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Coach Carlene

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Taking breaks is the counter-intuitive approach to improving productivity.

Breaks should be a priority, not a reward for completing your to-do list. Listen to your body and know when to stop. Taking a break will help you perform better, get better ideas, and feel good about yourself.

WHAT IS A BREAK?

A break is a brief pause of work or physical activity. You decide to give it a rest with the intention of getting back to your task within a reasonable amount of time.

But do you fear you’ll never get back on task?

Here are 4 ways to ensure you’ll get back on task:

One: Set 2 alarms – one on your phone that you take with you on break. That is the only thing you do with your phone on break. And a second alarm in your work area that will force you to go back to turn it off – once you’re in the space, you’re more likely to start again.

Two: Tell someone what time you need to get back to work.

Three: Write on a post-it where you stopped and where you’ll start when you get back.

Four: Work for 2 Minutes – Telling yourself you only need to work for 2 minutes will get you started. Before you know it, you’ll realize you’ve been working for 20 minutes.

TWO COMMON MYTHS ABOUT BREAKS

Myth 1: Scrolling on your phone, watching You Tube videos, playing video games, essentially anything on a screen is a great way to take a break.

Truth 1: Anything on a screen is a big no-no. As this survey by Huffington Post suggests, activities like social networking can significantly increase stress. When you’re on a screen you’re more likely to lose track of time. It is also more difficult to get your brain off the screen and it does not give your brain the break it needs.

Myth 2: Breaks take too much time. It’s better to push through without one.

Truth 2: You think you don’t have time for breaks? Truth is, you don’t have time to NOT take breaks. Read on. You’ll find out why.

5 REASONS WHY BREAKS ARE INCREDIBLY VALUABLE:

One: Breaks are essential for your physical and emotional health.

Movement breaks, specifically, lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity. Getting up from your chair to walk, stretch, do yoga, etc. can reduce the negative health effects from too much sitting. Just a 5 minute walk every hour can improve your health and well-being.

Two: Breaks can prevent “decision fatigue.”

Author S.J. Scott points out the need to make frequent decisions throughout the day can wear down your willpower and reasoning ability. Decision fatigue can lead to simplistic decision-making and procrastination.

Three: Breaks restore motivation, especially for long-term goals.

When we work, our prefrontal cortex makes every effort to help us execute our goals. But for a challenging task that requires our sustained attention, research shows briefly taking our minds off the goal can renew and strengthen motivation later.

A small study summarized here even suggests that prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance.

Four: Breaks increase productivity and creativity.

Working for long stretches without breaks leads to stress and exhaustion. Taking breaks refreshes the mind, replenishes your mental resources, and helps you become more creative. “Aha moments” came more often to those who took breaks, according to research.

Five: Breaks called “Waking Rest”, AKA resting while awake, helps consolidate memories and improve learning.

Scientists have known that one purpose of sleep is to consolidate memories. However, there is also evidence that resting while awake likewise improves memory formation. During a rest period, it appears the brain reviews and ingrains what it previously learned.

WHEN NOT TO TAKE A BREAK

If you are in a state of “flow” it does not make sense to take a break. Flow is characterized by complete absorption in the task, seemingly effortless concentration, and pleasure in the task itself. Simply enjoying what you are doing may be a sign that you still have plenty of energy for your current activity.

In short, if it ain’t broke, don’t “break” it.

7 TIPS FOR TAKING BREAKS SO YOU COME BACK RECHARGED, REENERGIZED, AND MORE PRODUCTIVE.

One: Walk or exercise.

Get moving. A walking break leads to more creative ideas than a sitting break.

Two: Get Outside

Staying in an artificially lit, stuffy office or home, all day might be a necessity for getting things done. But escaping that space for even a few minutes during the day can have huge benefits. Fresh air helps clear the brain fog allowing you to focus with a clear head. Choose where you go wisely. Walking in nature tends to calm, while city streets amp up engagement.

Three: Change your environment

Briefly leaving your work space and going to another area will help your brain rest and switch gears.

Four: Hydrate and have a healthy snack.

Opt for high protein, low sugar snacks. And always, always, be drinking water!

Five: Take a few deep breaths.

They don’t call a rest “taking a breather” for nothing. Deliberately taking slow, deep breaths and focusing on your breathing for just 30 seconds is a mini-meditation that can relax your mind and body.

Six: Daydream

Daydreaming gives the prefrontal cortex a break, taking you on a brief journey to your unconscious mind where chaos and creativity reign.

A report published in Science Magazine found that simply letting our minds wander by zoning out or daydreaming has similar benefits to meditation.

Letting your mind drift can help you come up with more creative ideas and help you problem-solve.

Seven: Have some coffee or tea.

Coffee could be a great way to bring your brain to focus on the task at hand. A study conducted on 2010 concluded that employees who take regular coffee breaks are more efficient and productive. A dose of caffeine can keep you alert, reduce stress, and help you stay active.

HOW OFTEN TO TAKE BREAKS

While the rule of thumb is simple: take a break when your brain feels saturated, different researchers have come up with different options.

  • A post published in Inc. Magazine suggests a break every 60-90 minutes.
  • The Pomodoro Technique advises working for 25 minutes followed by a 3 to 5-minute break, and then a 15 to 30-minute break every 90 minutes or so.

While it’s true that different durations work for different people, you should decide how often to take a break depending on the type of work you need to do. Keep the momentum for as long as you can and take a break after 90 minutes. However, if your thoughts start to wander more frequently, a short break every 20 minutes might be helpful.

MONITOR YOURSELF AND LEARN

As you take breaks, be mindful of the results. Which kind of breaks seem to help you become more creative, motivated and productive? Which kind of breaks just seem disruptive to your work? Notice what works and what doesn’t. Research on breaks is a generalization; only you can decide what particular strategies work best for you.

WRAPPING IT UP

By knowing you have a break coming up, you’re more likely to stay focused and work with purpose.

