Smoke Signals

Today I made popcorn with my little girl.

It’s not the microwave kind. I’m akin to the homemade popcorn makers because it’s fun to watch and I like the taste and texture better (more roast-y, less microwave-y).

We’ve made popcorn before, no big. But I couldn’t find the measuring scoop this time. So we guessed.

But we guessed wrong.

About 30 seconds in, the popcorn maker started smoking and I smelled burning.

Part of me wanted to just let it go, and hoped that the popcorn would pop eventually. But the other part of me was screaming, “Turn it off! Turn it off!”

So what did I do? I turned it off.

And luckily I did. I cut off the power and realized we had put too much popcorn. The bottom kernels were burning and the top kernels weren’t getting any heat. So I scooped out about half the kernels, and voila, perfect popcorn.

In life, you have the choice to be lazy, coast by, but never get what you really want. Or you could wake up, examine what’s happening, and make changes to live the life you truly want.

So what smoke signal is life sending you?

What’s burning? What is so uncomfortable that it’s better to make the change than to stay where you are now?

Make a commitment today to snap out of it, make a change, so that you can start living the life you desire.

March 18, 2017 4:32 pm Published by


 


Be True, Brand You

This site is getting a bit of a makeover, as well as my business.

I’ve made several changes to my programs over the years, but it wasn’t until Be True, Brand You that I’ve gotten the clarity I needed to know which direction to go.

So I’m making changes, yet again. But it’s how business is. Evolve and adapt.

To all of you who have stuck around change after change, I appreciate you!

I’m creating a stellar branding program for you. Brand and Blossom is now a branding and DIY graphic design program that I will be launching this spring.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook for updates.

And once again, thank you for your patience as I continue to make changes – for the better :)

January 31, 2017 7:51 am Published by


 


 


How to Get Stuff Done When You’re CONSTANTLY Distracted

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Over the weekend, I joined a program called Sold Out Launch and this thing is a BEAST. It has a ton of (really great and valuable) questions and exercises. But because I’m trying to put together my program during the week, I only had the weekend to work on the program.

And boy was I DISTRACTED CONSTANTLY.

I always tell people to work when there’s little or no distractions, but what happens when you don’t have a choice?

How do you get work done when you can’t avoid distractions?

Assess the Situation

First, I assessed which times of day had the *fewest* (or least likely to have) distractions. With my daughter, that’s usually in the morning.

Anticipate Problems and Distractions

Second, I anticipated distractions. I know what my daughter always asks for in the morning. She wants juice, a snack, her blanket, her potty seat on the toilet seat, etc. I also set up activities such as markers and paper. So I took a minute to set ALL of this up for her.

It of course didn’t stop her from bugging me every few minutes, but it certainly curbed a LOT of it.

Do the Most Important Things First

The first 5-10 minutes are crucial to establishing a work flow.

First determine the 1-2 things you MUST get out of this activity. These are your “A” priorities. Then list your “B” priorities, then “C” priorities (ref. ABCDE method – Brian Tracy; D is for delegate, and E is for e).

Typically, the activity that has the most pressing due date is the one that should be completed first.

OR

Activities with sequential order, the first in the sequence should typically be done first.

So let’s say that your project is to create an online course and for “today” you want to complete one lesson. Some activities would include:

– draft lesson outline
– create slides
– create worksheet
– record video

Note: if you work like me, I prefer to batch projects like this:
– create ALL lesson outlines
– create ALL slides
– create ALL worksheets
– record ALL videos

I realize some people think differently, so it’s up to you how you want to set it up. But don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it ;)

But let’s go back to our original example.
– draft outline
– create slides
– create worksheet
– record video

Before you can do slides or the worksheet, you need to do the outline.
– So your A priority is your outline.
– Slides and worksheets are B priorities.
– Consider video a C priority; set up a separate day to batch record all videos.

Set Up Stopping Points

When writing an outline, determine that completing a bullet point is a decent stopping point. Ideally you’d want to complete a section, but if you have a screaming toddler, the last bullet point will let you know where you last left off.

