I’m just in the process of shooting the final videos of my upcoming personal development course (more on that soon…) The final module — „Effective Action“ — is all about getting done what we’ll have planned in the earlier modules. So lately I did some interviews with other time-management experts and also people just trying to improve their productivity level. I just wanted to dig really deep and understand the different types of productivity killers that everybody of us is fighting with…
Knowing the Basics is NOT Enough
I’m sure many of you already know the basics of time-management: The 4 Quadrants of Demand, Illusion, Escape and The Zone.
But knowing and doing are two different things. Right?
If you really would only work on what is actually important to you, and not only urgent or — heaven forbid — even not important at all, then why would you have any productivity issues?
If you’re not doing it, then you don’t really know it. […and that’s a Tweetable: Tweet this!]
So, What Are Your Biggest Productivity Killers?
Looking at the answers I got I started to notice patterns there. And not only patterns. I also saw a lot of rationalization going on…
On the surface the reasons that we lack time-management look like issues with self-discipline and procrastination. But if you start to uncover the real reasons behind the behaviors, it gets much more subtle and interesting…
So here are the Top 5 time thieves. The real productivity killers:
1. Idealizing the „Busy“ Life Style (Going into Demand Mode)
One of the hardest mindsets to deal with is when we say we want to change something but in reality we don’t.
If you gain an ego-boost by feeling busy and being seen as a busy (read: important) person, you’ve got a problem. You can say all day long you want to improve your time-management, but if deep down you think it’s „cool“ to be busy, you’re not gonna change. I think the problem here is:
a) being busy is actually NOT cool, because it will create stress, but not necessarily success
b) being busy is not the goal. And it’s not a desirable state to be in anyway
How to Bust it? Realize that being busy is not cool. Busy does NOT equal productive. Go into The Zone and think about how you can simplify and focus more on what is really important to you. Eliminate what is not really working and find the few ways that lead somewhere.
2. Not Having a BIG WHY (Not Going into The Zone)
The best hack to deal with a lack of self-discipline is to actually want to do what you do. If you are so driven that nobody can keep you away from your work, you won’t think about self-discipline.
How to Bust it? Create a strong WHY for what you’re doing. Start finding out what really drives you, what you’re passionate about. Why are you here? Set a powerful goal on what you really, really want to create. See it visually and juice it up. Then focus your mind on it and get going.
3. Welcoming Distractions (Going into Escape Mode)
How to deal with distractions? Simple. Remove them! Problem solved.
But in reality a lot of us welcome distractions.
When you are allowing distractions because really deep down you enjoy them, then I would urge you to create a BIG WHY here too. If you can’t wait to reach your goal you don’t want distractions anymore, believe me. But if you are too much in your own comfort zone and not willing to get out, then distractions will stay to be a part of your life.
How to Bust it? You need to master one thing:
Stay at your #1 priority, no matter what! [Tweet this!]
And the best way I know is to actually create this BIG WHY we talked about earlier. And then make sure that you enjoy the process of going there! Then you won’t feel like escaping. You want to stay with your #1 priority because it gives you emotional reward to get there.
4. You Can’t Say NO! (Going into Illusion Mode)
When we take on too many commitments, or when we are getting side-tracked, it’s because we can’t say „No!“.
Here are often conflicting values at play. For instance if your spouse is asking you to plan the new holiday trip with you, but you should be working, then you might run into the conflict of the value of harmony vs. the value of achievement. In that case you have to (and one way or the other, you will) make a decision.
How to Bust it? You got to bring up the courage to say „NO!“
You need to say „No!“ more often, in order to say „Yes!“ to what matters. [Tweet this!]
If it’s your boss, you may need to say „Yes“ but try to get a meeting about your priorities later. If it’s your spouse, you need to talk about working hours and family hours upfront.
So create that drive and say a BIG NO! to any distraction that is keeping you to be the awesome creator of your life that you are!
5. All of the Above
If you are just used to be fuzzy and have accepted your lack of power productivity as part of your „personality“, then you really need to make a shift in thinking.
It’s as always: Use it — or loose it. [Tweet this!]
