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Coach Carlene

Oh, so many of us prioritize our tasks according to the needs of others. So often, there are underlying people-pleasing tendencies. At the end of the day, we think we’ve made everyone else happy, but they may not have even noticed.

Add to that the frustration of not getting the things done that we really needed to get done, it’s no wonder we beat ourselves up at the end of the day.  

You started the day with the best of intentions and then life happens. Emails marked urgent (and they really are NOT urgent) flood your inbox. Someone calls or drops in your office to vent. Someone on your team didn’t follow-through on something so you tell yourself it’s easier if I do it myself.

Can you relate?

Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.

Paul J. Meyer

This doesn’t only happen at work, but it happens in our personal lives, too, with limited time spent on activities that are actually important and more energy spent being “busy.”

Sometimes, we fall into productive procrastination mode. This is when you convince yourself that because you’re busy doing something, it’s ok that you’re not doing the thing that is most critical at that time. 

It is in these moments that it’s critical to have a system in place to help you decide what is the best use of your time.

By implementing a prioritization system, you can drastically change the arc of your workday to really make the most of your time at work and at home. 

Step 1: Identify your to-do’s.

Step 2: Run each of the tasks through the 3 categories of questions or filters, Impact, Time, and Consequences

Impact Filters

  • Why is this important?
  • What do I want the outcome to be?
  • What’s the impact if this task is completed?
  • What is the larger goal I’ll be making progress on by completing this task?
  • Is this a must-do or nice-to-do?

Time Filters

  • Do I have the capacity for this? (time, energy)
  • What’s the deadline?
  • Does this NEED to be done NOW?
  • Is this the best use of my time?

Consequence Filters

  • What won’t get done if I focus on this?
  • What’s the penalty or fall-out if I don’t do it?
  • Will anyone notice if it doesn’t get done?

Step 3: After you’ve put your tasks through these filters, put those tasks that need to be worked on this week into your planner. Schedule the day and time you’re going to do the task. YOU MUST SCHEDULE IT!

Step 4: For those tasks that did not make the cut, do not keep them on your current to-do list. Your to-do list get cluttered with the nice-to-do’s and tasks that are not important right now. Then you look at that long list and it looks like you got nothing done. From there, the self-doubt and self-bullying chatter in your head starts. Instead, add these tasks to a NOT NOW LIST. You don’t want to lose sight of these things. 

Step 5: Tomorrow, or next week pull out your NOT NOW LIST and take them through the filters again. If they stay on your NOT NOW LIST week after week, ask yourself why this task is even on your list. If you can’t answer that, delete it.

Remember, the purpose of prioritization is to spend time working on the important tasks, those things that will make a difference in the long run and move you in the right direction. When prioritization is handled well, you’ll feel less reactive and more focused and intentional.

The aim is to complete work that signifies true progress, and let all the rest, all the “busyness” and “people-pleasing”, fall to the wayside. 

If you like to know how to feel more confident, grab your free guide here.

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

Thinking about doing something is not the same as doing it.
Everyone overthinks sometimes.

It’s hard to recognize the spiral of overthinking when you’re caught in the middle of it. In fact, your brain might try to convince you that worrying, and ruminating is somehow helpful.

After all, won’t you develop a better solution or prevent yourself from making the same mistake if you spend more time thinking? Not necessarily.

In fact, the opposite is often true. Analysis paralysis is a real problem. The more you think, the worse you feel. And your feelings of misery, anxiety, or anger may cloud your judgment and prevent you from taking positive action.

If you have ADHD, the overthinking can be more intense and more frequent. People often tell me, “I can’t relax. It’s like my brain won’t shut off,” or “I can’t stop thinking about how my life could have been better if I’d done things differently.”

Two Forms of Overthinking

Overthinking comes in two forms: ruminating about the past and worrying about the future.

It’s different than problem-solving. Problem-solving involves thinking about a solution. Overthinking involves dwelling on the problem.

Overthinking is also different than self-reflection. Healthy self-reflection is about learning something about yourself or gaining a new perspective about a situation. It’s purposeful.

Overthinking involves dwelling on how bad you feel and thinking about all the things you have no control over. It won’t help you develop new insight.

