Purpose, Priority and Productivity

COVID-19 has changed our schedules. Now working at home without a commute, many of us may find ourselves with some extra time that we use to either do additional work or aimlessly sift through the endless Netflix or Prime menus.

Where is someplace between the two that is more productive and better for you?

There are so many ideas worth sharing, learning and using that just 10 minutes a day with a book can change your life – and improve the lives of others. In fact, books have introduced me to how to be present to my world, own who I am, think big, encourage others and manage my emotions, just to name a few.

One of the books I read that I have been recommending to my clients is Gary Keller’s, The One Thing (The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results). The focus of this book is to get clear about your purpose because it helps you identify your priorities. Your priorities, once they are intentionally created, drive your productivity.

It made me realize that one of the unintended consequences of COVID-19 is that it gave us a rare opportunity to reset our lives. It gave us the chance to stop and notice what was working and what wasn’t working in both personal and professional lives. It gave us the chance to ask ourselves What could I do to make this better?

And in his book, Keller shares his guidance on how you can make [anything] better: with purpose, priority and productivity.

Purpose. When you stop all the noise of the world spinning around you, what is it you are trying to do? What matters to you? What is the one thing you want to do or achieve today, this week, or even this year? Getting clear about this will help you rule in – or out – other things as they start to show up. I like to think of it in two buckets: the things that support my direction and goal, and the things that don’t. This way, I have the ability to wisely and intentionally respond to my world instead of reacting to it. I know my road and my path. Though you need to be adaptable and flexible to respond to a changing world, ask yourself what is important enough for you to focus on. What is the one thing you want to achieve, do or be? Take a moment and define it.

Priorities. With clarity of purpose, you can more successfully create your priorities. I like to think of these as daily, weekly and monthly. What do I want to achieve this month that will help me achieve my purpose or my one thing? When you intentionally identify your priorities for the month, you can break them down by week and by day. Following this approach allows me to direct my best attention to the things that will help me achieve what I want for me, my family, my work and my life. So, with the additional time that many of us have because of quarantine, no commuting and limited leisure activities, clearly define what your A, B and C priorities are. A priorities get the most attention and, ideally, they are connected to your purpose. The Bs and Cs come along with life in general.  My daily to-do list helps me stay focused on doing the things that matter to achieve the things that matter. What are your priorities for today? This week? This month?

Productivity. Focusing on priorities increases your ability to be productive. You don’t waste time on things that don’t support your goals. You do things that fit your talents, strengths and passions. The result is that you feel more energized and more engaged, able and interested to do more, be more, achieve more. Confidence increases because you are clearer about what you want and that what you want really matters.

Take Action
As we march toward yet another change as we adjust to the back-to-school season and many organizations with remote or hybrid remote workplaces, stay focused on purpose, priorities and productivity. Don’t let the minutes, hours, days and weeks get away from you, locked on to season after season of Netflix or Prime shows. Sure, build in some leisure time, but stay productive by getting clear of your purpose and defining your priorities. Then revel in the difference you make for yourself and others.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading To React or Respond, That is the Question

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Where I’m Meant to Be

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of a task thinking ahead to the next task you need to get through? Or maybe you find yourself thinking of something you’d rather be doing instead?

It’s human nature, I believe, to always be thinking of what’s next. We even have a program designed to help people navigate what comes next after a big life moment or shift from how things used to be.

But what if, before we started thinking ahead to what’s next, we take a moment to show up to and appreciate where we are. What if we could be fully present in each task to learn from and enjoy everything we can get out of it?

I’m the first to admit I’m always thinking ahead to the next task on the list, watching the clock to make sure we stay on schedule (the hangry is very real if I’m even a few minutes behind for snacks or meals). But when I interrupt this incessant need to be someplace other than right here, right now, I not only enjoy it more, but I also feel more at peace. I feel more productive. Ultimately, I feel happier.

Let me give you an example. Most days, my boys and I end up in our playroom for a few hours in the morning. As you can imagine, there are days when it feels like I’m constantly the referee, blowing the whistle and breaking up fights every few minutes. But, I’ve noticed that when I remind myself to be present to all the personalities, preferences and moods for everyone in the room, the entire mood changes. And a large part of it is I am now more aware of who each of my boys are and how to be with them so I am less triggered and wiser in what I say and do. As a result, everyone seems to be happier.

How do I center myself and remind myself to be fully present? I use this mantra: This is where I’m meant to be. Right here. Right now. Doing exactly what I’m doing.

How could a continual reminder to center yourself and bring your attention to the task, person, moment, feeling or situation at hand improve your productivity, your experience and, ultimately, your life?

Take Action
When you find your mind is in a place where your body is not, you are not present. But don’t judge it. Just notice it, and see that there is an opportunity to make improvements.

When this happens to you, take a deep breath, close your eyes and remind yourself this is where I’m meant to be in this moment. Come back to unite your mind and body. Be where you are. And if you need to be in another place, bring your mind AND body there. Your intentional effort to be present will cause a mindset shift and you’ll start to feel calm and focused instead of rushed or distracted.

Remember to be present in the moment. It will change the way you see everything you do and can set you on a more productive course as you move on to whatever comes next.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Managing Your Self-Talk

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I’m Grateful For [Fill in the Blank]

I was recently doing an in-home workout and the instructor said something that struck me: “Are you out of breath? Be grateful for that. Be grateful that you have the ability and the opportunity to be out of breath by moving.”

That literally stopped me in my tracks. I think many people who workout to any degree can appreciate the feeling of being out of breath and being embarrassed when it happens so quickly or so easily during a workout. But to have the ability to shift your mentality about what it means? Eye opening.

It got me thinking about the mindset shift we talk about at The Forte Factor. When we say mindset shift, we’re talking about your ability to change the way you see something and, therefore, the way you think about it and respond to it. It’s based in being aware of yourself and your surroundings, and using that information to decide (with intention) what to do next (and how to do it).

As you can imagine, most people believe that to be able to master the mindset shift requires significant work.

Here’s why that’s not true.

Sure, to master a mindset shift requires practice, but “mastering” the mindset shift really just requires the ability to interrupt what you always do (stop) to notice what’s happening in a specific moment. Then, with the additional information you noticed by being present to your moment, you can make your best decision and go act.

Seeing your loss of breath during a workout is an opportunity – a stop and notice moment. Though you could use it to be embarrassed or judge the shape you are in, you could also use it to see your progress, applaud your energy and reconfirm your focus on fitness. Same event. Different mindset.

Getting caught in the rain because you forgot an umbrella is a moment to be thankful that you have the ability to feel the rain, and then run from it. Until this moment, what was your mindset about getting caught in the rain?

Standing in an extremely slow-moving line for coffee is a moment to be thankful that you have the funds available to purchase what you’re waiting for as well as to connect with the people who are experiencing the same line as you. Until this moment, what was your mindset about waiting in line for coffee?

Being able to make the mindset shift is all about intention, so start small. Catch yourself in the little moments. Stop and notice what you think, feel and do. Each of these little moments provide you with the opportunity to expand what you experience and choose how you experience the world around you. Each provide moments to be grateful for, and moments to build on.

Take Action
Make the effort to intentionally stop at various points throughout your day to notice you (what you are thinking and feeling) and your world (what is going on). Then work to see the good, the important, the valuable and the exceptional in that moment. Challenge yourself to be more aware of when you feel yourself getting frustrated, embarrassed or annoyed. Instead of allowing those unproductive emotions to take the lead, flip the situation on its head. Practice your mindset shift. Start by saying, “I’m grateful for…” and fill in the blank.

You’ll see an immediate shift in your demeanor, behavior and mentality for the rest of the day.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Life’s Little Moments

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It Won’t Break When It Falls

“Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls – family, health, friends, integrity – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.” – Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, James Patterson

I bet this passage will resonate with you differently depending on where you are in life. For some of my clients, the conversation revolves around that seemingly always-out-of-reach work/life balance. For others, the conversation revolves around which of those five balls is rubber and which is glass.

