Monthly Archives: September 2021

How to Learn and Master Any Skill (part 1)

Is lack of skill holding you back from getting a desired result?

Do you believe your abilities are fixed or predetermined? 

Are you making the same mistakes over and over? 

When you’re learning and developing any skill, it’s better to have a growth mindset, than a fixed mindset. Talent and natural ability do matter. But your attitude towards failure and setbacks are more critical. 

There are two modes of learning theories: entity versus incremental theories of intelligence.  

Entity theorists think, “I am smart at this.” Success or failure is based on an ingrained ability. Intelligence or skill is a fixed entity.  Incremental theorists think, “I got it because I worked hard.” Success or failure depends on effort. Intelligence or skill can be developed.

In episode 36 of The Incrementalist, you will learn: 

1) The two modes of learning theories

  • Entity theorists have a fixed mindset
  • Incremental theorists have a growth mindset

2) 4 key takeaways to learn and master any skill

  • Decide whether you want to be decent, good, great or among the best – it’s okay to aim for decent, but if you want to be among the best, the stakes and standards will be higher. 
  • Stay true to yourself and to your style – in the pursuit of high performance, you keep in tune with your unique disposition. 
  • Maintain soft zones to increase concentration and overcome distraction – be at peace with an imperfect environment, and use it to your advantage.
  • Avoid the downward spiral – don’t repeat the same mistakes, whether technical or psychological. 

Resources cited:

Music by:

Dyan Williams

To listen to episode 36, How to Learn and Master Any Skill, click here. If you prefer to read the transcript, go here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

# # #

Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.

SUBSCRIBE           CONTACT

Create Space to Think (part 2)

Making space between activities can be done solo, without allies. But industry norms and workplace culture might pull you back into chronic busyness.

Norms are standards or principles of action that apply to a group. A culture is made up of norms. Effective leadership from the top reduces the burden on individuals who seek to have more margin in their day.

In episode 35 of The Incrementalist, you will learn:

1) Creating space solo, without allies, is doable. But it’s easier to sustain when you have support. Interactions with others and not just your own actions lead to positive change. 

2) To shift mindset, you start with yourself. Cut down on unnecessary meetings, stop interrupting others, and keep your emails clear and brief. Avoid being redundant without being harsh and cold. 

3) How to check and process emails

a) Four points to consider when it comes to emails:

  • Is it mandatory or optional?
  • Could you reduce the time spent on this message? 
  • Could you opt out or leave others out of the thread?
  • Is it better to stay out of the email inbox and focus on the real task?

b) Why you need to watch out for the email shadow (the dark cloud of distraction that takes you out of the present moment) 

c) When you may declare email bankruptcy (hit delete and start from a clean slate)

d) The yellow list allows you to capture ideas and information for another person and reduces interruptions brought by sporadic messages

4) How to avoid overuse of digital devices, which lead to absent presence

  • Delete the apps from your phone
  • Reduce the just checks
  • Do phone narration to let the other person know what you’re doing when you pick up your digital device

5) The skill of saying no by sandwiching it between two yeses or using the hourglass method

6) When assigning tasks or delegating projects, spotlight what’s most important. (The to-do list can be confusing and overwhelming.) 

7) The 50/50 Rule: “Anything that bothers you at work is 50% your responsibility until you’ve asked for what you want.” 

8) A four-step approach to express your truth with less stress: vent, empathize, prepare, share

9) The importance of selecting the right medium for the message you want to share

a) The two types of communication

  • 2D communication involves simple issues, yes/no answers. 
  • 3D communication is more nuanced and complex. They benefit from verbal cues, tone of voice and eye contact. 

b) The two types of mediums

  • A 2D medium is static, like email, Slack, and instant messages.
  • A 3D medium is live, like telephone, video and face to face meetings.

c)  A 2D message is efficient in a 2D medium and wastes time in a 3D medium. A 3D message is effective in a 3D medium, and compromises richness in a 2D medium. 

10)  In meetings, the three key questions to ask yourself before you say something are: Is it kind? Is it honest? Is it necessary? 

