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

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.

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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

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