If you’re writing a book, finish up the sentence. If you have a little more time, finish up the last paragraph.

Avoid any tasks without good stopping points.
Videos don’t have great stopping points. Anything that requires recording should generally be recorded in it’s entirety (with bloopers cut out of course).

Dealing with Interruptions

Interruptions are a PAIN, plain and simple. But knowing your stopping points will lesson the frustration.

The hard part of interruptions is getting back “in the zone”.
When you have young children, you never know when the next interruption is going to be. We almost anticipate that we’re going to be interrupted again so we’re almost afraid to get back to work.

So, before you start, just take a breath and collect your thoughts. Let any feelings of frustration and anxiety ride through you, and when you feel better (or not as bad), return to your work.

Welcome the Interruptions

The more we resist interruptions, the more they seem to come. (“What you resists, persists.” – Carl Jung)

It could be that you’ve been working too long anyway.

OR if you’ve only been at it for 1-2 minutes and you get distracted, just consider it a mini break. After attending to an interruption, I take in some fresh air, stretch a little bit. After a string of about 3-4 frequent interruptions, I do something nice for myself – make a cup of tea, grab a cookie (as a treat only; never in a state of anxiety)

So whenever my daughter needs more juice, needs help on the potty, wants another snack, I look at it as an opportunity to show her some love.

If your child is *constantly* interrupting, perhaps they’re feeling lonely or left out. It might be good to just take a break, 5-10 minutes or longer, to spend quality time with them.

It is what it is

Nothing worth having ever came easy. If you really want a successful business, make your business a priority. Work/life balance isn’t easy. I don’t remember who said it, but the goal is not balance, but integration – finding a way to create a symbiotic relationship between work and life.

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July 12, 2016 8:18 am Published by

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How to Work When You Don’t Feel Like It

(a.k.a. the source of procrastination)

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One of the reasons we procrastinate and *don’t* get stuff done is because we don’t feel like it.

You can be a time-blocking ninja, but if you don’t *do* the things you’ve scheduled, you’re not going to get anything done.

So how do you motivate yourself to get it done?

First things first, figure out why…

Are you feeling tired? Are you feeling lazy? Are you sick? Would you rather be doing something else?

Knowing your objection to completing a task will help you overcome it. If you try to “plow through* your work without acknowledging your reason for procrastination, you’re likely to give up sooner.

Feeling tired?
If you’re tired, you may be working outside of your “flow”. It’s hard to work when you’re fatigued and you have “brain fog”.

Avoid scheduling things at times when you’re the most tired; instead schedule things at times when you generally have the most energy.

But since you’ve time blocked a task for a particular time, best thing to do is to just get started on it, and avoid scheduling during your “tired times” in the future.

Too many distractions
If it something like kids or neighbors being loud, yeah, you’re not going to produce quality work.

BUT that’s not a reason to *not* do something. Try to get the ball rolling for at least 30 minutes, and if it’s not happening, reschedule the task for a time when there are fewer distractions. Personally, I *love* working early mornings because it has the absolute least chance of distraction.

Feeling sick?
Are you *really* feeling sick or are you making excuses? If you’re making excuses, you probably have a different reason, so take a minute to figure that out.

If you’re truly feeling sick, how sick are you? Can you work for at least 30 minutes? If so, work on a task or project for at least 30 minutes to get the ball rolling. If you’re well enough, keep going. I wrote a post about how to work when you’re feeling sick. Inc.com also has some pointers.

If you’re feeling really bad, take care of yourself if you feel truly sick. Take a minute to reschedule what needs to get done (that way you don’t put it off again), then go take the rest of the day to recover.

Rather be doing something else?
What is that thing you would rather be doing? This is actually one of my favorite reasons for procrastinating and one of my favorite challenges to overcome.

If I’d rather be shopping/Netflix binging/going to the beach, I use that as *motivation* to complete the task at hand. As soon as I complete the task, my reward is to do the thing I want to do.

Just don’t want to…
If it’s something like “get on the phone with the insurance company”, I feel you. There’s no real incentive to want to do something that’s going to irritate you. Best way to combat this is to incentivize it by rewarding yourself after completing the task. (see above, “Rather be doing something else?”)

If it’s part of your business and something you do regularly, perhaps you need to really assess whether or not you should still be in your business. Your business should light you up and fill you with joy. Whether it’s a client call or working on your sales page, knowing the end game of what you’re trying to accomplish should motivate you to get work done.

However if it’s a constant problem, I suggest taking a step back and reevaluating whether or not the business model you have now is something you really want.

Set a “Prize” for Completion

I mentioned this earlier, but if you’re an article skimmer, I’ll repeat it here.

Give yourself a prize – whether it’s an hour of Netflix, a trip to the mall, a manicure, or even a nap – and reward yourself when you’ve completed the task. This will motivate you to work *faster* so that the sooner you accomplish a task, the sooner you can enjoy your “prize”.

Set a Timer, Get the Ball Rolling

One of the best ways to overcome procrastination is to get the ball rolling, simply by getting started. I use a productivity app called Forest, but you can use a regular timer on your phone. Set a time for at *least* 30 minutes. (If you’re in a really bad state, set it for 15 minutes.)

During that time, get as much as you can done in those 30 minutes – even if it’s subpar work. The idea is that you’ve *started* on the project. Generally that momentum creates more momentum, and you’ll be more motivated to finish the task – rather than leave after you’ve accomplished so much already.

Remember Your “Why”

Most business tasks lead up to something bigger. Is your “why” time freedom, more time with family, financial freedom? Take a moment to remember why you do what it is you do – and remember that everything you do today takes you one step closer.

June 25, 2016 5:11 am Published by

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The #1 Technique to Getting Stuff Done

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Time blocking is literally blocking out time to accomplish a task. Master this, you’ll master time management.

So instead of a to-do list, you have a schedule.
– Billionaire CEO’s do this.
– Successful entrepreneurs do this.
– So maybe you should to.

How Time Blocking Works

Use a daily planner with hourly time blocks to write out tasks that you intend to accomplish during that time block. (If you don’t have one, take your pick from Google.)

You can also use a digital planner or calendar like Google Calendar. Whichever floats your boat.

Staring at a blank calendar can be a little daunting, so try this:
– Do a “brain dump”.
– Spend some quality time on this to make sure you get *everything* out.
– Write down all the tasks and appointments that come up in your head. That includes *both* business and personal.

Go back to your daily/hourly calendar and write in the exact time you plan on accomplishing those tasks on your to-do list.

It’s also good to schedule recurring things like picking up and dropping off kids. That way you know that time is *only* for that.

Also schedule in any “me time” and time with family and friends.
This is *huge*. If you ultimately want to live a life of freedom, you need to learn to make room for the things you find important.

Common Time Blocking Mistakes

Creating generic tasks
Tasks should be very specific.

Generic tasks are:
– working on website
– get new followers
– clean the house

Specific tasks are:
– create copy for the about page for website
– engage in social media groups and comment on at least 10 posts
– clean the living room (pick up clutter, vacuum)

The more specific the task, the more likely you are going to complete it.

Not giving yourself enough time
Give yourself plenty of time to accomplish a task.

Let’s say you want to “create copy for the about page” and you give yourself 30 minutes. That may be enough time to write the copy, but not enough time to edit.

If in doubt, double the amount of time you give yourself.

If you have time left over, then you can complete whatever else you have on your to-do list, and the sooner you’ll be “free”.

Filling up the day
Just because you’ve time blocked doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to accomplish everything. That also doesn’t mean filling up your day with busy work.

Give yourself plenty of breaks and plenty of time.

Excessive Context Switching
Context switching is when you move from different types or categories of tasks. For example, working on your website, and then working on your online course, then working on your podcast.

Instead of working a little bit at a time on each of these things, FOCUS on working on one category of business per day.

So for example, on Monday, you work on the copy for your website. On Tuesday, you work on the content for your online course. Wednesday, you podcast. Etc.

One Final Tip

Create one major focus for the day
As stated previously, avoid context switching. The reason being is when we’re focused on one type of task, we create momentum. And that momentum allows us to get *more* done. As opposed to starting a project, stopping, and starting on a new one.

Time blocking does take practice, but once you master it, you’ll find yourself accomplishing more than you ever have.

June 21, 2016 5:37 am Published by

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Miracle Mornings

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I discovered Miracle Mornings during an interview with Hal Elrod on Entrepreneur on Fire.

Hal has an interesting story. I encourage you to check out both podcasts here:
http://www.eofire.com/podcast/hal-elrod/
http://www.eofire.com/podcast/halelrodfreedom/

In a nutshell, Hal developed a morning routine after finding himself in massive debt and no perceivable way out. A friend encouraged him to take upon self-care through exercise. Hal built upon that and created a routine that is now dubbed The Miracle Morning. He was finally able to get out of debt, and rise above the spiraling depression that was plaguing his life. Hal is now a successful author and speaker inspiring people around the world to live better lives through The Miracle Morning.

Why It Works

I was skeptical at first. What does waking up early and exercise have to do with getting out of debt?
On the surface, nothing.

But thinking bigger picture, when you’re taking care of yourself, your mind opens yourself up to possibilities. You gain clarity, and with clarity, wisdom.

The morning is the best because you haven’t been around any distractions. You can focus a lot better.

It’s also not just *one* routine you do in the morning. It’s a combination of routines; and each routine is a force multiplier – making all the other routines *more* effective.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to lose weight.
– Exercise alone is good.
– Eating health is good.
– Exercise AND eating healthy is *really* good

Same thing with miracle morning. It’s a combination of six things, cleverly spelling out S.A.V.E.R.S.

Silence
Affirmation
Visualization
Exercise
Reading
Scribing

How It Works

The Miracle Morning book describes this in way better detail, but I’ll post a short description here.

Silence is meditation and quiet that allows you to think without distraction.

Affirmation is affirming positive beliefs.

Visualization is picturing your day happening how *you* want it to happen.

Exercise is moving your body to allow oxygen to flow through you.

Reading helps stimulate creativity.

Scribing (writing) helps you take those thoughts out of your head and onto paper.

“What does this have to do with productivity?”

For me, the visualization and scribing are key to productivity.

Visualization helps me see what it is I need to do before I do it.
Instead of frantically trying to complete an endless to-do list, I imagine exactly *how* I’m going to do those things. Even more, I picture *what time of day* I’m going to accomplish them.

The interesting thing is that I’m able to rearrange my schedule in my head, rather than going about the day and figuring this out in the moment.

Scribing (writing) is used for day planning.
I love this because *I* am in control of my day. *I* say what is going to happen. I do this before checking emails or social media, which can often dictate our day for us.

Based on my visualization, I write down *when* I plan on doing everything. I create a calendar for my day. I also check the monthly and yearly calendar to see what I’m doing in the future so that I ensure my actions *today* are going to further the goals that I have planned out.

Essentially what I’m doing is time blocking; scheduling blocks of time to accomplish a task.

“What about the *other* S.A.V.E.R.S.?”
Silence, affirmation, exercise, reading? What about those? What do they have to do with productivity?

Like I said before, those things are *force multipliers*.
Silence and affirmation help enhance visualization. Exercise helps oxygen flow through your body and your brain allowing you to think clearer. And reading helps stimulate ideas and gets creative juices flowing.

Can I really be a morning person?

Miracle Morning is one of the best things that has happened to my productivity.

I *thought* I could accomplish my to-do list at night, after the kids have gone to bed. But it turns out, I’m *extremely* unproductive at night. It really takes me 10x as long to do something than it does in the morning, especially anything creative.

IF you *feel* more productive at night and find yourself getting more done at night, then keep at it. I’m all about doing what works for you.

BUT if you’re reading this post, you’re probably struggling with productivity, so I encourage you to try waking up an hour earlier to complete this morning routine and get stuff done in the morning.

Personally, I wake up TWO hours before. One hour for Miracle Morning (sometimes it’s between 30-45 minutes), and the rest of the time to get stuff done.

It takes practice and discipline.

Start off by waking up 30 minutes before your normal wake-up time. Increase to 45 minutes, then 60, then more as you get comfortable.

You can even start off with 6 minute miracle mornings!
http://halelrod.com/6-minute-miracle-morning/

So there’s really no excuse to not get started.

How do I go to bed earlier when I’m usually a night owl?
Again, start by going to bed 30 minutes earlier.

One thing that has helped me A LOT is that I get ready for bed about 1-2 hours before my actual bed time. Being in my pajamas and even just lying in bed with a book (okay, Netflix on my iPad) helps me relax and start to fall asleep faster.

I’ve been doing it so long now that I really don’t really have the energy to watch Netflix before bed anymore.

Join the Community

Joining the community is the BEST. Hal has an amazing Facebook group that is encouraging. If you really want to see results, join the group here:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MyTMMCommunity/

Get the Book

And of course, make sure you pick up the book here.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AKKS278/

PS. I don’t get any affiliate commission. I truly believe in this book and how much it has changed my life in terms of productivity and clarity – and yes, even weight loss. Productivity AND weight loss, heck yes, sign me up! ♥

June 19, 2016 6:38 am Published by

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How to Work When You’re Sick

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Yesterday I was feeling pretty bad. I was hit with fatigue and I felt a migraine coming. I had stuff to do, but I simply wasn’t up for it.

So what do you do when you’re feeling sick, but you have a to-do list that can’t seem to wait?

Prioritize

Take a look at your to-do’s for the day, and highlight the *one* activity you want to get done for the day. (I typically do this everyday and find it quite helpful.)

If you feel up for it, add 1-2 more tasks that you feel confident you can complete today.

Cross out or reschedule the activities that do not absolutely need to be done today.

Reschedule

If you’re up for it, reschedule those tasks that you’ve put off.

Create new deadlines, rearrange your schedule as needed. Knowing you have a new plan in place to accomplish the rest of your to-do list, you’ll feel a lot better about taking time off.

If you’re feeling *really* bad, set aside a time block when you think you’ll be able to do this rescheduling exercise. Even if you don’t have everything planned out, knowing that you have a plan in place to get back in track will help you overcome some of the overwhelm.

Reschedule any meetings you may have had.
*If you absolutely can’t reschedule, explain that you’re not feeling well and you’d like to keep it as short as possible.

Knock Our Your Mini-To Do List Quickly

Knock out those 1-2 tasks that you had planned for the day. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect or the best it could be. The main thing is you got it done. And done is better than perfect.

Take Care of You

Rest, take a nap, drink plenty of fluids – blah blah blah. Do what you *should* be doing.

When you take care of an illness *before* it gets bad, you start to heal quicker.

Ultimately when you take care of you FIRST, you’ll feel better *FASTER* and can return to work *SOONER*.

The other day, I made it a point to take a nice long nap and rest for as long as I wanted. After about four hours, I was actually feeling up to speed and was able to complete my to-do list for that day.

Now, this won’t happen *every* time, but odds are, if you take care of yourself first, you usually get better sooner.

Returning to Work

Create a “catch up” day, where you’re finishing up any tasks that were left unresolved. Avoid trying to create new tasks for yourself.

Create a block of time to return emails and phone calls. This time will be *only* for returning messages; do not try to multi-task – like writing blog content and returning emails. It will be a pain, trust me. And you’ll get through both tasks *faster* if you DON’T multi-task.

Avoid returning to work when you’re still not feeling well. There’s no point in trying to push through it if you’re only going to get sicker.

Feel better love. And remember, you take care of you so you can give your best to the world.

June 16, 2016 9:45 am Published by

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Dealing with Distractions

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How do you handle distractions when they come up while you’re trying to work?

First things first, work at a time and place that has the fewest possible distractions.

It’s kind of a given, it’s kind of obvious, but it should be stated.

If you’re working in a coffee shop and you’re constantly distracted by people and the loud grinding of the blender, well, perhaps maybe you should not work in a coffee shop.

If you work from home with your children, and you’re constantly distracted by them, create a time and place where you’re *least* distracted. it is certainly going to be more challenging, but assess your resources (that includes other people who can help you) and maximize them.

Personally, I wake up two hours earlier than everyone else (at 4am) and get it done. I used to try to stay up past their bedtime to work, but I had zero energy at night. In the morning, it’s a lot more quiet, and I’m more focused, so early mornings work better for me. To make sure I get enough sleep, I also go to bed when they go to bed.

The second is to limit the number of distractions as much as possible.

Again, kind of obvious, but needs to be said.

CLEAR YOUR WORKSPACE.
The more clutter you have on your desk, the less focused you’ll be. (Check out my Overcome Overwhelm guide to learn how to clear your work space in under 5 minutes.)

Put your phone on silent / do not disturb / airplane mode.

If you don’t need wi-fi, disable it on your computer.

If you’re doing any kind of content creation (blogging, writing, lesson planning), use either pen and paper or a simple notepad document – where there are LIMITED formatting options. Avoid trying to *design* the document before you finish the content. (I call this “Tinkerbell Syndrome”; “tinkering” around with design features when you should be working).

Common categories of distractions and how to address them.

Urgency, Persistent Urgency, Emergency

– An urgency is anything that demands your immediate attention.
– A persistent urgency is something that keeps happening unless you address it.
– An emergency is a type of urgency that requires your immediate attention and will otherwise escalate into an unfavorable situation if ignored.

– An urgency is a phone call, a door bell, a notification on your phone.
– A persistent urgency is a screaming kid, a beeping fire alarm.
– An emergency is an injury, a fire.

– Urgencies can be ignored.
– Persistent urgencies should be addressed if it keeps you from working.
– Emergencies must obviously be addressed.

Shiny Objects

In this instance, let’s say you have a new toy – a webcam, a microphone, new software, a new coffee maker – that you’re dying to play with.

HIDE that object. Out of sight, out of mind.

If you can’t resist it, use it as *incentive* to get something done. Let’s say you need to finish ___ task. When you complete ____ task, you give yourself permission to play with new shiny object.

If you find yourself *constantly* thinking about it, give yourself about 15-20 minutes to play so you can get it out of your system, but immediately resolve to going back to work. Set a timer so you don’t get caught up.

Annoyances

Annoyances are anything that bug you while you’re working.

This could be insignificant things, but hinder your ability to get work done. These can include a refrigerator hum, talkative neighbors, background noise, etc.

Again, this all goes back to working in environment with the least distractions.

If it’s noise and you can’t get around it, try earplugs or noise cancelling headphones.

If it’s *really* distracting, either change your work station or come back to it later. There’s no point in trying to push through something if you’re going to do it while you’re irritated. It will eventually show up in your work.

Mental Blocks
If you hit a mental block while you’re working, either a creative block or can’t figure something out, give yourself permission to take a short 2-5 minute break. Take a breath, step outside, make a cup of tea.

Instead of sitting in the same spot trying to work through it, a slight change of environment may help stimulate you.

Boredom

If you get bored doing something tedious, set a timer for about 30 minutes. Get as much as you possibly can within that time.
– If you feel like you can keep going, go for another 30 minutes.
– If you’ve reached a breaking point, give yourself permission to take a break and go back at it again in a few minutes.

Incentivize the task

When you complete the project, give yourself a prize like an hour of Netflix, or a trip to the coffee shop, or some fun activity. This will push you to get the task done faster because the sooner it’s done, the sooner you can enjoy your prize.

If you’re constantly bored with the work you are doing, either delegate it or reassess your goals. Determine if this is ultimately what you want to be doing. If the answer is yes, then just remember your end game. If the answer is no, then you may want to look at changing up your goal.

Assess what keeps coming up for you

Determine what kind of distractions keep showing up. Determine why and aim to resolve it.

June 15, 2016 9:42 am Published by

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