3 Ways To Balance Productivity And Ease

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I’ve been drawing on two concepts pretty heavily recently. The first is around productivity and, of course, it was sparked by my current guru, Brooke Castillo. She is all about managing the mind.

When it comes to time management she recommends scheduling the work you want to do and counting on your brain to try and talk you out of it when the time comes.

Want to clean your house on Saturday morning? You can count on your brain trying to convince you to stay in bed. Planning on a Pilates class after work? A glass at the new wine bar with coworkers sounds better. Want to write a blog post Sunday night? You deserve some ice cream and Netflix instead.

Sound familiar?

The other concept is around finding alignment, which is featuring heavily in Jess Lively’s work at the moment. When I have some free time during the day, I ask ‘what will get me into alignment?’ This pretty much equates to what feels best for me or what will bring me the most ease.

My mind used to lead me to spend that free time tidying up the house, paying bills or doing something equivalently un-fun, but now I tune in to what really sounds best, not what I ‘should’ be doing.

That currently looks like having a shower and putting a face mask on, going out for brunch or, my favourite, taking a nap. Rather than shoulding all over the place, I do what I really want to do.

So how do I marry these two seemingly different concepts up?

Honour thy calendar

Productivity is still important to me and getting things done can also put me in alignment. I just don’t want to run myself into the ground with my to do list.

So I schedule in my appointments, book time to write blog posts and block out time for exercise. When the time comes I know my brain will try and talk me out of it but I go ahead anyway, knowing that I’ve also set aside time to relax.

Set aside time for alignment

Leaving lots of space in my calendar to find alignment makes the productive times more easy to follow through on. Yes, there will always be dishes to do but when the free time comes, I don’t default to strapping on the rubber gloves.

I ask myself what feels best and go with it. And (shock) sometimes tidying the kitchen does feel like alignment - if so, I go with that too.

Regularly review your to do list

I keep a running to do list in the Notes app of my phone and I’m sure you all have different apps and planners and systems for tracking your lists.

A few times a week I look at my list and ask if the items are important to me anymore and actually need to be done.

More often than not I can cull a few items from the list - either because they’ve been there forever or because I’m mandating that I need to do them when I can actually let them go. Try it!

Does your brain try and talk you out of what you said you’d do?

And, when you have the space, do you ever ask it what feels best for you in that moment?

The Best Of The Blog, 2017 Edition

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Welcome to 2018 lovely readers!

I hope you had a great holiday season and are ready for an amazing year ahead.

If you’d like some support setting your 2018 goals (with a few weeks to recover from the excess of the holidays first, of course!), I'm running three complimentary discovery sessions in February, which you can sign up for here.

2017 was an amazing year for me and included launching my life coaching business, which I’m expanding in 2018, so stay tuned!

A huge influence on my year (and my coaching) was the amazing Brooke Castillo. I discovered her podcast in 2016, but enrolled in her more intensive Self Coaching Scholars online course during 2017. I'm so happy my post about her teachings was one of the blog's most popular last year.

There’s also a few themes coming through in what everyone is reading.

We’ve acknowledged we’ve become obsessed with being ‘busy’ and trying to maintain a tight grip of control on our routines and lives. Wanting to fill our days with more pleasure is what we're seeking.

Ease over control seems the way forward this year.

Top 5 Posts of 2017

Enjoy the top 5 posts of 2017 and here’s to more pleasure and less perfection and busy-ness in 2018.

The Birthday Post 2017: 3 Mantras To Live By

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Another year, another million lessons ... when I think back to where I was a year ago at birthday time, I haven’t fundamentally changed (remember this post?) but I have definitely learnt more and more.

Although I check in regularly on the blog, I feel like over the last 12 months I’ve been less into tracking goals and consistently reviewing where I’m at.

Circumstances at work and in my personal life have meant I haven’t had as much time for these activities, so when I came to write this post, I wasn’t sure how easily it would come.

What I did realise though was that I have continued to do a lot of reading and self coaching and from that has stemmed some mantras that I’ve been carrying with me.

I don’t use each of them every single day but they have been immeasurably helpful throughout the last year and, right now, I think they’re definitely keepers for the future too.

I’m going to summarise what each of them have meant to me and I hope you’re able to start thinking about some mantras to carry with you too.

Mantra 1: 

It’s just my brain, it doesn’t mean anything.

Holy what?! Thank you Brooke Castillo. She mentioned this one in her Self Coaching Scholars course and I have drawn on this many, many times in the last year.

If I wake up in the morning feeling unable to face the busy day ahead, if I start to worry about how a client meeting went, if I look in the mirror and am sure I’ve gained a heap of weight, if I’m sure someone is saying something behind my back… I just come back to this mantra. “It’s just my brain, it doesn’t mean anything.”

We are so often sure our thoughts are facts and that how we feel about situations is absolute reality. But really your brain can choose any which way to go.

This has taken the edge off many situations and helped me step out of my head almost immediately.

Mantra 2: 

My purpose is to appreciate being alive.

My purpose?! The meaning of life?? Heavy stuff I know, but questions we’ve all asked ourselves at one stage right?

Again I did some self coaching on this over the last year and was encouraged to come up with a one sentence statement that covered off what I thought my purpose might be and, more importantly, a purpose that felt good to me.

When I looked around at my situation - born where I was, into the family I was, with the education I was given, surrounded by the people who’ve entered my life, the angst over choosing my purpose started to drift away. I already really have everything I need and although there will be pain and hard times, it’s all part of the human experience and even the hardest emotions can be valued.

When in the midst of an existential crisis about major decisions or what the next stage is for me, I remind myself of this mantra and I’m brought back to the moment, knowing I am lucky and that I don't have to take life quite so seriously. 

Mantra 3: 

In the end, we all die. It’s over before we know it.
We will have controlled very little.
None of it will mean much.
So we might as well lay it out.

Not to end on a totally morbid note, but this one is all sorts of amazing. Again, I pulled it from my current guru Brooke Castillo.

I’ve talked about control on the blog before, and I know many of us are grappling with this day to day - controlling our routines, controlling our relationships, it’s pretty exhausting right?

The other aspect to this mantra I appreciate is the underlying reference to the fear we all feel.

We don’t want to launch our business, or post that photo on Instagram, or tell that person how we really feel, because we are afraid of being judged or feeling negatively.

Whenever I feel that fear, I refer back to this mantra and know, in the scheme of things, I’m just a speck on the historical timeline, and the least I can do is experience life fully, including fear, rejection, all of it.

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Happy birthday to me and remember to lay it all out my amazing readers!

September Recap and a break from Monthly Intentions

Welcome to October! (aka my birthday month!)

Q4 of 2017 is here and I’m ready to see the year out with a bang... despite the blog post title.

September felt a big sluggish for me - there was lots of rain around and some of those nights on the couch I wrote about last post. But thanks to Brooke Castillo’s September Self Coaching Scholars topic of ‘How to get it done’, I still managed to get a lot done!

So let’s look back at the month and talk about the plan for Q4.

September Recap

Start regular Pilates practice

This one went really well for me. The practise of paying for and booking classes ahead of time has been a big motivator for me, rather than having a gym membership where no one minds or notices if I don’t turn up.

If you’re struggling with consistent exercise, I’d recommend booking and paying for classes ahead of time to help you get there.

I’ve been going twice a week and it’s been great for my office desk body in terms of both strength and flexibility.

I’m booked in for another fortnight’s worth of classes so will see if I continue beyond that, but I think the answer will be yes.

Tackle life admin

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So much life admin for me at the moment! Sadly I forgot all about my tax return until I re-read last month’s post (oops), so will get on to that in October.

I did follow Brooke’s method of writing a big list of what needed doing and putting it in my calendar. I got around 80% done I’d say, and the rest of the time my brain talked me out of it.

I’m not feeling too bad about that though, since I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have even gotten that 80% done without this intention.

Q4 plans

I’m planning on being pretty busy with work, coaching, Self Coaching Scholars and life in general for the rest of the year so won’t be setting any specific monthly intentions here on the blog.

