Archives for allyson lewis

The 6 Best Time Hacks to Create More Fun and Success in Your Life

Procrastination by Ffaalumni of Flickr

Procrastination by Ffaalumni of Flickr

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if you had more time in the day to accomplish all of your tasks so you could enjoy life more often? Procrastination is one major roadblock to completing tasks. About 20% of adults reported being chronic procrastinators, while 95% of people admit to being occasional procrastinators. The causes of procrastination are complex and numerous. The time hacks shared here are a way to overcome procrastination and will allow you to accomplish the important tasks in your life, so you can spend more time doing the things you love. The weight of putting off important tasks robs you of energy as you stress over the inability to focus on completing those tasks.

  1. Micro-movements: Author Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, better known as SARK, coined the term in her book Make Your Creative Dreams Real. According to SARK, micro-movements are a way to break down overwhelming tasks into much smaller tasks that take as little as five seconds or up to five minutes. Breaking down a daunting task into smaller steps makes it easier to accomplish.

Author Allyson Lewis suggests a similar approach in her book, The Seven Minute Difference. Lewis argues that spending seven minutes on small actions, or micro-actions, can lead to amazing changes. In short, small movements serve as a way to accomplish large tasks bit by bit and to build momentum.

  1. Activation energy: Activation energy is a term Mel Robbins, an author and motivational speaker, described in her TED Talk. It is the force or effort required to switch from auto-pilot, driven by your habits, to doing something new so that you can create something new in your life. According to Robbins, change does not come naturally, so you must force yourself to change. It is taking action within five seconds of an impulse. If you do not act within five seconds, your mind ultimately “screws you,” and the motivation to do something is lost. By practicing the five-second rule and tapping into activation energy, you will discover the motivation to accomplish more tasks.
  1. Time expansion: Time expansion is completing the things that weigh on your mind, recur in your thoughts, and rob you of energy first. Many experts talk about the benefits of doing this first in order to raise your energy to complete the rest of your daily list. Completing unwanted tasks first make you more effective because this “energy vampire” will no longer intrude on your thoughts. Mark Twain famously referred to this action as “eating a frog.”
  1. Batching time: When you batch tasks together, you to get into a grove and accomplish more in less time. Batching time is a favorite method of author Tim Ferriss (The 4-Hour Work Week). Ferris also proposes that when we allocate less time to a task, we take less time to complete the task. The reverse is also true. An effective strategy is to give yourself an early deadline. For example, if you have a project due on Friday, make Thursday your personal deadline. Bill Walsh, America’s Small Business Coach, recommends you make a list of the ten things that will move you forward faster toward your goal every night to complete the next morning before 10 AM. This list consists of strategic (important, non-urgent) items. Then wake up as early as needed to complete these ten items before 10 AM.
  1. The Four Quadrants of Time Management: Stephen Covey, a self-help and business literature author, famous for his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, introduced the idea of using four quadrants to determine the priority of a task. The tasks within the quadrant allow you to determine if a task needs to be completed immediately or scheduled for later. The quadrants allow you to question if doing an activity will bring you closer to your goals and how to prioritize your time.
Stephen Covey's Four Quadrants of Time Management

Stephen Covey’s Four Quadrants of Time Management

  1. Our Time and Resource Allocation Tool: There is a saying in corporate America—you can’t manage what you can’t measure; you can’t measure what you don’t track. You might have heard to treat your job search like your job, which some people interpret to mean wake up at the same time as your work day and search for 40 hours per week, but that is not really the best application of that advice. How we advise you to apply that advice it is to make sure that your performance is producing results. Manage your time to become increasingly efficient because once you start to build momentum, you are busy meeting with more people who are able to open doors of opportunity. There are a lot of people and follow up actions you will want to stay on top of to maintain and leverage that momentum.

The Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule) is a theory maintaining that 80% of the output from a given system is determined by 20% of the input. This principle is always at work, and we have found it true with job searches as well. 80% of job seekers are spending 80% of their time on the resources that produce 20% of the results, IF THAT! Our tool helps you flip the results so that you spend 80% of your time on the resources that produce 80% of the results. Not only are job seekers who use our tool producing better momentum, they are cutting their “job search work week” down, enjoying more of their time, which as a by-product actually helps steamroll momentum even further. Within two weeks of learning how to use the tool, they are realizing much better time management and starting to form better habits. Their confidence soars, they feel more in control of their destiny, they perform better in interviews, they can afford to hold out for the RIGHT offer, and feel bold enough to negotiate an even higher offer.

 

Just imagine what overcoming procrastination and effectively managing your time looks like. It is a sense of accomplishment, a feeling that you have done enough, that you are successful enough to allow yourself to REALLY enjoy your life. The truth is we are never really DONE with our to-dos. However, time hacks help manage the most significant tasks, so they do not completely absorb your time and energy, allowing you more room for joy and fun.

 

5 Ways to Develop Soft Skills Employers Love

Climbing to Success with Life Skills by Bunches and Bits of Flickr

Climbing to Success with Life Skills by Bunches and Bits of Flickr

Have you ever felt like soft skills such as communicating effectively, better managing your time, or building relationships was something you are gifted with, and can not be taught? The belief that soft skills can not be taught is a common misconception and Geek Manager Blogger Meri Williams refers to this belief as the “Soft Skills Fairy.” Many people feel some are blessed with soft skills, while others must languish in their inability to grasp them. The truth is that anyone can learn soft skills, much like learning to program code, cook, or fix a car. These skills can be obtained in a variety of ways including reading books, personal development courses, and life coaching. In “9 Soft Skills Every Employee Needs, Regardless of Technical Skill,” I discussed the skills employers want and how knowledge of these skills are not enough. Honing these skills are vital to your employability and professional growth.

 

  1. Setting Goals

Carli Lloyd, a professional soccer star, did not start out as a winner. She was physically unfit, was not mentally strong enough, and her character needed work. She doubled down and improved herself. Lloyd is now considered one of the most physically and mentally fit athletes in professional soccer, and she is lauded for her character. Carli Lloyd’s coach pointed out to her when she was aspiring to join the national soccer team that athletes at this level work hard to obtain results. They live, breathe, and sleep their big goal. They train mentally and physically from the time they wake up until the time they sleep. It takes extreme discipline, and learning which soft skills to develop also requires discipline. Soft skill development requires awareness at a conscious level, and then to become unconsciously competent requires extreme regimen and consistent awareness, for which external guidance can be pivotal. Becoming unconsciously competent takes place in stages.

Many people have blind spots when it comes to their own soft skills. A skills assessment quiz is one of the best ways to pinpoint where your skills are lacking. Setting goals allows you to track your development. One of your goals can be to identify all of the soft skills gaps that stand to threaten your professional success by either taking a quiz or working with a coach.

 

  1. Self-assessment

After completing the quiz and setting goals, take a moment to sit down and decide which skills you need to develop. Prioritize the skills you will develop first, and create a list reasons why you want to improve these soft skills. The list of reasons can range from “I am having trouble connecting to my co-workers,” to “I want to become a better leader.” Whatever your reasons are, they are personal and unique to you. After you have created your list, share it with a coach, mentor, or friend to help keep you accountable. An accountability partner can keep you on track and serve as support.

All of the planning in the universe is useless without a solid plan of action. Once you know where you need to improve, and you have a method of accountability, it is time to put the task of learning soft skills into motion.

 

  1. Work with a coach

The use of a life coach can be another method to identify the blind spots in your soft skills development. People often need someone else to angle the mirror correctly to see what they cannot see in themselves to improve various aspects of their lives. A coach can provide this mirror, a path to move forward, and the ability to push you harder on that path. The development of soft skills is similar to learning physical skills. Unless you exercise those skills, they will not grow. You can also think of a good coach as a captain helping you to navigate the waters of personal and professional development. You could complete these tasks on your own, but arriving at your destination will take much longer.

 

  1. Reading materials

Reading books on how to improve your soft skills can be a great source of encouragement and insight. Additionally, reading can provide a useful road map on your journey to develop your soft skills. Here are ten great books to help you start the journey:

 

  1. Dr. Travis Bradberry- Emotional Intelligence 2.0
  2. Stephen Covey- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
  3. Dale Carnegie- How to Win Friends and Influence People
  4. Dale Carnegie – How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
  5. Andrea Gardner – Change Your Words, Change Your World
  6. Dan Millman – Peaceful Warrior
  7. Daniel Kahneman – Thinking, Fast and Slow
  8. Allyson Lewis – The Seven Minute Difference
  9. Carol S. Dweck – Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
  10. Susan Cain- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

 

  1. Practice, practice, practice

Once you have begun to develop your soft skills, it is time to put them into practice. You would not expect an athlete to go into their first game without practicing, nor would you expect a programmer to release code without extensive testing. In the same manner, you can practice your soft skills. You can join associations or hobby-related clubs. If you really want to put your newly acquired skills to the test, attend a soft skills training workshop. Take and graciously accept feedback, as it will help you keep track of your development progress and help you target areas of weakness. Practicing your soft skills will allow you to sharpen them outside of the workplace. As you continue to put your soft skills to use, recalling them will become easier and will feel more natural.

 

We often think soft skills can not be improved, or are notoriously difficult to develop. In truth, like any area of your professional and personal life worth developing, the development of soft skills is not an easy path. The good news is that anyone can learn and improve these skills if they are willing. As I said in my previous article, technical skills are what employers notice, but soft skills are what help you land and keep you employed. Taking the time to commit to learning soft skills can improve your employment situation by making it easier to land, to constantly grow, and to take your career to new heights.

 

 

My Labor Day of Labor – I’ve Come Clean

This may still be cluttered to some, but it is zen-inspiring to me.

This may still be cluttered to some, but it is zen-inspiring to me.

No, I didn’t have another baby. I spent my holiday fighting dust balls and licking paper cuts.

After 3 years of compiling papers and collecting nonsense in my office, I “clean sweeped” (I know it’s swept, but it doesn’t sound right in this context.) There were literally 60 lbs. of paper and other junk purged from my house. I have two big boxes of great fall clothes to sell on e-bay, donate or turn into crafts. I know where everything is in my office. What is most important is most prevalent and within easy reach.

The adjustment to working from home with my babies, who are now grown up enough to know when the house is messy, happened very slowly.  While I expanded my roles as primary caretaker and entrepreneur, some of my other priorities and values were placed aside. I justified that it was what I had to do because of the choice I made to stay home and work, but in the meantime, crap accumulated and inhibited my growth. That’s where I was; I had no more room to grow because I had no room in my home and most sacred space.  The choice I made was no longer empowering; it was an abyss. While I continued to learn more and teach clients about efficiency, time management, resource management, etc., I was ignoring fundamental best practices of success – simplicity of organization and accessibility of information.

Especially because I do so much on my computer, where it seems everything is at my fingertips, these fundamentals were easy to ignore for so long. Until, enter financial advisor and partner Brian Brogan.

He asked, “Where is the space dedicated to managing the lifeblood of my family and business?”

“Oh, here and over there and I can even work outside…”

“STOP!,” he pleaded. “What are you saying about your priorities if you have no place dedicated to managing the very thing that allows your family to function?”

While he has been here at our house, he never new we had an office because the door stayed shut when there were visitors. We even kept the vent closed so as to not heat or air condition it. It was, essentially, a junk room.

After reading some of The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis, I had started to make a little progress on my office. I sorted unopened envelopes one day. Then another day I opened them. Then another day I took out any files older than 2009 to make room for the newer files. Then, I left the office alone for a week. I avoided it. What happened?

If my house were a factory, I think they would call it a bottleneck.

I needed to renew my car registration, but I couldn’t find the form. I had to make a return, but I couldn’t find a receipt. The CPRW (Certified Professional Résumé Writer) certification exams that I am supposed to grad within 2 weeks piled up for a month. ssential functions took 10 times longer than they should have. I was wasting time looking for things, feeling like a hot mess, and my temper and patience were getting short. Friday I had a gentleman tell me that I wasn’t able to listen to him. I didn’t even realize it, but I kept interrupting him. Instead of listening compassionately first, then advising appropriately, I was defensive and curt. This was impacting more than just tasks – my credibility with peers, my authority with my kids and my ability to effectively coach were hampered.

Enough – I had to do the work. The clutter had to be confronted, and so did my feelings about the clutter. With the exception of a break to have tea with my husband, make princess hats with my daughters, and hit up a local playground where we could all get a workout in, I pounded away – from breakfast to 2 or 3 in the morning. I finished at 4:30 Tuesday morning. The process, while tiring, was cathartic. What Brian said was reverberating in my brain and I thought very consciously about where I placed things based on how important I wanted them to be. Even choosing what size folder to attribute to a project made me process what amount of time I was committing to dedicate to that project.

Once it was done, I didn’t care anymore that I didn’t get to go the shore or the Poconos or that I didn’t see any concerts or even go out to eat. I had forgotten how much I value organization. For a while, I had been wishing I could just hire someone to find a place for everything, but I couldn’t wait for that to happen.

Now that I am in my office, and I can work in my office and find things in my office (and elsewhere,) I am able to think. I feel lighter and can breathe easier. Brian says that I have now made room for the harvest. Those books that I read, while portraying the importance of organization to taking action also echoed his sentiments: If you want something to show up, you have to make room for it. Now that I know I have room for growth and expansion, I have more confidence making strategic plans for my business. I want to spend time here. I want to show it off. Here. Have a look:

One thought leader I follow, I can’t remember which or perhaps it is all of them, says that people take action when they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Why is that? Why did I have to let it get to that point? Even though the disorganization was certainly having an impact on my family and me, I waited until other people were being impacted by my disorganized house before I resolved to get it cleaned up for good. I resolve now to be proactive in keeping order in my house, in my office and in my mind.

 

Have you ever been sick and tired of being sick and tired? Are you waiting until to feel this way to take action?

5 Things You CAN Do TODAY To Bring Your Dream Job Closer

The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis

The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis

A book was recommended and lent to me, The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis. You know I like to share what I learn, so while I haven’t finished, why wait passing on some nuggets of wisdom I have already gained?

What the author highlights is how you can move inches closer to your goals every day by dedicating what is completely reasonable to – 7 minutes.

Every day, no matter how busy we are, we can find 7 minutes to make our futures a priority by doing what are called micro-movements. The artist Sark writes about practical ways that you can infuse your life with creativity and be an artist, and she first introduced me to micro-movements. I had forgotten how great micro-movements can be, especially when completing a project or achieving a goal seems insurmountable or overwhelming.

I thought I would share 5 micro-movements that you can do TODAY that should take about 7 minutes and will move you closer to your dream job and/or move your dream job closer to you.

Answer the following questions. I have found that it is best to suspend any thoughts that you might have about whether your answers are realistic or not. Consider this a stream of consciousness exercise, where you just let the thoughts flow. Do not judge them. Just record them to refer to later.

#1: Taking into consideration your skills, experience and passion, what is the greatest contribution that you could make if you knew that you would be paid well for it?

#2: What new skills and experience could you gained that would help you make the contribution even greater either in scope or in the number of people impacted.

#3: If you could handpick your boss, what qualities would he or she possess that would motivate you to achieve your highest potential and what kind of experiences would they have already gained that you would like the benefit of learning from?

#4: What kind of people would you like to work among?

#5: Where do these people go to feed their own passions where you might be able to meet them and pick their brain about potential companies?

That’s it. Just answer the questions freely – nothing too difficult or overwhelming. I’m not telling you to go and do anything with these answers – YET. When you are done, come up with your own next 7-minute micro-movements that can take you even further.

UNVEIL YOUR BRILLIANCE!