Career/Leadership

Be More Productive; 3 Hacks To Help You Get Stuff Done

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Time isn’t always on our side.  Our to-do list gets longer by the minute, priorities get more urgent, and our time seems to get shorter.  This has never been truer since starting my own business on top of working my full-time job, being a mom and wife, and keeping up with everything else going on in my life.  In the process of trying to keep myself sane and staying on top of everything, I have learned a few things from many different people who have helped me to stay productive and get more done than seems possible. Want to be more productive at work?  Have a cleaner, neater house?  I am going to share with you 3 productivity hacks that have made the biggest difference for me.

  1. Pomodoro method.  This is something that I first learned from a podcast I was listening to.  It’s so simple but very effective for me.  Simply put, you work against a timer for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break.  That is called a pomodoro.  After you do a few of those (maybe 4 or so)  You take a longer break….like about 20 minutes.  I downloaded a free app that is called Pomodoro.  You can customize your cycles if you need.  Setting that timer and knowing that you only have 25 minutes really makes you focus.  Now, I take this double duty.  I will work on something for the 25 minutes and switch gears to something else for the 5 minutes.  For example, right now as I am writing this I am on a 25 minute sprint.  I have my timer right in front of me.  Could I toggle over to facebook?  Sure, but I can see the timer going…..  When the 25 minutes is up, I will have a 5 minute break.  During that time, I’m gonna go through my kids school work for 5 minutes (organize, throw out, and take action).  Once my 5 minutes is complete,  then it is back to work on business stuff.  Try it out and see how it works for you.
  2. 20 things.  Now this one might make me seem crazy, but I have been doing it all my life and I have passed it down to my kids.  This one is super handy when it comes to cleaning your house, organizing stuff, or just clearing clutter.  Whenever I find myself with a few minutes, I do 20 things.  I might do 20 things to tidy up my bedroom between taking a shower and getting dressed.   This includes making the bed (I count each blanket and each pillow as one thing), picking up dirty clothes, putting jewelry back where it goes, or wiping off a counter.  I will also do this in the kitchen while I am waiting for the coffee to brew, or the oven to heat up.  I have taught my kids to do it between homework and their chores.  Just pick up 20 things.  20 things is easy and little.  Overtime the little things become the big things.  Try combining this with the Pomodoro.  During your 5 minute break, take a walk around your house and tidy up 20 things.  Or if you are at work, file 20 things in that big pile at the corner of your desk.  
  3. Delegate.  Work or at home, this is a huge thing.  It can be hard to let go of some things, but I have found that creating space for others to step into greatness can be very rewarding.  Now, that sounds extreme, allowing others to step into greatness.  Trust me, when you delegate something to someone on your team at work, you are giving them an opportunity to grow.  Without those little things that help them gain experience, they won’t develop into the amazing leader that they have the potential to be.  When you don’t delegate at home, you are aren't giving your spouse the space to be your partner or teach your children to become the powerful people that they are growing up  to be.  So look over your to-do list.  What opportunities do you have to gift someone with?  Want to dive deeper in how to delegate to develop your team in the workplace?  Check out this article by clicking here.

Do you have some productivity hacks?  We would love to hear from you!  Share them in  the comments below or in our private Facebook Group by clicking here!

Balanced living is all about managing your time so that you can give time and attention to all parts of your life.  

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The One Thing That Will Balance To Your Day

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Often times we focus on productivity.  We try to figure out how we can get more things done in a day.  How we can make the most of our time.  While on the surface there is nothing wrong with this, I believe that it is a huge reason why our lives are so out of balance.  There is no white space in our lives.

 

Having white space in your day allows God an opportunity to have a relationship with you.  When you leave space in your day to pray, to be quiet, to listen...that is where it is no longer a religion of things you do, but a relationship with your God.  In this time you can find comfort, peace, inspiration.  You just have to slow down to receive it.  There are so many other things that you can find!

Not scheduling every second of your day allows for detours in your day.  This last week I have been very mindful of leaving white space in my day.  Just yesterday there were three opportunities that I would have missed had I not allowed time for what the day had for me.  Before I share them with you, let me just say something in full disclaimer.  Applying the theory of leaving white space in my day is new to me.  I usually jam is much into my day as possible.  I felt inspired to change my schedule up a bit to allow for more flexibility and I want to share my experience with you.  Ok, so these three examples are from yesterday alone.  There have been examples just like this everyday that I have put this into practice.

 

  1. I made quiet time in the morning.  This is something that I use to do habitually.  But as things get busy, it’s easy to just get up earlier and get more things done.  Yesterday, in our exclusive Your Life Rocks community we challenged each other to find quiet time with God throughout the day.  (You can join this group-Free!  Click here)  I took some time in the morning.  It was just a couple of minutes while the shower was warming up.  Usually I would fill this time with picking up the house or some other “doing”.  I did nothing but ask God what he would have for me that day.  Inspiration began to pour in.  I had to go and find a notebook to write stuff down.  Thank you God!  Plus it fueled my tired spirit.  It put passion back into my heart.
  2. I took a lunch during my work day.  Now, some people take lunch breaks everyday.  Good for you.  I usually eat lunch at my desk while working.  Not healthy.  But yesterday I decided to leave the office.  While I did schedule the time into my day, I left the specifics open.  White space.  Not until I was in my car in the parking lot did I decide where I was going.  I decided to go to Target.  I got some shopping done that I had in the back of my mind that I wanted to do, but more than that, I fueled my sense of freedom.
  3. Usually after my work day, another work day is just beginning.  Between taking care of the kids, dinner, and working on my passion (Your Life Rocks) there is not a lot of time for anything else.  Yesterday when I got home, my husband was in full project mode with something that he was building in the house.  He had a bunch of stuff to talk to me about and I had things to talk to him about.  Usually, there would be no time to connect with him.  I decided to clear the evening and make white space for whatever came up.  We decided to take the whole family to Home Depot to get the things he needed to complete the project, and get dinner while we were out.  I got to connect with my husband and play with my kids in the store.  I didn’t get some things done, but you know what?  It filled me with love.

 

Look, I totally get it.  It is hard to fit everything into a day let alone leave white space.  If you don’t get to everything you will just have more to do tomorrow, right?  Or will you?  Just speaking for myself, I found in doing this that sometimes I just fill my day with stuff.  Not important stuff.  Yes, I get things done, but I miss out on the things that really matter.  Yesterday there were tons of things that I didn’t get to.  Only two things were pushed onto today.  The rest I let go of.  To give up the things that I let go of to gain passion, freedom and love is a pretty good trade off for me.

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I have spent years with my life out of balance and it had destructive affects on those around me.  I found ways to create balance and clarity for myself and I am now on a mission to help other woman do the same.

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The Secret Cost of an Unbalanced Life

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Today I feel raw.  This will probably be the most transparent post that I ever write.  Please read it till the end.

There is a reason that life balance is so important to me.  I have spent many years out of balance and I have seen the toll that it has taken on my life and the people who I love.  I spent years with blinders on.  Consumed by work and my career.  I only looked up long enough to take care of the immediate needs of my immediate family.  It was not the life that God called me to live, but I was living it.  Escaping the rest of the world.   It cost me more than I have the stomach to think about.

I don’t remember much from my youngest son from the age of 2-4.  Lost years.  I traveled every week for work and on the weekend I was so tired.  My visits with grandparents and other family became less and less and then non-existent.  Same with friends.  If I didn’t work with you, I didn’t have time for you.  Forget about being involved in the church or anything else.  I wanted relationships with people, but I didn’t know how to have balance and still feel successful.  

I told lies to myself.  I convinced myself that my work was good and that I was giving to people who needed me.  Truth is, it wasn’t a lie.  They did need me but so did those that I loved…..and I needed them.

Over the course of the last couple of years, I was able to find balance.  God intervened in my situation.  He was always there.  Through him I found personal development that strengthened me.  I learned techniques to pull myself out of work and build a bigger world to live in.  I gained skills  to still find success at work and not feel guilty at home.  It is still a work in progress but we all will be till the day we go to heaven.  I now help other women find that balance.  

Balance is not just a word.  It’s a feeling.  You feel on top of the world, loved, energized, confident, empowered and in control of the life you have been given by God!  When you have balance you are more patient with your kids.  That gives them a safe place to learn to be themselves and feel loved.  It’s the best gift you can give your kids.  When you have balance you are loving and engaged with your husband.  That gives you strength in the strongest relationship you should have on this earth.  When you have balance you are able to be proactive at work and lead others in a way that enriches their lives.  It gives you time to connect with God.  This one thing, having time to connect with God, can change everything!

So why I am telling you all this?  Why do I want this for you?

This week I got a message that one of the most precious women in my life died.  My grandmother.  She practically raised me.  She was my safety net when I was growing up.  She was one person that I drew away from when my life was out of balance.  I know it hurt her and that hurt me.  Today is a reminder of what I lost during those years of being out of balance and why I am so passionate about life balance not just for me but for all others.  When you have life balance, it doesn’t just affect you.  It affects everyone around you.  It is a domino effect that you will never know it’s reach.

After I got the message I broke down.  I had to go for a walk to get some air, clarity, God, space….anything.  I got a mission.  Over the last few years, I found balance.  I am on a mission to help as many other women as I can do the same.  Can I help 500 women start on their path of balance by the end of the year?  I am sure going to try.

So what about you?  Can you use some more balance in your life?  Let’s work together to impact all the people around you.

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Leaders Are Readers: Must Reads For You And Your Team

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During this time of year, I always find myself gravitating toward books.  They make great gifts for people that you work with, friends, and for yourself.  (Hey, New Years is coming-It’s time to work on yourself!)  Just in case you are kinda like me, I thought I would put together of some of my favorites.  In this post you will find ideas for books to…...

  • Develop you as a leader
  • Read with your team to help them develop and grow
  • Books to give as gifts.

I have made a list of some of my favorite for each category.  To make it easy for you, I have included a link in each book description that will take you directly to Amazon where you can purchase the book.  Just for transparency, you should know that I do get a small kickback from each purchase that you make.  I promise, it does not effect the price that you pay.  Want to support what I am doing at YourLifeRocks.com?  Save this Amazon link as a bookmark and use it every time you shop.  Seriously, I use Amazon a lot.  It is a huge lifesaver for my crazy busy life.  My favorite thing?  Same day delivery.  It blows my mind how they do it!

 

For you as a leader

Books are my second favorite self development tool out there.  My number one is podcasts.  Can you keep a secret?  Ya, I can’t either!  I am launching YourLifeRocks.com Podcast next week!  I will share more information with you when it launches.  Have you signed up for our community?  It’s the best way to stay up to date with everything that we have going on plus get easy access to all our tools and resources.  

Anyway…...here are some of my favorite books that have helped to move my career and leadership forward.

 The Servant Leader by James A. Autry

This is my number one favorite book on leadership.  It was a required read when I first became a manager many years ago.  Do your team a favor and read this book and apply the principles.  There have been times in my career when I had to lead teams through bad times.  I have revisited chapter 13: Leadership When Things Go Wrong and Times Are Bad many, many times.  There have been many times since I first read this book that I wish bosses of mine had read and applied the principles in this book.  Be that boss for your team....be the change you wish to see in the world.

Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud

When I first heard about this book, it was the subtitle that got me:  Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge.  This book will grow you.  Each chapter has questions at the end that challenge you  to take action.  It is a great blend of psychology with business.  Just the idea of being ridiculously in charge is incredibly empowering.  Think about it.  Ready to grow into your leadership?  This is the book for you to read!

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

The fact that it is a Leadership Fable makes it super enjoyable and quick to read!  You will be quickly identifying people in the book with people on your team. What I love the most is that it is so full of actionable wisdom that you can apply right away to build a strong team with high performance.  You know how with a good fiction book you get tangled up with the characters and don't want it to end?  That is what you will find with this book!  What I love is that you are learning at the same time.  Beautiful.

Great By Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen

Ever wonder what makes a successful company or leader?  This book examines and breaks it down.  I love that this book is based on delivering data from studies.  It’s like pulling the curtain back and giving you the details that you can learn from, and take on for yourself.  One of the things that I really love about this book is that each chapter stands alone.  Meaning I can read a chapter, put the book down for awhile and come back and not loose anything.  I have reread chapters when I feel like I need to sharpen my saw and I encourage you to do the same.

 

For Your Team:

When you lead and mentor others, it is inevitable that you will be asked what books that you recommend for them to read.  I always like to take it to the next level and read the same books along with my team, even if I have already read them before.  This allows so many teaching moments as you discuss what you are both learning.  (I usually learn new things on a re-read of a book….don’t you?)

As you are getting ready to study a book together, here are a few key points to think about before you get started.

  1. What are you hoping to get out of this experience for yourself and for them?  Whatever it is, be clear about it upfront (even if it is just with yourself) and structure the rest of the experience around that.
  2. Decide the timeline for each chapter and how the discussion time will be structured.  Example:  I have had members of my team present to the rest of the group on what they have learned.  This then becomes double duty on their development since they are now practicing their presenting skills.
  3. Stick with it.  It is easy to get distracted or busy and put this aside.  By reading and reviewing these books with your team, you are making an investment in  their development.  It will take time away from other things.  Decide now that you are ok with that, or just don’t do it

 

21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell.

Not only is this a must read for everyone, it is an easy one to do as a group and has many learning moments as you cover each law.  When I have recommended this book to team members in the past it has had a great side effect.  It makes you really step up as the leader!  You can't help but to apply the "laws" to yourself so that your team has a model to what they are learning.  Win-win for everyone.  PS. If you haven't read this book in awhile, read it again.  

 QBQ!  The Question Behind The Question by John G. Miller

Now, it could just be me, but I think that having personal accountability is one of the most powerful qualities to bring you success in work and in life.  Imagine if you could eliminate blame, complaining, and procrastination with your team?  Just remember, leaders go first!

 Influence:  The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition by Robert B. Cialdini

This has been the very best book for my career and I find that I teach the 6 sources of influence to everyone!  Whenever my team is putting together a new promotion or are trying to find a way to drive behaviors with people, the structure outlined in this book is what we use to create the most positive influence for change.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0  by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

Seriously.  Read the title again.  Who wouldn’t want their team to have higher emotional intelligence?  What I love about this book is that you start off taking a test online that measures where your emotional intelligence is in several different categories.  The book then shines a light on each category and provides situations, lessons, and actionable activities to help you grow in each area.  Once you have had time to apply the lessons of the book, you can then go back and take the test again.

 

Great gift books

Anything from Simple Truths

I especially love The 100/0 Principle:  The secret of Great Relationships by Al Ritter

It’s an easy short read.  Simple Truth books are great for their many quotes and high visual appeal.  Have you checked out their website?  Seriously, cut out a few hours and spend some time there!  Great gift ideas for the whole year!

Gung Ho! by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles

I love a great story!  Learning while being entertained?  Priceless!  It is an easy read with a simple message.  I received it as a gift and loved it!

Strength Finders 2.0 by Tom Rath

If I am being honest, this book could go in either of the top two categories.  Let me tell you why I put it under gifts.  I think too many people go around in this world very fully aware of what they are not good at.  Do you know what you are really gifted at?  What your true strengths are and how to get the most out of them?  If you do, you are one of few.  One of my biggest leadership truths is that you should always play up your strengths.  Put more energy on what you are good at.  This book allows you to take a quiz and figure out what your strengths are….they call them themes.  Then (my favorite part)  they give you an action guide for applying your strengths.  What better gift than a gift of figuring out what makes you awesome!  Ok, maybe you should buy two.  One for you and one for someone else.

5: Where Will You Be Five Years from Today? by Dan Zadra and Kristel Wills

Ok, so I was given this as a gift by a former boss years ago.  I love it because it is more of a workbook…..a dream book.  This was the first time I put my personal guiding principles on paper and made me really think about the values that I want to live by.  I recently found it again in a store and bought a couple copies.  One for me to do again (saving it for a quiet Christmas season night) and a couple to give as gifts.  They were too good to save for a holiday so I gave them as “just because gifts”.  It’s a guaranteed winner!

Your favorite book

I love giving and recommending books that have had a real impact on me.  You know what I love more than that?  When someone shares with me one of their favorites.  It is such a personal gift that shows so much thought and care.  Especially when there is a personal note on the inside talking about why you love the book and why you think they will love it too!

 

So as you have some quiet time by the light of the Christmas tree, make a cup of tea and open a good book.  Tis the season…..

Delegate to Develop Others-5 Steps To Start Delegating Today

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Delegation can be hard.  Trusting others to do something as well as you would do it, yikes!  I mean, it takes so much longer to show someone else how to do something than just doing it yourself.  So why do it?  Not only can delegating tasks take away your overwhelm, this is a great tool to grow leaders on your team.  Yes, it can take time and the outcome can be uncertain but the payoff in the long-run is so ever worth it.  The best way to get promoted is to train your replacement.   Let me break down how to do this to the get the best results for you and your team in these 5 steps.  

 1.  First things first, evaluate your team.  What are they strong at?  What areas have both of you agreed to develop to allow them to move to the next level?  Identify that for each member of your team monthly.  It is an investment in them and that goes a long way.  Once you have this identified, put it in your planner, notebook, or app that you use to organize your day.

2.  If you have followed me, you know I am a huge proponent of making a daily to-do list (I call it a brain dump).  Once you have made that list, look it over.  What things on your list fit within their strengths and what things are development points for them?

3.  Take the things on your list that fit within their strengths, no more than three, and communicate those tasks.  When you communicate these tasks with them, follow these 3 things.
Give praise:  Be specific about their strengths and why you choose them for these tasks.
Give the expectations and share what is required:  Meaning, when does it need to be done, is there a format it needs to be in, what or who needs to be included.  Clear direction is a favor for both of you.
Give grace:  Let go of your expectations of how you would do it.  If something comes back not accurate, take ownership for not communicating it clearly.

4.  Take the list of things to delegate for development and make a plan.  Some of these things you can pass along and let them run with it and give them ownership.  As mentioned above, be clear with expectations and give grace.  Some of the things you want to delegate need to be taught.  The best way to develop a skill is to model, observe, and coach.  This will take more time.  Taking the time with this now gives so much time later.  It is well worth it.  This investment of time will pay you back in so many ways.

5.  Follow up and feedback is important.  Let your team know what was great and what to do differently next time.  Give them the next time.  If you delegate once then don’t do it again, it speaks volumes.  Not in a good way.  

Delegation builds trust, develops others and keeps you sane.  Keep on building a life that rocks!