Breaks are an enriching way of giving your brain that much-needed rest. According to Forbes, taking breaks as self-care can literally save your life.

In our culture of doing, taking regular breaks can be seen as lazy or unproductive. But when done correctly, breaks are the ultimate productivity hack, because they let us do more in less time. So, stop glorifying long days and burnout-inducing hours and take a break.

You deserve it!

Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all of the big things that I want to do to make my dreams a reality.

Do you know what that feels like?

Your head is spinning. It can be hard to know what to do or where to start.

I’ve been playing around with this tool for awhile now and want to share it with you so you can beat the overwhelm, reduce stress and anxiety and move forward with clarity.

Let me introduce you to my version of The Mind Sweep.

What exactly is a Mind Sweep?

It’s an intentional methodical way for getting everything out of your head onto paper – or into a Google Doc, or wherever you’re capturing your thoughts in an organized meaningful way.

A Mind Sweep is different than a mind dump. A mind dump is also effective at getting things out, but it’s kind of like taking the mess of thoughts in your brain and creating a new mess on paper. And it can continue the train of overwhelm, because now you have to sort through all of the junk you just dumped out on paper.

Imagine pulling out the junk drawer in your kitchen and dumping it on the floor. That doesn’t really help much…the junk is just in a new spot.

On the flip side, a Mind Sweep is a lot more organized. We pictured dumping the junk drawer on the floor and making a mess. Now imagine yourself sweeping the floor in your kitchen.

When you sweep you’re not just randomly swishing the broom around to see what happens. No! When you sweep, you start at the edges and work in a certain direction. Every swish of the broom has a purpose, and you’ve got an end goal in mind.

That’s what happens when you do a mind sweep. You get everything out of your head in a deliberate and purposeful way so that you’re not dumping junk on a page. Your sweeping out the cobwebs so you can get more clarity and start fresh.

David Allen author of Getting Things Done, uses a Mind Sweep as part of his kind of complicated system GTD for capturing and processing information in your life and work so that you never miss a thing.

His version of a mind sweep is great, but I found it to be a bit much. I’ve played with it for a while, and this is what my mind sweep looks like now. I always tell my clients, their success lies in taking someone else system and tweaking it to make it your own.

HOW TO DO MY VERSION OF A MIND SWEEP

FIRST – Decide where you’ll capture your Mind Sweep thoughts. In a notebook? A journal? A Google Doc? Don’t overthink this. Pick something and start. I mind sweep the old-fashioned way with pen and paper.

SECOND – Decide when and how often you’ll capture your thoughts.

Will you do this in the morning or at night?

In the morning, the mind sweep can help improve focus by reducing distractions. At night, a mind sweep can help quiet racing thoughts and turn your brain “off” so you can sleep.

Doing a mind sweep takes muscle memory, just like any other habit. To start, promise yourself you’ll do a mindset sweep one time a week.

THIRD – Focus your sweep.

Organizing your thoughts into categories helps you manage them.

I sweep my thoughts into one of 3 categories; My To-Do’s, My Worries, and My Inner-Critic. Let’s talk about these from YOUR perspective.

CATEGORY #1: YOUR TO-DO THOUGHTS

This is the first category because I’ve found that these thoughts are at the forefront of my mind. When I do mind sweeps with clients, they also default to thinking about their to-do’s first.

To sweep your to-do thoughts, ask yourself; “What are the important things I need to accomplish today? Tomorrow? This week?

If it helps, think about your to-do’s in sub-categories like; work, home, kids, bills, parents, medical, vacations. You get the point.

Now that you got your To-Do Thoughts out of your head, it’s time to make a doable plan.

3 Steps to Make a Doable Plan

FIRST: Break out projects vs tasks.

Your list probably contains a mix of projects and tasks. A project is anything that has more than one step to complete.

Book a vacation is an example of a project. Choose 3 places to research is a task.

One of the most common reasons we end the day without crossing things off our to-do list is because our list is full of projects, instead of tasks. So we might spend hours working on a few tasks for one project, but not finish the whole project. So even though we made good progress – progress to be proud of – we still feel bad for not crossing it off the list.

When you identify something from your to-do mind sweep that’s a project, put the letter P next to it so you can come back to it later and map out the tasks within the project.

SECOND: Prioritize

With the tasks that are left, it’s time to prioritize. Remember, when everything is important, nothing is important.

Start with lightening the load. What on the list can you eliminate? Now that you see it on paper you may realize you’ve been hanging onto something that doesn’t need to be done at all.

The simplest way to prioritize is by using a ranking system. Go through the list and add numeric or word rankings like NOW, NEXT, and LATER. For more on prioritizing check out this blog post.

THIRD: Delegate and Schedule

Is there anything on the list that you can delegate? Maybe to a coworker, spouse, kids, a virtual assistant, an intern? What can you delegate and get off your plate?

For the remaining urgent things on the list, schedule them into your day and into the next week with time blocks. This helps you keep what you decide to tackle realistic. You can’t get a lot done if you’re in meetings all day. But you can get something done when you have an hour open between appointments. Schedule it and keep that appointment with yourself.

CATEGORY #2 YOUR WORRY THOUGHTS

Worrying causes a huge bottleneck in your productivity. When you worry, you’re all up in your head and not solving a darn thing.

Now sweep for your worry thoughts. Ask yourself;

  • What am I worrying about or dwelling on right now?
  • What am I overthinking?
  • What am I ruminating over?
  • What thoughts are keeping me up at night?
  • What thoughts are distracting me during the day?

Next, review all those thoughts an ask yourself; “What do I have control over? Is there anything I can do about this worry?”

If yes, move that action or task to Category #1: Your To-Do Thoughts. If no, choose to let it go. Worrying has never solved any problem. It simply keeps you spinning.

If you must worry, schedule a time to worry. Every time you catch yourself worrying, remind yourself that you have 30 minutes of worry time scheduled at say 7pm tonight. Maybe use that time to journal about your worries.