But it always culminates in the same type of questions:

  • How can I keep my job / my career but still maintain good, strong relationships with my family?
  • How can I possibly spend any time of the day working out to be healthy when I already feel like I have to pick work or my kids?
  • How can I maintain any semblance of friendship with others outside of the house when there’s already such limited time for me and my spouse / partner to just be together?

There’s an underlying theme here, one that hit me square in the eyes as I was reading The One Thing by Gary Keller: balance is really a question of priority.

Think about everything you have going on in your life. Your kids, your partner/spouse, your friends, your job. Now think about where they rank as a priority for you. Don’t let yourself be confused about necessity or desire. Challenge yourself to really see the priorities.

  • Is it a priority for you to be present with your kids all day, or is it a desire?
  • Is it a priority for you to advance in your career, or is it a desire?
  • Is it a priority for you to work out during the day, or a desire?

Define priority. Define desire. Understand the difference between the two.

These are your definitions; no one can tell you what is right or wrong for you. You get to decide.

So here’s the biggest challenge: don’t judge it when you see it. You know what a priority looks like, so start your day by prioritizing the big stuff. What needs to get done today for work? At home? With family?

This will not only help you set stronger and more powerful intentions for your day, but it will also help stay sane, calm and more balanced in a period of great uncertainty and change. It will give you more control over things that may have seemed to be out of or not within your control.

Be honest with yourself. If you drop one of those five balls, what will bounce back and what will break or change in a way that can never be replaced?

Take Action
Learning how to prioritize work activities, family activities and personal activities is not the hard part. The hard part is learning how not to judge what you decide is a priority for you. Commit to your priorities. You’ll find that what you decide is a priority for you may be the glass ball, after all.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Your Check Engine Light

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Don’t Create Unnecessary Limits

What would you accomplish if you weren’t afraid? If you didn’t have doubts? If you didn’t limit yourself to time or other resources?

What if you allowed yourself to think big?

I think most people hear “think big” and “don’t limit yourself” and immediately say “it’s just not realistic because [fill in the excuse].”

Excuses like: I don’t have the time. I’m not financially prepared to try that. I have too much going on already.

And I admit I find myself in that mindset quite a bit, especially now when I’m home with EVERYONE, and the time I have for big thinking is after everyone has gone to bed… and I’m barely able to keep my eyes open.

So, rather than dwell on all the things I could do “if only I had the time,” I started thinking about why I feel that way. And I started by thinking of the people who have had a direct impact on the way life is today, like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos (to name a few).

These people didn’t do their best thinking when everything was quiet and perfect. Instead, they showed up creative, dreaming and inventing in the everyday moments of life. What they each created wasn’t always seen as a project, but more as a way of being.

So, do you impose unnecessary limits on your thinking, dreaming and inventing? Do you think that having the job or the life of your dreams is for others and not you? Maybe all you need is a reset. Here is my guidance:

