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

8 Things you need to know about moving abroad

A former client and friend asked me for my advice on moving abroad. As I started thinking, I realised that elements of this advice could be applied to all sorts; career change, starting something new, a side project. I hope it’s useful. Here’s my advice:

1. The fear. Once you take action, it gets better. Waiting is the worst.

The period before you make the move is the really scary part. That’s where it’s all unknown, vague, you can’t quite imagine how it’s going to be or what you’re going to do.

All your biggest fears come to head – will I be lonely, will I make any friends, will I end up homeless, will I hate it, will it all just be too difficult to cope with? I had all these fears before moving to Valencia.

Even things which are usually relatively simple or straightforward like opening a bank account or finding a place to live seem insurmountable.

Know that as soon as you get there and start ‘doing’, this particular fear will drop away as you’ll be so busy taking it all in and taking action.

2. Relax

So you’re there, you’ve been there a little while, and you might be thinking “what have I done, what have I done, what have I done…”

Give yourself time. Time to readjust, take in your new surroundings, learn how things work. Chances are the start might be a bit rocky and emotional, as you become a novice and just don’t know stuff. With time, you will.

3. Meeting people and making friends. Keep busy, ask for help.

Get out there. That’s all you can do. Say yes to as much as you can, try everything, talk to people. Keep your options open.

It can be daunting but you’re only going to meet your people by meeting lots of random people, and keeping going until you feel that click.

If big meet-up groups aren’t your thing and the thought of some big expat community makes your skin crawl, look for ways to meet people one on one. There are smaller localised Facebook groups which can be really useful and supportive.

I used an excellent ‘Conversation Exchange’ website as soon as I arrived in Valencia – where you arrange to meet people who want to practise speaking your language and vice versa.

So whenever I wanted, every night if I so wished, I had someone to meet for a drink.

I could enjoy being out and about and having company. And – it’s an excellent way to learn about your new home city or town, you can ask loads of questions and even get help or advice.

4. Explore. 

One of the most exciting parts of being in a new city. Make a massive list of all the things you want to do.

Plan trips/visits. Do all the cliches. Eat all the food. Watch films, sit in a cafes. You’ll get to know the city really well, you’ll have fun and you’ll be out and about.

5. Language learning.

Once you start making progress, marvel at it. Each new word you learn, sentence you formulate, question you understand, is a massive success. Use every opportunity to converse and persist. Immerse yourself in TV, radio, film, talks.

6. Celebrate your successes. 

Bank account open – great. Coffee date set up – amazing. I think we could all do better at this in everyday life – acknowledge when you’ve overcome something tricky, however small it may seem. You’re doing a good job.

7. Make a plan. 

Imagine how you want your life to be in a month, or 3 months, or 6 months. Then set goals. For example, in the next 3 months I want to: 

  • Meet at least one or two friends. 
  • Go on x number of dates.
  • Visit x, y, z.
  • Improve my language skills by attending/doing x every day.
  • Find a decent flat. 
  • Try x, y, z.

It helps you focus on what you want, and keep track of your achievements as time passes.

8. And remember

Even if it doesn’t seem to be working out as you imagined;

a) Give yourself time, you never know what’s around the corner. 

b) You can be proud that you’ve done something so many people dream of, and never do. You took that massive step and went for something you have wanted for a long time. It takes courage.

You’ve been brave enough to follow your heart, follow your dreams. 

Finally…

My main advice when moving abroad?

Enjoy yourself, enjoy the feeling of freedom. Along with all the practicalities and organisation, have fun. Do all those things that you dreamt of when you dreamed of your life in Paris. 

Every once in a while you’ll look around and think, am I really here?

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

Photo by Léonard Cotte on Unsplash

Start before you’re ready (when trying something new).

I’ve written about the barriers we put in place to stop ourselves from trying something new (and how to get around that mindset). Things like not having the time, not having the experience, not being quite ready to get started. Know the feeling? It’s led me to think more about the idea of ‘start before you’re ready‘.

In the books I read and podcasts I listen to about entrepreneurship successful people always advise that in order to achieve something big you just need to get started. Even if you don’t feel 100% ready.

It’s something I’ve been trying for a while now, and I still have to psych myself up each time. But I’ve learned how thrilling it can feel to start before you’re ready. And it’s addictive. Here I’ll share a recent example and why it’s worth it.

What ‘start before you’re ready’ looks like

I signed up to do an online challenge. The challenge was to create a free downloadable guide to offer to people who visit my website. Something I’d never done before. It could be on whatever subject I wanted.

What do I know about and find easy, that someone else could learn from?

A post I’d written on LinkedIn about my love of morning routines had generated a few comments from people who genuinely struggle with setting up a good routine of their own. Maybe I could create a guide for that?

Part of me thought – is this really going to be useful to anyone? Are people going to thing it’s silly?

Then I remembered that most people coming to my website are looking for guidance and want to improve certain aspects of their lives. Perhaps establishing good habits and a decent morning routine would be of use.

Just do it

I kept having to remind myself – just do it. Create the guide without stressing over it, follow the steps to getting it out there. Don’t spend hours procrastinating and worrying about all the details. Done is better than perfect.

It’s hard. It felt daring (putting my stuff ‘out there’). It made me feel vulnerable.

The thrill

But – it’s undeniably thrilling to do something you’re a bit scared of or daunted by. Taking a step into the unknown, being brave. And I realise the result is unlikely to kill me (or cause public humiliation).

When people visit my website, they can now download a guide which might help them, it might even be just what they are looking for! It feels like a step forward.

Even if no one clicks to download it, I’ve gone through the motions, I’ve learned how to do it. I can try again. It’s no longer so scary. Actually, it feels exciting.

Have you started?

This is what start before you’re ready is all about. It’s about not letting fear stop you, it’s jumping over the fear and ending up two steps ahead.

What can you start today that you don’t feel 100% ready for (but really want to do)? Won’t taking one little step towards it make you feel amazing?

***

You can access my free guide to creating a morning routine you love, just click the download button below. Let me know what you think, send me a message at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Dustin Lee 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.

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