Using the 80/20 rule

I recently wrote about how your hormones can affect your productivity. I’ve since learned from a podcast that week 4 of your cycle, the week before you are due your period, is the perfect time to evaluate and reflect on life, work, everything you’ve got going on.

So the other morning I decided to take some time to do just that – and specifically reflect on my coaching business.

I’ll share what I’ve learned, and how you can apply this to any area of your life, including career change.

The 80/20 principle

The podcast talks about the 80/20 rule (the Pareto principle) – which basically states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort.

For example if you have a business, it’s likely that 80% of your sales come from only 20% of your clients. A few key clients generate most of the income.

Therefore you should concentrate more on nurturing relationships with these 20% key clients. And on finding new clients who are similar.

This principle can be applied to practically anything, 20% of your effort will result in 80% of your results.

How can I use 80/20?

I wanted to look into the 80/20 principle and what it means for me. Based on an activity suggested in the podcast, I took a look at the marketing I do for my coaching business. I wrote a list with two columns. The left hand column shows how I spend my time on marketing each day or week. The right hand column shows how my clients find me.

I​ worked out that I spend 120 – 180 minutes writing and publishing a blogpost each week. 

10 – 30 minutes goes on writing a post to put on LinkedIn – ideally daily but this isn’t always the case. So let’s say 50 minutes on this.

Then I spend around 10 minutes every Monday posting to a couple of relevant Facebook groups. I share useful articles and promote my coaching.

I also spend some time reading relevant articles and following marketing tutorials. Maybe another 50 minutes a week.

So that’s 290 minutes a week on marketing.

Does 80/20 apply to me?

That’s how I spend my time. Now, how do clients find me?

When I look at where my clients actually come from, it’s LinkedIn and Facebook. They’ve organically searched for coaches and found me.

Or they’ve seen one of my posts or comments and checked out my profile or website.

My very first client found me from a post linking to an interview I did for the Careershifters website and contacted me for advice.

So the 60 minutes a week I spend on creating LinkedIn and Facebook posts directly result in new clients finding me. That is indeed 20% of the time I spend on marketing. The 80/20 principle does seem to apply.

So what have I learned?

I’ve learned that I need to focus more on LinkedIn and Facebook posts, perhaps increasing frequency and making sure the content is great. They directly influence the success of my coaching business, allowing me to reach new clients. Bingo.

I can try to cut down a little on the other stuff, if it’s time I could be spending on the posts mentioned above. I could repurpose my blog content for more posts. Doing more interviews like the Careershifters one would be a good idea.

How does 80/20 apply to career change?

This principle can be applied to career change (and any other area of your life, it’s all about how you’re choosing to spend your time).

You might be doing all sorts of things to try and change career and find a new job.

Scanning online job boards, using LinkedIn, getting job alerts. Speaking to friends and family. Researching further training. Scanning company websites for openings or sending cover letters. It can be overwhelming.

Take time to reflect.

Perhaps it’s time to sit back and reflect. Get a piece of paper, on the right hand side write down all the ‘successes’ you’ve had.

Connections you’ve made on Linkedin that seem promising, a phone conversation with someone who could help or advise. A coffee with an acquaintance that led to an introduction, a job application you’re excited about.

Now on the left hand side write down all the tasks that you’ve been doing to help with your career change.

Contacting people on LinkedIn who look interesting. Setting up a call with a friend of a friend who works for a company you’re interested in. Spending 20 minutes scanning job boards. Reading through your daily job alerts. Going to a talk which gave you some great ideas.

Match up your successes to your tasks. What directly led to these successes? Which tasks are actually getting you somewhere, and which are just keeping you busy?

The former are the tasks you should be concentrating more on.

This activity helps with focus when there’s a lot you could be doing and you don’t know how to prioritise.

It can help with endless searching and procrastinating.

If you are more targeted in your approach, a bit more strategic, chances are you’ll make good progress and feel more in control.

I hope trying the 80/20 rule works for you – and helps you streamline your efforts!

If you’d like to try a life coaching session with me, email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

My to-do list is out of control! Dealing with procrastination and productivity – 5 easy steps

I spoke to a client the other day who is struggling with overwhelm and productivity. Life is busy and stressful, and she has big plans for herself.

As well as wanting to transform her career, she wants to transform the way in which she lives her life.

She wants more autonomy in how she spends her time, more opportunity to focus on her areas of expertise, and time to pursue new hobbies or things she wants to learn.

Productivity, focus, procrastination

After talking to her it got me thinking of productivity, focus and procrastination. These are the key areas which affect getting things done aren’t they?

