Go for the Goldy’s

I finished my 5th 5K in a little over a year. Goldy’s 5K is so fun. It starts and ends at TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota. When you cross the finish line, you are on the jumbotron for all to see.

I am not a runner. I run and then I walk. It’s a process but I always get to the finish line. I don’t care about my time and I try not to look ahead of me or behind me. People pass me and then I run and I pass people. It doesn’t matter. It’s all about being out with other like-minded people, being in nature, experiencing a sense of community and experiencing life.

Each time I finish a race, I send Max a picture. He always thinks I won the race and he is so proud of me. To me, it doesn’t matter if I come in 1st or 8001st. What matters is that I did it and I was part of something. Whatever it is for you, just do it.

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Inbox Zero

My email inbox is almost always empty. Weird. I know. I hear people talk about hundreds or even thousands of emails in their inbox.  It just doesn’t work for me. To me, a cluttered inbox is as bad as a cluttered desk. I just can’t handle it.

If you’ve read Getting Organized in the Google Era, a full inbox is not a problem for some people. They just use the search feature to find what they need. To me, there is too much chance of missing something. And, seeing hundreds of emails overwhelms me and takes away from my productivity. Instead of using your inbox as a filing system, I suggest using a similar system for sorting email that you do for snail mail.

1.       Unsubscribe or use unroll.me, a website that allows you to group eNewsletters and unsubscribe instantly if you choose.

2.       Set up folders – put things in a logical place so you know where to find them.

3.       Delete – Do you really need to keep it? If not, hit Delete!

4.       Forward to your calendar – If it’s something that needs action, it needs a home on your calendar to get done. Move it there based on the due date.

5.       Delegate – Ask someone else to handle it.

6.       File it for reference if it’s something you’ll need later.

If the thought of doing this to the 3002 emails you currently have in your inbox is just too overwhelming, archive the entire inbox and start over with your new system. You still have the emails, you just don’t have them sucking the life out of you every day. 😉

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How I Survive Without a To-Do List

“If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real.” ~Marie Forleo

I have been struggling with time management my entire life. I believe we teach what we most need to learn. The one and only way that I have found true productivity and the ability to move forward is when I stopped making to–do lists and started relating my tasks to my calendar.

I capture items in my journal and in email. At the end of the day and at the end of the week, I put those tasks on my calendar, on a specific day and time so I create the space and time to complete them.

Hey, life happens. I get it. Just because I have good intentions, doesn’t mean it will get done. We all know where “the path to good intentions” lead! It’s not set in stone but at least I have created space for it to be real. If it doesn’t get done, I create a new reality for it sometime in the future.

And, it’s out of my head and I have a plan. At the end of the day, if it doesn’t get done, I still have it recorded and I can decide if it’s a priority and how to move forward. I have complete control.

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Finding My Shui

 

I’ve always been intrigued by Feng Shui but I’ve never really learned about it or applied it in my life. I met Rachel Loeslie, a Professional Organizer and Feng Shui Consultant, a few years ago. We became fast friends and started talking about creating a Productivity and Feng Shui workshop.

When we started planning the workshop we thought it would be a great idea for Rachel to “Feng Shui” my office so I really understood the connection between productivity and Feng Shui. I’m very organized and I’m certainly not a pack rat but I did hang on to things that I really didn’t need and had no meaning to me. Rachel helped me get clear on creating energy in my space and only surrounding myself with what really matters.

We looked at the Bagua Map and found the important areas of my office to work on. To me, those were wealth and prosperity and spiritual health and well-being. I added plants, color, candles, chimes and water elements. I removed excess clutter, cleared off surfaces and surrounded myself with only things I love and that have true meaning to me.  I cleaned out files, moved my desk to face my office door and the south east because that’s the best direction for me.

My space is clutter free, beautiful and comfortable. I have already noticed a change in my productivity and clarity.

Learn more about productivity and Feng Shui at our workshop in April.

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Finding Creativity in My Left Brained World

I always used to say “I’m left brained. I’m logical and linear. I’m not creative.” My friend, Kelly, used to say “I’m right brained. I’m creative and scattered. I’m not organized.”

It turns out that we were both wrong.  I met Kelly Pratt about a year ago through the Minneapolis based networking group, Women In Networking (WIN). We connected right away. I think it was because we seemed so opposite and we were interested in what we could teach each other. Plus, we both love hanging out with really cool, smart women!

Kelly and I started collaborating and talking about the struggles we each faced in our own worlds that seemed so different. She wanted more structure and organization. I wanted to feel more free and creative.

So, Rhythm + Flow was born. Kelly and I recognized that if we felt this way, there were a lot of other people who were struggling with either wanting to be more creative or more organized. We wanted to teach people that they really don’t have to choose. You can be both. Rhythm + Flow is a creative abundance mini retreat to explore the sweet spot where productivity, creativity and abundance meet. We are thrilled to be sharing a short version of the workshop at the WIN Conference this month and in our 3-hour workshop on March 7.

A bonus of the March 7 workshop is that participants receive the Rhythm + Flow planner, a customized planner created by Kelly. It includes weekly planning pages and a calendar but it also has fun tools like Planning with Intention, Gratitude Journal, a Manifesto (see mine in the photo) and other fun worksheets.

Using Kelly’s planner helped me see my creative side. For me, it’s all about stillness, play, connection and self-care.  My planner is personal and a tool to keep exploring and growing. And, in finding my creative side, I feel more productive.

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Always Answer the Door!

I have to admit it. I never used to answer the door. I would hide and peek out the window to see who was there. Was it someone selling magazines, books or frozen steaks? Or a Boy Scout selling wreathes or cookie dough? Or, my personal favorite, someone holding a Bible? It didn’t matter. I wasn’t buying what they were selling. I didn’t want to be bothered and I really didn’t want to have to say “no” or buy something I didn’t want or need out my own self-inflicted guilt.

One day, a little over a year ago, I answered the door. It was a cold spring day and before me stood a man in a black stocking cap. He had no uniform and no signage on his car. I’m not entirely sure why I thought it was wise to open the door for him and not for a Boy Scout, but I did. He told me he represented a local trash company and wanted to know if I was interested in changing my service. We started chatting about our work, networking groups, kids and divorce. We had a lot in common and made an instant connection.  I didn’t have any attachment to my current trash service and it was cheaper, so I signed up.

Over the next year, he and I connected at different events. We shared resources and got to know each other’s businesses and we soon became advocates for each other. In May, he attended my Find Your Flow workshop. After the workshop, he told me he realized he was in the wrong job. He hated it and he worked too much. He had no time for his kids and he had no personal life. He knew he needed to make a change.

Also, during the last year I started working with an Intuitive Coach. I distinctly remember a conversation we had about doors opening and closing. She said “No one ever talks about the hallway. What do you do when one door closes and you’re waiting for the next one to open? You are in the hallway, learning and gathering strength, so that you are ready when the next door opens.” Brilliant, that.

About 3 weeks ago, I got an email from the man in the black stocking cap. He told me that because of my workshop, he quit his job and has a new job that he really enjoys. He has more time for his kids and for his personal life. We agreed to meet for lunch to catch up. We chatted about work, networking, kids and divorce. He also told me he has had a crush on me since we first met! The cool thing is that I really like him too. Because neither of us had any idea that the networking lunch would turn into a date, we call that date number 0.5. We are now going on date number 6.5 and we are truly enjoying getting to know each other better.

I’m not sure what’s next for us but I do know that there was a reason I opened the door that day. We were meant to meet.  And, I know that if it’s not the right door, you can always close it but if you don’t open it, you’ll never know.

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5 Ways I’m Bringing My Business and My Life to the Next Level

In the last year and a half, I’ve experience a lot of change. I went from feeling like I had hit rock bottom to feeling like I was on top of the world.  For the first time in my life, I am happy, I have clarity and I have no doubt about what I want my life to look like. And, I know I will create it. Clarity came from some really bad experiences but it also came from some life changes that I knew I needed to make to turn my dream life into reality. Here are the 5 things that have helped me improve my business and my life in the last 18 months:
1.    Extreme Self-Care
Self-care is something that most people, especially women, struggle with. We care for everyone else and then, if there is any time or energy left, we care for ourselves. That was the old me. Now, I come first. My health and well-being is my number one priority. I exercise, eat well, nurture myself and take time for myself every day. I’m not being selfish. I’m acknowledging my value, my needs and my worth. I deserve it.
2.    Working with a Coach
Clarity is key. I know what I want, what I need and who I am. My Coach helped me get clear on my priorities and get laser focused. That allowed me to create a new website that reflects my values, skills and personality. I now attract the people I want to work with. Coaching has helped me stay focused and accountable for things I commit to.
3.    Knowing My Ideal Client
One of the first things I worked on with my coach was my ideal client profile. I dug deep to identify who that person is – her business, her values and her needs. This clarity has made it easy to know when someone is a good fit for me and my business.
4.    Co-Working
I have worked from my home for over 13 years. I feel a great sense of freedom but at times, an even greater sense of isolation. I recently joined The Commons Workplace in my home town. I have a membership for 1 day per week where I can get out of my office, get a change of scenery and interact with real live humans. Not only has it been great to get out of my home office, it has been a great source of referrals. And the best part – it has expanded my creativity. I am surrounded by other small business owners who I can collaborate with. I attend monthly happy hours and weekly TED talks. I used to struggle with finding time to work on my business. Now I commit to one day per at the Commons and it is all about my business, my professional development and my marketing.
5.    Networking on a Deeper Level
When I started my business, I started networking. I knew I needed to get out of my office and meet people to get the word out about my new business. I went to every event I could find. It felt like I was really just throwing business cards out and hoping that they would be caught by the right people. A dear friend referred to it as “spray and pray”. It’s not at all effective. My new approach is very deliberate. I am extremely selective about what events I attend and what groups I join. I align my networking with my values, my ideal client profile and professional development needs. I go where my ideal clients go and connect with like-minded people. I focus on collaboration and developing advocates who know my business and can easily refer me. And I do the same for them.

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Flowing with Collaboration

I taught my first Find Your Flow workshop last week. I had a group of 7 students, all eager to get clear, eliminate distractions and find their flow. While we did just that, we also did something that was truly magical. We collaborated and supported each other.  We networked and shared experiences. We connected, made appointments to follow up with each other and shared links to events and resources. It was so rewarding to see everyone taking an interest in each other. It was true collaboration. None of us rushed out the door after the workshop. We stayed to talk, share and laugh. How fitting that the event was held at The Commons. I call it my home office away from home. This space lives and breathes collaboration and support. I’m looking forward to the next Find Your Flow event and seeing more magic happen!

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Find Your Flow

I was so fortunate to speak at the Women In Networking (WIN) luncheon on March 20. It was the largest WIN networking luncheon to date, with more than 60 women in attendance. My topic was Setting Up Simple Systems for Success. I received a lot of positive feedback from the event. I was so pleased to present this content and my goal was to create accountability for the people who attended. We all go to events and listen to speakers with really good content. Then we get back to our offices and rarely take action. I wanted to change that. I offered a free 20 minute call to all who attended. I also created a workshop that has been years in the making. It’s called Find Your Flow.

Flow is when you are fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what you do.

The workshop is such a great opportunity for people to get clear on goals and to-do items, eliminate obstacles and create systems to provide an environment that allows productive flow every day.

Check out my events page for more details on the April and May events. More events will be scheduled so check back often.

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Getting Back on Track

About a month ago, I hit rock bottom. OK, maybe I’m being a little over-dramatic. Not rock bottom but it was bad. I was sick, I had sick kids, I was traveling, work was piling up and I had experienced a relationship drama that could have been on a reality TV show. I am not kidding. I felt like my life was falling apart. What terrified me most was that I was beginning to feel like I did in the worst stage of my depression a year ago. I was overwhelmed and lacked focus. I doubted myself and everything I was doing.

How did I get there? My world had changed completely since this time last year. I was feeling good, I had lost over 40 pounds, my depression was under control and I felt like I was on the right track. I’m a Virtual Assistant for goodness sake! I have resources and skills. I am a Professional Organizer and an Expert on Productivity. Why couldn’t I pull myself together?

Reality is that life happens. No matter what we do, sometimes we just can’t prepare for or handle what life throws at us. I lived in that horrible place for about a week. Then I realized I needed to do something about it. Steps to get back on track:

  1. Acknowledge where you are. Feel your feelings. Send yourself love and understand that you are human and it’s OK to have a setback. Try not to beat yourself up.
  2. Share your pain and ask for help. Talk to a friend, spouse, counselor, coach – anyone who you know will listen without judgment, offer support and be there for you no matter what.
  3. Nurture yourself. What one thing can you do right now for yourself? Take a bath, get a massage, anything to relax and renew.
  4. Create a plan. Gather your thoughts, to-do items, prioritize, delegate, do whatever it takes to get caught up and back on track. (Hint – that probably means asking for more help!)
  5. Create rituals. Take steps now to take care of yourself, set up systems and make things simple so when you get off track again (and you will!), you can get back more quickly.

I used to feel like I took one step forward and three steps back. Now, if I step back, it is just one step. And, in my new awareness, I can learn from it and it allows me to take three steps forward.

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