  • Just because something is kind and honest doesn’t mean it needs to be said.
  • Just because something needs to be said doesn’t mean it needs to be said by you.
  • Just because something needs to be said by you doesn’t mean it needs to be said now. 

11) How to find out if you’re in an SBH (Shouldn’t Be Here) situation and negotiate your way out of it

12) Fix the road, not the car. Isolated Interventions are quick, short-sighted fixes to complicated issues. 

13) As a change catalyst and leader, you speak the language of the person you seek to engage. 

  • Making judgments and using force and commands don’t sit well and is bound to spark underground sabotage and outright resistance.
  • Knowing how to talk with Finance Folks, People People, and Idea Lovers is key

14) Making space is not just for the workplace, but also sparks high joy and deep joy at home. 

  • High joy is an experience that makes you gasp; it comes from surprise, risk and exertion. 
  • Deep joy is an experience that reaches down into your body and warms you; it comes from friendship, gratitude, giving, and peace.

Resources cited:

Music by:

To listen to episode 35,  Create Space to Think (part 2), click here. If you prefer to read the transcript, go here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

# # #

Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.

SUBSCRIBE           CONTACT

Create Space to Think (part 1)

To do creative, high-leverage work, you need to step back and look at the big picture. But when there are fires to put out, demands to meet, and crises to solve, it’s hard to stop and think about what’s really important. 

When we zoom out though, we find that urgency doesn’t equal a true emergency.  Many of the things we did should have waited until another day, or maybe another week. Some required more thought before action. And maybe the problem would have resolved itself. 

We often confuse active busyness with true productivity, and favor the number of tasks over the value of tasks completed.

Take strategic pauses to avoid burning yourself out. A pause doesn’t have to be that long. 

In episode 34 of The Incrementalist, you will learn: 

1) There are four types of pauses

  • Recuperative
  • Reflective 
  • Constructive 
  • Reductive

2) White space is time without an assignment. It’s the free and open time on your calendar. Although it’s negative space, it still has a purpose and holds value. 

3) A wedge is bits of time between activities: between one meeting and the next, a request and a response, feedback and reply, an impulse and action, an idea and a plan, work and life, and want and get. With a wedge in the middle, you’re not jumping immediately from one thing to the next. 

4) Ten seconds is more than enough for a strategic pause

5) White space or a strategic pause is not the same as meditation, mind wandering or mindfulness

  • Meditation is like keeping your dog on the leash, and when it tries to pull away, you gently say, heal. 
  • Mind wandering is like your dog slipping out of the leash when you’re distracted. By the time you look up, your dog has run all the way across the other side of the park. 
  • Mindfulness is like your dog feeling the grass under his feet, listening to the birds chirping, and smelling the hot pretzel cart. It’s the closest to white space, but’s it’s different. 

6) Thieves of Time are overgrown assets that become risks

  • Drive becomes overdrive
  • Excellence becomes perfectionism
  • Informed becomes information overload
  • Activity becomes frenzy

7) Simplification questions to ask to disarm the thief

  • Overdrive: is there anything I can let go of?
  • Perfectionism: where is “good enough,” good enough?
  • Information overload: what do I truly need to know? 
  • Frenzy: What deserves my attention?

8) A task can be one of the following three: 

  • Not time sensitive – doesn’t deserve attention now
  • Tactically and strategically time sensitive – speedy or immediate action is important for good results
  • Emotionally time sensitive – desire or fear drives you do something or want to have something done even though there is no real urgency

9) Hallucinated Urgency is the Pavlovian pull to meet the expectation now. This builds the tendency to interrupt others to get our burning needs met while stealing time away from them. What goes around comes around. You get information overload and more interruptions when these become the norm.

10) How a strategic pause helps you to make a decision on what to do next

Resources cited:

Music by:

To listen to episode 34,  Create Space to Think, click here. If you prefer to read the transcript, go here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

# # #

Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.

SUBSCRIBE           CONTACT

COVID-19 Vaccination Required for Green Card Applicants, Starting October 1st

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a new requirement that will affect all green card applicants. Starting October 1, 2021, intended immigrants must receive full doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to immigrate to the U.S. This new requirement affects eligibility for permanent residence on health-related grounds.

