Bored with Myself! Time to Let It Go

Do you ever get bored with YOURSELF? I was, and I decided it was time to “Let It Go” and to make some changes in my keynotes presentations and also in my day to day routine. Actually, I didn’t even know I was bored with myself until I attended  a keynote workshop in Denver. It was three days, working on our content and stories. Throughout those three days, I explored several opportunities for a fresh start by letting go of  bits, stories, and phrases in my keynotes.

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As 2017 approached, I continued this idea of letting go, and uncovered several habits that I have decided to STOP doing and shake things up. Here are a few things I have decided to leave behind as I keep on my mission to better myself, be more productive, and become happier in 2017.

  1. STOP SITTING ALL DAY!STOP SITTING all day and get up and moving! Because I work from my home I get to sit a lot! There are many days I start working at 8:00 a.m. and stay put in my chair until I get hungry and head to the kitchen. Recently, I read a fellow speaker, Audrey Thomas’s, blog called “Sit Less and Get More Done” and discovered that I can work standing in my kitchen! So now I stand an hour or two a day, but not all day. Research at the Texas A&M shows that productivity increases when people have the ability to sit and stand throughout the work day, and by trial and error they figure out what combination works best for them.
  2. STOP TALKING so much and start listening. A few weeks ago I had lunch with a close speakerStop Talking! friend, Crystal Washington. I was so excited to see her and tell her all the things I was doing! When I finally stopped talking and listened to Crystal, I actually started taking notes. When she shared her perspective on the business and things she was adding to her plan, I realized that she comes at things from a different perspective and her ideas are FRESH and unique from mine. She invigorated me and put some ideas into my mind which leads me to my next item.
  3. STOP HANGING OUT with people just like me. Look around at who you hang out with… do they STOP HANGING OUT!think just like you? I know it feels good to be with those people who are like you. They share the same beliefs on politics, listen to the same music – They nod when you are talking; they smile as they agree hearing your views. BUT!!! Here comes the big BUT: you will stagnate in this environment. Spending most of your time with people like you prevents growth and new ideas. Seek out people different from yourself and develop a growth mindset. And while you’re at it- try listening to news from a different viewpoint-
  4. STOP SLEEPING WITH THE PHONE charging on the bed stand.
    STOP SLEEPING WITH THE PHONE!Ouch!!! This one is hard. I had to get out my old clock radio. Here’s the issue. I hear the phone all night while I am sleeping. Ping, Ping, Ping and, if I have to get up at 2, 3, or 4 a.m., I immediately check my phone to see who texted me or sent an email. It’s crazy. Then my mind is turned on when it really needs to rest and turn off. Sleep is important- and getting a good night’s sleep where our bodies can restore it critical to our mental and physical health.  I took Simon Synek’s advice, and I now charge my phone in the kitchen and I am sleeping much better!
  5. STOP SAYING “YES” when I want to say “NO” (Justin Beiber says it all). STOP SAYING “YES” when I want to say “NO”I am going to limit my yeses to things I really want to do, and just say, “No, I can’t help you with that one.” This is the year I begin to do a better job with the things I actually want to do and honor those commitments by doing a great job. When my plate is full of too many yeses, I find that I do a less than stellar job on each undertaking.

We all have habits sometimes called our addictions in our day-to-day routine that may be getting in the way of achieving our goals and happiness. Maybe the challenges I am committed to stop doing are not your issues. But take a moment to do a self-assessment and come up with three to five things you are going to do differently this year, and as the wise Elsa once said—“Let it go!”

Listen Up – Listening Creates Understanding

As a professional speaker  my job requires a lot of listening. I have to listen to the needs of the client before I can create the presentation. Because I spend most of my stage time talking I have had to work on and improve my listening skills.. I get paid to talk but  I am a much better speaker when I open my ears and my mind, receive and listen.  The ability to read your audience depends on your ability to listen with both your eyes and ears. Many times I must shift my content to fit the needs of the audience in front of me.

“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”–Peter Drucker

Listening creates understanding—it helps get things done correctly; it’s part of learning, and it shows others that we value them. Listening deepens relationships and grows trust and appreciation. So we get that listening is important, but how much time do we actually put into improving our listening skills? We spend 60% of our time listening but we only retain 25%.  Most workplace and life mistakes happen because someone isn’t listening.

Many of us don’t consciously realize that listening is a critical component in the communications loop. We think listening just happens, and that we don’t need to make an effort to effectively hear what people are saying because we have ears for that. Active listening takes a little practice! If we are to learn from others, we need to optimize our communication skills by effectively closing the conversation loop, and to do that we need to improve our listening skills.

