Staying Productive When You Only Have A Few Minutes

Staying Productive When You Only Have A Few Minutes

My son, Ethan, gets dropped off at high school at 8:30 in the morning. On one particular day, I had a 9:00 AM appointment just a few minutes away from the high school. Now, I could have easily just driven from school to home over to my appointment in that 30-minute window, but it would’ve burned about 10 minutes of my time just driving. And since I’m obsessed with maximizing my time, I decided to go straight from the high school to my appointment, which meant I’d have about 25 minutes of sitting in a car in the parking lot.

Now, I’d say the average person would probably spend that time looking at social media, browsing the internet mindlessly, not really putting any thought behind that time. I read every single morning from home; I’m always researching for my training and speaking. I decided that’s how I wanted to use that time, so I grabbed my book and that’s what I did for the 25 minutes in the parking lot. I am obsessed with being as productive every single minute – or as many minutes as possible – throughout each and every day!

Because time is non-renewable, we can’t get time back; every minute that passes is gone.

How can you maximize those minutes? And yes, I mean minutes, I’m not talking hours. I’m drilling down to the minute; I want to be productive! Now, when I say productive, I don’t just mean working and doing chores, push and push and go. Productivity includes sleep, rest, meditation, light exercise, all the things that you need to do to recover. So when I say I’m being as productive and maximizing every minute, it includes things that are push and go, and things that are pulled back for recovery; to support mental and physical health.

I’m also a huge planner; Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, depending on the week, I sit down, look at the week ahead, and I’m building out a master list of everything that I know that needs to get done. But here’s the trick – I break my list into two big buckets. The first one is projects: what are the things that take more time, whether that’s an hour or several hours in a day, or they’re going to take several days or weeks to complete. That gets put into one bucket.

The second bucket is tasks, those things that take roughly less than 30 minutes. They’re really quick things that I can get done. The projects get scheduled into my calendar, the tasks stay as a living list. That way, when I find myself with an unexpected few minutes, whether that’s because a call ended early or maybe I have 15-20 minutes between calls, I have a go-to list of things that are already prepared.

So instead of, “Oh goodness, my call ended early. I’ve got 10 minutes. What should I do with this time?” No! Instead of doing that, I just look over at my list and say, “Bam! I can go ahead and write that email that’s going to take me a few minutes, that I haven’t taken care of yet.” Something off the task list, it’s ready to go.

Here’s a bonus for you – included on my tasks, always, are things that have to do with my mental and physical rest and recovery.

Things like taking a few minutes to walk, going outside, getting some sunlight, putting my feet on the ground. As a gift from my family, I recently received one of those mini trampolines, a rebounder, so I can go out there and do a few minutes of hopping, getting my system activated. It might mean I sneak in a meditation or, lovely would be, a nap for 15 minutes, if you can pull that off.

So have those quick things already on this living task list, so that when you find yourself with a few minutes of unexpected time, you can really maximize it. It’s all about being intentional with your time, so that you can be productive. Please share this with your friends and family! I want to know how you are helping other people, including yourself, to really maximize your time when it’s unexpected at the most.

Celebrating International Dance Day

Celebrating International Dance Day

Well it’s the end of April already, but we kicked off April the same way we do every year – with April Fool’s Day! I’ve been talking with you each week in April about how to either not feel too foolish and avoid some of that imposter syndrome, or to actually feel foolish; have some f-word, some fun in your life. Get out there and laugh, create time, overlapping things with other people, but actually have some of that foolishness in your life and enjoy what it’s all about.

Well today, on the final Thursday of April, it is International Dance Day! What a perfect way to have some of that fun, by dancing! Dancing is 9,000 years old, at least. And even though it feels like it’s been that long since I was a competitive dancer, dancing doesn’t have to be that formal; it doesn’t have to be pre-choreographed or in a specific genre.

Dance could just be movement, as a way to celebrate something or as a way to express yourself – whether that’s frustration or joy.

But I encourage you, today, get up out of that office chair, that dining room chair, that couch, and just move! Have some dance in your life. If you’re trying to overlap some fun with other areas of your life, grab a co-worker or grab a family member and dance together.

I also wanted to share a couple of stats with you about International Dance Day, so if you want to incorporate them into your celebration, here are some fun ideas. The number one genre of dance voted by Americans is hip hop, which I can not do any hip hop, but I love; it’s my favorite to watch, I could watch it for hours.

The number one artist is Michael Jackson, so if you want to go ahead and pop on some MJ and recreate the moonwalk with him, go for it! And then finally, if you want to dance and watch a movie with dancing at the same time, number one is “Dirty Dancing,” and number two is my favorite dance movie, “Footloose.”

Enjoy International Dance Day! If you’re going to be dancing post some pictures in the comments below, share with us what your faves are, but get out there, enjoy the end of April, and let’s just incorporate some fun into our lives.

Turning Stress Into a Comedy

Turning Stress Into a Comedy

My husband Matt and I love to go see stand-up comedians; it’s one of our favorite things to do. A few weeks before the pandemic hit I was at a fundraising gala, and the only item I was going to make sure I won at that silent auction was for two tickets to three different comedy specials. Now, there may have been a couple of bottles of wine in there, but really it was all about the comedy.

Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to go see anything in person, but fortunately, we have streaming services that have a ton of different comedy specials on them. And this summer, one of our favorite comedians, Tom Papa, came out with a new special. Now, I’m bringing this up because on last week’s video I talked about the f-word – having fun. And what better way to have fun than by watching stand-up comedy?

