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Coach Carlene

Overthinking is when what you think gets in the way of what you want.

It’s one of the most expensive things in the world because it wastes time, creativity, and productivity. It’s an epidemic of inaction.

Essentially, overthinking is when your brain spins on a thought or an idea for longer than you anticipated. Unfortunately, overthinking tends to lean toward the negative. Left to its own devices, it will naturally gravitate toward things you don’t want to dwell on.

I have to constantly ask myself things like, “Do I want to donate an afternoon of brain space to churn over something dumb I said to a friend three months ago?” What’s worse is if I don’t give it the space to process during the day, it finds a way of creeping into my brain at night and the cycle of insomnia continues.

Thoughts are something you have, not something you hone. We can’t control them, right? That’s why whenever we talk about thinking, we describe it as something outside of us that operates on its agenda:

  • “I got lost in my thoughts.”
  • “My thoughts got away from me.”
  • “She got carried away by her thoughts.”

We treat our thoughts as something we have no control over. If we don’t control our thoughts, then I guess our thoughts control us.

Our brain likes to believe the things it already believes. We’re magnets for information and experiences that confirm the things we already think about ourselves and the world.

If one of your beliefs is that you’re the most disorganized mom ever, then being three minutes late to the after-school pickup line will confirm that. 

Even if that morning you got both kids to school on time, worked a full-time job, planned dinner, and scheduled the carpool for soccer this weekend, your brain will still convince you to ignore any new evidence that doesn’t agree with that engrained belief. 

When you pick the thoughts you listen to the most, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.

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Now that you know your brain can be a real jerk, do you want to leave your thoughts to chance?

Think about all the opportunities and adventures you’ll miss out on if these sabatoging thoughts, AKA limiting beliefs are in charge of your actions.

How do you know which thoughts to listen to?

Ask yourself these 3 quick questions.

Question 1: Is it true?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is assuming all your thoughts are true. We believe that if it’s in our head, it must be accurate. If I think it, it must be real. 

I promise you’ll be shocked by how many lies you have cluttering up your head. 

Question 2: Is it helpful?

The question “Is it true?” won’t be enough to smoke out the lies in your head. Asking yourself is this thought helpful? Does it move you forward or keep you stuck? Does it lead to a decision or limit a decision? Does it generate action or apathy?

A client of mine, let’s call her Sarah, told me she will never be able to get rid of the clutter in her house. She was raised in a cluttered house and she doesn’t know any other way of living. 

Well, that is not entirely true. Yes, she grew up in a cluttered home. But what is not true is that she will NEVER be able to get rid of clutter in her adult home. 

It is also not helpful. It stops her from taking action. She’s already made up her mind by listening to this thought. 

She can choose another thought. “I can figure this out and ask someone to help me.”

She can make a choice to take one small action of cleaning out one drawer, one closet or one cabinet. 

Question 3: Is it kind? 

Is the thought you’re listening to kind to yourself? After listening to it a few times, do you feel better about yourself? Are you encouraged about your life and opportunities? 

For Sarah, her thought of “I’ll never be able to get rid of the clutter in my home,” is not kind. It tells her she’s not capable. 

Mike Peasley, PhD, asked ten thousand people how overthinking made them feel, 73 percent responded “inadequate.” When asked if overthinking left them feeling drained, 52 percent of people said yes. 

Do you know why overthinking makes you feel inadequate and drained? Because you’ve been listening to unkind thoughts about yourself on repeat.

If you’re still stuck figuring out which thoughts to tune into ask this last question:

Would I say this to a friend?

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

The voices in our head ring so loudly. We hold on to the times when someone discounted our worth or criticized us. What would it be like to show up boldly instead of shrinking? How many opportunities, connections and moments of peace have passed us by because of our self-sabotaging thoughts? 

Does this sound familiar?

“I’m not good enough.”
“I’m never going to reach my goal.”
“I am not enough.”
“It’s not possible for me.”

These thoughts and beliefs are not based in fact; but fear, hurt or trauma. Sadly, we act on them as if they are true. Science has proven over and over again that what we think to be true will impact our actions.

What are we to do? 

Here are 4 strategies I use to stop those self-sabotaging conversations. 

First – journal & acknowledge where these thoughts are coming from. This is called root cause analysis.

Identify the self-sabotaging thought and then ask yourself at least 5 times:

Why am I thinking that? Answer
Then….Why am I thinking that? Answer
Then…Why am I thinking that? Answer  
Keep going until you get 5 answers deep. This will get you to the root of that thought. 

As you get to that root thought, you dig it up. It’s ok. There’s going to be a big hole where that negative root thought or belief lived. It’s important to back fill that hole with truth. “I am talented. I am a good person. I am worthy of being loved. I am deserving of this promotion.”

Replace those negative thoughts with empowered thoughts that are actually true. 

Second, stay in inspired action.

You’ve heard of the confidence competence loop. The more you do something, the better you become. When you first started riding a bike, you faltered and fell a few times. But you kept at it. The more you tried it, the better you got. And one day, you were able to ride successfully without falling, to the point that you now thoroughly enjoy riding the bike. This is the same competence confidence loop that you can employ in other areas of your life.

You need to start with one small step. Then you’ll say, “Ahhh, I actually can do this.” Repeat this and eventually you will be taking bigger steps. 

Doing anything new is going to be uncomfortable, so stop thinking it’s supposed to feel different. Reframe being uncomfortable by telling yourself, “I’m uncomfortable because I’m growing. I’m doing something new and exciting.”   

Third, write out & celebrate the small wins. 

What I’m talking about here are the baby steps that happen one by one and day by day. The incremental victories that are so small we often overlook them. 

It turns out that those little victories are a huge untapped source of motivation. Basically, it all comes down to something called “completion bias.” As humans, we are essentially hard-wired to get high off completion. 

What happens is that when your brain recognizes a task as complete, it releases dopamine, which makes you feel pleasure, which makes you want to repeat that behavior again and again. 

And what researchers have found is that this completion bias makes us predisposed to want to focus on quick, easy-to-finish tasks, as opposed to longer, more challenging, complex tasks. We like quick tasks because we like to get that little hit of completion, and we like to get it fast. 

Let’s say your goal is to write a book, then your metric might be words written per day Or, if you’re doing customer service, you’d write down the name of each person that you helped today on a post-it and stick them all up on the wall behind your computer. Track your wins, ESPECIALLY the small ones. 

Celebrate in a way that is meaningful and significant to you. Maybe use a win jar, where you keep thank you notes, write a compliment you got or a small win on a post it. Continue to remind yourself you are talented, worthy, skilled, and capable.

Fourth, get an accountability partner; someone you can share your wins with and who can hold you accountable to your goals and a healthy mindset.

Having a community to cheer you on is so valuable. The best way to create accountability is to take that promise you made to yourself about your goal and externalize it — so that you are not the only one invested in your success.

The fact of the matter is: humans are social animals. And the need to feel a connection to other people, and the need to feel a sense of belonging drives everything that we do. 

We don’t like to let people down. This is why people are more likely to run regularly if they join a running group, it’s why they’re more likely to lose weight if they join Weight Watchers, and it’s why they’re more likely to quit drinking if they join AA. 

It’s an incredibly powerful motivator for us when we feel like we will be celebrated when we achieve our goal. Or… let’s be honest, when we know we will feel guilty if we don’t achieve our goal. But we’re all driven by the desire to deliver on our promises to others. 

Don’t simply accept those self-sabotaging thoughts. You have control over them and how you choose to move forward. I know this sounds dramatic, but it’s true. If you follow these 4 strategies, you will change your life one baby step at a time. 

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

How we set-up our day determines how we end our day.

It’s so common for many of us to hit the snooze button everyday.

The amount of sleep you get never feels like enough, so you use your snooze button to tack on an extra 10, 20, 30 minutes… whatever you can squeeze in.

Those stolen minutes — as delicious as they seem — aren’t worth it. 

I’ve heard you should get up as soon as your alarm rings — but why is hitting that snooze button bad for you? Turns out this habit is counterintuitive; instead of giving us a little more rest, it makes us more tired during the day.

Contrary to what you might think, those spurts of sleep between alarms won’t leave you feeling more rested. You’re basically oscillating between sleep and wakefulness without reaching deep, restorative sleep, which takes longer than just a few minutes to enter, according to Xue Ming, a professor of neurology at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, who specializes in sleep disorders.

The body needs some time to get you ready to wake up. When you let yourself go back to sleep, your body thinks, “False alarm! I guess I didn’t need to do anything, because we’re not getting up after all,” and settles in.

When that buzzer goes off a second time, your body and brain are taken by surprise, resulting in that groggy, fuzzy-headed feeling called sleep inertia. The more you snooze, the more confused your body and brain get (“So are we going back to sleep or not?!”), so you’ll probably feel more out of it even though you actually spent extra time in bed.

What’s more, this groggy, fuzzy-headed feeling can persist for up to two to four hours.

This sleep inertia leads to difficulty getting our day started. It’s harder to get in the zone and focus. Our attention span is shorter throughout day. We get cranky more easily and we give up on ourselves. 

At day’s end, we feel like garbage because we didn’t get our stuff done and then we repeat the snooze button habit all over again.

The answer here is simple. Set your alarm for the time you really want to get up. When your alarm goes off, GET UP! 

A simple answer doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a simple habit to break. Tell yourself before you go to bed that you are going to get up when your alarm goes off. Then when it goes off in the morning, count down 5-4-3-2-1 and GET UP.

It literally, takes our brain 5 seconds to talk us out of doing the thing we promised ourselves we’d do. Counting backwards and then taking action will interrupt your habit brain. 

Think about how great it will feel to NOT be in a brain fog for hours. Think about how much more you’ll be able to accomplish. Think about how good you’ll feel at the end of the day.

If you liked this grab your free Productivity Guide here.

As a remote worker, you often have flexibility with your work schedule, but it’s easy to get sucked into just one more hour when you’re already at home and aren’t facing a commute. 

If you’re serious about leaving work behind at the end of the day to maximize your free time, set office hours—and stick to them.

Meetings usually get us going at a pretty decent hour in the morning. The problem is the end of the day. If we don’t set a quitting time, we’ll just keep on working. Worse is when our colleagues figure that out and start calling us after “normal work hours.”  

Committing to and communicating your quitting time can be a game changer. Here’s the thing. You have to honor it Every. Single. Day. 

3 Benefits of Setting a Work End Time 

#1 When you set your quitting time you activate Parkinson’s Law – the adage that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, any project that you have expands to the amount of time you have to give it.

If you’re in school and you got a paper due in 2 weeks, how long is it going to take you to write it? 2 weeks.

But if you only have 20 minutes to write this paper, how long is it going to take you to write it.? 20 minutes. 

It expands or shrinks to the amount of time you have.

When you set your quitting time, it shrinks the amount of time you have to screw around and you become more productive.

#2 If you need to work extra hours on a certain project, having a set quitting time forces you to consider starting your day early in order to finish on time. It’s often preferable to get “extra” work out of the way in the morning when the day is just getting going than at night when your overtime will cut into family activities or after-work leisure. 

#3 You’re more likely to Find Your Third Space

If you’re new to remote work, chances are that you love not having a commute. But one of the benefits of a commute is that it’s a transition between your work and personal life, during which you can let go of the stresses of the workday and get ready to transition to your non-work activities.

This third space acts as an essential bridge between work and home relaxation. It helps prepare you for the mental shift you need to go from employee to parent, spouse, partner, or friend, and enables you to show up in your personal life calm, present, and ready to roll.

When working from home, though, it’s easy to skip this transition entirely. After all, the walk from your home office to your living room likely isn’t going to cut it when it comes to clearing your mental palette. You can easily build in a third space transition to your day by:

  • Creating a commute. Take a daily after work mind-cleansing drive or walk to a park or your local coffee shop.
  • Working out. Going to the gym or for a run outside gives you an outlet for any pent-up stress and time to decompress.
  • Taking your dog for a walk. When you’ve been inside all day, your canine friend probably has been, too, and would appreciate the fresh air.
  • Practicing mindfulness. If physically leaving your house (and workspace) isn’t possible, simply taking a few minutes to meditate, do yoga, or otherwise quiet your mind can be a calming transition.

Whatever you choose, avoid throwing yourself immediately into household chores after your workday (unless they relax you). A peaceful, grounding activity at the end of your day will help you refocus your brain.

