Tag Archives: productivity

3 Ways To Productively Channel Spring’s Energy

(Also appeared on Huffington Post on March 28, 2016)

Spring is the time of renewal and high energy — a time of life bursting forth. Have you been feeling listless or restless lately? Why not fully embrace nature’s push to reinvent itself? You too can plug into the dynamism of the moment to get stronger, healthier and more productive.

Springtime, energy, productivity, 1. Immerse yourself in nature
For those of you who work in environments with recycled air and little natural light, going for a walk in green spaces or taking a hike in the woods can really energize you. Imagine taking a deep breath without choking on it and getting your heart pumping from exercise instead of anxiety.

It’s also a great way to start a workout regimen that doesn’t feel like work but rather like a stroll in the park. If you like more of a challenge: run, add some weights or use sticks. I use Nordic Walking poles in my local park. It’s surprising how many heads one can turn.

2. Eat seasonal fresh food
Fresh berries, greens and other seasonal produce are delicious offerings of spring that not only nurture the body but also the soul. If you’re unsure how to prepare or cook something irresistible and healthy for yourself or your family, the Internet offers all kinds of culinary support. From Canadian to Indian to Spanish cuisine; there are countless ways to prepare great meals with fresh food.

Another fun foodie thing to do is visit your local farmer’s market. They have made a comeback and often combine food shopping with social entertainment — including running into friends and making new ones. Why not enjoy it all?

3. Pick up a long-forgotten project
Like the beginning of a New Year, spring’s vigour can jump start an old project that has been neglected but that is still worth tackling. Want to finish that book? Start writing! Need to change jobs? This is a good time. Or maybe something around the house has been bothering you for a long time. Today is the day!

Once you have decided which goal to prioritize, make a plan. Depending on the size of your endeavour, you might need just a few minutes or a whole day to identify the steps and the sequencing of tasks. Even if you are only clear about the next thing to do, schedule the item on your daily planner and add an alarm for extra urgency. Nothing can stop you now!

What’s Your New Year Motto?

New Year's resolution, New Year Motto, goal settingEven if you made New Year’s resolutions or set specific goals for 2015, choosing a motto can focus your energies in more subtle ways. Concrete goals with actionable discrete steps are indispensable to achieve our objectives. Yet, joie de vivre cannot thrive on prosaic tasks alone. We also need some poetry in our lives. What motto could add color and charm to your 2015?

I have chosen just one word to inspire me this year: Action! OK, that’s not very poetic. But it feels very invigorating to me. It’s about movement and energy – I love feeling strong and capable moving through space. It is also about adventure and exploring new physical and mental worlds.

I think self-publishing my latest book Beyond Procrastination: How to Stop Postponing your Life will be my big adventure this year. It is constantly leading me into unknown territory that is both exciting and terrifying. I’ll keep you updated …

As life becomes more complex and the world around us changes big city, change management, modern lifefrequently and fundamentally, a New Year’s motto can orient us during times of uncertainty and indecision. What is my life about again? Action! For you it might be peace or health or laughter. Whatever sentiment you would like to use to highlight this year, make it your maxim.

Short phrases and quotes are great motivators and guiding stars as well. Here are some of my favorites:

We must become the change we wish to see in the world.
– Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi

Choose with no regret.
– Mary Anne Radmacher

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.
– Joseph Campbell

You must do the things you think you cannot do.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Do no harm.
– from the Hippocratic Oath

Be gentle first with yourself.
– Lama Yeshe

Marathon, productivity, procrastination, happy 2015Looking at these powerful quotes, I think I will add be gentle first with yourself to my initial motto.

Action! And be gentle first with yourself. (2015 here I come!)

Where are you headed? I hope our paths cross this year.

Happiness – A Mixed Bag After All

Happiness is a gift. Being happy all the time can be a curse. procrastination, good life, happiness, unhappiness, productivity, increase productivityPsychologists Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener point out that happy people tend to be less persuasive, lazy thinkers and too trusting. For example, they don’t take the time to properly develop an argument and consider objections others may have. Life simply feels too good to work hard.

What’s even more surprising, the conscious pursuit of happiness can make us unhappy. The more we chase it the more it eludes us. You might have experienced this. Let’s say you go to a party that you’ve been looking forward to all week. When you get there, you still feel a little stressed because of work, but tell yourself to be happy and smile. That forced smile takes immense energy and probably depresses you far beyond the original strain.

And then there is the always-positive, always-happy boss cheerleading you on to higher and higher performance only making you feel harassed and demoralized. Hint: according to Kashdan and Biswas-Diener, commiserating with your employees when the work is tough and expectations unrealistically high, can be much more productive and emotionally uplifting than high fiving without a cause.

happiness, procrastination, productivity, performance, emotions, sadness
Banksy – New York City 2013

In general, our tendency to divide our emotional experiences into good and bad often leads us to prioritize happiness over fear, anger and sadness. We forget that those “negative” emotions serve important functions such as dealing with loss.

When a client asked me how I was feeling shortly after my mother passed away, I spontaneously answered, “Not bad often enough.” I was as shocked by this statement as she was. There was deep truth to it, however. Because I prioritized work over my grief, it took me much longer to get beyond the initial raw pain.

What’s the take-away? All emotions are important and have their rightful place in life. And, yes, when happiness strikes, embrace it with all your heart and offer the world your most dazzling smile.

Unfinished Business

The onset of spring is a powerful time for new beginnings. But what if unfinished business is blocking nature’s push? An incomplete degree, a book that is missing its last chapter or a career change that ran out of steam, can make us feel demoralized and stuck.

Ready to Go!
Ready to Go!

Here is my suggestion: instead of half-heartedly launching a new venture, use this season’s energy to finish what is hanging over your head. What would it feel like to sit back and know that you finally did it – you can move on now?

In my life coaching experience, most people in this situation are actually much further ahead than they think. Therefore, the first order of business is to list everything that still needs to be done. Next, break down each item into small doable pieces and schedule when you are going to do the work.

Your action plan works best when it is both realistic and ambitious. Also make sure you give yourself a deadline – preferably a meaningful date like your birthday or an anniversary. Finally, make a commitment to your strategy and do something on your list today. Unfinished business be gone!

If this feels too overwhelming, ask a friend you trust to help you think through it and keep you on track along the way.

Anything that has been keeping you up at night for a long time might need more systematic support. To help people in your situation, I have developed a three-month program that specifically focuses on completing unfinished business. To find out how I can get you unstuck, contact me today to set up a free informational call. It’s worth a try!