Archive for personal growth

Seven Secrets to Getting More Done in Less Time


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!

Pushing Past Fear to Success – Part 1

The core idea behind the common acronyms for fear is that the basis of fear is not real.




Not that we don’t sometimes have a real reason to experience a fear response, but that the reason behind the fear is more often imagined.

In 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt campaigned against then President Herbert Hoover for the Presidency of the United States. Soon-to-be President Roosevelt 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 impacted generations to come.

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

BUT that is only a few of the words from 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.

Is It Real?

Truthfully, much of what we are afraid of never comes to pass.

Does this mean that fear is not real?  And, if it isn’t, then 2ho wants to spend time, energy and money dealing with fears that are not real?

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

March14CrushedCIThe feeling of fear is powerful, real and sometimes debilitating. But, the thing you fear probably doesn’t exist. Left unchecked, fear can deflate your confidence and destroy your dreams.

The reality is that fear is a vital response to physical or emotional danger. If we don’t feel fear then we can’t protect ourselves from very real threats to our body and mind. Fear is designed to protect us from life-and-death situations. When you feel fear or threatened, your body releases a hormone called epinephrine, or the fight-or-flight hormone.

However, too often fear is triggered by situations that are significantly less dangerous. These situations may trigger an emotional response based on a past trauma or it may be triggered by an imagined potential response to a situation. It’s the last one that really creates problems in people’s lives.

This is not the same fear that floods our body with hormones when we watch thrillers and spooky movies. In this instance, many will seek out these experiences to feel the rush of fear from a haunted house or scary movie. Some psychologists believe it’s because our lives have become so routine that we enjoy a bit of excitement.

These movies activate the release of neurotransmitters like epinephrine, including dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. They influence our brain to trigger the fight-or-flight response we described earlier. However, in this case because we also know that we’re safe, this state of arousal is interpreted by the brain as positive.

Conquering your fear of zombie land or jumping out of plane will also increase your self-confidence and feelings of competence and success.

Common Limiting Beliefs

Common limiting beliefs are usually triggered by one of the internal fears – a fear of a response to a particular situation – mentioned above. While they are not identical, they are close cousins.

These limiting beliefs restrain us. We don’t believe the good things about ourselves because we choose to believe the bad.

There is a quote from the movie “Pretty Woman” which speaks to this directly:

Edward: “I think you are a very bright, very special woman.”
Vivian: “The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?”

In one sentence Vivian sums up the vast expanse of psychological evaluations and treatment – the bad stuff is just easier to believe. . . .

Some of the more common beliefs that we hold which keep us from reaching our full potential are:

I am not good enough.                                            I will get hurt.
I might fail.                                                               I’m too old.
I might get rejected.

These limiting beliefs are usually tied to some type of fear.

In the late Middle Ages, between the 15th and 17th centuries, a psychiatric disorder moved through Europe. It was called the “Glass Delusion” because people believed that they were made of glass and could shatter to pieces.  The most famous of those afflicted was King Charles VI of France. He didn’t allow anyone to touch him and even wore reinforced clothing for protection.

Today, it seems weird for people to believe this about their physical body. And yet, we have no problem believing that if we face our fear we could mentally and emotionally shatter, just as if we were made of glass.

Fear of Failure

Before we move into how to reduce or eliminate those limiting beliefs in your life, let’s take a little deeper look at the fear of failure.

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, said “It is fine to celebrate success, but it’s more important to heed the lessons of March14TrustCIfailure.”

Because, while success brings with it feelings of joy, accomplishment and excitement, we achieve that success so much faster when we learn lessons from the things we fail to achieve.

And that’s when we feel fear.

Fear is a vague and scary word that can have different meanings for different people. But, underneath it all, most of us have a fear of failing.

Ask yourself:

How many times have you put off something because you weren’t sure how it would turn out?

Do you avoid trying new things in front of people?

How many times have you put off something that you know is good for you without having a good reason?

Did you answer yes to even one of these questions? Then you have operated from a fear of failure in the past. This doesn’t mean that you are controlled by fear of failing, but that somewhere, niggling in the back of your mind, is this very human idea that you could fail at what you think you might like to try.

Most of the time we aren’t afraid at failing at something we have months or years of practice doing. We usually have a fear of failing doing something for the first time.

It is like we expect ourselves to pick up a basketball and play as well as any NBA player just because we’ve watched basketball for 10 years on television. You can’t expect to do something well the first time; and yet, that’s exactly what we expect!

Interestingly, this is the concept that’s been drummed into our brains since we were in elementary school. You 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 that because this fear has been ingrained for near 12 years we are hopeless?  Of course not! If you look around at people who successful in relationships, business, finance and entrepreneurs you’ll notice that at some point they “unlearned” this learned behavior.

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, instead, we often measure it in ways that are more personal.  “If I try and don’t succeed, then everyone will think I’m ________”

Fill in that blank with your own personal fear. Do you think people will believe you are stupid, unworthy, unable, weak, poorly prepared or shouldn’t have tried in the first place. Is there something else you would put in that blank?

Will the fear go away? Probably not. BUT, you will learn to discount the fear that stems from unrealistic expectations.

It is important to remember that courage is the act of doing something IN SPITE of fear and not in the absence of fear.

There are specific strategies you can use to reduce the fear you experience and live with each day. Whether you think there is fear in your life or not, these strategies can make the difference between experiencing success or failure.

Stay tuned . . . part two will be released Thursday!