10 Mind Tools That Can Help You Grow
Have you been falling short of completing all the items on your to-do list? Are you in a dilemma and unable to make a decision at work? Do you have a key opportunity coming up in a place where cross-cultures are confusing you? Are you wondering on improving the quality level of your product without also impacting the pace of production? Is your memory failing you at times that you need it the most?
These are just some of the areas that may be troubling you and you may be wondering where to start to improvise on these fronts. A good place to start is your ‘mind’. Surprising as it may seem, though it appears that acquiring the right techniques and skills maybe your solution, the mind is what drives you and helps you acquire the required skills. Hence these techniques are known as ‘mind tools’ and listed below are some explore some of the mind tools:
- Learning: Learning involves sourcing the information you need, understanding it and using techniques that will help you remember it whenever you need it. Part of acquiring the learning skill is identifying your own learning style; you can then create a suitable atmosphere around you to enhance your learning or even share your learning with others. Another important technique is to make note of important points as you learn a subject, repeat them over and over in your mind, use examples to learn something, and periodically review it to enable you to remember it whenever you need that information. Associated with this are the numerous memory improving techniques like link and story method, the alphabet technique, the number-rhyme mnemonic, memory games etc.
- Communication: Acquiring this skill means planning how to communicate your message, what channels to use to send the message across effectively, making use of non-verbal communication and so on. By being assertive, confident, and presentable and having clarity of thought is just some of the ways to make a good impression while speaking. Continuous improvement can come about by exchanging feedback as a listener as well as a speaker. At work, a large part of our communication involves making presentations in front of an audience, leading meetings and discussions, sending company-wide or department wide messages through emails or circulars, and so on. And since we work with other people, we may need to negotiate with vendors/suppliers or just our colleagues to get out message across and find solutions to issues at hand. With globalization, we also have to understand cross-cultures and know how to communicate and work with people across nations. The challenges are many and so are the tools to learn from.
- Time management: One of the first things you need to do is find out how you are currently using your time, keep an activity log. Secondly, prioritize your activities – the urgent/important matrix and the action priority matrix are two effective tools that help you with this. Once you know your priorities, scheduling your time accordingly is the next important step. Simple practices such as keeping important tasks of the day for the ‘morning’ time when you are fresh and your energy levels are high or reducing the time for each task as you accomplish it week by week.
- Problem solving: Since it’s not realistic to expect problem free projects or workplace, you need to be equipped with the best problem solving skills possible. Keeping one’s mind alert to think of possible solutions, checking out the pros and cons of each solution and thereby eliminating the options that may yield the minimum or least success, thinking logically and avoiding steps that may result in failure are some of the key things you need to keep in mind and work with. Some of the problem solving approaches that can be implemented are appreciative inquiry, the Deming cycle that follows plan-do-check-act process, the straw man concept etc.
- Creativity: It’s all about ideating. To bring out the best of creative solutions that your mind can think of you can involve yourself or your group in brainstorming – a technique that invites radical ideas across the board, star busting – understanding new thoughts and options by brainstorming questions, round-robin brainstorming – everyone in the room contributes their ideas and thoughts about the subject, etc Variations of some of these approaches can also help in bringing out the most creative and suitable solution for the problem or challenge you are facing.
- Stress management: Stress builds up and gets accumulated when you ignore the early symptoms making it hard for you to carry on. Stress tests reveal the level of stress you are facing and gives you an idea about the amount of rest or ‘unburning’ that is required. Stress Diaries are also helpful in understanding short term stress in your life, identifying the levels of pressure that you can operate at, and ways of managing the stress effectively. Strategies like action-based, perception-based, coping strategies etc assist you in depth about adopting strategies that enable you to relieve stress. Other factors such as eating right and on time, sleeping enough, relaxing when in crisis and so that your mind is alert to think of suitable solutions, managing your anger etc are personality development practices that help in effectively managing stress.
- Decision making: Decisions have the power to alter and influence your mind and either leads you to your successes or failures. SWOT analysis helps in identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to an event, a project, money or person. Paired comparison analysis , Conjoint analysis, Pareto analysis, Decision trees, etc are some of the decision making models that you can adopt to enhance decision making skills. In matters of finance, cost-benefit analysis, break-even analysis, cash flow forecasting are models which help cut or minimize the possibility of failures.
- Leadership: Leadership is all about leading and winning the team or company to success. Not only are natural personality traits important but they can be acquired with practice too. Other key factors that build you to be an effective leader are understanding power, understanding the different styles of leadership, understanding cross-cultures and practices, and using emotional intelligence while being a leader.
- Team management: Team management skills come after interpersonal skills. Once you have your interpersonal skills in the right place, you can practice some team management skills like developing, coaching and motivating your teams, rewarding and appreciating people, doing effective performance management, and delegating effectively.
- Career: Personal SWOT analysis is the best step to take to understand your strengths and know your opportunities. Crafting your job to fit you better, choosing alternate roles in the same organization are things you can do to address career issues. If the current job is not satisfying despite the efforts to improve it, then a change of career might be the best suitable option. Planning the area of expertise, strengthening your skills and playing it up to your advantage, adjusting well to new policies and environments or taking a break to return back with gusto are some of the common but effective ways of managing your career.