Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #132 / Being productive looks like taking care of yourself

Being productive looks like taking care of yourself

If you ask me how I’m doing during this time, I’ll tell you that I’m good and I’ll mean it.

But if I take a little time to think about what’s actually going on, I’d tell you: I’m spending a lot of time scrolling through Facebook (my social media of choice) or sitting on the couch cross-stitching while listening to podcasts or watching Youtube.

One of my coping mechanisms is avoidance (scrolling Facebook). 

It’s a way I procrastinate and avoid dealing with things.

While cross-stitching is probably more of a healthy coping mechanism.

What are your coping mechanisms?

If you do some honest reflection, you’ll probably notice some slight shifts in your behavior too.

This brings me to a video I watched Tuesday from John Green. You can find it here. In it, he references ten mental health tips shared by Partners In Health.

Partners In Health (PIH) is a social justice & global health organization striving to make health care a human right for all people, starting with those who need it most (from their description on Twitter).

In their article here they offer these ten mental health practices:

  1. Social distancing does not mean emotional distancing; use technology to connect widely;
  2. Clear routines and schedule, seven days a week, at home—don’t go overboard;
  3. Exercise and physical activity, daily if possible;
  4. Learning and intellectual engagement—books, reading, limited internet;
  5. Positive family time—working to counter negativity;
  6. Alone time, outside if possible, but inside too; but remember, don’t isolate;
  7. Focused meditation and relaxation;
  8. Remember the things that you really enjoy doing, that you can do in this situation, and find a way to do them;
  9. Limit exposure to TV and internet news; choose small windows and then find ways to cleanse yourself of it;
  10. Bathe daily, if possible, to reinforce the feeling of cleanliness.

John Green also shared this: “Doing things on this list IS BEING PRODUCTIVE. Taking care of myself and others is the productivity that matters most right now.”

It’s important to remember that right now.

I saw something scrolling Facebook that I can’t find now to give proper credit, but the statement was something along the lines of: “That feeling you’re feeling right now, it’s grief.”

There have been a lot of changes to our normal over the past week, and it looks like these changes will stay in place for at least another couple of weeks. 

This means the goals we set, the things we planned on doing, and the experiences we anticipated are not happening or look significantly different now.

It’s natural to grieve these expectations.

Give yourself the time and space to do that.

And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, scared, or like shutting down, ask yourself: Which thing on the PIH’s list can I do right now?

And if you want/need to connect with someone, please reach out to me. 

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to Getting Things Done #132

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #131 / What to do when your normal changes

What to do when your normal changes

I thought a lot about what to share this week.

Do I address the elephant in the room?

Do I ignore it because there’s already soo much out there about the changes to our routines this week as we learn about and practice social distancing?

If you’re emotionally tired of all things virus related, please take care of yourself and move on.

For everyone else, let’s take a few minutes to talk about what to do when your normal changes.

Right now, you might find yourself unexpectedly at home with your kids, trying to figure out how to make sure they’re doing their online learning while you’re figuring out how this changes things for your business.

This is a big change to your “normal.” It’s going to take a bit to figure out what works for you and your family right now. Give you and your kiddos some grace.

Know that you’re not going to be able to get as much done as you did a couple of weeks ago—plan for that.

If you need help, look for it or reach out for it. I’ve seen experts in homeschooling offer to help or share resources. Search or ask for the help you need. Someone will help you!

And regardless of if you have kids, take the time you need for yourself. You might need to do a little more self-care right now. I find myself wanting to curl up on the couch with my cross stitch and podcasts more and more.

Give yourself the space to do more of that if that’s what you need.

And, remember that goals are not written in stone!

This might be a good time to take a couple of hours and adjust your goals and intentions for your business. If your current plan involved networking and coffee meetings (or 1-1’s), then come up with how you will adjust your goals and your plans. Maybe you do more Zoom meetings or offer something new or different.

If you need help with this, reach out to others and do some brainstorming over Zoom or the phone.

Or reach out to me. I’m happy to help. The easiest way to do that is to leave a comment or fill out the Contact Me form here.

Give yourself time to adjust to this new, temporary normal. It’s okay not to have everything figured out. Notice what’s working for you and do more of that. And notice what’s not working and adjust until you find what works.

It’s really easy to say that. It seems so obvious, but at the same time, it’s really easy to overlook.

Again, if you want help with figuring out what your new normal is, reach out to me.

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to Getting Things Done #131

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #130 / What you don't see

What you don’t see

Before we start, I want you to know that I’m not covering a typical productivity topic. However, this can negatively impact your productivity and the goals we set for ourselves. 

I was talking with someone this morning and the state of her desk came up. She shared she was frustrated by the piles all over it.

We talked about this for a bit and I shared that when I was a kid, my mom referred to me as her “pile child.” She always knew where I had been sitting in the living room because I had a pile, or two, of what I had been working on near me.

We chatted a bit more and then I was asked: “do you have piles on your desk now?”

Yes. I have a couple of piles on my desk now. 

The piles are receipts and credit card statements for this year that I haven’t processed and put away yet.

That’s generally what my pile is, one or two piles of bills, receipts, or statements that I haven’t put away yet.

I have three drafts in different states of completion on three different topics for this week’s article.

I’m not happy with any of them.

The message in them isn’t clear to me. They’re good starts, but I don’t know how to end them.

Last week I was talking with someone who shared that she felt unprepared when networking. Everyone else seems so together and confident. 

I compared networking to those perfect Instagram pictures you see.

In those Instagram pictures, you feel like you’re getting a glimpse into someone’s perfect life. 

What you don’t see is all the time it took to get their hair and makeup to look perfect. And in some cases, someone was hired to do their hair and makeup.

You don’t see how long it took to get that perfect picture.

You don’t see the screaming kids in the background, the stress and frustration, the things that went wrong, the things that they’re worried about, or their bank account numbers (sometimes they’re not anywhere near as healthy as they pretend).

You see what they want you to see.

Networking can be much the same.

You don’t see all the events they went to where they talked to no one.

You don’t see them taking a break in the bathroom stall to regroup (I’ve done this!).

You don’t see all the ways they miffed that 30-second elevator pitch or felt awkward as they got more comfortable doing it.

You don’t see the time and effort they spent playing with and perfecting that elevator pitch.

You don’t see any number of things happening behind the scenes of their business or life.

You see what they’re sharing with you and how they’re showing up that day.

Which is fine, but you can’t compare all the things you’re feeling below the surface and the things you know are happening (or not happening) in your business to what others are choosing to share with you.

This is why I started with sharing about the piles on my desk. In the videos, my camera is situated in a way that you see me, not my desk. You’re seeing what I’m choosing to share.

This is why I shared about the three unused topics. It might seem like I just magically have a topic every week, but that’s only because you don’t see the unused topics. I wrote today’s topic about two hours ago because I didn’t have a topic yet.

Where you are is perfect.

Some are ahead of you and some are behind you. It’s all good.

You have the inside track to all the things working and not working for you right now. But you can’t see those things in other people unless they give you a glimpse in. And even then, it’s only a glimpse, while you have a front-row seat to your life and business.

Keep this in mind when you’re comparing yourself to someone else.

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to Getting Things Done #130

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #129 / Are you as organized as you think?

Are you as organized as you think?

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with someone who set up a time to talk with me. She shared that she was already pretty organized and productive, and was hoping to up that game just a little bit.

She shared all the things she had going on and what she was hoping would go a bit better (and this lady has a lot of spinning plates up in the air).

I asked her how she was keeping track of everything.

Her answer was not uncommon “I make a list every night.”

I hear this a lot, and it’s a great answer. I do this and recommend others do this too.

I probed a bit deeper and learned that the list is on whatever piece of paper is close to her at the end of the day.

I hear this all the time. Todo lists written on whatever paper or scrap is close, and a day or two later, it’s lost. So, if you didn’t get to something one day, you’re just hoping you remember what it is.

I recommend people have three lists.

  1. Quarterly/Monthly list
    This holds your goals for the current quarter and month and what projects and things need to be done so you can reach your goal.
  2. Weekly list
    The list of what needs to be done this week to be on track to meet your quarterly and monthly goals.
  3. Daily todo list.
    This is the one most people have. It’s what needs to be done today so you’re on track to meet your weekly goals. 
    Sometimes it’s not as detailed as it needs to be. You might have a small (or large) project listed on your todo list as one item and get frustrated that you couldn’t get it finished. Instead, make sure you break those projects up into their individual steps.
    For example, one small project might be “writing your blog.” Instead of putting that on your todo list alone, you might write it down and then fill out the steps underneath.

Sometimes people will ask me to tell them how I keep track of everything.

I always hesitate to share because the system I use now is not exactly what I did a year ago, and my system a year ago is different than two years before that.

Two years ago, the system I use now would not have worked for me. I didn’t have the habits and processes in place that make it a success for me now.

Your systems and processes for keeping track of your business and life will change over time, just as you and your business shift and change.

The key is to notice when something isn’t working as well as it used to and tweak it.

One way I can tell if something no longer working for me is if I’ve been diligently using it and then find I’m not doing it anymore for no particular reason.

The common thread behind all the ways I’ve kept track of my intentions and goals is the three lists above.

The way those lists are formatted and arranged has changed a lot over the past few years, but those three lists have always been at the core.

Going back to the women I mentioned earlier, we decided to map out her projects for the next couple of months, so she had a really good idea of what time, if any, she had for any new things that might pop up.

As we created the lists, she got a bit overwhelmed and wondered aloud how she’d ever get everything done.

I paused and said, “you mentioned earlier that you always get everything done.”

She assured me that she had this kind of workload before, and everything always gets done by focusing on one thing at a time.

My response was, “That’s great! So, tell me, if you get everything done without it all being written down, why would having the list change anything?”

She laughed.

Having a list of what needs to be completed each week this month for each project you’re working on means you’re not caught off guard and playing catch up one week.

With the list, you know that you’re not forgetting something. And if you did forget something, you can add it to your list when you realize it.

These three lists free up your mind to not worry about the projects and tasks in your business on your off-hours.

If you’d like some help setting up your three lists and determining what format works best for you, I’d love to help you with that (seriously, it’s a lot of fun for me!) You can set that up by heading over to my contact page here and filling out the form. Just share what you want help with, and we’ll get something set up.

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to Getting Things Done #129

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #128 / Why you should create your new habit in phases

Why you should create your new habit in phases

One part of creating the productivity and results you want in your business (and life) is creating habits that support you.

When someone is creating a new habit I often see them jump right into it.

Then they get frustrated when it doesn’t get easier after a few days or it might even get harder.

Then the new habit is abandoned.

Think of it this way, if you wanted to start lifting weights and decided the place to start was curling a 50-pound weight, you’d probably fail.

You need to build your muscles to do that (and potentially talk with an expert to find out if that’s a reasonable goal for you).

The point is, you’re probably not going to be curling that 50-pound weight on the first day of you lift weights.

Yet, this is how most of us approach creating habits. 

We think the way to create a new habit is to start it immediately, and if we do keep doing it, the practice will stick.

Then we get frustrated because it’s hard to keep up.

Let’s look at the habit of waking up at 6 am every day.

To create it, you set the alarm for 6 am every day.

A couple of days in, and it feels like there’s not enough coffee in the world to keep you focused all day.

One of the rules for creating a new habit is to make it easy.

How might you make getting up at 6 am every day easier for you? By going to bed at 10 pm every night. This way, you get 8 hours of sleep, and it makes getting up at 6 am easier.

How do you make going to bed at 10 pm easier? By starting your bedtime routine at 9:30.

If you’re like me, you start creating this whole new routine that includes around getting ready for bed at 9:30, going to bed at 10 pm, and setting the alarm for 6 am.

And you still might be frustrated because at 10 pm you’re NOT tired and so you lay in bed tossing and turning for an hour or more before you fall asleep and when the alarm goes off you’re still exhausted.

In James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, he talks about habit shaping, part of it is creating a new habit in phases.

If the habit is getting up at 6 am, you could start with just getting ready for bed at 9:30. Once you’ve mastered that (which might take a week or a month), you move on to the next step.

Phase 1: Get ready for bed at 9:30
Phase 2: Get in bed at 10 pm and read, chat with your partner, or play on your phone.
Phase 3: Get in bed at 10 pm and put the phone away.
Phase 4: Go to bed at 10 pm.
Phase 5: Set your alarm for 6 am.

You’ll notice I added a couple of steps between getting ready for bed and going to bed. It goes back to asking yourself what will make the next step easier.

What habits have you tried to create in the past that are still on your mind?

How might you create that habit in phases?

Keep asking yourself what will make this step easier?

I’d love to know what the phases of your new habit are! Share in the comments below.

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to Getting Things Done #128