Wellness Coaching Australia's Blog

Boost Business Productivity with Effective Planning

If you’re like most coaches, you find that Monday rolls around and you are busy doing 1000 things to work on your business….along side the ‘other’ things in your life, perhaps another paying job, your kids, and chores.

As the week wears on, you feel scattered and spread thin, unsure of where to spend your energy.
It’s like you’re clutching at straws - doing Instagram here, email there, attending networking meetings and writing blogs. 
Then there’s all the free marketing training and e-books you’re downloading, and the overwhelming load of emails flooding your inbox.
The trouble is, none of it is getting you any traction.

That’s when you find yourself wondering:
How can I get clients to contact me?
How can I reach new people outside the people I know?
How can I make best use of my limited time?

This is where you start.

There are two steps to attracting clients:
1. Plan effectively, and 
2. Be truly productive.

Here’s how it works.

Planning Effectively

What happens when you plan and schedule effectively?
You know exactly how you need to spend your precious work time for most effect.
You have a set marketing schedule to attract a regular stream of clients.
You have set dates that you use to create compelling calls to action for potential new clients e.g., registrations close on X date, join now!
You know when you can schedule enough down time to relax.
You can work in your zone of genius and outsource the stuff you hate.
You can measure your progress by ticking off a master task and priority list

In a busy world, one of the biggest challenges is creating enough space to step back out of ‘doing’ mode, prioritise your work and plan effectively.

But when you do that, you take powerful steps forward and grow your business steadily, purposefully and professionally, attracting new clients and prospects as you go.
As a coach, you know that when you work with clients, it really helps them to zoom out and get perspective on their lives so they can distinguish real priorities from perceived priorities. 
It’s ALSO helpful in your own business.

What gets in the way of this?
Busyness, taking on too much, and lack of priorities.
Here’s how to plan effectively in business.

Using the Eisenhower Principle to Plan

In a 1954 speech, Former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower was onto a clever thing. He said:
“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent, and the important. 
The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent”.
This statement became the Eisenhower principle, and it’s said to be how the former President organised his workload and priorities.
Time management is about spending your time efficiently and effectively. 
It’s about spending your time doing things that achieve outcomes and goals, rather than someone else’s.
The challenge for most people is that we tend to react to what’s urgent, and spend time firefighting and we spend to little time on what’s really important.

Here’s what the Eisenhow Principle looks like in a diagram.

Here’s an interpretation of what these squares mean.
1. Important + Urgent = Crisis mode. 
There is the unforeseen, and the last minute. 
Example: always rescheduling clients because you double book due to poor planning.

2. Not Important + Urgent = Busy. 
These are the fiddly tasks that are better of delegated, rescheduled or deleted – but you prioritize them ahead of tasks that earn you income or deliver service. 
Example: spending hours answering emails, checking Facebook, updating your website.

3. Important + Not Urgent = Productive. 
These are the tasks that achieve tangible outcomes and goals. You need time to do these creatively, properly and without rush. 
Example: Advertising, planning, connecting with past clients, following up with new leads.

4. Not Important + Not Urgent = Time Wasting. 
These are the menial or fun tasks you do first because it feels like you achieved something, or enjoyed your work. But these tasks block your success.
Example: Tidying your desk, designing next year’s workshop flyer, researching best diaries for 2019, calling a colleague to chat about the weekend.

Where are you currently spending most of YOUR business time?

Here’s an interesting 3-step exercise – next week: 
1. Record your working hours in half hour blocks. 
2. Classify every half hour as 1, 2, 3 or 4 according to the table above.
3. Tally up the time spent in each quadrant.
Ideally, you are spending 90% of your business-related time in the Important but Not Urgent quadrant, so you have time and space to do the important work of building your business in a calm, relaxed and creative way.

Planning Effectively – Next Steps

After you’ve worked out how you currently spend your working week, the next step is to work out:
What are the priority tasks each week? 
These are usually planning, marketing, client sessions and invoicing/paying bills.
Which tasks you can delegate, reschedule or delete?
These are usually administration, detail-focussed tasks, reading emails, social media, research and even blog writing!
After that, it’s a matter at looking at your available time, and scheduling in the priority tasks FIRST.

Be Truly Productive – Next Steps

Being productive doesn’t equate to being busy.
Productivity means that for a given amount of time, you are producing a result.
And the time required to complete any task is simply the time that you allocate for it.
To wrap it up, planning effectively is the #1 thing that facilitates productivity.
Next, you must create focus with effective time management. Here are 3 tips.

