We are busy people. Our clocks are thin and tired, our schedules full and bloated.
But somehow we find a way to give our time to a host of wonderful distractions.
Please don’t tell me you’re too busy to finish that on-line course and then tell me about all those yummy recipes you’re going to try after watching hours of cooking shows.
Please don’t tell me you’re too busy to write your novel and then give me intricate plot details about the six shows you’re watching.
Please don’t tell me you’re too busy to update your resume and then update your social media accounts constantly.
There is a reason the average 21-year-old has played 10,000 hours of video games.
There is a reason the average American watches 35 hours of TV a week according to Nielsen.
Our minds running on auto-pilot is the reason!
We make hundreds of mindless choices every day that don’t naturally gravitate to things that matter or work we really care about. Our brains are always looking for the easy way out.
It’s all a big lie. You can’t control or manage time.
But you can control your choices.
It’s about managing yourself in the space of time.
You can’t createmore minutes in an hour or more hours in a day.
But, you can find more minutes and hours when you make better choices.
Here’s a better choice:
Wait 15 minutes to turn on Netflix and do something that matters to you. Work on a skill. Take a tiny step to move forward on a goal. Check something small off your to-do list.
I don’t care how busy you are. You have 15 minutes hidden somewhere in your day.
Ready for the challenge?
I dare you to rescue that tiny amount of time each day and then watch what happens this summer. That first 15 minutes will grow to 30 and then 45 and then 60. By the end of the summer, you will have worked for 1.500 minutes. You will have 25, on purpose, goal-crushing hours under your belt.
If you’re with me, pick one skill or goal you want to give your 15 minutes to and then get going. It’s possible to find time. All it takes is making a better decision.
When was the last time you completed a projected that truly mattered to you? When was the last time you set an important goal and you made it happen?
I mean, doesn’t it feel GREAT to check something off your list or complete an important project or say that something is finally DONE?
To take charge and be the BOSS of yourself and your goals is incredibly motivating.
Yes, of course, it feels amazing. I want you to experience that feeling more often. And to make sure that you really master this ability to finish what you start, AKA follow-through, I’m sharing the steps I use every day in my life and business. These steps create a little acronym that spells boss. B – O – S – S. Because BOSS is who you need to be to follow-through.
Now once you’ve mastered these four steps, you’re going to be way more likely to finish what you start. Okay, lets get started on building that follow-through habit using the BOSS Formula.
STEP #1: B stands for: Be Focused & Specific
Right off the bat, there are two big problems that get in our way of following through. First, most of us are working on way too many things at once. We allow ourselves to be pulled in too many directions. Instead of making meaningful progress on a single project that really, really matters, we wind up feeling constantly overloaded and overwhelmed.
Now the second problem. Oftentimes we are fuzzy about our outcome. Meaning, most of the time, we’re just working hard and trying to keep our heads above water and we don’t have a clearly defined, achievable result that we’re working towards.
The good news here is, we have the power to fix both of these problems. And when we do, we gain some serious momentum and we train ourselves to become a master of follow-through.
The very first step is this; we must FOCUS. Meaning, focus on what’s truly most important. And to be clear – I’m not talking about several things here, I’m talking about choosing just ONE thing. One TOP priority. One single goal.
What is one thing you could focus on (a single project or goal) that, if you finished it, it would make a tremendous positive impact in your life?
If you’re having trouble committing to JUST one thing, I want you to remember this:
If you’re unwilling to commit to one thing, you’re going to likely be distracted by everything.
Now once you’ve decided on the goal you want to focus on, you’re ready to Be Specific. Which means, define what success will look like when you get this done. You have to define what finished looks like. Yes, your goal has to be specific, measurable, and achievable. You should be able to say without a doubt – “Yes, I am finished and I followed through!”
Let’s say your goal is to reboot your health and you say to yourself, “Yeah, I really do want to feel better by the summer.” That, my friend, is vague and a fairly useless goal because it’s not well defined.
On the other hand if you said to yourself “You know what, I really need to reset my health and here’s my goal: for the next 30 days I’m going to eliminate gluten and alcohol and dairy and caffeine.” That’s WAY better right? Of course it is – because it is specific and measurable and achievable.
Your action item right now is to decide on ONE SINGLE goal and to define it in specific, measurable and achievable terms.
You’ve gotten focused and specific about your MOST important goal and now you’ve got to organize your life around achieving it. And in order to do that, we have got to face down the biggest BS excuse we can all use for not following through. You know what that is?
“You know what, I just don’t have the time.”
C’mon now… I know we’ve all said this. And you know what? It’s a pretty sad excuse, because we’re all given the same 24 hours each and every day. It’s just that some people have learned to use their time a lot more wisely.
You and I both know that we always make time for the things that truly matter. So if you want to master your ability to follow-through, remember this.
Meaning, if you don’t decide in advance exactly when and where you’re going to do the work, and have that time specifically blocked out on your calendar, you gotta face it, you don’t care that much about it. It’s not going to happen.
This is not just my opinion. In study after study, researchers have found ONE thing to be true. According to Heidi Grant Halvorson, a professor at Columbia University,
Did you hear that? Double or triple your chance for success? Anyone?!
Open your calendar and decide exactly when and where you’re going to work to bring your top goal to life.
STEP #3: S Stands for “Set NO as Your Default Answer.”
Look, saying “no” to yourself and others is essential to follow-through. This isn’t about being an arrogant a-hole, this isn’t about saying no haphazardly. This is about saying no deliberately and strategically and, of course, compassionately.
You have GOT to give yourself permission to STOP trying to do it all. Stop saying yes to everyone and everything and every new idea. Because here’s the truth; everything you say YES to, means you’re saying NO to something else. In economic terms, that’s called “opportunity cost” and it’s a serious thing.
For example, you go to a bridal shower that honestly, you don’t want to go to, but you say yes out of a sense of guilt and drive hours to get there and spend the entire day regretting your choice. That’s time you can’t ever get back – time you could have spent working towards your goal, or just being with your family, or your kids, or doing something meaningful to move ahead.
Simply allow “no” to be your default response to all new projects, new requests, and new demands on your time.
You also need to say NO to spending hours watching TV or getting sucked into the comparison sinkhole of social media. You say NO to any and all time sucks and energy sucks and non-essentials.
Saying yes to too much only leaves you feeling frustrated, resentful and exhausted, right? It’s not a place from which you can do your best work.
When you train yourself to say yes to less, what you really get is more. More time and more space to do the deep and important work you were born to do. More breathing room. More white space. More freedom. More energy to devote to things that truly matter, like spending time with people you love.
One of the things that stop people from making their default answer “no”, is not knowing how to say no with grace and kindness.
No is a complete sentence. But c’mon now, I mean, let’s be real. If someone writes you an email asking for something and you just type back “no” and hit send, it’s not going to feel that good to you or them.
Here’s a simple and elegant way to say no.
“Thanks so much for thinking of me. While it’s not something I’d like to do, please know how honored I am to be asked.” or I’d rather not, but thank you SO MUCH for thinking of me.”
Elegant and honest, right? Just like you.
Your next action item is to re-examine your projects and your upcoming commitments. Is there anything on there that you can decline or get out of? Now of course, if you do, you’re gonna be classy and elegant about it – but honestly, from this moment forward, if it’s not a hell yes, let it be a hell no, because you and your goal matter.
STEP #4: S stands for “Start Before You’re Ready.”
The one mantra I use to start – especially when the goal or project that I’m working on is a little scary and outside my comfort zone. And that mantra is:
Start BEFORE You’re Ready.
Look. Most of us can talk about or think about an important project for months and sometimes even years before actually doing anything about it. But do not confuse activity with accomplishment.
You see, if you’ve had trouble following through, it’s not a lack of competence that’s holding you back. It is this nasty little fear-based lie that we tell ourselves called, “I’m not ready yet.” It is one of the deadliest, most insidious dream killer around. And if you’re honest, I’ll bet, “I’m not ready yet” has probably stopped you a few times in the past.
Well, my friend, here is the secret you need to know. The world’s happiest and most successful people never feel ready to make a bold move – they just GO! They understand that waiting to “feel ready” before taking action is the worst kind of procrastination.
That is why starting before you are ready is the key to executing like a champ and mastering follow-through. It’s helps you sidestep your fear and drive straight into action-based learning. Because when you stop thinking and you start executing, you literally create this energy that pulls you forward. All of the sudden there are appointments and deadlines and real life progress.
This last step is all about execution, once you get started, don’t stop.
When it comes to follow-through, tenacity matters more than tactics or technique. Be relentless about this, do not stop taking action until you can drop the mic and say, “You know what? This. Is. Done.”
Your last action item. Identify the single most important action you could take right now to execute on your goal – even if you don’t feel ready?
Is it making a phone call? Is it making an outside appointment with some kind of professional? Or perhaps it’s telling a few people you trust about your goal and your commitment to make it happen.
There is no right answer. But, I’ll bet you know it in your heart whatever it is what you have to do. Think about it, get moving, and start before you’re ready.
Let’s review our four key disciplines to being the BOSS and following through.
B: Be Focused and Specific: Choose ONE priority and define your outcome so it’s clear, specific and achievable, Set yourself up to win.
O: Organize Your Time & Schedule It: If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real.
S: Set NO as Your Default Answer: No is your default answer to all new requests, eliminate non-essentials, and say yes to less.
S: Start BEFORE You’re Ready: Be relentless and don’t stop taking action until you’ve reached your goal.
And that’s it! Be the BOSS you are and make these four personal disciplines a habit and trouble with follow-through will be a thing of the past.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
Excellence energizes. Perfectionism drains
Excellence can still be tiring but you’re exhausted and elated. Perfectionism leaves you feeling empty and hopeless.
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.”
3. Are you obsessed about the results other people are getting?
Perfectionism amplifies comparison.
“Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”
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?
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?
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
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?
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?
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.
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.
I relive embarrassing moments in my head repeatedly.
I have trouble sleeping because it feels like my brain won’t shut off.
I ask myself a lot of “what if…” questions.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the hidden meaning in things people say or events that happen.
I rehash conversations I had with people in my mind and think about all the things I wished I had or hadn’t said.
I constantly relive my mistakes.
When someone says or acts in a way I don’t like, I keep replaying it in my mind.
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.
I spend a lot of time worrying about things I have no control over.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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?
Recognize what you’re doing and NOT doing.
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.
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.
Raise your hand if you’re a self-proclaimed perfectionist. You too huh?
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.