Got a good job but you’re bored? Try this.

I have a friend who has been feeling quite bummed out. Her work had been her lifeline while going through a difficult break-up. It was the one constant that she could throw herself into when everything else had been turned upside down.

Now, she’s out the other side of the break-up and feeling much more content in her personal life. But she realises something is lacking from her work life.

She’s coasting along, doing ok. But she feels the pressure, the endless more, more, more. Bigger goals, higher forecasts, always needing to beat her last figures. It doesn’t feel fresh and exciting anymore, just mundane, pointless.

She’s debating leaving, maybe finding a start-up which will renew her energy. Or, she could ride it out. See if it’s just a low patch and things might improve in the future. Or a new opportunity may arise in her current workplace.

Going through the motions

One thing she’s realised has been lacking is that she’s not learning any more. She’s just going through the motions. She’s missing the challenge, the feeling of discovering something new. Feeling that she’s growing. And this friend is a curious person. She actually has an amazing amount of energy and is naturally inquisitive and interested in the world around her.

Free online courses

So she’s set herself the challenge of doing a load of online courses. Her company provides free courses in all sorts of areas. So she’s picked any that appeal, whether or not directly related to her work. Anything that she’s curious to learn about.

She’s choosing to invest in herself, in her own self-development. Whether or not she decides to move on in a few months time, within these next months she will learn a lot. And hopefully she will be inspired. She will lift her own energy, which in turn may make her more productive in her day-to-day work.

Keep learning

If you too are feeling bored, stuck or lost in your current job, or if you’re between jobs, feeling uninspired and procrastinating, maybe you can follow her lead. Find a free online course, on any topic that takes your fancy, and go for it. If you’re super busy – even just 10 minutes a day on your commute or in bed before sleeping.

There are loads of free or affordable online courses out there. With Skillshare for example, you can sign up for a month or two for free. There are lots of inspiring people to learn from. I’ve done a social media strategy course with entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. I did a coaching course which introduced me to new techniques. I used a tutorial on Canva to help me with creating images for Pinterest. Emma Gannon who wrote Ctrl Alt Delete and The Multi-Hyphen Method has a good course on finding your passion.

Udemy have cheap courses. And I’m looking into LinkedIn Learning. They have a massive range of courses and it looks as though you can do a one month free trial.

Invest in yourself

If you are struggling with where you are at, doing online courses and learning is a great way to gain some control of where you’re heading and how you’re spending your time.

You’ll learn new skills you’ll be able to directly apply to your work, your new job, your side hustle. Your social media. Your general knowledge. It’s investing in yourself, which can only ever be a good thing.

If you’d like to try a life coaching session with me, contact me for a free 30 minute Skype call so that I can answer any questions you might have. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

Other people’s routines

I’m the sort of person that loves routine. I enjoy my morning routine, it sets me up for the day, leaving me feeling awake and ready to get to work. And I like my daily work routine, my coffee break mid-morning, and my lunchtime stroll in the park.

If for some reason I can’t follow my normal routine, everything feels in disarray. For a day or two, it’s fine, it’s a novelty and I’m having fun travelling or staying with a friend. But after two or three days out of my routine, I miss it.

I crave walking on my own, long walks listening to podcasts. My body misses the stretches of morning yoga. I long for 10 spare minutes to listen to a meditation. My writing goes off kilter, and I realise on Friday morning that I have no blogpost to publish.

More than anything, I need a bit of time on my own, no chatting, no listening, no voices. Just me getting on with my stuff.

The pressure of being productive

This week I was reminded how in the media and online there’s an intense pressure to be the most efficient you can be, the most productive, the most calm and unflappable. All around there are examples of morning routines, productivity hacks, other people telling us what works for them. Things you must do to get x result.

I’ve written before about information overload and how I’m always trying to strip things back to the bare essentials in terms of consuming information. Ironically, having recently written a few posts about productivity and efficiency, I realise I could be adding to the noise.

If hearing about other people’s lives leaves you feeling bad, or that you’re not doing enough, it’s probably healthier to dial down the noise and concentrate on doing your thing.

No routine

The thing is, I love hearing about how other people work, how they spend their days and what their morning or day time routines consist of (for example here). I find it fascinating what works for one person and doesn’t for another. Or rather, what appeals to me and what doesn’t.

Other people’s routines can seem pretty dull and strict. Chanting for 30 minutes upon waking then drinking hot water with lemon doesn’t appeal to me. Nor does waking at 5am to walk on a treadmill whilst checking emails and catching the news headlines. It sounds like a punishment rather than a great way to start the day.

What I really like is reading about people whose routines are totally different to mine, and which sound fun. Perhaps they don’t have any fixed routine. Maybe they wake up and write for 2 hours straight, only drinking coffee. Or they roll out of bed as late as possible, grab a croissant and coffee to go and put their makeup on in the tube.

Get inspired

And learning about how other people go about their lives can be helpful. You might uncover something that hits a nerve, and makes you see things differently, do things differently.

I remember reading about someone working in publishing who would snatch any moment throughout the day they could to read – getting through a staggering amount of books a month – and that made me prioritise reading more.

Sometimes it’s good to refresh the routine you’ve settled into and consciously aim to make your day more enjoyable, or relaxed, or easy.

What works for you

I think the most important point is – find out what works for you.

If you love a bit of unpredictability, no set routine and going with how you feel in the moment, brilliant. Perhaps a bit of chaos gets the adrenaline going. If like me you feel overwhelmed by lack of routine, and like things to feel a bit ordered, that’s fine too. But it probably does me good to mix it up every once in a while and not be too set in my ways.

The main thing is to find what suits you – and go with it.

***

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

Photo by Kenny Luo on Unsplash

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.

Later 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.

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.

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