The difference between problem-solving, self-reflection, and overthinking isn’t about the amount of time you spend in deep thought. Time spent developing creative solutions or learning from your behavior is productive. But time spent overthinking, whether it’s 10 minutes or 10 hours, won’t enhance your life.

When you become more aware of your tendency to overthink things, you can take steps to change. But first, you have to recognize that overthinking does more harm than good.

Sometimes, people think that their overthinking somehow prevents bad things from happening. But, the research is pretty clear–overthinking is bad for you and it does nothing to prevent or solve problems.

Here are 10 signs that you’re an overthinker.

  1. I relive embarrassing moments in my head repeatedly.
  2. I have trouble sleeping because it feels like my brain won’t shut off.
  3. I ask myself a lot of “what if…” questions.
  4. I spend a lot of time thinking about the hidden meaning in things people say or events that happen.
  5. I rehash conversations I had with people in my mind and think about all the things I wished I had or hadn’t said.
  6. I constantly relive my mistakes.
  7. When someone says or acts in a way I don’t like, I keep replaying it in my mind.
  8. Sometimes I’m not aware of what’s going on around me because I’m dwelling on things that happened in the past or worrying about things that might happen in the future.
  9. I spend a lot of time worrying about things I have no control over.
  10. I can’t get my mind off my worries.

Here’s How to Stop the Spiral 

If you know that you get caught up in overthinking, don’t despair. You can take steps to reclaim your time, energy, and brain power.

This is the tool I share with all my overthinkers in coaching. It works!

Mel Robbins created the best tool you can use to break your habit of overthinking and start taking action called the 5 Second Rule. 

Here’s how you use it: the next time you catch yourself spinning in circles, procrastinating, obsessing over every detail, worrying about something that doesn’t matter, fixating on making it perfect, reflecting, ticking off excuses – interrupt that garbage and take control.

Count: 5-4-3-2-1 and MOVE. 

Counting backwards requires your mind to focus. As soon as you start counting, your brain switches from autopilot mode (where your overthinking habit runs on a loop) to the prefrontal part of your brain that focuses on counting down from five. It gives you immediate control over what you think and do next.

It’s a little trick that works for millions of people and it’s backed by tremendous research.

Try it and let me know how it works. And, seriously, grab Mel Robbins book The 5 Second Rule.

If you liked this, grab your free guide:

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

Did you know perfectionism is one of the biggest confidence killers?

PER-FEC_TION-ISM
Noun
Obsession with “getting it perfect” to avoid criticism and failure.

Raise your hand if you’re a self-proclaimed perfectionist. You too huh?

The pursuit of perfection can be crippling. This perfectionist thinking plagues mostly women.

It’s no wonder perfectionism is linked to numerous negative health effects, including higher rates of anxiety, depression, unhappiness and eating disorders.

One study found perfectionists are 51 percent more likely to die at an earlier age.

That’s crazy to think about. But it’s true.

Perfectionism keeps us stuck in the cycle of self-doubt. As harsh as it sounds, it is an EXCUSE to avoid something we don’t like or we don’t have much confidence around. It keeps us from putting our great ideas and our great selves out into the world.

Perfection paralysis is a trick your mind plays on you in an attempt to keep you safe.

Whenever you are about to put a piece of yourself out in the world (say by starting a business or asking someone out on a date) you form an idea of it in your mind first. You think, “I don’t want to be rejected or judged.” “I don’t want to fail.”

If perfection is your standard, of course you will never be fully confident because the bar is always impossibly high, and you will inevitably and routinely feel inadequate.

Action is the anecdote to self-doubt. Well, here’s the rub. Perfectionism keeps us from taking action. Perfectionism is the greatest form of procrastination.

I’m reminded of an important principle from the science of systems and software design: the good-enough principle.

The principle states that most consumers will use products that are good enough, even if there are more technically advanced options available to them.

This means that in most areas of life, good enough really is good enough. True success is progress towards goals that matter to you.

When you strive for perfection, you are bound to fail, and this can lead to even more self-criticism, turning your mind into your enemy.

By calling on the good-enough principle to reframe your perspective, you are giving yourself permission to fail.

