Did you know that this is officially the first full week of fall? Every time of the year brings gifts that you can leverage to improve your work and your life. Four simple questions covered below can help you supercharge your success this season…
Fall marks the transition between the bright and dark halves of the year – and it brings with it opportunities that are easy to overlook in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.
This week’s video will help you make the most of this auspicious time in a way that’ll help you get where you want to go in the coming months (and year ahead).
For more on how let go of the old to make room for the new, check out How to Soften the Pain of Growth.
Here’s to fall… and to leveraging its gifts to not only finish the year strong, but to setting yourself up for continued success in 2024 and beyond!
Hi, Diane Bolden, Executive Coach and Author of “The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming a Real Leader How to Unleash Genius in Yourself and Those You Lead.”
Can you believe it’s fall?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t know where the summer went. It seems like time is such a blur.
That’s why I love the changing seasons because they kind of jar us awake and you can’t help but notice because you can see it and you can feel it. The days get shorter, and the nights are longer. The temperature drops. The leaves start to change colors and fall from the trees, and even the air smells different.
It’s a time of letting go and preparing for regeneration. Animals start to hibernate. The leaves fall from the trees – but also, did you know, that the energy of plants actually moves from creating and growing new leaves and flowers to developing a really strong root system that’ll help it make it through the winter?
Fall perennials that are planted grow really strong roots so that in the spring they can burst forward with vigorous growth and a profusion of flowers.
And we can take our cues from nature also… slowing down long enough to just catch up with ourselves and connect the dots.
I don’t necessarily think we need to hibernate, but just being able to kind of reflect on where you’ve been, where you’re going, what’s most important to you, and how you can take good care of yourself is so important.
Here are four questions that can help you supercharge your success this season.
1) What is it that you’ve already accomplished over the year so far that you’re proud of, that you can celebrate? And what is it that’s calling to you in the future? What’s most important to you? What is it that you really want to focus your time and energy on?
2) What are two or three things you’ve learned this year? Maybe it’s a skill that you’ve picked up, maybe it’s an insight as to what’s been getting in your way and how you might overcome that. Maybe it’s something that you’ve learned about yourself or even life.
3) How can you take care of your own root system? What is it that you need to do in order to strengthen yourself and prepare yourself to move forward with greater boldness, and ease, and momentum, and get where it is that you really want to go in the coming months – and perhaps, even the year ahead?
4) And finally, what is it that you can let go of? What is it that perhaps has run its course, and is no longer serving you? Maybe it’s a habit or a pattern, or something that you’ve done for a really long time that just really isn’t working for you.
Letting go of things can be hard, even when they no longer serve us because they’re comfortable and they’re familiar. I actually wrote an article about that a few years ago, which I’ll put a link to below. It’s called “How to Soften the Pain of Growth.”
But in the meantime, here’s to fall – to all the things that you’ve accomplished and have yet to accomplish; to taking the time to tend to your own root system; and to honoring the passage of seasons within your own work, and your life to supercharge your success this season!
Thanks for watching.
There are those days…
You know the ones – when everything seems to hit the fan all at once. Sometimes it’s just work, and other times it happens across other areas of your life too. Maybe it’s a bad day. But it could be a tough week, tough month, tough… year?
In times like that, it’s like someone turned up the heat and left it on full blast far too long (kind of like the record-breaking temperatures we had in Phoenix over the entire month of July).
Everything seems to take more effort than it used to. The pressure increases and your energy declines. It might be so hot that you lose your cool and become impatient with people and things (or yourself) in a way that makes things even worse.
If you can relate to any of this, you’ll likely enjoy my latest article in Brainz Magazine, How to Survive Tough Times at Work – Three Tips to Help You Come Out On Top.
And if you’d like more on how to not only survive but thrive during your most challenging times (both at work and at home), check out The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius. Registration is now open!
This program integrates much of the work I’ve done coaching executive clients over the last 25+ years into a thirteen-week curriculum and is especially appropriate for high-achieving professionals experiencing high levels of stress, pressure, and overwhelm.
