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Financial Stress: 6 Simple Management Strategies.

Monopoly financial stress

The Pressure of Financial Stress.

Pressure and stress can be factors that motivate us to work hard. But, if they’re not properly managed, they can hinder our ability to perform at a high level. Not only can this make it more difficult to appropriately manage our finances, but it can also be the cause of many stress-related health issues. There are a few simple ways that we can better manage financial stress, starting by simply taking a seat, and pulling out a pad and pen… Budgeting is the most obvious strategy, and we’ll discuss that in more depth later. However, one strategy that is often over looked by many people who suffer from financial stress and pressure, is the insatiable desire to compete with their neighbour. That’s why we’ve included this strategy at the top of our list:

6 Simple Management Strategies for Financial Stress

1. Ignore the Competition

Monopoly. Dubbed ‘The Game of Life’. Sadly, it’s a truth that is all too real. Many of us lose track of why we set out to earn in the first place, and tend to measure our financial achievements against those of our friends and family. Do you live to work, or work to live? What are your priorities? Before you start looking at how you will spend your money, or how you can save more money, you need to consider the why. You may not need all of the lovely expensive things that your wealthy friends have. Don’t put yourself under severe financial stress, and over-extend so that you can achieve somebody else’s financial goals. So, before engaging the following 5 strategies, put the competition aside, and focus on what suits your lifestyle. 

2. Set Financial Goals

Goals provide us with the direction and motivation needed to succeed. Of course, it does take a little more than simply setting goals in order to succeed (mental toughness for one). But it certainly is a great place to start. Set a long-term goal, and then a series of short-term goals that will act as ‘stepping stones’ towards achieving that long-term goal. To break it down further, you can brainstorm some daily, and weekly activities that will help you in reaching each goal you set. For example, if your long-term financial goal is to purchase your first home in 2 years, a short-term goal might be to save $10,000 in six months. Your daily/weekly activities might be cooking everyday, instead of eating out, or counting and reviewing your expenditure every week. 

3. Create a Budget

The absolute staple of every financial planning/management article you’ll ever read. Budgeting is important, as it helps you to set realistic financial goals. It’s also a great way to consider how your finances can best serve your lifestyle/priorities. Using the example above, perhaps purchasing a home in 2 years is a goal for you, although you are unwilling to sacrifice regular brunch dates. Thats fine, if thats what fulfils you, although you may need to reconsider the time frame you’ve set to purchase your first home. Depending on your circumstances, you might like to use a budgeting template, or just create a very simple one yourself. Make sure you track your in-goings and outgoings, and ensure that you have a realistic savings goal so that you always put money aside. 

4. Enjoy Without Spending

The advertising industry has you convinced that you can’t have fun without spending money. It’s a lie, but for some reason, we all believe it. Usually, the lies we believe are the ones that are convenient for us to believe… But this lie is extremely inconvenient! So, instead of subscribing to this common misconception, find something fulfilling that you can without spending money. Can you converse with your friend whilst walking in the park and eating a banana, instead of sitting in at a cafe and eating poached eggs with avocado? Probably. We won’t ramble on any longer about all of the great things you can do for free, but to immediately relieve some of that financial stress, go and find something!

5. Live Within Your Means

Living to excess in any facet of life can be dangerous, and a major contributing factor to financial stress is excessive spending. Credit card debt, personal loans, and crippling mortgages won’t make life any easier. Each of these examples of over-spending are usually quite avoidable, simply by exercising some restraint. Once you’ve sat down and budgeted, you’ll have a better idea of what you can and can’t do financially. Your goal will one day be to make a significant outlay in order to satisfy a ‘want’, and that’s fine. But excessive spending in the mean time will not help you to get there any faster. So, be smart, and be disciplined. It will pay off. 

6. Consider New Opportunities

This is a step that might not suit everyone, but it can’t hurt to add it in. Opportunities for new revenue streams are a click away these days… I mean hey, you could start a blog! If it’s something you are passionate about, it might also double as your new ‘free’ hobby. You could be creating a new opportunity to earn, and saving yourself money at the same time. Of course, there are a multitude of opportunities out there for those who are actively seeking them. If supplementing your income is something you’ve always been interested in, why not do a bit of research? But don’t wait until tomorrow, it may never come… 

Final note…

Financial stress is bound to strike at some stage, so be proactive in your approach to stress management. Check out our previous article about managing stress, and get across ‘The Stress-Less Game Plan’. As always, thanks for reading, and we’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below.

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Conflict Resolution: The 5 Essential Skills

The Short Advice Conflict Resolution

Conflict management is an extremely important consideration for the well-rounded individual.

Simply avoiding conflict is not a viable solution in many circumstances, and certainly not one that is recommended. The longer we let our problems stew, the less likely we are to manage them in a rational, and solution-focused manner. And that brings us to our first essential conflict resolution skill:

1. Address the issue early.

Nobody is perfect. People will make mistakes and they will inevitably upset you. But communicating your feelings earlier, rather than later, can save you (and others involved) much heartache. A dangerous assumption that people often make is that their feelings are known, without them ever having communicated those feelings. “She knows what she’s doing, and she knows its upsetting me.” Hmmm, this may be so, but then again, it is equally as likely that the person is unaware of the stress they are causing. Or maybe there is an underlying issue contributing to their behaviour that you are unaware of. Either way, if you raise the issue early you allow the chance for everyone to better understand the full scale of the situation, and people’s emotions towards it.

2. Stick to the point.

Perhaps someone that you are not particularly fond of is doing something that you are also not stoked about. Always remember that the issue is with what the individual is doing, not who they are. It’s still okay not to like someone. There are a lot of people in this world, and we can’t be expected to get along swimmingly with everybody. But, we do owe all of these people a certain degree of respect, that is ultimately theirs to lose. So, set the example and treat the person with dignity as you address the actions that you have taken exception to. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be stern, or direct. Each situation will have to be judged on its merits of course, but you should always be mindful of presenting a factual, and less-subjective argument where possible.

3. Mind your delivery.

To ‘stick to the point’, is to focus on the actions and facts, not the individual’s personality with whom your qualm is with. To ‘mind your delivery’ is to be conscious of the way in which you communicate this message. Now, there are a thousand ways to deliver the same message, but only a few ways to deliver it well. Even the right message can be counter-productive if not delivered tactfully, so always bear this in mind when making your point. Whilst sarcasm can be heaps of fun, it’s generally not a good way to let someone know that they are in the wrong. Nor is yelling and berating. Rather, you should aim to take an informative, and educational tone (without being condescending). You are not assuming knowledge, but rather, informing them of the situation as you see it, and your emotions towards said situation. This is information that would be reasonable to assume this person does not know. Your calm and informative tone will hopefully encourage them to respond in a similar manner. We do all of this with the aim of creating a constructive conversation, rather than an emotion-fuelled argument.

4. Stay rational under emotional duress.

When we are trying to manage situations of conflict, we must also manage our emotions at the same time. It can be difficult to think clearly and make rational decisions when we are under such pressure, and so it is important to recognise that there is a tendency for people to become irrational during times of conflict. Unless you are made of stone, you have experienced this phenomenon before. You’ve said things you wished you hadn’t. You’ve done things you wished you hadn’t. So, as stated in a previous post about sustainable change, learn from your mistakes. Take a breath, and refer back to skills one, two and three. It’s okay to slow down and take your time. You don’t need to rush to a solution, because it may not be the right one. Next time you feel yourself becoming a bit agitated, change your tact, and remind yourself to be solution-focused.

5. Know when to walk away.

You can’t win them all. Well, it’s really not about winning or losing, is it? The right outcome for a situation of conflict might see you having to take responsibility for some wrong-doing. That is perfectly reasonable. But every now and then, we may find ourselves butting heads with an individual who is not as well-versed in conflict resolution as ourselves. Some people may simply be unwilling to allow you the chance to address your issue properly. Or maybe you are unable to appropriately manage your emotions in order to remain rational. Whatever the case, it is important to recognise when you are figuratively ‘banging your head against a brick wall’. In other words, you need to recognise when an argument is no longer constructive. Walking away might mean suggesting that the conversation be continued another time, after both parties have had a chance to consider the situation. This all depends on your relationship with the person in question, and the weight of the issue. If it is someone close, and likely to bother you in the future, it needs to be revisited. Don’t leave the matter unresolved.

Final note…

We hope you enjoyed reading about our 5 Essential Conflict Resolution Skills. If you have a specific matter of conflict you’d like some help with, head over to the homepage and give us the short story, and we’ll reply within 24 hours with the short advice. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

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Top 10 Time Management Tips

Time Management The Short Advice

Time Management Tips

In the spirit of effective time management, we’ve created a top ten list to save you time researching. So, if there had to be an eleventh tip it would probably be ‘Make The Short Advice Your Homepage’… Time management goes hand in hand with productivity and efficiency, and in our article on SMART goals, we stress the importance of being time-based. So if your goals are to be completed within a particular time frame, then you’ll need to be able to manage your time effectively. Give these ten tips a try and find out what works for you!

1. Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

The overwhelming pressure of a fast-approaching deadline can kill productivity. But, the less time you spend worrying about all of the things you’ll never get done, the more time you leave yourself to get those things done. Time management 101. Of course, it’s not always as simple as it sounds – some tasks are harder than others. But the big message here, is to utilise the time that you do have. Even if it seems impossible, negativity won’t get the job done.

2. Set Goals

Goal-setting is an important consideration on the ‘Road to Success‘. It allows you to create pathways towards achieving your desired outcome, and prompts you to develop systems in which to get there. Goals also help to motivate you. And, when it comes to time management, motivation can be the difference between productivity and procrastination. So, ask yourself the questions – “Why am I doing all of this? Where do I want it to lead?”

3. Plan

For each goal you set, there will be a series of actions that you must take in order to achieve that goal. Consider each of these actions/tasks, and schedule them into your calendar. You don’t need to be too regimented, unless you’re in a highly regimented role. For each task that you identify, consider whether they could be broken down further. In doing this, you’ll be able to create smaller, more achievable tasks. All of a sudden, your goals will become less daunting.

4. Prioritise

Not all tasks are created equal… Identify the most important tasks at the beginning of each week/day. In doing this, you will allow yourself some extra time just incase you need to bump some of the ‘less-important’ tasks. You might even consider using a ‘traffic lights’ rating system when you are creating your schedule. Your ‘red’ high-priority tasks should be scheduled for completion first, and your ‘green’ low-priority tasks can be completed towards the end of the day/week. Managing for the best outcome, with the time you have been allocated = good time management.

5. Be Realistic

Planning is important. But an unrealistic plan is useless. Well, not completely… It would provide the basis for a few hard lessons, thats for sure. When you’re setting goals, you need to consider whether your goals are achievable. Now, anything is possible of course. But difficulty, time-allowance, discipline, motivation… These things are all variable factors that must be considered. So, what is it that you want? What do you need to do to get there? What are you willing to do to get there? When do you expect to get there? These are just a few important questions to ponder before settling on a plan.

6. Focus on the Present

Similar to the first point, this tip simply means to operate in the ‘now’. You are no good to anybody when you’re stressing about the future. Instead, focus on creating the future that you want to live in. Time management is all about being where you are, and utilising whatever time you do have. So, be grateful that you do have the power to impact your future, and put your skills to work now. This will ensure that you’ve given yourself the best chance at achieving your outcomes in the time-frame allowed.

7. Set Timings

For each task that you undertake, give yourself a time-frame in which to complete it. It doesn’t have to be a strict deadline a such, but it’s a great way to manage your expectations. You’ll start to learn more about the duration of particular tasks, and your set-times will become more realistic and achievable. It can also help to improve your efficiency. If a task that you expect to have completed has not been completed in the time you’ve set, re-think and refine your process.

8. Don’t Procrastinate

Procrastination is the enemy of productivity and good time management. It’s super fun though! Who doesn’t want to practice their signature on the back of a scrap piece of paper for hours, or scan instagram until their eyeballs turn red!? On that note, turn off your social media notifications right now. Or at least when you’re working. For more strategies to avoid procrastination, checkout our article ‘Procrastination vs Productivity‘.

9. Eliminate Distractions

It’s easy to become distracted. Thats why you need to remove yourself from distraction as best you can. Firstly, consider the location of your work space. Is it a place that is conducive to hard work and productivity? If you’re trying to get work done in your bed, and you keep falling asleep… well, need we say anymore? Secondly, consider your work space itself. Clean and minimal is generally a good strategy, free from anti-time management gadgets and gizmos. Of course, everyone is different, so find what works best for you.

10. Re-Focus

Perhaps you’ve tried all of our tips to stay on task, and have still found yourself distracted and wasting time. Well… go away. That’s right! Give yourself a 5 minute break to do something that energises you, and helps you to regain your focus. Maybe reading, maybe crosswords, maybe a quick bit of exercise. Whatever it is, go and do it for a short, timed period. Hopefully, you’ll return to work task-focused and motivated to achieve success.

Final Note

Everyone is different, and there is no one solution to help you become an efficient time manager. In fact, there isn’t ten solutions! The only way these tips will be effective is if you have the discipline and desire to improve… As always, thanks for reading and we’d love to hear what you’ve got to add in the comments section below.