Identify Priority Tasks

When you know your priority tasks, you can create priority outcome goals, for example:
1 new Facebook ad posted this week
3 past clients contacted on Thursday
Joint venture proposal developed on Tuesday
One potential joint venture partner contacted on Friday

Use Time Management Techniques

Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique is a great approach to help you work in a focused way to get tasks finished in a set time. 

Set Boundaries

There are all sorts of apps that can block internet access, track time, or restrict access on your calendar.
Then there is just the good old fashioned “turn off your phone” approach.

Wrapping It UP

All that said and done, what works best for you in terms of being focussed, productive and organised?
Let us know your tips in the comments below.

How we get in People's Way

There are many people out there who really want to help other people change/be happier. Some of them are professionals some simply fall into the “helping role” because of their desire to be of service. Most have noble unselfish reasons for doing this. Yet the wish to help does not mean we always do it effectively. In fact, it is quite easy to actually put someone off making a change that they are uncertain about if the “helping” party behaves in a certain way.  

You see, people who are “stuck” or shall we say “ambivalent” about change, generally want two things that are incompatible, or that they both want and don’t want  at the same time!  In comes the helper, armed with the knowledge of what is “good” for their friend/client and proceeds to push them in the “right” direction.  Funny how after the well-meaning advice from the helping friend, the individual often runs in the other direction!  

What is important to understand is that human nature is very complex yet one of our most basic drives is for independence/control/autonomy.. And that means, we rarely like being told what to do!!  Even though we may ask someone what they think we should do!  What we really want is to be able to come up with our own reasons for making a decision, based on our personal values and beliefs.  We don’t want to be persuaded or convinced of what to do.  So how can we help as a well-meaning outside party?  Well let’s start with what doesn't work. 

The following list may seem like harmless enough approaches, yet all can prevent the listener from moving forward:

  • Ordering, directing
  • Warning 
  • Giving advice, making suggestions, providing solutions
  • Persuading with logic, arguing or lecturing
  • Moralising or telling them what they “should” do
  • Disagreeing, judging, criticising or blaming (anyone)
  • Shaming, ridiculing or labeling 
  • Interpreting or analysing
  • Reassuring, sympathising or consoling
  • Withdrawing, distracting or changing the subject!
So what’s left??  

Five simple things we can do that may help someone make an important decision when we accept that only they know what is important for them.

  1. Ask open questions (can’t be answered with one word or a grunt!)
  2. Listen and reflect what they have just said back to them (like a mirror but without any from the above list layering the content!
  3. Acknowledge their strengths
  4. Summarise what you hear them say
  5. Have compassion and give them space.
So next time we are tempted to jump in and “fix” a person’s problems, stop for a minute and ask whether what we plan to do is really useful or if there could be a different approach.

Ref: Miller and Rollnick,  Motivational Interviewing 2013.

Three Things that Drive Us

The subject of motivation is a long, complex and incredibly interesting one. Even defining what motivation is can be tricky.  As the word's meaning is  derived from the verb,  "to move" it suggests that it is all about action and drive.  Yet, at its purest form, we can also relate it to what gives life meaning, or what we strive for.  Current literature contains some great ideas on what people, in general, really desire.  

There are three elements that keep cropping under different names that seem to be very important. One of them is, the need/drive for:

Control of our own life.  
Sometimes, called self determination, sometimes, autonomy the sense behind is that we really want to be in charge of our own destiny - in the future and on a day to day basis.  When this control is taken away from us, and things go wrong, the "victim mentality" can easily set in.  At least if we make a bad decision, it was our own responsibility.  Self responsibility is what is needed for people to make choices that create good lives for themselves - or ones they have chosen.  

Control is taken away when we are not consulted on important decisions - at work or at home.  We feel we have no say.  When experts keep telling us what to do without taking into account our personal feelings.  When rules are made that we don't understand.  There are lots of times we feel bypassed and this create despondency and a lack of, well, motivation!

How can we regain this feeling of self determination?
By making our own decisions instead of looking to someone else to choose for us. In the area of health and wellness this happens constantly.  We know what we should eat, what we should (or shouldn't) drink, what's good for us, what's bad for us, what to avoid, what rules we should live by in we want to live long and well.  Yet, many people feel dis empowered by this constant stream of advice.  Time spent working out what we want and why we want it will assist us in making choices based on current knowledge, but that work for us.. And if they don't work, then we can can try something else but we are continually taking responsibility for our own lives.  Responsibility simply means, "the ability to respond" and that suggests we have a choice. And that choice gives us what we truly need - a feeling of control.

The second element that really gives us that push to move forward is the need/drive for is Mastery or Competence.

Not only do we like to be self determining creatures but we also like to good at things! If we are not given the opportunity to expand our knowledge and abilities we will often stagnate, become demotivated and at times cease to grow.  This is an inherent characteristic in the human psyche and it is a shame that more employers didn't realise it!  Essentially it means we seek to improve ourselves all the time - Maslow called it "self actualisation". So what does this mean in our quest for better health and wellness?

Two things:
If you are someone who is working towards an outcome, it is important to find something in the plan you have made that gives you that chance to become proficient at at least one of the changes. So say, for example, you have decided to cut out meat for a while; enrolling in a vegetarian cooking class could not only help you stick to the non meat diet, but give you a sense of accomplishment as your cooking skills improve.  This will be more satisfying and help you stick to your plan than if you were simply say, cutting out meat!

As a client or a trainer, we need to have goals to work towards.  Not only do we get a feeling of having done what we said we'd do, we also can get a sense of competence if that goal has some element of challenge in it.  So when we do decide to set a plan for the week, or quarter, try and include something in it that you have to either learn something new or overcome some resistance or fear.  Playing a sport, doing a new class, running a certain distance are all good examples but you can be as creative as you like.

Fact remains -  we like to do things well and be good at something.  We don't have to be the best but we do like to have a degree of proficiency that will feed our sense of self worth and accomplishment.

The Third and biggest drive we have as human beings is the desire to "belong" 

This is also referred to as having a sense of connectedness or, its most basic form - to be loved.  They may seem like very different things but the reality is the underlying emotional need that is being filled is pretty much the same - just diluted a bit.  So what is a sense of connection or connectedness?  Well if we look at the opposite - a sense of isolation - it becomes clear.  We want to feel that we have bonds with people around us.  That someone cares about us;  that we "belong" to a community of some sort.  Whether this is at work, at home, in our neighbourhood, in our gym, or even online (think Facebook), this need is evident.  All our theorists in the area of motivation agree on this important element that drives us and gives us a feeling of life satisfaction and wellbeing.  Without it, we exist alone and it is easy to succumb to depression and sense of lack of meaning.  There may be the rare individual who simply loves his or her own company 24 hours a day,  but they are few and far between.  People require love  and approval to bloom.  

What does this information tell us about our lives?  Do we have groups that we belong to and where we feel accepted and appreciated?  Do we feel part of something bigger than just ourselves?  Do we have people to share our experiences, to support us when we are down and to celebrate with us when we succeed?  If we look closely at our lives, we find that these groups are incredibly important to us.  So as we work towards greater health, is it surprising that support groups, team sports, health club timetables draw us in and often keep us going when times get tough.  We do not exist in a bubble and we derive meaning from our relationship with others.  

Let's keep those groups alive by recognising their importance and connecting with the people in them.

A New Slant on Goal Setting

We always encourage coaches to work with clients to create positive goals that take them in the direction of what they want!  This fits with the idea of running towards, rather than away from things in life.  

I recently had an interesting conversation with someone who had been at a conference on death and dying, with one of the speakers raising the idea of having a “Reverse Bucket List”. A very strange notion I thought - where does that go?  

The “Reverse Bucket List” consists of things that a person no longer wants to do!! Now that might mean saying “no” to a number of onerous tasks that drain energy and take precious time away from doing what we do want to do.  

It also might encourage our clients to take a good hard look at what they spend their time on - believing that they enjoy it and yet we come to the realisation that we don’t enjoy it any more!  

This type of “bucket list” can actually be very empowering!  Yes, it might be more meaningful to us as we get older and realise the value of the years left to us, but I think it's worth considering and playing around with. It’s really no different from asking, “What do we want more of?”, and “What do we want less of?” Try asking it of yourself and see what comes up! 

Happy culling of unwanted and unrewarding activities!

If Multi-tasking is not a good thing, why do we do it?

Things have shifted in the world and the idea of multi-tasking being a positive, admirable way of working has changed as we learn that perhaps it may not be the best way of being productive?

The evidence for this is clear. Whereas we think we’re doing several things at once we are actually just switching from one task to another very quickly.  And every time we do this, there is a cognitive cost!    

Multi-tasking increases our production of cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline and both can cause fogginess and lack of clarity in thinking.

A wonderful description of multi-tasking, by Daniel Levitin in his book “The Organised Mind”, is ,“(Multi-tasking is ….like a bad amateur plate-spinner, frantically switching from one task to another, ignoring the one that is not right in front of (him) but worried it will come crashing down at any minute!”  We become less efficient and less effective.

So why do we do it? Well, this is where it becomes interesting.  You see, our brains have a novelty bias so that every time we receive new stimulation, we get a shot of dopamine and if there is a choice to be made, our pre-frontal cortex (the part of our brain that we need to focus with ironically) leans towards the new distraction! Which is why we are so often tempted to move from one thing to another!

And of course society encourages this… with all our technology and constant attachment to our devices we are expected to be available at all times.. and there are so many things to distract us!  Email coming in, Facebook to check, the multitude of tasks that await us that sometimes we feel we can just keep an eye on everything at once, or just take a peep at that email while we’re on the phone. 

The result? A somewhat absent person.  

Here’s another interesting point. If we multi-task while trying to study (or learn something new), the information will go to the wrong part of the brain, not the hippocampus where it is organised and able to be retrieved.  

We burn through glucose much quicker when we multi-task, causing us to be exhausted after a short time as the nutrients in our brain are depleted.

And finally, if you’re not convinced, multi-tasking involves making many decisions, and they have found that making even small decisions is hard on your neural resources  - we quickly lose impulse control – making numerous small decisions which may lead to potentially bad important decisions.

Convinced?  I am.

Staying Stuck in a Virtual World

The world is divided in many different ways. One of the common divides today is between people who understand and embrace technology and those who resist and are fearful of it. I hear so many times the expression, “I’m just hopeless at IT”. These are the people who become frustrated at the sight of a new message on their laptop that they don’t understand and who tear their hair out after two minutes of inability to make something work.  I know these people. I used to be one. However, I began to realise that labeling myself as an “IT tragic” was simply a way of staying stuck and I was gradually building a belief system that could well keep me in that lonely place (with all the other IT self-professed “gumbies” admittedly) – but it would hold me back in so many ways in a world that is moving at a lightning fast pace!

So I decided to change my attitude and welcome the challenge of finding solutions to problems as they arose. Setting up a new email address – easy, look at your existing accounts, call your provider if necessary but with a positive attitude of enquiry rather than complaint.  Mac issues?  Book in and pick someone’s brains at their shiny, buzzy stores. I ended up learning things I didn’t know. And if it is seemingly out of their realm of knowledge, guess what they do? Yes, google it!  And the answer is usually there.

“It doesn't make sense!” - not as we define sense making!  This may seem like a preachy smug email from someone who has learnt enough to be dangerous in the world of IT but it is really a comment on  how we restrict our lives and our thinking with labels we put on our selves that keep us from moving forward.  It is no different from saying “I’m not good at exercise”, or “I can never lose weight”.    And the implications of a belief that “IT is for the experts” is just as dangerous!

Who is in Charge? Why we all need Coaching

With the busy world we live in, we all want fast results and quick fixes.  If something is not working,then let's do our research (quickly), seek out the right expert and get the solution. Now.

Now this might work when it comes to working out an IT issue, booking a trip, or buying a present, but when it comes to making major changes in our life, this approach will always lead to failure.

A paradox exists in our communities. There has never been more time devoted to healthy lifestyle in the media.The awareness of what we are doing wrong and what we need to do is growing by leaps and bounds. Yet there are more over nourished people in the world than undernourished. The future issues faced by the public health system are frightening.  Yet we still want someone else to tell us what to do right now.

Everyone wants to be well and in control of their health and to feel good.  But is is so much easier to get someone else to do the work, give us the blueprint for how to live, tell us what to eat, yell at us to get moving, sell us the magic pill. But while this goes on, all we find is that our confidence gets lower. And the message that is sent is "You aren't in charge".

One of the greatest drivers in life is the need for autonomy, self determination - call it "control". Yet we often hand over our biggest asset - our health and wellness to the latest gimmicky diet, exercise equipment, or surgery that comes out. A shift is needed.

Coaches build confidence in their clients. They help an individual tap into their deepest values and create the motivation to make change. Together they build a plan and move slowly towards improvement and the achievement of sensible goals  They ask us to take charge.

Does control = happiness?

Did you ever stop to wonder why cowlicks were invented? Those crazy, wavy curls in the front of your hair? So you’d have something in your life you could try to control, of course! The tantalising nirvana of control is the goal of many – we want control over our bodies, our eating, our behaviour, our pets, children and partners.

This begs the question – what IS control, and how does it really benefit us?
Dictionary definitions range from ‘restraint’, ‘manipulation’ and ‘skill’, to ‘influence’ and ‘discipline’. 

Why do we want control?
Is it to gain security and manage fears, or to achieve perfection? Perhaps it’s simply the ability and right to choose or to decide. It could be the desire for power or authority over someone or something.
It’s interesting to consider how important these aspects are in our lives and what sorts of benefits they offer. And, how do they bring us happiness?

But beyond that, it is also quite liberating to realise that it’s the situations and events we can’t control – the things that blindside us on a Thursday afternoon - that often offer the greatest opportunities for growth, learning and joy.

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