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Archive for Productivity

Banish Procrastination

Procrastination is a problem that affects me and almost everyone else I know.

In fact, I left home today to drive my daughter to a friends house. Then I headed to my home away from home, Starbucks, where I had every intention of sitting down and writing this article. Dealing with procrastination is something I believe certainly affects our ability to achieve success.

Unfortunately, instead of writing about it, I proceeded to engage in it. I plugged in my headset fully intending to listen to radio to drown out the conversation of the other people at the same table, when instead I opened up Netflix and spent the next two hours watching reruns of Bones.

Now don’t get me wrong, each of us needs a bit of a break once in awhile . . . and I had been insanely productive for the last couple of days. But, having procrastinated on writing this article ensured time with my daughter in the evening would be next to nothing.

Over the years, I found several strategies that I’ve used to successfully get past my inclination to procrastinate and therefore to enjoy greater productivity. Had I engaged those strategies today, I may have finished this article during the time I had allotted and not taken away from time with my daughter. But alas, we don’t always get done what we plan to do.

Psychology tells us that procrastination may be related to your inability or subconscious desire to avoid a challenge or a particularly unpleasant situation.

However it can also be the result of an overtaxed mind or body. If you think you have a problem with procrastination then you’ll want to first determine you’re getting enough sleep, enough nutrition and enough exercise to power your brain cells and keep them moving all day long. That’s right – exercise powers your brain and your muscles.

Without these three foundational pillars of health, your brain just doesn’t function as well as it should. So, your first strategy is to determining whether or not you’re really addressing procrastination or if you’re just overtired, overstressed, overworked, and underappreciated.

A secondary strategy you can consider to overcome procrastination is to use more technology in your life to achieve greater productivity. By this I mean I don’t mean installing a Facebook app so that you can surf Facebook all day long or post pictures to Instagram and Snapchat.

Instead, use technology by using voice activated text to speech in order to write your lists, write an article, write a report or otherwise jot down notes of things that you need to remember throughout the day. Use an app to shut off your email, and allow yourself just an hour or two a day to get through your email and not the hours you may spend each day checking each as it comes in.

Recently, I was faced with filling out many pages of paperwork in order to finalize a legal situation. I literally put this off for months. I would open up the folder take a look at what needed to be done and close it once more, absolutely convinced that it would take hours and hours of time in order to complete the task.

But today, I opened up the notebook and committed to finishing what needed to be done for the first step. Lo and behold it only took me an hour. It’s amazing what you can get finished with when you put your mind to it.

And realistically, that’s the underlying issue with procrastination. When your motivation and inspiration is great enough to overcome your lack of desire to complete a task, then you’ll pick up what needs to be done and finish it.

I remember watching my older son pick up things off the side of the road and spend an hour or two fixing them to turn around and resell them. But he hated to pick up his school work and spend more than 15 minutes at a time. Once completed, however, his feelings of achievement overcame his desire to procrastinate the next time, as long as the next time happened quickly after the first.

In essence, this is the definition of intrinsic motivation, which does an exceptional job of helping you to overcome procrastination.

Intrinsic motivation is an internal force that moves you forward.

Research has found people who dislike exercise do so because they don’t enjoy the anticipation of engaging in exercise. Whatever the reason – whether they don’t enjoy sweating, going to the gym, or working hard – anticipation is always worse than the actual event.

Knowing that exercise will reduce the risk for diabetes, help maintain weight, improve balance, and just make you feel better are not enough motivation to get most people out of bed.

These are extrinsic motivators.

Research has found that when people do exercise, they exercise more since they experience the intrinsic motivator – the feelings of euphoria that accompanies the release of feel good hormones that happen during exercise.

Intrinsic motivation just works.

And it works to help you overcome procrastination as well. When you complete a task, you feel good about yourself. You feel as if you accomplished something – and you DID.

By tapping into those feelings of accomplishment, achievement and growth, you can help reduce the amount of procrastination you practice, because procrastination takes practice.

Just like anything else you do in life – you do procrastination better the more you do it. It becomes easier the more you practice.

And, just like Nike advises you – JUST DO IT!

It’s easier said than done, but the reality is that most of what we accomplish in life is easier said than done.

Raising a child alone isn’t easy. Being mother, father, teacher, housekeeper, bookkeeper, banker, employee and employer – at one time – is not easy.

You are doing all that – now.

Choosing to get past procrastinating on a project or two is just one step in your life’s journey  . . .

 

. . . . and you CAN DO IT!

 

Seven Secrets to Getting More Done in Less Time

Productivity:

the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.

“workers boosted productivity by 20 percent” Synonym: efficiency

Did you ever play with those balsam wood airplanes? You know . . . the ones that were propelled by the force of a twisted rubber band?

I used to play with those planes all the time as a kid. I just knew that if I twisted that rubber band as tight as it would go that my plane would fly faster and farther than any of the other ones that my friends were playing with.

Well, friends might be an overstatement.

Essentially, faster and farther than the plane my sister was playing with.

I loved those planes. Even though they broke easily [sometimes when I was putting them together!] and the rubber bands lasted for 2 or sometimes 3 flights before snapping in two, I could spend the time, however brief, imagining that I was piloting that that little plane through the backyard.

The plane would gracefully float through the air, sometimes narrowly missing the tetherball pole planted squarely in the yard and crash land near the evergreen trees. If the rubber band didn’t snap, then one of the wings might on landing.

Although I played with those planes for several years as a child, I didn’t seem to generalize the knowledge that when stretched tightly, beyond capacity, the rubber band would snap in two.

Unfortunately, as an adult I also have to keep learning that same lesson over and over again. This time when the rubber band in my life snaps there are more dire consequences than when the little plane wouldn’t fly and my mother had run out of rubber bands that fit the plane.

Producing good work . . . at home, in the office, at school or with our children . . . requires so much more than just one rubber band. Those rubber bands stay flexible when we work efficiently, experience quality sleep, eat foods that feed our body and not only our palate and drink plenty of clear water.

Working efficiently means you’ll be as efficient as you can be without sacrificing your children, your home and your mental health. And, like all things in life there are tricks or secrets that efficiency experts have found will reduce the amount of time it takes us to accomplish specific tasks, get more done in less time and improve our productivity quotient.

I love to be productive. I get a real feeling of satisfaction when I finally lay down at night to know that I accomplished the goals I set for myself that day without stressing the children or sacrificing my own mental or emotional health.

But I have this huge flaw. Well, I think of it as something requiring change, while other members of my family tend to think of it as a major flaw. And, truth be told, it probably is a major flaw.

I overbook myself. I make too many plans. My list is longer than my arm. I NEVER finish my list for the day.

All things that industry experts tell you will make you crash and burn before you accomplish your goals.

Knowing this and realizing that there were other recommendations that would increase my productivity without sacrificing my end goals, I went on a hunt for the best tools and changes that I could make in my single mom life. These had to be realistic for my circumstances, work within my lifestyle and not require extra expense.

So, without further ado, here are the seven changes that I would recommend you make in the next few weeks. I have, and have seen some remarkable differences in what I get done and how much better I feel at the end of the day.

Sleep, Water and Nutrition.

