Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to adapt, rewire and change shape with new experiences.
At any age, the way the brain works can totally transform. We can become more optimistic, joyful, productive and better at learning without ever returning to our ‘old ways’.
With the myth that we use 10% of our brains debunked, we now know that our entire brains are neural real estate, forming and strengthening different neural pathways throughout the day.
Understanding neuroplasticity can unlock a clear pathway to more productive habits. By tapping into neuroplasticity, we can achieve:
Improved short-term memory
An efficient work life
An overall more dynamic brain.
What is Neuroplasticity?
Neuroplasticity is the “plastic” nature of the brain – its ability to shift and change layout.
All our habits, thought processes and beliefs – the way we think – are physically represented by neurons and neural pathways. Different neural pathways get stronger with use or waste away, much like a muscle.
It’s easy to imagine that if we had the technology, we could understand everything about someone just by looking at the physical map of their brain, looking up close at the neural pathways and seeing which are stronger and used more than others.
We already understand a lot, like how to use brain examinations to detect dementia and determine the cause of a stroke.
Using certain parts of our brains more strengthens those neural pathways. This is what behavioural therapy taps into – mental muscle memory.
The future is bright. The more we dig into the science of neuroplasticity, the more we can see the limitless ways to harness and use our brains for the better.
Below are just a few things we can achieve by strengthening new pathways and weakening old, unhelpful ones:
1. Changing Our Habits
Struggling to be productive is a difficulty most of us can understand. Getting started on new projects, staying motivated and working in a consistent, efficient way are all things that don’t always come easy, but can be developed with practice.
An understanding of neuroplasticity is a great place to start when thinking about changing your habits. This way, you can make the change as easy as possible for your brain to take on.
For example, if you want to totally overhaul your work ethic and methods, start with a small change. Instead of putting pressure on yourself to fix the problem in one fell swoop, try breaking other habits in your life first by trying new things, or even doing something you know how to do already, differently.
Even breaking and changing habits unrelated to the big one you have your eye on will help you to eventually make the change. This is because taking on new habits and experiences strengthens neural pathways responsible for learning, making your brain more dynamic and flexible.
Changing a habit could be as simple as taking a different route to work or shopping for food somewhere different. And when it comes to making a bigger change, try doing something a different way before replacing it altogether. Your brain can learn to adapt.
Communicating well is key to being part of a productive, efficient team. With good communication, skills can be shared, tasks can be completed quickly and everyone feels inclined to work well to get goals achieved.
Using neuroplasticity to communicate better once again comes down to identifying and changing a habit. What gets in the way of feeling like we are on the same page with someone? More often than not, it is defensiveness of our own view and not understanding the view of the person we are talking with. The angrier we feel, the less inclined to connect we feel.
This makes active listening – the act of truly trying to understand what someone is saying – impossible. In breaking this habit, the first thing to practice is checking in on whether you are actually listening to the other person.
The second thing to do is to return to focusing on connecting and listening. While this is easier said than done, it is possible to make this a habit through practice.
The happiest brains are flexible and open-minded, open to learning and taking on new information. The more our brains experience changing and developing new skills, the more flexible and agile they become – and the more able to cope with any challenge.
A brain that has recently been learning a new language and improving at sudoku will be developing strong neural connections in the parts of the brain responsible for learning. This makes it now more equipped to learn other new skills more easily. In other words, the more we change the brain through neuroplasticity, the more able to change the brain is.
When it comes to productivity, the ideal brain can:
Learn new skills
Remember important details
Switch between tasks easily.
Try learning a new skill – no matter what it is, you will see benefits in how your brain processes information and takes on new challenges.
These are just a few ways harnessing neuroplasticity can help to improve your productivity. With an understanding of how the brain makes and stores connections, we can develop any skill or ability we like more easily and effectively.
With intention and an awareness of neuroplasticity, you can build an open-minded and flexible brain able to take on any challenge and navigate the unexpected.
For help with making lifestyle changes, contact one of our coaches at Ceed today!
Our mental health isn’t something that should be treated lightly, as when there’s a problem, it can get worse without treatment. If a person suffers from an issue regarding their mental wellbeing, it can actually be worse than suffering from a cold or breaking a bone.
The longer a mental illness persists, the more difficult it’ll be to treat, leading to possible panic attacks while unaddressed trauma could culminate in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
If you or someone you know suffers from a form of anxiety, then this article will help you by providing advice on how to live with and manage it. Please note that this isn’t medical advice – if are suffering with anxiety it’s always worth seeking professional advice as well as taking these tips on board.
Many of these can lead to what is known as an emotional trigger. This is defined as something that will “spark intense negative emotions”. The key thing is to figure out what your trigger is and then limit your exposure to it. If this is seemingly impossible – say, the trigger in question is from just visiting your place of work – consult the other methods to manage anxiety in this list to help you cope.
Do One Task At a Time
To give one example, let’s say you’re at work or your place of education. As you know, you’re going to be bogged down with tasks that will require completion, often in a short span of time. This alone can fuel your anxiety and make you feel overwhelmed.
There is a very simple solution to this problem: focus on one task at a time.
Think – which task has the closest deadline? Which is the trickiest? Which will take the most thought? It’s important that you prioritise these particular tasks first, as putting them off will just make you feel anxious for when you do approach them.
Focus On Your Sleep
While there are certainly people who prefer to be active rather than rest, something we all need to do is sleep. Unfortunately, if you suffer from anxiety, it can lead to you having difficulty sleeping (insomnia), or difficulty sleeping can actually cause anxiety.
Here are just a few ways for you to ensure that you can catch a good night’s sleep:
Create and keep to a routine. If you break away from it, sometimes even slightly, this could make sleeping more difficult for you.
Make sure your bedroom’s temperature is cool. A hot and stuffy bedroom will make sleeping seemingly impossible to accomplish.
Have a comfy bed. After all, how are you supposed to relax if your mattress is lumpy, too soft, or too hard? Like with Goldilocks, it needs to be just right!
It’s as simple as this. If you find yourself in a situation that’s giving you anxiety and making you feel stressed, you just need to walk away.
However, this doesn’t mean you should then start running away from your problems and avoid them altogether. If anything, this is going to make your anxiety even worse than it was before. By simply moving ourselves away from the problem temporarily and having a walk, we’re more likely to develop discerning thoughts. This means we’ll be better at making judgements and formulating good thoughts.
Sometimes it’s best not to make decisions sitting down. Being on the go matches how our thoughts are constantly moving and changing, allowing those ideas to be processed and analysed internally more easily.
These were just a small number of ways for how you or someone you know can learn to live with anxiety. If you’d like to learn more about this topic, or perhaps an entirely different one altogether, contact Ceed today.
Sometimes you just feel unlike yourself. Maybe you feel disconnected from the people around you or you find yourself having an “off” week. Typically, we call this situation a “funk”. However, experiencing brief periods of feeling low isn’t always cause for concern.
To be human is to get into a funk from time to time. It isn’t something to be ashamed of. We all have our rough times, when we feel stuck, depressed or just discouraged. Things just feel bigger and heavier. The way funk manifests itself in our lives is subjective, but we all do experience it. Some last days, while others last weeks or even months or years.
A funk can hit you at any time. Perhaps when you least expect it. If you find yourself in a funk, the good news is your situation is only temporary. The first step to getting back to your best self is recognition. And… you’ve already made that step by visiting our page! We are here to help you take the action needed to beat your funk and see positivity return back into your life.
Here some helpful tips and guidance you can always take to get out of a funk.
Break the Routine
Every day we do things without thought. Brush our teeth, eat the same food, watch the same thing on the telly. Having a routine isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can help you stay organised and be productive.
However, exercising habitual behaviour can cut you off from feeling and put you on autopilot throughout your day. You may find yourself in a funk. We’re all guilty of sticking to a routine. But mixing it up could provide us with more than just a little excitement…
Ways to Break Your Routine
Take a different route to work: We tend to take the same way to work every day, and for good reasons; the shortest, least stressful, takes you past your favourite coffee shop. However, if you’re finding yourself in a funk, taking a different route to work is a simple way of getting you out of the same boring routine.
Cook a new recipe: Spice up your life… and food by cooking up a new recipe. Explore new ingredients. Try new flavours. Start simple and see where you go from there. You don’t have to be the best chef in the world. Cooking is an activity that should be enjoyed. Blast away your funk with the opening of a hot oven.
Take on a new hobby: We spend far too much time in this life worrying. Having a hobby allows you to take a break from your day-to-day obligations. By doing something fun, you are able to take a step back from your busy life while also having a sense of purpose. Do something that you love or have always wanted to do. Open up your mind to new ideas. The possibilities are endless.
Make a Gratitude List
When you’ve fallen into a habit of negativity it can be hard to break out of it. However, sitting down and making a list of everything that you’re grateful for really helps you to remember all the good in your life. Remember to get everything down on your list. Doesn’t matter if its big or small!
If you’re struggling with writing this list, think of things as simple as having food to eat or a bed to sleep in. The objective of this list isn’t to impress people; it is to change your mindset from what is lacking in your life to what you still have that you can appreciate.
Do More of What Makes You Happy
In other words, have fun! One of the most obvious ways to happiness is to do more of what makes us happy. When you choose to do what makes you happy, you instantly build your confidence. You are telling yourself that you are worthy and deserving of happiness. And nothing motivates people more than the feeling of happiness.
Compile a list of things that make you happy. This can include such things as:
Listening to your favourite song
Going to a nice restaurant
Playing with your pet
Treating yourself to a gift
Remind Yourself that Feeling Low is Normal
Occasional sadness is very much a normal part of life. Our brains have been wired to believe that we’re not supposed to feel bad, instead of knowing it’s ok not to feel our best sometimes. When you’re having a tough time, you’ll probably notice your mood reflect the challenges you’re facing. This is normal. Our feelings and emotions are supposed to change in response to our experiences, good and bad.
Your feelings are valid. Remember to remind yourself of that.
Seek Professional Help
What’s the difference between passing sadness and depression?
Most people feel sad at times. It’s a normal reaction to life’s challenges. But sometimes these feelings can stick around for a while and if left unaddressed can have severe consequences. The difference between sadness and depression is that sadness usually passes with a little time, while depression lasts much longer and can appear without any specific cause.
Symptoms of depression include:
Continuous low mood
Having no motivation
Changes in appetite and weight
Reduced interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
If you think you might be suffering from depression, you can get help Here.
Concentrating on deep breaths helps you to disengage from distracting thoughts and sensations. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. By doing so, you are sending a message to your brain to calm down and relax. Breathe your way out of a funk and try some breathing exercises today!
“To change your life, you have to change yourself. To change yourself, you have to change your mindset.”- Anonymous
Our minds are an enigma. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to learn new things, solve problems, or even feel emotions. We’d never feel happy, sad, angry, surprised, scared, or disgusted by an event that has just taken place before us.
Emotions are a powerful thing, and they influence our actions and reactions. A common response to an unexpected circumstance is to begin obsessing over it, as we might feel out of control. Different people can obsess over different things depending on the individual, such as:
Something work-related – perhaps we made an error and want to improve ourselves
Someone in our life – a friend, family member or even a celebrity
Hobbies and interests – collecting certain items, travelling, watching certain films or TV programmes
The key here is that we know we’re being obsessive, whether we know this ourselves or have been told so by someone else. An obsession can be addictive and difficult to overcome. Here are five ways for you to try and stop obsessing over things.
1) Work Out What You’re Obsessing Over
Any given obsession has a reason behind it, even an obsession as simple as something cultural like a book series. The key to figuring out why you’re obsessed in the first place is to determine the root of it and why you feel inclined to ruminate over it.
It’s likely that there’s one aspect of your obsession you’re holding onto the most. This is likely what triggered the obsession in the first place. When it comes to a series of books, a person may become obsessed with it because of certain plot threads, characters, or the overall quality of the writing. Finding the part of your obsession that holds the most interest is useful when trying to let go.
2) Write Things Down
This doesn’t just go for those who have difficulty expressing their feelings. This seemingly basic solution is more effective than you might imagine. By simply jotting down any thoughts you have relating to your obsession, it will clear your mind of them and shift your focus elsewhere.
As you begin to write down those thoughts and feelings, you’ll find that things become clearer. One thing will lead to another, culminating in an understanding of how and why you’ve developed this obsession. This can bring a sense of fulfilment and leave you with an answer!
3) Distract Yourself
As we all know, obsessions can become rather intrusive. We might find ourselves thinking about whatever it is we’re obsessing over day-in and day-out, hour-by-hour. Whether it’s something we really like or is a problem that we need to solve, we can’t help but constantly think about it. An obsession can become a distraction from important matters like our careers and family life, so the distraction needs to have a distraction for it!
There are various different ways you can distract yourself from your obsession. Physical exercise will make not just your body, but your mind to focus on something else entirely. Don’t try simple walking or running, but instead aim for things like a team sport or rock climbing. Different media forms can also serve as a distraction, so try watching films and TV programmes, listen to music, or even play video games.
4) Look For New Interests
This may sound like an obvious, clichéd solution, but the truth is it can actually work! A new interest, whether it’s a skill, a type of media you like, or even a hobby can wake up your brain. This can move your perspective away from your obsession and help you out of the doldrum you’re stuck in. A change in routine can help as well.
You might even try an activity that is the polar opposite of your obsession. This will feel like a breath of fresh air and a step in a different direction. Remember – variety is the spice of life!
5) Distance Yourself From the Obsession
Undoubtedly, it can be difficult to get over an obsession if the source of it is within arm’s reach, making it impossible to concentrate on any other topic or subject. This is why you should place a physical distance between yourself and the source, which will eventually lead to the mental distance that you’re really after.
Obviously, this will be difficult at first, but your obsession will gradually weaken and you’ll find yourself no longer interested in it anymore. If the obsession is something physical, such as a person or a book you’ve been reading, keep them out of your sight altogether.
An effective planning strategy is fundamental to good organisation and time management. You might think that planning is only useful to the uber-professional with lots of meetings and a heavy workload, but that is absolutely not the case!
Planning can be helpful to anyone and everyone because it is so adaptable. Students can utilise planning to stay on top of exams, tutorials, and essay deadlines. You can use planning in your every day to keep on track with completing small tasks and motivating yourself. You can even use planning to keep on track with recreation, such as meals, exercise and reading.
In the digital age, we are afforded many new and varied technologies for productivity and time management at our fingertips. So, we are provided with a new question. Which is better? Physical or digital planning?
Any organisational purists out there will laud the benefits of physical planning. There is a great deal of support for the benefits that come from physical writing things out. They also argue the cause of the customisability of physical planning, something that some digital planning platforms lack.
On the other hand, new age planning enthusiasts may love the accessibility digital planning affords. It gives support to the modern ‘always on’ work ethic and provides an ease and universality of use that comes with the online space.
Whether you fall into the purist or new age camp, it is undeniable that there are benefits and drawbacks to both options. This article will delineate each type of planning with their pros and cons, and let you come to your own decision. Maybe you’ll even decide you want to utilise both styles!
Why is Planning So Important Anyway?
Planning has a range of benefits one may not originally consider. Planning can help you concentrate and focus better on the task at hand. It helps you get all of your thoughts and tasks for the day down and out of your head. This means that they’re less likely to be forgotten, and you can complete the things you need to do without worry.
It also helps with targeted efficiency. If, for example, you’re someone who thrives on being organised, you can pair a timetable with a task list to keep on track. This can help you be more productive because you know exactly what you need to do at any given time.
For example, if you have anxiety, and university essays and deadlines are exacerbating that anxiety, planning may help manage it. Writing task lists can help to identify what is making you anxious, then can help you break things down into manageable chunks. When the task you’re facing doesn’t seem like one huge monolith, it can feel easier to tackle and work through. Some planners also can work like information dumps. You can use them to deposit any tasks or thoughts you may have to tackle at a later date. Depending on the person and their preference, this action can sometimes be helpful for people with ADHD. This is because it helps to get out any thoughts or tasks that may be presently distracting. You can then potentially come back to these ideas later, to give yourself a better opportunity to focus on anything that might be more time sensitive.
If you’re using planning to help manage your mental health, create achievable goals for yourself. Start with listing little things. This can be things like brushing your teeth or going on a 15-minute walk. It can be so beneficial to set yourself up for little successes. Then, even if those are the only things you manage to do all day, ticking it off still feels like an achievement.
However, it is important to be realistic with your plans. By writing tasks that you can feasibly complete, it stops you from getting overwhelmed too quickly. It also stops you from being hard on yourself if you don’t meet those tasks – you want a planner to work for you, not against you.
It is important to note that planning is not an end-all method to ‘fix’ a mental illness or improve your mental health. However, it can sometimes serve to help mitigate some issues in certain ways for people. It may also be helpful to speak with a licensed therapist, who can help identify strategies for succeeding. Planning or timetabling can be included in this discussion too to help retain a sense of structure or routine.
The Pros and Cons of Physical Planning
The act of physically planning in a journal can have many benefits. Some of them include:
Digital Separation. Physical planning can provide a level of separation between your real and online life. Our phones and devices feel like an extension of us, so it can be doubly hard to turn off if your organisation is on there too! Studies have shown that too much screen time damages the brain. By planning in a physical planner or journal, you are decreasing that screen time and giving yourself time to shut off.
This also limits your ability to become distracted by all the other applications or the internet on your phone. It’s all too easy to have the best intentions and be focused, but we all know the liability of scrolling on Instagram for two hours instead. Physical planning removes this temptation and keeps you on task.
Personalisation. A big pro of physical planning is that you can make it as customisable and personalised as you want. There are different methods to do this, but a particularly popular one is the Bullet Journal method. With this method you can customise everything from the layouts of each monthly spread to the notation systems you use to keep yourself on track.
You can best suit your own needs with a physical planner. You can customise the colour coding, fonts, highlighting, and even add fun things like pictures, stickers, and washi tape. The customisation can make it more fun to use, and therefore make it more likely for you to get into a rhythm when planning. If you like it, you’re more likely to stick to it!
Visual. A physical planner is a very visual reminder of the things you need to do. Whether you keep it on your desk or your bedside table, it is an in-your-face reminder to be organised. You can use the visual nature to the advantage of collective planning. For example, you can use methods like whiteboards in communal spaces to organise a bigger group, like families or housemates.
Physical Act of Writing. Writing things down is very good for your memory. It can also help improve the chances of you being able to call your tasks to mind easier. Writing is also a great stress reliever, as studies show writing shuts down the thoughts that cause you to be stressed. Ticking off completed tasks can also be great for boosting your mood!
There are also a few drawbacks to physical planning. These include:
Space and Accessibility. Physical planners can often be bulky and take up space. Because you have to always carry the planner with you to have access to it, it can also be an extra hassle. This can be a drawback for some, especially those on the go a lot or with limited space.
Cost. The customisation of your planner can be one of the most fun things about it! But there is a drawback. Stationary can get expensive! Stickers, markers, highlighters, and decorative tape can all add up! Not to mention the cost of ink and paper of printing any pictures you want to add, or even the cost of the planner itself! If cost is an issue, physical planning may not be for you.
The Pros and Cons of Digital Planning
While physical planning is undeniably fantastic, digital planning also has a lot of positive factors. Some of these include:
You can stay up to date at all times, and it becomes easier to rearrange and repeat tasks from anywhere. There is less bulk and headache because you don’t need to carry around a full journal – everything you need is already on a device you carry around every day!
Minimalist Planning. Some people don’t need the ‘full’ experience that physical planning provides. They might only need to remember important meetings or appointments – like a future dentist appointment or meeting. Digital planning offers you that minimalism!
If this sounds like you, an app like Google calendar would be enough of a planner. There’s no need for the minutiae of something more in depth! You get the dual benefit of receiving reminders at a set time to keep you on schedule. This ensures you won’t forget your plans no matter where you are!
Easier to Navigate. Digital planning makes it easier to retroactively find specific notes. You don’t have to worry about losing something, as most digital planners also comes with hyperlinks so you don’t have to endlessly scroll through to get to the page you need. Digital planning can be far less time consuming than its physical counterparts through little elements like this.
Collective Planning. The digital aspect of this form of planning means that not only can you access your plans from anywhere, but other people also have the potential to as well. Services such as Notion allow for team planning – anyone can add tasks and people can see what you’re working on, but there are also options to keep your plans private!
There are some cons to digital planning that may turn some people away from it. These can include:
Less Customisable. Digital planning apps or websites can be less customisable. A few apps like Notion are becoming more customisable, but this is usually more in an aesthetic way rather than a functional way. For some apps, the organisation they offer is usually set by the developer and can’t be changed.
Some apps may limit you to list planning; whereas some, like Google Calendar, are just for scheduling (quite rigid scheduling at that!). So, you may not be able to do all your planning in one place. You may need to use more than one app to meet your needs.
Cost. Some planning apps can be a paid for service. Keep this in mind before you take out an account. A good idea would be to look for apps with free trial periods. Therefore, you aren’t putting yourself out of pocket on apps that might not work for you!
The battle between physical and digital planning fundamentally comes down to a matter of personal preference. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to plan! Planning is highly personal, and it can take some trial and error to find the right method for you. You may even want to use a combination of both physical and digital planning to really maximise your productivity!
Whatever you choose, don’t hesitate to contact us here at Ceed for any help with planning your life. We have professional life coaches ready and willing to help you become your best self!
Let’s say you’re finding yourself having to do a large task; or maybe, you’ve got several large things that need to be accomplished or carried out all at once. This feels overwhelming, doesn’t it? To make things easier for yourself, you decide to just go about what you need to do without any forethought. In other words, you’re “winging it”. However, this is a big mistake.
If you don’t have a plan for what you’re doing, you’re potentially not just placing yourself in danger, but others as well. Planning ahead is absolutely vital, no matter what it is you’re planning ahead for. If anything, it’s essential and demonstrates professionalism, something you’ll need with your career no matter what field it may be. Here are five reasons why planning ahead is unquestionably important in both your professional and daily life, and how it can help relieve stress in the long-run.
1) It reduces stress
Knowing that you need to achieve multiple goals is undoubtedly stress inducing. With a distinct rise in stress and anxiety levels during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, stressful situations can quickly snowball into feelings of panic or unease. You’re most likely to be stressed over an event that is going to take place, a deadline that is drawing near, or maybe you feel as though you could do something wrong.
Planning ahead will reduce stress, as you’ll know how to approach the issues you might be facing instead of going headlong into it without knowing what to expect or how to adapt. Careful planning will allow you to analyse the situation and determine the right path for success. It does not matter whether you’re planning in advance for something days or even months away, you’ll feel satisfied knowing that everything will be under control and you won’t be worrying about that day when it comes, allowing you to live in the moment once all the planning is done.
2) It enables better risk versus reward situational analysis
As mentioned in the previous reason, planning allows us to analyse the situation so we can then decide what to do next. If we rush into the problem without any precognition, then things may go awry and escalate even further than before. The principal thing here is to take a step back and look at what is present.
Whenever we find ourselves confronted with an event that may be daunting or stressful, it can trigger a physiological response in us. This is referred to as the fight-or-flight response which, despite its name, actually has three different possible manners of reacting to an occurrence. These three reactions are fight (you’ll immediately respond to the situation without thinking of a course of action), fright (you’ll freeze up and not be able to do anything because you don’t know how to handle the situation), and flight (you avoid the situation entirely and, in some cases, get as far away from it as you can).
Such behaviour is an example of being reactive, but what you need to learn is how to be proactive. Tying in to the two previous reasons, this means you’ll carefully figure out what to do before you execute your idea. Once you learn how to do this, you’ll eventually pick it up as a habit and use it as a replacement for your old reactive one, making it second nature.
4) You’ll leave room for changes and updates
While it’s certainly good to have a meticulous and detailed plan of action, not everything can always be maintained. Nine times out of ten, you’ll be finding that your course of action is going to change, whether that’s in the leadup to the execution of the plan or as it commences. By formulating a plan during the beginning stage of a task, you can think of alternate paths to take if your primary idea has started to go askew. It doesn’t matter if these changes are only little ones; as long as you know how to bounce back, then everything will be fine. Remember – expect the unexpected!
However, you might find that you’re changing the plan even though nothing has gone wrong. This is also perfectly acceptable, especially since you know what your alternate route (or routes) will be.
5) You’ll know exactly how to reach your goals
Of course, you know what your goal is. It’s only a case of how you’re going to get to it, and this isn’t something you can easily do by rushing into things. By incorporating and understanding the previous four reasons, you’ll know precisely how to achieve what you set out to do.
Nobody should act without a proper plan. The thought of having to carry out a large task, if not several of them at once, can be a great cause of stress, which can be heavily reduced if you know exactly what you’re doing. With a plan implemented, it gives you a chance to analyse the various paths you could eventually take and consider the possibilities of where things could go wrong. Even if the likelihood is high that things do go wrong, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go ahead with what you had mapped out as things might turn out better than you expect them to.
Planning also gives the benefit of learning how to be proactive instead of reactive and running into the tasks without any forethought. You’ll additionally contemplate any possible changes or updates to what you have decided whether or not it has disrupted your original plans, allowing you to calculate how you’ll reach the goal set out for yourself.
This article covered just five reasons why planning ahead is an important practice that must be used. If you would like to know how Ceed can help you live a more proactive and productive lifestyle, contact us today!
You’ve been assigned to work on a team project. In your first meeting, you get to know your team members a bit better and establish what tasks need to get done. After the meeting, you set out to work on some of those tasks.
But before you know it, things start to fall apart. Essential tasks have not been done, leading to missed deadlines. The tasks that have been completed only make up a small fraction of the total work that needs doing. All team members are left dissatisfied as they blame each other for the project’s failure.
Findings from the KPMG Project Management Survey 2010 show that 70% of companies have experienced at least one project failure in the past 12 months, with over 50% of companies stating that they failed to consistently accomplish what they set out to achieve.
There are many benefits to collaboration in team projects, yet we don’t see these benefits as countless team projects lead to failure. So, what can be done to prevent such failures? Here are some common reasons for project failure:
In project management, scope creep is when a project’s scope changes, extending or “creeping” beyond what was originally agreed upon.
Altering what needs to be done midway through a team project only serves to complicate things, making it more difficult for the team to complete the project in time.
Scope creep can occur because parameters weren’t defined well from the outset of a project. It could also be because people both internal and external of the team add on objectives that were not part of the original project. Even vague and open-ended requirements can contribute to the scope creep of a project.
It’s easy for assumptions to be made that tasks can be done quickly, when in fact, they end up taking longer than expected. This has a knock-on effect on the other tasks that need to get completed, especially if this occurs nearer the start of a team project.
Everyone works at different paces, so it’s important to be realistic with what team members can accomplish and in what time frame. By attempting to match expectations as close to reality, you can gain a consensus with your team about the ongoing progress and expected delivery of the project.
Lack of resource planning
If your team spends too much time project planning, in terms of what needs to be done, you may forget to plan for resources.
Resource planning involves allocating tasks to team members based on their capacity and skillsets in order to maximise efficiency. This is especially important if your team is working on a budget and using valuable resources.
To make sure that all team members know exactly what they should be working on, figure out how many people are needed to complete a particular task and for how long – this ensures that one person is not left doing all the tasks while the others do nothing.
Find out what facilities are needed, such as office space and computers. Can the knowledge resources required for this project be accessed easily? Spot any other limitations so that you have a resource plan in place for your team project.
No risk management
Risk management is a process that allows risks to be understood and managed proactively. By minimising threats and maximising opportunities and outcomes, success is optimised.
Every team project carries a degree of uncertainty and therefore risk. Risk management aims to reduce uncertainty to a tolerable level by putting actions into place that help when the project does not go to plan.
To mitigate risk, employing risk management can address issues of uncertainty from the get-go, boosting a project’s likelihood of success. This can be done by creating a targeted and relevant risk log that assesses risk adequately through the entire span of a team project.
Unclear goals and objectives
According to executive leaders in the 2017 Global Project Management Survey by PMI, the primary cause of project failure was a lack of clearly defined objectives and milestones to measure progress (37%).
Your team project is more likely to fail if you begin working without any clear objectives or goals. This is because your whole team doesn’t know what’s being accomplished and whether the project is on track to succeed.
Make sure to create well-defined and reasonable goals that can be achieved by everyone on the team throughout the entire project.
Lack of project visibility
Project visibility refers to the ability to see how a project is performing, including resource allocation and potential risks.
Even with a project plan in place, the lack of visibility when it comes to project transparency of task status and document management can leave your team confused as they try to work on the project.
Project visibility is important because it allows team members to set realistic expectations on the progress of the project.
When a goal hasn’t been met, or a deadline is going to be missed, be upfront with others on your team about the situation. Visibility creates accountability, allowing your team to make decisions that drive the project forward towards success, rather than being stuck in failure.
Even though you are working as a team during this project, there will be instances where team members have to conduct research or complete a task on their own.
Clear communication is essential to relay vital information about the project to each other. Explaining what you know clearly and concisely can reduce communication gaps that may arise.
If there are moments where you have concerns about a particular decision related to the project or are struggling to complete a specific task, being honest with the team by letting them know will improve communication in the long run.
By explaining your worries, the team will be able to give some guidance that can help you out. By keeping up good communication within the team, in turn, you can help anyone else having issues concerning the project.
When it comes down to your team project, recognising these common causes and taking action against them can allow you to stay ‘on time and on budget’.
That being said, it’s inevitable that there will be some bumps along the road while working on your team project. Some reasons for failure can be out of your control, while other reasons can be fixed by addressing issues upfront with the rest of the team.
Team projects are successful by not letting controllable issues perpetuate and negatively impact the team’s performance towards the project.
As quick fixes typically prove to be ineffective and make things even worse, spend time dealing with these problems so everyone can put in their best work to get the project done on time.
At Ceed, we provide support to students and employees who are involved in team projects. Visit our website to find out more!
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