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?

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.

My March Intentions

So I dropped off the radar for a couple of months on the intentions front but you readers know me - I haven’t been lying stagnant since December. I’ve been working on plenty of things, self development wise, work wise, fitness wise and business wise.

Sounds exhausting right? Bizarrely, it hasn’t been.

I think this is due to a few people and theories popping up for me - meeting Jess Lively was amazing, plus I’ve been working on segment intending, doing thought downloads and I started Brooke Castillo’s Self Coaching Scholars in February. I am seriously obsessed with Brooke right now.

This combination has had me feeling much more relaxed about life, working full steam ahead on things yes, but just focusing on what needs going, when it needs doing.

So what’s on for March?

March Intentions

Obsess a bit more over Brooke Castillo

Self Coaching Scholars includes monthly work, based on Brooke’s Self Coaching Model. March is dedicated to new beliefs and I’m going to keep up with the homework and podcasts as best I can.

Working on emotions and thought downloads in February was so beneficial to me so I’m sure whatever’s in store for me in March will have similar positive benefits.

Prep to launch my updated website

Just a small one here! Eeeek.

So after putting it off for a while (due to an unhealthy combination of doubting my design and tech skills, and fear of launching a crappy website), I’ve been working pretty hard on getting my content ready for a new version of my website.

As you guys know, I’m offering life coaching packages now and am almost fully booked up already, bar 1 spot (Would you like it? Go here and message me to set up a complimentary consult!)

So stay tuned for a refreshed website, hopefully followed by a new design later in 2017.

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What’s on for your March? Hopefully the last month of Q1 will bring you plenty of momentum towards your goals.

How To Find Gratitude At a Job You Hate

I know I’m one of the lucky ones... I actually like my job!

But rest assured I’ve been in some less than desirable roles in the past, where I’ve been struck down by Sunday blues, slumped through the week and drowned my sorrows in a wine on a Friday night.

Although I enjoy my work now, I learned that even in the worst circumstances, you can make the most of your week.

Yes, it can be depressing to dread your tasks or feel fed up with your coworkers. Yes, it feels uninspiring at (all?!) times but no, that doesn’t have to be the absolute focus of your week.

So how can you rise above a job you hate?

Quit living outside of the moment

Jess Lively talks a lot about this one - if you wish away your work days and weeks, you are literally living outside of the present moment for 40 hours a week or more.

We don’t have infinite time ahead of us and we all know how quickly each hour, day and week passes when we look back. Wishing time away doesn’t serve you so it’s time to...

Fill your days with active choices

Now I’m not expecting you to lavish every joyous moment if you’re in a boring or uninspiring job, but please remember, you do have choices.

Even if you can’t change your day-to-day tasks, you can change the peripheral circumstances.

Beautify your desk with flowers, new stationery, photos of loved ones; plan fun lunches each week; listen to audiobooks on the way to and from work. Frame the lower moments with things you enjoy and you’ll notice...

What you focus on grows

If you focus on the mundane tasks of your job or spend your time obsessing about painful colleagues, those aspects of your life will grow and grow in your mind.

If you focus on the tasks you do enjoy or on the activities surrounding work that bring you happiness, that’s where your thoughts will start to default to each day.

And if all else fails…

Take responsibility for making change

Change can be terrifying at times, but if you’re sure you’re unhappy and find yourself wallowing each and every week, then you have to take charge of your circumstances.

I’m living proof that you don’t have to be unhappy in your job and if you keep searching and persisting, you will find a place you're happy to turn up to each day. Please believe me!

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What can you do this week to appreciate your job? What’s your number one tip for those stuck in bad career circumstances? Let me know in the comments below. 

 

How I Manage My Email Inbox

I’ve had lots of requests to write time management posts here on the blog, and one of the biggest ways I manage my time is by managing my email.

I’m not perfect.

I’ve suffered that sinking feeling when you leave a meeting, only to see you have 32 new emails that weren’t there an hour ago.

I’ve woken at 5am and thought ‘I’ll just take a quick peek at what happened overnight’ then lay awake anxious about the day ahead.

But it’s all a mind game. You are in control of your reaction to email and you are in control of how you manage it.

These tips may not be ground-breaking but they’ve served me well as I’ve navigated through what we all have to navigate - a busy work and personal life.

Compartmentalise your day

The quickest way for me to leave work without having achieved anything is to sit on my email all day. As soon as I reply to one, the next comes in and I’m jumping all over the place, all day long.

I don’t have strict rules as to when I check email but I do make sure once I’m working on a task that I don’t flick back to my email client out of habit and lose focus.

Lately I’ve been trying to work on projects in time blocks or Pomodoros (a la the Productivity Planner). I work on the tasks, but I may also review and reply to emails related to that project specifically. This saves me feeling overwhelmed by the number of emails awaiting my response.

Acknowledge receipt

I work mostly with clients but I think this tip applies to coworkers and family and friends too.

A quick email to say you’ve received their note and will get back to them soon / tomorrow / next week will:

  1. Make them feel heard and let them know you’re onto it.
  2. Make you feel better as you’re not staring at a stack of unanswered emails feeling guilty.

File file file

Get emails out of your inbox. It’s so satisfying to file emails as they are dealt with and to watch that inbox number shrink.

I used to try and keep my email inbox to around 20 emails but unfortunately these days it’s more like 50.

Either way, pick a number to work towards to avoid your inbox spiraling out of your control.

Unsubscribe

Ah, the sweet pleasure of unsubscribe.

As we all go down the rabbit hole of news sites, blogs, digital product offerings and so on, it’s easy to hand over your email address in order to receive a freebie, a newsletter or regular updates from a site.

But sure enough within a month you’re deleting those emails without reading them or wondering how the hell you’re receiving them in the first place.

I have a few that I love to receive (I'm looking at you Jess Lively, Laura Vanderkam and Paige Schmidt) but most of the others just end up annoying me or adding to the feeling of overwhelm.

For me, every time I take a holiday I go through my emails and unsubscribe from all the stuff I’m not reading. Try it now!

How do you manage email? What’s your favourite tip I’ve given?

 

Light Links: April

 
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How was your April? Mine was a great one - work has been busy but fulfilling, I've had some balanced weekends catching up with family and good friends, and life with Pickles the kitten is always sweet.

Grab a cup of your favourite coffee, tea or wine and enjoy some of my favourite links this month. And do let me know which one strikes a chord with you in the comments below.

See you in May! 

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You ladies know I'm now living the pared back life in my wardrobe (and yes, I promise there are more posts to come like that!). Here's some more realistic tips on building a minimalist wardrobe

Do you read Cupcakes and Cashmere? Her blog is massive, but she seems really down to earth. I'm always into behind the scenes posts - here's one on the tech and apps Emily uses day to day.

I could pretty much recommend every episode of the podcast The Lively Show, but this one stood out to me because of the bravery and honesty around, I'm sure, a fairly taboo topic. An interesting story about dealing with painful sex