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

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

 

Yes, things can change

I wanted to write a post to help anyone out there feeling as though nothing about their situation is ever going to change. You’re wondering if this is it, if this is the best you can do. You feel as though you’re stuck in a rut. You can’t imagine achieving all those things you want to, they feel too big, too far away.

I felt like that for a long time. For years everything was ok, pretty good even overall all things considered. But there were some areas of my life I was really quite unhappy with. And the feeling of being stuck, paralysed, scared, grew and grew.

I just found a post in my journal from three years ago. Here are some of my big 5-year goals from that year.

5 -Year Goals
  • Publish a book about living in Spain, and do a talk/interview about it
  • Complete a life coaching qualification
  • Set up a coaching business
  • Meet a foreign boyfriend
  • Do art as a hobby, maybe illustration
  • Dance often – learn to salsa well
  • Live in a beautiful, sunny apartment
  • Be close to my nieces and family
  • Save money each month
  • Have a great social life – meals out, cinema, dancing
  • Blog about coaching related things
  • Blog about life in Spain
  • Move to Spain
  • Take a road trip in the US
And you know how many of those things I’ve achieved?

Well, I’ve yet to take the US road trip and it’s still very much on the list. I decided to concentrate on the coaching side of blogging rather than writing about life in Spain. I haven’t yet published a book. But everything else on that list, I achieved. There’s been a lot of change.

When I wrote this list, this was all a total dream. I was in a transition period, I’d recently left a decade long career and started a new job, and was still restless. This wasn’t where I wanted to be. Living in London, not content with my social life, my love life, my finances. I’d started wondering if living in Spain could be a reality.

Three years on I can’t believe how simple it seems, in retrospect, to get what you want. However, as you go through it it doesn’t feel simple at all. There are lots of ups and downs, lots of firsts, lots of getting out of your comfort zone and wondering what the hell you are doing.

But really, it’s a matter of writing down what you want, being honest with yourself, listening to your heart (or gut). Then doing everything you can to get there.

I had to inspire myself, motivate myself, and take action.

Once you clarify what you want – staying absolutely true to yourself and forgetting about what other people think or want for you – then it’s a matter of holding onto your dream, staying excited and taking one small step at a time.

I formulated a plan for moving to Spain – read here.

I built up to starting a coaching business – read here.

I focussed on what I really wanted – read here.

Time and time again I put myself out of my comfort zone – read here.

All one step at a time, over a three year period. It takes time but it’s worth it.

If you’d like to speak to me about my life coaching sessions, email me here: joaopoku@gmail.com

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

Is unlikeability a bad thing?

 

I’m trying to train myself to be a little more unlikeable. Or rather – I’m trying not to care so much about being ‘likeable’. I had a conversation with a friend today which reminded me that lots of women pay waaaay too much attention to how their actions are going to affect other people.

What about me?!

Rather than going by our own whims and desires, we make decisions based on what other people want. Someone invites me out because they want my company? I’d better go – I don’t really feel like it but they’re feeling a bit down and say they miss me. They need me.

Someone invites me for a coffee – I just want to go off on my own for a bit of a read – but how do I tell them this without offending them? Sorry, I’d rather be on my own…

There’s a big dinner, everyone’s going – why aren’t you going? You don’t feel like it? Why? don’t you like us? Don’t you like – people?

I read an article on likeability with this great quote:

“Think for a moment how much time you have spent in your life replaying conversations where maybe you said the wrong thing, or how you were maybe too curt with that person in the checkout line, or too forward with that dude you met on Tinder; how maybe you speak too much in meetings or make your views too known. How much time you have wasted fretting about whether other people like you? Just do a quick calculation: how much of your life, do you think, you have spent this way? An hour? A whole day? A week? Maybe entire years? What masterpieces could you have made by now if you directed your energy toward writing like a bad mother***ker instead?” Lacy M. Johnson

Even now as I write this, I’m worrying that I was a bit off with someone yesterday who wanted to chat just at the moment I received an important email and had to respond.

I know that I wasn’t actually off with him. I rarely (never?) am. I’ll have just been a bit flustered and apologetic. And here I am, 24 hours later, spending time worrying about whether he thinks I’m rude or will have changed his opinion of me.

Unapologetically herself

Along those lines, I saw a video from Stylist magazine this week about ‘what makes women strong’ – and one part bought tears to my eyes. It showed one young girl saying that a strong woman is unapologetically herself. ‘She wears what she wants, does what she wants, and says whatever the hell she wants’.

I actually had to rewind that section 3 times. Because I realised that sometimes I do feel apologetic for being myself. Apologetic when I want to be on my own. When I don’t feel like talking. If I want to leave a social event before everyone else. Apologetic that I choose to do my own thing.

I’ve written in the past about self-belief, confidence and imposter syndrome. It’s all linked. We’re doing ourselves a massive disservice fretting about being liked and being ‘the good girl’, rather than just getting on with it and doing what the hell we like.

I help people with career change and I also help people with their mindset. I particularly want to help with inspiring confidence in women – it’s an area we really seem to need help with. Knowing our own minds, being unapologetic.

Have a think about it, do you care too much about being likeable?

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

Photo by Sam Manns on Unsplash