You had to expect this – so I won’t spend a lot of time here. Sleep 8 hours a night. Drink enough water to stay hydrated (so your pee is a light straw color) and eat a well-balanced diet that is low in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates will increase the release of insulin in your body, increase the inflammatory response and cause dips in your blood sugar, which make you feel tired and sleepy. In order to be as productive as possible you have to keep both your mind and your body healthy.

Blocks of Time.

Productivity happens when you can complete tasks in a specific amount of time. That time period is one that you define. In order to be as productive as possible you’ll want to block out your time during the day for specific tasks. Create the habit of blocking your calendar to check email, write the report your boss needs, make dinner, doing homework with the kids and anything else that needs to be done during the day. Make sure you also include downtime each day. Without time to recover and recharge your batteries your productivity levels will plummet like a rock in water.

Balance everything.

You’ve heard it before, but you must balance your work and life together. Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? It’s also known as the 80/20 rule. It’s the theory that 80 percent of the results from a given situation is determined by 20 percent of your work. This means you must manage your time and not let your time manage you. Working in blocks of time, including down time and balancing your recreation, family and work is extremely important to improve your productivity.

Set Boundaries.

Can you say no? Most women have trouble saying no to their friends or when they’re asked to do something. But that’s not the only thing you have to say no to! You must also guard your blocks of time and set boundaries to what you will and won’t do. Don’t check emails, take phone calls or answer text messages when you are committed to a block of time to finish a project or work on homework with the children. Set your boundaries with your friends as well. If you have people who enjoy dropping by unannounced, it’s time to set new boundaries.

Let’s do double time.

Can you do two things at once? Although most women are great at multi-tasking, it’s not the best way to accomplish any task. It requires that you split your brain between two tasks and neither get your full attention. On the other hand, you can schedule a playdate with your children’s friends and spend time with the mother catching up and call it downtime. Or you can take your child to her playdate and sit at a local coffee shop and work on your computer. You’ll be without the distractions you usually have at home and can access any content that you save in the cloud, so you can work anywhere.

Focus on one thing and finish it.

As women, we often struggle with focusing on one task. There is a joke that talks about how a woman walks through the house. Her intention is to clean the bathroom. She picks up the dishes in the family room and delivers them to the kitchen. She loads the dishwasher and takes clothes out of the dryer. After folding the clothes and delivering them to her children’s room, she fixes their bed and dusts the bookshelves in their room. She empties the garbage can and ties up the kitchen garbage can. After taking out the garbage, she starts another load of laundry. While the machine is running, she walks into the bathroom and starts cleaning the mirror, which reminds her that the mirror in her bedroom is dirty and she heads in there to clean the glass. Once finished it’s time to start dinner, she hasn’t finished one project and she’s exhausted.

Focus on one thing and finish it. It doesn’t matter about the extraneous things. It doesn’t matter that there are clothes in the dryer or the kitchen is mess – if you need to clean the bathroom, write the report or organize your files – don’t leave until it’s done.

Use the tools you need.

There are several online tools that can help improve your productivity – whether it’s at home or at work.

Momentum: a Chrome extension that shows a beautiful picture and your to-do list each time you open a new tab in your browser.

Trello: Has both a free and paid version. You can develop projects with different lists and tasks associated with them. Share the project with your friends or virtual assistant.

Wunderlist: Has both a free and paid version. Develop project lists with tasks. You can share the list, email yourself information, set due dates, reminders, attach audio files and take notes. This is my favorite tool!

 

Take the time TODAY to make one change in your daily routine and work to make that change a habit. If you can make one change every two weeks, it won’t be long before you are productivity machine!

Study – If You Have Children, You’re Likely More Productive Than Most

Quite frequently I consider how I might become more productive – be able to do more in one day or even accomplish more in an hour. It seems that more could be done in a 24-hour period.

In past several decades the ability to be or become productive is so valued that many are promoted when they produce the amount of work that can only be accomplished by putting in nearly 60 hours a week, every week, every month, year after year. While this may garner you a promotion at work, are they going to be standing over your grave when you work yourself to death, extolling your virtues?

Or will it be your friends and family who are grieving your loss? And do these people really care how much money you made or how many hours you put in at work?

As a single mom I would NEVER say that money doesn’t matter. It’s only the truly wealthy – who aren’t concerned about their next meal or paying the rent – who say that money doesn’t matter.

This should not be confused with WORRYING about money. While money matters – it doesn’t come solely from my efforts. When my efforts line up with God’s will then the bills are paid and there’s food on the table.

So . . . money matters, but not enough so that you work 60 to 80 hours a week to make your boss happy.

This comes back to the question of how to get more done in less time.

And – do you really need to?

At some point, you reach the pinnacle or the top of what could potentially be accomplished in a set amount of time.

It turns out that you are already more productive than anyone else.

If you are reading this, you are likely a woman who has children. Those two facts place you into a category of people who are the most productive individuals – both at home and at work.

In fact, some recommend that if you want to become more productive you just need to have children!

A study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (1) found that over a 30-year career, mothers outperformed their peers without children at every level of the corporate ladder. The study went on to define that women with two or more children were the most productive of all the women studied.

To evaluate productivity the researchers analyzed the amount of research published by over 10,000 academic economists. They found that fathers with one child outperformed those without children, and those with two or more children outperformed all other men.

The effect in women was even more dramatic as those who never had children substantially under performed those women who did have children. It is important to recognize that these people came from life circumstances that likely allowed them maternity leave, paid sick time and other benefits that not all jobs accommodate.

But, you may have experienced the same thing happening in your own life. The more you have to do on your “list,” the more you get done each day.

On days we have basketball practice and appointments, I carry my computer and get more done between appointments and at coffee houses than I do when my calendar is completely clear and I’m struggling to remain productive throughout the day.

This productivity in the workplace is coming despite the “parenthood penalty” that women suffer far more frequently than men.

The answer may lie in the fact that your days are long but those years are short. Children grow up quickly, so taking time to spend with them while playing the long-game at your job, may grow your productivity skills quickly.

You may also be forced to produce more in less time as you’re racing out to doctor’s appointments, baseball games or picking up your little ones from school. Suddenly the hours after they fall asleep and before your head hits the pillow are prime real estate for completing the final tasks from work, repainting the family room or finishing your college education.

In the study, all women experienced a reduction in productivity when their children were young – so don’t expect more from yourself than nearly 5,000 women. However, those same women became substantially more focused and productive as their children grew up and became slightly more independent.

The researchers theorized that the women who became more productive after having children were likely hard working before they had them. Thus, having children didn’t make a dent in what they could accomplish as they only continued to work hard through the years.

There was a time when I was working two jobs, totally 60 hours between the two, had three children and my now ex-husband had moved to the next city we’d be living in – leaving me to sell the house.

It was STRESSFUL with a capital WORD.

But somehow I sailed through each day and got more done each day than I do now.

Is that a function of a few more years under my belt? Less to do now and so less productive? Or just that I remember those years differently than they happened?

Who knows?

But, what I do know – from case study and anecdotal evidence (my friends count!) – women appear to be more productive in less time than their male counterparts – and women with children seem to get more done.

What do you think?

