Posted in Planning

5 ways to start your day

Every day is a chance to start over. You have the power today to be someone completely different than you were yesterday. Isn’t that amazing?!? It can also be scary. I have so many ideas in my head of what I want to do in this next year figuring out what to do today can be paralyzing. Don’t let that stop you. Here are 5 things you can do today to start your day in the most intentional way.

  1. Hydration and nutrition – Start your day by drinking a glass of water and eating something. This will kick-start your brain for the day.
  2. 15 minutes of You Time – Start your day by spending 15 minutes solely focused on yourself or a practice that you hold dear. If you generally get a workout in first thing in the morning then you’re already on track for this one. If you have more time – then go for it. I like to spend my 15 minutes in the shower listening to my daily devotional and praying. If you want to sit and meditate, if you need to wake-up earlier to get it in before the kids get up – then do it. It’s so valuable to start your day with something that fills you up.
  3. Tidy up – I find that I’m more productive when my work space is tidy. I work from home and tend to move from room-to-room as well so that I don’t get pressure ulcers from sitting in my desk chair and I get a new perspective. Moving my “office” around the house can be a draining practice because the total volume of clutter is directly proportional to how much time my kids spend in that same space. If I can take even a few minutes to straighten up a few things it yields big returns on my productivity.
  4. Make the list – I have a plan of the categories of work I want to complete each day. The things that have to get done that day (they can’t be moved out), the things that I’d like to get done (but if they need to move they can), and the things I want to do (things that aren’t a necessity but energize me or have a larger value proposition). Beside each item I make a notation of the type of work it is by the category and then I note how much time I expect it to take me. It’s important that you keep into perspective the number of work hours you have in each day. If you have 16 hours of work that need to get out of the fray. See this earlier blog post [Save yourself, Get out of the Fray] on how to accomplish the seemingly insurmountable.

    I start my work day with the most pressing, deadline-driven to-do’s first. Then I give my mind a break by focusing on one of the more creative to-do’s, then get back to the grind for a bit. It’s helpful to not stay in the trenches for the duration of a complete day.

  5. I set the timer – When I sit down and start working I set the timer on my phone for 50 minutes. When the timer goes off I get up for at least 5 minutes to walk around. It doesn’t have to be for long, but to get the smallest physical break helps energize me. If I’m not doing this during a conference call then I will also close my eyes for a quick mental break to.

We all work differently and we are all energized and motivated by different things. I believe these 5 practices are universal. Maybe your a firefighter and can’t set a timer for every 50 minutes to change your current environment – but you can set a timer to be intentional even if it’s to take notice of where you are and how you feel. That practice in and of itself can be energizing. I encourage you to think through these practices and which ones you can implement. In total this practice takes me less than 45 minutes in the morning and 40 minutes throughout a typical 8 hour work day.

You’re definitely worth 90 minutes each day to be intentional about how you want to show up for that day and to energize yourself throughout each day.

Posted in Planning

Save yourself. Get out of the fray.

I have been in a season of churn and burn for what feels like years. Managing a multi-million dollar contract, having 2 school-aged kids with schedules of their own (that no one coordinates with my schedule mind you)… I’m also over here trying to develop personally, professionally and spiritually….it seems too much sometimes. More often than not I have a tendency to feel like I’m failing at everything. Have you ever felt that way?

Over these past months I’ve learned so much and so much of what I’ve learned is that the “work” is always going to be there and *NEWS FLASH* I don’t have to do all of it! Read: YOU don’t have to do it all. Seems so simple, but when you’re in that chaotic surf, crashing into rocks and gulping water it’s hard to see the many lifelines rolling on top of the waves waiting for you to grab hold. Here are some of the life lines that I look for when it seems like I’m doing all I can to tread water:

  1. Ask for Help: People want to help. Your friends, family, co-workers. I believe they genuinely do, but you HAVE TO ASK FOR IT. Believe me, I’m giggling to myself as I type this out. It’s so hard for me to feel like I need to pull anyone into the fray with me if I can just work harder or faster or longer – what’s wrong with me – why is this so hard?!?!? Take inventory of what needs to be done, sort by due date and those things that don’t have to be done by you, ask someone to help you out – even if it’s just part of the overall job. I guarantee that the final product will be so much better by letting someone else provide a fresh perspective. Think about it. Will this body of work be better if someone helps you make this project the best it can be with a new and different perspective or you pushing through without 100% to give it. BONUS: That person that you ask for help may learn something along the way that they can add to their toolbox, OR BETTER YET they may find that they actually loved helping you with it and want to start focusing on it. Then you can start sharing more of that very thing with them.
  2. Let go of Control: This coincides with #1 above and similarly is so hard to do for those of us Type A, control freak personalities. Can I share with you that this work or whatever it is that has you feeling like you’re drowning won’t follow you into eternity. It was constructed as a temporary fix to a temporary problem in this life. Try your best to put this task or obstacle into perspective with the rest of the world and the rest of the things in your life that mean something to you. Give it the attention it needs, but don’t go crazy.
  3. Wrap it up: Do you have something on your to-do list that has been lingering longer than 72 hours? Just get it done already! The longer that thing sits on your list the more anxiety it collects around it. No one likes waking up everyday remembering something they didn’t get done the day before. Be like Nike and Just Do It!
  4. What’s not getting done? When you have 40+ hours of work to complete in a 40 hour work week (or whatever your ratio of work to available time is) then I suggest you take 30-45 minutes to write it all down. {Tip: When I do this exercise I literally write it all down. I take an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper and mark it into 4 quadrants and each quadrant has a list. My quadrants are Home, Kids, Me, and Work.

    My home list may look like charge the doorbell, make vet appointment for the dog, take down Halloween decorations, pay bills.

    My kids list tends to look like don’t forget teacher workday on Monday, Parent/Teacher conference on this day, PTA meeting 11/6, schedule Cole’s 4 year old doctor’s appointment, purge toys.

    My me list includes things like sign-up for Chili cook-off at church, write new blog post, order Rise ticket, make workout plan for the week.

    My work list includes submitting my time sheet, booking rooms for meetings, drafting contracts to get out for review, proofing edits of proposals, finish my development plan, finish quarterly review for my team.

    Maybe you need more than 4 lists or maybe you need a legal-sized sheet of paper. You do you! Get whatever materials you need and get it out of your brain and into the world. In each list highlight those things that are a priority in whatever color draws your attention to it. Beside those highlighted things write down when it needs to be done by and who owns it. Remember friend it doesn’t have to be you. You may not know who needs to own it, but it’s not you. For those things put a big “?” beside it. Tada! You now have a more concrete idea of what’s on your plate that you need to tackle and what you don’t need to give any more power to.

    For those things that you don’t need to do or own – have some conversations with the folks whose names you wrote down and let them know that this was on your list but you think it really belongs to them or that they are better suited and pass those things off. For those things that had the “?” beside them, talk to your supervisor, your significant other, or your kids and ask them for help in determining who can take those things from you. Be honest and genuine in what you do and don’t have the bandwidth to do and let them help. Communicate. Be the team you know you know how to be!

    For everything that’s left on your list un-highlighted and un-assigned…ask yourself: Do these things need to be done at all? Chances are if it made it to your list – someone put it out in the universe. If you put it out there is it still a priority if you didn’t highlight it? If you didn’t put it out there circle back to the person that did and get some clarity on their vision, who needs to own execution of it and the timeline.

  5. Seriously, make some “you time”: It may sound cliche’ and you are probably thinking to yourself “I’m reading this because I already don’t have enough time. How am I going to find extra “me time?” It is so important that you do. I recently heard a story that I want to share with you. Go with me on this visualization exercise for a moment. Pretend that you’re a glass vase. You are being filled up with water. In this analogy water = love. You are being filled up with love by those around you. As you start to feel your thirst for love quenched you start to tip yourself to the side to pour some love out on those around you who have been thirsting for your attention. You tip and tip and tip until you fall over and break. You can’t keep making yourself uncomfortable and pouring out on those around you while risking your own safety or you will break. Now, let’s look at this another way. You’re the same glass vase being filled up by love (aka water). You let yourself stand tall being filled with love and resist the urge to tip over. Collect as much as you can until your vase will hold no more. Do you know what happens when your vase becomes too full? That love starts to overflow. It naturally pours out of you to those around without you needing to do any extra work at all. You’re still just standing there; tall, strong and beautiful – oh and by the way, not a hazard for those that could fall into your broken glass. Let this sink in. Take time for you. Be intentional about it. Let those who support and care for you love on you, help you grow, and build you up. You stand tall and LET THEM! Soon enough you will be so full of love and energy that it will naturally pour out of you and onto those people and things surrounding you and work won’t seem like work any more. You’ll have watered the seeds that promote teamwork, business continuity and new life (read: innovation).

    You’re awesome and I want you to make the best decisions about how you spend your time and energy. Do great things!