When you get Stuck: Slow down to Speed up

 

When I get stuck, it is usually I have too many things in my brain at one time. I cannot pick what to do or where to start.  I have too much information. Too many choices create stress and anxiety. I have to slow down to speed up.

 

What does slow down to speed up mean?

 

Slow down means to stop and think. Sit and plan before you act. Set up your day by thinking first. Getting a list on paper to capture what is important right now. Consider what things can be passed to others, done later or not at all.  Once you have a plan that makes sense: you then can speed up because you have the priority of your actions set up.

 

Urgency and stress start in our brains

 

Everything is not urgent. Very few things are actually urgent.

 

What one thing is the most important thing to accomplish today?

That one question can save you time and stress.

 

Think before you act.

Plan ahead.

Slow down to speed up.

Contact Coach Gwen for more tools.   Schedule a coaching call

Your first strategy coaching call is free.

Why are you in such a Hurry?

 

 

Do you push yourself to meet every deadline?

Do you consider every task a top priority?

Do you multi-task every thing?

Do you feel guilty when you have free time?

You quality for a new group  of behaviors called excessive- time- urgency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why are you in such a hurry? Because you excessively worry about schedules and rush as a habit even when it is not necessary to hurry.

 Why hurry up no matter what?

I realized that my father was rushed and rushing us when going places because he was worried about the appearance of being late. He was stuck on the idea that if you cannot get there on time, don’t bother showing up. That created a lot of stress in the getting ready to go anywhere for all of us.

You might have a friend that is constantly in motion. If there is not enough activity, this friend will make a new project and attempt to pull you into the activity. If you want help cleaning out your closets, invite this friend over. However being around constant high levels of energy can be exhausting when you just want to sit quietly with a cup of tea. So consider your needs and activity levels when you plan your down time. Do you allow yourself down time? Time with nothing in particular planned for you to do?

What are the consequences of getting stuck in this pattern of hurry up no matter what?

You will have high stress levels based on your constant whirlwind of activity. Part of your rush is based on getting everything just right. This perfectionism creates unrealistic expectations and more stress. When you hurry you are more likely to make mistakes which leads to rework. Rework adds to an already busy schedule.

You will miss out on the everyday joy around you.

There is no time for self-care and playtime when you life is in hurry up mode.

Why are you in such a hurry? What are you missing out on?

Check yourself  Take why are you in a hurry assessment

How do you break this pattern of hurry up no matter what?

  1. Focus on one thing at a time. Give your full attention to one thing; see how that feels for a change.
  2. Rethink, reflect and prioritize your tasks. Not everything is high priority.
  3. Separate work from play. Allow time to be flexible with your recreational activity
  4. Plan ahead. Planning avoids the rush because you did not think ahead. Set up planning time so you can think ahead without the pressure of instant decisions on what is up next.
  5. Get realistic about your expectations of time. Are you trying to do too many things in too short of a time?
  6. Slow down. Pay attention to life and people around you. Listen first before you jump into action. That alone can save you time by having all the information first.
  7. Allow down time everyday just for you. Start with 10 minutes. Take that time for doing nothing. It might be uncomfortable. Try it and see what happens.

Hurry up no matter what is a pattern of activity that leads to burnout and overwhelm. When you slow down to recognize that you have choices, time can be a gift instead of another stress factor.

Work Life Balance made Simple

How to make work life balance simple:

  • Everything is not equally important. Do fewer things and do them well.
  • Decide what your values are — and which ones take precedence.
  • Do the things that get results.
  • Focus on the things only you can do.
  • Do the important things, which must be done now.

Work life balance can be simple over time. It won’t be resolved tomorrow but you can get much, much better at this with practice.

Five Key concepts that make work life balance simple:

  1. Learn to say no.

Say no to requests that are not your highest-level priority. Ask your self: am I being helpful or I am doing someone else’s work for them? Is this the best use of my time right now?

You can do anything once you stop trying to do everything.

When you say yes to one request, stop to think what you are saying no to at the same time. You can only spend your time on one thing at a time.

  1. Plan ahead.

Planning out your schedule makes sure the important things get done. Setting up a list for each day, helps you stay on track.

Schedule the important things on your calendar. If getting to your daughters soccer game is important, put that on the schedule.

Schedule some time for yourself as if it was an important meeting.

When you plan ahead for your high value activities, they happen. If you neglect to plan you end up dealing with what ever comes at you in a random fashion.

That feels like a lack of control and is exhausting to react rather than take action.

 

  1. Bundle chores or errands.

Check your patterns; be mindful of how you spend your time and the choices you make on a daily/ weekly basis. How many trips to you make to the grocery store?

When you have a plan for meals you can reduce time spent at the store and preparing meals. Plan ahead for errands and take once a week to do them.

Return phone calls in a batch at work. Save low priority tasks for when you need a mental break.

 

  1. Manage work time

Start each day with the high priority list. Plan ahead on what time you will leave work each day. Cut back on distractions by closing your door or asking questions when you are interrupted. Asking questions can save everyone time. Ask about time, priority and who else is involved before you take on another project.

What is the deadline for this? What do you need from me right now? If someone brings you a problem or needs help: ask first: What solutions do you have in mind? Or ask what have you tried first? Refer back to # 1. Learn to say no.

 

  1. Enjoy weekends and vacation time.

When you are home, really be home. Keep work out of your personal time.

Unplug from work emails, phone calls or texts. Don’t feel like you have to spend every spare moment on chores or tasks. Set up personal rest time doing something fun and enjoyable, even if it seems wasteful. It is not. Time for self-care is critical to enjoying your life and reducing stress.

My final few thoughts are about letting go of expectations and being perfect.

Give up on perfection. Good enough is good enough for many tasks. Other people can do things instead of you doing everything. You just have to let them.

Gaining a work life balance is a process. Reflecting on what is important to you is the first step to making changes that last. Feeling unbalanced? Contact Gwen for a grounding coaching session.

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Mini Habits as Easy Steps to Healthy Habits

mini health habits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Build your healthy habits by taking one step at a time.

What is a mini habit? Some small task you choose that will help you build into automatically repeating this healthy habit daily.

Think about what you can do 5 minutes or less. The goal here is to get you in a pattern that supports your healthy habit on a daily basis. Bigger goals often fail because they are too hard to fit into your busy schedule. Derek Doepker wrote a book: The Healthy Habit Revolution. See this book for a full program on how mini habits can be developed in 21 days.

Get started on  healthy habits with easy mini steps.

The idea of a mini habit is just to get you started. Pick 1-3 healthy habits and plan on doing each of them for 1-5 min daily for 21 days. This what I liked most, the idea of just get started.

Think that is too easy? Wrong, it is a proven way to create the healthy habit that gets you started. Momentum creates motivation. So one push up every day or eating one extra carrot a day adds up to something that you will do on a routine basis.

What would 5 minutes of quiet time do for you as a way to rest your brain?

What makes this mini habit work is it is so easy to do it. You really have no excuse to avoid or not do this new healthy habit. While you might skip a 15-20 min exercise routine on a busy day, you are much less likely to skip 1-3 min of exercise.

Will 3 minutes of exercise make you more fit? Not today, but think of 3 minutes X 21 days and consider how much exercise you just added to your overall activity level.

If you have ever failed at goals or resolutions, this method of mini healthy habits is a good option for you to try.

Here are some guidelines to picking good mini habits:

  • Take your mini habit seriously- pick what you personally want to improve
  • Your habit has to require some effort, make it significant for your needs
  • Avoid the temptation to make it too long, your goal is daily success
  • Remember you can always choose to overachieve and to more each day
  • Set up accountability for your mini habit, tell people what you are doing

At the end of 21 days, you will have set up patterns that give you a solid foundation to keep building on your health. That is the proven reason small steps lead to bigger actions. The success that you have in small mini habits will lead you to expand and improve into healthy habits for life. So this year start small for bigger gains.

Contact Coach Gwen for accountability that will keep you on track.

Contact Coach Gwen for a complimentary call

 

The Habit of Completion will simplify your Life

 

The Habit of Completion

Who feels good about checking off something on your list? It seems like a small satisfaction to know you have completed a task. Yet those some acts of completion help motivate us to keep moving forward with goals, projects or just the steps of everyday life. What stops us from completing projects?

Time. Lack of time is what everyone says prevents them from getting things done. I would disagree. I have found with my clients that when drilling down how they spend time, there are things they could stop doing, give away or spend less time on. This change would then gain some valuable time for personal projects.

I challenge you to reflect on how you spend your time and look for areas that you can make a change. Consider how these three steps might help you develop a habit of completion.

 

Step One: Learn How to Say No

Practice saying no to demands on your time and energy. Only say yes to things that make the best use of your time and bring you energy.

 

Step Two: Get Rid of Clutter

Start with a small area and create a clutter free zone- on your desk and in your home. Use this area to work on projects or planning where you are not distracted by other items that might claim your attention. Clean out closets of items you do not use or do not fit and find them a home with someone else who could use these items.

 

Step Three: Chunk it Down

Take any project that is too big or overwhelming and break it down into steps. Decide what five actions you could take to start on the big project and do those. Pick a time period between 20-40 minutes and just commit to spending that amount of time on the project every week or every day.

 

The habit of completion can be improved when you focus on small steps along the way. Give yourself credit for each step, so you avoid that feeling of overwhelm that prevents you from even starting on a new project.

I am planning on spending the last few days of this year cleaning out files, clearing up loose ends and clearing out the clutter that allows me a fresh start to 2017. Need help? I won’t physically come to your office or home, but I can give you some practical ideas on how and where to start your new habits for 2017.

Responsibility- Is this Mine?

When did I first learn that I was responsible?  Some where in the lesson of responsibility – I twisted up what I was responsible for. I took on the belief that I was responsible for all others first, that I was responsible for other people. That I was responsible for happiness, feelings, outcomes, being perfect, doing it all.

That other people’s feelings and needs came before mine. I used to think that doing things for others was important and I was not important.  Now I reject that belief and have let go of my idea of being responsible for the entire universe.  Are you really in charge of the universe today? Only when I ask myself that out loud does it sound silly.

Responsibility is a habit that is difficult to sort out at times. I am at heart a responsible person. It is the order of my belief that has changed. I cannot be helpful, compassionate or caring when I am overwhelmed or carrying the weight of all responsibility around with me. What happens if you pick up every task or problem that you see? How many of these problems or rocks can you carry and still keep moving without impacting your own health?

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On good days, I will gently hand you back the responsibility you attempt to pass over to me. On bad days, I will say yes to anything asked of me, and then get angry or upset when I realize I have taken on too much responsibility again. When I carry around things for other people, there is no space in my life for me. I am important. I need to be responsible to me before you.  Another lesson to be learned.

When I do forget and slip back into that outdated idea of what is mine, I am able to remind myself by asking better questions.  Is this really mine? Pause. Say no before yes. Who does this belong to? Why would you ask me that? Is this mine?

I am responsible.

I am responsible for my own happiness.

I am responsible for self -care, honoring my feelings, being kind to myself.

I believe that self- care is critical to self- development and growth.

I am responsible for me.

How to Save Time

take your seat

 

Would you like to have an extra hour in every day? How would it feel to have plenty of time every day? We all have the same amount of time. We all get to decide how we spend it every day. In reading articles about time management: I found two main areas of focus. One was how to create systems and shortcuts to be more efficient with your time on daily tasks. The second idea was to make deliberate choices on how you spend your time in a way that reflects on what is important to you.

I think the easy logical path is to plan ahead, creates systems, get rid of clutter and make specific to do lists to manage your time. This is frequently the first choice for traditional time management. Best ideas for this area include:

Plan your weekly menus. You will save time and money at the grocery store. This helps you avoid extra trips to the store and you have healthy snacks and lunch stuff ready to go every day.

Cook in batches. Make enough food for leftovers and to freeze for another week.

This gives you an easy healthy option for a busy day.

Get rid of clutter. It is easier to focus when your physical area is clear. No clutter makes it easy to find things, you spend less time searching, moving piles around or repeatedly sorting through things.

 

 

The other time management choice is to stop and examine how you are spending your time.

Here are some questions to help you clarify where you want to spend your time.

  • Are you spending your time on high value activity?
  • Do you find joy in your daily routine?
  • Are there things you want to stop doing or get rid of?
  • Are there areas that that you want to spend more time in?

Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” The choice is yours. You can learn to catch yourself before things catch and entangle you. Try to apply mindfulness — intentional and nonjudgmental consideration — to everything you do, say, and think, before you blindly react.

Instead of keeping an ongoing list of things we should do or need to do. Stop and reflect on what things you want to do that enrich your life and nourish you. Turn your to do list into a “what matters most list”.

Need more ideas on your specific needs around time?

Schedule a call with Coach Gwen

Healthy Food Habits for Busy People

Healthy habits are small choices that you make each day that support your larger goals and vision of living well. This list will give you some ideas on how to turn your ideas into action steps that move towards a higher quality of life. Keep it simple when it comes to food choices. That is what works when you balance a busy life with healthy eating habits.

 

  1. Plan meals ahead. You know that if you have a plan for the week you make better choices. Set up a time each week to plan out your meals, snacks and needs so that you have healthy choices on hand when you need to eat.
  2. Use a list at the grocery store. This will save you time, money and avoid impulse decisions at the store.
  3. Buy the bulk of your food on the outer isles of the grocery store in produce and protein. Avoid the center isles where the processed food lives.
  4. Read labels. Start looking for added sugar with words that end in –ose: Frutose, dextrose, glactose, or syrup, barley malt, fruit juice concentrate.
  5. Stop drinking soda. This is the one thing that could make the biggest difference to your health. Diet soda with artificial sweetener is no better when it comes to keeping you in a cycle of craving sugar.
  6. Drink more water. Have a water bottle or glass of water close to you. Just the habit of having water in front of you will increase your intake. Ideal is 8 cups/ day.
  7. Cook ahead or cook double portions so that on hectic days you have food ready when you get home or leftovers to pull out of the freezer.
  8. Eat out less at restaurants. You can both save money and calories by cooking your own food. When you do eat out- choose foods that are baked, grilled and not fried. Ask for salad dressing on the side so you can control how much you use.
  9. Make a large pot of brown rice on the weekend when you have more time. That rice will last all week to add to your protein and vegetable dinners. Try quinoa as a grain that is healthy and easy to cook as your side for meals.
  10. Make open face sandwiches that only use one slice of bread- you can have lettuce on top to hold everything in. Pack your sandwich with protein and veggies. Try mustard instead of mayonnaise to flavor it.
  11. Avoid late night snacks. Put up a closed sign in your kitchen as a reminder

 

Here are some ideas of healthy snacks that you can grab and go with.

  • Fruit- it is a fast food
  • Vegetables with hummus
  • Cheese- like mozzarella sticks
  • Almonds or nuts that are raw and unsalted
  • Protein shake
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Yogurt- Greek – plain- you can add your own vanilla or nuts

The bottom line is to make your food choices ahead of time so your system makes it easy to eat healthy at the end of the day when you are tired or low on energy.

Keep it simple and start with small changes that fit your needs. If you need more ideas on how to simplify your life: take action and Contact Gwen for a complimentary coaching session

 

 

Just Hang on

Have you ever had a week or a series of weeks where your schedule was so packed full that you had to keep moving between events without thinking or pausing to wonder how it got this way?

I am in the second week of such a schedule with 4 days left of jam packed commitments.  I have stopped long enough to figure out who did this to me?  Me. Why did I think it was a good idea to have only one day off a week for two weeks in a row and then schedule that day with activities that had to be done. How did this happen? You might understand, another clinic was shorthanded so I offered to pick up a few extra days.  Who hasn’t offered to fill in when needed to help out another person who needed to be off? So how do you survive a schedule that gives little or no time for rest or recovery? How do you get through it? I had time to prepare. I cooked ahead and froze healthy meals. I still make time for exercise even if it is a 15 minute walk. I hold myself to shutting down by brain and computer by a set time at night. I find I need some decompression time before going to sleep, so my brain can wind down from a busy schedule. The good things that come from a busy schedule:

  • I get absolutely clear on what is important or critical to get done
  • It becomes easy to say no to anything extra
  • I have asked for help more often
  • I hold my sleep time as essential
  • I resolve to not allow this packed schedule to happen again

What have you done to hang on when your schedule gets crazy? Do you recognize when you have too much going? How much time to you have to just to nothing? If you have something scheduled for every minute of the day- it might be time to step back and readjust. Just hang on- is a good motto for survival weeks. I prefer to have a daily motto reflects a healthy balance of work, fun and play. What can you do to hold your schedule to reflect what you need in life?

Try blocking out times for you. Amazing things happen when you hold open space for your own life to unfold.

Why Solitude is Important

Have you ever just craved some quiet alone time?

Little girl with a book

I have had two clients last week who brought up the issue of needing some more space and time to themselves. The hectic pace of their lives and the sheer volume of interactions with people in their own home were becoming an irritation instead of a joy. This brought up the discussion of the effect on not getting quiet time as an adult. This I understand. I was the kid who climbed up into a tree to read- so no one would bother or interrupt me. My mom understood this need for quiet time- because she pretended not to notice where I was- even with all three of the family dogs sat patiently under the tree waiting for me. Now I understand the term introvert and how well that fits me.  According to Susan Cain one our of every two or three people out of the population are considered introverts.  Cain has a TED talk and a book-Quiet- on The Power of Introverts. Yet how many quiet spaces are there in your work environment? Most of our work spaces are designed for interaction and extroverts. In a busy household with different schedules and tasks that need doing- where is the quiet conversation? If solitude is part of what matters to you- then finding the time to be quiet is important to your ability to cope with the rest of the day.

What are the benefits of solitude? Solitude allows you to unwind and rest your brain. The absence of stimulation allows your brain to slow down and stop processing information. Solitude gives you time and space to consider your own needs and choices- rather than just going along with the group. It is easier to focus and concentrate on a specific issue or project with no outside distractions. You think more deeply about a topic when you are alone. I consider solitude the antidote to too much outside stimulation. I avoid big box stores partly because of the noise, lights and general level of activity there. Am I a hermit? No. I like social settings with friends where you can talk and interact. I am not as comfortable in a loud, crowded environment where you have to talk over loud music. Solitude for me is a choice that allows be to replenish and recharge my brain, my energy and my emotional levels.  If a quiet space fits your needs- then make choices that give you that space to recharge.

  • Schedule time alone
  • Walk outside at lunch for a change of environment
  • Swimming- or exercise outside can provide solitude
  • Get up early
  • Meditate
  • Pause before you start on weekend projects- enjoy your morning coffee outside

I have found the simple solution for me is to drink one cup of tea alone in my office without doing anything else. Just sitting and doing only one thing is enough to provide a calm  start to my day. This week – be aware of where you can find moments of solitude and enjoy them for what that quiet moment gives back to you.

If you have trouble finding a calm space- contact me for more ideas.

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