Category Archives: personal productivity

Journal page

Every year around this time, I unplug for a few hours to take stock of my accomplishments during the past year and capture my dreams, wishes and intentions for the coming year. Based loosely on a process shared by architect Sarah Susanka, I journey through the past year, take stock of the present and throw my anchor forward and capture my desires and longings for the year ahead on paper.
It’s a three part process so I split it up over the course of three days. A journal to use just for this process and a couple of hours a day for those three days are all you need. Consider it your strategic planning for your life for the year. Make some time for it this year and then make it an annual process.

Step 1: The year in review

Write down all of your accomplishments since January 1. Every single thing you created, instigated or facilitated. The wonderful dinner party you threw in February? Yep. The impromptu ski vacation you snagged for cheap in March? Got it. The promotion you got in May? Cha-ching! Teaching your niece to parasail in July? Absolutely. Managing the household, kids and finances single-handedly while your spouse was in Asia for a month in August? An exhausted yes. And the time you channeled Martha Stewart in October and cranked out terrific Halloween costumes for the kids? Without a doubt.
We often don’t take enough time to celebrate our successes. This is your time to revel in all you created, made happen and otherwise kicked-butt at in the past year.

Step 2: The radical present

With all you’ve accomplished clearly visible in the rearview mirror, connect deeply with your current state. What are the concerns and interests that have the most significance for you right now? What music, art, books or movies are you moved by currently? What are you resisting or reluctant to do? Are there any things you are trying to force into existence? And what synchronicities have you noticed recently?
Connecting deeply to our present state, or “getting current” as Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way names it, prepares you for creating your wishes and dreams for the coming year, Step 3.

Step 3: The year in advance

What do you want in your life in the coming year? In all areas of your life – work, family, personal relationships, fun, home/environment – what do you want to have happen? Take each area individually and explore for yourself what your heart desires. From changing jobs to being more present with your children to hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with your best friend from grade school, write them all down. Explore the contours of your dreams for the coming year.
The more you allow yourself to play in this exercise, the more you will connect with what you are yearning to make happen in your life. And when you allow yourself to think about it, you start the amazing process of bring it into being.
The best part of this exercise comes a year from now. Once you’ve completed this process, put the journal away until next year. Then, start the process with a leisurely read of the past year’s entry. You will come away amazed and inspired by what transformed in your life in the past year.

Do you have other end-of-year rituals? Please let me know in the comments. 

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    hugging

    With September and a new school year right around the corner, it seems like the perfect time to think about habits at home.

    When you come in the door from work, what are the first few things you do?  Do you complain to your spouse about your boss?  Do put on your running shoes and get some exercise?  Or do you hug your kids or your dog?

    For the next few days, pay close attention to the predictable patterns that play out when you get home from work. Do they support you in creating a life that you love, both inside and outside of work?  Or are your “at home” habits derailing you?

    In this “back to school” season, you may find the perfect opportunity to change your habits. Even if you don’t have kids or they are done with school or not yet entered school, there is change in the air every September. Let it buoy you along as you make positive changes to your at home habits, creating a life you love to live, both at work and at home.

    What habits support you at home?

    Let me know in the comments below.

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    keyboard

     

    I’m breaking up with email.

    I’m in an all-out effort to be more productive and focused. As such, I’m experimenting with various productivity techniques. This week, I’m reducing my dependency on email as a distraction and a vice. It’s harder than I thought. Way. Harder.

    I’ve long touted the benefits of checking email two or three times per day when teaching emerging leaders how to be more strategically effective. And just between you and me, I thought I practiced this myself.  Until I got real with myself this week and actually turned email off – closed the application, the webmail version and turned off the “new mail” chime on my smartphone.  Then the shizzle got real.

    Take this morning for example: I’m in my office, prepping for a speech I’m giving on Friday. I’m combing through data from interview research to find the most compelling stories to support the points I’m making. As soon as I bump up against a challenge, like not easily finding a story that illustrates my point, I reach for email.

    Or as soon as I come to a natural transition point, I reach for email. I just completed one of the sections of the speech.  I have only one section to go (plus the conclusion), and what do I do? I reach for effing email. Sheesh!!

    I’ve often spoken about how email is as addictive as cocaine, sugar and Facebook. Somehow, I thought I was immune. I think we all do.  We think that we are stronger than that. We, certainly, don’t succumb to the dopamine rush that the brain produces when we get a new email.  But alas, we do. Totally.

    From an addiction standpoint, email has the perfect combination of elements:

    • It’s infrequent. You never know exactly when one is coming. Which makes it so much more exciting when you get one!
    • It’s personal. Even if it is a mailing list you are subscribed to, it’s most often addressed to you personally.
    • It’s the perfect procrastination tool. It feels like work. Like important work.

    And so, on this morning, as the minutes tick down until noon, when I can next check my email (one hour, fourteen minutes to go), I reach for my blog instead, hoping for a hit of dopamine somewhere down the line, when a reader comments on the posting.

    Perhaps blogging will become my next vice.

    And, if you’ve sent me an email this morning . . .

    expect a response at either noon or 4:00 pm.

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    fitness_assessment

    I’m starting to work with a fitness trainer.  This morning I did a comprehensive fitness assessment with my trainer and I gave it my ALL. I left nothing in me. Zero. Zilch. Nada.  I poured it all onto the mat, the treadmill, the weights.  At the end, I was exhausted and wobbly. And it felt terrific.

    I was furnished with an 11 page report that shows that, indeed, I performed to the very best of my ability. The pages confirm what I feel in my body: exhaustion and pride in a job well done.

    Here are five reasons to give it your all, but only sometimes.

    1. You show yourself (and others) what you are capable of. Giving it your all is a proving ground. Whether it is a performance, a workout, a sales record, a project well managed or something else, you will show what you’re made of when you put it all on the line.
    1. You can do more than you thought you could. You will surprise yourself. I certainly didn’t know I had 15 consecutive, well-paced push-ups (with excellent form, no less!) in me. I scored above average for women of my age on that section. Who knew! I surprised myself and you will too.
    1. In a word: Accomplishment. You will feel proud of yourself for what you’ve accomplished. Success breeds success. There is nothing like laying it all out on the pavement and feeling satisfied with a job well done to make you feel like getting up and doing it all over again – at some point in the future.
    1. Knowing that you used all of your gifts and talents. You will feel gratified knowing that you’ve put your gifts and talents to your best use. As Wayne Dyer says, “Don’t die with your music still in you.” When you give it your all, you know with complete certainty that you will not die with your music still in you. You are making the best music you possibly can.
    1. Create a solid foundation for the next time. Some call it a benchmark, others a milestone. Whatever you call it, it marks where you’ve been and what you could do when you were there. Down the road a stretch, when you’ve learned more and built more muscle (figurative or literal), you can give it your all again – and your all will be even more/bigger/faster than it is today. Without giving it your all today, you won’t be able to accurately measure your progress tomorrow.

    So go out there and give it your all. But only sometimes.

    Why only sometimes?

    In a word: burnout. It is not sustainable to work at that pace, that intensity, that level of performance for very long. Your body and mind need to recharge and refuel.  Whether I’m on the mat in the gym or on the stage speaking at a conference, I want to give it my ALL in that moment, to create something special, to raise the bar as high as it will go for an hour. It’s not sustainable to perform at that level all the time. Nor would any moments feel special.

    I want to give it my all and use all of my gifts and talents on the stage so I feel just as spent after presenting to an audience as I do after a hard core fitness assessment. Nothing left in me.

    And then?  A tall drink of water and a nap.

    When you do give it your all?

    Leave your response in the comments below.

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