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Stop procrastination with this stupidly easy trick

You might think I’m a princess of productivity over here. Working, writing, reading, spending time with the kids, and still having time to enjoy life. You’ll never hear me say, “I’m busy,” but I still have lots to get done in a day. Another time I’ll talk with you about how to set up your schedule, but today, let’s talk about being productive in the most painless way possible.

The best way to get shit done is not to have to think about it too much.

Because when we think about the things we don’t want to do, it’s too easy to simply not do it.

Rituals make the process of starting, easier.

Introducing a ritual to your work creates a mindless habit. And once you’ve started, the power is in the momentum. You know, when you’re “in the zone” and don’t know you’re working, writing, painting, or whatever it is that you just can’t start.

Here are some examples of rituals I use:

  • I created a music playlist called, “write the book” and every time I had scheduled the time to write and edit my book, I started the playlist from the beginning. When “Believe” by Mumford and Sons started playing, my body knew it was time to write

  • When I sit down with my coffee each morning, it’s time to start journaling

  • When I need to start a piece of client work, I have a playlist for that too, which depends on who I’m writing for. Yoga instructors, calm music (or, I’ll listen to their podcasts), badasses and coaches, I’ll play Metallica.

  • Light a candle, pick up the phone for client consults

  • Light a candle in the evening, time for writing

 

To set rituals up for yourself, don’t force it. This is something I noticed that happened naturally; totally unforced. Some tips:

  • Notice the habits you already have. Is there a “trigger” that makes these habits happen? Maybe you hear your alarm, and you grab your sneakers and head out for a run, or you notice the FedEx truck and realize it’s time for lunch.

  • Make a huge list of things you enjoy; walks, podcasts, chocolate. Take one of the things you enjoy, and add a productive task to immediately follow. Cue up a podcast, scrub the toilets. Turn on your favorite music, write a blog post. A sip of tea, start working through your email.

When you're able to simply start, momentum takes over and you'll probably find you're able to get more done. Keep in mind, this isn't about crossing stuff off your to-do list like a crazy taskmaster, it's about prioritizing the things you want to accomplish. It's about doing the things that will leave you with a contented smile as your head hits the pillow each night.

 


 

Stop saving the good wine for a special occasion

Recently I visited an acquaintance's home with my son along with 20 or so other parents and their kids. When we arrived, the kids immediately started playing and running around while the adults settled in at the bar. Being one of the first ones to arrive, the hostess asked me what I’d like to drink.

“Red wine please.” My standard answer. Occasionally I'll ask for white wine if it’s a hot summer afternoon.

This was when things got awkward.

I watched our hosts scrambling behind the bar, looking for wine. There were at least two dozen bottles right in plain site. Confused, I figured the bottles I was looking at were all white wine. I’m flexible, “Don’t worry if you can’t find red, white is perfect too,” I told them.

The host responded, “Oh, it's not that. We have lots of red, but we only have expensive bottles and no ‘everyday’ wine. You understand, right?”

“Um, ya, okay. No worries.”

I sat at the bar making some casual conversation with some of the other parents who I’ve only chatted with a few times while the hosts search two floors of their home for “inexpensive” wine. I was about to call the wine search party off and just grab a glass of water instead. This went on for an awkwardly long time.

Eventually, the host presents a bottle of Chianti.

YES! “Chianti is perfect!”

He tells me when I’m halfway through my glass that the wine he gave me was from an expensive bottle of wine because it was on the shelf where they normally keep the cheap ones. 

I’m thinking, OK, should I say thank you? Do they want me to pay them the $50 for their “expensive” wine? Remember expensive is relative.

“It’s good wine, thank you.” As I finished the last sip and the host just stared at my empty glass.

Okie doke, I guess a refill is out of the question.

I said a few quick goodbyes, thanked the hosts and got the hell out of there.

I felt gross.

From my perspective, here I was in a huge home with all the granite and stainless steel one could hope for, a fully stocked bar, and some luxury cars parked in an orderly garage.

To the naked eye, these people appeared to have everything. But not enough to share. Or, they were saving the good wine for “good company.”

In case you think I’m a wine snob, I’m not. If it’s red and comes in a bottle, I won’t discriminate. I’ll drink your bottle of Yellowtail with a smile, and I’ll drink your $150 bottle of wine with the same smile. 

Treat everyone with the same respect. Whether it’s your new friend or your favorite uncle or your $100 a month client or a client that just dropped $20k on a coaching package.

Give them all the good wine.

Here's the most important part: Don’t, for the love of dark salty caramel chocolate tell them you’re giving them the good wine. Just give them the motherloving wine.

There are no "special occasions," They're all special occasions. Treat every single guest and every single client with the same level of attention. Don't hold out for a "special" client or an epic event. It may never come. 

Enjoy it today, and every day.

Why you need a mindless morning routine—basically, going through your morning like a mindful zombie

Checking your phone first thing in the morning is ruining your life.

Your email is filled with requests for your time, your most valuable resource. Do you first.

Social media is full of other people's news. Make the intention to focus on yourself before anyone else. 

Focusing on yourself first will help you show up for the important people in your life. 

Why you need a mindless morning routine:
You want to save your precious brain energy for the work you care about most. For the things that matter. This means you shouldn’t be inventing creative breakfasts every day or trying to shake up your lunch routine. This also means you’re not standing in line at Starbucks trying to decide what flavor your latte should be today. Automate that shit, so you never need to think about it again.

Last year, when the kids were on summer break, I realized the kids had turned into screentime-craving sloths. 

This is when I created the "do-before list." The do-before list is a bunch of things to get done before you turn on a screen. 

For the kids, it had simple items:

  • Feed the animals
  • Make your bed
  • Eat breakfast
  • Read for an hour
  • Play for an hour

When the kids finished the items on their do-before lists, they could stare at a screen for as long as they wanted. 

Something magical happened--I call it momentum. 

An object in motion tends to stay in motion, so as the kids were feeding the animals, they ended up playing with the animals, and as they started playing, they continued playing. 

I wanted some of this magic too, so I created my own do-before list. You can read more about the do-before list here. 

The benefits of having a do-before list:

  • Feeling good about yourself

  • Being productive is good for your brain

  • You're constantly growing your body of work, and we’re designed to do work

  • Increases the time spent in front of real human beings

  • Reduce the chances of becoming a smartphone-loving and instant gratification-craving adults that many of us are (ahem)

  • Never wondering, "Where'd the day/week/year/my life go”?

 

What's on my do-before list:

  1. Wake up with alarm (from my phone that’s in airplane mode)

  2. 5 big conscious breaths (the parenting and impatient person’s version of meditation)

  3. Pee

  4. 10 squats (or 10 of anything, it will fire up your day)

  5. Make bed (did you know it sets the tone for the whole day?)

  6. Make coffee for me, and breakfast for the kids

  7. Morning pages while I sip coffee (created by Julia Cameron - it’s 3 full 8x10 pages of free writing or stream of consciousness writing. No editing or grammar allowed, just write. If you’re afraid someone is going to read it—you’re doing it right).

  8. Look at the people you live with. Sit with them. Look at their faces. Say words to each other.

  9. Write for me for 30 minutes. This is a blog post, book project, or some other personal project.

  10. Shower, brush teeth, put face on (a little makeup makes me feel less like a sloth)

  11. Check email

  12. Do my top 3 work tasks that I wrote out the night before (this is key!)

The do-before list isn't just another to-do list. It's doing the stuff that will make you feel like an accomplished human at the end of the day. If nothing else get's done besides this, you're winning. 

It's also not a fancy Pinterest-worthy checklist. It should be so simple that you mindlessly run through your routine. Save that brain power for the tough stuff.

 

unautomate

When you get a personal touch from a business, you take notice, right?

A personal call from a company you did business with, and they’re not trying to upsell you.

A quick email reply from the owner or founder within minutes of your email.

A handwritten card along with a payment.

In a world that’s trying to automate automate automate, where can you unautomate, slow down, and connect with people?

This is a question that’s been on my mind lately. Forever the self-improvement junkie, I’m always looking for ways to do everything better. This includes the food I eat, the coffee I drink, how I show up to serve.

Better does not mean faster.

How many articles have you read lately about how to automate your customer intake process? My process might be a little slower, but it’s going to be different for every single person and company I work with.

Because you are different.

I am not going to put you in a box.

One of the biggest reasons I do this work is to feel good about what I do. When I slow down and do everything with intention, it makes me feel good. I can then make the people I work with feel good, and then we can all sit around a campfire and sing kumbaya.

I completely and fully realize automation is a business and tech tool, but please, do it consciously. Automation is helping people to spend less time on social media, and it’s good for clicks and numbers and visits. People set up automation so they make money while they’re sleeping. But at what cost?

What if I don’t want to make money while I sleep?

The humanness is missing from our interactions.

There is so much noise online, and by automating, you’re adding to it; and worse, you might be showing up in an inauthentic and totally icky way.

There are things that I will not automate. As a consumer, when I’m the recipient of certain kinds of automation, I want to barf. Is it just me?

On my automation shit list:

  1. Automatic follow backs on Twitter. This is when, if you follow someone, their Twitter account automatically follows you back.

  2. Automated direct messages on Twitter. “Thanks for following me! Check out my website! [link to their website]”

  3. Email auto-reply and out of office responders. If you’re going to email me back in a few days, there is absolutely no need to do this. Autoresponders are adding to the noise.

  4. Email sequences. When you get an automated series of emails fired off at you every single day. The writing and marketing tactics might be spot on. I also know that after a handful of emails, you’re going to try to sell me something.

  5. Automated social media posts. I’ve seen some businesses constantly promote the same products and ads over and over. When a business has an oddly timed post, maybe after a mass shooting or natural disaster, it can feel totally out of place. Like you’re over there yelling at everyone, while everyone else is focused on that big world event.

  6. Handwritten notes that aren’t written by you. When I discovered an online service that sends handwritten notes to your family, friends clients, I wanted to cry. If you are so busy that you can’t spend 5 minutes writing a quick thank you card or birthday card for your grandma, what in the world is the point of it all?

Automation has a time and a place, and if it’s not making your life better, or happier, than what’s the point?

Unautomate and connect.

The surprising life lesson I learned from baseball

My son, inching towards 9 (and might I say, inching slowly since he’s a little vertically challenged), started playing baseball this spring instead of his usual sporthockey.

First, you know how they say there’s no crying in baseball? Not true. There’s A LOT of crying in baseball.

The other lesson. Baseball is mostly pretty boring to watch. Not as action-packed as hockey. But you already knew that.

The bigger lesson has to do with mediocrity and playing it safe.

 

What playing it safe in baseball looks like:

  • Taking the pitch instead of swinging your heart out at a perfectly good ball
  • Letting yourself get beaned in the noggin instead of getting out of the way so you can take a walk
  • Staying on base, not leading off, and being afraid to steal a base

 

When you play it safe in baseball, you score fewer runs, don’t get the satisfaction of hitting the ball, and most importantly… you stagnate.

 

When you stagnate long enough, your insides start to rot.

 

And you die.

Cue life lesson. 

Of course, you’re not going to actually die while waiting on first for your base coach to tell you it’s safe to steal second.

But what if your base coach tells you to stay, but you think you can make it?

You take a risk.

There’s a kid on our team who loves to steal and run further than anyone else thinks he can, or should.

He takes huge risks.

Mostly, it makes the coaches mad.

Because the coaches didn’t give the player permission to go.

But the player had other ideas. He saw an opportunity. That opportunity is a risk.

Most of the time, the kid makes it on base, scores the run, or whatever reward he set out to get, he gets it. People say he’s lucky.

Is it really just luck?

Or was it about giving mediocrity and playing it safe the finger, taking the risk, and going for it. No looking back. All out. All in. (Base)balls to the wall.

So, will you listen to your coaches? (Maybe you should if we’re talking about business and you have a great coach) Or will you listen to your gut?

Your gut probably wants to screw mediocrity.

 

Other life lessons I've gleaned from watching sports: