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Don’t Put Your Goals on Hold

Don’t Put Your Goals on Hold

“I’ve been completely off my morning meditation routine for the last 3 weeks. The stress about this pandemic has gotten to me.”

“My health goals are so hard to stick to now.”

“I struggle so much with a lack of willpower to get anything done, especially with the pandemic and kids home and emotionally feeling off.”

“I’m having a hard time sticking to my exercise routine. I blame it on this COVID-19 pandemic.”

“I was doing so well before the pandemic, and now I’m not.”

Do any of these sound familiar?

We are living in unprecedented times. You can’t ignore the stress and uncertainty that is part of your daily life right now.

Even going to the grocery store can turn into a traumatic event. You’ve got a face mask and gloves on for protection and to protect others. You’re attempting to stay 6 feet apart from other shoppers, waiting and losing patience for someone to just pick a carton of eggs already and leave the area. The longer you’re in there, the more exposed you are. The anxiety is creeping in. Plus you’re struggling to hear and shouting to be heard because most people are wearing face masks. Not exactly a peaceful experience.

When I went to the grocery store last week, I saw a worker with no mask stocking the frozen section and openly coughing without covering his mouth; I couldn’t get out of that aisle and store fast enough.

And that’s a shopping trip; add all the other things we do on a daily basis that is now impacted and at times it can feel like your whole world is upside down.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and let that knock you off your normal routine.

Sticking to your healthy habits seems harder than usual. Staying focused on your daily actions that help you achieve your goals seems impossible at times with everything else you have to contend with now.

Don’t Put Your Goals on Hold

Despite our current times, it is possible, and important, to not put your goals on hold.

We don’t know how long this will last. It could be 2 more weeks or 2 more months before businesses, schools and all the other places now closed open up again. Can you afford to hold off on achieving your goals for that long?

Goals require weekly, daily or even more frequent, focus and nurturing. If you put your goals on hold until “COVID is over” you’ll lose the momentum and progress you’ve already made.

If you need a few hours, or a day or two to get through some challenges, by all means take it. I’m a big proponent of balance and taking the time you need to address your priorities and stay healthy and balanced.

I recently moved to a new home and purposely cut back my work hours for 2 weeks knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to handle all that change and still carry a full workload.

Structure is Key

It’s so important in these uncertain times to ensure you’re doing all you can to bring more structure into every day. Structure gives you a sense of stability and certainty; things we need more than ever right now.

I’ve had clients get away from their daily meditation practice or other healthy habits for weeks, reporting that they felt off and not quite balanced.

If you don’t have a daily morning practice and need some help and ideas on how to begin, read my previous blog: Connect to Success Every Day for Best Results. There’s a link there to get a Morning Routine tool and checklist too.

In addition to an intentional daily practice, little things like showering, making your bed, taking a walk, keeping your home clean – these all add structure and stability right now.

Take Strategic Action Now

There are plenty of things you can do now despite your current COVID-19 restrictive reality.

First, add structure to your day with some of the suggestions above. Be sure to include a daily action that supports one of your bigger, long-term goals. For example, if you want to improve your health this year, committing to a daily walk would be ideal.

Second, stay positive and appreciate what you’re learning from this experience.

A lot of people are loving this slow-down that’s been forced upon us. They’re spending more quality time with loved ones they live with (2 and 4 legged), getting outside more for walks and sunshine, and connecting with friends and family more to check in and see how they’re doing. It feels natural and easy, and reminiscent of less hectic times.

And we’re using technology in such positive ways. I think about all the people who had no idea what Zoom and virtual meetings were a few weeks ago, and it makes me smile.

Now they’re connecting virtually to spend holiday or Sunday meals together with kids and grandkids, attend church services, and go to networking or club meetings. Spend a few minutes right now and write down 5 or more positive things that this pandemic has provided to you.

And third, take advantage of all the extra time you now have.

Maybe you’re not commuting to work and now have 60+ extra minutes in your day, or you find working from home more efficient and you’re getting more done in less time.

What could you do with your extra time? Focus on your goals and tie them into your activities or projects. For example, complete some long-overdue home projects this weekend to give you a sense of completion and joy; plant some flowers or tomatoes to feed your nurturing side; exercise to bring movement and balance into your body; take a class or course for self-development and personal growth; visit some virtual museums or national parks and get excited about visiting there in the future; or rediscover your creative side with hobbies like painting or music.

Find something that feeds your mind, body and soul and enjoy this time right now.  

 

Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash

How to Beat the Stress of an Overflowing Email Inbox

How to Beat the Stress of an Overflowing Email Inbox

Is your email inbox stressing you out?

Business leaders at all levels often receive dozens to hundreds of emails every day. If not managed appropriately, it can become a big source of stress and a severe drain on your energy and time.

If you’re like most diligent professionals, the more the unread number climbs up, the more uncomfortable you feel. And when you didn’t have time during your busy day to even look at email, you become more frustrated.

Or worse, you decide to take time out of your personal life to handle emails – like in the evening or getting up even earlier to tackle emails before the workday gets started.

Time you could be spending connecting with loved ones or enjoying some fun activity that makes you happy and feeds your soul. You may get temporary relief from chipping away at your inbox, but you’re never able to get caught up with the constant flow coming in.

It’s time to beat the stress of your email inbox once and for all.

Email is here to stay as an essential part of our workday communication, and it’s growing. According to research conducted in 2019 by the Radicati Group, Inc., the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day will exceed 293 billion in 2019, and is forecast to grow to over 347 billion by year-end 2023.

So how do you beat the stress and take back control of an overflowing email inbox?

Here are some best practices you can implement today:

Unsubscribe from unwanted promotional emails.

If you work in a corporate environment, this may not be an issue for you as promotional email and spam is filtered out at an organization-wide level. In smaller companies or personally, it is still relevant. I recommend you unsubscribe from all non-essential newsletters and advertisements. They can become overwhelming and clutter up your important messages.

Here’s an easy and quick way to unsubscribe. Search your emails for the word “unsubscribe.” Review the search results and determine which you’d like to continue to receive. Open the ones you’d no longer want to receive and click their unsubscribe link.

Work your inbox intentionally.

Block out and schedule time in your calendar to work your inbox intentionally. The amount of time required for reviewing email and replying will depend on how frequently you check messages and how many you typically receive.

Some clients I work with find it more effective to dedicate 15-20 minutes twice or three times a day, at regularly scheduled times. For example, 8a-8:10a to scan for urgent emails that may have come in overnight and reply; 12-12:15 and again at 5p-5:15. In the beginning, set a timer to make sure you stick to your scheduled time otherwise you may wind up getting lost in your inbox.

If you have hundreds or thousands of emails you may have to plan for longer time periods in the short-term until you get the emails down to a manageable amount; then use something like the above example for daily maintenance.

Use the 2 minute or less rule.

Use the 2 minute or less rule: answer emails in 2 minutes or less to get them out of your inbox. Short and sweet, just like this tip. Next.

Get organized.

Depending on your email client at work, most of these functions should be available for you to take advantage of in order to streamline your email management process.

Create folders to categorize emails that you need to save.

Organize your emails with labels. Labels are like folders, but you can add more than one label to a message.

Filters allow you to automatically manage incoming emails. You can do things like archive, delete, star/prioritize, move to junk, trash or other folders, and forward your incoming emails. For example, any emails from your manager can be set up to be marked as a priority/important with a star or different color so it stands out to you.

Lastly, manage emails before you open them by quickly viewing the sender and subject and then right-click to do things like move, archive, delete, mute, snooze, label, or filter.

Take Action Now

Implement one or more of the bits of advice above to beat the stress of your overflowing email inbox.

If you liked this information and found it useful, leave a comment below. Share how you used any of this advice and how well it worked for you, including the improvements in other areas of your work life or personal life now that you got back control of your email inbox.

 

Photo by Glenn Carstens Peters on Unsplash

How to Take Back Control –  First, Get Organized

How to Take Back Control – First, Get Organized

Feeling a bit out of control these days, like most working professionals? Whether it’s work or personal stuff, the fast pace and demanding times we live in now can make life seem overwhelming.

Taking back control with simple, consistent steps can get you feeling better quickly: calmer, less stressed and more empowered.

The key is doing something each day for lasting results. Keep reading to learn how to use these strategies for your highest benefit.

The strategies are about getting organized using a two pronged approach: organized from the inside out, and organized from the outside in. Address the issue from both directions and you’ll get to where you want to be going (your goals) even faster.

Getting organized from the inside out

Getting organized from the inside out is about organizing your thoughts, beliefs, and ideas in your mind.

Experts estimate that the mind thinks between 50,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day. That’s an average of 2,100 – 3,300 thoughts per hour. That’s a remarkable number of thoughts.

Many of these are subconscious and repetitive thoughts: they’ve become efficient over time and run automatically. These are the thoughts that benefit us and lead to actions like walking, breathing, typing, driving a car, opening a door, etc. We don’t need to concern ourselves with these thoughts; they serve us well.

The thoughts we want to organize are the ones that don’t serve us. If you’ve ever meditated or even tried to study or focus on a work task, that’s when you become aware of the many irrelevant thoughts trying to get your attention.

They may be habitual and seem harmless, but a little deeper digging can bring these thoughts to the surface, to your conscious mind where you are now aware of them.

Once you’re aware of them, then you can ask some questions and determine if they are leading to poor results or sabotaging you from achieving your goals.

These thoughts may be creating feelings and beliefs, like fear, that are not supporting the dreams you have for your life.

Then we have new thoughts that we are aware of in the moment, like opinions or judgements about what’s happening now, or in the past or future.

These may be helpful, like thoughts about how to prepare for an upcoming staff meeting you’re leading, what you still need to do to prepare, when to schedule those tasks, and what the agenda will be.

Or you may have new thoughts that don’t serve you. It could be a negative thought that’s detrimental to your continued growth and development in life.

How to organize the mental noise and constant chatter

There are so many tools to help organize your mind and thoughts. What’s most important is to find a tool that works for you and stick with it.

Try one of my suggestions here, daily for at least 21 days straight. If you’re beginning to notice some positive shifts, keep it going.

A daily Thought Release each morning can really put things into perspective. Take about 5 minutes or more to write down your thoughts. Every single thought that crosses your mind: just observe the thought and write it down and move on to the next one. Its stream of consciousness writing, you’ll be writing the whole time. Some people call it a brain download, brain dump, thought download or even Morning Pages as described by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way.

I like to call it a Thought Release process because I picture the thought being released from my mind as I write them in my journal. Most are unnecessary and don’t serve me, and are just clogging up the mind.

Another thing to try is reviewing these daily Thought Release thoughts and replace any repetitive negative thought with a better, more positive one.

Awareness of these thoughts is the first step, and then asking questions about it is step two. Is this thought even true (especially if a judgement)? Is it serving you? Is it helping you in some way? Do you really need or want it? Is it time to let it go and release it? Can you replace it with a better, more positive thought?

Lastly, meditation is a practice I encourage all of my clients to adopt. Meditation teaches you how to be still, to become more focused, and to lessen the stream of thoughts running through your mind.

It brings calmness, a sense of inner peace and more happiness to all aspects of your life, when practiced consistently. Read more about meditation and morning routines here.

Getting organized from the outside in

Getting organized from the outside in is organizing your external surroundings – your space. It involves organizing your home, your office or desk, and even your car.

This helps you live intentionally and have a physical space where every single thing in that space serves you. It has a purpose.

I’m an organized person. I don’t leave things laying around, and I don’t have closets or a garage full of things I’ve never used. I know many people who never use their garage to park their car because it is stuffed full of things they’ve never used or maybe used once, years ago. There’s so much stuff the car won’t fit.

Despite how organized I felt I was, last year I made an intentional commitment to organize myself even more. I went through the process I’m about to share here, and came up with 15 bags of things to donate – 15!  And that’s not including items that were either thrown out or sold.

By going through this exercise, I knew I’d get benefits from it, but didn’t realize just how great I would feel.

You see, it’s not simply the removal of the physical items. It is the energy of those items, of that clutter and disorganization, and what it represents. Removing it impacts on your emotional and mental wellbeing too.

People say they feel lighter, obviously more organized and less stressed. They know what they have in their house or office or car, and can easily find it.

It’s easier to get ready in the morning when the closet it organized and you can see all the potential outfits you’d like to wear that day. The clutter is gone too, taking up space. All the duplicate pens, pencils, paperclips and rubber bands from desk drawers that are unnecessary – how many does a person need? I knew someone who had 8 pairs of scissors and 4 boxes of tacks – in one desk.

The kitchen is another area that could have a lot of items you never use. Tupperware and other plastic containers that are looking a little over used or that may have been used once 3 years ago, extra utensils that can be donated, and even pots, pans, serving bowls and platters that you don’t currently and never will use.

When people declutter and get organized, they feel more at peace when in these rooms, seeing everything in its place and even empty space in drawers and closets.

Benefits of getting organized

The empty space in shelves, drawers and closets is symbolic of making room for new opportunities to present themselves. That idea alone can provide the motivation you might need as you sift through all the shoes in your closet and hesitate giving up that new-ish pair of boots you paid so much money for, that hurt your feet every time you wore them (not serving you).

Another benefit of organizing your space is the sense of contribution you get. Knowing that you’ve only kept what is still useful to you, and that other people can now enjoy the items you donated.

That sense of contribution and sharing is very uplifting and makes donating these items an easier task, especially for things you may have an emotional connection to or that remind you of a cherished memory. For example, I had a whole boxful of stuffed animals that my mother collected that I received after my Mom passed away years ago. They were sitting in that box, unused, in great shape for years until last year. I decided to keep a couple of them and the rest were donated. Hopefully some children can enjoy and play with them now.

Now it’s your turn to take action

Now it’s your turn. I challenge you to take back some control in your life by getting organized. From the inside out, commit to the following:

  • Daily thought release every morning as described above. Set a timer for 5 minutes or more and get those thoughts out. And if your mind races at night, thinking about work or worrying about everything, try the thought release exercise before bed too.
  • If you notice you’re having a lot of negative thoughts during this daily thought release that don’t serve you, take some time to replace them with positive ones. For example, if you have a lot of thoughts about all the things at work that stress you out, write about how your work is serving and helping other people. Or if you keep thinking about a coworker’s negative comments to you, write one positive thing about that person.
  • If you don’t already have a morning routine that addresses organizing your mind and thoughts, learn more in my blog called Connect to Success Every Day for Best Results where you can also get access to my Connect to Success Morning Routine Tool to use every day.

From the outside in, commit to the following:

  • Block out one hour on your calendar for this weekend and select one part of your house, or car, or office/desk to organize. It’s best to take everything out of the closet or drawer or area, then look at each item and ask yourself some questions: when is the last time I used this, or wore this? If not within the past year, let it go. Does it make me happy? Does it serve me? Would someone else enjoy this more? Is it outdated (clothing, etc.)?
  • Set a goal to organize one area every week. And then pay attention to the changes that follow.

Look for larger shifts that can occur after getting more organized.

For me, I felt like being more social. It included getting out more, meeting new people, taking day trips, and networking more with other business owners. It opened up space and energy for these new things.

Organizing the mind also opens up space and energy for you to be more aware of your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions too. You can discern which ones are or aren’t helpful, and then organize them and release the unhelpful ones.

Getting organized is a very powerful tool that increases your emotional intelligence and supports personal growth, and provides a sense of fulfillment and peace in the long term.

I’d love to hear about the progress you’ve made and the positive shifts you’re experiencing as a result of getting organized. Let me know in the comments.  

 

Photo by Douglas Sheppard on Unsplash

A Moment of Silence for Your Chronic Stress

A Moment of Silence for Your Chronic Stress

Stress is a normal part of life. There’s good stress, bad stress, and then really bad stress: the chronic kind. Chronic stress is very serious. Left unchecked, it can lead to poor job performance, sleeping problems and major health issues – or worse.  

Let’s have a moment of silence for your chronic stress. It was there for a reason. It made you aware of an imbalance in your life, and now you can move past it to a better state for your health, wellbeing and success.

[Not sure if you’re experiencing chronic stress? Below in this post is a quiz to find out.]

Is your chronic stress still alive and kicking, and causing all kinds of havoc for you emotionally, mentally, and physically? Not quite past it yet but ready to put it to rest?

Below are some ways you can start taking back control and start feeling better again.

The different types of stress: the good, the bad and the really bad

There are 3 different types of stress: the good, the bad and the really bad.

The good stress is called eustress. It’s a positive form of stress that has a beneficial effect on health, motivation, performance, and emotional wellbeing.

This positive stress happens when you’re promoted, or given a new work project you were competing for, or during a vacation.

Anytime you stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone, which is a good thing for your growth and personal development, you’ll experience eustress. You may not be consciously aware of it, but it happens. 

Endorphins, the feel-good chemicals our body produces, are released. It’s exciting and fulfilling, but the feelings can also be a bit challenging and unsettling.

This type of stress helps you to develop and stay emotionally and mentally balanced due to the positive feelings you’ll experience. Eustress also supports your physical body too, like when you work out, lift weights or finish a challenging hike.

The second type of stress, the bad stress, is called distress. It’s defined by Merriam-Webster as pain or suffering affecting the body, a bodily part, or the mind.

It is the body’s response to changes that are creating a demand on it. We experience physical changes as part of this “fight or flight” response, like the release of stress hormones (e.g., cortisol), and an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, perspiration, and respiration rate.

In addition to the physical changes, distress taxes your resources on all levels: mentally, emotionally, energetically, and even spiritually. It can lead to poor performance, mental fog and confusion, scattered thoughts, or a feelings of anxiety or depression.

The really bad type of stress, the third type is chronic stress. It is when distress continues for a prolonged period of time, typically 21 days or longer, but the timing varies from person to person. It can be shorter or longer depending on the stressor and how much you can tolerate.

This biological response to the challenging and demanding situations that are a regular part of our life is normal, but becomes dangerous when it continues for this prolonged period of time.

This long-term activation of the stress-response system – and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones – can disrupt almost all your body’s processes, putting you at an increased risk of physical and mental/emotional health problems.

It can go on long-term because we either ignore or push down the negative effects of it. For example, one of my clients worked in a demanding environment. She was so busy working on the next new “emergency” and feeling under pressure to deliver results on time and under budget, that weeks went by while she ignored the burning sensation in her stomach every time she ate or drank something.

Working together we made the connection of her stomach pain to the work stress. She had a vacation planned and to no one’s surprise, her burning stomach went away during that time away from work.

The consequences of chronic stress can be much more serious than my client’s, she recognized and made the connection early on, before her burning stomach could escalate to a serious health problem or illness.

Like in my personal case when I worked in Corporate Human Resources, I was ignoring my chronic stress and thought I could push through it. I thought that things would get better tomorrow, or in a few days.

That never happened. I remember the work demands seemed to lessen, but that was temporary, and before I could take a breath, the next new “fire” was screaming to be put out.

That chronic stress led to physical symptoms that I ignored for months. My body was trying to get me to slow down and make some changes, with excruciating joint pain, lethargy, body aches, night sweats, shortness of breath, sleep issues and digestive problems – all of these things on a daily basis. 

This eventually led to a serious inflammatory disease that finally got my attention. The scariness of a health crisis was the turning point for me to re-evaluate my chronic stress, and start making changes to address the root cause.

My only regret is that I didn’t get the help and support I needed sooner.

That’s another reason for getting help, and getting it quickly: chronic stress can lead to a feeling of overwhelm and make the situation seem hopeless if it goes on for months or years.

The right professional to partner with can bring a whole new perspective and viewpoint along with support to start seeing positive shifts.

Do you have chronic stress?

It’s critical to recognize the signs of chronic stress and to take the necessary steps to remove it from your life – to have that moment of silence for it.

Take this quiz (click here) to find out if you have chronic stress.

Additionally, stay present and mindful, and pay attention to the bad stress in your life, and any physical, mental or emotional symptoms because of it. How long does it last? How frequently does it occur?

If it’s been going on for weeks or months without any improvement, and you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed and like things are out of control, take back control and address it like your life depends on it, because it does.

Here are three ways to take back control and start feeling better

1) Get organized and start setting limits. It’s okay to say no.

Make a list of all your commitments and projects and identify the ones you absolutely must do and the non-essential ones that can be removed, delayed, or delegated.

My previous corporate career was very demanding with new priorities every day. As the tasks and expected deliverables kept coming in, instead of just adding them to the list and beginning to feel like I was drowning and out of control, I took control.

I would review these new items with my manager, in relation to the others. Specifically asking which were the top priorities to work on immediately and which would have to be delegated, delayed, etc. Setting these expectations and being clear on a regular basis was key to keeping things organized and in control.

For personal non-work commitments, you may want to postpone non-critical items like volunteer activities or home-improvement projects until a later time. Or, delegate or hire someone to take the pressure off of you.

One of my clients would get stressed about not having the time to keep a clean home. She would get mad because her husband and children wouldn’t help clean.

She found the perfect solution in hiring a cleaning service to clean on a regular basis. The cost was well worth it; she has more time for priorities and for quality time with her family, and feels more in control and less stressed.

Most importantly, remember that it’s okay to say no and to set limits.

Don’t accept any more commitments until you feel that your stress is under control. And don’t feel guilty about it – your wellbeing and health is of the utmost importance.

2) Commit to one simple change.

To increase eustice, or good stress, and keep distress at bay, learn how to set professional and personal goals that are challenging and realistic. Track your progress to hold yourself accountable.

Your one simple goal, or change, may be adding in some regular physical activity a few times a week – exercise is a great stress buster.

Or you may want to enhance the quality of your sleep and can commit to getting at least 7 hours a night of good quality sleep.

3) Get support from family, friends and professionals.

When I was so sick, I sought help from the typical sources: doctors and health specialists. Fortunately, after going the standard healthcare route and becoming increasing hopeless in finding a diagnosis and treatment, I began sharing my struggle with close friends and family who in turn led me to some alternative health specialists and therapies (energy healing, naturopathic medicine, plant-based supplements, meditation) that worked for me and helped in my recovery.

In most cases, even more support is needed and a professional coaching relationship could be the solution for you. With a good coaching relationship, you have an unbiased professional devoted to their clients’ progress and wellbeing.  

It’s a different dynamic than support from family and friends, who may think they are helping but they might be biased, incapable, or too close to you to help.

Take action now

Trust me, from someone who’s been there and learned – if you think you’re experiencing uncontrolled chronic stress, please take action now to address it.

Take one small step to start, and before you know it you’ll be able to look back like I can now, and see how far you’ve come.

 

Photo by ­­­­­­Ben White on Unsplash

 

How to Leverage Your Brain to Achieve Your Goals

How to Leverage Your Brain to Achieve Your Goals

As busy professionals, we want to use our precious time in the most effective way possible, especially when it comes to achieving our goals.

Understanding how your brain works and how to leverage your brain’s natural tendencies for your highest benefit is key.

There are specific tools and strategies you can start using today to ensure you’re working with your brain and not against it for faster, greater results.

One of the most important parts of your brain is the Reticular Activating System or RAS. It’s the filter between your conscious and subconscious mind, only letting the most important information into your awareness (conscious) and screening out what’s not important.

There’s so much information coming at us these days and your conscious mind can only focus on so many things at once. So the RAS determines what you’ll notice and pay attention to – that’s its job.

It does this because the function of the RAS, just like much of the brain, is to keep us alive and safe. It deletes and doesn’t have us spend any energy on all the white noise.

Basically, it focuses on what’s important, and is directly responsible for how much reality you consciously experience. That explains why two people in the same staff meeting, for example, can have very different recollections of what was said or what happened because their respective brains (RAS) filtered out what wasn’t important to each of them.

The RAS is the reason that when you learn a new word, you start hearing it everywhere. Or when you’re at a loud, crowded party or event, you can hear someone shout your name over all the talking; your unconscious mind knows your name is important, and it gets past the RAS screen to where you consciously hear it despite all the noise.

Another example of the RAS is when you buy a new car. Now you see that same make and model everywhere you go, in the parking garage at work, on the daily commute, even in your neighborhood. Were these cars not around you before? No, they were, but now your RAS deems it important enough for you to notice, because you own the same car.

Over time the RAS learns what will and won’t keep us safe and creates pathways for these “safe” things – this is how patterns, habits and self-talk are made.

But how does the RAS determine what’s “safe”? How does it know if it’s creating a good habit or a bad habit? That’s where we get to step in, take some control and fine tune things.

How to Leverage Your RAS

Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of our RAS allows us to work with our brains and train and leverage them to our advantage. We can control what we pay attention to and when we do this, the RAS has no choice but to treat that item as important.

Keep this in mind when goal setting: Once you prioritize a goal, stay emotionally charged to it, and focus on it consistently, the people and resources that help you attain it will become clear to you. You don’t have to plan out all the details of how you’ll achieve your goals when you first set them. Have faith that your RAS will do its job and make you aware of what you need to know and do along the way.

Some of us call these synchronicities, or the Universe or God lining things up for us: putting the right person or thing in our path.

We see this all the time. You might be having some random conversation at work and someone says exactly what you needed to hear, like some advice on how to be more organized with your daily schedule. You may have heard the same advice before, but now it’s important because it will support your goal to have more balance in your personal time, so you “heard” it this time.

Here are some specific strategies you can begin using today to leverage the power of your brain.

1. Get really clear about your goals and focus on them, in great detail, on a regular and consistent basis.

Write them down every day, or put them on post it notes where you can review them every day. You have to give your RAS something to go on.

If you focus on what you want, like phenomenal health, a fulfilling career, a great income and loving relationships, your RAS will be working with you and helping to make you aware of more of those things. If you consistently focus on the opposite, like worrying about bills or getting sick again, you’ll unfortunately get more of that.

2. Visualize every day.

Visualization is a great tool for retraining your subconscious mind. To get the most out of visualization, you must feel and experience a situation as if it were real, as if you’ve already achieved your goal.

Include details, imagery, people’s reactions, how specifically you’re feeling in that moment, where in your body do you feel it, what are you hearing, what are you seeing, what other things are now available too because of it. Make the image really big, as if you’re watching it on a huge movie screen.

The more real and detailed and emotion-provoking the better.

Your RAS can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what you’re imagining, so it will act on it as if it’s reality, and start bringing more of that into your awareness.  

3. Say your affirmations.

Affirmations are positive statements, in the present tense, and specific to supporting your goals. They are most effective when said out loud, on a regular basis, and with positive emotions tied to them (you can feel it).

Some examples are: “My body is strong, healthy and full of energy”, “I love the work I do and am paid well for it” or “I’m so blessed to have all these loving and supportive people in my life”.

The RAS will kick in, mark these statements as important and will create a new pathway for you to follow in accordance with this new belief.

4. Form new habits and stick with them consistently for at least 28 days.

Help your RAS create new pathways by sticking with your new habits; it takes about 28 days for our brains to build these new neural pathways. The RAS likes these paths of least resistance and will prioritize and use them efficiently once created; that’s what makes it easier to stick to something once it becomes a habit.  

There are many good habits that support the function of your brain. Here are some of my favorites.

  • Meditation calms the mind and helps release any mental blocks or limitations you may be challenged with. Aim for at least 5 to 10 minutes of meditation each morning to start and building to 20 to 30 minutes once or twice per day.
  • Reduce or remove the stress in your life. Take some time to evaluate the root cause of it, and either eliminate it or reduce whatever it is. If you get stressed because you’re late to work, plan to get up and arrive at work 15 minutes earlier every day. If you have friends at work that you have coffee or lunch with, but you feel drained afterwards and it negatively affects your mood and energy afterwards, you can limit the amount of time you spend with them.
  • Taking walks or other regular exercise releases endorphins, which helps improve your mood, increases your problem solving and boosts creativity. Besides being a natural anti-anxiety or anti-depressant, regular exercise supports better sleep, allowing your brain to sufficiently rest and recover.

Start leveraging the power of your brain – your RAS, and subconscious and conscious minds. Remember, if your RAS sees your goals as crucial and important, it will act and bring to your attention all the related things around you that you see, hear, smell, taste, touch, feel or sense. And then you’ll be able to react to them accordingly.

That’s why writing or reading through your goals every day, visualizing your intended outcome as if it has already happened, regularly saying your affirmations, and creating healthy supportive habits is so important!

Take action today and do these things that will help focus your subconscious mind on what’s important to you and in your best interests in achieving your goals and dreams.

If you found this information helpful please let me know in the comments below.

 

– Photo by Natasha Connell on Unsplash

3 Proven Ways to Add More Time into Your Day

3 Proven Ways to Add More Time into Your Day

Your time is your most precious commodity – and you need to treat it that way. One of the most common complaints I hear from clients, at least in the beginning of our coaching relationship, is that they don’t have enough time to get it all done.

 

They feel “out of control” most days. Back in my Corporate career, we’d try to make light of that feeling and say “I’m drinking from the firehose” again. What an image. It’s a terrible feeling to have, and if you’re experiencing that day after day the side effects of elevated stress, constant pressure and feeling out of control can be harmful to our health and wellbeing.

 

What if you could add more time into your day, giving you the ability to accomplish all your important tasks and still have the free time to do things to support your emotional, mental and physical wellbeing, like go for a walk, meditate, exercise, read for fun, and spend quality time with your loved ones?

 

Here are 3 proven ways to add more time into your day, so you can keep your stress levels low and productivity high. When you implement them, you’ll begin to see the benefits add up over time, including feeling back in control and better quickly.

 

1. Get Clear and Focus

 

Clarity is power. Getting clear about what’s important to you is the first step in taking back control of your time.

 

Then, focusing on and prioritizing daily tasks related to these important items is key to adding more time to your day.

 

Once you’re clear on your priorities, you can start minimizing, delegating or eliminating what’s not important to you. That frees up more time in your calendar for the important things.

 

Anytime someone asks for a meeting with you, asks you to volunteer to lead a project, or some other request comes in that will involve your time and energy – be vigilant and strong in your response. First ask yourself: does this investment of my time support my highest priorities and goals? If the answer is no, stay strong and decline the request.

 

I worked with many professionals that felt they could never say no. They were the most frustrated, stressed individuals who felt their time was not their own, because they made it that way. Remember, you do control your time, your calendar, and what you say yes or no to.

 

Sure, that sounds good, but what if you’re working in a high pressure environment where your manager or others are directing how you spend your time? I worked in that kind of environment for the majority of my Corporate career. What I found very useful when the tasks were piling up and beginning to get out of control, was to remind my manager of the priorities already on my list, and ask where these new items fit in.

 

There are a limited number of hours in the day and workweek, so other items will have to get eliminated, delegated to someone else, or postponed if new urgent items become the priority.

 

The goal to regaining control of your time is to focus on your top three: the three main things to accomplish at any one time. You could then do your best work. And as distractions came up you’ll be able to control them and refocus on those three items. By the end of the day you’ll have made significant progress on these three things, maybe even completing them all. How would that feel?

 

When was the last time you had a day like that? What if all your days could be like that?

 

Take action: how to get clear and focus

 

Writing things down helps provide clarity; just the power of writing things down helps most people feel less overwhelmed.

 

Let’s try a little exercise:

 

Write down all the things, big and small, that you want to get done this week. Write it all down – it’s so important to get it all out of your head and onto paper, your computer or mobile phone. Include the tasks, meetings and communications you need to handle and the required results for each.

 

Prioritize the list. Get clear on what is most important and prioritize your list so you know what to focus on first and what absolutely has to get done this week. If you’re like most people, you probably have 20 or more items on your list.

 

Human beings can only focus on a limited number of things at one time, and the smaller the number at one particular time, like 3 – 5 items or less, the less overwhelm and stress we’ll feel. Aim for 3 – 5 things at the top of the list that are a must for you to accomplish this week.

 

Next, we’re going to chunk it down even further into a more manageable plan.

 

2. Chunking: Replace Your To-Do List with a Daily Plan of Action

 

Chunking is a way to sort your to-do list by common and related tasks to make the list smaller and easier to accomplish these items.

 

It’s a psychological way to organize your list and to focus on desired results.

 

I learned of this concept from Tony Robbins, and here’s an example from his RPM overview page:

 

Original Task List:

 

  • Buy dog food
  • Buy cell phone for daughter
  • Wash and fold laundry
  • Prepare for meeting with CFO
  • Review draft of Tax Return
  • Drop off daughter at gymnastics
  • Drop off son at soccer practice
  • Create training plan for running group
  • Run 6 miles in target heart zone
  • Pick up daughter from gymnastics
  • Pick up son from soccer practice

 

Chunking related items together:

 

  • Prepare for meeting with CFO and Review draft of tax return go together
  • Create training plan for running group and run 6 miles go together
  • Dropping off and picking up children go together
  • Buying dog food, cell phone, and washing and folding laundry all seem related to the house and family and can be grouped together

 

Now it’s your turn. Take your weekly list that you created earlier and look for commonalities.

 

You can break it down into common life areas like work/career, finances, relationships, health, spirituality, etc., and be sure to tie it back to the desired outcome you have in each of those areas.

 

By thinking about the bigger reason for your desired outcome, like a better relationship with your spouse, or to have more energy during the day, your ability to see the results you’re after and then to prioritize and focus on them becomes easier.

 

For example, if one of your results is to have a successful career and get promoted with a pay raise this year, items related to work can be chunked together and prioritized, like preparing for a meeting, having important conversations with your staff, and working on your departmental budget to reduce costs this quarter.

 

They all share the desired result (successful career, promotion, pay raise) and as you are prioritizing them and completing them, that desired result is a focus point.

 

So, chunk down your list to a smaller more manageable list with clear desired outcomes as the driver. 

 

You’ll feel more productive and less stressed when you look at your to-do’s as desired outcomes you’re after, and as an action plan to get you closer to your biggest desires, rather than just unrelated items to check off for the day.

 

3. Use Timing Strategies to Your Advantage

 

Have you ever looked at the time and wondered to yourself where the day went?

 

And then felt frustrated or stressed because you felt you were working hard but didn’t get much done toward what’s really important in your life?

 

One way to increase your efficiency is by chunking specific work into certain days or time periods. Some people call it time blocking.

 

For example, you may want to begin every work day with 10-15 minutes to review your schedule, your task list/priorities/desired outcomes, and scan your email for any urgent items that came in overnight.

 

For weekly tasks, like when I do laundry on Saturday mornings, I also get my business paperwork and financial tasks done (paying bills, transferring money, etc.) since I’ll be at home anyway. I block out that 2 hours in my calendar and make it a recurring event. If I’ve got weekend plans or am teaching a class on Saturday, then I move that event in my calendar to Friday or late Sunday for that week.

 

What also works well for many people is assigning a limited amount of time to getting a task done.

 

This is an effective strategy for those of us who lean toward perfectionism and spend way too much time before completing something. For example, if you have an important presentation to draft, schedule 1 hour in your calendar, set a timer, close your door and ask not to be disturbed. And get it done.

 

Batching is another form of chunking that works really well, especially for reducing start up time for similar items. Take something you do every day or week and batch it. A lot of podcast producers batch their weekly shows, recording say 4 or 6 shows in one day, and doing that only once a month. It saves them time with setting up the equipment, getting prepared to record, etc.

 

Cooking meals is another thing you can batch. Busy families or even single or two person households can do most of their cooking for the week on Sundays. They’ll make a large meal or a few different meals that they can enjoy throughout the week, and possibly freeze some for another week. This way they are not having to focus on what meal to prepare, preparing it, cleanup, etc., every night of the week when they don’t have the time or energy for it after a long day. Just take it out of the refrigerator or freezer, heat it up and enjoy!

 

And one last thing about timing strategies,­ don’t try to multi-task. There’s no such thing as multi-tasking, our brains don’t work that way.

 

I worked remotely for the last 8 years of my corporate career, and with the numerous demands on everyone’s time, the attempt to multi-task was widespread. But here’s the thing: multi-tasking cannot be done with good results.

 

You may think you’re doing multiple things at a time, like answering an email while trying to have a conversation on the phone, while also reading and thinking about how to answer an urgent instant message. But that’s how errors are made.

 

Our brains work in a sequence so even though you may think you are doing these all at the same time, only one thing can be focused on and the other two are in a holding pattern until you return your attention to each.

 

I can’t tell you how many times I was talking on the phone to a colleague when I knew they weren’t listening to me. I could hear them typing on their keyboard, or I’d ask a question and get no answer. It was a waste of time for both of us – ineffective and frustrating.

 

Our brains cannot multi-task, they can only focus on one thing at a time, so if you want to be efficient and accurate and do things with a high level of quality, please stay focused and do one thing at a time.

 

Take Action Today

 

When it comes to adding more time into your day, try out one or more of the suggestions above to stay focused, balanced and frustration-free.

 

There are so many things competing for and demanding your attention in life. I ask that you make a conscious effort to decide in advance which things you’re going to focus and spend your time on, based on the areas in your life that truly matter.

 

This will help reduce any patterns you may have of being in constant reaction mode to the demands of the moment – the things that tend to stress us out and compromise our health and wellbeing.

 

Take action today and see how much better you feel, knowing that you do have control of your time and your life.

 

 

 

– Photo by Ellyot on Unsplash

Connect to Success – Every Day for Best Results

Connect to Success – Every Day for Best Results

Consistent and intentional daily practices, in particular morning routines, are one of the best tools to connect to achieving success in your life, professionally and personally.

Mornings set the tone for the rest of your day. That’s why many successful people have an intentional routine where they take care of their top priorities before the demands from work and others begins.

Why You Need a Morning Routine

We’ve probably all been there at one point in our lives where things felt out of control – think back when you were in your twenties. You overslept, and you’re running around getting ready quickly so you’re not late for work again. You finally do get to work, late and stressed, and the chaos of the workday begins. Not a great beginning to a productive, fun workday.

Contrast that to getting up early, maybe meditating or getting in some exercise, and filling up with positive energy and inspiration. You’ll start the day feeling accomplished, at ease, and ready for anything that your workday may have in store.

Having a pattern of starting the day off in that hectic, frazzled way leads to progressively worse things. Things that can cause pain, injury, hurt feelings, or financial loss.

I’ve seen it all in my HR career and with my current coaching clients, things like strange accidents (slipping on ice and injuring yourself), speeding tickets, car accidents, being short-tempered with people, productivity issues, inability to concentrate and get tasks done, frequently getting sick, and a general lack of energy.

The Benefits of a Morning Routine

An intentional morning routine provides a sense of control, and sets you up to have a productive day. A morning routine makes the most of your time and your busy schedule.

And, as this morning routine becomes a habit, it frees up space in your mind to focus on other things and strive for bigger aspirations.

It helps change your mindset, training your brain to approach the day in a more focused and productive frame of mind.

In addition to optimizing your time, a morning routine like the one I’m outlining below contains three distinct areas to support (1) your mental and emotional health, (2) your physical wellbeing, and (3) your spiritual side, the bigger picture as I like to call it, your soul’s wellbeing. It’s the complete package!

My Connect to Success Morning Routine Tool (Get it below)

I created this morning routine after years of practicing and studying this topic. It needed to be fun, effective in its use of time and the results it brings, and easy enough that people could follow it and make adjustments to ensure they stayed consistent.

This is a complete, intentional way to set up your day for success. When you commit to it and stay consistent, you’ll see the improvements you’re striving for, and unexpected ones too.

The Connect to Success Morning Routine consists of purposeful activities that can be done in minutes, in fact, it’s best to start off slow and build up to a longer routine. Most people enjoy the process, and the positive changes they’re getting, and begin going to bed and waking earlier, so they can expand their morning routine to 20 to 30 minutes or longer.

It’s important to stay balanced and spend time doing activities in each of the 3 areas. Activities include decluttering your mind, visualization and affirmations to stay on track with your goals and priorities, reading inspirational books, finding peace and calmness with prayer or meditation, and being sure to move your body.

This isn’t a big time commitment. In fact, if you aren’t doing anything in the mornings now, except showering, brushing your teeth, getting dressed and heading to the office – you owe it to yourself to try this out for 21 days.

And you’ll find the more consistent you are, sticking to it every day, the better the results over the long term. Make it a habit, just like brushing your teeth.

Challenge Yourself

I urge you to create a morning routine that works for you. Make sure it’s comprised of each of the three areas I mentioned above, and challenge yourself to make it a non-negotiable habit you’ll practice every day for the next 21 days.

Evaluate Your Progress and Make Adjustments

Get my Connect to Success Morning Routine Guide & Checklist below that you can use every day.

At the end of 21 days, evaluate your morning routine for its effectiveness and adjust as necessary. Ask yourself:

  • What’s working?
  • What’s not working?
  • What parts of this morning routine do I really enjoy?
  • Do I feel more energized and focused throughout the day?
  • Am I more aligned with what my priorities are?
  • Are my loved ones or work colleagues noticing a positive difference in me?
  • What could I add or remove from this morning routine for even better results?

Make any changes to your routine, and keep up the good work.

One of my clients felt calmer and less anxious after only 1 week, and decided to adjust her morning routine from 10 minutes to 30 minutes. She especially enjoyed the peace and quiet and the spiritual part of it – she would read passages from the bible. She credits her new morning routine with feeling less frustration and more enjoyment in her high-stress work life.

Whatever your goals, a morning routine can help you connect to your priorities, optimize your life and keep you on track to reach your highest goals and dreams.

By decreasing stress and fatigue and helping you focus on the task at hand, morning routines can make a significant positive impact on your day-to-day life and your long-term aspirations.

5 Reasons Why Successful People Hire a Life Coach

5 Reasons Why Successful People Hire a Life Coach

Life coaching is one of the leading tools successful people use to reach their highest potential – professionally and personally.

The personal coaching industry has grown in popularity in recent decades and is currently over a $1 billion dollar industry in America. It’s one of the fastest growing industries in recent years and its total market projected growth is over 5% per year, to $1.38 billion by 2022.

In the past, coaching was most seen at the highest levels of corporations or in the entertainment industry. These days, all types of people work with life coaches: business owners, executives, entrepreneurs, professionals, athletes, etc.

It doesn’t matter what professional level, age, life stage or status, most life coaching clients have a few things in common: they’re smart, successful and capable individuals who want to get even more out of their lives.

Here are 5 reasons successful people hire a life coach.

  1. Successful people want faster, better results.

Life coaching propels a client toward achieving their goals faster than they could on their own, and sometimes achieve goals they may never achieve on their own.

The synergy of two people, both client and coach, is powerful. Both parties are focused on and working for the client and that always increases effectiveness and speed.

  1. Successful people want personalized goals and strategies for their specific challenges and life circumstances.

A life coach works individually with clients to help them discover and better understand who they are and what they really truly want. They may use assessment tools or strategically ask the deep questions to help uncover what’s most important to the client.

Then the life coach works with the client to create and develop plans and strategies to achieve their goals.

The process is so effective because the life coach is focused on the client and their best interests, and integrates what the client really wants with what will work best for them as an individual.

  1. Successful people feel stuck too, and want to improve their performance in one or more areas of life.

Even successful people may feel stuck in certain areas of their life. They’ve tried different approaches but it doesn’t seem to improve…month after month, even year after year. They’ve exhausted all possibilities and need help.

Every life area can be a focus for improvement: work, health, finances/money, relationships (intimate, family, friends), spirituality, fun, hobbies, and growth/learning.

A person’s profession and the work they’ve been doing for 15 or 20 years may not be fulfilling anymore, and they have no desire to progress to the next level there. Their heart isn’t in it anymore and they’re not sure what to do next.

Other people still love their work, but may feel the need to improve their performance at work after a particularly challenging quarter or year, or to resolve specific conflicts they’re having at work.

Sometimes people want to improve their confidence in a certain situation, or improve their relationships with family members.

And health and wellbeing are also popular areas for improvement through life coaching. I see this as a new priority for people who excel at work or in taking care of others (parents, children, partners) and then their own health and wellbeing takes a backseat.

  1. Successful people want more clarity about their life and what options are available to them

We all go through major changes throughout our lives: new jobs/careers, marriages, divorces, finding a new partner, creating a new business, or experiencing financial ups and downs.

Getting really clear on the next best step as people embark in these new experiences, and evaluating your best options is key to future success.

Some people are interested in exploring their life purpose, they know or feel there is something missing and need focused work with a life coach to determine what it is.

Professional life coaches are skilled at asking powerful questions, listening to what the client is saying or not saying, building trust, keeping the client focused and showing empathy and support. These skillsets foster clarity, prioritization, consistency in follow through and achieving phenomenal results.

  1. Successful people want a trusted partner to help them design and achieve their desired future.

Trust is key in the coaching relationship. Sure, people can get advice and help from friends, family or other professionals but there may be other motives involved and your trust may be broken. In fact, many people don’t feel comfortable opening up at work or in certain relationships because it makes them feel vulnerable.

As a trusted partner, a professional life coach places the client’s needs ahead of their own in the coaching relationship, and adheres to a code of ethics and standards.

The coaching relationship grows stronger over time, but in my experience clients feel at ease and openly share their thoughts and feelings rather quickly. They understand it is a safe, professional environment and that I’m here to help.

Because life coaching is action-oriented, and focused on the present and future, designing plans and taking action steps are natural outcomes of coaching sessions. Life coaches provide accountability and help the client stay the course toward achieving goals that support their future state.

Choosing a Life Coach

In choosing a life coach, make sure they’re a good fit for your needs and have the skills of a professional coach plus additional experience to help you achieve your goals efficiently and effectively.

You may want someone that has experienced the same challenges as you, or has a similar background so they understand the nuances of what you are going through on a daily basis.

For example, I coach driven corporate professionals and business owners who have a tendency to work too much. I relate really well with them because of my background working in Corporate HR, now owning my own business, and my own experience of learning how to effectively deal with overwork and overstress.

Many life coaches offer exploratory calls where you and the coach can test each other out, and I suggest you pay attention during that call for the skills mentioned above. Trust your gut about the connection you have with the life coach, and if you’d work well together to achieve the results you want.

A coach who makes you feel inspired, keeps you accountable and focused, and helps you get into taking action is absolutely worth your investment of time and money to achieve your highest potential in life.

Are you ready to gain greater insight into your work or life challenges and see how Energy Rapport™ Coaching can help? Book a free Insight call with me here.

Photo by Rawpixel on Unsplash

Is Stress a Major Factor in Low Employee Engagement?

Is Stress a Major Factor in Low Employee Engagement?

Back in my corporate days, employee engagement was a big deal – and it still is today. As a Human Resources Business Partner, every year I partnered with Gallup and company leaders to run employee surveys, track metrics, and create and implement engagement programs with the goal to increase our employee engagement.

A highly engaged workforce means the difference between a company that outperforms its competitors and one that fails to grow. Gallup’s 2017 State of the Global Workplace survey finds striking differences between the most engaged workplaces and ones that aren’t, specifically: 21% greater profitability, 17% greater productivity, 41% less absenteeism and 24% less turnover. Gallup also reports in that same survey that 85% of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work. Said in another way, only 15% of employees are engaged.

I think about employee engagement in a holistic way – looking at the employee as a whole person, not just the one that comes to work.

Human beings are complex, and multiple factors should be taken into consideration when looking to improve engagement including health, wellbeing, relationships, and finances. Because of my experience with chronic stress and burn-out, both personally and with helping others struggling, I know the impact that stress can have on engagement.

Think about it: when you’re under a lot of pressure, are you making the best choices or acting the same as you would when at ease? Even now, when I’m under a tight timeline to get something done, I can sometimes get short with colleagues and feel some unwanted anger and anxiety creeping in.

Too often at companies I worked for and with current coaching clients, I see conflict in the workplace due to the pressures of a fast-paced and toxic environment. The pressure and subsequent stress seemed to change the people and their typical behavior for the worse. They’d lash out, yell, get angry, and have to apologize later (some never did). It’s not the best behavior in a professional work environment, or any environment really.

Recognizing employees comprehensively, as complete people, is a great approach to increasing engagement. In fact, some companies are beginning to evolve their workplace wellness to address stress and provide unique all-encompassing offerings. For example, the company Asana has “nap rooms” where employees can de-stress and recharge. They also offer mentor programs that provide coaching, along with monthly workshops with different health-themed focuses like an immunity boost workshop before flu season.

Intuit’s program offers meditation and mindfulness classes as reimbursable expenses as well as incentives for employees engaging in stress-reduction habits, like practicing breathing exercises, taking walks or listening to calming music. Their website provides mindfulness resources and employees see “mindful moment” tips on the whiteboards in the conference rooms.

If you’re not fortunate enough to work at a company that provides these types of trailblazing programs, you still have options. If you’re in a leadership role, you can suggest bringing similar initiatives to your workplace, reinforcing the importance of high employee engagement and its impact on profitability.

Or you can personally pursue any of the examples above, like taking a walk, mindfulness classes, working with a coach or mentor, listening to calming music – until your company provides them. Yes, it would be better to have it included and paid for by your employer. But if you value your wellbeing, you’ll find the time and money.  

We all can benefit from learning more about increasing engagement and taking steps to increase it. Prioritizing and supporting employees’ success at work, and our own success overall as people, is key.

6 Ways to Be More Productive While Working From Home

6 Ways to Be More Productive While Working From Home

Working from home offers so many benefits, to companies and employees. Companies are seeing the cost savings and now have home working policies that allow their employees to work either full-time, part-time or casually from home.

Employees enjoy the flexibility, the quiet and comfort of your own home office, and the time and financial savings by eliminating a daily commute. These benefits were enough for me to stick with it for more than 12 years now.

I’ve worked from home during my Corporate Human Resources career in a Fortune 200 company, and more recently as a business owner and professional coach. Two very different environments for sure, but I’ve learned more than a few strategies to stay productive while maximizing work time with personal time, to get the best out of my professional life.

Here are 6 ways you can be more productive while working from home:

1. Pretend you’re not at home to minimize distractions. This was easy for me because I had the experience of working in a traditional office setting for years. But even if you’ve always worked from home it’s simple to avoid distractions by acting like you’re not at home.

That means not answering the door when someone is knocking, not putting the TV on (even on your lunch break, binge watching is real folks), and not cleaning the house during business hours. Stay focused on your work tasks.

Have a dedicated office area, with a door, especially if you live with others (spouse, kids, or roommates) that will be at home while you’re working.

You might miss a few things by pretending you’re not at home, but they’re most likely not important, and you’d miss them if you really were working in a traditional office building.

2. Work during your hours of peak productivity. Everyone has a particular time of day where they are most productive – we aren’t machines made to work 8 or more hours with the same level of productivity.

Pay attention to your energy levels and work output during the day and figure out what time of day is the best for you. Then schedule your most important, high priority items for that same time.

For some people, including me, the morning hours are when they can really crank out the deliverables or be most creative if that’s what’s required for their work. And they’ll schedule less demanding items like staff meetings, returning phone calls or working on email for the afternoon.

Others tend to do better in the afternoon or evening hours, and if they have the autonomy and flexibility in their work schedules like a business owner, writer, or artist may, will start their work in the late morning or afternoon.

3. Pick a time that is your official end of the workday, just like you would leave the office to go home in a traditional office. When working from home, it’s easy for you to think you have all day to do your tasks, or to carry them over into the evening if you have no other plans that night.

This could lead to procrastination and not getting things done in a focused and timely manner. If you don’t have an end to your workday, you’ll find yourself working all the time just because you can.

Separating your work and personal life prevents overworking and the burnout that is so prevalent these days.

During my HR career, and even now as a coach, I see how work-related burnout can lead to job dissatisfaction and health issues – very quickly and in many cases without realizing how harmful it is until you’re in the hospital with a serious health condition.

4. Shower and get dressed. During my time working in Corporate, we used to joke about people working from home staying in their pajamas all day or working from their comfortable bed. In fact, I really think some people were doing that, to their own detriment.

Having a morning routine that includes showering and getting dressed puts you in the right state of mind for getting work tasks done.

5. Keep friends away during work hours. It sounds like obvious advice, but can easily become a problem if you don’t set boundaries and expectations with friends from the beginning.

When I worked from home I had friends that either weren’t working for various reasons, or had different work schedules than me, and inevitably wanted to make plans during a workday to have lunch or visit. They thought I was home and available, not home and busy working.

Again, treat this situation as if you were working from a traditional office. Don’t invite friends over to your home during work hours – would you invite them to your office building while working?

Instead, go out to lunch at a restaurant and keep it to an hour or less, knowing you have to be back to work on time.

6. Plan, plan, plan. By planning everything out, things like your lunch breaks, email time, or prep time for a meeting, you don’t overcommit yourself and still have time to get your tasks done throughout the day.

Be sure to share your schedule with your coworkers where needed, so they know when you’ll be available and when you’re not going to be reachable.

One summer, in my teens I worked in a medical doctor’s office and quickly learned about planning your schedule, sticking to it, and setting expectations with coworkers and patients.

The doctor’s schedule was all planned out, with appointments during specific hours, specific times he would call the pharmacy and the times he would return patient calls.

So if a patient needed to speak to him, it was communicated to them when he’d be returning calls so they could make it a priority to be available then.

If you are fortunate enough to work from home be sure to implement one or more of the above strategies to increase your productivity and have a more fulfilling work life.

 

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash