3-Part Article on the Most Effective Ways to Increase Productivity at Work – part 3

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Part 3: The Final Four More Effective Ways to Increase Productivity at Work

In our three-part series, we’ve been exploring the most effective ways to increase productivity at work. I’m glad you joined me for part 3. If you missed the previous sessions, you can find part 1 here, and part 2 here.

Every entrepreneur is busy. No, not just busy. Crazy busy. People who don’t own their own business rarely understand how all-consuming it can be. As we’ve explored these effective strategies to make you more productive, we’ve talked about why it’s so hard to increase your productivity when you’re the owner. You need to learn a new approach to controlling your focus, managing your energy and planning what you do.

You first learned how the world expects you to be productive in school. Be there when the bell rings. Leave when another bell rings. Do what you’re told when you’re told. Show your work – we don’t want shortcuts. It doesn’t matter if you prefer art to math. Or vice versa. Someone else decides what you do.

You honed your time management skills at a job… Show up before the boss. Stay late. Do what you’re told. Look busy. If you work faster, they’ll only give you more to do.

But when you own the place, different rules apply.

Today, I’ll share the final four of a dozen great ways to increase productivity at work.

Avoid procrastination

Nothing kills productivity like procrastination. One of the most common reasons for procrastinating tasks is because we’re not clear how to tackle it. How do I start? What should I do? It will take too long. If you are procrastinating a task, ask yourself this question first. “Is this a task? Or is it a project?”

If you can break a task into several smaller tasks, it’s a project – even if it’s small. And when you can break it down, you should. Once you’ve identified individual tasks, it becomes easier to knock them out one after the other. Soon you’ll build momentum. And momentum is one of the best ways to be more productive at work and stop procrastinating.

Limit the time you spend on tasks

Many entrepreneurs who feel overwhelmed and unable to focus are “time blind.” Most people aren’t able to estimate time. Some are worse than others. Are you often late for meetings because you try to fit in one more thing? Do you start a task you think will take 10 minutes and look up 2 hours later? Decide how much of your time a task is worth. Set an alarm. Stop when it rings.

Quit multitasking

The most important way to be more productive at work is to focus on what you’re doing. Multitasking will not help you get more done. In fact, you’re distracting yourself. It takes time to focus on a task. It might take you 20 minutes to reach full productivity. When you switch tasks, it takes time to pull your brain away from what you’re focused on. Then it’ll be another 20 minutes to get up to speed on the new task. Schedule blocks of time that will allow you to focus on a task long enough to make significant progress. Commit to a single task during that time. Bar the doors, turn off the phone and unplug the doorbell.

Sprint, sprint, sprint

Building your business IS a marathon. But you can get more done every day by sprinting. You face constant distraction, stealing your attention and draining your energy. Make a habit of working in time blocks. When you have a task to do, set a timer and force yourself to put your head down and work full at full speed until time is up. Work in sprints of 15, 30, or 60 minutes depending on the task and your mental energy. Focus on the task in front of you.

During that sprint, don’t answer the phone. Don’t check email. No Facebook. It’s you and your task. If a thought interrupts you, jot it down and set it aside. Focus. You must finish this task. It doesn’t matter how long you can focus. It’s a muscle – the more you work it, the longer you’ll be able to sprint. This is a great way to cut distractions and improve your productivity at work.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on the most effective ways to increase productivity at work I’ve shared over my three-part series. More than enjoyment though, I hope you’ve put what you’ve learned into practice.

It is essential you apply what you learn. If you picked any one of these strategies into practice, you would get more real benefit than if you read a million tips and tricks to improve your productivity.

Learning doesn’t count until you put what you learn into practice. Over the last three sessions, you’ve seen a dozen of the most effective ways to increase productivity at work. Any one of them can make a positive, bottom-line difference in your business and your life. If you use it.

I’d love to hear your feedback. What are your favorite strategies? How are they helping you increase your productivity at work? Where are you struggling? If you have questions, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments. If you’re not seeing the benefit you think you should, sometimes a minor tweak can make all the difference.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these proven effective ways to increase productivity at work.

Linda Walker, PCC, works with “Creative Geniuses.” She helps business owners move from chaos and overwhelm to fulfilment and profit. Traditional approaches to focus, productivity and organization fall short for Creative Geniuses. Linda has created programs for Creative Geniuses on the Entrepreneur’s Journey. Her programs combine group coaching, online training and community. They help entrepreneurs calm the chaos, get more done and have more free time. Get your free report: Top 3 Productivity Hacks for Creative Genius Entrepreneurs.

3-Part Article on the Most Effective Ways to Increase Productivity at Work – part 2

Grab your copy of the worksheet for this article by signing up at the bottom of this article.

Part 2: Four More Effective Ways to Increase Productivity at Work

Every entrepreneur has too much to do and too little time. But you can be more productive at work than you are right now. A few simple strategies can make all the difference.

In our last session, I began Part 1 of a 3-part series where I reveal a dozen of the most effective ways to increase productivity at work. I’d love to hear about the success you’re having implementing the first four strategies I shared. (You are practicing what you learn, aren’t you?!)

Being more productive at work is simple. It’s not easy. Do you try to stay focused? But the day disappears in a blur of emergencies and interruptions? (Do many of those interruptions come from your own brilliant ideas?) Do you start the day with great intentions? But when the workday ends, you have nothing to show for it? Do you ever wish the chaos would stop so you could think?

Until you started your business, you managed your time and your life according to someone else’s plan. You follow someone else’s schedule. You react to whatever anyone throws at you. You do, do, do. And you learned that thinking, strategizing and creating was not productive. But that’s not true when it’s your business.

Now you need to think, even to dream. You need uninterrupted time to do that. And the only way that can happen is if you plan your day and execute that plan.

Today, I’ll share four more of a dozen great ways to increase productivity at work.

Strategy #5: Make a plan and stick to it

Owning your own business means you decide how to spend your day. Don’t let phone calls or emails dictate what you do. Plan a time to answer phone calls and emails. And it should not be during your mental peak. I like to do it before lunch. I know I won’t take longer than necessary because I’m hungry! Prepare your plan for the day and follow it. No one can ignore a ringing phone or dinging computer. During work hours, turn off your notifications.

Strategy #6: Stop interruptions

The smallest interruption is enough to break your focus. Think how hard it is to pull yourself away when you’re focused on a task. When someone interrupts you, you’re confused. You’re still thinking about what you were doing. At first, you can’t understand what they say. Finally, you shift your focus and deal with the emergency – and it better have been an emergency! Now you to face another transition to get back up to speed. Nothing saps your mental energy like interruptions. Plan your availability and let people know. Otherwise, keep your door closed or work from home when you need to focus.

Strategy #7: Measure success in tasks

In Corporate America, it’s become a badge of honor to work long hours. When it’s your business, there’s always more to do. You can rack up a lot of hours! But remember, you’re looking for ways to improve your productivity at work, not spend more hours there. Forget about the number of hours you worked. Focus on the tasks you completed that have an impact. You’re an entrepreneur. The hours you work are meaningless. How many tasks did you check off? (Don’t cheat and fill your schedule with meaningless but easy tasks! Focus on tasks that move you forward!) How much progress did you make? Did you do more today than yesterday? Can you beat your record?

Strategy #8: Focus on progress

Building a business is a marathon. Even becoming an “overnight sensation” takes years. Create rituals and habits that help you make progress each day. Plan your week. Plan your day. Check off tasks. Next. Next. Next. If you make progress every day, you will reach your goals. It’s motivating to have a big dream. But it can be disheartening when the vision never seems to get closer. Focus on ways to be more productive at work every day. Celebrate progress. Before you know it, your goal will be right in front of you.

Remember, none of these strategies work if you don’t use them. The most dangerous words any entrepreneur can say are, “I know that.” You may think you know these strategies. But are you actively using them in your work every day?

I’d love to hear your feedback. What strategies are helping you increase your productivity at work? Where are you struggling? I split this series into smaller sessions so you could put the lessons into practice in your business.

See you next session when I finish off our series on more effective ways to increase productivity at work.

Linda Walker, PCC, works with “Creative Geniuses.” She helps business owners move from chaos and overwhelm to fulfilment and profit. Traditional approaches to focus, productivity and organization fall short for Creative Geniuses. Linda has created programs for Creative Geniuses on the Entrepreneur’s Journey. Her programs combine group coaching, online training and community. They help entrepreneurs calm the chaos, get more done and have more free time. Get your free report: Top 3 Productivity Hacks for Creative Genius Entrepreneurs.

3-Part Article on the Most Effective Ways to Increase Productivity at Work – part 1

Grab your copy of the worksheet for this article by signing in at the bottom of this article.

Part 1: Four Effective Ways to Increase Productivity at Work

As an entrepreneur, or self-employed professional, you face constant demands. You need to make the most of your time. But if you want to get more done, it’s easier to work smarter than to work harder.

If that sounds familiar, I have good news. You can be far more productive at work than you are right now. But you’re managing your time and your life like a production line.

You “punch in” on someone else’s schedule, instead of working when you’re at your cognitive and creative peak. You react to whatever anyone throws at you instead of planning your day and executing that plan. And you do, do, do instead of thinking, strategizing and creating.

But when it’s your business, new rules apply. If you want to be a more productive entrepreneur, I’ll be sharing some simple but effective strategies over the next three sessions.

Today, I’ll share the first four of a dozen great ways to increase productivity at work.

Strategy #1: Love What You Do

When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. When you are passionate about what you do it is easier to stay focused. Passion combined with the right conditions will almost always let you hyperfocus. This is what top athletes call being “in the zone.” It makes high productivity automatic. If you hate what you are doing, it’s impossible to achieve peak productivity.

Strategy #2: Delegate Your Weaknesses

If you wonder, what do I do with all the tasks I hate doing, this second strategy that says: Delegate your weaknesses, will answer that question.

No entrepreneur can be good at everything. You have weaknesses. You also have tasks you hate. I call those my “yuck bucket” tasks. Identify the tasks that need you to work with your weaknesses.

Hint: They’re your “yuck bucket” tasks too! Delegate those to team members better suited to handle them. Remember, the best ways to improve your productivity at work is to do what you love. Focus on tasks where you excel and delegate the rest. This will transform your business – and your life.

Strategy #3: Give Up On Perfection.  

As an entrepreneur, you will work hard and put in long hours but burning yourself out doesn’t help anyone. Entrepreneurs have a personal stake in the business. I get it. It’s your reputation on the line.

But nothing is perfect.

Work smart. Decide how much of your precious time your creation is worth. Make it as good as you can in that time and move on.

Done is better than perfect. If necessary, you can come back to improve it later.

Strategy #4: Is to Take Exercise or Other Energy Breaks

The final strategy in today’s post is to Take exercise breaks.

Stop managing time. People learn to manage time but for an entrepreneur, or self-employed professional, hours aren’t important. Your energy is what’s important.

Especially your mental energy, since your creativity and cognitive abilities depend on it. When your energy flags, take a walk. Do some deep breathing. Stretch. A few minutes will release some tension help you focus again.

What you do is up to you. But several times each day, take a break to recharge and come back stronger. Trying to get more done by pushing through when you feel tired won’t impress anyone. Exercise gets your heart pumping, boosts your energy and helps you focus. You know when you feel tired. Avoid that sugary snack and take a walk or even go to the gym.

The best way, the only way, to benefit from these strategies is to use them. Learning doesn’t count until you put it into practice. I split this into several sessions to give you time to put the lessons into practice in your business. It’s the only way you’ll increase productivity at work.

See you next session with more effective ways to increase productivity at work. If you don’t want to miss it, subscribe below and get your 4 Most Effective Ways to Increase Productivity Worksheet.

