How do I deal with to-do list procrastination when I want to change career?

You’ve made the decision that you want to change career. You’ve got your to-do list.

You’re feeling motivated to get researching and networking and go for it.

There are loads of things you could do, researching, contacting people, searching, applying for jobs, looking at courses…

…but where do you start?

There’s a way I deal with my to-do list which works really well (whether for career change or anything else for that matter).

1. Highlight 1-3 of your top priority tasks on your to-do list. 

Take a few moments to pick the things that will actually have an impact and move your forwards. Such as contacting someone who could give you practical advice or an opportunity, or sending off an application. Don’t get bogged down in the easy stuff like general ‘research’.

2. List each teeny tiny easy step you need to do to complete each task. 

Really easy – such as ‘find phone number’, ‘have a quick read of their LinkedIn profile’, ‘write small summary of what I want to say’, ‘make the call’.

Or, ‘open up job application document (or download and print)’, ‘open up copy of CV to refer to’, ‘set aside x minutes to complete’, ‘work on first section’, ‘work on second section’, ’review’, ‘hit send’.

3. Pick one of these top priority tasks and get to work, step by step, crossing each off as you go along. 

4. Ignore all else until you complete it. This is important. Focus and get it done. Then pick the next one and carry on.

So now I know how to break down the tasks on my to-do list. But how do I actually get started?

Now, as a client pointed out to me, you might get wrapped up in the art of to-do list-making. You spend all your time adding to and reordering your list (ehm, procrastinating) rather than actually ticking off the steps. How do you get yourself motivated to actually take action?

A few more tips:

  • You need to focus on the result you want. Are loads of the tasks things you could do but aren’t essential? What is it that you really need to do that will make you progress? What will have the biggest impact if you do it? 
  • A fresh short list for that morning can help, forget about everything else for now, what’s the one thing you need to do today or this morning? What are the priorities? 
  • I’m a fan of setting a timer, 10-15 minutes to really focus and make progress, then I can have a break and make a tea or whatever. That really helps me, doing what I can in a short burst. If I’m then on a roll I’ll extend the timer! 
  • Finally, when you’ve had something on your list for a long time, a week, a month, it’s worth reassessing if it’s something you really want or need to do? Can it be scrapped? Or does it need to be broken down into something more doable?

Keep things as simple as you can to avoid overwhelm, and just super methodically work through the important tasks, breaking them down.

If you’d like to work with me on some coaching sessions, email me at joaopoku@gmail.com or find a slot and sign-up here: calendly.com/joannaopokulifecoaching

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Need to write something and not feeling inspired? Read this.

I was talking to a client about productivity and she asked me how I manage to write a blogpost each week. How do I come up with the ideas for it? Our discussion led to this post. The steps I take can be applied to any sort of task or writing or creative activity – it’s basically about finding inspiration and motivating yourself. Not always easy things to do…

It can be really hard when you need to write something, and you want to make it good. A blogpost, a tricky email response, a job application, even a work report. You don’t quite know what to say, it’s got to be just so, and you want to make it interesting.

To do this successfully it comes down to a few things: find inspiration and get ideas, and get in the right frame of mind to do the work.

Look for inspiration

My first piece of advice is – stay alert and look out for the stuff you’re interested in. I’m forever saving and reading interesting articles – which I’ve found via Twitter, LinkedIn, or emails or newsletters I receive. I obsessively listen to podcasts, and if I hear of a new one that sounds good I’ll immediately download an episode or make a note of the name. 

I regularly come up with new ideas this way – what’s my take on the topic?

Even if what you read or listen to isn’t directly related to your problem, hearing about someone else being productive, finding a solution, or making things happen – can get you out of a slump and inspire you into action.

If I particularly need a creativity boost, I’ll read a book on creativity like Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. A few pages in I’ll have an idea or at least feel inspired to give it a go.

Search it out

Of course you can also specifically search for what you need – ideas for subject matter, email templates, tips on how to write better. Get on Google and there will be an article or video out there to provide an answer or give you ideas. 

The important thing here, is find someone who writes in a way that inspires you. There are so many voices out there. Anything that makes you roll your eyes or cringe is a no go – but keep going until you find something that speaks to you. 

Move

When I’m staring at the computer screen and feel paralysed/bored/tired/uninspired, sometimes the only solution is to go for a walk. Either nice and quiet, strolling along and looking around me, or, more typically, listening to a podcast or music. Without fail this gets me in a better mood, gets me thinking, and gets my energy up.

I come back refreshed and with renewed energy. And maybe even with a little idea.

Just write

Final tip – if I’m not feeling particularly inspired but I’ve got some sort of an idea, I’ll just start writing. Even if it seems rubbish – it’s a base. It’s always easier to come back to something and edit it – it’s less pressure than starting with a blank page.

I hope this helps if you’ve been struggling with some sort of creative project or piece of writing. You have to search out inspiration sometimes, it doesn’t always just come to you. Good luck!

To book in a life coaching session with me, email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Cris DiNoto on Unsplash

Progress not perfection

I’ve learned a new mantra which has become a guiding light recently. Progress not perfection.

The focus is on making progress, taking action, taking the next small step…and totally forgetting about doing things perfectly. Adequate, fine, done. I love it.

Even if your end result isn’t perfect – you’ve got yourself past that horrible stage of wondering, procrastinating, staying stuck. When you wait until you’re 100% sure what you’re doing or what the outcome will be. If you get stuck in this way of thinking, you never make any progress.

Let go of perfection.

However, if you let go of perfection, you give yourself space. Even if what you do is a bit crappy, you’ve broken through.

If you’ve always tried to do things perfectly, or you set yourself really high standards, it can seem counter intuitive.

But you’ve got to remember what’s more important, just getting it done, or not doing it at all.

You can let out your rebellious, slacker side. It’s not perfect, but it’s done. Next.

Trying to do everything.

The thing is, when you try and do everything in your life perfectly, you create a huge amount of stress. I see it in myself, I see it in my friends, I see it in my clients.

Trying to do everything perfectly is setting yourself up to fail or burnout. Having the perfect job. Doing your work perfectly, being the perfect partner. Being the perfect friend, trying to look perfect. Always putting other people first.

From my experience (I know there will be exceptions), the guys I know don’t seem to carry this perfectionism around with them so much. I feel they don’t worry about being the perfect friend, they just see their friends when they can. Remembering other people’s birthdays or anniversaries and buying the perfect card and present are not up there on the to-do list. Writing the beautiful thank-you card doesn’t happen.

I know that’s a big generalisation. But my main point is, I think it’s something to be admired. So I try to adopt more of this mentality. Progress not perfection. Letting some things happen imperfectly. Letting some stuff slip.

In short, focus on the important stuff, and just get it done. What do you think? Are you stuck, always trying to do things perfectly? Where can you cut yourself some slack?

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

Photo by Andreas Dress on Unsplash

Need some focus?

I do. I sometimes wonder if I’m losing my concentration skills. I’m finding it takes more and more effort to focus.

I seem to have a lot of half-started things around me, or things I want to look at/do/read/try but haven’t quite gotten round to. For example:

Half-read books.

Looking around my flat, I currently have 12 books where I’ve either read a chapter or two or am half-way through. A couple I’ll probably never read. But others I’ve enjoyed so far – I’ve just got side-tracked and tempted by something else.

Half-watched Netflix tv series.

Currently around 5.

Podcast episodes clogging up my phone’s flimsy storage capacity.

There are so many that I’m half-way through. On top of that, every day new episodes are appearing from podcasts I’ve subscribed to.

The choice is endless. There are podcasts offering something up whatever mood I’m in (entrepreneurial, comedy, entertainment, comfort, current affairs).

And some are for walking along to, some are for washing my hair to, some are for cooking to…

Too many emails in my inbox.

Offering free training or free webinars or free guides to things I want to learn about. There are a lot of voices out there, all ready to teach me something new. And there’s SO MUCH to learn!

35 articles.

Saved in a folder on my browser bookmarked ‘to read’. Throughout the day, as something catches my eye, I dump it there. And it adds up, and adds up…

There’s just too much stuff.

Knowing this stuff is all there clogging up leaves me with a feeling of dissatisfaction. I don’t like having things lingering like that. Nothing is completed.

Are my concentration skills failing? Or is it because there’s such a proliferation of stuff out there for us, it’s a real mental battle to just focus on one thing at a time, and see it through to the end.

Distractions.

It’s become normal to flit from one thing to another. Opening up multiple internet tabs where one article leads on to another. 

Looking up something on your phone, only to be distracted by a notification and taken off on a different rabbit hole. When you manage to come out of it you’ve forgotten what you were originally looking for. 

There are so many distractions out there, and when you’re curious and interested in lots of things, and like to learn, it’s even worse.

It takes a lot to pull back and work out what’s important, and then focus.

Solution.

So the only solution I have is to regularly reassess. 

  • What do I need to focus on today or this week? What are my top 3 priorities?
  • Can I break down my ‘to-dos’ into smaller, achievable actions steps?
  • Can I cull any emails/subscriptions/podcast episodes?
  • Are there any apps I can delete?
  • Can I streamline my diary, think hard before agreeing to something?
  • What if I make a promise to myself that I will see each new book, podcast episode, tv episode through to the end (unless it’s rubbish and therefore I’ll scrap it)?

It always comes down to simplifying when I feel overwhelmed. Cut through the noise, limit my options.

What are you doing to stop the overwhelm and unnecessary distractions?

***

You might like my guide to creating a morning routine: 3 easy steps to a morning routine you love!

Contact me if you’d like to try a life coaching session. I can help with overwhelm, productivity, feeling stuck… Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Don’t put things off

Putting things off til later. We all do it. Either we don’t want to do it, or we just can’t face it right now. But some things really shouldn’t be put off, they’re too important and time is precious…

I saw a photo of myself from over a decade ago, taken in Dubrovnik, Croatia. I was there visiting with my family. I’m stood high on the city walls, sun baking down, admiring the view. I remember walking along the wall, running my hand along the hot stone, deep in thought.

I remembered how on that trip I had promised myself that one day (soon) I’d live abroad again.

It took me a good 10 years to finally do it.

They regret they didn’t do it sooner.

It seems a lot of people’s biggest regret when it comes to career change, starting their own business, moving house or moving abroad, is that they didn’t do it sooner. They put it off.

The thing is, once you’ve done it, you look back and realise it’s not so difficult. It’s simply the difference between dreaming about doing it and making the decision and actually doing it.

Most things are doable – you just need to decide.

The regret comes from realising that even though there may be challenges and obstacles steep learning curves and things that go wrong, your goal is achievable. And it really wasn’t something you needed to put off for so long.

Once I’d moved from the UK to Spain and looked back at the process, I was quite surprised at how straightforward it had actually been. I’d built it into this really massive thing. Leaving my flat, friends, family, life. For years the dream of moving abroad had become a big deal (even though I’d done it before, successfully, twice).

In the end it came down to:

  • Speaking to my bosses about moving abroad, which was scary and took courage – but they were fine about it (we work remotely).
  • I had to sort out renting my flat which was a bit of a faff. But the hardest part was deciding to leave my flat, which I’d loved living in. The emotional stuff. Once I’d made the decision, the rest was just practical stuff.
  • Stopping all household services and direct debits was straightforward.
  • Packing up the stuff in my flat and taking it to store in my Mum and Dad’s garage was easy.
  • Booking a flight to Valencia was simple.
  • Finding a flat in Valencia took a bit of effort, but I did it.

There’s always a way.

It really was just a series of steps. The main thing was sorting out my mindset, and getting my head around the idea that moving abroad at that time was plausible.

I know not everyone’s situation is the same, not everyone will have their own flat to rent out, not everyone will have parents willing to store their stuff. Not everyone will have a job they can pick up in another country, working remotely.

But, with each person’s own personal situation, there’s always a way. Once you make the decision to do something, it’s a matter of working away at it, taking steps to get you there.

Same with career change.

I spent years agonising about changing career. It did take a lot of reflection and planning. But I really dragged it out. I was putting it off because I really didn’t know what I wanted to do.

When it came down to it, it meant making the decision to leave my job and find something that suited me better. I had six months of doing a variety of jobs and freaking out about what to do. But eventually I found a new job I loved, and found the guts to start my own coaching business too.

And I now realise I could have done this all sooner.

Think about it.

The thing is, it doesn’t really matter if you do it now, in one year, or in 5 years. But what I’m saying is don’t wait too long out of fear. A bit of time to plan and prepare and set safety nets – yes. But procrastinating and putting it off for years, and not even taking that one small first step? No. You’re just putting off your own happiness.

Is there something that you’d really like to do, that you dream of doing, that if you fast forward 10 or 15 years you KNOW you’ll regret not going? What is it? Write it down. Put down as much detail around it as you can. Set a date by which time you want to have achieved this dream.

It may seem enormous, time consuming, ridiculous. But think about how you’ll feel once you do it or achieve it. 

If you keep taking tiny steps towards this big goal, then so much can be achieved, however long it takes you.

“Dare to life the life you dream for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you’d like to try life coaching with me, contact me at: joaopoku@gmail.com

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