I am going to focus on blogging about the topics you readers like the most - time management, routine ideas, good old imposter syndrome and relaxation.

Let me know in the comments below if I’ve missed any topics you’d like to hear more about in late 2017.

Otherwise, have a fabulous October!

Stop Feeling Guilty for Relaxing

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A few years back I was working with my health coach Paige and was pretty deep in the self-development churn.

My husband was heading away on a business trip to sunnier climes so I joined him and mostly had the days to myself while he was at the office.

Paige emailed me between sessions to see how I was doing.

I had grand plans to relax on this holiday and my first day was blissful - a long walk, spa, a cold beer with lunch on the beach, reading all afternoon, but by the second day I was struggling … I told her I’d already powered through the goals we’d set at my last session and was itching for more to do.

She then asked me a question that has really stuck with me since - “Do you plan to spend a significant amount of your life resting?”

Um, yes, was my response.

Yet here I was on day two of my holiday sitting with uncomfortable feelings like boredom, guilt and restlessness.

Does this sound familiar to you? If so, here’s how to combat your phobia of relaxing:

Schedule relaxation time

A good type A personality trick right?

I found, for example, when I had ‘nothing’ to do on a weekend day, I felt quite guilty for lounging around. I think this was because none of it was very intentional and I hadn’t actually committed to my plan to do nothing - it was just happening by default.

So now, if I want to make plans, I do - brunch, walks with friends, shopping, all still fall into relaxation for me. Or, if I have a few errands and chores to do, I schedule them for the morning, then schedule in an afternoon of reading my book, watching Netflix or scrolling social media with no issues.

It feels better for me to relax after having been productive, or to relax with other people rather than alone.

Sit with the uncomfortable feelings

As I mentioned, I do struggle with the feeling of boredom or, more specifically, not being sure what I feel like doing.

We run around so much in our lives - working hard, running to appointments, keeping our houses in order - and when we do feel any boredom a device is there to distract us immediately.

Sitting with hard feelings is something Brooke Castillo taught me and it’s really about realising there’s nothing to fear in any emotion.

Boredom to me might feel a bit icky and might make me a bit restless but I can handle that.

Given everything else I have going on, the feeling of boredom is a good thing to come up for me once in a while and after I’ve accepted that I can move on to the things I think I never have time for.

We’re not living life on a points system

I absolutely love this concept (thanks Amy Young).

I’ve talked about it here on the blog before, but if we’re lucky enough, we’re always going to have a to do list, a bucket list and a bunch of cupboards that never stay cleaner longer than a week.

So when I have nothing to do, I can easily create something to do - but who is watching and who is going to pat me on the back for ticking these things off?

Life is much more interesting when lived with pleasure and enjoyment and compassion for ourselves, not when we’re churning through a to do list or adding to that list for the very sake of it.

I do plan to spend much of my life relaxing, and I’m ok with that. How about you?

August Recap and September Intentions

I don’t like to wish time away but I have to say I’m pretty happy that winter has flown by this year - September sees more sunshine during the day, evenings staying lighter and just a general feeling that a fog has lifted.

Looking back over my August calendar, I had some fun nights out with friends, but also had a pretty low-key month day to day… which actually suited me fine.

Between my full-time job, coaching, and keeping up with my intentions, I was happy for the downtime.

Good news though - I now have two free coaching spots in September so if you’re interested in three months of focused work towards your goals, jump over here and set up a complimentary 30 minute call with me. I can’t wait to chat with you!

So how did I go with my intentions?

August Recap

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Stay healthy at work

I think I have found a gap in the app market - I could not find one app that fulfilled my needs for August!

As I mentioned last month, I wanted some pretty simple reminders around focusing on my health at work - standing up more, drinking water, not getting distracted by my chat tools… kinda basic stuff that we could all use yes?

In my search, I found apps that suggested embarrassing exercises to do at my desk, apps with annoying buzzers as reminders, and nothing that had all the basic office hygiene stuff I wanted.

