The Productivity We Crave Starts with Taking Breaks

Often the topic for a new piece of writing like this is something that I’m working on in my own life. Let’s see if this rings a bell for you too.

Lately my personal stretch zone is about the need to take better care of my focus energy for projects that require individual concentration. I’m good at focusing in meetings, but when it comes to individual time on my own projects, I can get so scattered and it feels like those projects never get done. Plus, those days are not fun! Something is off.

This treehouse gives me a soothing reminder of the joy of taking a break.

This treehouse gives me a soothing reminder of the joy of taking a break.

So I’ve been renewing my interest in making conscious choices about my focused creative time. There are a zillion tips out there for being more productive, but for now, let’s just focus in on what’s probably a cornerstone of it all: the importance of rest and taking breaks.

I just heard one study that said the most productive employees in a company took the most breaks. Take that in! (I heard about this study from a new book, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management.)

I know that our brains can only take so much and we are pushing it past its limits in this screen-focused culture. Umm, taking a “break” to go check email or Facebook is not a refreshing break.

I’m talking about real breaks for our brains — like breathing, stepping outdoors, or sitting with a cup of tea. Simple things! But we sure do resist.

I gotta admit, I’m resisting break time right this minute! I know I need a break because I keep getting the itch to go check email. OK Val, go eat lunch and come back to finish. Continue reading

Addicted to Social Media, Anyone?

Every year I go to a fun relaxed day of learning called Podcamp, where we learn from each other about the latest in social media.

As I think about what social media topics most interest me, the one that rises to the top is how to stay out of the addictive nature of social media. So I decided to sort out my thoughts about it here and then maybe I’ll lead a session on this topic.

I think I’ll even ask everyone in the session to power down their technology, and find out what happens. Withdrawal? Real connections?

Here are my thoughts about the problem and some solutions. And don’t miss the fun Muppets video that will give you some relief right away.  Continue reading

Are You Rushing Around Like a Squirrel?

Feeling squirrely this time of year? Racing after nuts before winter?

Feeling squirrely this time of year? Racing after nuts before winter? (Photo by David Johnson, click for his site.)

This seems to be the start of many conversations I’m having as Fall approaches…
“Maybe it’s the change of seasons, but I am… off/ spinning/ questioning everything/ feeling squirrely/ jittery… [fill in your own words].”

I am feeling it. Are you? I started looking at my calendar for September and I could get overwhelmed if I’m not careful. I’ll be speaking at two new places in September, and launching 3 programs in September and October. As I look at it, I get jumpy and start rethinking these plans that seemed so logical a few months ago.

Is it just the season change jitters, or do I need to question the amount of commitments? Because I’m so determined to maintain balance, I am stopping to consider whether my schedule really feels good to me and reflects the kind of life I truly want. (You can borrow my list of self-assessment questions, shown below.)

I paused here and came back to finish this post a few days later. Keep reading to see how it turned out. Continue reading

Self-employment Ideas for Introverts

Is this you?

  1. You’re thinking maybe you just need to find the right path that fits your introverted style (and/or high sensitivity needs).
  2. And you think self-employment might give you the freedom to create work the way you want it. (Yes!)
  3. But, you’re nervous about what self-employment avenues will work for you as an introvert. (“I don’t know which direction is right?” and “Ack, what about marketing?!”)

Sound familiar? You’re definitely not alone.

Brainstorming self-employment ideas for introverts

That self-employment excitement combined with worry is common for introverts. And yet there are plenty of introverts making self-employment work. Without wearing an extrovert mask.

Personally, I love the freedom of self-employment, and it’s working for me in my own introverted way, even during economic ups and downs.

But I was originally very nervous to take the leap because some part of me thought that was extrovert territory. Both introverts and extroverts can make self-employment work, if you find your unique path.

In this post, I’ll explain why and how self-employment can work well for introverts, including a few specific ideas for you. 

Continue reading

Top 3 Concerns of Women Returning to Work

Image: From the white board during a coaching session. "It's hell in the hallway."

Image: This is from the white board during a coaching session with a woman in transition.

A lot of women come to see me when they are at a point of returning to work after a hiatus. Maybe the kids are growing up, or it’s a divorce or other transition. Sometimes it’s by choice and sometimes not.

Whatever the reason, they often have these 3 worries:

  1. Has the world passed me by? Will I be able to keep up with today’s technology?
  2. Do I really have something to offer when my brain has been focused on other things for so long? I’ve lost my confidence.
  3. How the heck do people juggle professional and personal lives? I’m so busy already!

You’re not alone with these worries. I get it that they may be weighing heavily on you.

Those worries will get in your way if you don’t address them head on.

I’m going to address each concern briefly here. I can’t solve all the stress here, but I hope you will discover that it might be easier than you think.

Continue reading