The fall session will kick off on Thursday 8/31 and run through 11/16. To maximize individualized attention and group interaction, enrollment will be limited to ten people and will close on Friday 8/18.
Want to talk to a real person to get your questions about the program answered? Click here to schedule a brief call directly with Diane.
Here’s to keeping your cool and performing at your best – even in the hottest of times!
We all know we need vacations. Time to rest and recuperate, enjoy our loved ones and have some fun. But all too often, being away creates stress for high-performing executives who dread coming back to loads of work that has piled up. How can you disconnect from work on vacation so you don’t spend your time away preoccupied or getting sucked into email and phone calls?
Here are three strategies for accomplishing this:
(1) Make the decision to completely disconnect from work.
(2) Prepare people in your organization to handle things in your absence.
(3) Set and communicate boundaries and expectations in advance.
It’s not uncommon to come back from vacation feeling like you need another vacation. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you approach your vacation with the same level of thoughtfulness and intention that you do with any project you undertake, you can turn that around. These three strategies will help you create experiences that not only revitalize you and supercharge your performance but also increase the strength and effectiveness of your organization.
Let’s start with the first…
(1) Make the decision to completely disconnect from work.
We all know our electronic devices need to be recharged to work properly. And it’s a no-brainer that they charge more efficiently when we are not using them. However, we often fail to grasp that to replenish our energy, creativity, resilience, determination, and focus – we too need to go offline.
It is often our underlying (and unexamined) assumptions that keep us from truly relaxing.
We are conditioned to believe that the harder we work, the more successful we will be, and that taking our eyes off the ball (even for a day, let alone a week or more) can lead to things spiraling out of control. As a result, many of us have a hard time letting go. We approach our vacations with one foot in and one foot back in the office, checking our phones and becoming preoccupied with work. In this state of mind, it’s easy to get sucked back into anything that appears to be less than optimal.
Few of us realize that this belief itself is the problem, which is why so many struggle with how to disconnect from work on vacation.
It is often the assumption that we can’t afford to let go that leads to most of the stress, pressure, and overwhelm we encounter when we return from our much-needed breaks. Like our cell phones, which are constantly searching for a signal and downloading messages, we too are expending energy even as we try to recharge it. In addition, this belief leads us to become far more susceptible to distractions that take us away from what we are doing at the moment. It also keeps us from doing the preparation necessary to ensure that others can handle things without us while we are away.
Once you realize this underlying belief is the culprit, you can substitute it with a new truth.
Chances are that voice in your head that compels you to check your phone will continue to speak. But when you begin to see the fallacy in that assumption as well as the pain it creates, it doesn’t have as much of a hold on you. You can begin to entertain the possibility that disconnecting will truly serve you (and your organization) and act in ways that make that true. And when you fully commit to a vacation that allows you to go offline, you are better able to prepare in ways that make that possible. This leads to the next strategy…
(2) Prepare people in your organization to handle things in your absence.
Most executives would benefit by delegating and empowering others more in general. Often senior leaders find themselves unable to act strategically because they get bogged down in operational tasks that they really shouldn’t be involved in. So, creating a plan to prepare others to run things in your absence will yield dividends for you (and your organization) long after your vacation is over.
Take some time to identify what is most likely to hijack your relaxation, and plan accordingly.
Identify people in your organization whose skills, experience, and passion are a good match for things you would normally handle yourself. Then take the steps necessary to bring them up to speed and put them in charge while you are away. Create and communicate guidelines that will help them know what to do in situations that would cause you the greatest stress, so they can make solid decisions without you. Taking these steps not only helps ensure consistency and effectiveness while you are away. It also develops key players on your team that, given the right opportunities, can make a bigger impact.
When you return, follow up to help your people integrate what they have learned and build on it.
In addition to increasing their own capability, their fresh perspective may yield insights into how things can be handled more effectively in the future. Additionally, the confidence you place in your staff can go a long way in making them feel valued and appreciated. Implementing this strategy for how to disconnect from work on vacation will allow you to open doors to new levels of performance that benefit your entire organization.
(3) Set and communicate boundaries and expectations in advance.
Most of us are accustomed to setting up automated “out of office” messages in our mailboxes. But we often fail to communicate and manage expectations in advance. As a result, people can feel caught off guard and demanding of your time while you are away. Or, you can feel inclined to respond to something that really isn’t all that urgent out of fear of damaging a relationship or letting a ball drop.
Take the time to talk with others about your intention to completely disconnect from work on vacation.
Make it clear that you do not intend to check email or handle phone calls. Remind them of the guidelines you’ve set on what to do in your absence. And clarify your intention to use this time to replenish your reserves so that upon your return you can more effectively serve them.
When clients believe they will be well cared for and know who in your organization to contact for what, they are much less inclined to interrupt you. If you discuss in advance what things can be done before and while you are gone and what is better delayed until your return, you’ll be able to leave with the peace of mind that everyone is on the same page.
Don’t underestimate the power of your example.
Leaders set the tone in organizations more by what they do than what they say. If you interrupt your vacations to get involved in work, others are likely to feel compelled to follow suit. As a result, the energy of your team wanes, tempers flare, and performance begins to decline. People work harder than ever but don’t seem to get a lot done, or they burn out altogether.
When you apply these strategies for how to disconnect from work on vacation, you’ll exercise true leadership – showing others how to truly revitalize themselves and their performance by modeling it yourself.
If you want to learn to infuse your work year-round with the same freshness and inspiration you feel after a good vacation, consider joining me in the fall session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius.
Registration will open next week, on Monday, July 31! Enrollment is limited and priority will be given to existing clients and those on the waiting list (click the link to join now).
I’m excited to announce that I’ve recently been accepted as an Executive Contributor for Brainz Magazine! Over the coming months, I’ll be writing regular articles about leadership, business, and mindset for Brainz readers to enjoy – I’ll be sure to share them with you all here too.
WHAT IS BRAINZ MAGAZINE?
Brainz Magazine is a fast-growing global digital publication covering Business, Lifestyle, Mindset, Sustainability, and Leadership topics. The editorial teams have a strong understanding of what their readers are interested in, and the magazine reaches over 300,000 people every week, spanning over 65 countries!
Brainz Magazine is known for inviting top entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized companies, scientists, and influential leaders to contribute to the magazine, which they hand-pick for their expertise. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to join them – and to connect you with their work as well.
MY FIRST ARTICLE FOR BRAINZ MAGAZINE – ARE YOU FEELING THE BURN?
If you’re struggling to balance the demands of your busy life and feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Burnout is a serious issue that can have a negative impact on your health, well-being, and productivity. And research indicates it is affecting more of us than ever before.
My first article for Brainz Magazine, Can’t Afford to Slow Down? How to Stop Overwhelm and Prevent Burnout Before It Stops You, explores effective strategies to prevent burnout and manage overwhelm, so you can stay focused and energized. Click the link to read the full article and learn how to take control of your work and life – and better lead others to do the same.
I’ll continue to share future Brainz articles that I publish, as well as ongoing videos and posts I’ll keep creating just for you.
HOW CAN I BETTER SERVE YOU?
On that note, I’m curious… what questions, challenges, opportunities, or issues can I help you with? If there’s something you’d like to hear about, let me know and I’ll do my best to address it in an upcoming video, article, or post.
I look forward to hearing from you and am grateful for the chance to serve you.
Here’s to your success!
I’ve been thinking lately about how much time we all tend to spend stuck on autopilot. You know, that state where you’re going through the motions, checking boxes, running around doing things… but not really accomplishing all that much.
It’s a state of unconsciousness that leaves you wondering where the day went. Sometimes you may not even remember what you ate for lunch, or how the time just got sucked away.
And when you have a lot on your plate, being stuck in autopilot also means you’ll likely end your days in frustration about how little you got accomplished. And wake up the next day feeling like you’re already behind.
But what if there’s a way to break out of that rut and get back on a path that is not only productive, but enjoyable and satisfying as well?
This week’s video will give you some tips for consciously reclaiming your day and effectively accomplishing your most important tasks with ease and grace.
Hi there. Diane Bolden, executive coach and author of the Pinocchio Principle: Becoming a Real Leader –How to Unleash Genius in Yourself and Those You Lead.
Have you ever gotten to the end of a day where you felt like you just didn’t do the things that you really wanted to get done? And then you wake up the next morning feeling like you’re already behind and perpetuating that same state of overwhelm, that frustration, that irritation that you had the day before.
Why autopilot is a problem
It’s really easy to get stuck in autopilot. And the problem with autopilot is whatever it is that you’re doing is going to be repeated on an ongoing basis. Checking boxes and trying to get through the day and feeling overwhelmed doesn’t necessarily bode itself well to high levels of productivity, to creativity, to ingenuity or to satisfaction and fulfillment.
But what if you could break through that? What if you could have an entirely different experience? What if you could interrupt that autopilot pattern and in its place access a zone where you’re productive or you’re enjoying the work that you’re doing or you’re able to access creativity and think outside of the box?
Well, today I want to share with you a tip that you can try to do just that.
The physical laws that contribute to autopilot and overwhelm
Autopilot is largely a product of the law of inertia which essentially states that an object will remain in motion or at rest unless acted upon by an external force in a way that changes the trajectory. So, if you need to change your trajectory, you’ve got to do a bit of a pattern interrupt.
And there’s another reason why this is so important and that is another law of physics, that basically states things that are similar attract each other. And it’s not necessarily just things, but also thoughts. So, when you’re in a state of overwhelm, when you’re in a state of frustration and irritation and worry and anxiety, chances are likely that you’re going to continue to think in ways that perpetuate that state and you’re going to continue to act in ways that perpetuate that state as well. And if you’re not getting results, you’re likely to continue not getting results and then fretting about having not achieved all the things you really wanted to do.
When you’re stuck in autopilot and overwhelm, try a pattern interrupt
When you do a pattern interrupt, essentially, the best thing to do is to flash forward and to start with the end in mind – to identify for yourself, what would it feel like if you were to get to the end of your day and actually accomplish what you set out to do? Can you imagine feeling that rush of gratitude, of satisfaction, of accomplishment? Can you imagine being able to end your workday and go on to spend time with your family or your friends in a way that you weren’t distracted by the things that were still gnawing at you from work?
Start with the end in mind
Take that feeling a step further. Try and identify – what are the most critical things that you need to have done today? And try to pick no more than three to five things that are really, really important to you. Now take some time to do a little writing – not about the tasks that have yet to be done but see if you can flash forward to the end of your day. See if you can envision that you’ve time traveled and that you’re already the version of yourself that has achieved those critical things you identified that are on your list.
See if you can write a note back to the current version of yourself, sharing with yourself how grateful you are that you were able to accomplish what really needed to be done and how much easier it was than you thought it would be, how relaxed and relieved you feel that you actually accomplished what needed to be done, and how grateful you are for the experience. See if you can capture that. Have fun with it, embellish it a little bit.
And when you’re done, go back to consciously starting your day from a whole different mindset and see what happens.
Bonus tip for when you’re stuck on autopilot
I can give you a tip that will help you to continue to perpetuate this new state of conscious intentional visioning all through your day. I encourage you to work in 50-minute spurts. Set a timer if you need to. Work for 50 minutes. See if you can focus yourself intently on whatever it is that you’re about to do. And at the end of 50 minutes, take at least 5 to 10 minutes to give yourself a little bit of a break. Get up and stretch. Walk around, maybe go outside, take some deep breaths, grab a glass of water, listen to some music, whatever it is that you need to do to give yourself a little bit of a rest and then to come back to your task feeling a little more refreshed.
And before you jump in for another 50 minutes, take a moment and review what you wrote to yourself – that letter from your future self talking about how great you felt after you accomplished all those things and get into that state of feeling. Get into that state of having already accomplished it so that now when you go back to actually doing it, it’s almost as though you’re reliving the memory of what it took in order to get there.
Try it for yourself
As I always tell people, don’t believe what I’m saying because I’m telling you. Try it for yourself and see what happens. I can almost guarantee you that you’ll accomplish a lot more than you thought you could just by starting with the end in mind, interrupting that pattern of autopilot so that you can be more conscious and intentional with your day.
Are you familiar with what’s being called The Great Resignation? With resignations and job openings at an all time high, companies are competing to hire and retain top talent. But much of that talent is feeling overwhelmed, overextended and burned out.
Because THE WAY WE’VE BEEN WORKING ISN’T WORKING ANY MORE.
We are at an unprecedented time with regard to work/life integration challenges. Telecommuting allowed us more time at home, but for many it blurred the lines between our work and personal lives, skewing it toward work and leaving many feeling chewed up and spit out.
While it’s becoming clear we cannot go back to the way things were, we must find a way to chart a path that’ll get us where we really want to go – and redesign the way we work from the inside out.
There has never been a better opportunity for leaders to rise up and blaze a new trail. But before they can lead others, they must first do it for themselves. This video was created for those who feel compelled to answer that call.
Are you one of them?
Watch the video to find out, then visit www.UnleashtheExtraordinary.com for more details.
Every once in awhile I treat myself to a massage.
It is especially enjoyable when my muscles are sore. I make a special effort to be as aware of every little sensation as I can – so that nothing escapes my perception. I want to completely immerse myself in the experience and enjoy every second of it.
And when I do this, I have often felt as though it might be possible to slow time down. While this is likely not possible, I do think being intensely present allows us to fill each second of our time with more awareness, more enjoyment and more of life’s sweetness than ever.
I contrast this to how I have felt at the end of a long day.
Faced with somewhat banal or unpleasant activities as being stuck in traffic, cleaning up after our pets, or getting a cavity filled, I’ve found that I can disengage altogether and occupy my mind with other things. And when I do, things seem to have a way of speeding up. The whole experience becomes distant and a bit blurred. I can drive all the way home and not be able to recall a single landmark I passed along the way.
Knowing I can slow down or speed up time for myself like this is interesting to me.
But what is even more intriguing – and somewhat unsettling – is the thought of how much of my life has been spent somewhere between these two extremes, on a kind of auto pilot. How many times when talking with a friend has my mind been somewhere else – reviewing my “to do” list, thinking of what I could cook for dinner, or even determining what I want to say next?
How many times when my kids came proudly marching into the house to show me their latest artwork did I half-heartedly glanced up from what I was doing and offer feigned enthusiasm? What I missed in those moments is something I can never get back.
I used to think it was vital to capture special times on film.
When my kids were young I was intent on capturing photos and video at the kids’ recitals, ball games, or during vacations and holiday dinners. Then one day I realized I was so caught up in getting the perfect shots that I missed those precious moments altogether. And it’s never quite the same when you watch the replay.
So I started resisting the urge to reach for my camera.
Instead, I made it a point to simply immerse myself in whatever was going on. And I believe the quality of my memories has improved significantly – even if I don’t have a lot of photos or videos to show for it.
What if we lived more often with the presence of not wanting to miss a thing?
How much stronger would we connect with each other? How much more of our special moments together would we actually experience and enjoy? How much more trust could we inspire and cultivate? How much more joy could we create?
How many more problems would we solve with solutions that addressed those little things that previously escaped our awareness and came back to bite us? How much more of our very selves could we bring to everything we do and everyone we are with? And how much better the world would be because of it!
Perhaps as we become more aware of the degree to which we are really showing up, we can begin to gauge how much of our lives we are truly living. And then we can consciously create – and enjoy – lives worth living for.
Conscious living is akin to engagement, a topic about which much has been written over the last several years. It is the lifeblood of not only enjoying our work and bringing our very best to it, but also to creating thriving organizational cultures that lead people to come alive, attract raving customers and allow people and organizations to stand out in the marketplace.
If you are interested in increasing your own level of engagement, presence and vitality (and learning how to help others do it too), consider joining me in the spring session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius.
This 13-week leadership development program is designed to help high achieving professionals bring out their very best performance in such a way that fills them up rather than depleting them – and allows them to make a bigger impact doing meaningful, inspiring work while leading others to do the same.
The program will kick off in late April and go through early June. Registration has opened for those on the waiting list and will soon be available to a wider audience. Enrollment is limited to 9 people. To ensure the very best group dynamics, I now personally select participants after talking with them in a brief (20-30 minute) chemistry call to determine whether the program is the right fit.
If you are interested in joining the spring session, you can click here to schedule your chemistry call.
Is there something vital that you’ve been meaning to get to that seems just out of reach? A juicy project, initiative or undertaking that you’re passionate about – that could potentially make a big impact on your career, in your organization, or simply on another human being?
If you’re like most people, the answer is yes. We all tend to have something relatively important we’ve been putting off – for lack of time, energy, focus (or a combination of all three). Sometimes it keeps slipping because other people’s projects and requests tend to take priority.
But more often than not, these critical tasks and projects are in a perpetual state of incompletion because we simply have not gotten serious about carving out time (and energy) to do them. They tend to have a few things in common:
- They require you to think creatively – to bring into form something that did not previously exist or to solve a problem that doesn’t have easy answers.
- It seems the time it will take to do them is greater than the time you have available.
- The thought of jumping in makes you mildly uncomfortable, leading you to be all too inclined to put other things ahead of them.
I know, because the article you are now reading fell into that category for me. So, in effect I wrote this as much for my own benefit as yours.
Below are three simple tips to help you get off the dime and get those essential projects rolling.
(1) Make the decision to stop talking/thinking/planning and start DOING.
The word decision derives from the Latin “decidere”, which literally means “to cut off,” from de- “off” + ceadere “to cut”. Making a decision means cutting yourself off from other options. In the words of Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid, “There is no try, only do.”
Sometimes you can kick start yourself by using this logic in reverse. What if the option you cut yourself off from was the completion of this important task/project/initiative? What would be the impact on your life if you did not do it? How would you feel? And what would the effect be on others?
If you were to flash forward another week/month/year/decade, and you still hadn’t done this thing that has likely been gently (or not so gently) nudging you forward, would you be okay with that?
Conversely, what is there to gain by going all in? How would you benefit? How will the work you are on the verge of doing enrich the lives of others or make a difference in a way that matters? Flash forward and imagine that you have completed it. How would you feel? And what kind of impact would it have on the world around you?
William James once said, “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” Sometimes the very incompletion of a task that has meaning and significance for us is more exhausting than the energy required to actually do it. So, make the decision today to cut yourself off from other options and move into action.
This leads us to the next tip.
(2) Block time and hold it sacred.
Now that you’ve made the decision to get that precious piece of work done, you must dedicate time to do it. Contrary to what you may believe, you don’t necessarily need to have large, uninterrupted chunks of time to make progress. Even the smallest of actions you can take will begin creating momentum that will move you closer to your finish line.
Break bigger projects into smaller milestones and get into the practice of using whatever time you have to take action toward your goals. Challenge your assumptions on how long things will take to get done. Interrupt that chatter in your head that has you believing you don’t have time to make a dent in something by simply moving into action in spite of it. Just get started.
Reserve larger chunks of time by scheduling meetings with yourself. Consider sending yourself a meeting notice, complete with a subject line and an agenda that spells out your objectives in the body of the message. This will serve to direct your attention and focus to what you have the power to accomplish in the time you have reserved.
Regard these meetings you schedule with yourself the same way you would a meeting with a client or your boss. If despite your best efforts, something else must be scheduled in its place, don’t just delete it from your calendar. Find an alternative date and time in the same way you would another appointment that you are committed to.
If upon looking at your calendar it seems there is simply no time available, challenge yourself to use the discernment necessary to create it. What can you delegate, defer or dump? How can you simplify the things that may not require as much time as you thought they would? What things are you involved in that in the scheme of things really aren’t true priorities?
Now that you have allocated time to work on those precious projects, let’s talk about how you can create the kind of space you’ll need to make good progress on them.
(3) Maximize your FOCUS and PRODUCTIVITY.
During the time you have set aside to do that important work that has previously eluded you, it is likely there will be a multitude of things competing for your attention. We are conditioned to believe that taking time for ourselves is indulgent. But in many cases, it is the most generous thing you can do because it allows you to engage in the kind of work that is of greatest service to others.
Despite that fact, many of us are all too quick to defer those projects that bring us the greatest joy to meet the urgent requests of someone or something that is demanding our attention.
Sometimes that is an actual person standing in front of us, but often it is the little ding that tells us an email has landed in our inbox, or the ring of the phone that we are conditioned to answer without even thinking, or the lure of social media or internet surfing that sucks up immeasurable amounts of time that we’ll never get back.
So, it is essential to consciously and intentionally eliminate distractions and create the kind of setting that is most conducive to enhancing your focus and productivity. Close your Outlook or Gmail and your browsers as well. Make the decision not to answer the phone.
Shut your door (if you have one) and/or communicate with others to manage their expectations about when you will become available. If you have the option, you may even consider going to a remote location like a coffee shop or restaurant where you are less likely to be disturbed.
Notice what environment leads you to find your zone of productivity. Some prefer a completely quiet space, while others enjoy ambient sounds around them. Some like music in the background or the sound of water.
Set a timer and designate anywhere from thirty to fifty minutes to do a “sprint” of work followed by a five to ten minute break that allows you to relax, take some deep breaths, move your body, get a drink of water and/or rest your eyes. Research shows this practice will dramatically increase your productivity (and I have validated that through my own experience as well.)
One of my favorite apps is Focus at Will, which offers a variety of background music and sounds that are designed to keep your brain at the right focus level by increasing beta and theta brainwave activity. The program allows you to set a timer, at which point the background sound will stop signaling time for a break.
A few words on why your most important work shouldn’t wait another minute…
We are all conditioned to move so fast from one thing to another checking boxes that it becomes all too easy to sacrifice the strategic in favor of the operational. Those juicy projects and creative visions that beckon to us in our quiet moments are vital not only to our sanity and sense of meaning and purpose, but also to the very future of our organizations and the lives of the people they serve.
The most extraordinary leaders (at all levels of both small and large organizations) heed these calls to break out of business as usual by tending to work that has real significance. In so doing, they experience the rich rewards of fulfilling work that makes a bigger, more sustainable impact in the world.
If you would like to learn how to break out of business as usual to do YOUR best work – in a way that fills you up AND allows you to move the needle, consider joining me in the spring session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius. This exclusive 13-week leadership development experience goes beneath the surface of what most programs deliver, to help you learn to unleash genius in yourself and those you lead.
The program will kick off in late April and go through mid-July. Enrollment will be limited to eight participants. Join the waiting list to have access to registration before it opens to the public.
Imagine that you’re cruising along in your car headed smoothly toward your destination. And then traffic slows to a stop.
Is there an accident ahead? Construction? Some other impediment?
No worries. Your GPS has an alternate route that’ll get you exactly where you need to go.
What if you could find your way around life’s roadblocks with the same ease and efficiency as your GPS system?
The video below will show you how.
It’s an excerpt from The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leaders Guide to Accessing the Freedom and Flow of Your Authentic Genius, an exclusive 13 week leadership development program kicking off next week, on 9/22/21. If you’re thinking about attending there are still a couple of spots available. Click here for more information or to reserve your seat.