COVID-19 has been added as a Class A medical condition that bars a person from the United States.  Class A inadmissibility includes a communicable disease of public health significance per regulations under the Department of Health and Human Services; and a failure to present documentation of having received vaccinations against vaccine-preventable diseases. 

As of October 1st, the COVID-19 vaccine will be among the vaccines required for applicants to obtain lawful permanent residence, either through the I-485 green card application with USCIS or through an Immigrant Visa application at the U.S. Embassy.

Section 212(a)(1)(A)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act states applicants for permanent residence must present proof that they are vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases, which include mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus and influenza type B and hepatitis B, and receive any other vaccinations against vaccine-preventable diseases recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices.

In episode 12 of The Legal Immigrant, you will learn:

1) The ACIP has now recommended COVID-19 vaccination for the age-appropriate, general U.S. population. The CDC says this means the COVID-19 vaccination is now required to immigrate to the U.S.

2) The CDC does not recognize natural immunity. Its instructions state, “Laboratory tests for COVID-19 immunity must not be used for the civil surgeon exam. The applicant is required to receive the vaccine series regardless of evidence of immunity or prior COVID-19 infection.” The CDC asserts, “The duration of immunity due to natural infection is still being investigated and might not protect the applicant throughout the immigration process.” 

3) What is an acceptable COVID-19 vaccination and proof of vaccination

  • Approved COVID-19 vaccines are those authorized for use in the United States or those listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization. 
  • Personal attestation that you have been vaccinated is not enough. 
  • Showing immunity or recovery from a prior COVID-19 infection is not a permissible basis for a vaccination waiver. 

Acceptable evidence of vaccination includes – 

  • An official vaccination record;
  • A medical chart with physician entries pertaining to the vaccination, including dates you received the vaccine, name or manufacturer and lot number; or,
  • Appropriate medical personnel attestation.

4) What is the COVID-19 vaccination requirement

The designated civil surgeon who performs the medical examination and completes the Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, must confirm the applicant received all doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The I-693 is part of the green card application within the United States.  A similar medical exam process is performed by a panel physician and required for Immigrant Visa applicants abroad. 

5) What are the exemptions to the vaccination requirement

Blanket waiver – 

  • Applicant is not age appropriate, i.e. too young to receive the vaccine
  • Applicant has medical contraindication to the vaccine
  • Applicant does not have access to an approved COVID-19 vaccine, i.e. no COVID-19 vaccine is routinely available in the state where the civil surgeon practices

Individual waiver – 

  • Applicant refuses to take the vaccine on religious or moral conviction grounds
  • USCIS – not the civil surgeon or CDC – decides whether to grant the individual waiver on religious or moral conviction grounds

6) If an applicant refuses one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine series and is not eligible for a waiver of this requirement, the civil surgeon will document the vaccine requirements as incomplete.  On health-related grounds, the applicant will be deemed inadmissible for a Class A condition and will be found ineligible for permanent residence. 

7) As of August 12, 2021, USCIS temporarily extended the validity period for Form I-693 from two years to now four years. For decisions on Form I-485 green card applications issued on or before September 30, 2021, USCIS may accept an otherwise valid Form I-693 if:

  • The civil surgeon’s signature is dated no more than 60 days before the applicant filed the I-485; and
  • No more than four years have passed since the date of the civil surgeon’s signature

8) If you have weighed the risks and benefits, and do not want to take the COVID-19 vaccine for U.S. immigration purposes, you will have to get a completed medical exam report before October 1st. Then you must file your I-485 application within 60 days. 

9) Starting October 1, all green card applicants will have to take the vaccine unless they qualify for a waiver or exemption.

This is general information only and is not legal advice. To request a consultation, you may submit an email to info@dyanwilliamslaw.com or online message through our website’s contact form.

Subscribe to The Legal Immigrant podcast at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

To listen, click HERE for Episode 12 on The Legal Immigrant podcast or find it on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

If you prefer to read, click HERE for transcript of episode 12.

Resources cited:

# # #

The Legal Immigrant podcast and this article provide general information only. It is based on law, regulations and policy that are subject to change. Do not consider it as legal advice for your situation. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.

SUBSCRIBE           CONTACT