What’s your quitting time? Who needs to know? What can you do to enforce it?

Grab 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

Are you haunted by the ghosts of unfinished goals? I never met an idea I didn’t like, so I know all about the excitement of starting and the difficulty of finishing. 

These secrets may seem counterintuitive, but I dare you to give them a try anyway. 

Secret #1: Cut Your Goal in Half

This is NOT about lowering your expectations. If your goal is to lose ten pounds and you only lose eight you don’t feel like you almost got there you feel like you failed by two and you give up. 

What if you cut the goal in half. If you’re goal was to lose 5 pounds and you lost 8, you are pumped and excited to keep going. After all, you beat your goal by 3 pounds.

According to a study of 900 people, it was found that people who cut their goals in half were 63% more successful in the long term. That’s insane. 

The problem is that people make their goal when their motivation is the highest. Motivation is the most temporary substance in the world. It leaves when the work shows up and you’ve got this massive goal. Cut your goal in half or break the goal into smaller pieces and the motivation becomes more permanent. 

If somebody said to me they wanted to write a book I wouldn’t tell them to write half a book. I would tell them to write a chapter, finish it, celebrate it, write a second chapter, finish it, celebrate it. 

Secret #2: Choose What to Bomb

In our culture we are taught you can do everything and you should do everything. 

Let’s say you’re a working mom. Today with social media you can compare yourself in 30 seconds to other moms and feel like a complete loser. 

The other mom is always holding hands with her husband, forming the shape of hearts, and #blessed, and their meals are mac and cheese but it’s glorified with a gouda demi glaze. 

You are making that sad bowl of Easy Mac for your kid and you’re tired of stirring. Your kid is like, “It’s really powdery,” and you’re like, “Life is hard.” You compare. 

One mom told me, “During a busy season, my kids know that clothes get clean but not folded and put away.” She has the laundry chair. If we’re all honest we all have a laundry chair. 

It’s your third machine. It goes washer, dryer, chair. I love that her kids can look at their clothes and see that they are wrinkled so mom must be busy. If there’s things you can’t ignore or that you suck at then delegate them. Ask for help. Simplify them. Figure them out for the season. 

You choose what you’re not going to worry about. 

Secret #3: Make It Fun

When you ask people to name the five words you think of when you think of a goal, they say, “Hustle, willpower, grind, strain, persistence,” they never say, “Joy, laughter, engagement, fulfillment.” 

A study of 900 people found that people who are deliberate about making something fun are 31% more satisfied, and they are 46% more successful.

If you only raise your satisfaction (fun) but not your performance (success) you are smiling all the way to last place. If you only raise your performance (success) but not your satisfaction (fun)then you will be a very rich, miserable person. 

We’ve all met people who are really successful and hate their lives. It’s because they over focus on performance and they never thought about satisfaction. 

There are a lot of unfun things you’re going to have to do. So, it’s not to have fun, it’s to make it fun. It’s about being deliberate to make sure that you find joy in the things that aren’t inherently fun. Give yourself a reward or some form of motivation that helps you finish what the thing actually is. 

Fun can mean whatever you want it to mean. You can be goofy and silly, and weird. Most importantly be deliberate about how you add joy to what you do. 

Secret #4: Get Rid of Your Secret Rules. 

A secret rule is essentially something you believed a long time ago that isn’t true and you still believe it. It’s shaping a lot of your life without you even knowing it. It’s a limiting belief. 

Maybe it was in the 8th grade a teacher told you you’re not a good public speaker. Even now as your company gives you chances to lead meetings and get visibility you tell them you aren’t good at it and you don’t do it. It’s because in 8th grade you accepted that as a tattoo. 

I had client who is an extremely talented artist, although she didn’t see it that way. She would shred every piece of artwork at the very end of creating it, because her rule was that it had to be perfect. I invited her to stop the shredding. After some more time of challenging her limiting beliefs, she did. Now she sells her art for hundreds of dollars. 

A couple questions to consider to get ‘er done!

What does your goal look like cut in half or broken into smaller pieces?

What other tasks priorities can you let go of or get support on, to make room for what’s most important to you?

What brings you joy. How can you bring it to your work to make it more fun?

What’s a secret rule or limiting belief that keeps you stuck?

If you liked this, download your free guide: How to Improve Your Focus and Get Stuff Done

Overwhelm is paralyzing. We can’t think logically or make decisions or take action. 

 I’m telling you, my friend, you want to fight this overwhelm. If you allow yourself to stay in the state of being overwhelmed by the amount of things that you have to do, that pressure and that uncertainty combined with this feeling that you can’t get anything done, is going to create anxiety in your life. It’s going to impact not only your wellbeing but, it’s also going to severely limit your ability to focus and get things done. 

The two most important things to understand about overwhelm is first, what it is, and second, a simple tool you can use to get rid of it. 

In order to do your best thinking, you need to make sure you’ve got the full capacity of your brain leveraged and pointed at the things that are important to you. 

Here’s the problem. When you go through life, as you go through life, what happens is your brain starts to fill up with information and that’s what creates a state of feeling overwhelmed.

Being overwhelmed is nothing more than having a full brain. 

As you go through your day to day life and… 

start checking email and 

looking at texts and 

looking at Facebook and 

sitting in meetings and

going to class and 

flipping through television channels and 

sending emails and 

writing excel spreadsheets and 

running and picking up the kids and 

getting another text and 

looking at Instagram and 

looking at Twitter and 

checking out the news, 

…your brain gets pretty full doesn’t it? And now you feel overwhelmed because your brain is full of a bunch of garbage.

In order to fight overwhelm, you need to do a brain dump. You have to get rid of all that stuff so that you’ve got an empty brain so you can focus again. 

You are literally going to dump out everything that’s in your head onto a piece of paper; every concern, every worry, every to do, everything that’s bothering you that you’re thinking about, you’re going to write it down.

When you’re done writing down everything that’s in your head and there’s absolutely nothing left, pull out a highlighter. Take a look. You could do everything that’s on that list, you could. But what should you do? 

What are three things, just three, that you need to do in order to advance the things that matter to you most? Highlight these three things.

See all that garbage that is NOT highlighted? That is the garbage causing your overwhelm. It’s other people’s stuff. It’s the email stuff.  It’s the meeting stuff. It’s the stuff that’s not all that important. By dumping all that garbage out, you’ve gotten clear on the three most important things you need to do. You’ve got a clear head so you can get it done. 

It works. So, go do it and get back in action!

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

So much to do, so little time.

If you’ve ever thought that just a few more hours in the day would be a huge help in getting to the end of your to-do lists, then you’re not alone.

There will always be more work to do.

Creating an effective to-do list can help alleviate stress by getting all your tasks out in front of you, where you can organize them to be done in the most effective way.

Without some direction in your daily to-do lists, though, days can seem to drag on, filled with distractions, and lacking in productivity. We have trouble knowing where to start, over-commit ourselves, or fail to make room for the realistic deadlines.

How often do you end up moving tasks from today’s to-do list onto tomorrow’s list? This is not how to-do lists are supposed to work; it is a sign that your daily to-do lists are not working for you.

One LinkedIn survey estimated that about 41% of to-do tasks are never completed even though more than 60% of professionals use them. So why do so many of us fail our to-do lists?

Let’s assume that you’ve already made your to-do list for today based on urgency and deadlines. This is the stuff you MUST do today or your world will end. Well, not really. It kind of feels like it though.

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Here’s a sample daily to-do list:

~Do Laundry
~Send client emails
~Pay bills
~Prepare for staff meeting
~Pick up kids
~Write project proposal
~Meditate
~Journal

Now, see if you can lump any activities together under the same theme. For example:

Theme 1: Errands and chores
~Do laundry
~Pay bills
~Pick up kids

Theme 2: Self-Care
~Meditate
~Journal

Theme 3: Work
~Prepare for staff meeting
~Send client emails
~Write project proposal

This type of scaffolding helps you stay organized and focused and lets you knock off some of these tasks at the same time.

Try this and notice how you are also using your energy more effectively throughout the day.

I always tell my clients, “It’s not how well you manage your time that matters, it’s how well you manage your energy.”

If you liked this, download your free guide: How To Improve Your Focus and Get Stuff Done

“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.