CATEGORY #3: YOUR INNER-CRITIC THOUGHTS

Oh, these thoughts keep you so stuck. They tell you that you aren’t enough. They tell you to play it safe. And the secret here, my friend, is that most of your thoughts are outright lies.

Now sweep for your inner-critic thoughts.

  1. What am I beating myself up for right now?
    It may be things like;
    I never do what I say I’m going to do.
    I’m always distracted.
    I never finish anything.

2. Finish this thought; I’ve never been good at _____________________. Or, it might come out of your head as “I’m a terrible writer, speaker, friend, parent, boss, leader.”

Review each thought and ask yourself if it is a fact or simply a thought.

Our thoughts are just that, thoughts. They are not facts. A fact is something that would hold up in a court of law. There is no emotion around facts. Thoughts are full of emotions. Also, notice words like, always, never, constantly, all the time, etc. Those are clues that the thought is a lie.

Now if it’s a lie, what else could you say to yourself? For example, “I keep putting off writing my resume because I’m a terrible writer.” That’s not a fact. So reframe the thought to:

“Now that I think about it, people have told me that I’m a great writer. I even got pretty good grades on my papers in school. I can tackle this resume.”

THAT’S IT! YOU’RE DONE WITH YOUR MIND SWEEP!

Enjoy the feeling that you have. You probably feel a little lighter now that your mind is de-cluttered and you have clarity like you’ve never had before.

Are you guilty of having an idea, or an intuitive hit on something and immediately saying “I’ll do it later.”? Or “I’ll get back to this when I have more time.”?

Now take a second to think about how much further along you would be if you started taking all that energy you use waiting and used it to start DOING?

Here’s the thing – that idea or tiny inspiration was a gift from the universe and what do we usually do with it? We throw it right into the “I’ll do it later black hole” where most ideas go to die.

You know you need to do it. For some reason, though, it feels impossible to muster the energy to simply get started.

Don’t worry, it’s not just in your head. Getting started is hard. The secret to building and maintaining momentum lies in the science.

Remember Newton’s Law Of Motion?

“An object at rest stays at rest. An object in motion stays in motion.”

Newtons Law Of Motion

In chemistry, you need a big burst of initial energy to start a chemical reaction. This explosion of energy is called “activation energy.” Your brain is looking for that chemical reaction, that explosion of energy.

That moment of inspiration you had? That was the spark the universe gave you to create that activation energy to get you started.

But out of habit you smothered it and now you are left with the excuses of no energy, no time, no confidence, no inspiration.

You see, after that moment of inspiration passes, you’ll never feel like it, you’ll never be ready, and there is no right time. Suck it up, give yourself a push, and get started.

If you do, you can tap into the principle of momentum.

Here are three strategies you can use to create and sustain momentum.

#1 DO SOMETHING TINY EVERY DAY

This idea comes for BJ Fogg, a Stanford University researcher. When you set the bar low, it’s easier to stick to your goals.

If you have just started trying to get back in shape, for example, forget the long workout. Instead, do five minutes on the treadmill and five pushups a day. I transformed my health by simply walking my dog every day. When you start with something easy, you’ll see yourself win and you’ll keep going.

#2 CELEBRATE SMALL WINS

Making progress in small ways doesn’t always feel like it’s making a big difference. But research from Harvard University Business School discovered that recognizing your small progress every day is the key to productivity and happiness.

To make the effect even greater, reward yourself – but only in ways that further your goals. Topping off a 5-mile run with a bowl of ice cream is different than rewarding yourself with a deep-tissue massage.

#3 FOCUS ON THE SMALLER NUMBER

You can measure progress by how much you’ve done or how much you still have left to do.

A study from the University of Chicago discovered that you’ll be way more motivated if you focus on the smaller of two numbers.

For example, focus on the 3 pounds you’ve already lost, not the 17 more to go. Each new action feels even more impactful when compared to a smaller number.

Did you notice what these three strategies have in common?

Think small when you think about taking action.

Take tiny doable steps, celebrate small wins, focus on the smaller number.

When we think big, we get overwhelmed and it all feels impossible.

I challenge you to think small today.

Remember, creating momentum doesn’t happen by thinking that you have to finish the entire project NOW.

But it does happen by taking action immediately and then scheduling out more time on the calendar to sustain momentum.

Do you struggle with planning your next steps?

Check out the Fail-Proof Planning System Mini-Course.

People- pleasing is rooted in self-doubt.

You want to be liked.

You don’t want anyone to be upset with you.

You fear if you say no, they will stop talking to you.

You don’t feel like you’re enough, so you keep doing more, thinking that adding one more thing won’t be too much trouble.

But what if you weren’t constantly looking for that external validation that you are enough?

What if you believed in yourself and truly knew that you are an amazing human?

What if you looked at setting boundaries around people-pleasing, AKA as saying no, as a way to be healthier and happier. And what if you showed up in all of your relationships healthier and happier as a result? That’s some powerful stuff all from learning how to say no. Wow!

Saying no is not the only way to set boundaries. It’s just a small part of the process. But before you can move on to other parts of boundaries, practice saying no first.

Like anything new, setting boundaries is uncomfortable. Maybe you…

  • fear being mean or rude.
  • are anxious about future interactions after setting a boundary.
  • feel powerless and not sure boundaries will help.
  • get your value from helping others.
  • have no clue where to start.
  • believe you can’t have boundaries is certain relationships.

If any of those resonated for you, you are not alone. People don’t have to agree with boundaries for you to execute them. Boundaries are meant to keep you safe. And they are meant to keep you comfortable. Your comfort may make others uncomfortable, and that’s okay.

3 Simple Steps to Set A Boundary

Step #1: Be clear, and focus on the solution, not the problem.

When we think about setting boundaries, we mostly talk about the problem. The boundary is the solution.

Ask yourself, “What would you like? What do you want to see next time? What would make you feel safe?”