Here are some tips to elevate your listening experience:

  1. Stop talking. You can’t multitask speaking and listening. It’s impossible. When you are talking, you are not listening. And this also applies to that little voice talking inside your head. (I know for a fact that we women have more than one voice inside our head—we have an entire committee chatting it up!) Consequently, Rule #1 is to “Stop the Talking!”
  2. Look at the person who is talking, pay attention and receive their message. Take time to notice their facial expressions and their body language. We gather more information from non-verbal signs and tone of voice than we do from a person’s actual words. Active listening requires an understanding of what someone is saying with their gestures, eye contact, and tone of voice as well as their words.
  3. Focus and eliminate distractions. Turn off the phone  or  TV, and put down that iPad. When you interrupt someone to check your messages, you are sending a signal that you are not interested in what they have to say. Try to create an environment in which you can listen without distractions and think clearly about the input and ideas of others.
  4. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t jump to conclusions, or react before the speaker has had a chance to express himself/herself. Don’t try to solve the problem before they have completed presenting their issue.
  5. Be polite. Don’t finish the other person’s sentences. Wait until the speaker is finished talking before deciding if you agree or disagree. Don’t try to solve the problem or come up with the answer while the speaker is still talking.
  6. Ask good questions. Learn how to create thought-provoking conversations. Ask meaningful questions that get to the heart of the matter. A good question gets the speaker to think more deeply and perhaps expand the conversation.
  7. Ask for feedback on your ideas. The opportunity to give and receive feedback allows us to give guidance and make adjustments. Feedback helps make sure that all parties are hearing the same message, and it lessens miscommunication.
  8. Repeat what people say and summarize. Offering a comment like, “Let me be sure I understand what you’re saying. You’re saying that …?” or you may say,  “So you are thinking” – This helps to prevent misunderstandings and shows that you are really listening
  9. Avoid contradicting, offering suggestions, and offering your personal affirmations while the speaker is speaking. Let them talk without your interruptions or side remarks.
  10. Practice all of the above!

Practicing active listening skills will transform your interaction with others. Listening helps generate solutions, stimulates creativity, encourages collaboration, and enriches your business and social connections. By honoring others with your time and attention, you’ll energize conversations and come up with ideas and solutions that you’d never find on your own.

How I Stay Focused and Productive

I admit I feel sure that I have a touch of ADHD…I never officially got tested but I do get distracted  and lose focus easily. I get a lot of ideas all at once (like now when I am writing this and have an urge to look at shoes on Zappos) and I have to stop and refocus on the task at hand. The idea that I have ADD didn’t really even occur to me back when I was running my retail stores. Retail is totally an “ADD friendly” business – always having interruptions, people in and out, calls… actually it was a great place for someone like me.  But …when I became a speaker and started working out of my home office I began to notice my little lack of concentration quirks.

Being a solopreneur and working out of my home office can have its challenges. I am my own boss, manager and motivator and I have discovered that I need structure and rituals in my day if I am going to be successful. Structure is something that I naturally resisted (ENFP) but through practice and the desire to succeed it has become my good friend.

So here are some of the things/rituals that I do stay focused and productive.

1. I plan my day the night before. I use to plan early in the morning, but I discovered that I am more productive if my mornings are free to work out. See #8

2. In my PM planning I begin with the top two or three must do’s (commitments) that no matter what, I will get them accomplished that day.

3.  I include people in my daily plan…people that I need to reconnect with to keep the relationship alive, and people that I need to connect with because I am waiting on them either for information or as a follow-up.

4. I have an ongoing list of 3 projects (website redo, write book, create an online course, write a blog post) that I continually chip away.

5. When I am working at my desk I cut out all distractions. I turn off my email, and pings from social media.

6. I have discovered the site focusatwill.com and I set the timer for 90 minutes of classical music. It keeps me focused and I work faster and better when the music is on. I love it and I really focus.

7. I work at my desk writing or doing clerical work for 90 minutes at a time and then I take off 10 minutes and do something unrelated to work (throw in a load of clothes or empty the dishwasher) and then hit it for another 90. I learned this trick from Jim Loehr early in my speaking career. I read his book The Power of Full Engagement and it changed my life and how I look at time management.  It’s well worth  the read.

8. I discovered that exercise and dance have increased my energy levels and I am more productive when I hit the gym. Because I work alone I enjoy working out in classes with people who I greet and chat a bit before and after the class. It energizes me and I alternate between yoga classes, Zumba, a step class, and body- pump every day that I am in town.  I go early in the morning and then again if possible at 5:30 in the afternoon. I cannot tell you how good I feel and how my energy level has advanced. I believe that the yoga/meditation has really played a huge role in my ability to focus.

9.  Dr Phil once said you can’t claim it if you don’t name it.  I try and do all my clerical work on Mondays (Money Mondays) and my creative writing on Thursdays (Text Thursdays).  I like naming the days- it helps my stay on track…I have a VA and I have her doing all the follow-ups up “Follow-up Wednesday”.

10. Recently a friend told me about the Five Minute Journal, just five minutes a day made Tim Ferris happier , so I ordered one. I have been writing in it for almost a month and actually I enjoy it, and I am focusing on personal growth. It’s not hard to do and it actually takes me less than five minutes. It’s gratitude/affirmation/reflection journal.  The question that gets me thinking and is actually making a difference is, “How could I have made today even better?”

So there you have it! Please comment and give us all your tips on staying focused  and productive.