If you are a women leader you might be interested in my new blog

I’ve got a new blog. It’s called Women with Grit. This is from today’s blog…

Is anyone else out there wanting to be more focused?

http://womenwithgritblog.com/2014/09/08/is-anyone-else-out-there-wanting-to-be-more-focused/

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How stubbornness may help you be more productive

I have a home office where I run my Coaching/Speaking/Training business out of. And right now, this August, I have a house full of people. Distractions are at prime this month and I’m finding it hard to focus. If it’s not the warm weather inviting me outside, it is someone wanting to chat with me, or my natural curiosity about what is going on outside my office door.

If you don’t work from home like me, I would wager you still struggle with interruptions and distractions. I find that many of the distractions I create myself. I have a tendency to get lost in pages and pages on the internet. I will multitask from one thing to another but never really getting anything done. And, I can spend way too much time on good old Facebook.

I suspect if you re like me that your interruptions, whether they are from others, or distractions you initiate yourself, may be getting in the way of being productive.
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Here is what I have learned to help me be more productive this summer.

Be focused

What do you want? Be focused on your vision. What do you intend to accomplish before the end of August? I took a look at my quarterly goals and used that to make a list of what I want to get through in the next few week. That helps me stay focused.
Be clear
Set goals. Be clear each day on what parts you want to get through and how you need to do it. Many refer to it as your top 5. What are the 5 things you must absolutely get done today?

When I write a short, very specific to do list just for today, I am way clearer on where to spend my time and what I need to carve out space for. It also motivates me to get back on track when I catch myself becoming unfocused.

Be stubborn

Dig your feet in. I know you can do this. Move away from distractions. Close the open tabs on your internet browser. Avoid conversations with others that you know are not really priority. Move away from the noise distractions.

When you get off track, keep coming back. Don’t give up. Be stubborn. You know you will feel better in the end when you do.

Bonus Tips:

  • Use headphones to eliminate unwanted noise and to set a visual boundary to others that your working and not to distract you.
  • Use the Pomodoro technique. Set 20 minute chunks to focus on one thing at a time.
  • Try alternate locations to work from such as your home, a coffee shop or the library. I am going to move some of my work out to the holiday trailer so I can spread out in peace.
  • Prioritize your work so that you are doing the work that needs your biggest focus during your most productive times of your day. If you’re a morning person like me, get done the writing kind of stuff (staff performance appraisals, reports, etc) first thing rather than waiting til 2:30 when your mind and body are both numb. I find the morning best as everyone else is sleeps in. I write a 8:30 and respond to emails at 2:30.

Here is a great article that reminds us distraction isn’t “all in our head”, it is our head, our brains in fact. Check it out here.

Don’t cry in public

She is lying on the ground, my cousin, and someone is on top of her. It’s good natured fun and teasing at the family reunion. My other cousin catches it on video, his sister being teased. As I watch on Facebook, I chuckle and get a little jealous that I’ve never been able to travel across the country to attend this annual event. It always looks like so much fun. And such strong family connections. I’m proud that it is a part of me even if I can’t be there.

Only a few seconds into the video I hear my aunt’s distinct voice off screen. She is urging her grown daughter. Laughing from the sidelines she hollers “Don’t cry in public Clara May. Don’t cry in public”. Others are laughing too as my cousin endures the whole escapade with what I think, is a sarcastic smile on her face. The ribbing continues for a few more seconds and my aunt repeats the comment “Don’t cry in public”. When the good-humored fun is over, my cousin stands up, brushes herself off and moves on.

Two days later, I haven’t moved in. That comment from my aunt is still running through my head. How many times during her childhood did my cousin hear this? What has been the lasting impact? We have been taught not to show our emotions. At what cost? I wonder. I consider. I ponder. I turn inward.

As my mind travelled those thoughts about my cousin, it seems I’ve been more intrigued about my own mom and the unintended messages she gave me as a child. That of course takes me to fretting about the messages I’ve given my own children.

What have I, or my husband said, in jest, in a casual comment or on a regular basis that has lasted with my children as they’ve become adults? What do they carry with them as a consequence?

My daughter’s friend was over the other night for supper and she struggled with the right way to prepare her corn-on-the-cob at our house. Unsure, she tentatively rolled her corn on the large pat of butter. I think she wondered if she was supposed to Use a knife instead. I’d never really thought there was a right or a wrong way to prepare corn-on-the-cob, but she’s right. Each family has their own unwritten rules about how to eat, what to wear to a wedding and of course, how to share their emotions and feelings – or not.

Lately I’ve felt a strong negative reaction whenever anyone or anything even slightly suggests I may be incompetent at something. I handed my husband the rope to tie up the boat at dock yesterday and he said, “No, not that way.” I instantly recoiled as if he yelled at me. Which, for the record, he did not. Mulling it over later, I realized it is my reaction to the threat of incompetence. Or more correctly, my perceived threat of incompetence.

I wonder what messages lurk in my childhood about incompetence. I have racked my brain and find no overt messages from my parents about failure, perfection or incompetence. Yet, watching my cousin, and hearing her mom offer “Don’t cry in public” has reminded me very much that those messages must be in my own ears. I just am not aware of them.

What’s even more true is while as parents, we must be diligent about our messages to our children, as adults we must not blame our parents. My cousin heard that message from her mom, yet she likely also heard it from her teachers, friends and from some commercial on tv.

It’s my job as an adult, not to blame, but to notice. If I want to continue to grow, I need to to notice the messages I hear. Then through my own adult lens I ought to determine how true they are for me now. My cousin can cry in public if she wants to. There is more than one way to prepare corn. I am not incompetent.

Thanks to my aunt and to my cousins I’ve unlocked a bit more of the mystery for my own life. The words and messages in my mind are not always true. They are old recordings playing. It might be time to switch tunes.

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A summary for You, because I want to make sure you hear the message

Today I am going to point you back to the last four weeks of blog posts and videos about saying “No”. Maybe you missed all of them or didn’t have time to read or watch each one. Here they are again for you to review.

There are four key messages in the posts that I want to make sure you get.

Key Messages about saying “No”

1) It is not your fault that you are burnt out and overwhelmed. It is not because you are disorganized. You mess up, forget things and fall apart because you are overloaded with responsibilities.

2) This has been a gradual change. Through the years, the responsibilities that face a manager have progressively increased; probably at about the same rate we thought technology would save us time.

3) If we are ever going to put a stop to the overwhelming workload of leader each one of us has got to learn to say “No”. We have to put up the boundary in regards to how much work we can reasonably handle.

4) This is not an easy venture. It is hard to say “No”. It’s hard to mean it and stick to it when you get resistance. You need practice and you need help. Seek both.

Coming up

Check back in August for my four part series on cleansing. No, it won’t be about drinking lots of weird fruit juice. It will be about cleaning your office, your calendar, your email and your briefcase. August is typically a slower time for most people. It might be time for you to do a bit of “spring cleaning” of your workspaces.

Good days at work

My favourite red-head smirked at me and shook her head as she opened the door to the staff entrance at work. I knew, that was the start of a great shift for her! I just made her smile and set the tone for the rest of the day

All it took, was a little bit of loud music and some be-bopping on my part.

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Do you ever wonder what happened minutes before someone showed up at work? Why do they look like they are ready to tear your head off, and you didn’t do a think? Perhaps they look sad, yet just walked in the door and haven’t yet been impacted by work. Or maybe they have their own secret smile on and they aren’t sharing their story.

What happens to you, can shift your mood and your day. My daughter now will start her day with Carly Rae’s Call me Maybe running through her head and a visual of her crazy mom. I expect, she will move a little lighter around the restaurant she works in and that some of her bubbling personality will rub off on her co-workers.

Think about you last interaction your partner or children before you or they leave for work. Think about your interaction with the person you got your coffee from on the way to work, or the other drivers on the road. Did you lift their mood or dampen their spirits?

I want to work and live in a world of fun, enjoyable people. I have the ability to impact that by what I do. I choose to kiss my husband good-bye, make my daugther smile before she goes to work and exchange friendly words with the lady at the post office to make her day.

What are you doing to create the world you want to live in?

Find me at www.silverrivercoaching.com and on FACEBOOK

Watch me work here…

 

Tricks to saying “No”

I’ve been rambling lately about the need to say “No” more often. On my blog and on my YouTube channel last week, I suggested that it’s not that you can’t do your work because you are disorganized or unskilled, it is because likely, you like many other leaders, literally have too much to do. 

This week, I am helping you learn how to actually say no more often.  It’s not easy, I know. I suspect though that you are maybe just a bit are like me. Perhaps you want to change the culture of organizations from that of overloaded and overwhelmed to one of mindfully doing our work well. If so, you need to say “No” more often. 

How do you say “No” more often?

  • You be intentional about saying “No.”
  • You get clear on what you are saying “No” to.
  • You practice saying “No”, again and again and again.

Be intentional

Get clear that you are ready to say no to some things.  Go into conversations, meeting, and  days with the intention of saying “No”. If you go in wishy washy, thinking, “I’ll see how it goes”, you will end up with more work on your plate.

If instead you are intentional about saying “No”, you will energetically be at that place. That is the best place to be to actually say it.

Know what it is you are saying “No” to

Get really clear. Know what it is you are saying “No” to. Are you saying “No” to sitting on the board or “No” to this meeting on this day? It is vital that you know in your own mind what you are saying “No” to so that you can not only feel it, but so that you can articulate it to others.
“No, I can not take on supervising that new staff.”
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“No, I can’t pick up all the responsibilities of taking on a new staff. Is there someone else that could do the new hire orientation before she comes to work on my team?”

Practice, practice, practice

I can’t state this enough. Practice, practice, practice. Just like a musician practices a song over and over before they play in front of a crowd, you will need to practice what your going to say and how you will say it before you get into the situation.
Write it out. Be clear on what you are saying “No” to and write it out several times to get the language right.
Practice saying it out loud. In front of a mirror works well or by yourself in your vehicle while you drive.
Role play it. Yes, i said those dreaded words role play. The truth is though practicing it with a friend or spouse is a great way to get ready to say it in the real world.
Getting ready to say “No” ahead of time will allow you to be more confident when it comes time to saying it and coming across clear and determined. It will also leave you with a more manageable workload on your plate!

Listen here for more motivation to say “No” more often

Watch last weeks video here and read the blog here

Happy Canada Day – I’m done being mad at you!

Happy Canada Day!

After a beautiful evening ride on the lake last night, I am feeling very much in love with Canada this morning. We live in a beautiful world full of some pretty amazing people and tons of gorgeous sights! I am glad I’ve reconnected to my love of this country, because honestly I have to tell you, this last week I have done my fair share of Canadian Government bashing. I am pretty sure I am not the only one!

Today the new Canadian Anti-spam law comes into effect. For most of you, that will be a relief. There are way tighter controls on what people will be allowed to send to your inbox.  You must “explicitly” say you want email now.

So here in lies the problem for me and countless others businesses across the province.  I have spent my last four years in business growing my email list. I have been very diligent about getting people’s permission to sign up rather than just grabbing and adding emails. My problem is, could I prove that? For the most part yes. I have little scraps of paper from conferences I’ve spoke at that people entered their name to be added to the list.  But do I have every scrap of paper? Probably not.

So I have to request everyone on my list re-sign up. That unfortunately is not an easy task. I use an email marketing system as do most business that send you regular emails. You’re added to a list and when I email a newsletter or training update, I click the list and presto, it goes out to everyone on my list.  At the bottom of my email, you can choose to unsubscribe.

However, to have you re-sign up is a technical nightmare as I learned last week.  I made some errors and probably frustrated some of my readers along the way.  But so did others.  Last week, if you like me, got countless emails and re-emails in your inbox you’ll have seen some of the “Oops” like West Jet’s here!

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I procrastinated and delayed until the last minute, unsure that I wanted to even bother. Maybe I could just take my chances and hope no one ever comes back and charges me with sending them an email they didn’t request. Some of my coach friends did that. One did an email that was not up to “spec” in the requirements and she was honest about that, saying “I’m willing to take my chances”.

See, here is the problem. As businesses, we do business by keeping in contact with our customers and prospects, those that might become customers some day. The way many of us do that in this world of social media is through email. Honestly, in many ways, our emails lists are our livelihood.  To loose that or a good chunk of that could be detrimental. I myself lost 75% of my newsletter list. It’s heartbreaking.

As I am in the midst of re-branding my work and coming out with some really exciting new projects and services in the coming months, I had my share of Canada Government bashing with all of these headaches. Who wouldn’t? Canada is made up over 1,000,000 small businesses.  We are a large part of what makes our country what it is today.  The powers that be might just take a moment to realize, next time they create new legislation, that not every small business owner has a tech person on staff to manage a complete restructure of their email lists. Heck even the big guys with a staff compliment of tech supports do it wrong right West Jet! 😉