Register for the free Creative Genius Entrepreneur’s Roadmap Live Webinar

There are three legs to the Creative Genius’s journey to success as an entrepreneur. Each leg of the journey has milestones. And you’ll traverse peaks, valleys and detours.  But if you master these three skills, you will succeed: 

  • You must focus. When you start, you are single-minded. You can’t imagine a time when your business won’t consume you. But as you put in the hours, the days, weeks… you struggle to focus.  
  • You must plan. You are visionary. You spot opportunities others miss. Your challenge is creating a plan to get from where you are now to what you see in your mind’s eye.   
  • You must streamline. To build a business that can scale and leverage your energy you must do two things. You must systematize the activities in your business. And you must build a team.  

While the journey may seem long, your dream will give you the courage to continue. And the biggest reward is not the success of your business. It’s who you become by undertaking the journey.  

This Live Webinar will take place on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at 8 pm EST /7 pm CST/5 pm PST. Find webinar time in your timezone here.

Register today for your free Creative Genius Entrepreneur’s Roadmap Live Webinar 

Register today for your free Creative Genius Entrepreneur’s Roadmap Live Webinar

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A Creative Genius Entrepreneur Asks THE Tough Question

Years ago, my business went through a rough patch. It’s normal for clients to stop coaching as they achieve their coaching goals. But I wasn’t getting new clients either. I work with entrepreneurs and professionals. The economic crash cost me many clients. The economy was so bad they had to divert limited funds to save their businesses and homes. Around that time, I was having my Web site updated. The programmer made a mistake and destroyed my well-referenced Web site. My Web site had always placed first in search results for my type of ADHD coaching.

But because she removed my site before she was ready to replace it, my Web site “disappeared.” It was as if my Web site had never existed when you googled me.  New clients couldn’t find my site. Soon I couldn’t pay my minimal operating costs or my salary! I had no hope of replacing lost clients through my Web site. I had to drum up business through local contacts. But these contacts scared me.

My best sources were physicians, psychologists and successful business owners. Who was I to ask for their referrals?

Paralyzed by Fear

That fear paralyzed me for months. I’d schedule time to call. Then I’d clean my desk. I’d check emails. I’d check my Web site stats. I was doing busywork. But I’m a coach. I help my creative genius professional and entrepreneur clients overcome procrastination. But here I was procrastinating big time. Does this ever happen to you? What’s holding you back?

Today, I don’t even remember what snapped me out of it. Was it an article I read? Was it a course I took? Was it someone I met? Who cares?

The light came on! I discovered fear was at the root of my procrastination. What’s more, that the fear was completely unfounded. Why was I afraid?

I’d lost confidence. I felt like I wasn’t enough to talk to these people. I thought they’d laugh at me.

It would humiliate me! And that would leave me devastated.

Past Memories Haunt You

I remember the bullying I endured as a teenager. I still remember how bad I felt. Back then, I didn’t think I’d survive the humiliation.

And I didn’t think I’d survive the humiliation again.   We forget we’re grown up now. As an adult, what horrific thing would happen if they laughed at me?

I knew it would hurt. But I realized I wasn’t a child anymore. I would bounce back.    In fact, I did bounce back when I was young, and I’d bounce back faster now.  

Getting Past the Fear

And in that moment, I asked THE question that helped me overcome this paralyzing fear.

Who Did I Want To Be?

Was I satisfied as a scaredy-cat? Was I afraid of a little humiliation?

Or was I a powerful, courageous, businesswoman?

Was I someone who did what it takes no matter what the challenge? I chose the latter.

The next time I sat down to call one of these experts, I caught myself about to clean my desk. I stopped. Then I asked that powerful question: Who do I want to be right now?

My answer convinced me to pick up that phone and make that first call.

Of course, I had no reason to be afraid. Every one of these people I feared were happy to hear from me. And were happy to send me clients! After all, they were professionals. I wasn’t still dealing with a bunch of mean-spirited teenage girls!

There is a small downside. My desk is a mess! But I’ll deal with that at another time.

If fear is at the root of your procrastination, ask yourself “who do I want to be?”

Then, “what are you most committed to, being that person or being safe?

To succeed as an entrepreneur, you must get past your fears and remember who you want to become.

Remember how resilient you are. A Creative Genius entrepreneur shows courage and determination. Even in the face of fear and uncertainty. When you’re able to go beyond this fear, you will become a superhero.

If you have what it takes to bounce back, you can succeed in anything. The only way a Creative Genius entrepreneur loses is if you give up.

Who do you want to be? Do you want to be a fearless entrepreneur? Get your copy of the Top Three Productivity Hacks For Creative Genius Entrepreneurs.

 

Resolutions: a Trap or a Fresh Start?

Are you an entrepreneur? A self-employed professional? Maybe you’re an adult with ADHD. So many of my clients (who all fall in one of these categories) have given up on making resolutions for the New Year. They can feel like you’re just setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.

Resolutions Help Decide on a Direction

Unfortunately, when you avoid resolutions, you give up on fresh starts. A resolution is an opportunity to draw a line in the sand and make a start fresh. It’s the best way to make improvements in your life. If the word resolution brings up feelings of incompetency for you, call them “intentions”, “decisions”, “a promise to yourself”, or a “direction”.

I’m always looking to become a better version of myself. Entrepreneurs need to constantly strive to be better versions of themselves to succeed. That’s why I refuse to give up on resolutions. I make resolutions to improve the quantity and quality of my sleep. I resolve to get in better physical shape. And I certainly want to socialize more with friends. Yes, I may fail to meet my goals. But any improvement is better than not trying.

Resolutions Build Excitement

Resolutions can help you choose and get excited about the projects you want to pursue this year. I’ll be launching two new and improved group coaching programs, Focus to Freedom and Plan to Succeed. I’m excited about helping more people reach their full potential.

What would you like to be excited about this year?

To increase your chances of achieve the change you desire, be aware of and solve the resolution traps. What are they?

The Resolution Traps

  1. A Decision with No Plan: Admittedly, most resolutions don’t bring lasting change. The problem isn’t the resolution. The problem is the poor plan for implementing the changes we want.
  2. An All or Nothing Attitude: ‘Black or white’ thinking is a problem. When we decide to lose 20 lbs., we go all in. We start strong! We go to the gym seven days a week. We eat kale every day. We quit smoking and drinking. Something’s got to give. When it does (and it will!), we miss a day or indulge in a piece of cake. Then we throw up our arms in disgust. We failed!

Avoiding the Traps

Adopt layered learning. What is layered learning? It’s a way humans were designed to change.

Layered learning looks like this:

  1. You decide to get healthy.
  2. You make incremental changes. Like becoming more physically active by taking the stairs when you can. Then you add 10 minutes of exercise twice a week. You drink more water.
  3. You implement these small steps and learn from them. You realize you need to carry a bottle of water with you to be able to drink more water. You look for more stairs to add into your travels. You realize you like going to the gym, so you up it to 20 minutes!
  4. You make small adjustments and improvements.

If you falter, you don’t abandon your resolution. You decided to improve your healthy habits.

You stick to that decision. But you stop and ask…

  • What went wrong?
  • What adjustments do you need to improve your chances of success?

5. You make adjustments and observe.

You’ve been learning that way from Day One. You learned to walk, one shaky step at a time. Once upon a time, you could only babble. Now you speak your mind. You would never have learned to do these things without Layered Learning.

Apply that lesson to the rest of your life and make 2020 and all the years to come better and better.

What project are you excited about for this year?

What Makes Us Happy… It Isn’t What You Think

By Linda Walker

It’s getting to be so difficult knowing what gifts to give to your loved ones at the holidays. We all have so much “stuff.” Do we need more “stuff” to be happy? That’s a big “No.” That’s when I began to imagine what affordable yet memorable gifts I could give. I had some interesting ideas, so I thought I’d share them with you here.

What Makes Us Happiest

Studies tell us that the money you earn over $75,000 in annual income doesn’t make you happier. Neither do the things more money buys. What does make us happier? “Experiences!” Here’s what I mean by that.

Remember a time you bought tickets to a concert, a play, or a trip you’d been anticipating. As soon as you buy the tickets, it could be months before the event, you begin enjoying the experience. Anticipation of the event is a big part of the experience! Your brain’s reward center floods with dopamine. This help the Creative Geniuses and adults with ADHD I work with who lack dopamine.

Then comes the big day! The real live experience happens! You enjoy it, you make memories, it’s amazing! More dopamine hits! If someone else gifted it to you, you’re reminded of their gift and are grateful; another dopamine hit! Months, even years later, you describe the experience to others. You relive it again and flood your brain with more dopamine. Experiences are the best gifts you can give and receive. They flood your brain in dopamine as you wait for the big day. A dopamine flood again during the experience. And they live in your memory, flooding your brain with dopamine again and again!

What Makes a 73-Year-Old Grandmother Jump Like a Teenage Girl at a Beatles Concert

A few years ago, I gave my mother tickets to a Fleetwood Mac concert. She is their Number ONE fan. She was so excited. I kid you not, my then 73-year-old mother jumped up, screaming like a one of those teenage girls at a Beatles concert. She was so excited! It was a great gift for her but also an amazing gift for me! I loved to see her so excited. Then, of course, going to the concert was a great experience we still talk about today.

My grandkids live very far away. I only see them twice a year. They have a huge extended family so the kids have almost every gift under the sun. It’s hard to get them something they’ll appreciate. So, what do you give them? I know my oldest grandson loves reading, so I got him a subscription to National Geographic for Kids. Several times a year, he gets something new to read from me. And it reminds I love him.

The Gift of Creativity

Of course, one of my most famous and successful “experience” gifts I gave to my husband. When we were struggling with his ADHD, life wasn’t much fun. He was under stress and felt guilty for not pulling his weight at home. He didn’t feel he deserved to treat himself to any downtime. I wanted him to have the chance to develop his amazing artistic talents. I enrolled him in an art course as a Christmas gift. The course forced him to take two and a half hours a week to do honor one of his gifts. He loved the course! It helped him relieve stress. He became so much calmer after attending the weekly classes it was a gift for the whole family! And it was a catalyst for his art career.

Many of my clients’ spouses register them to one of my group coaching or online programs. These courses help them improve their productivity. But more important, it helps them find time and energy to do what they want in life. I’m revamping my programs to be better than ever, so I’m not trying to sell you anything. They aren’t available right now. But consider the gift of a course that will improve your loved one’s life.

Memberships are also great gifts. The Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) is an organization serving adults with ADHD. They offer webinars, virtual support groups and more great services minimal cost.

Giving Is Also a Gift

Another great gift is to give money to charity. You can also volunteer as a family during the holidays. Each year I’ve given to charity in the name of my loved ones instead of gifts. World Vision has a catalog of projects you can gift.

My mom is an advocate for school children, teaching to prevent abuse and bullying. Each year I give money to save child soldiers or young girls sold into prostitution on her behalf. My father-in-law is a retired farmer. I give a donation to equip poor families with what they need to start a farm to feed their families in his name.

My oldest daughter and her family adopt a struggling local family. They assemble a gift basket of all the fixings for Christmas dinner and toys for each of the family’s children. A local organization involves the whole family in the experience. Everyone gets those dopamine shots that make you happy when you help others. These types of gifts remind us to be grateful for all we have and to pay it forward.

Enjoy your holidays. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Procrastination Is a Habit: Here’s How to Break It

By Linda Walker

Creative Geniuses tend to procrastinate. Or at least that’s one thing they complain to me about. Business owners wear many hats. Even if you love your business, there are plenty of less enjoyable tasks you’re tempted to put off. And since there are always new emergencies popping up, it’s easy to keep kicking them down the road.

If you do this often enough, you might even begin to think it’s who you are; you might think, “I’m a procrastinator.” Keep saying that and soon it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You begin to think it’s in your DNA. But that’s not empowering. Since you can’t change your DNA, you think there’s nothing you can do about your procrastination. It’s also completely wrong.

Procrastination is a habit. And you can replace a habit.

Let’s look at how you developed that procrastination habit and what you can do about it.

Procrastination Is a Learned Behaviour

Creative Geniuses often have difficulty making decisions. Your brain makes many random connections. This is the secret of your creativity but gives you too many options! Faced with uncertainty, you hesitate. Once you hesitate, you’re easily distracted. Your brain isn’t activated by importance. It’s interest, passion, urgency and excitement that get your attention. In fact, you’ll do anything to avoid boredom, no matter how important the task. If you’re bored or uncertain, your go-to approach is to delay or divert your attention to a different task.

Unfortunately, delaying or diverting your attention to a different task is very “rewarding.” When you put off a necessary but boring or uncertain task long enough, it becomes urgent. Your brain activates on urgency so leaving things until the last minute is rewarding. (Yes, it’s hard on you and the people in your life in the long term, but right now, “Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?” has become your motto.) Over time, this became a habit of procrastinating.

You Can Replace Your Procrastination Habit

What is a habit? Habits are anything we do automatically. There are good habits and bad habits (does anyone else feel like we have way more bad habits than good habits?) A habit is a series of routine behaviors you complete when a trigger occurs. Completing that routine gives you a reward. It’s very difficult to stop a habit. To do this, you need to identify the source of the habit. Is the trigger boredom, uncertainty, indecision, lack of planning, lack of focus, fear…?

Once you understand what trigger activates the routine, you can try to get rid of the trigger. For example, you could delegate boring tasks rather than put them off. Or you could plan better to avoid indecision. One client was always late to the office because he took so long to get dressed. He fixed that by planning all his outfits for the week on Sunday evening. He chose his shirt, tie and suit and even put underwear and socks in his shirt pocket. No more morning decision-making.

Sometimes you cannot stop the trigger. But by playing with the elements of the habit, you can replace it with a different habit. You do this by creating new behaviours you repeat each time you’re faced with the trigger. For example, if you can’t focus on a task now, don’t put it off because you “don’t feel like it.” Choose to schedule the task at a time when you will have more focus.

When you’re tempted to put off a task because of indecision, choose to use a decision tool instead. List the pros and cons of a decision and act on your analysis. (If the pros and cons balance out, you could flip a coin! Acting is often better than procrastinating.) If you’re putting off a task that bores you, delegate it. Or take a different approach. Go work in a coffee shop. Commit to an accountability buddy. Phone a friend and tell her you’ll have this task done in an hour. Call her back to confirm. Or invite others to do it with you. One client gathered coworkers in the conference room on Friday afternoon to finish their paperwork. Once everyone finished, they ordered pizza.

Focus on the Reward

When you want to create a new habit, pay attention to the reward. With the right reward you can replace procrastination with a more empowering habit. To create a habit, you must repeat your new routine each time the trigger occurs. Make sure the reward for this new routine is as good or better than the reward you get from procrastinating.

Notice the win. Reinforce the new routine by celebrating the win. Notice how you feel when you’ve completed the task. Recognize who you had to be to get it done. You’ve become someone you and others can count on! Celebrating reinforces the benefit you get from completing the task. We rarely celebrate procrastinating. Making a fuss about completing the task helps repeat the behavior in the future.

Procrastination as a habit, not a character flaw. After all, you have the power to change the habit and stop procrastinating.

The Choices You Make for Your Time are the Choices You Make for Your Life

By Linda Walker

I attended the Entrepreneur Experience conference in San Diego last week. Rachel Hollis, author of Girl, Stop Apologizing was one of the speakers. She said something that gave me pause. It might give you pause too. She said “You have the time to do what you want, but you choose to do other things instead.”

My first thought was, “Are you kidding me? I have no time, I’m busy, busy, busy!”

When Someone You Respect Says Something You Don’t Want to Hear

So here’s the thing, when someone I respect says something I disagree with. Or they outright irritate me, I journal about it. Not to complain. But to question my thoughts about it. More about that another day.

Have I have been making the wrong choices? Have I been busy doing something besides the important things I need to do?

I had to say I have. I’ve been “binge learning”. I love learning. And I do need to continue learning. We all do. But – I spend many hours of my day learning – not using this knowledge, not sharing it.

And sharing my knowledge. Helping you. That’s what gives me joy. And it’s more helpful for you! Not doing what I want to do is causing all sorts of anxiety and guilt.

You Have Some Choices to Make

You ever think the universe aligns to hit you over the head with messages you’ve been ignoring? This was one of those times. I’m updating my Focus to Thrive program and today I filmed, “We have 24 hours to fill each day. We are already so busy, it’s impossible to add more. We have to make some choices. You can’t keep doing more. And more. And more! You need to drop something.”

Thing is, I’ve been saying this to my clients for years.  So why was I not choosing what I do more carefully?

The Choices You Make Say Something About You

You choose and accept what you’re already doing. Or you can choose to create space in your schedule to do what you want to do. But to do that, you must give up some of what you’re currently doing. It could be something easy, like watching cat videos. Or it could be hard, like not hanging out with your friends as often.

What Brings You Joy? What You Choose to Do with Your Time Is What You Choose for Your Life

Once I realized I did have the choice, the decision was easy. I want to share what I learn. I want to connect with you. I want to make your life better. Because I LOVE doing that!

I want to, and need to, continue to learn. I need to block out specific times for learning. But I’ll use time boxing to limit the time I spend learning. And I’ll use time I save to write more. You’ll be hearing from me a bit more. I hope you see that as a good thing! J

Now it’s your turn

What are you choosing to do instead of what you need to do? To grow? To achieve your goals? To succeed?

What choices do you need to make?

I’d love to hear what you’ll do: Share what you want to do more of?

What will you remove from your schedule to carve out more time for that?

Happy Quitters’ Day! Now What?

I’m curious. What are you striving for this year? Do you have a plan for how you’ll get there? New Year’s Resolutions are popular. But they aren’t very effective. If you’ve adopted a New Year’s resolution, there’s an excellent chance you’ve already abandoned it. In fact, on January 12, you can wish people “Happy Quitters Day”! Studies show this is the tipping point. On this day more New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside than are still in effect.

Don’t feel bad if you’ve abandoned your resolution. Some people have given up striving for personal growth. They are so discouraged they have given up trying to become a better version of themselves. They’re afraid of deceiving themselves and others around them. We all want this year to be better than last year. But New Resolutions are an ineffective way of making that happen. If you’ve become frustrated with the whole process of making resolutions, I don’t blame you.

A typical New Year’s Resolutions hasn’t got a chance because:

  • It’s unrealistic. News flash. You cannot change all your bad habits in one fell swoop, even if it is a New Year!
  • It’s not sustainable. Two hours of working out every evening is not possible. Even Olympic athletes allow for days off.
  • It lacks backbone. A resolution cannot work alone. You need a plan for how you will make it work.
  • It is pass/fail, with no room for nuance. No one gets ideal results on the first try. You must be free to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and adjust your approach.

So instead of New Year’s Resolutions, what can you do?

  • Identify what you want to achieve. Then get very clear on why it’s important to you. Focus on the “Why” for motivation.
  • State your goal as if it was already happening. Say “I’m taking steps to increase sales by 50%.” This is much more powerful than saying “I want to increase sales this year.”
  • Create one new habit that will help you reach your goal. To increase sales, you could increase the number of sales calls each week. You could by publish one new article each week on your blog, publish it on social media to increase engagement with your clients. You could attend one new networking event each month. To name a few…
  • Start with small steps. Radical changes cause too much stress because they take you far out of your comfort zone. Start small and make incremental steps that let you stretch your comfort zone. As you get more comfortable, raise the stakes.
  • See “failure” as a learning opportunity. Then adjust your plan. Don’t quit, make small changes to your habits.
  • Reward yourself. Notice what you’ve accomplished. Don’t waste energy fretting about not achieving what you’d hoped. Celebrate even small wins. Being a tough taskmaster doesn’t help you reach bigger goals. Celebrating increases your energy and provides an experience you’ll want to repeat. When you celebrate progress, you’ll want to continue that progress.
  • Start now! Don’t wait until everything is perfect to get started. Nothing will ever change because things are never perfect. Don’t wait until you have time. Make time.

Be happy no matter what. If you achieve your goals, celebrate! If you don’t reach your goals, striving towards them has already changed you for the better.

So now, let me know what new habit will you be adopting this year?