  1. Set your goal. Picture what you want. It could be work related, could be family related, could be something else entirely, like losing weight or committing to reading more. Identify it (and be specific). Write it down. Allow yourself to think big. You’ve just allowed yourself to visualize your goal. Now you know where you’re going.
  2. Figure out where you are today. With greater clarity about where you are headed, refocus on your starting point. Be honest about where you are. Assess what’s working or not working in this moment. If it is working, do more of it. If it is not working, figure out why and make an intentional effort to change it (it could be the reason why where you are is not where you want to be). That’s okay. Now you know. This will help you decide on the options to move forward.
  3. Stop judging. Now that you see both edges – where you are and where you want to be – the gap between the two becomes clear. Maybe this makes you feel a little anxious. Maybe you’re running through a bunch of reasons why what you want could never happen for you. Maybe you have doubts about your abilities and think the goal is unrealistic, especially in the timeframe you identified. STOP. Stop right there. The purpose of setting a goal and getting clear about where you are right now is to see what is true in this moment. Don’t waste your energy on judging the situation. Instead, use your energy to come up with ideas to get closer to your goal.
  4. Stop comparing. This is your goal, specific to your wants and needs and your life. No one else has exactly the same goal. No one else encounters the same obstacles and challenges you will. No one has the same talents and strengths you do to get you to your goal. Don’t distract yourself by thinking about what success looks like for others. Stay focused on what success looks like for you.
  5. Make a plan. This is the hardest part because we are creatures of instant gratification. We can easily get distracted and frustrated as we work toward a goal when we don’t see progress immediately. So create a plan to reach your goal with mini-goals built in. Start small. One or two things. Then notice your progress and reach for more. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you will not achieve your goals in a day. But you can make remarkable progress little by little.
  6. Find an accountability partner. The best way to stick to your plan to achieve your goal is to ensure you’re holding yourself accountable to it. Sometimes, having someone else help you stay accountable can be helpful, especially when you have a human moment and feel too tired, too frustrated or too distracted to stay focused. Choose wisely.

Oftentimes, we are the greatest limits in our own success. Sure, sometimes there are finite resources, like the number of hours in a day or financial assistance, but that should not prohibit you from thinking, imagining, dreaming and inventing big. Instead of seeing the resources as obstacles, consider how they can become part of your plan to reach your goal. You may need to think a little differently to approach the goal (or mini-goals) to overcome the challenge of limited resources, but when you don’t allow the doubts to creep in, when you hold yourself accountable to the end result, you’ll see a significant change in how you think.

Take Action
Identifying a goal and sticking to it is hard. Just think of all those New Year’s Resolutions that rarely make it past February 1. The first step is to work on getting rid of your limited thinking. Dream big and start small to make it happen. Get clear. Get help. Stay on task.

As you practice this and start to expand your thinking, notice how you feel about each new challenge or opportunity that presents itself. Adjusting your mindset to avoid allowing doubts, fears and uncertainty take over your thoughts opens the door to an entirely new way of being.

Watch how it changes your work output, your relationships and your overall mental well-being.

Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s how you move past it.

So set your goal and have the courage to go get it.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Creating Goals: Start with “Be Better”

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Remote or Not Remote? That is the Question

For a number of years, many employees have requested to work remotely and just as many organizations were insistent on keeping their employees in the workplace. Then COVID-19 sent much of the workforce home to stay safe and out of harm’s way. Those who were reluctant to have their employees work remotely were forced to implement stay-at-home policies, which were put together hastily and some were done without much strategy or support. And employees who wanted to work at home had the chance to try it out.

Now that we have had some time with this, the discussion of how to keep your business productive is shifting to focus on where employees do the work: do we bring employees back to the conventional workspace or do they stay remote?

Remote or not remote? That is the question.

After 3 months working from home, many employers are likely hearing an increasing amount of feedback from their employees. Some employees had a taste of working at home and are ready to come back. Others finally got their wish to work remotely and now don’t want to come back.

With all this chatter, how do you start to consider how to move forward?

First, answer these three questions to give yourself a clear understanding of what makes sense for you.

#1 What does your organization provide and how should work be done to provide it well?
You may have interest – and even pressure – from your employees to return or restructure what they want in their new normal workplace. But their options can be addressed only after you reassess how COVID-19 has changed your organization. Consider the products or services you offer. What is required from your employees to ensure the customer deliverable is done in a way that supports your commitment to the customer experience? Once you define or redefine WHAT you do, you can start to discuss the options of HOW to do it – remote, full workplace or some variation of the two.

Once you clarify the work that needs to be done and how it will best be done, move on to the next question.

#2 Can your employees be successful working remotely?
This requires assessment in 2 areas: abilities and space. Do your employees have the behaviors, skills and experience (abilities) to achieve the expectations of the role? And, do they have the ability to work independently, are self-disciplined and are organized to work without supervision? If you are confident that the employee in question can do the job well from home, ask yourself if the employee’s remote space can support the successful completion of the tasks of the role. Allowing someone to work at home doesn’t ensure they have the privacy, quiet, connection, space or even work surfaces to do the job well. Remember, there are some expectations that must be met in order to deliver an exceptional experience to customers or colleagues, regardless of whether that’s in a remote location or within the physical workplace. You may find that remote may not mean working at home, nor in the workplace, but rather some other place. Consider what some of those workplaces could look like and who on your team, if anyone, may need this as their work environment.

#3 Can your organization support and engage a remote workforce, capable of delivering world class service?
However you define how work will be done, assess how you will be able to engage them to be able to drive productivity, performance and retention. Workplace culture has always been an important part of the employee experience. Employees want and need to feel part of the organization, valued, supported and cared for. It will be important to (re)define what will engage and inspire your workforce and to determine how to consistently deliver it. If you are unable to do this, the result will be seen and felt in not only performance, but also increased turnover. Assessing how you will engage your workforce is a critical consideration in developing your future workforce. 

There is pressure to be remote. There is also pressure to return to the more conventional workplace. Invent scenarios to explore how you will have an engaged workforce that consistently and successfully delivers a remarkable customer experience, grows the business and achieves your goals.

Take Action
Your options or scenarios should be based on achieving your goals, not on the wishes of your workforce. This doesn’t mean ignore them, however. Solicit their thoughts and perspectives, then ensure that the creation of the new normal for your organization makes sense for who you are and what you do. Then, share with your employees how work will be for them and develop a plan to help them return that new normal.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Don’t Go Back to Normal. Instead, Focus on Becoming Better.

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4 Tips to Not Be Bad at Working from Home

I was talking with a client recently who kept saying they are “bad at working from home.” Throughout the conversation, they mentioned their ability to be a forward or strategic thinker was hindered because of distractions at home.

Though we can all relate to having distractions at home in whatever form they come in (kids, roommates, the pile of laundry you’ve been meaning to do, food, neighbors, pets), learning how to be more efficient in your work-from-home approach will help you in the long run, especially as we try to imagine what life will be like during cold and flu season just a few short months after the stay-at-home orders around the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, first, create your space. Assess what you need to get done and create the space that will ensure you can achieve your performance expectations. Do you need privacy and quiet? Do you need a large computer screen? Do you need additional technology and connections? Do you have Zoom meetings that will show your space on screen? Create what you need to be successful.

Second, remove the obvious distractions. Working at home can put many distractions right in your reach. Scan your area for anything that will distract you such as the TV remote, the availability of snacks, piles of laundry, dirty dishes, other household activity. Take a step back and just observe your workspace. Ask yourself: what could disrupt me in an unproductive way? Then remove it.

Third, create a daily to do list. Spend whatever time you need at the start of your day getting your head in the right place. Review your calendar so you know what calls or deliverables are required. Consider creating your to do list in order of priority with the items at the top of the list that need to be done today. Or, if you like to see the red marks as you cross things off your list, consider creating an “at work” list and an “at home” list. Identify 2-3 big things for each list you want to accomplish for that specific day and stay focused on getting those tasks done.

And finally, divide your day into blocks of time. This includes work and home times. For work times, set your day up to tackle the biggest, most important or thought-provoking items you need to complete during the part of the day when you are most productive. Be sure to define a clear start and end to your workday to also be able to accommodate the home requirements. This may take some time to notice what works best for both your work and home responsibilities, so challenge yourself to take note of what works best to get done what has to get done.

Working from home can be challenging when there are multiple distractions outside of your control. But following these four tips can help you set yourself up for success as a productive work-from-home employee.

Take Action
Take each step on its own. Master each one before you move on to the next. Take a day to get adjusted to the approach and give yourself some grace in learning this adjustment. There will need to be some flexibility for the first week or so, but stick to your new guidelines. You’ll see a drastic improvement in your productivity and mental capability.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading How to Balance Working From Home With Kids

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How to Help Your Kids Decide What to do After High School

Asking a 16, 17 or 18-year old about what they want to do for the rest of their lives can be daunting, especially now. Our world is unpredictable and, lately, pretty volatile. It’s hard to plan for something next week, never mind next year.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be asking our high school students – and even our college students – about what comes next. It all just depends on how you’re asking the questions.

Consider these four tips to learn how to ask productive questions of your high school student(s) to encourage self-discovery and a greater conversation about what comes after high school.

First, ask questions that help them focus on what they are good at and what they like. Questions like “What do you want to do with your life” are unproductive. These are too large and focus more on the end. Most people, regardless of their age or where they are in life, would probably answer “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” because this type of question can feel overwhelming. More productive questions include:

  • What is something you really love to do?
  • When you are the happiest, what are you doing that makes you feel so happy?
  • Tell me about something you’re really good at, something that comes naturally to you.

All of these questions set up the conversation to explore what they could do with their lives, but it starts by putting them in a comfort zone: asking them questions they know the answers to.

Second, build on that self-awareness by digging deeper. Ask for examples of when they feel successful. Ask about what impact or contribution they want to make. Ask about what gets their attention for careers and why. Ask about the things that matter to them and what careers could lend themselves to making the things that matter the priority. Encourage them to dig deeper into who they are, what matters to them and how they could see themselves. Despite being the parents or caregivers, you may find yourself discovering new things about your kids that you may have overlooked in the busy day-to-day of life.

Third, be prepared to explore a variety of options. This is the time of explorations, not solutions (those will come). Many teens have limited views of what is possible because what they think is often based on what their friends or family say. Help them see greater options to expand what they consider. Having a greater number of options can improve the selection of one that is truly meaningful. Options could include trade school, a 2-year institution a 4-year institution, a gap year, or going right to work. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, so be flexible and encourage your kid to find the right fit for them, based on where their natural talents and passions lay.

And finally, be supportive. Regardless of what your kid(s) may want to further explore or what talent they want to expand on, it is their life they are building, not yours. Remember that your role as the parent and caregiver is to guide from the side, not be the sage on the stage. Guide and support, don’t direct and tell. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but with practice, you’ll find you are much more comfortable gently nudging your kids back onto their path as opposed to paving the way for them.

The conversation about what comes after high school (or college) shouldn’t be about what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. The conversation should focus on what you know of yourself and how that self fits in to today’s world. This takes guidance, patience and regular conversations to create greater self-awareness and self-discovery, two pieces of getting to know and understand the real you. Once you have this insight into yourself, when you learn how to tune out the world and all its demands, you will feel empowered to make better and more intentional decisions that fit you.

After all, like Buckminster Fuller once said, “What is it on this planet that needs doing that I know how to do that won’t get done if I don’t do it?”

Take Action
Start today. Pay attention to how you are helping your high school or college students prepare to make good life choices. Ask a lot of questions. Be available to discuss their responses. Be open and remind yourself that they are living their lives, not yours. Help them discover who they are so they can live it wisely and intentionally.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading How to Help College Grads Succeed in Your Organization

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How to Balance Working from Home with Kids

Everyone is feeling the strain right now. The truth is that we’ve all been feeling it for months: the need to get your work done when you’re working from home when your kids are also home.

Regardless of how old they are, kids need guidance. Babies need your attention for just about everything. Toddlers can’t be left to their own devices for long. Tweens and teens need encouragement and support, especially as they work through remote learning. And adult children are likely look for emotional support and guidance, especially as they try to work through what all of this means for them and their independence, their friends and their family.

Trying to balance getting your work done while meeting the needs of your children is exhausting. We’re trying so hard to make it all work, trying to do it all. And though we don’t want to admit it, here’s the truth: a balanced life is not real. Time spent on one thing means time spent away from another.

So how do you successfully balance working from home when you have kids?

Consider these four tips:

First, identify your one big thing for work and home life that you want to achieve each day. Regardless of how many action items you have outstanding on your to do list, pick just one thing for work and one thing at home that, once done, will make you feel like it was a good, productive day.

Second, create a routine. This is as much for you as it is for them. Get used to starting your day the same way. Identify your work time. Identify school time. Identify free play time. Consider starting your day with a family meeting, maybe even over breakfast. Talk to each other about the day ahead. Communicate big events (like important work calls) or deadlines. Share frustrations and concerns. Make it a daily event and it will start to come easy.

Third, establish boundaries. When you’re working, it’s work time. No interruptions (except in extreme situations, and be sure to define what those are). When it’s school time, everyone is engaged. No excuses. Clearly define what “free play time” means and, if needed, put limits on screen time. I have found that having a brief family meeting each morning is a good way to reconfirm and remind everyone in the house about the boundaries, including a consequence for not supporting them. This is, after all, critical to making things work at this particular moment.

And finally, create a mental well-being space. Give a name like, Me time. Down time. Relaxing time. Whatever you choose to call it, make sure you build it into your day. You cannot pour from an empty cup (and I think most parents right now would say they operate on about 50% battery power on a good day).

These four tips – identify your one big thing for the day, create a routine, establish boundaries and create some mental well-being space – are how to get your arms around this working from home thing.

Whether this is temporary or permanent for you, it will require your thought, focus and intention to build and sustain something that works. Defining it and bringing everyone into knowing the approach will help ensure its success.

Take Action
Being told that the way to be effective working from home means doing more work can sound like a lot, but take it one step at a time. Start with the one thing from tip #1. What would a productive and successful day look like for you? Set your intention for the day, for both work and at home. Focus on getting those two things done and you’ll feel empowered to try the next tip.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Staying Productive When Your World Goes Quiet

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Identifying Your End Goal Can Make it Happen

I was reading Corduroy with my kids the other day and I was impressed with the underlying message: identify your end goal or you won’t know how to get there.

For those of you who don’t know the story (or who haven’t read it in years, like me), it’s about a little bear in a toy store who is missing a button on his overalls and, as a result, no one wants to buy him. The story is about his adventure to find his button, which he does not find. Disappointed, he finds himself back on the toy store shelf only to be purchased by a little girl who always wanted a bear like him – just has he was. The book ends with her sewing on a new button for him, explaining that even though she likes him just the way he is, the button on his overalls will be more comfortable.

Big lessons here.

First, you are perfect the way you are. Each of us come packaged with a unique assortment of abilities. When we take the time to get to know and value these, we can better use them to make our difference in the world. I love this quote from Buckminster Fuller, “What is it on this planet that needs doing that I know something about that probably won’t happen unless I take responsibility for it?” The world needs us to be our exact selves and bring those selves to the world to make it better.

Second, the people who love and respect you for who you are will support you and value what is unique and amazing about you. They don’t require you to be fixed, improved or be different than you are. They won’t bring you down or make you feel less valuable because of a trait you lack or something you have too much of.

And third, decide what you want and go get it.  Corduroy tells himself, “I think I want this” throughout the book, uncertain about what looks or feels right to him. We can get continually distracted by what others tell us we want or need for ourselves. But in the end, like in Corduroy, we have to decide what is right for us and then go get it. Commit to getting to know yourself – who you are, what abilities you have and where in your world can you use them or be your true self – so you start to define what you want. You can’t know which way is forward until you’ve defined the end goal you’re working toward.

Take Action
People set goals all the time. You have an idea of something you want to have happen and you set out to make it reality. But what if that goal isn’t your goal? What if it’s an idea or goal for someone else? Learn to listen to your inner, wiser voice when it comes to you. You know you best. What really matters to you? What will connect you to your greatest abilities and potential? What will make you happy? It all starts with you – and your ability and commitment to knowing yourself.

And once you understand who you are in all your unique greatness, surround yourself with people who appreciate and respect you for who you are, not those who want or expect you to change for them.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Give Me Clarity and Courage

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