Monthly Archives: July 2011

Leave the Laptop Home!

It’s that wild moment before I dash out the door with family in tow for a long-awaited family vacation.  We’re used to that last minute dash from our years of living in Norway and traveling all over for both work and fun.  But it’s always a bit crazy trying to remember if you packed the toothbrushes, extra shorts, grabbed up the money and remembered all the bits & pieces of work that needed to be tied up.  And this time . . . the laptop stays behind.

Giving Yourself Some Space

Sometimes I take the laptop and the technology with me on travel but more and more now I choose to leave it all behind.  From experience I know that as soon as I log-in my mind clicks back to a “to-do” list and I’m back in the work mind-set. 

But I need space to rewind . . . I love owning my own business and the joy I get from both coaching and training.  But when I give myself permission to take a break I know that I’ll come back refreshed and wonderfully energized for work.  So for now the laptop will sit here on the home desk getting a well-deserved break as well.  See you all in a week!

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Is It Important or Just Urgent?

This question has been a powerful guide for me for years.  You’ll recognize it from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steve Covey.  It cuts to the chase of what depletes our energy, saps our motivation and distracts us daily if we allow it.  And this question is equally important for us in both our personal and professional lives.  In your leadership role at work, at home or in your community you know that it is easy to get pulled away into the small, urgent tasks that still may need to be addressed but often overwhelm people’s time and energy.  This is particularly true during organizational change when everyone feels stretched and often stressed. 

So What’s the Difference?

As a corporate trainer in Norway, I included Covey’s Urgent & Important concept in many workshops.  People got it . . . it makes sense and is a great way to start to reduce the feeling of being pulled in multiple directions.  When we can honestly (and quickly) identify when a task is truly important to our long-term goals or when the task is simply something that is urgent pressing for our time and energy we are way ahead of the game. 

So here’s my way of telling the difference.  An urgent task is one that presses for our time and energy, it’s often generated by someone else and it often comes about because of lack of planning (sometimes by me!).  Now some urgent tasks are unavoidable – the car battery goes out, kids get sick, doctor appointments etc.  But many really can be minimized by planning ahead. 

Now an important task is one that contributes to my long-term goals, takes initiative on my part and is often done over time.  Examples could include going to the gym for life-long health; signing up for a class to support a love of learning; making time each day to nurture relationships etc.  Those are the tasks that are often easy to set aside in the busyness of everyday life. 

Challenge to You

So my challenge to you is to ask yourself this week if some of what pulls on your time and energy is actually really important or is it just urgent.  Be honest and then see what you decide to do.  That urgent task may still need you but maybe next time it won’t . . . and that would feel really good!

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Clutter Just Drains Energy

It doesn’t move.  It just sits there day after day.  That’s the paper pile sitting on the corner of my desk here at home.  I’m not too sure what’s in it but hopefully nothing too important.  It’s clutter taking up space.  And when I do glance over at it, the “shoulds” start right away.  I really “should”sort it out. I “should” just take care of it once and for all.  But I just as quickly talk myself out of it because there are always more pressing “shoulds” to take care of that are more fun. 

Drains My Energy

It was an “ahah” moment when someone suggested that piles of clutter actually drain our energy.  I had never thought of it in that way.  But it makes perfect sense.  And the more I looked at the paper clutter, closet clutter, kids’ clutter, dog clutter etc.  I felt my energy being drained away.  All those “shoulds” seemed overwhelming and where would I put things anyway.

One Pile at A Time

But tonight the college kids are up at the lake and the house is quiet.  So in a moment of frenzy I tackled that paper pile, sorting and tossing like a madwoman.  It was done in about 45 minutes.  I even cleaned the top of the desk, sorted out one of the desk drawers and glanced at the bills.  Did the open space create some energy – it sure did.  I’m always a bit amazed but it actually does make a big difference.  You can see what you have and you’ve tossed anything outdated and unnecessary.  There is a noticeable uptake of energy and focus.  It feels good and I always tell myself just one pile at a time.  So tomorrow will be another pile.  It’s worth it and I may find a treasure at the bottom like an uncashed check.  You never know . . . try it!

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Miscommunication: Hearing What We Want to Hear

Well it happened again.  I’m sitting in one sandwich shop and my college-age daughter is sitting in another one across town.  How did that happen?  We hear what we want to hear – it’s that simple. 

Assuming We Know

Our lunch disconnect was a classic example of the most common kind of miscommunication.  Two people thinking they understand the other one but actually only hearing what they want to hear – and then making an assumption that makes perfect sense to them. 

For example, I made the assumption that  “Of course, we’re going to meet here.  It’s closest to my work”.  But the daughter assumes “Of course, we’re going to meet here.  It’s closest to my errands”.  It happens so easily and we all do it.  And then there can be a chorus of “But you said.  No, I didn’t.  Yes, you did”. 

It’s only lunch today but in a work setting these kinds of miscommunication can have a more serious ripple effect.  As adults we can be quite stubborn and easily convinced that we are right – we understood perfectly well but it’s the other person that mixed it up once again.

Check and Double Check

So here’s what to do minimize these kinds of missed connections . . . pause for just a second and confirm (even with your teenager) that you both are really talking about the same thing.  Check and double check that you are both going to the same place, at the same time for the same purpose.  Sounds too simple?  It is simple but it will save you lots of time and aggravation.  You’ll also not miss out on lunch with your gorgeous daughter.  And those times will fly by . . . and back to college on the east coast she will go.

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Fear! Rattlesnakes & Coyotes

It’s early on a Saturday morning and the sun is just raising over the Virginia foothills here in SW Reno, Nevada.  It’s a perfect time for coyotes to hunt and for the rattlesnakes to come out from under the rocks.  It’s also my favorite time to get the dogs out (Snowball the elderly golden retriever & Dooley the Westie with attitude).  But as we set off, I’m a bit fearful of what we may encounter on the trail ahead – especially the coyotes. 

Turning Back or Pressing On

It’s tempting to cut the walk short and just head over to Starbucks.  But then I do a reality check and ask myself “Have I ever seen a coyote on this trail?” The answer is “No”.  “Have I ever encountered a rattlesnake – ever?” Again the answer is “No”.  And the internal conversation continues back and forth . . . “So what are you afraid of? Well, I’ve read about coyotes snatching small dogs. True, but the chances of that happening are probably slim to none on this Saturday morning.”  It’s a reality check as the sun peaks up over the hills that actually the dogs are just fine happily peeing on every piece of sagebrush as they trot up the dirt trail.  As for me, I remind myself that I will handle anything that happens – and it could – but it  probably won’t.  

Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back

Our fears can keep us from so many pleasures if we let them.  Yes, things happen but we are stronger than we think.  It’s the “What If?” that can hold us back – that can convince us so quickly that we really shouldn’t do this or that because “What If?”.  I would challenge all of us to ask ourselves “But what will I be missing if I let fear stop me?”  Sometimes the risk is more than what we want to take but lots of times we fear something that hasn’t even happened and in reality will likely not happen at all.  So go on ahead . . . take the dogs out early morning and enjoy that sunrise which you would be missing if you let those fears get in your way.

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