 

1: Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis https://research.stlouisfed.org/wp/2014/2014-001.pdf

 

 

These Tips May Boost Your Productivity

Let’s face it . . . as a single mom, you need all the time in the day you can get. I know I do! It’s not easy being mom, dad, chief cook, housekeeper, chauffeur and financial provider. There are innumerable other roles that you play each day – but you already know that.

So, how do you squeeze more time out of day that’s already packed and has the same 24 hours that everyone else gets?

In fact, how is that some moms can do just that?

It’s likely they use a few productivity tips and tricks that help them get more done in less time. However, finding more time in the day then creates another problem. . . what do you do with that time?

If you are like most type-A driven women, you’ll fill the time with more, more, more. There will be more work, more meetings, more jobs, or the potential of starting your own home business, so you fill the hours with more things that help you ‘feel’ productive.

But, the intention “I” have in sharing these productivity tips is that you spend the extra time relaxing and enjoying your life. Relaxing and de-stressing are important to your health and your life with your children. Keep up the stress and you may just significantly reduce the number of years you have left.

 

Stress is linked to:

Headaches
Bad dreams
Acne
Itchy skin
Allergies
Gastrointestinal distress
Chest pain
Fatigue
Sleep disorders
Reduced sex drive
Anxiety
Lack of motivation
Anger
Depression
Common cold
Weight gain
Slow healing
Heart disease
Depression
Ulcers
Neck and shoulder pain
Diabetes
Alzheimer’s disease

And, that’s just the short list. Each of those conditions, triggered by stress, is related to other health conditions as well.  Making changes to habits can be difficult, so pick a few and get started – by the end of the year you may surprise yourself with how much time you have each day!

So, how can you find more hours in your day so you can use it to relax, destress and spend more time with your children?

  1. Shower at night

Showering in the morning takes an extra 20 minutes of your time, while showering at night can be done after your children go to bed. Showering in the evening is also relaxing, helping you to fall asleep faster and enjoy more restful sleep.

You might use the time in the morning to write in a journal, watch the sunrise, drink a cup of coffee while reading a devotional or even sleeping another 20 minutes.

  1. Engage your children in housework

It doesn’t matter how old they are – children are capable of picking up, cleaning up and helping out. Ask them how they may want to help so you have more time to spend with them – you might be surprised by what they come up with.

However, your home isn’t a democracy – so while it’s nice to give them the chance to offer input, your decision is final. If they can reach the sink they can stack the dishwasher, put the dishes away, vacuum the floors, fix their beds, clean their rooms and a myriad of other things.

  1. Take temptations out of reach

We got rid of our television and cable service a year ago, or more. Yes, we have Netflix and watch TV on the computer, but removing the television has reduced the amount of time I and my children sit blankly in front of a screen.

Do you have something in your home that eats up a lot of your time, but isn’t productive?  Think about it and determine if it’s something you could get rid of, or at least put it out of daily reach.

  1. Keep a “To Do” list

I keep mine on Wunderlist.com. I can access it from any computer or my phone. There is an incredibly satisfying sound when I check off something I’ve done and I can make my list recurring. In other words, if there is something I do daily or weekly, I can set the list to make the item recur each day or week.

  1. Do one thing every day

Some productivity experts tell you to chunk your housekeeping duties into one day and get it all done. However, I’ve found if I do one thing every day, the house stays clean and I don’t “feel” like I’ve spent the day cleaning.

One day I dust, (ok, once every three weeks I dust), I vacuum twice a week, mop the floors on another day and clean bathrooms on yet another. Each task doesn’t take more than 15 minutes and I don’t put it off because I dread spending hours doing work I really don’t enjoy.

  1. Remember to say “No”

You enjoy helping others, but remember to prioritize your home and children. The more you say yes to other people, the less you can say yes to outings with your children.

  1. Schedule in breaks

Research has determined that even if you exercise for 30 minutes every morning, if you sit all day, you’ve negated the benefits and are at the same risk for heart attack as people who don’t workout at all. Another benefit of getting up every 15 to 25 minutes is that you’ll recharge your batteries and be more productive. Your brain works better when you give it a break.

Don’t multi-task. Work on one thing from break to break and keep your mind on the project. Staying focused in the moment and working on one task at a time increases how much you can do in a short amount of time.

  1. SCHEDULE free time

You already keep a calendar and schedule your day. You’re running for your work, to keep up with your home and to take your children to activities. It’s time you also schedule time for free time for yourself – even if it’s 15 minutes each day, the idea is to DO IT.

  1. Life a healthy lifestyle

Exercise, balanced diet and sleep are foundational pillars to your health. It’s important that you keep each of them intact and functioning well. At least 30 minutes of exercise a day, 8 hours of sleep and a diet low in carbohydrates, high in healthy fats and plenty of clean water are key. The better you function, the more productive you’ll be.

  1. Practice gratitude

When you are grateful for what you have, it opens your eyes to everything in your life for which you could be grateful. And, being grateful actually makes you more productive. Spend time with people you love and be grateful for the time.  Recognize your small successes each day and be grateful for them.

 

I use most of these tricks – unfortunately, instead of using my extra time for relaxation, I’ve piled on more work. This year, 2017, it’s my goal to make more time for ME. Why don’t you join me?

Power Past Procrastination

 

Procrastination is a problem that affects me and almost everyone else I know.

In fact, I left home today to drive my daughter to basketball. Then I headed over to my home away from home, Starbucks, where I had every intention of sitting down and writing this article. Dealing with procrastination is something that I feel certainly affects our ability to achieve success.

Unfortunately, instead of writing about it, I proceeded to engage in it. I plugged in my headset fully intending to listen to radio to drown out the conversation of the other people at the same table, when instead I opened up Netflix and spent the next two hours watching reruns of Bones.

Now don’t get me wrong, each of us needs a bit of a break once in awhile . . . and I had been insanely productive for the last couple of days. But, having procrastinated on writing this article ensured my time in the evening with my daughter would not happen.

Over the years, I found several strategies that I’ve used to successfully get past my inclination to procrastinate and become more productive. Had I engaged those strategies today, I may finish this article during the time I had allotted and not take it away from the time for my daughter. But alas, we don’t always get done what we plan to do.

Psychology tells us that procrastination may be related to your inability or subconscious desire to avoid a challenge or a particularly unpleasant situation.

However it can also be the result of an overtaxed mind or body. If you think that you have a problem with procrastination then you’ll want to first determine that you’re getting enough sleep, enough nutrition and enough exercise to power your brain cells and keep them moving all day long.

Without these three foundational pillars of health, your brain just doesn’t function as well as it should. So, your first strategy is to determining whether or not you’re really addressing procrastination or if you’re just overtired, over-stressed, overworked, and underappreciated.

A secondary strategy you can use to overcome procrastination is to use more technology in your life to achieve greater productivity. By this I mean I don’t mean installing a Facebook app so that you can surf Facebook all day long or post pictures to Instagram and Snapchat.

Instead, use technology by using voice activated text to speech in order to write your lists, write an article, write a report or otherwise jot down notes of things that you need to remember throughout the day.

Recently, I was faced with filling out many pages of paperwork in order to finalize a legal situation. I literally put this off for months. I would open up the folder take a look at what needed to be done and close it once more, absolutely convinced that it would take hours and hours of time in order to complete the task.

But today, I opened up the notebook and committed to finishing what needed to be done for the first step. Lo and behold it only took me an hour. It’s amazing what you can get finished with when you put your mind to it.

And realistically, that’s the underlying issue with procrastination. When your motivation and inspiration is great enough to overcome your lack of desire to complete a task then you’ll pick up what needs to be done and finish it.

I remember watching my older son pick up things off the side of the road and spend an hour or two fixing them to turn around and resell them. But he hated to pick up his school work and spend more than 15 minutes at a time. Once completed, however, his feelings of achievement overcame his desire to procrastinate the next time, as long as the next time happened quickly after the first.

In essence this is the definition of intrinsic motivation, which does an exceptional job of helping you to overcome procrastination.

Intrinsic motivation is an internal force that moves you forward.

Research has found people who dislike exercise do so because they don’t enjoy the anticipation of engaging in exercise. Whatever the reason – whether they don’t enjoy sweating, going to the gym, or working hard – anticipation is always worse than the actual event.

Knowing that exercise will reduce the risk for diabetes, help maintain weight, improve balance, and just make you feel better are not enough motivation to get most people out of bed.

These are extrinsic motivators.

Research has found that when people do exercise, they exercise more since they experience the intrinsic motivator – the feelings of euphoria that accompanies the release of feel good hormones that happen during exercise.

Intrinsic motivation just works.

And it works to help you overcome procrastination as well. When you complete a task, you feel good about yourself. You feel as if you accomplished something – and you DID.

By tapping into those feelings of accomplishment, achievement and growth, you can help reduce the amount of procrastination you practice, because procrastination takes practice.

Just like anything else you do in life – you do procrastination better the more you do it. It becomes easier the more you practice.

And, just like Nike advises you – JUST DO IT!

It’s easier said than done, but the reality is that most of what we accomplish in life is easier said than done.

Raising a child alone isn’t easy. Being mother, father, teacher, housekeeper, bookkeeper, banker, employee and employer – at one time – is not easy.

You are doing all that – now.

Choosing to get past procrastinating on a project or two is just one step in your life’s journey  . . .

. . . . and you CAN DO IT!

 

How to Get and Stay Motivated to Strength Train

Strength training is an important part of your overall health and fitness regimen. It increases natural growth hormone secretion, builds strong bones and improves your balance.

While you might be afraid you’ll end up looking like Mr. Universe, women don’t have the necessary amount of testosterone to growth that amount of muscle. Building strong muscles also helps you lose weight and maintain the loss, improves your posture and improves the way your clothes fit. Better body mechanics and a reduced risk of disease rounds out the incredible benefits of incorporating strength training into your workout routine.

BUT, getting motivated to do the work each week – and staying motivated to continue a program – may be more challenging than doing the workout! According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of Americans don’t get enough exercise.

Your Genes May Control Your Motivation to Exercise

It turns out that while some people enjoy sweating, others find just the thought of exercise to be painful. Researchers have now demonstrated there are genetically programmed reasons you may not like exercise – and there are ways to rewire your brain and enjoy cardiovascular and strength training.

Basically, your genes control your pleasure and reward from exercise, modulating dopamine in your brain.

BUT, while there is a genetic link, it has been established that exercise may change the expression of your DNA and potentially improve your satisfaction and motivation to exercise.

So, in other words, you might not like exercise, but the more you do it, the more you enjoy it and the greater your motivation to continue.

This follows the adage that once you’ve developed the habit of exercise, it’s more difficult to stop, than it is to exercise. You learn to enjoy the journey enough that the habit becomes a part of your everyday routine – and you enjoy the benefits as well.

Once you appreciate the functional changes to your life and your body, there is greater motivation to continue exercise than there is the desire to lay in bed another hour.

What’s Stopping You?

This is all a cycle – you have to start before you enjoy the benefits or experience the reward of changes to your DNA and subsequent release of dopamine in the brain that triggers your reward center.

The trick is to start the cycle, so you enjoy the benefits – which goes right back to how you get motivated to start strength training.

Let’s start with the mistakes many people make to try motivating themselves to strength train.

The biggest mistake is focusing on the extrinsic value of exercise, such as reducing disease potential, slowing the aging process, getting fit, or improving creativity and productivity.  These reasons that exist outside of who you are and your immediate experience are not strong motivating factors and won’t override the usual excuses that center on the discomfort you anticipate from the activity.

Some of the more common excuses for not exercising include:

Getting dirty
Sweating
Being uncomfortable
Feeling insecure at the gym
Not enough time
Getting out of breath
Too tired
It’s boring
Overwhelming to think about startin
Tried it and didn’t like it
Don’t like feeling out of shape
Nervous of getting hurt

How Do You Start a Positive Cycle?

Instead of focusing on extrinsic motivating factors, it’s important you identify your intrinsic factors, or those things you experience immediately. Extrinsic factors aren’t strong enough to get you out of bed in the morning or working out at a gym in front of others.

Many studies on the effect of motivation in the workplace demonstrates in work and recreational situation you are more motivated by intrinsic values. Many people anticipate how bad a workout will be, and most focus on the external reasons they should exercise – like better health, toned body and slowing the aging process.

This all means that the hardest part about getting motivated is getting started!

It also means that in the moment of exercising you may experience a boost in your emotions and mood, an increase in the release of hormones that affect your motivation and experience a powerful intrinsic value to exercise.

Before exercise you anticipate that you’ll feel bad – but DURING exercise people experience positive emotions. And, during a study from the University of Chicago, people stated they placed more value on what they felt during the exercise than on any benefits they would experience later.

The research indicates that your intrinsic incentives improve your experience during exercise and the biggest mistake you may make in motivating yourself to exercise is placing value on extrinsic incentives.

Just by putting exercise on your “to-do” list and just doing it is an important way of experiencing the mental and emotional boost that may help continue to motivate you over time. The memories of feeling good and having fun go a long way toward increasing your motivation.

Just Do It – And More

Here are several more strategies to help you include strength training in your routine, even when you don’t want to.
The important fact here is that there is NO easy button. You just have to do it – there are ways to make it easier – but no way to make it easy.

  1. Use motivational books, music and video

Inspirational stories may spark your short-term desire, music improves your mood, video may give you the boost you need to start strength training.

  1. Partner up

Like any other new activity or sport, it’s easier when you have a partner. A partner will help motivate you to continue during your workout and will be waiting for you at the gym to get started.

  1. Work within your limits

When your activity puts you over your anaerobic threshold (you can’t breathe fast enough to keep up with your oxygen needs) you don’t experience the feel good hormones as quickly. Stay within your limits and you’ll feel better, experience gains in your fitness faster and improve your motivation to continue.

  1. Stay positive

You can change how you feel about something when you change how you think about it. Psychologists have an equation – your thoughts create feelings, your feelings produce actions and your actions predict your results. When you can think positively about your workout, you will improve your motivation, increase the likelihood you workout and your actions will produce feel good hormones that continue to feed your motivation.

 

The last strategy is one you can use for any action you want to take. Whether you want a new job, have better relationships with you children or improve your financial situation – when you think positively about what you are capable of achieving it drives your actions. And RIGHT actions produce incredible results!

7 Lessons I Learned Working For Myself

It was over 15 years ago that I started my first business publishing an offline review journal for medical professionals practicing in rehabilitation.  It was fun, exciting and then it crashed. Technology changed and I didn’t keep up.

The next venture involved publishing information products and an online newsletter. And the following project was also about writing and publishing. Come to think of it, everything I’ve done for the last 15 years outside of practicing medicine, has been about writing or publishing.

At 14 years old I told my sister that I wanted to be an author and writer. Over the years, with a few pit-stops along the way, that’s exactly what I’ve accomplished. Working for myself has presented challenges and required that I make several changes to the journey I’ve been on. And, in those changes, challenges and altered courses, there have been lessons learned.

Here are my seven favorite lessons that I wish I had learned earlier in the process rather than later.  Although you might not have your own business, your family, home and children are a business and you must grow them intentionally.

  1. Give Yourself Time to Learn, Do and Be Patient

May12ClockNothing happens overnight. You won’t learn the intricacies of your business, marketing, networking, payroll, outsourcing or taxes and legal issues in the first couple of months. You didn’t learn to be a parent in the first month either! Being in business for yourself is a marathon and definitely NOT a sprint. Give yourself the time to learn the individual tasks involved before diving headfirst into your intended future.

BUT, this is fine line you’ll be walking. Do not wait until everything is perfect before moving forward or you’ve waited too long. On the other hand, don’t move ahead if you don’t have processes in place to handle the business.  You wouldn’t open a convenience store without having a building – and you shouldn’t open any other business without having the necessary parts and pieces in place.

You have options. You can learn, outsource, hire a virtual assistant or get help from a friend or family member who has the knowledge. Ask for help from people at your church, from small business owners you know, from friends and anyone else you can think of. NEVER outsource the financial part of your business, but you don’t have to do everything in order to start getting clients.

  1. Keep Overhead Low

While you’ll want to outsource what you can, you’ll also want to keep your overhead low. By keeping costs down you’ll increase the return on your investment – also known as your business. You are investing time, energy and money into finding, acquiring and keeping clients. The less you spend on overhead, the more ends up in your pocket.

I have a friend who cannot resist buying something new for her business almost every month. She’s been paying monthly bills on memberships that she hasn’t used, ever. She’s convinced that she’ll need the content, software or virtual assistants next month, so she keeps paying. It’s drained her accounts and put her in a position of being desperate . . . not a good place to be.

On the other hand, I have another friend who has done everything himself – from learning web design to writing content and buying traffic. This has also been a poor use of his time. While he hasn’t had much of an overhead problem, he also hasn’t enjoyed much income. Doing everything himself means moving slowly.

There is a happy medium and only you can find it for your business and your ability to invest in your business. Keep your eye on how much you’re spending and how much you’re making.

 

  1. Persistence and Consistence

No business starts quickly and you probably won’t hit a homerun on the first try. It’s simple . . . you should persistently and consistently go after your goals. Remember, the question isn’t IF you will fail, but WHEN you fail, what will you DO.

Everyone fails. The truly successful people will get up and move forward using the knowledge they gain from their past failures. The trick is to fall fast, fall forward, get up and keep moving. Everyday take one step forward and you will get there.

 

  1. Be Intentional About What You’re Doing

Working in an office gave me a dependable income. I had a paycheck every 2 weeks, no matter what I did or how much work I produced. Of course, if I didn’t produce enough over time I would have been fired. But, my income wasn’t related to whether or not I brought business to the company.

When you’re working for yourself, everything you do must be intentional. On purpose you do not check email every 30 minutes, you do not spend hours on Facebook or any other social media site, you do not spend hours reading the news, other people’s blogs or anything else that is NOT making you money.

Instead, you outline the functions that do, or will, make you money – and you do those things. Everyday, every hour, you do something that brings you more clients or keeps your current clients happy. You ask for referrals, you learn more marketing strategies, you do those marketing strategies or you do the work you’ve been paid to do.

Intentionally – you do what makes you money. If you don’t, there isn’t a paycheck waiting for you at the end of the week.

 

  1. Learning to Turn it Off . . . Vacation?

The one lesson that I’m still learning and hope to conquer at some point, is how to turn it all off.  My office is in my May12Vacahome. There is no door on my office. My computer is right there and if I sit for just 10 minutes I can finish one more thing.

The trouble is that one more thing turns into 10 more things and before I know it, I don’t have time to do anything else but sleep.

Do NOT do this!  Shut the computer off. Take time with your children. Go on vacation. Take a drive. Go for a bike ride, walk the dog or go for coffee with a friend.  Your mind needs the downtime.

 

  1. Don’t Underestimate Your Worth

Anytime you work for yourself you MAY have a tendency to underestimate your worth. I have this problem. Several months ago I was approached to do some writing for a new client. I didn’t really want the project so I quoted a price I thought was outrageous. They didn’t bat an eye and agreed to pay my price.

I could have been getting this price all along!

Turns out this is one of the easiest clients I’ve worked with. Look around and see what others are charging for their services or products. You aren’t the lowest price (unless you’re offering the least for the money) and you probably aren’t worth the most. Determine where you think you land in the range and then check it out with you upcoming clients.

Test your price and settle on the one where you make the most while providing the best to your clients.

 

  1. No Meetings . . . All Business

When I worked at the hospital it felt like I was always in meetings. And, unfortunately, those meetings were useless. Usually we could have gotten through the information in about 25 percent of the time it actually took. People loved to chat, get off topic or run meetings without an agenda.

When you work for yourself there are no meetings like that because if you are having meetings you’re probably paying someone to meet with you. Suddenly, getting through meetings as quickly and efficiently as possible is better for your business.

I have also learned that it’s important to spend time having a meeting with myself once a week. I go over the plans for the week, the month and look at my progress toward the goals for the year. If I’m not on track I can correct course and keep going. Without these meetings I may have ended up in an entirely different place this week, and definitely would not have been as productive.

 

Take a bit of time to think about these lessons and how you can incorporate them into your own life without having to learn them yourself. And remember, your home and your children are also a business that you must grow intentionally!

 

 

Creating Urgency to Drive Productivity

When I first started learning techniques and strategies in marketing, one of the primary strategies taught was to create urgency or scarcity.

In other words, tell the customer that the price will go up in 10 hours or you only have so many products you can sell before you’re sold out. This strategy has worked in sales and marketing for centuries.

Go try to buy a new car and see what the salesperson tells you.

I remember considering buying a new car 2 years ago. I went shopping to several of the dealerships – Toyota, Honda and Kia. I was particularly interested in the Kia Sedona.

I was, and still am, an avid Toyota fan but considered branching out . . . . and maybe to a Kia.

I walked in, test drove the Sedona and talked with the salesman for several minutes about the comparison to the Toyota Rav4 (which I am in LOVE with). The salesman was not pushy – or didn’t seem so.

He went over the different options and advantages of the Kia over the Toyota – none of which I thought were deal breakers.

And, then, right when I was getting ready to tell him that I would seriously consider the Sedona and be back for a second look . . . he laid it on THICK.

“I would purchase this vehicle today, if I were you. I know you like the configuration and driving it. I heard the company is going to stop manufacturing the Sedona this year.”

I was so disappointed.

Not in the lie that the salesman told me, but in the fact that he thought he had to try. I had been honest and said I wasn’t buying that day, but comparing. I would be back for a second ride if I liked it enough.

Apparently he didn’t believe me.

My response . .. “I’m sorry to hear that because I liked the car. But if the company doesn’t think enough of this model to continue carrying it, then I don’t think enough of it to consider purchasing it . . . at least from this dealership.”

And, little ones in tow, I walked out.

Scarcity and urgency work in sales and marketing – but only when executed well.

Urgency also works in your personal life.

One evening my younger sister called a bit stressed.  She was in her senior year in college and had some big paper Feb25IdeaCIdue in a day or two. Not sure how she would complete the paper and the rest of her responsibilities, she was stressing . . . a LOT.

Until I told her that she always came through when she was under pressure.

It seemed it was all she needed to refocus and complete her assignments. She used that statement for years to come – and she performed under pressure.

Although not the most effective means of being productive, stress, urgency, pressure, scarcity can all increase your creative juices and push you do to things you wouldn’t normally create or develop.

BUT . . .

Stress is incredibly harmful to your health. Stress reduces your restorative sleep which increases your risk of heart disease, obesity and dementia at an early age.

Stress increases your output of cortisol, which influences your leptin and insulin balance, leading to type-2 diabetes.

Stress can trigger a heart attack or increase your risk of stroke and other immune mediated diseases, such as lupus, arthritis and some cancers.

In other words . . . you shouldn’t depend on stress in order to improve your productivity.

In the life of a salesman, whose sole income is based on commission and sales, stress is a function of their daily lives.

But, especially for people who depend solely on a commission based income, stress is a killer.

Your customer can smell the stress.

And stress is not attractive. You want to make the sale, but you don’t want to be stressed doing it.

Your boss can smell the stress.

You want the raise or the promotion, but you don’t want to be stressed asking for it.

How do you create the urgency and increase the productivity without increasing the stress?

The difference lies in the center of control.

If the urgency is from forces outside yourself, it increases your stress level and reduces your overall performance.

But, if the urgency is from a force inside yourself . . . if you create the urgency to complete the task without adding stress you’ll experience greater productivity and increased success.

External situations can increase your stress causing panic, anxiety, loss of sleep, increased anger and frustration, loss of control, and worry.

Internal urgency can focus your efforts because YOU are in control of the situation. Namely, if you don’t finish it you only answer to yourself. The world won’t crash in on you – you only have to get up and do it again.

Feb25PaintCISuccess comes from centering your urgency and becoming more productive.

You know what’s important, what you can do to complete it, what needs to be controlled. . . . in your home, work, relationships and even your housekeeping.

The urgency YOU create motivates your actions and is a source of emotional intelligence. Your LACK of anxiety, panic, and feelings of loss of control are the things that drive your daily tasks.

Whether you need to get the groceries after work, the housekeeping done on Saturday, the storage room emptied and cleaned or help with your kids Diorama for school, you operate from a centered approach that reduces your stress and increases your creativity.

If something doesn’t get completed, the world doesn’t stop spinning and you aren’t flooded with anxiety.

Instead, you adjust your schedule, your calendar and give yourself grace. Each of the tasks you assign to yourself today will be there tomorrow. Unless you are working in life-saving/life-threatening situation where seconds count, you should dial back your stress and increase your productivity.

Your family needs you to be centered. Your children are watching and learning from what you DO and not what you say. Your boss is depending on your actions.

When you operate from a point of centered self-regulated urgency, you don’t experience the stress that kills and you create some pretty amazing things in the process.

 

 

How Does Failure Work For You?

“. . . the only thing we have to fear is fear itself . . . “

What if you could make a reasonable prediction about your life?

Would you want to know what it was?

When Anne was born in 1866 the world was a much different place than it is now. Women didn’t have the opportunities, nor the support, that Anne might have had today.

Her parents had moved to the US from Ireland during the Great Famine. But life in the US was not easy. The family lived in poverty and Anne developed an eye infection at the age of five that plagued her for the rest of her life, eventually blinding her.

Her mother died when she was 8. Her father was impatient and abusive. Eventually he abandoned Anne and her younger brother, Jimmie, and they went to live at a home for the poor. Jimmie died just months later, leaving Anne alone in the world at a dirty, rundown and overcrowded facility.

When members of a special commission were visiting the home, Anne worked up the nerve to ask if she could attend a special school for the blind.

Around 1879, at a time when children were “seen but not heard,” Anne stepped out of the shadows and asked for the privilege of attending school.

She had no family to encourage her. She had no siblings to care for. She was alone, in a dirty home at the age of 13.

She found her inspiration and desire to be more in life than what seemed to be planned. She struggled through surgeries to repair her sight, through an education for which she had no foundation and eventually graduated valedictorian of her class.

She told the students, “duty bids us go forth into active life. Let us go cheerfully, hopefully, and earnestly, and set ourselves to find our special part.”

When she arrived at the school she couldn’t read or write, had never owned a nightgown or a hair brush.  In other words, she was pretty backwards, even for 1879!

But that didn’t stop Anne. In her early years at school her memories were of others making fun of her and humiliating her.

But Anne pressed on.

Then, at the ripe old age of 21 Anne Sullivan met Helen Keller and the world was changed. Would you have predicted Anne’s fame and success based on her start in life?

How does failure look in your life?

In point of fact, failure is just another name for deferred success. Without failure we wouldn’t learn lessons – and lessons learned from failures are the best lessons. Unless we learn from failure, it’s a point of pain.

There is an incredible distinction between people who achieve great success in life and those who struggle, even when that successful person is struggling against overwhelming odds.

Women who are successful see failure as an opportunity.  That’s right . . . failure is an opportunity to learn from mistakes and do it right the next time.

Unfortunately, from the time we’ve been in preschool failure has meant a big fat red “F” on our report card. It has meant feeling defeated and unsuccessful. And those feelings have been ingrained over decades.

In school you either got it right the first time or got an “F” on your report card. In the business world there is an expression – “Fail fast and often” – which means it’s important to fail fast, learn from those mistakes, get up and do it again – BETTER.  But by the time we graduate from high school, we’ve learned that you get it right the first time or you have FAILED.

In other words, our school systems gradually teach all of us the undercurrent of fear of failure that runs through our lives.

Does this mean because fear has been ingrained for nearly 12 years we are hopeless?  Of course not! If you look around at people who have found success in relationships, business, finance and entrepreneurship, you’ll notice that at some point they “unlearned” this learned behavior.  To gain greater success in life, it’s time to see failure for what it really is.

Failing is nothing more than falling forward. If you fall and never get up again, ONLY THEN you have failed.
Presidential Failure

In 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt campaigned against then President Herbert Hoover for the Presidency of the United States. He said as little as possible about what he would do if elected and allowed the downward spiraling economy speak for itself. On the heels of his election came the Great Depression. During his first inaugural speech, President Roosevelt said something that has been passed down and incorporated into other speeches, motivational works and conversations between parents and their children.

“. . . the only thing we have to fear is fear itself . . . “

But those are only a few words in the actual quote which reads:

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.”

~President Franklin D. Roosevelt
March 4, 1933
In those final words of that sentence, “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance,”  Roosevelt speaks volumes about the kind of fear that we should be afraid of.

There are specific physical obstacles that should generate a fear response. Being attacked by a bear, falling off a cliff or facing a gunman all SHOULD evoke fear. But, what we more often face are fears that are not based in reality.

Fear is real. But, the thing you fear may not be. 

The feeling of fear is powerful, real and sometimes debilitating. But, the thing you fear may not exist. Left unchecked, fear can deflate your confidence and destroy your dreams.

Psychologically, there is an emotional toll when you try something new and it doesn’t work out. But that has more to do with our own personal fear than any measurable loss.  Something that doesn’t end up working out the way you planned is just a step in the process of success.  Innumerable successful people have that same understanding of fear.

The loss we experience when something is not a success is only measured in how much we learn.

But, if you fall, get up, brush yourself off and try again you have done nothing more than to learn from your mistakes.

If you are trying to ride a horse, you’ll likely fall off at some point. Falling off won’t discourage you from getting back on again. But you will learn from your mistake.

Several years ago I was in the middle of a riding lesson at a local stable. During one of the exercises in the rink, the girth on the saddle snapped (the leather that goes under the belly of the horse and holds the saddle to the horses back). We were cantering around the indoor ring and I was enjoying the ride – without stirrups.

Well, the saddle went one way and I went the other. Smack down on my back. Thankfully it was in a large pile of newly spread sawdust.  Although I had the breath knocked out of me, I got back up, re-saddled the horse with a different saddle and continued to ride.

BUT, I also learned to thoroughly inspect the equipment before using it.  I fell, but didn’t stop riding.

We all fall at some point – whether it’s in business, relationships, health or finances. The question isn’t WILL you fall – but what will you do AFTER you fall?

Will you get up, learn from the experience and do it better next time? Or will you stay down?

Life is all about falling forward, learning, getting up, changing and doing it again – BETTER.

 

Productivity: Seven Secrets to Getting More Done In Less Time

Productivity: the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.

“workers boosted productivity by 20 percent” Synonym: efficiency

Did you ever play with those balsam wood airplanes? You know . . . the ones that were propelled by the force of a twisted rubber band?

I used to play with those planes all the time as a kid. I just knew that if I twisted that rubber band as tight as it would go that my plane would fly faster and farther than any of the other ones that my friends were playing with.

Well, friends might be an overstatement. Essentially, faster and farther than the plane my sister was playing with.

I loved those planes. Even though they broke easily [sometimes when I was putting them together!] and the rubber bands lasted for 2 or sometimes 3 flights before snapping in two, I could spend the time, however brief, imagining that I was piloting that that little plane through the backyard.

The plane would gracefully float through the air, sometimes narrowly missing the tetherball pole planted squarely in the yard and crash land near the evergreen trees. If the rubber band didn’t snap, then one of the wings might on landing.

Although I played with those planes for several years as a child, I didn’t seem to generalize the knowledge that when stretched tightly, beyond capacity, the rubber band would snap in two.

Unfortunately, as an adult I also have to keep learning that same lesson over and over again. This time when the rubber band in my life snaps there are more dire consequences than when the little plane wouldn’t fly and my mother had run out of rubber bands that fit the plane.

Producing good work . . . at home, in the office, at school or with our children . . . requires so much more than just one rubber band. Those rubber bands stay flexible when we work efficiently, experience quality sleep, eat foods that feed our body and not only our palate and drink plenty of clear water.

Working efficiently means you’ll be as efficient as you can be without sacrificing your children, your home and your mental health. And, like all things in life there are tricks or secrets that efficiency experts have found will reduce the amount of time it takes us to accomplish specific tasks, get more done in less time and improve our productivity quotient.

I love to be productive. I get a real feeling of satisfaction when I finally lay down at night to know that I accomplished the goals I set for myself that day without stress the children or sacrificing my own mental or emotional health.

But I have this huge flaw. Well, I think of it as something that may require change, while other members of my family tend to think of it as a major flaw. And, truth be told, it probably is a major flaw.

I overbook myself. I make too many plans. My list is longer than my arm. I NEVER finish my list for the day.

All things that industry experts tell you will make you crash and burn before you accomplish your goals.

Knowing this and realizing that there were other recommendations that would increase my productivity without sacrificing my end goals, I went on a hunt for the best tools and changes that I could make in my single mom life. These had to be realistic for my circumstances, work within my lifestyle and not require extra expense.

So, without further ado, here are the seven changes that I would recommend you make in the next few weeks. I have, and have seen some remarkable differences in what I get done and how much better I work.

 

  1. Sleep, Water and Nutrition. You had to expect this – so I won’t spend a lot of time here. Sleep 8 hours a night. Drink enough water to stay hydrated (so your pee is a light straw color) and eat a well-balanced diet that is low in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates will increase the release of insulin in your body, increase the inflammatory response and cause dips in your blood sugar which make you feel tired and sleepy. In order to be as productive as possible you have to keep both your mind and your body healthy.

Blocks

  1. Blocks of Time. Productivity happens when you can complete tasks in a specific amount of time. That time period is one that you define. In order to be as productive as possible you’ll want to block out your time during the day for specific tasks. Create the habit of blocking your calendar to check email, write the report your boss needs, make dinner, doing homework with the kids and anything else that needs to be done during the day. Make sure you also include downtime each day. Without time to recover and recharge your batteries your productivity levels will plummet like a rock in water.
  1. Balance everything. You’ve heard it before, but you must balance your work and life together. Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? It’s also known as the 80/20 rule. It’s the theory that 80 percent of the results from a given situation is determined by 20 percent of your work. This means you must manage your time and not let your time manage you. Working in blocks of time, including down time and balancing your recreation, family and work is extremely important to improve your productivity.
  1. Set Boundaries. Can you say no? Most women have trouble saying no to their friends or when they’re asked to do something. But that’s not the only thing you have to say no to! You must also guard your blocks of time and set boundaries to what you will and won’t do. Don’t check emails, take phone calls or answer text messages when you are committed to a block of time to finish a project or work on homework with the children. Set your boundaries with your friends as well. If you have people who enjoy dropping by unannounced, it’s time to set new boundaries.
  1. Let’s do double time. Can you do two things at once? Although most women are great at multi-tasking, it’s not the best way to accomplish any task. It requires that you split your brain between two tasks and neither get your full attention. On the other hand, you can schedule a playdate with your children’s friends and spend time with the mother catching up and call it downtime. Or you can take your child to her playdate and sit at a local coffee shop and work on your computer. You’ll be without the distractions you usually have at home and can access any content that you save in the cloud, so you can work anywhere.
  1. Focus on one thing and finish it. As women, we often struggle with focusing on one task. There is a joke that talks about how a woman walks through the house. Her intention is to clean the bathroom. She picks up the dishes in the family room and delivers them to the kitchen. She loads the dishwasher and takes clothes out of the dryer. After folding the clothes and delivering them to her children’s room, she fixes their bed and dusts the bookshelves in their room. She empties the garbage can and ties up the kitchen garbage can. After taking out the garbage, she starts another load of laundry. While the machine is running, she walks into the bathroom and starts cleaning the mirror, which reminds her that the mirror in her bedroom is dirty and she heads in there to clean the glass. Once finished it’s time to start dinner, she hasn’t finished one project and she’s exhausted.

Focus on one thing and finish it. It doesn’t matter about the extraneous things. It doesn’t matter that there are clothes in the dryer or the kitchen is mess – if you need to clean the bathroom, write the report or organize your files – don’t leave until it’s done.

  1. Use the tools you need. There are several online tools that can help improve your productivity – whether it’s at home or at work.

Momentum: a Chrome extension that shows a beautiful picture and your to-do list each time you open a new tab in your browser.

Trello: Has both a free and paid version. You can develop projects with different lists and tasks associated with them. Share the project with your friends or virtual assistant.

Wunderlist: Has both a free and paid version. Develop project lists with tasks. You can share the list, email yourself information, set due dates, reminders, attach audio files and take notes. This is my favorite tool!

 

Take the time TODAY to make one change in your daily routine and work to make that change a habit. If you can make one change every two weeks, it won’t be long before you are productivity machine!

 

You Think There Isn’t Enough Time for Exercise?

It’s a common reason for not exercising, “I just don’t have enough time!” In some instances this could be just a reason you use to justify not having the motivation or desire to exercise. But, in many cases, single moms have every single minute of every day scheduled or committed. The idea of spending 30 to 60 minutes on your own health is overwhelming. You’d like to have 30 minutes to spend with your children, read a book or have the time to spend with a friend of your own, without trying to ‘find’ 30 minutes every day to “get healthy.”

But, and this is a really big BUT, you already know that exercise has too many benefits to neglect it in your own life.

So, what in the world can you do about it?

Dr. Steven Bray, Professor of Kinesiology at McMaster University in Canada, published research in the Journal of American College of Health which demonstrated that high school students who were active during their high school years were more likely to remain active in college than those who were not active in high school to become active in college. He hypothesized from his discussions with the 127 participants that the changing exercise patterns were related to both increasing demands on their time and changing social patterns. In other words, their work schedule got more hectic and their friends were not active.

The challenge of coping with more demands on their time not only reduced the student’s activity level, but it also reduced their motivation to start a program. If you consider the demands on your own time every day, you’ll discover that both your ability to exercise and your motivation may have been affected.

You can read 10, 20 or 30 different ways of incorporating exercise into your busy schedule without any effect, unless you also change your motivation TO change. Only through learning to adapt to your hectic schedule will you be able to adopt new habits that improve your health and ability to further adapt to your hectic schedule.

It might look like a vicious cycle, and most probably it is!

Every life transition holds the same challenge. When you have a new baby, become single, get a new job, or move to a new city . . . each of these challenges brings more into your life than you might imagine.

However, when you have the tools you need to adapt to change, you can continue to adopt your healthy lifestyle and enjoy the benefits of more energy, better emotional health and greater physical health.

Flexibility is the skill that strengthens your resolve to keep exercise a priority in your life. Unfortunately, it appears that for most, exercise is the first thing that goes when our lives get busy. Developing a flexible mindset about exercise creates the right environment to achieve your goals.

Psychologist from Berlin’s Freie Universitat, Jochen Ziegelmann, found participants in their studies who made goals that included implementation intentions were more likely to continue their program than those who set other types of goals. For instance, an implementation intention may sound like, “I will walk for 10 minutes after lunch and dinner every day.” You might recognize another type of goal that many people will set and verbalize as, “I will exercise three times a week.”

In the first goal the participant knows exactly what is expected and can judge if they are meeting or falling short of their goal. The second, more common type of goal is less objective and less functional.

The results of exercise will not only improve your physical health but also your emotional health and wellness. As a single mom you are facing daily challenges that most mothers face with the support of another parent. Situational sadness or depression is not unusual for the single mom. In a study published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, researchers found that single mothers suffered more frequently from an episode of depression in the past 12 months than married mothers. These single moms reported lower levels of social support and infrequent contact with their friends and family. In this study of almost 3,000 women, life events were strongly related to depression.

The good news is that in other research of patients who were diagnosed with clinical depression, over 60 percent who exercised were no longer depressed at the end of the study. This percentage of improvement was very similar to that of patients who both exercised and were given medication. And, those who continued to exercise had a 50 percent less chance of depression six months after the study was completed.

What does this mean for you?

It’s time to develop some flexibility strategies in your daily life to enable you to include exercise.

The first flexibility strategy is in how you THINK about exercise. You aren’t training for the Olympics, running a marathon or competing in Miss Universe contest. Instead, your aim is to move. Exercise is . . .

playing tennis with the children
playing catch in the backyard
throwing the ball for your dog
taking a walk with the children after dinner
kicking a soccer ball or shooting basketball with your young athlete
taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator
going for a walk on your lunch at work
dancing with the children to your favorite music video
stretching while you’re on the phone or making dinner

Of course you can also start jogging, go to the gym or purchase an aerobic tape. But, that’s exactly how you think of exercise now. The biggest reason people stop working out is because they bite off more than they can reasonably accomplish. Their muscles are sore, they get discouraged and suddenly the exercise habit no longer exists.

Flexibility strategy two is to find time you are already spending doing something productive and incorporate even more into your committed time. One way of doing that is to use an inflatable exercise ball. Use the ball as your chair at your desk at home or at work. Sitting on the exercise ball forces you to use your core muscles to balance. It might look easy, but after 15 or 20 minutes you’ll begin to feel your muscles working! [Remember to start slow. Once you’re tired, move back to the office chair and extend the time tomorrow.]

Do you spend time with the kids watching a show in the evening? Sit on the floor with them and stretch or do a mild exercise band routine. Do you spend time on the phone in your home office? Get a stationary bike and use it – SLOWLY – while you’re talking.

Flexibility strategy three is to give yourself grace! There will be days when it all goes well and other days when it all falls apart. The objective is to stay focused on the future and make your changes a permanent habit. If you’re too tired to go for a walk today, no worries! Just don’t give up on it all together. Remember to pick up that habit again tomorrow.

Flexibility strategy four is to value yourself. As a single woman caring for children you focus on 14 other things before thinking of yourself. You might not like exercise, think it’s boring or tried it before and don’t want to try it again. Value the person you are. Your dreams, desires and wishes are tied to being healthy enough to enjoy them. We are given this one body to care for and keep healthy. Without health and wellness we can’t enjoy the little or big things in life.

Remember . . .

Exercise will improve your mood, emotional health and help prevent sadness and depression.
Exercise will improve your physical health, balance, coordination and muscle tone.
Exercise is as simple as starting with a walk for 10 minutes after lunch and dinner.
Exercise will help you adapt to daily stress and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
You are worth every minute that you spend on becoming the best person and mother you can be.

Your next step is to sit down for 10 minutes this evening and think about how you might be able to integrate a few minutes of exercise into your daily activities. Another 10 minutes may feel unmanageable, but remember the Flexibility Strategies.

Change what you think exercise is.
Incorporate those 10 minutes into something you are already doing.
Give yourself GRACE
Value yourself, your health and your time.

Time to grab your calendar, write down your ideas and start creating a healthier body and mind.

 

 

RESOURCES

Journal of American College of Health: Transition to University and Vigorous Physical Exercise
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology: Stress, Social Support and Depression in Single and Married Mothers