Trust me: You will fail at something along the way. It is only when the pressure of perfection has been removed that you can tap into your inner genius and do your best work.

Next time you find yourself stalling out on an important project, suffering from writer’s block or avoiding asking your cute co-worker out to dinner, remember the good-enough principle and give yourself permission to try.

Grab your free guide:

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

Now, if you’re a productivity fan, you love shortcuts, right? What if I told you, it’s not about all those quick get-it-done hacks? 

Today’s productivity advice (and the whole work ethic, for that matter) is missing an essential human component. It misses a person with a body, feelings and emotions at the center of the productivity system. 

Modern productivity and success advice is presented in a way that if anyone tries it, it will always work. If it doesn’t, then the person is probably lazy or lacks willpower. Nothing less is acceptable.

Soul crushing, right?

Here’s the secret. 

At the center of it all is “you”. All productivity, performance and success start with you. 

You may have all the motivation and all the best of intentions. Heck, you may even have a plan.

But if you don’t trust yourself, you can’t make decisions and you don’t believe you are capable.

You can’t count on yourself to do what you want and need to do. So you make excuses. You procrastinate. You start, but you don’t finish. Or you never start. 

It is simple. Who would have known?

It’s about trusting yourself.

It’s about trusting yourself to handle whatever shows up.

When you begin to really trust yourself, it’s all about you connecting with the real you, being able to trust yourself more and follow your own inner wisdom.

When you start to trust yourself, you see that you can drop all of the prepping to be perfect. There are so many ways you can save hundreds of hours every year once you trust yourself more.

That all sounds great, but how do we trust ourselves?

It’s called simple discipline.

Simple discipline is the practice of making and keeping promises to yourself.

Most of us struggle with consistency. We tell ourselves, “I didn’t do that thing before, why would this time be any different?” We give up before we ever get started because we don’t trust ourselves.
 
If we can keep promises to ourselves, then we can keep promises that we are making everywhere else in our lives. 

These promises are the foundation of our daily lives, which is the foundation for our goals and dreams. 

The only way to change the big things in your life is to change the small things first — your daily habits, your morning routine, your evening ritual and everything in between.

Here are some small promises my clients and I have made and kept. 
1. Make your bed.

2. Start each morning with a cup of tea or warm lemon water.

3. Don’t look at your phone until you are dressed and ready to start your day.

4. Stretch immediately after getting out of bed. (If you wake up anxious or overwhelmed, this helps move that through and out of your body.)

5. Review tomorrow’s calendar and to-do’s after dinner.
 
6. Lay out your work-out clothes the night before. (This will help with getting you to actually work-out!)

7. Do a 5-10 minute guided meditation before bed.

8. Write down one thing you’re grateful for before you go to bed.

Now it’s your turn.

Make one small promise to yourself that you will keep every single day. And, no, you won’t get it perfect. When you miss a day, give yourself grace, and start again tomorrow.

Remember, you’ve probably doubted yourself your entire life. Building self-trust isn’t a quick thing. Frequency and consistency of keeping small promises to yourself will speed it up.
 
Oh, did I mention, when you trust yourself, you build confidence? When you’re more confident you take action. When you take action you are more productive.

If you liked this, download your free guide: The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence

If what you’re doing in your life or work is not leading you to the results you desire, this article is for you. You’re about to learn specific ways to take massive action, get more done, and get those big results you desire. 

“Taking action…” seems easy enough, right?  “Just do something!” As you and I both know, it’s not as easy as it sounds!

Managing Your Mind

So much of taking action is about managing your mind.  Here’s the thing, you can understand how to do everything, you can study all the material, but until you understand that what you think about is going to create the emotion that either drives the action or the inaction, you’re never going to take the action.

Did you get that? This is important: What you think about creates the emotion that drives the action or inaction.  If stress, fear, and panic are fueling the action, you’re not going to be able to produce results at the level you want to produce. 

Three Roadblocks that are keeping you from taking massive action.   

#1: YOU’RE STUCK IN THE BURNING HUSTLE

I can remember times, back when I was first starting my business, when I was hustling my butt off. I was all over the place, connecting with different people, working with all kinds of clients, somewhat successful—but the problem was, I wasn’t taking action on the things that could actually take me to a place where I could grow and scale my business. I was hustling. I was tired. But, to some degree, I was really just chasing my tail. 

This is what I call “The Burning Hustle”—a tiring hustle that’s produced by negative emotion: stress, fear, panic…[Insert your own word here!].  

You want to avoid getting into a state of burning hustle, where you may be working hard yet aren’t producing anything. Instead, your goal should be to get to a place of a productive hustle, where results are consistently produced. 

 If you want to produce something, don’t just sit down to “work on something.” Sit down to produce something! 

It’s important to change our language around this. Let’s stop saying, “I’m working on so and so,” and instead say, “I’m producing XYZ,” or “I’m writing a blog post.” See the difference?!  

#2: YOU’RE GIVING YOURSELF TOO MUCH TIME TO GET SOMETHING DONE

Too much time is the enemy. It invites us to procrastinate. We give ourselves too much time to produce a result. 

Let’s look at the projects we need to get done and assign a time frame in which we will get it done. For example: instead of my saying, “I’ll get the blog post written  and uploaded to my website by Wednesday”, I would say, “I will have the blog post written and uploaded to my website in one hour. I’ll sit down and get it done in that hour.” 

When you decide how long something will take and you stick to that, that’s when your production gets huge momentum.

Now, for my fellow perfectionists out there, this can be tough because you’re going to have to embrace the fact that you might produce some B-minus work. I know that’s hard to stomach!

B-minus work can change people’s lives. Work that you don’t produce at all, does nothing in the world. 

When I started my business, everything felt like B-minus work. But you know what? Nobody else cared about that. 

When I got an email from a client who told me she had made significant positive changes in her life as a result of our coaching together,  she made me realize that had I not launched my business until it was A-plus, that her life would never have been affected.

That was when I decided that I’m ok with B-minus work—because I know my business will still have a positive impact and help others produce good results. You’ll have to decide for yourself as to what level of work you are ok with. 

#3: YOU’RE AVOIDING FAILURE AND DISCOMFORT

Of course, no one loves failure and discomfort; but the truth is, if we’re going to learn and grow, there are going to be moments of failure and times where we will need to step outside of our comfort zone.

Our brains are literally wired to avoid any kind of failure. And usually the only way to be successful at whatever it is that’s important to you, is to fail repeatedly. 

So what do we do?! 

First, we have to reframe failure. Maya Angelou sums up the reframe best:

“Each time I miss my mark, I learn something, I take that as my reward.” — Maya Angelou

Lastly, we have to show our brains that we are not going to die because of discomfort and failure. We need to learn the process to move into discomfort, and then get comfortable with that discomfort.

If you’re in a holding pattern about anything, move. Take the first step to stop the stall. Write an email, initiate a difficult conversation. Disempower your fear by leaning into it. Action is the proof our brains need to get comfortable with discomfort. 

Grab your free guide:

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

You may be stressed out and overwhelmed. You probably have a looming deadline. You may be procrastinating.

I get it. A couple weeks ago, I had a proposal for a new business client to write. I was excited about getting a new business client, but not so excited about the actual writing of the proposal. And instead of writing that proposal, I became a passenger to my stress and my stress triggered me to take on something, anything else other than writing that proposal. 

I decided it would be a good time to clean out the fridge. You know, take everything out, throw out the expired food and deep clean the dang thing, taking all the shelves out. I had fridge stuff all over the kitchen. Because this is going to help me get that proposal done….NOT!!!

Here’s the thing. In life, there are passengers and there are drivers. And at any moment you can choose to be either a passenger or a driver. In that moment of choosing to clean the fridge over completing the proposal, I was a passenger to my stress.  

The key to being a driver in your life is recognizing when you get hijacked by old patterns. 

When you’re stressed, your uncertainty and your anxiety kicks into auto-pilot mode and you distract yourself and engage in patterns of behavior like avoiding what you need to do.

The interesting thing about procrastination is procrastination is a form of stress relief.

If you’re stressed out about a work project, one way to avoid having to deal with what stresses you out is to procrastinate and find something else to do. You find something that lets your brain take a break from the thing that’s hard, the work project. You choose to give your brain a break and relax by doing something like cleaning out your entire fridge. 

What do you do when you realize you’ve become a passenger to your stress? How do you get back in the driver’s seat? 

  1. Recognize what you’re doing and NOT doing.
  2. Don’t make yourself wrong.
    You are human. You’re going to go back and forth between being a passenger and a driver all the time. You really don’t have time to beat yourself up about this. And it doesn’t move you forward.
  3. Make a choice.
    You can continue to procrastinate. Choose it. Enjoy it.
    Or, you can interrupt the fact that you’re getting carried away by it and choose to get back to the thing you’re avoiding. The longer you avoid this, the more stressed out you’re going to feel.

The minute I chose to get back to writing that proposal, my stress lessened. It didn’t go away completely until I finished it. The point is, I redirected myself and I finished.  

The second you’ve realized that you’ve just been hijacked, you have a choice to make. Don’t be fooled by this “productive procrastination”. You are not being productive where it matters most. 

If you liked this, download your free guide: Mindset Reset Using the Emoji Technique

Raise your hand if you’re a self-proclaimed perfectionist. You too huh?

PER-FEC_TION-ISM

/PER-FEK/SHUH-NIZ-UH M/

Noun

Obsession with “getting it perfect” to avoid criticism and failure.

Did you know perfectionism is one of the biggest confidence killers? 

The pursuit of perfection can be crippling. This perfectionist thinking mostly plagues women.

If perfection is your standard, of course you will never be fully confident, because the bar is always impossibly high, and you will inevitably and routinely feel inadequate.

I used to think perfectionism was about having a high standard for myself. But it was actually an excuse I used to procrastinate on something I didn’t have much confidence around. It was my way of insulating myself from criticism.

In a previous FB video, I shared how action is the antidote to self-doubt. Well, here’s the rub, perfectionism keeps us from action. Perfectionism is the greatest form of procrastination.

We don’t answer questions until we are totally sure of the answer. We don’t submit a report until we’ve edited it to death.  We don’t sign up for that triathlon unless we know we are faster and fitter than is required. 

We manage to extend the perfectionist disease to our entire lives. We obsess about our performance at home, at school, at work, on holiday, and even at yoga class. We obsess as mothers, as wives, as cooks, as sisters, as friends, employees, bosses, and athletes.

Here’s the secret I discovered: perfection is NOT possible. Looking for it will only hold you back. Why are you driving yourself crazy over something that isn’t even attainable?

Let’s say you get anxious in social situations and you want every conversation to be perfect. That’s never going to happen. You can have a good, even great conversation but not a perfect one. So instead, you avoid connecting with people. You’re missing out on the joys of being part of things.

You’re standing on the side-lines instead of getting in the game, all because you fear being judged or rejected because you aren’t perfect. 

Perfectionism comes at a cost. It keeps us stuck in the cycle of self-doubt. As harsh as it sounds, it is an EXCUSE to avoid something we don’t like or we don’t have much confidence around. 

It keeps us from putting our great ideas and our great selves out into the world. 

I invite you to join me and be imperfect. Be ruthless, hardworking, driven, insightful, kind, open to constructive criticism, and most importantly be yourself.

An imperfect you is always better than an incomplete life.

Grab your free guide:

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

“Lost time is never found again.” Benjamin Franklin

If you have ADHD and/or are a chronic procrastinator, you’ve probably wondered why you can’t just get things done before the last minute. It’s not like you want to procrastinate; it’s this thing that just happens. And it keeps happening, no matter how many times you tell yourself it will be different next time.

Procrastination is a passive habit, which is partially why it is so hard to break. You have to be really creative and clever to outsmart your brain’s desire to avoid a project in front of you.

You want to be successful. And I want that for you too. So today I wanted to share with you some strategies that really do work. These tips work because they help you get around your urge to procrastinate. You don’t have to try to change who you are. Instead, you just need to change the way you work.

1. Always know what you will work on next

For me, the worst procrastination happens when I finish something and I’m wondering what I should do next. Big projects on my to-do list can start to seem like such a big commitment that I don’t even know where to start. So I don’t start, and the day gets away from me.

This won’t happen to you if you are prepared.

Every night, look at your to-do list. Decide which goal or goals are most important to work on tomorrow. What work will be the most meaningful?

Put 5 tasks on your to-do list, so that when you get to work tomorrow, you have 5 choices for where to start. When you finish one, now you have 4 choices of what to do.

You can even get more specific and rank them in order of importance. Start with the most important thing, and work from there. Don’t give yourself any option to deviate from the list — this is your plan, and this is what you will do.

2. Create super specific to-do tasks

If you procrastinate on big project because you are afraid to start or afraid to fail, try turning the project into as many tiny steps as you possibly can. Maybe you don’t feel confident that you can give a huge proposal to your company’s executive team. But I know you have the ability to google examples of good executive proposals. I know you can open a Word doc and write a paragraph about your idea.

Small steps are easy to do. They aren’t scary. And once you do one, the next one seems even easier.

It’s easy to go days without making progress on a big project because when you look at a task that’s too large, you know there’s no way you’ll be able to complete it today — so there’s little motivation to start chipping away at it.

You can fix this by turning every big project into a series of really small steps.

Spend time once a week (or even daily) turning your to-do’s into really specific actions. Close your eyes and visualize these specific actions.  Instead of “edit blog post”, you might write:

  • read blog post
  • make changes in the doc
  • send feedback/notes to the writer
  • create title
  • add blog post to the content calendar

Just like the last tip, this one is about leaving yourself no choice but to make progress. Every task should be so small that you can clearly answer yes or no if you did it.

3. Change your environment

If a place that you “work” frequently has become more of a place that you procrastinate frequently, you are more likely to fall into procrastination mode out of a kind of muscle memory. If you can, leave that place and go somewhere new like the library, a coffee shop, or another office or conference room in your building.

If you’re in an office where you can’t leave your desk, there are small ways to change your environment and make it easier to start working.

Instead of typing on your computer, see if there are steps you can do with on paper first. For example, outline a report you need to write using a pen and paper before typing it up on the computer. This accomplishes two things:

  • it gives you an easy task to start with
  • it changes what you’re looking at, so you approach the project with fresh eyes

4. See the value in certain kinds of procrastination

Do you ever use negative self-talk when you’re procrastinating? Do you think about how you’re lazy or stupid or how you always leave things to the last minute? This ADHD mind chatter is deafening.

That perspective is not motivating. The worse you feel about yourself, the less likely you are to feel ready to do the work you need to do.

Instead, consider this: sometimes procrastination is actually part of the process of doing amazing work.

When our minds are clear (like they are when we do things like taking a shower), our brains start using that free space to make connections. Information starts to fall into place. This free space is where great ideas come from.

So the next time you’re choosing to do a little task before starting on your big to-do, don’t get down on yourself. Acknowledge that this is part of the process. It is just one of many steps you will take in completing this project. Know that when you are done with this task, you’ll move on to the next step of your project.

Your confidence and new perspective will help that to actually come true.

5. Think about why you procrastinate – and work with it

Do you procrastinate because you need the pressure of a deadline? We know for the ADHD brain, that pressure increases dopamine and adrenaline and allows you to get stuff done. In fact, while neuro-typicals often crumble under this pressure, the ADHDer engages in hyper-focus and meets the deadline. If this works for you, try setting smaller deadlines for yourself over the course of a project. Break the project down into steps that you can complete in the weeks leading up to the due date.

Treat these deadlines like you would any other – even if that means working up to the last minute. The idea here is that by getting things done along the way, you have more overall time to do a better job than you would trying to do every single thing under the gun.

6. Hold yourself accountable – get an accountability partner

If you procrastinate because you struggle with motivation or accountability when you’re working on your own, try involving other people. Often, the pressure to not let other people down is far more motivating than the desire just to get the work done.

Ask a peer to help you put together an outline for your proposal, and set a date where you will have all of the necessarily materials ready for them to meet with you and help you.

Identify what’s really causing your procrastination, experiment with any of these strategies and soon you will make progress towards your goals, one step at a time.