You want to be really focused on what you want to achieve, really productive in how you spend your time getting there. And then our friend procrastination comes along, getting in the way.

Indecision

I started to look at my own situation and realised that I too feel pulled in all sorts of directions. I have all these great ideas, I put them on a list of ‘things to do’, and then before I know it I’m crippled by indecision. Where to start? Is this idea really worth the time? Should I be focusing on something else?

The teeny tiny first step

I’ve recently discovered the idea of breaking down a big old ‘thing to do’ into the very smallest possible steps, in order to actually get started and make progress.

For example, take a potentially awkward phone call I’ve been putting off. I’ll write down these three steps on my to-do list.

1. Literally just finding and noting down the phone number to call as the first task (ie a Google search).

2. Next, planning what I’m going to say, or noting down what I need to find out. Writing down a few lines to fall back on.

3. Finally, picking up the phone and making the call.

You tick each item off the list as you accomplish it. It sounds so obvious but physiologically it helps me just do stuff. What might have been pushed back and pushed back becomes doable.

Too much at once

However I’ve realised that I often start one thing on my list, just to get started. I then look at a completely different ‘to-do’  and take the first small step there. I’ll swiftly move on to another – to feel as though I’m covering all bases, making progress all round. The result is I end up with lots of half-done unsatisfactory unfinished things.

I looked to a book for inspiration. One that’s always at the back of my mind but that I’ve never fully read (what’s going on there?) is Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I read the first chapter and loved his ethos. As his website says:

“The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s not about getting less done. It’s about getting only the right things done.”

Essentialism

It’s all about prioritising. Only focusing on the essentials – not the fluffy extras that are time wasting opportunities. Your productivity will surely improve.

So I decided to pick my top priority from my to-do list – what’s the one thing that’s going to push me forwards the most? Then I’d break that task down into tiny bite-sized pieces, and work on these tasks only, until it is complete.

It works

And do you know what? So far it is working. I highlighted the two most urgent important tasks on my to-do list,  and listed all the little steps to get each done. Then I picked one, ignored the other, and solidly worked my way through the steps.

It helped that I picked something I was excited to learn about: I wanted to share a blogpost on Pinterest, where people can download my free vision board ebook.

I was so buoyed by my success that I felt full of energy and ready to start my second top priority task.

Chances are if I hadn’t applied this tactic I’d still be procrastinating, searching and reading articles about both tasks and not actually getting on with making them happen.

What you can do

So there we have it. My productivity tips:

  1. Read Essentialism before me.
  2. Highlight 1-3 of your top priority tasks on your to-do list.
  3. List each teeny tiny easy step you need to complete for each one (I’m talking mind numbingly easy like 1. watch Youtube video on creating a Pinterest account, 2. sign up to create a Pinterest account, 3. watch Youtube video on creating a board on Pinterest…).
  4. Pick one top priority task and get to work, step by step. Ignore all else until it is completed.
  5. Feel smug.

I hope this helps if you are feeling overwhelmed and your to-do list is out of control! Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

If you’d like to try a life coaching session with me, send me an email at joaopoku@gmail.com. You can sign-up for a free 30 minute Skype call with me.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Why talk to a Life Coach?

Today I am speaking to a life coach, and I’m so happy. Because I need it. Even though I’m a coach myself, and work with other people to uncover what they want to change or improve in their lives, it can still be hard to work on this stuff for myself.

We’ve all got our own ideas about what we can and can’t do. I’ve got my own fears and worries that stop me from doing certain things and hold me back.

It’s so good to talk to someone who doesn’t know you very well, who doesn’t know your past, who doesn’t know your personality. Someone who doesn’t base their views on the 8 year-old you, or the 24 year-old you, or the you from two years ago.

They can listen to you afresh, and objectively. They will dig deep into what you are saying or not saying. You might mention something quite flippantly – but they’ll catch on to it, and ask what you really mean. Why do you say that? Why is that an issue? Is there something deeper going on there?

We don’t stay the same

Sometimes we have age-old beliefs that we’ve held on to over the years. Such as: I’m shy, or I hate public speaking or I don’t like change. We felt like this 10, 20 years ago – it’s become a part of who we are. But the truth is, over the years we can change without realising it.

Maybe you were a shy teenager. But now you’re actually a considered, reserved, soft-speaking person who is quietly confident? Shy’s not really an accurate description.

Perhaps you still hate the idea of public speaking, but you have a lot of experience presenting to small groups of people, and you do it well. It’s not this big thing that should be holding you back.

Am I ridiculous?

It can be slightly nerve-wrecking speaking to a life coach – what if I can’t think of anything to say, what if it’s embarrassing, what if I feel they are judging me? What if my worries are silly? Am I ridiculously spoilt and privileged to say these things?

But a life coach is trained to listen in a non-judgemental way. They are experienced in asking certain questions to help you clarify your thoughts. A coach knows that most worries and challenges boil down to the same thing, fear. Fear of change, fear of what others think of you, fear of losing all your money, fear of the unknown.

Do you want to move on?

These fears are all valid. And worth addressing. It’s only when you realise what is holding you back and consider what impact that will have on your future, that you can work on moving forward.

Perhaps you’ll realise that you’re basing what you see as success on your parents’ views rather than your own. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that you’ll only ever be able to do one sort of job because you spent years studying and training for it. You can’t stand the work, but you can’t ‘waste’ that education.

It could be you’ve lost your confidence and it’s stopping you from considering new opportunities. You truly don’t think you’ve got certain skills or aptitudes – but in reality you have them in bucket-loads. You just haven’t been enjoying using them, or you’ve had to apply them in ways that don’t suit your values.

A life coach listens, and then helps you to come up with a plan of action to move on. Once you’ve identified what’s stopping you, what one little step can you take to move in the direction you want to? You come up with the plan, and your coach supports you along the way.

Ask for help

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. There’s a reason those sayings such as ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ have endured. Rather than letting worries about making changes circle around in your mind – talk to someone.

If you’d like to try life coaching with me, drop me an email at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

 

This will change your world. Period.

One day, when I was living in Paris, a friend and I made a discovery. It turned out we both had one day every single month when we would feel sad and cry for no apparent reason. We figured out that it was always the day before our period. It was quite the revelation. This ‘sad day’ wasn’t out of the blue, it was regular as clockwork. And it was all due to hormones.

But somehow I managed to forget all about this discovery. Every month would come round. I’d have a day or two feeling really sad, blue, wondering what was wrong with me. And then the next day I’d get the answer, oh yes, I was due my period.

I loosely kept track of when my period should come. I’d note in my diary a star on the first day of my period and a question mark on the day 25 days late. Even so, I would without fail forget about the ‘sad day’.

A hormone tracker changed her world

The first time I properly considered how my menstrual cycle affects me was only a year or two ago when I read an article. The journalist had just discovered a free hormone app tracker, and it changed her world.

A very brief summary is that we have four stages of our menstrual cycle. Our hormones are doing different things during each stage. These hormones affect our mood, appetite, energy levels, desire for socialising (along with other things going on in our lives, of course).

Rising oestrogen in week one (the first day of your period and the days following) gives you a surge of positivity and good feelings (having felt fairly crap during week 4). Week 2, as oestrogen continues to rise, you’re likely to feel more upbeat, confident and resilient. Week 3 you’ll probably be feeling quite mellow and sleepy (due to rising progesterone), and week 4 it’s likely you’ll feel irritated, a bit blue, generally p*ssed off at the world as oestrogen is now dropping. (I’d advise you to read up on this, I’m no scientist).

It was amazing to finally understand why some weeks I feel confident, full of energy and good vibes, wanting to socialise every night. Then other weeks I can’t bear to be around too many other people, wanting to cancel all social engagements and just lie on the sofa watching tv.

Amongst other things it also affects productivity; some weeks I’m super motivated and on a roll, others my pep is limited.

We should cut ourselves some slack

The reason I’m sharing this is so that you can learn to cut yourself some slack. We women are good at giving ourselves a hard time. Those days when there is lots to do. Your to-do list is infinite, but you’re low on energy. You just want to sleep, you’re irritated, you’re crabby, you’re uninspired – there’s a reason. It’s probably because your hormones are doing their thing (and let’s not forget diet, sleep, exercise, personal issues etc etc all play a part too).

Give yourself a break. Sooner or later the week of your cycle will come around where you’re positive, full of energy, a can-do attitude and great ideas.

If you’re going through a career change or looking to make changes in other areas of your life, it can be tough to stay motivated and focused. There are lots of emotional issues going on. There’s quite possibly a lot of negative chatter, your brain’s way of keeping you safe and within your comfort zone. And then on top of that your mood, confidence and energy are all affected by your hormones.

Plan ahead

My advice is to read up a little on hormones, or download one of the many free hormone tracker apps out there. Build your awareness. You’ll start to figure out which week’s great for networking, contacting people, charging ahead with your plans. And which week is a good time for reflection and slowing down. You can start to make plans with this knowledge in mind.

Even with what I’ve learned, I still have to remind myself all this on a weekly or even daily basis. It’s easy to forget. Sometimes you’re feeling the way you feel, simply because of…hormones.

If you’d like to try life coaching with me, send me an email at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Jealous Weekends on Unsplash