“So how are things going?”
“Oh my goodness. I’m just swamped. I’ve been so busy!”
“Really? What have you been doing?”
There is a difference between being busy and being productive. When you are “busy”, wheels are spinning and you get absolutely nowhere. When you are being productive, you can see your progress. Some people don’t know the difference so when they ask someone how things are going, they are impressed by the list of things that are rattled off. Here’s the difference between busy and productive people:
- Busy people fake having a personal mission. Productive people live their mission every single day.
- Busy people have several “priorities”. Productive people have a selective few.
- Busy people say “yes” at the drop of a hat. Productive people have no problem saying “no”.
- Busy people tell what they are doing. Productive people show you.
- Busy people multitask. Productive people focus.
We have all been guilty of glorifying the “busy”. However, in order for you to be extraordinary and live a life that will inspire others, it’s time to start being productive.
Registration is open for the 4th annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference on October 7, 2017. Limited seating is available, register today at www.wyp2017.eventbrite.com.
This week I received an email from one of the parents on my oldest daughter’s middle school PTO asking me to consider joining the board for the next school year. She gave plenty of reasons why it would be a great idea: I’m passionate about my daughter’s education (true), I’m very organized and creative (true and true), I have a GREAT working relationship with the principal (also true) and she REALLY believes I would be great at it (yeah, also probably true…but). While compliments are nice, they are also the “suck you in” tactics folks use when they have no clue or don’t care how full your calendar already is. Like seriously, I will put myself in timeout if I add one more thing to my plate.
How many of you are dealing with well-intentioned folks who see how awesomely magnificent you are and want you to share all that awesomeness and help them with something? They will give you plenty of reasons why you should….Oh, it will only take a few hours a month. All of our meetings are by conference call. There’s a rotating schedule so you won’t have to do it all by yourself. I’ll be here to help you. Listen, while all of that sounds really great, the truth is, you should only commit to doing something based on your schedule and allotted mental bandwidth to take on something else. Will they be disappointed? Yes. Will they possibly give you a little bit a side eye the next time they see you? Maybe.
You, my dear, are the ruler and protector of your precious time. Don’t let sweet words and promises take you off course from managing your 168 and using those hours for what really matters and makes you happy.
P.S. How many of you tried the mind mapping exercise I shared with you last week?
Before I discovered mind mapping I used to write an endless list of the things that I wanted to do and achieve. Now granted there are some things that still need to be in a list like see your groceries or a gift list when you shopping for the holidays. But there are some things that you can not fully brainstorm on in a linear fashion. This is where mind mapping becomes helpful. It gives you the ability to see all the different tangents of a particular thought. For example, as I sit here thinking about Work Your Package my different tangents include the upcoming 4th annual conference, my next book, coaching, and speaking engagements. You might have something else that doesn’t have to do with your passion such as home repairs. So let’s just say in the middle of a piece of paper, you draw a little circle and label it “home”. You tangents may include bedroom, bathrooms, basement, kitchen, etc. And off of each tangent, you have additional points for the bathroom such as replace vanity, change wallpaper and update lighting fixtures.
Mind mapping helps you see the entire picture. And the great thing is about it there is no right or wrong way to do it. Your creativity is the only limitation to how great your map that can be. I’ve also used mind mapping for my corporate gig. I’ve used it to brainstorm several ideas for projects that I’m working on such as the corporate centennial or the holiday party. It helped me to get all of the ideas out of my head so that I was able to fully communicate with the planning committee on the next steps. And it helped the planning committee to see it visually so that they can see the full vision of the desired end result.
Take a minute or two to do a little mind mapping and get those ideas you are sitting on out of your head and on paper. I would love to see your maps. Share them with me the Work Your Package Facebook page with the hashtag #mindmap. I worked on one this morning while sitting in Starbucks in between meetings:
If only I had a few more hours in the day.
How many times have you said that to yourself? Don’t be shy. Raise your hand.
In this fast-paced life that we live, we are bombarded daily by responsibilities, deadlines, obligations and conflicting priorities and there are days when we feel we just can’t get our heads over water. Truth is, all the paper planners or digital reminders in the world won’t keep you on track if you don’t develop the skills necessary to manage your day. If you aren’t sure which skills you need to develop, answer the following questions with either Always, Often, Rarely or Never:
- Do you feel you don’t have time to add any new projects to your schedule?
- Do you have trouble locating the things you need in a timely manner?
- Do you hesitate to throw something away just in case you may need it later?
- Do you have problems saying “no” when asked to take on a new project or volunteer?
- Do interruptions keep you derailed for ten minutes or more after the interruption is over?
- Do you find yourself playing catch up after neglecting a task or project?
- Do you struggle with the urge to immediately respond to emails and instant messages or getting people off the phone?
If you answered Always or Often to questions:
1 and 7 – You struggle with scheduling. Over-scheduling is just as bad as procrastination. When you are super-scheduled you can become paralyzed when you are faced with a change in plan or routine or even new projects.
2 and 3 – You have organizational challenges. Whether you are drowning in piles of paper or electronic files for everything, it’s time to figure out what to toss and what to keep.
4, 5 and 7 – You have too many interruptions. I’m guessing that you have trouble saying “no” (Which by the way is a full sentence) to family, co-workers, your phone, emails and all types of instant messages and you often find yourself falling behind on your tasks. Here’s a hint, saying “no” will not keep you from advancing at work or make you a bad mom, wife, daughter, friend or sister.
Here are some strategies to deal with the everyday things that rob you of your time:
- Meetings – Have an agenda and stick to it. Start and finish on time. Have a stand up meeting.
- Phone calls – Schedule them. Know the objective of the call before you dial the number. Let the caller know how much time you have.
- “No” vs “Yes” – Request time to make a decision. Avoid making excuses.
- Interruptions – Tell people when you are available and when you are not. Look at a clock. Say you have to get back to work.
- Paperwork and Email – Throw away what you do not need. Handle emails and paper mail once.
Now if you will excuse me, I have to check my schedule to see what’s next.
Source: Rockhurst University Continuing Education Center, Inc.
There are only 38 days before the start of a new year. Now before you start to have either panic (Where the heck did the year go?) or regret (I can’t believe the year is almost over and I still haven’t reached my goal) take a minute to reflect on everything that you DID accomplish. It’s one of the reasons why I keep a paper calendar. I can flip back at look at each month and see all the badassery I’ve accomplished over the year. Professional development? Check. Personal Growth (even when it was painful). Check and check. Write more chapters for my soon to be released fictional novel? Check. Host the 3rd annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference? Check. Reserve dates for WYP2017? CHECK!!! (Early registration starts on December 7).
My new year starts on my birthday and I already have several goals that I want to accomplish by next year. My planner for next year is already looking like a rainbow with all the color coding. Next up is my favorite activity…mind mapping.
So how do you get ready for 2017? Here are some strategies from Michael Hyatt, author of “Achieve What Matters in 2017 – 8 Strategies Super-Successful People Are Using Now To Accomplish Next Year”:
- Reflect on the past year – John Maxwell spends a week reviewing the current year calendar and determines what he needs to focus on in the coming year. Tony Robbins keeps record of “accomplishments and magical moments” and reviews them at the end of the year.
- Stay positive – Jeff Walker reviews all of his wins stating that we often don’t realize how much progress we make throughout the year. Andy Andrews take moment to reflect and then has a forgiveness session to forgive others and himself.
- Express gratitude – Ray Edwards said he starts preparing with “a gratitude flood.” In a journal he writes down every good thing he can remember from the past year. In that state of total gratitude he then asks, ‘What do I most want to be thankful for one year from now?’ He writes the answer down, and it becomes a focus for the new year.
- Eliminate the excess – Eliminate at least 30% of projects, commitments and activities from the previous year according to Ray Edwards. Derek Halpern has a more ruthless approach by reviewing the previous year and deciding what he won’t do in the upcoming year. He doesn’t eliminate the things he hates, he eliminates what he loves but isn’t delivering the results he wants.
- Set compelling goals – Set goals that harness your emotional energy. In other words, not only do you need to know what you want to do, you need to know WHY you want to do it. Dave Ramsey said: “I have to intentionally stop and dream again. What can I work on next year that makes me smile? Then my mind automatically moves from the strategic to the tactical. In detail—how can I organize my work and my life to do the things that cause that same smile?”
- Break it down – Take your goals and break them down into manageable chunks. Lysa TerKeurst breaks her goals down into three categories: giving, family, and personal development.
- Schedule the year – What gets scheduled gets done and scheduling also protects your time. Here’s the reality: Everyone has an agenda. If you don’t declare yours by calendaring what’s what important to you, others will try to fit you into their agenda. Marie Forleo blocks out calendar time for the important stuff like vacations, fun and time off and major business and creative projects.
- Unplug for a time – Use those vacation days, take a mental health day, get a massage, take time to enjoy cup of coffee or tea. Stepping away from everything allows you to refresh and renew your commitment to your goals.
How are you preparing for 2017? Please share your tips in the comments. I would love to hear from you.