I settled on Momentum, a habit tracker that worked ok … but I ended up ditching it about a week in.

In general, I definitely stood up more during office hours and even broached one of the standing desks at my work. But maybe it’s time for me to take care of the office health app market…

Would that be something you readers would use?

Complete an early spring clean

I did pretty well on this one - decluttering a scary wardrobe of my house, and even attacking the area under my bed that had been gathering random magazines, online shopping packaging and cat toys for the last three years.

It’s all about mindset when we go into these less than fun tasks.

I can’t stress enough how much easier it is if you’re in alignment - rather than trudging in disgruntled, I would plug a podcast in, get in some comfy clothes, set up a system for keeping/donating/throwing away and work methodically through everything.

I hope this approach helps if you’re planning a spring clean soon too.

September Intentions

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Start regular Pilates practice

I’m pretty consistent with my exercise and have been for many years, but lately the gym has not been doing it for me - I’ve been doing some of the same routines for a while and feel like I’m ready for a change.

After dabbling in Pilates over the last few months and feeling both strong and stretched out after each class, I’m ready to be more consistent here.

I’ve bought a monthly pass to a studio and can book classes ahead of time (good for accountability!), so I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to keep up with this one in September.

Tackle life admin

Even writing that intention, my mind makes an enormous ‘blergghhhhhhhhh’ sound.

I have my tax return and some fun government applications to do in September and yeah, you can understand why that sound comes to mind.

Luckily I have Brooke Castillo and the Self Coaching Scholars course I’m doing to help me get over the protests from my brain.

Brooke suggests writing a list of what needs doing, allocating time against each one, then getting them into your calendar.

Here’s the clincher… you should also expect your brain to try and talk you out of the task when the appointment rolls around in your calendar.

I’m going to lock the time in, get in alignment before I start, and just get these things off my to do list and out of my brain.

Happy September readers! A reminder that I have two coaching spots available if you want to get in touch and find out if coaching is right for you.

Why Your Future Plans Won't Make You Happy

Obviously I’m all for setting intentions (not goals!) for myself around here but I’ve come to some realisations over the years, and I’m sure some of you have been through scenarios like this too.

Have you saved up for a new car (or any new possession), dreaming what it will be like to finally have it, then a week or maybe a month after getting it (and trying to keep it sparkling clean!) it becomes no big deal?

Did you plan your milestone birthday / wedding / other occasion, working on every detail and planning the perfect outfit, only to come crashing down to earth the day or days after when the anti climax of the event being over kicked in?

It’s all a little depressing yes, but all comes back to the false theory of “I’ll be happy when…” I hate to break it to you readers but this is all an illusion.

If it wasn’t, wouldn’t you be happy now, since I’m sure you’ve had those thoughts before, reached your goals, and thought I’ll be happy when I’m done with ‘X’?

So what can you do to be happy right now?

Practice gratitude

An obvious one, but a goodie. One of my guided meditations from Stop, Breathe & Think is all about gratitude and I love choosing this one in the morning.

It asks you to think about all the people who have supported you in your life, all the people you don’t see who make the world tick as it does for you (think roads, food in your grocery store, etc) and to think about the freedoms you have in your life that so many others don’t.

I love thinking like this and not taking seemingly obvious things for granted. Look around readers, there’s a lot to be grateful for right now.

Go after feelings, not just goals

I’m sure many of you have heard of Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map. I haven’t done it fully myself but do support the idea of picking core desired feelings and aiming for those instead of focusing solely on goals.

Not to the level of Danielle’s work, but I have picked my top three desired feelings for each day in the past and came up with ‘excited’, ‘energised’ and ‘satisfied’.

If I keep that in mind when deciding what to do each day (or even approaching things I don’t get to decide on with those feelings), I notice a huge difference. You can try Brooke Castillo’s worksheet on this here.

Realise this is all there is

A little morbid but I guess we all know we’re not necessarily promised any future other than today. That’s a struggle to comprehend but is incredibly grounding too.

One of the exercises I did in Self Coaching Scholars was to write out my ideal day.

What really surprised me was that, despite often trying to improve, I’m really not that far from the days I want to have.

Although it can sometimes seem boring or repetitive, on my ideal day, I would still do yoga, meditate, write to you guys, do some coaching and exercise.

I could pass them off as ‘have to’ tasks in my life, but after completing the exercise I realised I really want to do all of them.

How can you find happiness now, instead of waiting for it in the future?

 

April Recap and May Intentions

Ah April, such a nice month for me. In Australia we have a number of public holidays in April, which meant two four-day weekends and plenty of down time, as intended!

For those of you new to the blog - welcome!

Each month I set intentions (not goals - thanks for the word, Jess Lively!) and then recap how I went.

It keeps me accountable (thanks readers!) and upholds the goal of this blog - that perfection isn’t possible, but little improvements are.

To take a trip down memory lane, head here to read previous months’ recaps and intentions.

Now let’s review April and see what’s ahead for May.

April Recap

Smash time management

As I mentioned, time management was the topic for Brooke Castillo’s Self Coaching Scholars in April and the theme of her podcast too, if you’d like to get some of her amazing content at no cost.

I did pretty well with this goal in April - I made sure I prioritised the day to day things that make me happy (exercise, meditation, spending time with family and friends) but also made time for my big goal - relaunching my website today!

I wrote out all the tasks I needed to get the website completed, estimated how long each would take, calendarised them and it worked!

If you’ve got something huge on your to do list or something you’ve been putting it off - try the same method and let me know how you go.

Embrace down time after a busy 6 months

Long weekends = mission accomplished.

Easter saw me indulging in a rare weekend of lazy brunches and lots of Netflix, while the following long weekend saw me go off the grid to the country with (gasp) no internet or phone reception. So good!

I of course realised how much I depend on my phone (and found myself searching for it out of habit a number of times on the trip, even though there was nothing I could do with it once I found it).

I also discovered that there wasn’t that much waiting for me when I got back to civilisation and my phone - no urgent messages, no hugely important social media updates that I’d missed ... which leads me to my May intentions.

May Intentions

Have tech free time on the weekends

After my long weekend offline, I’m keen to try this every weekend… but not all weekend of course - that’s way too scary!

I’m going to experiment with taking either a day, or two mornings or afternoons off my phone each weekend.

Recognising the insidious addiction many of us have to our phones doesn’t particularly stress me out, but I think it’s good to be aware and, in particular, try living in my life, rather than in my phone or the lives of others.

Which leads me to thinking about what I’m going to do with that time…

Start weekend hikes

Those who know me well know that I love to walk as much as possible. It clears my head, allows for great, relaxed conversation when I have company and is obviously pretty good for me too.

I’ve always walked the trail behind my house but have also many times over the years bookmarked links to great walks or hikes around Melbourne.

Each weekend, when time allows, I want to spend at least half a day doing a walk in a new area - and if I’m alone, I’m allowing myself to listen to podcasts on my phone, but no scrolling through social media!

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What’s your plan for May? Do you have success with tech free time? Let me know below!

 

March Recap and April Intentions

Bye bye Q1, hello cooler weather!

Welcome to April readers - how have the first few months of your year been? Mine feel like they’ve gone quickly, but I feel like I’ve done a lot in that time too.

My life coaching spots are now all booked out, which is fantastic - but click here if you want to jump on the waiting list for when my next coaching series spot is available.

For now let’s look back at March and ahead to April.

March Recap

Obsess a bit more over Brooke Castillo

It’s hard to express the full extent of my love for Brooke Castillo - she is truly my guru at the moment. Self Coaching Scholars is amazing and I love doing the thought work she recommends doing.

Sure it’s hard going but so, so worth it. I’m learning stacks about myself and my brain and I can’t recommend this course enough.

Prep to launch my new website

You heard it here first - I am launching my updated website on Monday, 1 May.

I have not done as much prep as I’d have liked to in March but have a weekend set aside in April to work on this with my masterminding buddy.

Wish me luck and I hope you like the updated site!

April Intentions

Smash time management

Ha, my intentions are clearly aligning with the work in Self Coaching Scholars.

This month is all about time management in the course, and who isn’t looking for better strategies here?

Between work, health and fitness, my social life and my life coaching business, I am a busy bee, so I’m excited to find out more about Brooke’s recommendations.

If you’re interested in time management, start with her podcast here.

My number one takeaway? Stop using the word busy (oops, I already have in this post). A tough one right?

Embrace down time after a full on 6 months

Work has been crrrraaazzzy (I didn’t say busy!) for me since last October, and it’s finally returning to a manageable level.

Although I love working hard and being busy, I’m enjoying this time to clean up all the work I’ve neglected over the last 6 months and spend more time with my coworkers and clients building relationships.

April is full of public holidays here in Australia so it’s nice timing that work isn’t too over the top.

Plus I can start to implement all those time management strategies I’m going to learn right?

What’s in store for you in April? I hope you have a fabulous month!

 

5 Ways I Sabotage My Days

Between thought downloads, segment intending and working on sleepless nights, you can imagine I’ve got a lot of stuff rolling around in my head day to day.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a few readers contact me and tell me how wise I seem in these types of blog posts. I truly appreciate that feedback and obviously do work hard on myself and try and bring newly discovered concepts to you readers.

But the true and original purpose of this blog was to show that I am not perfect and that these are just concepts to help you feel a little better, not to live an impossibly perfect life.

So here’s a peek behind the (sometimes dusty, sometimes ripped) curtain of my life and 5 ways I sabotage my own day.

I check my phone during sleepless nights (and first thing in the morning)

Despite my wise mother and her tips, if I wake at 3am and can’t get back to sleep, instead of working on getting rid of my worries, I usually find myself scrolling through social media - not the best way to lull myself back to sleep.

Oh and despite having better habits in the past, I also start reading my phone as soon as I wake up in the morning...

I drink too much coffee

I have always prided myself on being a 'one coffee a day kinda gal' - sure, I definitely need that one coffee, but it’s manageable.

I work in a great area full of amazing cafes, but instead of buying one coffee on the way to work, I usually try and save money by making one at work. But then, by mid-morning, I fancy a break so go and buy one and then… usually after lunch I’m ready for another.

I know three coffees is not crazy but it’s triple where I used to be.

Maybe if I stop checking my phone at 3am I won’t be so tempted by the three coffees?!

I get distracted all day by email and chat

Sound familiar?

Some days are managed better than others but, in all honesty, whenever I start a task, I’m suddenly preoccupied by chats from coworkers or random emails from clients.

To state the obvious, this leads to barely focusing on a task longer than 10 minutes and then ending the day wondering what I’ve achieved.

Yes, communication is huge in a workplace but so is actually getting some work done.

Now that I’ve confessed this, I’m really going to work on it again.

I rarely stretch after exercise

My amazing trainer has always tried to instil stretching into my routine - and, although I want to be flexible, spending time stretching somewhat goes against what I think is important health and fitness wise.

He tells me that the most important thing in your regime is stretching, then what you eat, then working out.

He encourages me to stretch for at least 15-30 minutes a day (oh and lie on a foam roller 15 minutes a day too...) but, despite my best intentions, I usually pick a gym workout over stretching, promising myself I’ll do a big stretch at the end.

Instead I stretch for about 5 minutes and am out the door…

I know it’s going to help with my crunched-up office worker body and be particularly beneficial long term but I just do not prioritise it.

Any tips on how to prioritise stretching readers?

I eat when I’m not hungry

As I mentioned in this post, I have come a long way with intuitive eating and avoiding the lure of diets.

Most of the time I listen to my body, but for some reason after dinner, while doing some work or watching some TV, I’m still in the habit of looking for a snack.

I know my body doesn’t feel its best when I eat just before bed but I still find myself heading for the pantry for something to do.

My new strategy is to grab a tea, which usually helps, but heading for food is definitely a default mode for me.

What do you think of my sabotaging ways? How do you sabotage yourself day to day?