Condense what you need into one or two sentences, max!

Do say, “I’m not able to take care of your plants while you’re on vacation.”

Don’t say, “I don’t know why you asked me to take care of your plants. You know I don’t have a green thumb. The last time you asked me, one plant died, and you haven’t stopped complaining out how incompetent I was. Why don’t you ask someone else who knows more about plants?”

Don’t say, “You should ask your sister to water your plants instead.”

Remember the boundary is the solution to your habit of people-pleasing. The boundary is not the solution to the other person’s issue. It’s up to the other person to make different arrangements.

If you overexplain, people can find your weakness. When you’re a newbie, people can talk you out of your boundaries because of your lack of confidence.

Step #2: State what you need and want, or say no.

Speak your truth using phrases like:

  • I want…
  • I need…
  • I expect…

Don’t just mention what you don’t like; ask for what you need or want. Identify your expectations, or say no.

Step #3: Manage your discomfort.

It’s normal to feel guilt, fear, sadness, remorse, awkwardness, indifference, or relief when setting boundaries.

Guilt is by far the most challenging, but it’s to be expected. Guilt shows that you are emotionally aware and are concerned about potentially hurting others. But don’t let your guilt stop you from doing what you need for your well-being.

You will likely be relieved after setting a boundary. The hard part is over. You did it!

And even when people aren’t happy with your boundaries, it feels good to have taken that first uncomfortable step.

The more you do this, the more confident you will feel in setting boundaries and taking care of yourself.

What is one thing you would like to start saying no to?

Don’t forget to grab your free confidence building guide:

The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence

You’re never going to feel ready to do something new.

Of course, it will be uncomfortable, even scary. That is normal. If you wait for the fear to go away, you’ll never do anything.

It’s NOT about making the fear disappear.

Is IS about not letting the fear run your life.

Here are 5 sneaky ways fear keeps you stuck and what you can do to take back control.

1. Fear, fears action. It’s terrified you’re going to take the next step and the next and the next. Fears job is to keep you paralyzed. Fear knows, once you act you will prove fear wrong and see it’s not so scary after all.

Action Item: Make a plan. List out all the things you need to do to accomplish your goal. Schedule a time you’re going to work on each step. Most importantly, execute one small step!

2. Fear always says forever. It says the thing you want to do will take an eternity. Fear can’t stand deadlines. It wants to be untethered by any semblance of time. Fear’s goal is to keep you stuck forever. Forever is a really loooonnng time.

Action item: Set 3 deadlines; daily weekly and monthly.

3. Fear grows best in isolation. Fear hates being shared. It knows you’re designed to grapple with it alone. You don’t tell anyone you’re afraid of failing or that you think you’re not enough. It knows you’ll hide.

Action Item: Get a coach or accountability partner. Talk to your family and friends. When you do this they tell your fear to shut up!

They’ll tell you, ” Hey, you got nothing to lose. Go for it. That’s a great idea. I can’t wait to see how that turns out for you. What do you need from me? I’d love to support you as you take on this new thing.”

Fear does not want you to bring in other people, especially people who are going to encourage you to act.

4. Fear is a magnifying glass and makes everything bigger and scarier than it really is. When you keep all those thoughts that scare you in your head, fear has access to your goal and feeds them with more fear.

Action Item: Write out your goals and exactly what is scary about them. This gets the fear out of your head. Then go back and write a counter statement to each fear.

Something like this:

Fear: I’m afraid I’ll fail.
Counter statement: I’m going to start, and I’ll learn something along the way.

Fear: I’m afraid people will judge me.
Counter statement: It really doesn’t matter what other people think of me. It only matters what I think, and I’ll always wonder what could’ve been if I had only tried.

5. Fear is blinding and all consuming. Its goal is to keep you so busy up in your head doubting yourself that you completely forget WHY this is so important to you. Don’t stare so long at your fear that you lose sight of your vision.

Action Item: Revisit your WHY. Why is this important to you? Before fear got a hold of you, what about this goal excited you?

When it comes to fear, always ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” You’ll find fear is nothing more than a bully.

If you liked this, grab your free guide:

The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence

I don’t have to tell you that healthy self-esteem matters.

It helps you make sound choices, live big and allows everything into your life that you really, really want.

And it’s not defined by a six-pack, a six figure career, or a feel-good buzz after six mimosas. It’s deeper. It’s how you feel about you. Sadly, many of us sabotage our self-esteem subconsciously and then wonder why we feel crumby at the end of the day.

Here are some new behaviors you can start practicing to boost your self-esteem wherever it is right now:
  1. Stop hanging out with people out of loyalty instead of intention.
    Are you hanging out with people because they would be offended if you didn’t? That’s one of the worst reasons to maintain a friendship. Your friends should inspire and uplift you and when you tell them your life goals, they should encourage you every step of the way.

  2. Start using your secret (or forgotten) talents.
    Gifts you stop using (writing, teaching, designing, the list goes on…) will make you miserable over time. Your skills exist to be used to bring joy to everyone who encounters you. They can even make a sweet side hustle.

  3. Put yourself first for once.
    Try saying *no* 3 times this week. Try it out!!! *No* is the magical word you’ve been looking for – and don’t waste a second feeling guilty about not pleasing someone else. If you have to disappoint yourself or someone else, let it be someone else.

  4. Stop procrastinating.
    Procrastination is directly related to our feelings of self-worth. Think how great you’ll feel to have the darn thing done. It won’t be nagging you when you’re trying to sleep or taking some much-deserved downtime.

    You choose to to free yourself from the burden when you just do it. Get busy and stop sabotaging yourself. What are you waiting for, exactly? It’s never the *right* time.

  5. Give yourself permission to walk away.
    Who or what situation do you need to leave? Change can be scary, yes – but nothing changes if nothing changes.

  6. Ask for more.
    People who ask, get. It’s that simple. But if you don’t feel deserving, you’re probably not asking enough. What can you test? Asking for a favor from a friend? Asking for an overdue raise? Asking for help at work? There’s strength and major results in asking.

  7. Don’t make excuses – make promises.
    What are your go-to excuses?
    “There isn’t enough time. I never finish anything. I already have so much to do. I’m not exactly sure what I need to do. I’ll wait until I feel ready.”

    Excuses keep you stuck. Making and keeping promises to yourself is the greatest form of self-love. If you can’t count on you, who can you count on? Excuses hold you back. Making and keeping promises to yourself moves you forward.

  8. Remember self-compassion.
    Self-compassion actually matters more than self-esteem. It’s about being kind and gentle with yourself no matter what. And that means being patient, loving and accepting of yourself… even if you know there is more work you’d like to do on yourself.

    Try approving of yourself a bit more. Remember what you like about yourself: “I’m good at things! I’m a decent cook! I do a strong 2 minute plank. I’m not a perfect friend, but I’m a loyal friend.”

“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

Louise Hay

If you keep practicing these behaviors, your self-esteem will take care of itself.

Grab your free guide:
The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence.

Have you ever been trapped in a conversation where the other person is over explaining, with no end in sight? How does it make you feel?

You may feel annoyed or even like the person is over explaining because they think you are stupid.

Or are you the person who is always over explaining?

Over explaining creates the exact opposite of what we are trying to accomplish!

It leaves others in the conversation:

  • Annoyed
  • Thinking about something else
  • Planning their rebuttal or reply
  • Wondering how to stop you from going on and on and on….
  • With an impression that you lack self-confidence and strategic thinking.

If you suffer from low self-esteem or people-pleasing, you may have an almost compulsive need to over explain.

Over explaining means describing something to an excessive degree, whereas oversharing is the disclosure of an inappropriate amount of information and detail about your personal life.

Some reasons driving you to over explain:

One: You might be doing this to keep yourself safe.

Over explaining is a common response for those who were often made to feel at fault as a child. At one point, the desire to please people provided safety. Now it has turned in to you defending yourself at every turn, justified or not. It has affected your ability to trust yourself and feel confident.

Two: You’re trying to avoid conflict, keep the peace and control the other person’s response.

It’s uncomfortable to be around someone who is angry or hurt or disappointed. If you’re giving someone information you fear they won’t like, it’s tempting to pile on explanations.

You believe if you can give a compelling enough reason for your choice, you can ensure the other person will see things your way. If you have enough solid reasons for your choice, maybe they won’t take it personally and be hurt.

Maybe if you can make them understand, they will still like you.

Three: You’re looking for someone to validate your decision.

You may feel the need to justify yourself or your decisions to make someone accept who you are and how you think because you are insecure about your choices.

While it doesn’t feel great to have people disagree with you, if you are confident about your own choices, you’re less impacted when someone doesn’t agree with you.

On the other hand, if you are unsure about your decision, you often look to others for reassurance. You over explain in the hope that the other person will understand and come around to your point of view. Often, it’s not really about the other person changing their mind as much as it is about needing external validation for your own choices.

Four: You’re trying to ease your own feelings of guilt.

Choosing something another person might not like can prompt feelings of guilt. When you feel guilty about your decision, you often turn to explanations an excuses to convince the other person and yourself that you have a very good reason for choosing the way you did.

You may believe, whether you realize it or not, that other people’s wants, needs, and feelings are more important than your own. This is a clear people-pleasing behavior.

You believe saying no or declining an invitation is selfish or rude. You think that to be kind, generous, and likable you must be unfailingly agreeable and accommodating.

Explaining doesn’t come with a set of rules, but,

Here’s a 3-step formula I use for crafting responses that are simple, kind and to-the-point.

Step 1: Get Clear about your intentions.

Why do you really want to explain? Spoiler alert: If it’s any of the 4 reasons above, you do NOT want or need to over explain.

Who do you want to be in this situation? Do you want to make the other person feel stupid? Do you want them to be annoyed? Or, do you want to be respectful of their time?

Step 2: Keep it simple.

Longer explanations don’t necessarily bring greater understanding. What is the most important thing you want the other person to know?

Step 3: Be Kind

Lead with gratitude. Then state your decision in as few words as possible. Finally, wish them well.

Here’s an example of how to decline an invitation without over explaining:

“Thanks so much for thinking of me! I won’t be joining you this time, but I hope you have lots of fun.”

Here’s another example on cancelling a membership to a mastermind group:

“Thank you for having me as part of this group. I’ve decided to cancel my membership at this time. Wishing you and the group continued success.”

Isn’t that way simpler and kinder than a string of excuses or agreeing with resentment?

This takes practice. Our *explanation habits* won’t change overnight. Take the time you need to get clear on your intentions and think through how you really want to respond.

Remember, if someone doesn’t ask for more explanation, it’s a clear sign they don’t want one.

Don’t forget to grab your free confidence building guide.

The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence

“What do I want for lunch? Pasta or sushi?”

“When is the right time to have that difficult conversation?”

“Where can I go on vacation? Can I afford it?”

A typical adult makes more than 35,000 decisions per day – usually starting with whether to turn off the alarm or hit the snooze button.

We face hundreds of choices every day – from simple, “What should I wear to work?” to more complicated decisions that involve our emotional, financial, and physical well-being, “Should we pivot the business?”

The number of decisions you have to make in a day can get so overwhelming that by the time you get home, you can barely decide what to eat for dinner.

This is what’s known as decision fatigue – a term coined by social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, as the emotional and mental strain resulting from a burden of choices.

This type of fatigue leads to one of two outcomes; risky decision-making or decision avoidance.

In other words, when your mental energy begins running low, you’re less able to override basic desires and more likely to go for whatever is easiest.

Fear not! That feeling when you’re overly stressed by the endless amount of decisions you’ve had to make throughout the day can be remedied.

How to Recognize It

Remember decision fatigue isn’t always easy to spot. Here are some tell-tale signs that might suggest you’re heading for burnout.

  • Procrastination – “I’ll tackle this later.”
  • Impulsivity – “A quick decision will give me relief.”
  • Avoidance – “I can’t deal with this right now.”
  • Indecision – “When in doubt, I just say no.”

ONE: Focus on self-care

Take time to rest by setting aside 10-minute breaks between tasks throughout the day.

Recovering also means making sure you’re getting enough sleep, making sure you’re eating healthy, and watching your alcohol intake.

TWO: Prioritize your decisions.

Cut down on needless decision-making by jotting down your top priorities for the day and ensuring you tackle those first. This way, your most important decisions get done when your energy is at its highest.

THREE: Save major decisions for when you’re rested and refreshed.

Ask yourself;

  • “How tired am I in the present moment?”
  • “Am I making a decision to simply solve the thing and get it off my plate?”
  • “How much impact on my life will this decision have?”

If the answer is that it’ll have a high impact, only allow yourself to make those decisions when you have to make them or when you feel refreshed.

That might mean setting aside a block of time each month to evaluate the pros and cons of those major decisions.

FOUR: Minimize low-stake decisions

Reduce decision drain by planning ahead and taking relatively minor decisions out of the equation. For example, take your lunch to work to avoid having to decide which restaurant to order from. Or, lay out your clothes the night before.

Yes, you are still making the decision but you are doing it at a time when you’re not rushed and stressed.

Remember, your morning is only as good as the night before.

We don’t realize that things that have very little impact on our lives can actually take a lot of decision energy.

FIVE: Create routines that will stick

Set up your day so that you have to make the fewest decisions possible. Have a morning and evening routine. Put as many things on auto-pilot as possible.

This means having strict and clear rules about certain things, such as;

  • when you’ll go to sleep
  • specific days you’ll hit the gym
  • going grocery shopping

SIX: Allow others to help

Sharing the mental load of decision-making can help prevent overwhelm.

Here are a few examples of what you can delegate:

  • If you’re having a hard time meal planning, allow your partner or roommate to come up with a menu. You can help out with the shopping.
  • Ask a close friend for a referral for a plumber.
  • Let a colleague choose which images to use on your next presentation.

SEVEN: Keep tabs on your mental and physical state

Everyone gets overwhelmed with decisions at times. Pay attention to your emotional and physical responses.

Are you repeatedly making poor choices because you feel overwhelmed? Do you find yourself making a habit of snacking on junk food to avoid making decisions about dinner?

Keeping track of your reactions can help you understand which habits need improvement.

EIGHT: Celebrate your good decisions.

You make so many small decisions during the day without even realizing it. And that’s on top of all the big, noticeable ones.

Celebrating the big and small decisions alike, boosts your confidence and sets you up for more confident decision-making tomorrow.

Mel Robbins created the High-Five Habit so we could all start celebrating ourselves. So, go high-five yourself in the mirror for showing up and making the best decisions you could today.

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The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence

Do you want to be perfect or excellent?

I had to ask myself this question as I was listening to a Jon Acuff podcast. As I was listening it became crystal clear to me the moments I’m pursuing excellence and the moments I’m letting perfectionism hold me back.

Following are the highlights and my spin on what I learned from him.

When we strive for excellence, we have high standards that encourage us to make improvements, solve problems and do quality work. It focuses on the process. 

Perfectionism is the belief we must be perfect to be acceptable. It focuses on the outcome. Anything other than perfect is failure. Perfectionism is an attitude, not necessarily a behavior.

Excellence, unlike perfectionism, does not demand a sacrifice of self-esteem as it tends to focus on the process of achievement rather than the outcome.

3 Differences between excellence and perfectionism

  1. Excellence Launches. Perfectionism lags.

    Excellence: You hit your deadlines, stick to the diet, publish the book, finished cleaning out the basement.
    Perfectionism: You half wrote the book, you quit the diet, you stopped cleaning out the basement because you couldn’t find the perfect containers.

  2. Excellence energizes. Perfectionism drains 

    Excellence can still be tiring but you’re exhausted and elated.
    Perfectionism leaves you feeling empty and hopeless.
     
  3. Excellence encourages others. Perfectionism discourages others

    Excellence: People who pursue excellence are admired for their drive for excellence. You give everything you’ve got.  You keep your eyes on what’s important. You don’t nit-pic everything.
    Perfectionism:  No one aspires to be like you or to work with you. You’re seen as difficult, holding up progress, micro-managing.

It can be difficult to tell if we are in the pursuit of excellence or trapped in perfectionism when we are all up in our heads thinking, thinking, thinking. 

Here are 8 ways to spot perfectionism.

If you answer yes to any of these, perfectionism is running the show. 

1. Are the expectations for any goal you want to accomplish unreasonable?
I expect to lose 10 lbs in a week.
I will run every day.
This will be easy. 

2. Is the timeframe to accomplish the goal impossible? 
This trips you up with the speed of your progress. You believe you should be making faster progress.  
I should implement this new system in a week. 
I should get healthy in 10 weeks.

If it took you 5 yrs to put on the weight, why are you only giving yourself 5 weeks to take it off?

“Never give the problem 10 years and the solution a week.”

Jon Acuff

3. Are you obsessed about the results other people are getting? 

Perfectionism amplifies comparison.

“Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

Jon Acuff

It’s normal to compare yourself to others. But instead of comparing yourself to who is on the top, the biggest and best in that field, industry, or endeavor, compare yourself to someone similar. Someone who is slightly ahead of and better than you. 

Use this comparison not to beat yourself down, but to learn. What can you learn from this person and their experience that will help you accomplish your goal?

4. Do you forget to celebrate your progress and move on to the next thing before celebrating what you just accomplished? 

Perfectionism, eliminates the possibility to celebrate. It says that no victory is ever big enough. 

Perfectionism moves the goal post. It never allows you to celebrate at the finish line because perfectionism keeps moving the finish line. For example, you think, “I got all 3 priorities done today, but it would have been better if I could’ve got 2 more things done too.” You never get to enjoy the reward of all that hard work.

5. Are you suffering from burn-out?

If perfectionism is the standard, it’ s an impossible standard. You’ll never be finished. You’ll never be good enough. Ugh.

6. Are you overthinking and over researching?

Acuff says perfectionism turns the starting line on the ground into a wall of indecision and procrastination.

Let’s say you want to get in shape. You tell yourself this time is different. If you’re going to do this, you’re going to do it right. So, you start asking yourself all the questions. 

How many times will I go to the gym? What kind of workout will I do? How many calories can I eat? Do I take the right supplements? Where am I going to buy my workout shoes? How will I work this into my busy schedule? What’s the best gym to join? 

The pile of questions has turned your starting line that was so easy to cross into a wall you have to climb. 

7. Do you make up fictional problems to fix?

Perfectionism makes you think you must fix fictional problems. It tells you to fix problems that haven’t even happened yet. 

If you’re thinking about starting a business, you wonder what you will do when you must fire someone? What if they have a family? It’ll be awful. So, you decide to play small and be a solopreneur or not start the business at all. Sheesh, you could be years away from ever having to worry about that. 

8. Do you think everyone else has it all figured out, except you? 

Perfectionism cripples’ community. You worry your progress is too messy, your life is too scattered, and your challenges are too big to bring anyone else in, so you hide, and you do it alone or not at all.

How many of these did you answer yes to?

Now you know. 

What is one change you’re going to make to move out of perfectionist thinking? 

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The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence

I often wonder who I would be if I weren’t so afraid of being judged.

Have you ever struggled with feeling like you’re being judged? It seems silly to even ask. Maybe you’re reading this right now because fear of being judged has you staring at your phone instead of doing what you’re meant to do.

Fear of judgment is one of the many ways you doubt yourself.

Self-doubt is fear. Fear of judgment. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of being rejected. Fear of not being enough. I could go on, but I won’t. 

While I haven’t found a permanent cure, self-storytelling has become a great treatment… helping to keep my fear of judgement in check so I can keep doing what I was born to do.

Here are three stories I tell myself whenever I feel the fear of judgement, aka self-doubt, creeping in — they might help you too!

It could be situational or a sustained state of being, but if you’ve ever wanted to get out of a fear of judgment or self-doubt funk, these three stories will help.

Story One:

A story about a time when you felt judged and then realized it was all in your head.

Oh yes, we all do this. You were convinced you could read someone’s mind and you told yourself they were bashing you and judging you for not being good enough. But then, this person started talking with you and they complimented you or asked questions because they thought what you were doing was so intriguing, interesting, or even impressive.

Mind reading is dangerous, and never do we think, “Oh, how nice. This person thinks I’m creative and smart.” Oh no, our habit is to think they are bashing us because that is what we do to ourselves. I’m telling you; no one judges you more harshly than YOU judge yourself! 

Story Two:

A story about a time when you realized the person’s opinion about you really didn’t matter anyway.

Tell yourself a story about a time when you placed so much importance on one person’s opinion and you were bold and acted against their advice anyway and you nailed it! Reminding yourself of your courageous, bold moments puts fear in its place and self-doubt will join her. Sometimes the simple reminder of when you nailed it is enough to pull you out of the self-doubt rut. And if your inner critic tries to tell you it was a fluke, don’t believe it.

This need for external validation, the need to not ruffle any feathers, to please others, stops you from believing in yourself. People pleasing has nothing to do with other people and everything to do with your insecurities. Learn to love and support yourself and you’ll stop worrying about pleasing everyone else. External validation is fleeting. Belief in yourself is enduring.

Story Three: 

A story about someone else who really doesn’t give a thought to what other people think of them.

They go all in – two feet in. They don’t half-ass anything or make themselves smaller to make others feel okay. We all know someone like this. We secretly envy their courage and confidence and wish that it would rub off on us.

What things do they do that you are in awe of? Have you ever told yourself, “I wish I could be bold and do things that others don’t agree with and not care about disappointing them?” What are those things? Go ahead. Be bold. Do it. 

Want to learn more about letting go of the fear and believing in yourself?

Grab your FREE Guide: The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence

Fall is your listening season. It’s your time to listen to the feedback from those around you and more importantly to listen to your intuition so you can know how to come through for the next year!

It’s your time to show up for yourself and accomplish the things you set out to do this year.

Finishing the year strong means pushing yourself past the finish line even when other people are doubting you. And especially if YOU are doubting YOU! It means running that extra lap even when you know you’ve done the work. Whether you are an entrepreneur, work 9-5 or are someone who wants to have more flow in your life, there are things you can do to set yourself up for success.

With only a few months left in the year, prioritizing is the most impactful exercise you can do for yourself. You must be realistic. There’s a good chance you won’t get everything done. And that is okay! When you focus on the most important and impactful things, you will end the year feeling accomplished and energized.

Before you dive in and start prioritizing, it’s important to understand the 7 Reasons Why We Struggle to Prioritize:
  1. We tend to suffer from FOMO (Fear of missing out). We think that if we’re not involved in everything that somehow, we are going to miss out on something. There is beauty in missing out! Missing out allows you to be more present on the things that matter most.
  2. We don’t like to let people down. Remember, if you give away all your time, you won’t have any time left to pursue your goals. Letting people down from time-to-time is something that must happen! It is the price of entry for growing into who you’re meant to be.
  3. We don’t have confidence in ourselves. We tend to struggle with prioritizing things that we could change the world with because we don’t believe in ourselves. Step out of your comfort zone, try something new, and prove to yourself that you can go beyond what you believe is possible. You are capable of more than you think!
  4. We don’t have a clear WHY. Ever feel like you’re moving through your day like a robot? You’re productive and getting stuff done but you’re bored and doing it all half-hearted? When you understand WHY doing these things are important or not so important to YOU it naturally finds its place in your list of priorities, or not.
  5. We don’t have clear goals. It’s not enough to say that you want to get better. Get specific! Articulate what “better” means so that you can create smaller goals to hit along the way.
  6. We get stuck in the stuff of life. If we think that everything is important, then nothing is important. We must release ourselves from the things that aren’t aligned with our goals and who we are.
  7. We don’t take a driver’s seat where our priorities are concerned. If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will. Their needs will fill your calendar at the expense of your self-care! Don’t lose sight of what’s important. Prioritize it. Be comfortable deciding that prioritizing yourself is more important than keeping everyone else happy!
How to Prioritize Over the Next 2-3 Months:
  1. Focus on what matters to you. Don’t get caught up in other people’s priorities for you. Everyone else in your life believes they know what you need most. But what if they are wrong? Be clear on who you want to be on January 1, 2022. Your priorities might look different than what others think they should be.
  2. Consider the trade-off. Before saying yes to anything, understand that saying yes comes at the expense of saying NO to something else that potentially matters more to you.
  3. Evaluate the impact. Think about everything you are juggling as glass balls and plastic balls. Which of the things on your plate are glass and will shatter when dropped? Which ones are plastic and would bounce back if they fell? Prioritize the glass!
  4. Ask yourself more questions. If I say yes, will I regret it later? Is this thing in line with my WHY? Make sure everything you say yes to acts as a catalyst to what you are trying to achieve in life. Otherwise, it is only going to set you back. Be clear on what you stand for!
  5. Just say NO. No is a complete sentence. You don’t have to justify anything! If someone else doesn’t understand, most of the time that is their issue. Boundaries are important!
  6. Listen to your gut. Give yourself a chance to pull away from the media, the obligations, and all the noise in your life so you can hear yourself clearly. Your intuition exists and is only ever compromised when you allow external things to drown it out.
  7. Check and Re-Check your CAPACITY. You’re going to go through different things at different times of your life, each requiring you to establish a new or adjusted set of priorities. This could change month-by-month. It’s critical that you have grace for the circumstances happening in your life and that you can adapt accordingly!
  8. CELEBRATE yourself. Certain days are going to be harder than others. If you are showing up for yourself, doing the work and trying as best as you can, that is worthy of celebration. You have chosen growth. Give yourself grace and don’t forget to celebrate yourself!

Looking to find your WHY and stop doubting yourself? Grab your free guide:
The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence

A lot of us are back to the office and school. This is great for so many reasons like, connecting with others, having structure & routine, and even some built in accountability. 

What many of us didn’t notice while we were working from home, was the opportunities it afforded us to set our own schedule’s and take some downtime when we needed it.

Between 2 pm and 4 pm, is when we typically experience afternoon slumps to some degree; where you feel mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. For those with ADHD, you don’t experience just a little slump, yours are full blown crashes. 

No matter if you fall on the side of a slump or a crash, they both affect your attention, focus, productivity, and your ability to stay calm and rational.

Here are 7 things you can do to minimize or prevent your afternoon slumps and crashes. The more suggestions you implement, the more results you will see!

1. Simply put, EAT

Many of us don’t eat breakfast; either because we don’t feel hungry in the mornings or because we are in a rush to get out the door. However, starting the day with a protein packed breakfast is incredibly helpful to avoid the afternoon crash.

Lunch is often a meal eaten on the run or skipped when we get busy in our day. Or because we missed breakfast, we are ravenous and eat a big heavy lunch. What we eat for lunch has a direct effect on our energy in the afternoon. Take time to eat a gluten-free lunch with some good-quality protein (chicken or fish) and fiber in the form of vegetables. Your afternoons will be transformed.

2. Get your 7 hours of Sleep

75% of ADHDers have problems with falling and staying asleep. According to the CDC, more than 35% of Americans get less than the recommended 7 hours a night. If you are sleep deprived or had a night of poor sleep, then an afternoon crash is more likely to happen. However, they can still be minimized with the other suggestions on this list.

3. Be a Smart Caffeine Drinker

Caffeine isn’t bad; and if you become a smart caffeine drinker, you can still drink it and not get afternoon crashes.

Drink your first coffee of the day after you have eaten breakfast.
If drinking coffee gives you energy highs and lows, then switch to green tea.
Both tips will give you more sustained energy. Don’t drink caffeine after 2pm because it will interfere with your sleep (which in turn affects crashes).

4. Get Moving

After you exercise, your whole body and mind is energized for 3 hours. To capitalize on this, move your workout to lunch time and see if you notice a difference in your energy level in the afternoons.

5. Drink up

Staying hydrated is by far the simplest ways to fight fatigue, yet remembering to drink water throughout the day isn’t as simple. Don’t skip this step!

6. Say Goodbye to Stress

Stress is exhausting! If your morning is full of tension, mini crisis (forgetting things, mad dashes for deadlines), worry and anxiety, then by the afternoon, you will be emotionally exhausted and ready to crash. 

Stress comes from 2 sources: things you can control and things you can’t.
Focus on the life stressors that are in your control. Using strategies to reduce your worry and anxiety is a great place to start.

7. Stop Multi-Tasking

We love to multi-task. It feels exciting and exhilarating. However, it’s also very tiring. Every time we shift focus, we burn glucose, which is the food our neurons use. After a couple of hours of speedy shifting, we feel drained and ready for a nap. Also, our glucose store is depleted; cortisol (the stress hormone) has also been released, causing us to feel edgy and stressed.
Stop multi-tasking and start single tasking.

Stop here and jot down which of these tips you’re going to put into practice. Don’t skip this step. Doing this sets your intentions. Also, share your intentions with a family member or friend. They may want to join you on getting out of the afternoon slump!

Have you grabbed your free confidence building guide yet?

The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence