Monthly Archives: October 2013

Are we ever done?

I don’t know about you but my ‘to-do’ list was never ever done. As soon as one job got ticked off the list; two more were added! It often got completely overwhelming, especially when I felt that everything was dependent on me– that I was the only one who could do the things on my list the ‘right way’!  I thought if I just work harder, smarter and faster; that someday, I would be on top of everything!’ Someday always seemed elusive so I decided I needed a bit of help!

A few weeks ago I enrolled myself in a time management workshop; between running a business full-time, meeting clients, organising a wedding, looking after a crazy puppy and spending time with family, I was struggling!. So a time management class seemed to be necessary, and it was!

60 minutes into the workshop, I learnt a valuable lesson. The facilitator, Joanna, stood up and said You cannot manage time. Well, my heart sunk and I thought, ‘Well, that’s great! You probably should have mentioned that in your ad!’ But she went on and said that We cannot manage time but we can manage our tasks, we can manage ourselves and we can manage other people’. It was a Homer Simpson ‘D’Oh’ moment for me!

Of course, it makes sense and it comes down to the basic principles of personal responsibility. I am responsible for my actions and I am responsible for what I choose to spend my time on. I cannot simply find time for anything, I have to make time and I can do that by managing my tasks, myself and other people with awareness. I can do it by being proactive rather than reactive.

I thought the whole workshop was quite intriguing because as a coach, I spend a lot of my time helping others manage this aspect of their life! ‘I can’t go after my dreams and do x,y,z because I don’t have the time’ is something I hear on a weekly if not daily basis and my immediate response to that is Bullshit!’ (in a gentler way of course!) After taking clients through the coaching process, we can almost always free up a few hours each day which they can then commit to doing something they love and designing their life the want they want it to be. So, I can do it for others no bother but when it came to doing it for myself; I was completely blinkered! It’s difficult to be objective with your own life! This is why I always work with a coach!

So, I thought I’d share with you a few tips of what I learnt from the workshop!

Why are you doing what you’re doing?

First of all, you need to know why you’re doing all the things that you’re doing. What are you aiming for? What’s the purpose? Is your to –do list actually benefiting you or bringing you towards something that you actually want? Think of 5 areas in your life that are important to you and write them down. These are things that you want to improve or that are currently a main focus for you. For example, for me it would be:

  •  My business
  • Relationships with family, friends and partner
  • Health and Fitness
  • Finances
  • Organising wedding

These are all things that are important to me at that moment and that I want to be spending time on however at the time of doing the time management course; my business was taking in excess of 70 hours per week of my time and health and fitness was lucky if it got 2 hours per week. I wanted to spend more time with family and friends without looking at my watch every few minutes, thinking of all the work I need to get done!

Managing Tasks:

So, all of these things were important to me, but they weren’t balanced at all! I had to start making smart decisions about my time and I adopted the 3D Strategy.

 3 D strategy

  • Do it
  • Delegate it
  • Dismiss it
  1. Plan and prioritise each day the evening before
  2. Break each task down into smaller, more manageable chunks
  3. Celebrate each chunk of a task that is completed! Be good to yourself as this will give you that sense of achievement that you need to keep going after the things that you want!
  4.  Make sure that what you have to do is actually going to help you get to where you want to be in life. If it is going to bring you where you want to go, then do it or delegate it. If it isn’t, then dismiss it or give it back to whoever delegated it to you!

 Managing Ourselves

This is all about taking on the role of leader in your own life. Remember you’re in charge of your attitude and your actions!

Attitude

  • Be realistic and honest with yourself about your time
  • Stay focused on your goals and priorities
  • Be prepared to make changes
  • Maintain your motivation and excitement by checking in on your progress towards your goals!

 Actions

  • Clean the mess– the first thing you need to do is sort out all the crap! An organised home is the first step in an organised life. If you spend ten minutes every morning looking for a hairbrush/your left shoe/car keys etc then you know what I’m talking about! Get your living space/handbag in order before you tackle your entire life! (It just makes things easier!)
  • Set deadlines for yourself
  • Know your idle time. Be honest with yourself- if you spend 2-3 hours every evening watching TV, and 5 hours at the weekend watching TV then acknowledge that and don’t bullshit yourself by saying you don’t have time.
  • Sleep, rest and take quality breaks. Make sure that you have down-time!  Do not beat yourself up! It’s such a waste of time and it does not make you work harder or more productively regardless of what you might think! Being hard on yourself wears you down and chips away at your confidence and self-esteem.

 Managing Others

  •  Learn to say yes to yourself and no to others
  • You choose your own priorities- it’s all about you!

Asking for help is a scary thought for many women. We’ve been raised and told that we can have it all and we can do it all– I personally don’t know anyone who has it all and does it all. The strongest women I know are able to ask for help, they are able to delegate and allow others to have responsibility and control. Ask for help not because you’re weak or incapable but because you’re strong and value yourself.

If colleagues always ask you to do them a ‘little favour’, it is within your rights to say no. If you take on extra work and are unhappy about it, take responsibility for it and decide not to do it again! If you do all the housework then delegate to your partner/ housemates or make an agreement to have everyone chip in and hire someone to help. Build up a support system for yourself!

 Time is the only thing we can’t get more of so it is incredibly precious. You want to ensure that your time is spent doing the things that you love and that you want to do!

 I hope you enjoyed this weeks issue of Progress and that you found it beneficial! I’d love to hear your stories/tips of what works for when you manage your time so get in touch on the facebook page!

Until next time, Do It, Delegate It or Dismiss It!

P x

Setting Better Boundaries

This is a work in progress for me! It’s something I’m much better at, but I still need major improvements. Every experience I have where I’m being polite and obliging when I feel frustrated, pissed off and a firey rage is slowly building on the inside is a ‘learning experience’.

 I had a ‘learning experience’ the other day!

 I pride myself on having a very free and flexible working life. I work from home and it’s fabulous. The problem is, sometimes it’s a bit too free and flexible. If I get a spur of the moment invitation for lunch, I would often say yes! A friend who has been away for a while was back home and text me to see if he could call over for lunch, I said yes; that I was working but was happy to stop for lunch with him. He said no problem, he’d be over in an hour for an hour. Great stuff!

He arrived anyway, 2 year old nephew in tow! We couldn’t really have a catch up, he was too busy running around after a 2 year old and I was running around after my puppy, Lilo, who was so liloexcited to have someone her own size to play with. (How cute is she!!!)

Ninety minutes into this one hour ‘pop in for lunch’ visit, we finally sat down and had a sandwich. At this stage, my shoulders were tense and I had that tightness in my chest where I could feel the rage rising in me.

The mind monkey chatter in my head was yapping away, having a great debate saying things like ‘Tell him to get lost, he’s totally disrespecting your working day’ ‘It would so rude to ask them to leave’ ‘what would he think of you if you behaved that way?’. ‘He’ll think you are a right bitch if you say that’ etc etc.

So, what was going on here? I was getting annoyed with myself because I was allowing my friend to disrespect me and my time. Oh yes of course, I wanted to blame him for the fact that he was hampering my working day and putting me under pressure. But it wasn’t his fault at all! It was all me. I was the one offering more tea, I was the one who wouldn’t speak up, I was the one who wasn’t setting clear boundaries, I was the one assuming that he would know that I was very busy. On the outside, I was a hospitable hostess. On the inside, I was a raging, irritated crazy psycho bitch!

As I said, I’m normally much better at this which is why I think today made such an impact. Because I hadn’t seen this particular friend for a while, I simply fell back into an old pattern of behaviour. I hadn’t clearly established my new boundaries.

I know this isn’t just me! I’ve had so many emails and questions from other women in their 20s and 30s asking ‘How do I say no without feeling guilty? or ‘How do I set clear boundaries and stop letting people take advantage?’

 So, why do we do this??

From the moment we are old enough to curl our hands and snatch toys from our fellow playschool companions, we are told not to be selfish. We’re told to ‘put others first and don’t be so greedy’ etc etc. It’s no wonder that we’re all so concerned about being perceived as selfish or mean; that we now feel terrible for ever having the audacity of putting ourselves first and saying no. We may win friends with our selflessness, but the damage this causes to our own self-respect is huge!

Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and a healthy life. Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that many of us don’t learn! We might pick up pointers here and there from experience or through watching others. But for many of us, boundary-building is a relatively new concept and a challenging one.

Having healthy boundaries means ‘knowing, understanding and communicating what you will tolerate and what you will not.’ Here are a few tips on building better boundaries and maintaining them. (I’m reviewing my old lessons and journals to bring you these tips as I need them myself today!)

1. Tune into your feelings.

There are two key feelings that can be red flags that our boundaries are being crossed. They are: discomfort and resentment. If in any situation you are feeling strong feelings of resentment or discomfort, ask yourself ‘what is causing that feeling?’ ‘What is it about this situation or person that is bothering me?’

Resentment usually comes from being taken advantage of, disrespected or not appreciated. It’s often a sign that we’re pushing ourselves either beyond our own limits because we feel guilty or because someone else is imposing their expectations, views or values on us.  Women in general tend to have weaker boundaries than men due to our upbringing because we’ve been raised to be ‘good girls’, polite, respectful etc!

2. Give yourself permission.

Fear, guilt and self-doubt are big potential pitfalls to setting boundaries. We might fear the other person’s response if we set and enforce our boundaries. We might feel guilty by speaking up or saying no to a family member or friend. Many women believe that they should be able to cope with a situation or say yes because they’re a ‘good/nice person’, even though they “feel drained or taken advantage of.” Boundaries aren’t just a sign of a healthy relationship; they’re a sign of self-respect. So give yourself the permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them.

3. Make self-care a priority.

You need to make self-care a priority – this involves giving yourself permission to put yourself first. When we do this, our need and motivation to set boundaries become stronger. Self-care also means recognising the importance of your feelings and honoring them. These feelings serve as important cues about our wellbeing and about what makes us happy and unhappy.

