Tag: creativity

Get more done (part 1): Stop wasting brain power

Get more done (part 1): Stop wasting brain power

Where to begin

In this 3-part series, I’m going to share my most effective task management* tips so you can get more done in less time.

Keep in mind that all of these practices assume you know your most important vision, decided on a strategy, and set measurable goals.

vision strategy goals tasks

*This is the thing you probably call “time management.” We don’t control time. We can, however, choose what we do within (the illusion of?) time. So upgrade your language, and notice how much more powerful you feel. 💪

Why does this matter?

Ever let a project fall off your radar? Of course you have!

Gee, I was going to write/work out/start a company, but it just didn’t happen.

You mean you didn’t make it happen, right?

This quick and simple technique solves that problem. You’ll never again forget about a project, or that “crazy” idea you had one time.

Second, and imo more importantly, you’re going to literally create space for more creative thinking. Which means better results on whatever projects you choose to pursue.

You’re better than this

Our thoughts are so damn repetitive. 

I need to feed the dog as soon as I get back from the gym.

I need to feed the dog when I get home.

As soon as I get home, I’m going to remember to feed the dog…

Sound familiar? What a waste of your highly advanced analytical power!

Write it all down

The key is to write it down as soon as you can. This gets it out of your head.

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”

David Allen, productivity consultant, author

Have a system for recording 3 things: ideas, projects, and tasks.

Keep a list of ideas that you aren’t working on atm.

Keep a list of active projects. Mine include “Program Upgrade!” and “Write Memoir.”

Capture your tasks, which includes your daily success list and any tasks you want to remember for later. When you’re creating task lists, review your project list as a reminder to record the next action for each important project.

(Side note. Unlike my beloved Martha Beck, I am SO not a fan of detailing out every single task required to achieve a project. Just a few easy next steps works for me!)

Capture these lists in a simple online tool like Google docs or Trello, in a physical list such as a bullet journal, or a combination of both. 

Peaking required!

For this to work—for your mind to trust that you’ll look at that note later—you have to have a trusted system.

So you’ve written it all down. Now, decide how often and when you’ll look at these lists. 

You want to free up mental capacity. The thing is, your brain is smart enough to hold onto your thoughts if you’re putting them in your Notes app where you might see them again 8 months from now.

So decide how often you want to review (read and update) each list, and schedule it in your calendar.

Get even more done

So, write down your ideas, projects, and tasks. Look at it on the regular. Keep them updated. 

You’ll not only remember to move forward on your most important work, but you’ll have more creative brain power, which dramatically ups the quality of work you’ll produce!

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Anxiety almost ended my business

Anxiety almost ended my business

Everyone I know suffers from anxiety, depression, or both (including myself, at times.) Not usually in the my-best-friend-just-died sort of way, but because of something else: dirty emotional pain. What do I mean?

Clean pain is a natural response to a stressful situation, like a physical injury or the death of a loved one. Once felt, it fades away very quickly. 

On the other hand, our thoughts about a situation cause dirty pain. It sticks around as long as the thoughts do.

Clean pain is a natural response to stress, while dirty pain is caused by our thoughts about it.

Clean pain is the hurt in your knee when you fall off your bike. 

Dirty pain, however, is the mental whirlwind that follows: blaming yourself for not seeing the dip in the road, fuming at the person who cut in front of you. 

Recently I worked with author and speaker Byron Katie, the closest thing to Enlightened I’ve ever seen. Since she seems to experience no dirty pain whatsoever, I was fascinated to hear her tell the story of grieving her mother’s death. 

Katie was standing in the kitchen with her adult children when a sound erupted from her mouth. She didn’t consciously cause it, nor did she fully understand it. But she allowed it. The moaning, weeping, whatever it was, traveled through her body. Someone held her. Then, in no more than a minute or two, her body calmed again. She smiled and carried on with getting a plate of food.

So, dirty pain is completely optional. I’m not pretending it’s easy, but it is a damn good ideal to pursue.

Anxiety almost ended my business

It’s early 2018. I lead a department at the fastest growing company in Nebraska. I love my kind and creative coworkers, but I’m not jazzed about the work itself. Meanwhile, I adore the coaching I’m doing on the weekends. But I push the idea of major change away for “some day.”

At work, we start a 100-day challenge to help each other build new daily habits. I choose to do The Work of Byron Katie, a meditative practice of questioning painful thoughts, once each day.

On day 62, I quit my job.

Let’s back up a few days. 

I’m on the phone doing The Work with a friend and fellow Martha Beck coach.

I tell her I feel restless to express my creativity. I have endless ideas in me that want out! Sure I’ve thought about quitting my lucrative software career. I could see myself writing and coaching some day…

“But,” I say, “my husband would be uncomfortable if we didn’t have my salary. I have to make people comfortable.” 

Whoa, didn’t know that was there!

My chest is tight, my breath shallow. My shoulders hunch forward like my whole body is subtly shriveling up. I notice I’ve been scared to talk to my husband about quitting my job. 

My anxiety, transformed

Next, we turn the thought around. How might it be true that I don’t have to make people comfortable? In what ways do I have to make people uncomfortable?

Here’s my lightbulb moment. 

Making people uncomfortable is kinda my thing!

I remember a business lunch, years ago. My colleagues are talking sports at one end of the table, and I’m at the other end crying with our client who recently lost her sister.

Having uncomfortable conversations is part of who I am, and it’s always made my life better. 

This new perspective feels way more empowering. And less than a week later, after an easy conversation with my husband, I’m giving my boss my two weeks notice. 

I’m a little obsessed

It’s true. I am a little obsessed with the power of our thoughts. They can make us miserable, and they can fill us with joy.

It’s our thoughts that turn us into short-tempered bosses, nagging spouses, and employees with anxiety and imposter syndrome.

When we can drop the dirty pain, we become patient, loving, peaceful, and confident. 

So, practice noticing your thoughts, questioning the painful ones, and playing around with alternatives that feel better. It’s relatively simple, and not easy. I am constantly learning about myself as I continue my own self-inquiry practice.

More resources

See Byron Katie’s website TheWork.com to learn her framework for self-inquiry. It has everything you need to DIY for free. 

Are you ready to trade in your anxiety for clarity, confidence, and meaning? My clients have fun making money, and go home energized to love on their favorite people. If you want this too, I can help. Let’s chat!

Photo by energepic.

Balance mind + body to plan your best days

Balance mind + body to plan your best days

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Writing Prompts to Inspire Play

Writing Prompts to Inspire Play

Play is one of those things that easily drops out of my life when I’m not intentional about keeping it here. Chores: check. Work: check. Relaxation: check. Play: wait, what’s play?

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