• Read The Miracle of Space

    Productivity

    The Miracle of Space

    To say I’ve been busy lately is an understatement.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely grateful for the meaningful work I’m doing currently, I’m more excited than ever about the future and the possibilities it may hold.  But my brain is full, and some days I feel like I pass from one zoom call to another zoom call and there is barely space to take a breath. In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed an alarming trend too – I often forgo the yoga or pilates class and just keep working instead.  Just get the proposal out.  Finish the blog post.  Hurry up, you can do it Shelley!  Make that hamster in the wheel of your mind spin.  Except it just won’t.  The hamster feels punch drunk and lethargic.  He’s had enough, packed his bags and moved to Puerto Vallarta.  Adios! Sound familiar?  Hence the topic of this blog, the miracle of space. Space is magical Space is magical.  It’s the place of inspiration, of creativity.  Have you ever been struggling with something, a concept, a problem, and you get up to go to the bathroom or grab a cup of coffee?  Then you walk back to your screen and boom – you have the answer!  It’s not a coincidence.  It’s not the fact that a magic genie lives in the bathroom.  It’s the magic of space.  Our brains need it to be creative, to innovate. I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve had such a hard time coming up this week with a topic for this blog.  When your head is full and tired, the ideas don’t really flow.  I was starting to think of previous blog posts I could recycle, but my pride intervened.  I can’t do that to you my dear readers… Creativity Craves Space I used to teach a course on creativity, which is slightly ironic considering I’ve never considered myself a particularly artistic or creative person.  I used to hold up a paper clip or a shoehorn or some sort of everyday object in front of my group of participants.  Then I’d ask folks to brainstorm as many uses for that item as they could in 5 minutes. 5 minutes may not sound like a long time, but sometimes it felt like forever when I was running this exercise.  And I never shortened the time.  The first minute or so, every obvious option for what to do with a paper clip got exhausted. Then we’d typically sit in awkward silence for a minute or two.  I never said much.  I didn’t try to prod the group on.  I didn’t tell them to hurry up.  And then the ideas would start to flow again.  But this time they were brilliant.  They were the ideas that were way beyond the obvious.  The real innovative ones.  I’ve heard potential uses for the paper clip the likes of the world have never seen. Where is the space in your day? I sometimes do mentor coaching as well, the […]

    July 29, 2022

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    4 min read

  • Read What a jar of rocks and sand can tell you about your life

    Productivity

    What a jar of rocks and sand can tell you about your life

    The other day I was teaching a leadership course, and I shared the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6m9WnNdpSw Rocks and Sand In it, it depicts Charlie Chaplin attempting to fill a container first with sand, and then cram a number of large rocks in at the top.  The rocks spill over as obviously there’s not enough room.  And then he tries again.  He puts the big rocks in first, and then pours the sand in.  This time, everything fits, as the sand fills up the empty cracks around the rocks. What are the big rocks in your life? There’s an obvious metaphor to our day to day lives in this short and insightful little rocks and sand video.  The rocks represent the big things in our lives.  Things like important projects, health and wellness, our career development, our family.  And it’s important to realize that the big rocks also change over time.  The sand are the small bits like emails, phone calls, administrative tasks and recurring minor deliverables. The question I asked the group, was “Where do you tend to focus first – the rocks or the sand?  I was hoping they’d be honest and they were.  Just about every of the 28 participants owned up to wanting to focus on the sand first, and push off the big rocks in their life. Why do we focus on the sand first? We do this for a number of reasons.  Firstly, the bigger things are often the more nebulous ones.  So often we don’t even know where to start.  When we don’t know where to start, it makes it easier to avoid these things.  Secondly, the sand is easier to tackle.  These are often quick emails, phone calls, reports that need to be run.  We know what to do, and so it’s just easier to drive right in.  The third reason is rooted is physiology.  We often get a small dopamine hit from crossing something off our to do list.  So we pick the path of least resistance and higher reward, at least in the short term. Tips for getting the big rocks It’s no surprise that the big things often allude us in life.  We tell folks that we’re just too busy, and never seem to be able to find enough time to do all the things we want to do.  And that makes perfect sense when the sand comes first.  A few tips I often share with clients on this front, that help to minimize the sand and put the rocks first are: Turn off the notification on your phone and laptop that dings or pops up to let you know you have more email. The notifications will hijack your attention from the important rock you’re focused on.  And good luck getting refocused. Spend time at the end of the day or at the beginning of the day, getting clear on the 2-3 big rocks you want to make a dent in. It only takes a few minutes to remind yourself […]

    February 21, 2022

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    3.4 min read

  • Read Never-ending inbox? How to manage email…so it stops managing you

    Productivity

    Never-ending inbox? How to manage email…so it stops managing you

    It’s amazing how some things are just a universal truth, no matter if I’m working with an executive coaching client, a leadership coaching client or a career coaching client – everyone is inundated with email.  The irony is that very little of the email we get is very important.  And yet, many of us treat it as if it has upmost importance. Why do we let email manage us? Some of the answer is biological.  We get a little dopamine hit from responding to it.  “Look, see!  Another thing off my to do list!” You wouldn’t be the first human to confuse activity with output.  We all fall into this trap from time to time. Sometimes our system settings are set up to conspire against us.  We forget to deactivate notifications, and that little ping and flash of the next message in our inbox is just too alluring to resist.  Remember, just because a notification is built into your computer system, doesn’t mean you have to use it.  These things are a form of digital crack that have been designed intentionally to hook us, don’t be fooled! How to manage email – Turn off notifications! When I teach effective planning, one of the first things I tell people to do is turn those darn things off.  The constant distraction has a huge impact on our ability to focus.  And according to mindfulness research, it can take 5-10 minutes to refocus on what you were doing before, after your attention gets hijacked.  That’s precious time that you don’t need stolen as you constantly are attempting to regroup after you’ve taken your focus off that important project or deliverable. How to manage email – Set boundaries! Easier said than done, right?  But this is critical to managing your inbox and managing expectations with your stakeholders.  Get into the habit of checking email once or twice a day and COMMUNICATE this to your key stakeholders.  If there is a real emergency – real meaning RARE – ask them to call, text or IM you. It’s important to remember that most of the email you get is neither important to you and your priorities, it’s most likely important to someone else’s.  If you find that most of your day is caught up responding to email, chances are you’re unconsciously stealing time away from the things that really matter to you.  Remember this fantastic phrase that I have creatively edited of Stephen Covey – “If you know what is important to you, when you say no, you’re saying yes to something bigger!”   Shelley Pernot is a leadership and career coach who is passionate about helping her clients discover their strengths and talents and find a career that utilizes them.  Reach out to me here for a free consultation to learn more about the coaching process and how it may benefit you!  

    January 26, 2022

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    2.5 min read