I also talked about how you don’t need to compartmentalize fun, you don’t have to schedule it separately. In fact, it’s better to overlap, intertwine them with other areas of your life.

So that’s exactly what we’ve been doing with Tom Papa. He’s completely clean; our kids, Ethan’s almost 15 and Reese is 12, they watched one of his specials a few years ago. And we decided to watch the new one together as a family, and then again on Easter when my parents and my mother-in-law were over.

Sitting around number one, focusing on family, having that family time, bonding and strengthening relationships in that area of our life while at the same time having fun, it was amazing! But the pure act of laughter, which is often associated with fun and certainly should be happening during stand-up comedy, actually laughing has so many health benefits. And I’m sure you’re aware of some of them, but if you’re not, it really does strengthen your heart, your lungs, your muscles.

We had our parents over; they’re 75 and 85 years old, so it actually reduces your heart rate, reduces blood pressure. In the long-term, it’s helping to improve your immune system, which we all need to have an improved immune system, even more so right now.

It also helps improve your overall mood, and if you have pretty consistent laughter built into your life, it helps you handle difficult situations that could come down the road.

So even if stand-up comedy isn’t always your thing, maybe find a comedian that could just bring a little bit of laughter. And I have to recommend Tom Papa, he has a newer special on Netflix. No, I’m not affiliated with him or Netflix in anyway, I just absolutely love his comedy and his humor, so I invite you to check it out and see if it’s a good fit for you, your family, your loved ones!

Are You Paying Attention?

Are You Paying Attention?

Research shows that people spend nearly 47% of their time – almost half of their time – thinking about other things than what they’re working on at that moment. And I get it; we have so many distractions, and this need to multi-task. Especially if you work in an environment that expects you to be highly productive, show results quickly, and do all of this in a very fast-paced environment. You might feel an urge or push to be doing other things all at one time.

You and I both know that you are not nearly as effective – the results are not nearly as good – if you are trying to multi-task. In addition, if you’re thinking about other things when you’re with other people, if you are not present in the moment, you’re missing out. Whether that’s because you as a leader aren’t present for other people and now there’s a little bit of mistrust there, or you’re in your boss’ meeting and you’re not fully present there, and now they’re questioning your commitment.

Whatever the case may be, we want to try to do what we can to be fully present in the moment, so that we build better connections and yield better, more effective results.

The first thing might seem obvious: to eliminate distractions. I know I’m telling you something you should already be doing, but one of my favorite trainers says, “Common sense isn’t always common practice,” so I’m going to tell this to you anyway.

Turn off your phones, close down your e-mail, and be looking in the direction that you’re supposed to be looking in; eliminate as many things as possible that are going to distract you from being present in the moment. The next: I like to say a mantra before I go into my next meeting or my next interaction, or when I make a transition from one thing to the next where I’m going to be with other people.

I like to tell myself, everything I was just working on will still be there; I’m now focused on the next thing at hand, or I’m now focused and fully present for this next group or this next person.

This mantra of acknowledging; what I was working on will still be there, it’s not going anywhere and I need to now be fully present for the next thing in front of me. That little mantra is just a bit of a trigger to help you get there. If you really want to be more efficient and effective, it’s not about multi-tasking. It’s not about like half of adults, thinking about other things than what they’re working on.

Be the other half – be the person that is fully present when you’re with people and when you’re with your projects. I promise you, you are going to see a drastic difference in the results that you yield, as well as the relationships that you build with other people. If you have a comment please post that below, I’d love to hear from you!

Look Out! Distractions Will Get You!

Look Out! Distractions Will Get You!

I’m super diligent about eliminating distractions – whether it’s something really small that might take me off task for a few minutes, or it’s something monstrous that’s going to completely derail whatever goal I’m trying to achieve. I’m intentional about those things, whether it’s removing it altogether, hiding it, or deleting it; whatever it takes!

For example, when my family is having a conversation with me my phone has got to be completely put away, because I know even glancing at it for a millisecond is going to distract me. I’m now potentially missing an important part of what they want to share with me, not to mention I’m being super disrespectful to them. When I’m eating healthy and eliminating sugar, I know there’s a part of my pantry that I cannot look at. It’s full of cookies and candy, and I can’t look at it!

If I even go in that direction, it’s going to distract me; it’s going to pull me off course.

When I’m shooting videos for you my phone is on airplane mode and my computer volume is all the way down, because I don’t want to hear any sort of notifications that are going to pull my attention from being here, just for you! But every once in a while, distractions kind of creep in. There may have been some extra binge-watching of Netflix during COVID, or times where I have spent more than just a couple of minutes on social media. These things happen.

I was having a conversation about distractions with a gentleman recently and I came to the conclusion that if you are diligent about eliminating your distraction 99.9% of the time – like you’re super disciplined, you have a concerted effort and you stay the course the majority of the time – then when it does creep in every once in a while, don’t beat yourself up. Don’t take shame in it; acknowledge it, realize it’s there, and course correct.

The fine line that I want you to be super aware of is when your distractions turn into disabilities.

When your distractions completely take over, they’re hindering you, or they are completely taking you off course, you’ve got to recognize that; you have to be aware of when that is starting to happen. Your distractions cannot become your disabilities.

Once you become aware of that fine line, then you’ll have a much better gauge and balance of how to stay disciplined, how to make sure that you don’t have these things that are going to pull you off course, and how to not beat yourself up when every once in a while they creep in.

All right, tell me, I want to hear from you! Comment below. What is a distraction that you are going to eliminate today, so that distraction does not become a disability?