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

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

 

2 Ways to Build Confidence for Career Change

 

It’s been said that the three major things to hinder career change are time, money and confidence.

Today I’m going to focus on confidence. A big one.

My story

Prior to my own career change, my confidence levels were not high.

I’d lost confidence in my abilities at work. I would see other people in the office on the phone, or in client meetings, chatting so confidently and seemingly at ease. Whilst I was a bundle of nerves.

It affected my mindset. I didn’t enjoy the work, I was intimidated by it, and I had no real desire to do it. There was this mixture of apathy and fear. Not a good combination.

So as much as I wanted to make a change and find work that really spoke to me, I couldn’t see clearly what I had to offer. I’d been at that job for so long that it was hard to recognise my abilities out of that context.

As I associated my abilities with that specific role, I didn’t really want to think about them. Sales, negotiating – I’d had enough and it was like I’d hit a brick wall.

But I spoke to a coach who helped me to see things objectively, not an easy task when you are feeling so emotional. However she helped me distinguish between whether or not I enjoyed using those skills in that context, and whether or not I was actually in possession of those skills and could apply them elsewhere.

Tip 1 – rethink what you’re good at

If you’re struggling with your confidence,  I’d recommend doing this with a coach, a good friend or someone in your family. Sit together and come up with a list of all the skills you use in your work. Do you have to communicate clearly, negotiate, give presentations, write concisely?

Also add a list of the things you feel you are good at, whether in or out of work. Are you super organised, brilliant at coming up with ideas, able to connect with other people easily?

Then objectively, together, evaluate these skills. Score yourself out of 10. Particularly pinpoint those you don’t feel confident about, or that you’re sick of. Take out the emotion. As much as you may not enjoy it – you probably actually use this skill really effectively, and have a huge amount of experience in using it. Try to back your score up with examples. Maybe imagine how you’d view the situation if it were a colleague in your place.

You might surprise yourself.

The main aim here is to realise that you have many skills and talents that can be put to excellent use elsewhere.

Tip 2 – read about inspiring people

Prior to, during, and after my career change, I also read a lot of books that I picked directly to help me with my confidence levels, such as Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway. Over time, these books reinforced the message that I could do whatever it was that I wanted. I just had to get started.

I read so many books and articles from impressive women who had done brilliant things. They said that the only difference between them and anyone else was that they chose to go ahead and get on with things. These women weren’t necessarily more talented, creative or intelligent. They all had the distinguishing feature of just getting their heads down and step-by-step working towards accomplishing what they wanted.

Find inspiration

I found articles and blogposts about other women who had gone through a career change. There were stories similar to my own. Seeing that these women had moved on and were now doing work that they enjoyed or even loved, inspired me.

Gradually it helped change my mindset. I realised that I do have loads to offer, and actually more opportunities than most; I was just getting in the way of moving myself on, by giving in to fear.

Bit by bit I developed a more positive, brave, explorative mindset. I learned about putting yourself out of your comfort zone, how it can be excruciating but the more you do it, the more you develop resilience. So often I felt uncomfortable, unsure and awkward. I accepted that part of the process to moving on is to feel this way.

Bonus – read these books
Here are some of the books that helped with developing confidence and made me excited to find my own path. Maybe they will inspire you too:
  • Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
  • You’re a Badass by Jen Sincero
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
  • Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers
  • Be Your Own Life Coach by Fiona Harrold
  • Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas
  • Are We There Yet? by Sarah Alderson
  • This Year Will Be Different – Monika Kanokova

I hope you find these tips useful if you’re letting confidence hold you back. You can build it back up.

If you’d like to try a coaching session with me, working on building your confidence, send me an email at: joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

 

Is this really failure?

 

I listened to someone talking about career change yesterday and she mentioned that up until recently it was considered by some as failing.

In my own personal experience, there’s some truth there.

You got the job or started the career, it’s a good job, decent money, nice colleagues, a few benefits.

And then a few years down the line you realise it’s really not for you.

You believe you’re not good at the job. It feels as though you’re not doing well. You don’t have any passion or even any interest in it anymore. Of course that’s a failure. You’re failing. You’re no longer achieving.

I felt like that. I did feel an element of failure, wanting to leave my job of 10 years, the job I’d so loved at the start. If everyone else is happy getting on with it and doing well, why can’t I?

But the thing is of course, staying in a job you don’t like (were you do have the option of leaving) is the failing part. Failing to listen to yourself, failing to be bold enough to live the life you know you really want.

Which is most likely doing a job you enjoy, a job which means something to you.

Listening to others and sticking out a job you dislike for fear of what other people think is failing.

Letting yourself stay miserable and unfulfilled and desperate out of fear of making a change is failing.

The notion of a job for life is on its way out

Things are changing, the notion of staying in a job for life is quite rare now. Lots of people successfully change careers not just once, but two, three times or more. Some of us out there have a ‘multi-hyphenate’ career – combining a mixture of jobs/side projects/collaborations – whatever we need to do to stay fulfilled and bring in some money.

If you want to change career but you’re looking at it as a failure of some sort, I’d say rethink things. What’s the real failure. Can you imagine yourself doing your job in another 1, 5, 10 years? Would you like to do your manager’s job, or director’s job, or CEO’s job? Do you even want to stay in your industry in the future?

If the answer to these questions is ‘no’, maybe it’s time to be true to yourself, and start the process of moving on.

Start by figuring out a few areas of work that interest you, that make you come alive when you allow yourself to dream. Find out more – research, talk to people in that world.

Start making a plan to find a way to test out this new area, step-by-step. Set aside 20 minutes a week to write if you want to be a writer, to translate if you want to be a translator. Take a half-day of leave and job shadow someone. One Saturday morning a week work for free to test out another area.

Look at changing jobs as exploring, experimenting, leading an adventurous life

It doesn’t have to be drastic, it doesn’t have to put you in danger of losing your home and stability. Look at it as learning about yourself, and improving your life. About being brave and bold.

If you’d like to try life coaching with me, to help work out your next steps and start taking action to improve your life, send me an email at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash