Do you prioritise tasks over people?

My blog discussion came about as I remembered a few years ago, I arrived home from work tired. My daughter was trying to grab my attention and I was on a mission to prepare for the next day. I am one of those women who do as much as possible the night before; clothes hung out, toiletries in bathroom, shoes and coats by the door, lunch packed and in fridge. As I was saying, I could hear my daughter in the background and I tried to engage with her whilst buzzing about the house. Later that day my husband and I were talking and he said;
“It seems that getting work done is more important to you than people”

I replied with a defensive tone;
“No, that is not true”

I reflected on this for a few days and had to accept that it was indeed true. I have a long commute (four hours per day) and on arriving home, I touch base with my children, ensure they are fed and bathed then I focus on preparing for the following day. I have little time in which to get things done so just keep on going.

I am extremely task orientated – unsure where this derived from as my mother, though house proud knows when to give herself a break. Part of this definitely comes from my need to prove myself through the tasks and projects I take on. Clearly an insecurity which I need to deal with.

When one is task driven, they can miss people along the way. They can forget to; connect with others, to stop and smell the roses on a summers day, to enjoy the here and now rather than focussing on what comes next. Behind every project and task lies people with feelings, fears, insecurities, hope and aspirations. Regardless of how busy our day is, we must not lose the essence of connecting with others – stopping what we are doing to give them our full attention.

I now make a conscious effort to engage and it is an effort for me as I am an introvert, happy to be left to get on with my projects in peace. I often step out of my comfort zone by going a little further than I feel to. I am learning to deal with being interrupted at home and in my place of work, to become less irritated when someone “stops my flow” so to speak. Having children has certainly had an influence over my flexibility and adaptability. It is rather difficult (nigh impossible) for parents not to allow an element of flexibility in their lives.

Are you more task focused or people focused?
How do you maintain a balance?

How often do you delegate?

Delegating in my book is handing a task over to someone in order to free up your time to concentrate on other tasks. On some occasions the person may be better equipped than you and less so on others.

Richard Branson quoted;
“From a young age I learned to focus on the things I was good at and delegate to others what I was not good at. That is how Virgin is run. Fantastic people throughout the Virgin Group run our businesses, allowing me to think creatively and strategically.”

We delegate at home and in our working environment. The problem is it does not come as easy for everyone for at least one of the following reasons;

1. The need for one to keep control of the task/project by choosing not to involve others.
2. Fear of being told “no”
3. Not wanting to burden or overload another person with what we feel we should own.
4. Not wanting to feel out of the loop

In order to delegate, one must be confident to ask another believing he or she can deliver. If there are any reservations, you can work closely with this person until they are ready to run with the project alone.

We all started from somewhere and made mistakes along the way – well I certainly did! We must give others the opportunity to prove themselves and gain exposure which will push them forward in their careers.

Even in my home, I delegate small tasks to my children in order to build their confidence and equip them for teen hood and adulthood where they will be expected to have key skills and rightly so. Whether it be packing away clothes, hoovering or simply tidying up. Of course it would be easier for me to do the tasks – I would complete them in half the time but in the long run, I will not be helping my children.

Delegating does not have to mean giving up complete ownership of a project – no, you are simply bringing others in on it. The saying “two heads are better than one” is absolutely true. If someone can assist you along the way, why not let them? You too will be called upon to help others with your skills and expertise. You should have the same enthusiasm for assisting others as you do with others assisting you – it is a two way street.

Are you a delegator?
Do you struggle to let go?
What have you found to be the upside and downside of delegating?

Do you need to develop your listening skills?

I realised some years ago that when others spoke I itched to jump in with my response. I grew increasingly excited about a discussion and even more so with what I could add to it. Being an introvert, a lot of my thoughts stay as my thoughts but when in a comfortable environment and a topic of interest is discussed, I get very much involved and become animated – hands everywhere!

