to schedule your relaxation and break times . Do you get enough breaks during the day?

Schedule Relaxation and Break Time to Keep Your Work-Life Balance in Check

Whether you’re hopelessly overworked by a slave-driving boss, or you do what you love for a living…

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The Pomodoro technique really shines here. Work for 25 minutes. Break for 5. Every four cycles, take a longer break.

Also, I cheat a wee bit, and use some of my Pomodoros for exercise (in my case, Kinect fitness games). Just moving around for a bit helps my productivity in a huge way. I can actually code after lunch time!