Putting yourself first also gives you the energy, peace of mind and positive outlook to be more present with others and be there for them.” And when we’re in a better place, we can be a better partner, friend and co-worker.

4. Seek support.

If you’re having a hard time with boundaries, seek some support! A great thing to do with friends or family is to make it a priority with each other to practice setting boundaries together and hold each other accountable.

Setting boundaries takes courage, practice and support. And remember that it’s a skill you can master.

I actually did decide to speak to my friend and explain how I had felt as a result of his visit. I took personal responsibility for my feelings and said that I hadn’t explained my boundaries to him but that it was really important to me that I honour my working day and structure even though I work from home. His response was

 ‘Awww, Paulie, I’m really sorry, I didn’t realise.

You should have just said!’

 

Do you treat yourself well?

I’ve just spent 4 blissful days in Connemara, completely disconnected from TV, phones and internet. I hate to admit it, but it did take a bit of adjusting!! (I hadn’t realised I had turned into one of those people who constantly checks her phone, who takes pictures and records videos rather than watching and experiencing for myself!) Lesson learned- for now anyway!

In my opinion, holidays are all about treating yourself but how to actually do that is another story! In fact I think that ‘treating ourselves well’ is a skill which we ladies desperately need to learn. What I’ve discovered from working with so many women in their 20s and 30s is that we don’t treat ourselves very well. We frequently put other people’s needs, wants and wishes ahead of our own. Yes of course, we will be good to ourselves occasionally- when we’re on holidays!

But honestly, how often have you denied yourself something you wanted because you felt like you didn’t deserve it, that you hadn’t earned it or that you weren’t good enough. I remember years ago, when I was going through a rough patch- I desperately wanted a massage. I needed it as I was so stressed at the time and just going around in circles. I booked in for a full body massage but in the hours leading up to the appointment time that inner voice started yapping! It said, ‘you haven’t done x,y,x, you’re a lazy bitch, you don’t deserve it, who do you think you are to spend €60 on yourself’. I cancelled the appointment.

Things like that happened so often, I’d see something I would like in Penny’s and feel like I haven’t earned it or deserved it so I wouldn’t allow myself to have it (or I’d buy it then return it). But if I knew that my partner, sister, friend wanted something, I would be the first person to go and get it for them. Interesting eh?

Because of who I work with on a daily basis, women in their 20s and 30s from around the world, I have seen that this is really common. We just don’t treat ourselves well. We feel that we need to have earned it, that we have to deserve it and the catch 22 is that the times when we need to treat ourselves well are the times that we’re feeling low, unworthy and deserving. Treating ourselves well and with compassion is the only way to lift ourselves up so that we can keep on keeping on!

Demanding more and more from yourself without ever giving yourself a break is unsustainable and will lead to complete burn-out. Often after the burn-out, you realise that you are a million miles away from where you thought you would be in life because you never stopped to give yourself a break or to check if you were actually happy!

What I found helps immensely is goal treats! So, without further ado, I have a 7 day treat challenge 7daytitlefor you!

Every day for the next 7 days, give yourself a really good treat: just because you are you. No excuses and no exceptions! If for some strange reason you actually enjoy being kind and compassionate with yourself then by all means continue!

It might seem strange or repellent at first but once you repeatedly associate treating yourself well, these treats will start to become comfortable and even indispensible. They have a very important function: they provide enough consistent short –term gratification to sustain trust and happiness when the going gets tough, the path to your vision looks scary or if you need to make a difficult decision. Giving yourself a treat a day is so crucial to making progress in your life. It’s all about treating yourself right!

Now, my definition of ‘treat’ is anything that makes you feel like smiling’. Some people think that’s a strange definition but I mean a real, genuine, heartfelt smile as opposed to the fake social smiles we put on which sometimes that makes us feel like we are violating our souls!

So, as an exercise I want you to compile a list of natural smile starters. You can start this simply by observing your behaviour for a day, what makes you smile? We know that every woman’s magazine on the planet will advertise things like massages, getting nails done, pedicures, hot baths, chocolate, candles etc and yes, they’re all lovely and great but I’m talking about a really custom made treat. Something that actually gives you joy, something that makes the smile start from the inside and you just can’t help but grin! Something that delights your senses!

I’m talking going to bed on a winter’s night with a hot chocolate, a great book and fresh sheets with the sound of the rain and wind banging against the window. That would be a treat that would actually get me excited! It doesn’t have to cost a fortune or cost anything at all! Anything that indulges your senses is definitely a winner. Think about it! What do you love the smell of? What do you love the feel of? What do you love the sight of? What do you love the taste of?

Decide if you will take me up on the challenge and make out your list! Share your list of treats on the Quarter Life Coach facebook page and if you find yourself resisting this terrible treat regimen, tell us and we will hold you accountable and if needs be, give you permission to treat yourself well, every single day until you learn to do it for yourself!

I hope you enjoyed this issue of Progress; that you got something valuable from it and could relate! Please get in touch on the facebook page and share your treat list!  I can’t wait to see!

Until next week,

P x