Don’t accept mediocrity just because it has always been like this. If you start to improve and develop positive momentum, you can tackle one problem at a time.
Identify what your biggest productivity killer is and then start by solving this one!
For me personally, the biggest advice to boost my productivity was to start with my #1 priority first thing in the morning. Yes, that meant not checking emails, news, calls, blog comments, statistics, new followers etc…. 🙂 But then I still have all of my energies up and I start building positive momentum right from the start!
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Your Biggest Productivity Killer Isn’t What You Think. Here’s How to Fix It
It’ll make getting and staying focused a whole lot easier.
You hear the questions often.
As entrepreneurs, we’re constantly on the hunt for ways to maximize time, to get more done and to fuel our growth.
Tools and hacks may provide incremental improvement here and there, but in most instances, they don’t address the root cause of the major issue that’s zapping your productivity: your environment.
The right working conditions are essential to helping you accomplish more in less time. Consistently.
The first step is understanding where and how you work best. For instance, I work best in silence. Anytime someone is in my work space while I’m trying to write or do other business tasks, I’m frazzled. I feel compelled to talk or pay attention to what they’re doing.
Because of this, I opt to not work in a co-working space and very rarely go to coffee shops. I try very hard to make people aware of my “office hours” so they don’t stop by my home office when I’m trying to work.
Distractions kill your productivity. Studies show it takes a whopping 23 minutes to get back on task after you’ve been interrupted.
Add up the number of times you get distracted during the day and it becomes easy to see how much of your time easily gets flushed down the drain for no good reason.
Here are three quick tips to help you create an environment that supports your productivity goals, even if you’re not able to change your office’s location in the short-term:
1. Block your calendar
In their best-seller The One Thing, authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan note that making dedicated time on your calendar to accomplish your important work is the key to being productive:
“Most people think there’s never enough time to be successful, but there is when you block it. Time blocking is a very results-oriented way of viewing and using time. It’s a way of making sure that what has to be done gets done.”
“Time blocking harnesses your energy and centers it on your most important work. It’s productivity’s greatest power tool.”
While you can’t always get away from certain shallow tasks like checking and returning emails, you can make sure you have time to get to the most important work of your day. Make a can’t miss appointment with yourself to do it.
Don’t take the gamble that the world will magically recognize that you’ve got work to do, and will leave you alone to do it.
2. Shut-down social media, Whatsapp and other phone notifications
Often, the biggest distractions to us getting things done is the world that’s begging for your attention through various social channels, apps, and other electronic devices.
Make it harder for you to get tempted by what’s going on in the outside world.
Turn off your cell phone, or at the very least remove sound notifications from certain apps on your phone. If you have to, put your phone in a drawer or turn it over so you don’t see it light up when something new pops up on your screen.
Your devices are designed to make you more productive. But if you let them, they will do more harm than good.
3. Close the door
This is especially important if you work in an environment where other people have the ability to walk up and interrupt you.
Do something that signals you are “unavailable” and should not be disturbed unless it is an absolute emergency.
If you don’t have a door or work in a more open space, put in headphones. Post a “do not disturb” sign if necessary. When you create boundaries, it makes it easier for other people to respect them.
You can be more productive. You have the power to make a few small changes that will help you get more important work done. But you’ve got to create an environment that supports your efforts to be great.
Susan Ricker | June 12, 2014
Has your workday fallen victim to one of these workplace productivity killers?
Choose your own adventure: You’re at work and can either A) Start that big project or B) Just check your Facebook first. Tough choice, right?
While it’s tempting to take advantage of technology’s vast supply of entertainment, communication and information sources, these minor sidetracks could end up costing major time. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 24 percent of workers admit they spend at least one hour each day on personal calls, emails or texts. The amount of time workers spent searching the Internet for non-work reasons wasn’t much better. But are employees really working less? Or can technology and other productivity killers actually help keep your work day balanced?
“While many managers feel their teams perform at a desirable level, they also warn that little distractions can add up to bigger gaps in productivity,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “It’s important to be organized and designate times to work on different deliverables. Minimize interruptions and save personal communications for your lunch hour or break. It can help put more time and momentum back into your workday.”
To learn about where you may be wasting your time, and what employers are doing to stop it, check out the infographic below:
While employers are taking measures to cut down on productivity killers, you can find ways to work smarter — not harder — by employing these tips Haefner offers to avoid wasting time on the job:
- Organize and prioritize – De-clutter your workspace and clearly lay out your game plan for the week. What do you need to accomplish each day? How much time will each project take? Which projects have the highest priority?
- Limit interruptions – Incoming calls and co-workers dropping by to chat about their weekend can break your concentration and eat up time. Block off a conference room to work on a project to avoid distractions at your desk. Read email at intervals instead of opening each one as soon as it comes in. Consider telecommuting on certain days.
- Avoid unnecessary meetings – Don’t set aside an hour to meet about an issue or initiative that can be addressed with a quick phone call. Politely decline the meeting invitation and follow up with the organizer.
- Get personal on your own time – Whether you want to call a friend, take advantage of an online sale or post a picture of your dog on your social profile, do it during your lunch hour or break time or after work.
- Communicate wisely – Don’t spend 20 minutes crafting an email to the person sitting in the next cubicle. Save time by picking up the phone or walking over to your colleague’s desk.
- Don’t delay the inevitable – Finding other things to do so you can put off a project you don’t want to work on will only end up wasting more time. Don’t procrastinate. Dive in and tackle the task at hand.
Ever find your concentration disrupted at work, only not to be able to get back “in the zone” for quite sometime later? Maybe you tend to procrastinate when assigned a major responsibility instead of immediately attending to it.
Productivity is not easy to come by. You need to channelize your energy well and get “into the mood” for it, where you only focus on the task at hand.
Interruption, procrastination,and inaccurate plans are the most damaging productivity killers there are.
You might not know it, but a colleague tapping on your shoulder when you are busy at work can leave you scampering to get back to your pre-interruption attentive work state for the rest of your workday. When a fellow team-member admits to not having pulled in his/her share of work for your collaborative project, and your delivery schedule suffers, it takes a toll on your productivity all the same.
However, there’s good news yet, and you need not lose hope.
You can find a way to work around these productivity killers and still emerge as a productive person. How do you do this? Find out below.
How to Stop Productivity Killers from Affecting Your Work
Productivity killers can subject our work efforts to enormous harm because we no longer work a set 9-5 workweek. Most workplaces require their employees to finish their daily work allotment before they can log off from work. The minute you let any of the above-listed notorious productivity killers into your workspace, you extend your work hours and, by default, the time you spend in the office.
Try out these tips to help fight them:
1. Filter through and prioritize the interruptions coming you way
According to research, we are all interrupted every 8 minutes. It makes us lose our train of thought and wastes time available to us to get a job done.
You can assign incoming interruptions based on their urgency and tackle them accordingly. You can classify these interruptions as Urgent and Important, Urgent but Not Important, Not Urgent but Important and Neither Urgent or Important respectively. You can deal with the urgent and important task immediately, schedule the urgent but not important task for later, delegate the not urgent but important task to someone else and simply say not to extra incoming tasks that serve no purpose and will only waste time.
2. Get to the root of why you procrastinate, cut these off
Maybe the task seems overwhelming, boring or exhausting. You can split up the task into smaller chunks, inspire yourself to work on it by trying to remind yourself of the value it provides, and take frequent re-energizing breaks to bring your productivity back on track.
3. Plan projects in 2 stages
Get your project managers to plan their project deliveries in phases. Each phase should be delivered within a milestone date. Then, assemble your project team and map out how you plan to have the project ready incrementally by these milestone dates together.
Proactively Fight off Productivity Killers
The best way to tackle productivity killers is to ward them off proactively. Come up with an availability schedule to keep your colleagues from interrupting you when you are busy. Create time for productivity breaks on your work calendar.
Schedule a time to deal with potential interruptions and keep rescheduling tasks based on priority. You will soon see that you’ve been able to revive your productivity at work successfully.
Need More Tips?
Check out this infographic by Wrike project schedule tools:
Home Servicefutures The top productivity killers in the workplace and how to avoid them
Here on the last day of the CoreNet Global Summit, we had a few moments with the Development Director of Leesman Index, Peggie Rothe to discuss their latest research, what typically makes up the top productivity killers and how to avoid them.
Definitely noise. We see in our research repeatedly, that people are extremely dissatisfied with noise levels in the environment surrounding them. This also counts for some of the best performing workplaces we measure. Often the dilemma relates to an open office environment that does not offer variety in workspace including zones for quietness and concentration.
This goes hand in hand with the second productivity killer I would like to mention – namely variety. We see in our research and across many organizations that the workplace isn’t supporting all the activities people are engaging themselves with throughout a day. This can make the work itself quite ineffective.
It all starts with an assessment of; what is not working. When that is laid out consider the behavior. In some cases, there might be nothing wrong with the design – but rather the way people are using the workspace. Sit down with the end-users and learn to understand, why they use the space as they do and invest efforts in educating how to make better use of the variety of space. Sometimes it could be that employees misuse the quiet rooms by occupying them as their own offices; which can negatively impact their colleagues.
Communicating the workspace setting and how to best make use of it is therefore of crucial importance.
Finally, our research shows that being able to do your individual work has a bigger impact on the perception of being able to work productively. For a Corporate Real Estate or Facility Manager it may be worthwhile considering how to support that way of thinking while not compromising the value of collaboration in the workplace.
These are some very basic things.
- Desk & Chair – basic but important. Most companies are on top of that.
- Tea, Coffee and Refreshments – supporting both individual work and social interactions.
- Temperature control – unfortunately this feature is often lagging.
No, I don’t think there is one workplace solution that works for all organizations and all employees.
If we want to come near that illusion however, I think we need to consider the variety of workspace we offer. The higher the level of variety – the bigger the chance that you can suit the needs of many different employees and ways of working.
But there is also a tipping point here. If you provide too many options in working space – people get confused about how to work, where to work and how to use the space. So it really is about striking a balance, which again comes back to understanding people and what they do.
Adopt the right micro-habits to unlock huge time savings
*Are you worried about what to do during the pandemic? Read this guide.
Productivity isn’t about big, sweeping declarations and step rate changes. It’s about avoiding small time wasters and learning to do that at scale.
You can accomplish this with many micro-habits which compound over time. In the end, they add up to huge time savings, thanks to avoiding many small mistakes.
Over the last few years, I’ve developed a lot of these, and they help me create a lot of output. To help you do the same, I’ve decided to create a complete list of them. Here are all the productivity thieves I know and how to avoid them.
To make this post easier to navigate, here’s a clickable table of contents with the seven categories we’ll tackle:
Let’s get to work!
Note: Implementing all of these will drive you mad. Some may not even apply to you. So take the ones that do, ignore the ones that don’t, and enjoy all the extra time you’ve created for yourself!
1. Using menus when you can use keyboard shortcuts
The less you use your mouse, the better. People not familiar with keyboard shortcuts see me use a computer and think it’s wizardry. It’s not. Learn keyboard shortcuts for everything you do. I’m likely 4–5x more productive than the average computer user.
2. Not setting your mouse at max speed
When you do need to use the mouse, make sure it’s at max speed. Lower than that, you’re wasting valuable time going from one icon to the next. It doesn’t take more than 1–2 days to get used to it.
3. Not watching instructional videos at 2x
Add subtitles. You’re welcome.
4. Searching for files and apps with your eyes instead of the search function
Use the “Windows” key on PC and “Cmd + Spacebar” on mac to start searching. You can find and open files and apps A LOT faster that way. No need to even touch your mouse!
5. Typing with 2 fingers
Nothing to say here…
6. Typing while looking at your keyboard
Just learn the proper technique. You’ll lose productivity for the first two weeks, but you’ll get it back really fast in the coming weeks. Use this tool to practice.
7. Not taking advantage of auto-suggestions
Many software now shows you smart suggestions of things to type. I found Gmail does a great job at that. I save a few seconds per email, allowing me to reply to more in less time.
8. Working for software instead of making it work for you
If using software makes you curse, find an alternative that doesn’t. Using the right software for you can save you a lot of wasted time!
9. A slow internet connection
Why insisting on saving a few dollars to wait 200x more? My mom has 5mbps internet and pays $50 (CAD) for it. I pay $70 (CAD) for it and it’s 1000mbps. Literally 200x faster. These extra $20 pay for themselves in less than a day by not waiting on pages to load!
10. Buying a subpar computer to save money
Same principle as above. People save money by getting slower CPUs (Core Processing Unit), lesser memory (RAM), and a Hard Disk Drive instead of a Solid State Drive. My computer is always zippy. I save at least 45 minutes a day compared to someone using a slow computer. That’s 5.25 hours per week (assuming I use it on weekends). I pay for the difference in less than a month.
11. Waiting on a loading screen
Open a new tab; do something else.
12. Typing on your cellphone when you can type on your computer
I can’t stand using Messenger or Whatsapp on my phone. Some people can type fast-ish on mobile, but they can’t match my typing speed. I’m at least 2x faster on a computer. If I reply to 20 messages a day with a length of 1 minute each (on the computer), I save 10 minutes right there.
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Heart disease is the leading cause of the death in the United States. It is also a major cause of disability. There are many things that can raise your risk for heart disease. They are called risk factors. Some of them you cannot control, but there are many that you can control. Learning about them can lower your risk of heart disease.
What are the heart disease risk factors that I cannot change?
- Age. Your risk of heart disease increases as you get older. Men age 45 and older and women age 55 and older have a greater risk.
- Sex. Some risk factors may affect heart disease risk differently in women than in men. For example, estrogen provides women some protection against heart disease, but diabetes raises the risk of heart disease more in women than in men.
- Race or ethnicity. Certain groups have higher risks than others. African Americans are more likely than whites to have heart disease, while Hispanic Americans are less likely to have it. Some Asian groups, such as East Asians, have lower rates, but South Asians have higher rates.
- Family history. You have a greater risk if you have a close family member who had heart disease at an early age.
What can I do to lower my risk of heart disease?
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to reduce your chances of getting heart disease:
- Control your blood pressure.High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly – at least once a year for most adults, and more often if you have high blood pressure. Take steps, including lifestyle changes, to prevent or control high blood pressure.
- Keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control. High levels of cholesterol can clog your arteries and raise your risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack. Lifestyle changes and medicines (if needed) can lower your cholesterol. Triglycerides are another type of fat in the blood. High levels of triglycerides may also raise the risk of coronary artery disease, especially in women.
- Stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight or having obesity can increase your risk for heart disease. This is mostly because they are linked to other heart disease risk factors, including high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Controlling your weight can lower these risks.
- Eat a healthy diet. Try to limit saturated fats, foods high in sodium, and added sugars. Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. The DASH diet is an example of an eating plan that can help you to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, two things that can lower your risk of heart disease.
- Get regular exercise. Exercise has many benefits, including strengthening your heart and improving your circulation. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. All of these can lower your risk of heart disease.
- Limit alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. It also adds extra calories, which may cause weight gain. Both of those raise your risk of heart disease. Men should have no more than two alcoholic drinks per day, and women should not have more than one.
- Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking raises your blood pressure and puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. If you do not smoke, do not start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. You can talk with your health care provider for help in finding the best way for you to quit.
- Manage stress.Stress is linked to heart disease in many ways. It can raise your blood pressure. Extreme stress can be a “trigger” for a heart attack. Also, some common ways of coping with stress, such as overeating, heavy drinking, and smoking, are bad for your heart. Some ways to help manage your stress include exercise, listening to music, focusing on something calm or peaceful, and meditating.
- Manage diabetes. Having diabetes doubles your risk of diabetic heart disease. That is because over time, high blood sugar from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. So, it is important to get tested for diabetes, and if you have it, to keep it under control.
- Make sure that you get enough sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, you raise your risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Those three things can raise your risk for heart disease. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Make sure that you have good sleep habits. If you have frequent sleep problems, contact your health care provider. One problem, sleep apnea, causes people to briefly stop breathing many times during sleep. This interferes with your ability to get a good rest and can raise your risk of heart disease. If you think you might have it, ask your doctor about having a sleep study. And if you do have sleep apnea, make sure that you get treatment for it.
Coronavirus is a type of betacoronavirus causing a respiratory illness. Ebola is a type of filovirus causing a hemorrhagic fever.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus causes a respiratory illness and is one of a group of viruses called betacoronaviruses.
Symptoms and complications:
Typical symptoms of coronavirus are shortness of breath, a cough and fever, and lung problems (often a type of pneumonia develops). About 2% of infected people die and most often those people are individuals who already have another illness or are immune-compromised.
The way to diagnose the 2019 coronavirus is by a real-time RT-PCR test, which can detect the presence of viral material.
The novel coronavirus is a suspected zoonosis that likely entered the human population from some animal host that has not been identified as of now. The virus is very contagious and spread among people when they cough or sneeze.
People most at risk of catching the coronavirus include those in areas where the infection is very prevalent and also doctors and nurses working with infected individuals.
Treatment and prevention:
There is no cure for the illness and patients are treated for their symptoms. In very severe cases patients may need to be given extra oxygen or put on a ventilator. Prevention of infection is largely through avoiding contact with infected individuals and not visiting areas where there is an outbreak of the virus.
What is Ebola?
Ebola is a hemorrhagic viral illness caused by a type of filovirus. The incubation varies from two days to 20 days.
Symptoms and complications:
The symptoms of Ebola are muscle pains, fever, headache, pain in the abdomen, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting; there is also bleeding from multiple parts of the body. Jaundice often develops and patients may enter a delirious state and coma and all the organs may fail. The illness has a high fatality rate if the person is not treated in time.
The CDC developed an ELISA and RT-PCR test that can detect and provide a definitive diagnosis of Ebola based on the presence of viral antigens and genetic material, respectively.
Ebola is believed to be a zoonotic illness in which the virus was transmitted from a host animal into humans. The virus is transmitted easily from one person to another by way of body fluids.
People who eat bush meat and who eat bats seem to be at higher risk of contracting the illness. Healthcare workers and others in close contact with patients sick with Ebola are also at a much greater risk of infection.
Treatment and prevention:
There is no cure for Ebola although there are vaccines that are being developed; some of which are being tested along with certain antivirals. The treatment is primarily supportive in nature with the replacement of fluids and giving of platelets when needed. The death rate can be 70% or even higher where there is no treatment available.
Difference between Coronavirus and Ebola?
Coronavirus is a viral disease caused by a betacoronavirus named 2019-nCoV virus. Ebola is a viral disease caused by a type of filovirus.
Country where discovered
The coronavirus was first discovered in China. Ebola was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The coronavirus takes about from two days to up to about two weeks before symptoms appear. Ebola virus incubation is also quite variable and is from two days to as much as 20 days.
Coronavirus is definitively diagnosed by means of a molecular test known as rRT-PCR. Ebola is definitively diagnosed by an ELISA test and an RT-PCR test that the CDC developed.
The symptoms seen with coronavirus include the presence of a cough, shortness of breath, pneumonia, and fever. The symptoms of Ebola are fever, headache, abdomen pain, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, bleeding, and sometimes the person goes into a coma.
The transmission of coronavirus is by way of secretions from the respiratory tract which are sneezed or coughed out of the body. The transmission of Ebola is by contact with any type of body fluid from an infected person.
Some people with coronavirus need to be hospitalized and given oxygen, and a few antivirals have shown some promise in treating the illness. Ebola treatment relies on fluid therapy, giving people platelets and pain killers; vaccines and antivirals are being tested.
Coronavirus has a current estimated 2% mortality rate. Ebola has a mortality rate that can be at or above 70% when untreated.
Table comparing Coronavirus and Ebola
Summary of Coronavirus Vs. Ebola
- Coronavirus and Ebola are both very contagious illnesses caused by a virus.
- Coronavirus causes problems with the respiratory system, specifically with the lungs.
- Ebola causes bleeding and problems throughout the body.
- Ebola is caused by a filovirus while coronavirus is caused by a betacoronavirus.
- There is no cure for coronavirus or Ebola.
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Written by : Dr. Rae Osborn. and updated on July 14, 2020
Intimidation has a way of stunting you, both professionally and in terms of personal growth. It’s not, however, something you have to suffer by default. You can put an end to it starting today, and you don’t need to sacrifice your pride or decorum to do it.
1. Mentally prepare yourself well ahead of time for interacting with the person who intimidates you.
We compare ourselves to others all the time because we get a feeling of safety and security when we know we’re just as good as–if not better than–someone else. In this context, intimidation is essentially just the feeling that somebody’s able to outdo us. Much of handling intimidating people thus lies in stopping that comparison, or in reassuring ourselves we’ve got plenty of points to fight with.
- Remind yourself there’s really no such thing as “equal” footing, just different footing. You and the intimidating person cannot possibly have the exact same skills, personality, background, goals or biology. You thus cannot make an accurate apples-to-apples assessment of who is “best”.
- Tell yourself that, for all the other person’s accomplishments or abilities, they’re human. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s just that you might not be aware of all of theirs.
- Review your accomplishments or positive qualities to confirm your abilities and right to personal confidence.
- Think about people who made you feel competent and special. The positive memories can decrease your stress.
- Remind yourself that, in the age of social media and ultra-competitiveness, the person who intimidates you might not be showing their real self. If you really get to know them, they might be much warmer than you initially give them credit for. Commit to talking to them with the aim of finding out their story.
2. Plan out what you want to say.
The feeling of intimidation can make you mentally choke, leaving you at a loss for words that makes you feel even worse. You don’t have to come up with a script you’ll repeat word for word, especially because you have to respond naturally to whatever the other person says back. But you can identify the main points you want to bring up and practice saying those in a few different ways.
3. Practice with others.
Maybe the person at the drive-thru didn’t put the extra pickles on your sandwich. Say so! If you can be assertive in these smaller situations, you’ll reassure yourself you can stand up for yourself.
4. Offer the right body language.
Standing proud and tall communicates to the intimidating person that you can’t be pushed around, that you’re sure of yourself. But it’s as much for you as for them. As social psychologist Amy Cuddy discusses in her well-received Ted Talk, good posture actually can create the feelings of confidence you hope to portray. Stay relaxed, make good eye contact and smile. Science has proven that there are “mirror neurons” in the brain that respond to elements like facial expression and contribute to empathy, so if you adopt an approachable demeanor, you can get back what you give.
5. Use comic visualization.
Picture the intimidating person dancing in a tutu, lounging in their undies with some chips or belting Adele’s greatest hits during their commute. The exact picture really doesn’t matter. The idea is simply to use a goofy visualization to tell your brain they don’t pose a threat, thereby shutting down the fight-or-flight stress response.
6. Focus on how the other person is feeling.
Focusing too much on what you want from the intimidating person can make you miss important cues that could help you communicate more effectively. For example, do they seem stressed themselves at the moment? Are they distracted? Could they use a quick cup of coffee? The reason for their bad mood, dominance or aggression might not have anything to do with you! Respond to those cues and ask yourself how you can serve them with compassion and genuineness. Small gestures or a kind word as you speak can be incredibly disarming and serve to build a better long-term relationship.
7. Talk firmly from the heart.
I statements typically keep intimidating individuals from moving to the defensive and trying to be even more assertive. At the same time, firmness within truthful I statements tells the intimidating person that you have strength of your own. Mix your I statements with frequent validations of what they’re saying. Most people just want to be heard and will relax if they know you’re valuing their thoughts.
People can be intimidated for many reasons, such as reputation, body and verbal language, unpredictability, reputation or uncertainty about the value they have to the other person. Tune in to exactly why you’re uncomfortable. You might have some personal work to do as much as the person who intimidates you does. Once you understand what’s driving that feeling in your gut, you can tackle it head on.