Have you ever noticed that your experience directly reflects your state of mind? When your mind is cluttered, your surroundings have a way of mirroring that. Feelings of being scattered are often accompanied by piles of unfinished business everywhere you look or lists and notes of things to do that seem to multiply.
When you feel heavy and bogged down, everything you do will feel harder and more cumbersome.
You may think that the way you feel is a result of your experiences, and that is true — the more you have to do, the more overwhelmed you will feel. But the reverse also applies — the more overwhelmed you feel, the more you are likely to approach things in a way that draws them out — perhaps by procrastinating, making things more complicated than they need to be, or using more energy to resist and worry than it would take to actually get things done. If you become fixated on evidence that suggests you can never rise above the way you are feeling, you’ll trap yourself in vicious circles where you will continue to see that which you long to rise above and feel the frustration of not being able to break free.
In fact, your frame of mind with everything you do will have a direct effect on whether the experience of doing it will be exhilarating and satisfying or frustrating and heavy.
The stories we tell ourselves have a way of coming true – “There’s just way too much to do and not enough time to do it. I’m too busy to do anything fun, to take time out for my family, friends or myself, to ever get beyond the day to day and into those things I dream about…” The way out of the traps we set for ourselves is to start not with our experiences, but our thoughts.
One day a while back, I turned into my driveway and caught sight of the hedges that needed trimming. “Wouldn’t it be fun to drop everything and go cut those right now – to just get out there and work in the yard for awhile?” I found myself thinking. And then I laughed as I realized that this task that seemed so enjoyable compared to the list of things on my plate at that moment was one of the very things I was dreading a few weekends ago. The task itself hadn’t changed, just the way I was thinking about it.
And it hit me that perhaps there was a way to transform all the things I needed to do that day — which were really bringing me down — into experiences that could be lighter and simpler — and maybe even fun. The key had to be in the way that I approached them – in what I was believing about them, and what I was focusing on as I did them. As I became aware of my attitude toward the tasks at hand, I realized that I was more fixated on checking the box than I was on enjoying the experience. And I was also swept up in the belief that the work ahead of me was going to be hard, onerous and complicated.
What if all that changed? What if instead of believing I had to get everything done perfectly, I just played at things, took myself a little less seriously, and lightened up a bit? And what if instead of believing I needed to get it ALL done, I just focused on what was most important — most aligned with the highest priorities in my day and in my life? And what if instead of driving solely toward the outcome, I allowed myself to be fully present in every moment that led up to it? Hmm.
Marcel Proust once said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” And I have also heard it said that when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
The fundamental shift must come not in what you do, or even how you do it, but what you are thinking, believing and allowing yourself to feel about what you are doing.
To this end, setting an intention or statement of our desired experience can be very powerful. If what you want is greater freedom and joy, more meaning and satisfaction and heightened effectiveness, you must align your thoughts around enjoying those experiences before you even start. And you need to become diligently aware of the degree to which your thoughts stay aligned with your overarching intention. When they drift, you can come back to them, remember what you really want, and align yourself with the state you wish to be in once again.
In this way, you can break the vicious cycle of allowing your experiences to bring you down in ways that result in more lousy experiences — and begin anew. You consciously align your thoughts with what you most want, rather than letting them denigrate into the negative emotional states you seek to rise above. Your actions align with your thoughts, and you’ll find yourself coming up with creative ways to simplify, get focused on what is most important and get it done while enjoying yourself in the process – and sharing your joy with everyone around you.
Looking for a better way to lighten your load?
Check out the The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius, an exclusive 13-week leadership development program designed to help high achieving (and often overextended) leaders minimize pressure and stress so they can access their best work — and enjoy their lives more both on and off the job.
Registration for the fall session is now open! The program will kick off on Wednesday 9/22 and go through early December. To maximize individualized support and interaction, enrollment is limited to 8-10 people. Click here for more information or to reserve your seat.