Don’t Overdo Details on To-do Lists

Breaking down large projects into separate tasks is an effective method to chip away at them, unless you have several of those big projects. Detailing every task in every project becomes overwhelming, researchers say.

“If you have six things to do today, all high priority, and you sit down and start planning everything out in detail, you quickly realize how difficult it will be to do it all,” says Amy Dalton, co-author of a study on the subject and a marketing teacher at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. When you feel overwhelmed, you become less committed to the tasks.

Best bet: Detail your top priority and for the others simply dig in and start working.

— Adapted from “Got a Monster To-do List? Don’t Overthink It,” Anne Fisher, Fortune,

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Ready to Run: Top Five Reasons Why You Need a Goals Partner

This is a guest post by Onyx Jones.

Most of us started the new year determined to achieve our resolutions. We started January with a bang, super enthusiastic, and determined to make this year more successful than ever. Unfortunately, by late February to early March we have fizzled out, achieving only a few milestones along the way. 

But, what if we had the right goals partner to support us along the way? A great amount of energy is created when you have someone in your corner encouraging you to be great.  “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much,” quoted by Helen Keller.

A goals partner should be someone who you have mutual respect for, who you communicate well with, someone who has time available for you, someone who is willing to compromise when necessary, someone who shares some of you core values, and most important someone you can have fun with. The person can be your husband, wife, fiancé, boyfriend, girlfriend, “wannabe” boyfriend or “wannabe girlfriend.” Or a goals partner can also be any person with whom you have a close relationship with (family member, mother, father, sister, brother, grandparent, cousin, best friend, mentor, pastor, ministry leader or someone from a support group). 

Why? Because …

  1. You need someone to give you honest feedback as you pursue your goals.  You won’t be living in la-la land when someone can give you a nice little reality check.
  2. You need to build positive relationships with people. A supportive environment gets created because you and your goals partner are both focused on achieving goals and creating success.  There’s no time to be bitter and blame others for a lack of success.
  3. It’s a lot easier to get things done and a whole lot more fun. You can bounce ideas off your goals partner, and he or she can help you stay on track or even help you with some of the tasks needed to achieve your goals. A goals partner can also make the journey more fun and there’s someone to laugh hysterically with.
  4. You now have DOUBLE. Double the experience, double the knowledge and double the encouragement.
  5. You are more likely to actually achieve your goals. A great amount of passion and energy is generated when you are working with someone whom you respect and who respects you. It’s so powerful when you are achieving the goals you set out to achieve and your goals partner is there at the finish line cheering wildly for your success.

About the Author

Onyx Jones is an accomplished entrepreneur, administrator, and accountant. Over the past 16 years she has assisted companies and cities of various sizes to be successful in their financial operations. She has conducted financial software workshops, presentations for staff training, federal and state compliance seminars, and written various manuals (I.e. standard operating procedures, budget manuals, financial reporting manuals, etc.). Her vast background in accounting has allowed her to specialize not only in for-profit industries, but also non-profit and government agencies. Her new book “The UNOfficial Guide to Achieving Your Goals” is now available.


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7 ways self-regulation is a predictor of job success

This is a guest post by Sherrie Campbell, Ph.D.

When we have the ability to monitor ourselves, we have the maturity and awareness of our emotions and reactions and to those of other people. Self-regulation is the ability to have consistent awareness. Awareness allows us to monitor ourselves to know when and how to be flexible in dealing with life and people. If we are controlling or rigid, we are thinking only of ourselves and needing life to happen on our terms. However, ridged structures always collapse first because they cannot flex with change. If we are rigid and controlling we block success.
Here is how self-regulation increases your chances of succeeding. You will be more likely to be: 
  1. Open: When we have the ability to regulate our own emotional worlds, we can tune in to the emotions of others. Openness allows us the space to be curious about new people, new ideas and new directions. To be successful, we have to be curious about new people and all they have to offer as this shows we can be team players. The more open we are to others, the more creative and likable we become. That leads to success.
  2. Mindful: To be mindful we have to be self-aware. Self-awareness is what gives us confidence. With awareness of self we know our strengths and weaknesses and are able to work from that space. This way we know where we need to reach out for assistance and where we are good on our own.
  3. Focused: We cannot succeed if we are distracted. We also need to be able to focus for enduring periods of time and not get whisked away by social media outlets constantly interrupting our flow. The ability to remain focused helps us develop self-knowledge, and financial success. Successful people do not make room for procrastination.
  4. Boundary-driven: Successful people set boundaries for themselves. While they may be nice, we often do not consider them to  be. They have no room for B.S., and they say “No” when they need to. They are serious about their work, their passions and jobs, and they keep those boundaries firm in an effort to reach their goals. 
  5. Aware of hot buttons: People who self-regulate are able to identify their emotions as they are happening. They do not repress them or deny their causes. They bend and flex with emotions and have the discipline to process them before communicating.
  6. Intuitive: Successful people trust their gut instincts and take the risks associated with them. Our instincts are based on the survival of the fittest … the need to succeed. They tell us what to do next. When we learn to trust and follow our instincts, we increase our chances of succeeding.
  7. Disciplined: Successful people tend to not just be disciplined at work but they tend to be disciplined in every area of their life. It is a character trait which provides an enduring focus which is wholly applied. Discipline is what makes life run the most effortlessly.
With this type of maturity we have the presence of mind to be able to regulate our ability to hold our emotions, restrain our behavior in an effort to achieve what it is we are looking for. We can also use this to avoid some form of punishment, conflict, or misunderstanding. When someone has ability to self-regulate they are open and flexible in the work place and with people.
Sherrie Campbell, PhD is a veteran, licensed Psychologist with two decades of clinical training and experience providing counseling and psychotherapy services to residents of Yorba Linda, Irvine, Anaheim, Fullerton and Brea, California.  In her private practice, she currently specializes in psychotherapy with adults and teenagers, including marriage and family therapy, grief counselling, childhood trauma, sexual issues, personality disorders, illness and more. She has helped individuals manage their highest high and survive their lowest low—from winning the lottery to the death of a child.  Her interactive sessions are as unique and impactful as her new book, Loving Yourself : The Mastery of Being Your Own Person.
She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2003 and has regularly contributes to numerous publications, including,, and  She is also an inspirational speaker, avid writer and proud mother.  She can be reached at
Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person is available on and other fine booksellers. 
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How to delegate at work without horrible results

This is a guest post by Dana Brownlee.

How familiar is this scenario in the workplace? “ I have a million things to do in order to finish that project. Do I need to delegate work to others? Or should I try to do it all?” Delegation is a critical skill, yet according to most business productivity experts, it’s completely underutilized in the workplace.

A corporate trainer for Fortune 500 companies, Professionalism Matters Founder Dana Brownlee has found that if you don’t know when to delegate and when not to, it can bring horrible results.

She offers these general guidelines about deciding what to delegate.

How important is the task?

Typically, it’s safer/less risky to delegate less important tasks. And there are certain tasks that you just need to do yourself. If the success or failure of this task will make or break your business, you probably don’t want to delegate it. Clearly, you typically want to retain control over areas that are critical to your success. For someone starting a new consulting business, you’re probably not likely to delegate client facing activities because they’re so important. Behind the scenes you may want to delegate a lot of administrative work, but you want to control what is presented to the client for sure and you most likely want to do that yourself.

Is the task an area where you have core competence (or you don’t)?

If it’s an area where you’re an expert/a whiz/you can do it quicker, faster, better than most, than do it! If its website development and you can’t spell JAVA much less code it, then you’re probably better off delegating or outsourcing. To the contrary if you’re starting a training business, you really need to develop your content. No one can do that for you. That’s your area of core competence and your business should benefit from that and you need to put your personal stamp on it.

How complicated is the task?

Some tasks are just difficult to delegate because they’re too complicated to explain to another person or you have so much historical knowledge that the task would suffer if it were delegated. For example, if you have worked on a project for six months, you probably wouldn’t want to delegate the production of the final report to someone else on your team (unless they’ve been as involved as you have). Making that handoff so late in the process would most likely cost more in quality and efficiency than it would save.

About Dana Brownlee
Dana Brownlee is the founder of Professionalism Matters, Inc, a practical professional development training and management consulting company founded in 2003 that uses exciting methods to train business individuals and their teams to reach new levels of performance.

Brownlee is also the founder of, an online resource for the latest meeting facilitation tips, techniques, and instructional videos. has produced two cutting edge meeting facilitation training DVDs: Are You Running a Meeting or Drowning in Chaos? “and “5 Secrets to Virtually Cut Your Meeting Time in Half.”

She is highly sought out as a corporate trainer and speaker who has garnered years of critical team leadership and management consulting experience through her years with AT&T Bell Labs, AT&T, IBM Consulting, and EMC Corporation. Other impressive credentials include an MBA (Emory University), BIE (Georgia Tech), BS (Spellman College), IBM Business Transformation Consulting Certification, Project Management Professional, and Myers Briggs Type Indicator Qualification.

Her broad range of clients that run the gamut from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Environmental Protection Agency, Emory Professional Learning Program, Southern Company, Southface Energy Institute, Learning Tree International, OCI Chemical Corporation and many others. Brownlee’s corporate advice has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, CNN, Working Mother, Redbook, and many more media outlets.

More information available at

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Become a mentally tough leader

To be a truly successful leader—one whom people follow and emulate—you need to develop mental toughness. Doing so allows you to take risks, recover from failures, and manage the inevitable ups and downs of business. Follow these tips from psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker Amy Morin to become mentally tough:

  • Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You can’t focus on how you’ve been mistreated or blame the world for your problems. Take responsibility for your actions and learn from your mistakes.
  • Be open to change. Make a continuous effort to welcome change so that you don’t become complacent or indifferent.
  • Forget about pleasing everyone. You will never make everyone happy, so stop trying to. Be fair and kind, but know when to say “No.”
  • Move past the past. Focus on what is happening now and what you want to happen in the future. Don’t spend your time and energy focusing on what might have been, the letdowns in your past or by reliving the old days.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Accept that you failed, analyze what you did wrong and don’t make the same mistakes twice.
  • Celebrate others’ successes. Stop being jealous over other people’s good luck and accomplishments. Instead, assess what the person did to succeed and then work hard to match that success—without seeking shortcuts.
  • Quit feeling entitled. Even if you’ve been at it a long time, you aren’t entitled to a job, a certain salary or perks. You have to work for you what you want, day in and day out. You should receive only what you deserve.

— Adapted from “Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid,” Cheryl Conner, Forbes,

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Quick tip: Don’t open your email until noon

Most people won’t email you anything that can’t wait a few hours, so rather than spend your first hours feeling the urgency to address email, focus instead on doing your most important work.

—Adapted from “8 Steps to Having Wildly Productive Mornings,” James Clear, Entrepreneur,

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Take baby steps toward improvement

When you are really behind, small gains in efficiency and time management may not make much sense to you. While those efforts add up to real improvement, you probably feel like you don’t have the time to take baby steps: You need a major change—and you need it now.

On the contrary, small steps are the only way out when you are way behind. Instead of looking for a quick fix, make the following changes, and commit to making realistic progress:

  • Prove that you can do it. Overcome one small challenge to prove to yourself that change is both possible and beneficial. Once you see that you can tackle a problem or meet a goal, you will have the confidence to do it again and again.
  • Prioritize. If you are facing a backlog of tasks, pick a few items that you can dig into right away. Choose ones that will have an immediate, appreciable impact.
  • Don’t get ahead of yourself. Once you have a few small wins under your belt, will you be ready to tackle a massive overhaul of the way you work? Instead of committing to revising every practice within the next month, keep identifying high-priority, high-impact steps you can take now. They will add up to big change.
  • Share your strategy. Others may be as frustrated as you are with your former ways of working. Let everyone know that you are making lasting improvements. Acknowledge the time that doing so will take: “I may have 999 miles to go, but I am picking up my pace.” Who knows? You may inspire others to do the same.

— Adapted from “There Is No Big Fix,” Projects @Work Newsletter,

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