Five Skills to Refine

I’m the type of person who believes that no matter what I do, I could do better. Despite that mindset, I found this exercise getting more difficult as I brainstormed. There are some things that are blatant. Soft skills that affect my day to day life, but there are also things that I need to improve on that I don’t think about all the time. Here are the top five skills that I could use some work on:

Time Management

I have a ton of very specific pitfalls with time management.

  1. It takes me a lot longer to actually wake up and be able to function than I care to admit. When I first switched from working nights to working early in the morning (we’re talking about having to wake up at 3:30, 4:00 in the morning), I’d give myself half an hour to get ready for work. Twenty to actually get ready, ten to get there. I was late for almost a whole week because it also apparently takes me half an hour to even become conscious enough to think straight.
    Unfortunately, I still struggle with this because I keep convincing myself that “I’ll actually get up this time”. This causes me to be late to things that are scheduled for any earlier than 11:00 am.
  2. I’m a master procrastinator. In high school, I used to brag about how much time I could waste before an assignment was due. Now, I’m much busier, and I can’t afford to waste that time anymore, but I still do.
    Because I like to waste time, I also like to tell myself that something will take me less time than it actually will. I convince myself that an hour-long assignment will only take me 30 minutes so that I can goof off for another half hour.
    I’m only now realizing that I do this.
  3. When someone emails me, I will usually read it on my phone while I’m at work, tell myself “I’m busy right now, I’ll get back to this” and then forget about it. By the time I remember, I’m at work again, or it’s been a solid week. I do this with text messages, voicemails, and emails. It makes it very hard for people to communicate with me like that.

My current relationship (a boyfriend who hates it when I’m late), and the program that I’m doing instead of college are really pushing me to change my ways. I’m using the expectations set by these two aspects of my life to start a habit that will benefit me for the rest of my life: Expect whatever it is that I’m doing to take me longer to do than I think it will. I’ve begun to immediately set reminders in my phone reminding me to reply to any emails, voicemails, or texts. So far, it’s working pretty well.

Being Present

When I was younger, people used to describe me as a daydreamer. My head was always somewhere else, lost in whatever fantasy or story that was developing in my brain. As I grew up, so did those stories. Often times the stories developed into anxieties. When they did, I would get lost in a rabbit hole of anxiety induced self-consciousness.

This is often why I will forget what I’m doing while I’m doing it, or why someone can say something to me, and I will immediately forget what they told me. Often times, I’ll be working on an assignment that will remind me of something I’m worried about, and I’ll spend more time thinking about the thing that’s stressing me out than I’ll spend working on the assignment.
This is why I often turn things in late.

To fix this, I’m currently trying to write out all of my worries before I sit down to work, that way they’re on paper and out of my brain. If it works with to-do lists, why wouldn’t it work for this?

I also need to be present in my conversations. Eye-contact is difficult for me because I’m so painfully aware of it. I try to look somewhere else when it feels appropriate, but nothing feels appropriate, so I like to have conversations while I’m doing something like driving or dishes.
Unfortunately, this has a tendency to make people feel like I’m not listening or taking them seriously, which is an issue.

It’s hard for me to come up with a way to fix this issue, and the only thing I can think of is to ask my close friends and family if they feel like I make enough or too much eye contact (kind of an odd question, but I have a supportive circle) after we’ve had a conversation.

Decisiveness

I don’t know where I want to go, what I want to eat or the clothes I want to wear. Ever. This is often because I get caught up in the ‘what ifs’ of a situation. What if I order this and it’s gross? What if wear this long-sleeved shirt to work and end up having to do dishes? What if we go to this outdoor place and it starts raining?

In bigger decisions, I see the pros and cons of every side, so it can be hard for me to choose things like what kind of car I want, where I want to live, or where I want to go for my next vacation.

After I make the decision, I have a hard time justifying it. Recently, I bought a new car because my old one had some transmission issues that I didn’t want to deal with. After I had made the down payment, traded in my old car, and obtained a nice $240 car payment every month, I immediately began wondering if I had made the wrong decision. I kept going back and forth between the pros and cons of my new vehicle.

Not only does this add several levels of unnecessary anxiety to my life, but it also makes people around me doubt my choices, or not take them as seriously as they would a person’s who was confident in their decisions.

I’m actively trying to fix this by writing out more pros and cons lists, then making a decision based on whether or not the pros outweigh the cons. This will help me be sure that I am making the right choice, and then accepting my choice after I’ve made it will hopefully come easier.

Relationship Building

I’ve had and managed severe social anxiety for most of my life. Unfortunately, I usually handle it by completely avoiding the situations that make me anxious altogether.

In the past year, I’ve made great improvements in how I handle certain scenarios and how I perceive myself, but starting and maintaining relationships is something that I still struggle with (mostly because I’ve avoided it for so long).

I don’t understand how people can just ‘become friends’. The progression of a stranger to an acquaintance to a friend is strange and unknown to me. I don’t know how to initiate friendly small talk. The friends I do have are my friends because they started the relationship (don’t get me wrong, I love my friends, but they wouldn’t be my friends if they hadn’t started it).

For one, this is very bad for any type of networking. For two, it makes me feel very alone and affects my self-confidence.

Luckily, my current job pushes all of its employees to make those meaningful connections, which means I’ve been able to talk to my manager and create a PDP (partner development plan) on how to improve my ability to start conversations and establish connections.

Self Confidence

Not being able to start relationships makes me feel like there has to be something wrong with me, and that mindset combined with my anxiety is a recipe for a downward spiral of self-destructive thoughts. When I panic about this, I almost always convince myself that the people around me hate me, even though I know that’s not the reality.

Past that, I have no confidence in the things I write. I spend too much time comparing my writing to other’s that I paralyze myself into not writing altogether. I freak out at the thought of other people reading my work.

This is very destructive. I can’t get better without feedback, but I can’t get feedback if I keep all my work to myself. Right now, both my boyfriend and best friend are helping me work through this fear by proof reading my work (when they’re able to) and giving me feedback. I’m very grateful for them.