Listening is giving someone your time at that moment, whether it be a friend, family member, colleague, mentee. It is focussing on that person without feeling the need to jump in with a solution or a question. Sometimes people just want to be listened to, to feel they matter, that their thoughts and feelings are of some relevance in this fast paced world. Often the question “How are you?” is asked expecting a standard “I am fine” response. Not everyone has the willingness or care to uncover how the person really is – they are happy to accept the standard answer and go back to whatever they were doing. I want to be the person who stops what they are doing to listen and am developing this skill.

It may be that you cannot offer a solution as the problem is not a practical one. Being a practical person I tend to want to help to solve the problems of others and feel slightly frustrated and redundant when I cannot. I am learning to reign in my impulse to do this as it causes a block to me giving them my full attention.

I am becoming more self aware of my body language and how I come across to others when listening to them. I physically assess myself and hold back from speaking if I feel there is a need. I give eye contact but am careful not to stare. I avoid looking at my phone or checking any other device unless I have clearly stated I am expecting an important text/call.

When I completed my counselling diploma over ten years ago, I learned key principles with regards to listening and being present with the person in the room. Those principles have stayed with me ever since. It is amazing that whilst studying with the intention of improving your skills to work with others that you learn much about yourself. Life is a journey of discovery and I am happy to be on board!

Do you find you speak far more than you listen or perhaps vice versa? How does this affect the way in which you communicate with others? Do you have any tips for effective listening?

No limits!

As a teen I recall having specific shoes and coats for school and for the weekend. I never mixed them up – ever. I also remember feeling anxious whenever I had my hair restyled- I literally could not look at anyone for the first day back at school. I had a tendency to be rather rigid with routine and I had a thing about order so my “stiff” ways appeared to work for me.

Would it really have mattered if I wore my weekend shoes to school? Was anyone that bothered about my new hairstyles – did they even notice? I doubt it! Being an out and out geek, I was extremely fearful of attempting to look any different to what was expected of me. I was petrified at being laughed at for daring to make the effort. As strange as it may seem, I felt I needed permission to “better” myself.

Fast forward to my twenties and I began to switch things up a bit. I worked full-time after graduating so had more disposable income to express myself via my appearance. I recall approaching a sales assistant at the MAC make up counter for advise on make up for my wedding day. She recommended red lipstick and I was reluctant – I had never used bright coloured lipstick as I avoided anything which drew attention to myself. I played it safe with mauves and browns which looked nice but did nothing to enhance my beauty. You had better believe I regularly wear red lipstick now!

In my thirties, I grew more confident to try new clothes and hair styles – admittedly not everything worked but if you do not try you will never know.

Even as adults, we limit ourselves in many number of ways for fear of what others may say or think, lack of confidence to be who you really are, choosing to stay inside the box you have created as it is safer there. It is so easy to allow our wrong thinking to influence the way in which we live our daily lives.

A self conscious person believes whatever they do, say or wear is being scrutinised by the masses. The truth is people are generally more concerned with themselves and what is going on in their own lives. At the very worst, if someone is scrutinising you, you should not shy away from being who you want to be.

I find the quote below puts things into perspective;

“Other people’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.” Les Brown

Looking back on your life, can you spot occasions when you limited yourself through fear?

How did you change your mindset?

The downfalls of being a perfectionist


Edwin Bliss quoted:

“The pursuit of excellence is gratifying, the pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic and a terrible waste of time”.

Not one of us on this earth is and can ever be perfect but this does not stop one from trying. It is a “lose lose” situation – one tries to do everything right and inevitably a mistake is made, a task is overlooked. One is then critical of themselves and proceeds to seek perfection in the next task they take on or in their day-to-day life.

Last week I wrote on acceptance which heavily relates to perfectionism. Perfectionism is a quest to be everything to everyone, to excel in all you do, to be correct all of the time. It is not possible and definitely not sustainable. It is exhausting attempting to live a life of perfection as one is constantly frustrated with themselves for perhaps saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing.

Perfectionism also links to the need for control. Ensuring life is as you want it because there were periods in which you had very little control. As I write this I can recall many times in my life when I strived for perfectionism due to my insecurities and a need to “own” something. As a child and teenager I often felt vulnerable and paralysed by what others did or said to me. Perfectionism was my method of convincing myself that I could excel and at last gave me a concrete reason to value myself. The valuing of self did not last of course, as when I made an error I slipped back into “oh woe is me” syndrome.

It is unhealthy to set unrealistic standards for our lives as we will forever be missing the mark and move into a period of self-doubt, confusion and more often than not depression.

Striving to develop ourselves is not wrong in itself but placing unnecessary pressure on ourselves is detrimental to our well-being and peace of mind. We have got to be at one with ourselves, recognising our strengths and weaknesses and being at ease with this.

A few tips to minimise your need to be a perfectionist;

1.Improve your self-esteem – one seeks perfection for validation. Learn to accept yourself, flaws and all. Learn to laugh at yourself. It worked wonders for me!

2.Aim to set realistic expectations for yourself. Perfectionists struggle when they do not hit the mark.

3.Focus on the bigger picture and delegate wherever possible. Spending too much time on one task can bring tunnel vision.

Are you a perfectionist – can you link this back to a specific period or event in your life?

What advice would you give to a perfectionist?

Are you willing to stand alone?


Malcolm X quoted:

“A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”

Often in life we will find ourselves standing alone and perhaps somewhat segregated from others. As individuals we have differing views and opinions which derive from our upbringing, experiences, morals and values.
Some are vastly more passionate than others and will try in whichever way to influence another person’s thinking. Whilst others know their mind, their reasons and are happy to accept not everyone will feel the same way.

Throughout life our beliefs and reasoning are constantly put to the test by family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, though not always consciously done. People are able to form an idea about us by identifying our way of thinking and our understanding. It is very much a part of us – rarely can one hide this. Perhaps one can take on a fake identity for a while but the real you will pour out sooner or later.

People tend to gravitate to those who have similar beliefs and pull back when they do not share the same belief as others, especially if it is offensive in some way.

We should know our own minds and be willing to follow through when we believe strongly about an issue. We should be stable as individuals, mature enough to handle and accept others may not share our viewpoints. We should not live to manipulate others into seeing life in the way we do.

I will be the first to admit, it is refreshing when another person is just as passionate about you on an issue as you can banter, debate and bounce ideas off of each other. However, my standing remains the same whether 80 people support me or just the one person. This is where the “why” comes into play. One must know why they have this belief and passion. It must come from deep within and not simply be the viewpoint which you have adopted from someone close to you. I do not live to persuade others to adopt my way of thinking but I will make my standing known whether they will agree with me or not.

Do you stand firm in what you believe even when no-one will stand with you?
Is your need to be accepted greater than having integrity and standing for what is right?

Are you confident?


Peter T Mcyintre quoted:
“If you really put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.”

You must value and accept yourself before others will. More often than not, people will treat you how you allow them to. Some if that way inclined will test the waters identifying just how far they can push you. Your confidence or lack of it in some cases will show no matter how you attempt to hide it.

Whilst I am no child psychologist, I truly believe all children have an element of confidence, some presenting as more shy than others. When the child comes up against any threat, fear or intimidation, their confidence is rattled and begins to disappear. I can guarantee that any adult with an insecurity can recall circumstances in which their beauty, skills, expertise or other was questioned by another.

Can one develop their confidence over time?
If one does not have confidence in their ability to carry out a task using unfamiliar technology, it is their responsibility to request appropriate training and practice in their spare time. There is no reason why this skill cannot be developed.

On a more personal level, if one is not confident in their appearance or personality can they work towards liking themselves?
We can endeavour to change our way of thinking, our dress size, our attitude but besides all of this, we need to love ourselves as we are right now. We need to tell ourselves “I am enough.”

For years I believed I was not enough no matter what I achieved. I set high standards and was critical when I did not hit them. I lived a life of proving myself to myself which is strange when written in black and white. I did not like me at all – I pretended to of course – I was probably convincing too.

I am glad I am no longer in that place. I still have my moments (ask my husband) but am far more grounded in who I am and what I stand for. I can stand alone if this is required of me.

How confident are you?
Has this increased/decreased over the years.
Do you link who you are to what you do?

Light hearted tips and advice from an organised lady!

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