Working Hard But Hardly Working?
procrastination and productivity
"The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day, of which seventy percent have nothing to do with work." -W. Edwards Deming

I’m a pretty productive person. 

I set intentions, goals, and have what my guy calls “lego mode” focus - a term he made up after watching me zero in and systematically put together an intricate, lego robot one night. When I’m engrossed in an activity, I tune out the outside world and get “in the zone” until I’m finished. 

I have no idea of how much time passes. I often have to set an alarm to remind me when to break and switch gears or get prepped for a coaching client. 

I’ve got this whole productivity thang down.

Except, a few weeks ago, my productivity went out the window. 

It took me an entire day to write a few Facebook posts and a blog.

I felt discouraged. Antsy. Annoyed. Overwhelmed. And behind.

What had been different about this day and week compared to others? Why was my usual flow state feeling more like a stress state?

A little digging pulled up a few culprits. 

1. I was lacking clarity.

Clarity is incredibly important for everything we do. It’s the first essential step we have to take to ensure our actions align with our values and intentions. Clarity is also a key ingredient to focus.

This is one of the reasons setting goals helps us. Goal setting forces us to sit down and define what we want to spend our energy on; goals create clarity.

Assembling the lego robot created such focus because I had absolute clarity of my end goal and why this was important to me. 

I usually spend a good deal of time planning. This allows me to sit down with clear focus and know what my next priority is. 

This particular week, I had a loose idea of some larger goals I was working towards but nothing else. I had a busy week and had decided to save time by cutting my daily goal-setting and morning routine, and as a result, I cut out my clarity.

Without a roadmap for the week, I meandered. 

Sure, I sat down to work, but without clarity, I wasn’t sure which task was most important and what I needed to focus on first. I’d start one thing, then jump to another, then another without actually completing anything.

I lost hours to non-essential tasks like tweaking my website.

Most of us aren’t at a loss for things we can do or take action on and this can easily lead to overwhelm and distraction. Without clarity, we don’t prioritize, and evvvverything seems super important. 

I’ve talked about this before, but every time we switch gears and switch focus, we decrease our mental ability and temporarily lower our IQ. 

Without clarity, we also allow our subconscious fears to take the reign, which can cause us to lean into self-sabotaging and avoidance behaviors. 

Takeaway: Create space to get clarity and make time to plan every day. You can do this solo, with a group, or with a coach or mentor. However you do it, decide to commit to seek clarity, outline your action steps, and your intentions. 

2. I was wide open for interruptions.

Most weeks, my loved ones would tell you I can be a little MIA during my working hours. I’ve been known to miss a group text and come back to my phone with 60 plus messages. I’ll miss phone calls and personal emails.

This isn’t because I don’t care! Quite the contrary. I love my friends and family, but I want to be present when I’m with them. Juggling between emails, texts, social media messages, coaching clients, and content creation leaves me scattered and the opposite of present. 

A while back, I started a very simple practice. When I sit down to work, I close my email and social media. I put my phone on night mode (I’ve found airplane mode still allows texts to come through with a wifi connection!), and I set the do-not-disturb on my computer.

I let my guy know I’m going dark, and I close the door to create.

I set a timer and work until it goes off.

It’s incredibly simple and it works. But this particular week, I made myself available to all the interruptions. Every time a message came in, I read and responded.

To add insult to injury, it would take me a few minutes after each interruption to bring my attention back to the task that was, admittedly, not essential to begin with. Then, another text message or phone call would come in, and I allowed the interruption again.

I barely got a sentence down on paper before my attention was thwarted. 

I’d wager a bet that interruptions are costing us all a lot of time and money. As I sit writing to you now, I’m focused and have shut everything off. I’m even wearing earplugs to drown out the city construction outside my NYC apartment window (true story), and I’ve written this in minutes versus the entire day my other blog post took when I wasn’t focused. 

Takeaway: Set yourself up for success and turn off electronic distractions before you begin working. Don't leave it up to willpower. Communicate with loved ones that you can't be interrupted. Use the power of timers. (Wear earplugs if necessary!)

3. I got pulled into perfectionism.

All the insecurities and fears were coming out because I'm working on something new. 

I’ve noticed with my clients and myself, any time we’re in the process of upleveling, all our mindset blocks tend to come out to play as if to taunt us and see if we’re really ready for the new level we’re stepping into. 

One of my blocks? Perfectionism.

When I’m in creation mode and getting ready to share something new or vulnerable, there’s a part of me that is terrified and uncomfortable. This part of me wants to tinker and perfect ad nauseam.

Maybe you can relate to this as well? I have a subconscious belief that if it’s perfect, I can’t fail. If I just keep tinkering longer and longer, it will be perfect. There's also a part of me that knows it will never be perfect, so if I aim for perfection, which is unattainable, I’ll never have to actually share my work.

Oye, what a brain circus. 

While I don't suggest phoning in subpar crap, overthinking and constantly obsessing over perfection stalls us out. It keeps us going over the same thing again and again instead of moving forward. 

Perfectionism is the nemesis of productivity, progress, and prosperity!

Takeaway: The memes are true, progress over perfection, done is better than perfect, and perfect is the enemy of good. Remember imperfect action creates results. 

A few weeks and adjustments later, I’m happy to report I’m back in flow - earplugs in, allowing the imperfections to be as they are while I move forward. I find, so often, our “missteps” and frustrations are really opportunities for growth and can give us insights into where we may need to make a change.

Have you noticed any of these time sucks killing your productivity? What zaps your focus and how do you get yourself back in "the zone"? How can you lean into your "missteps" and see them as opportunities for growth?

It's imperative we have awareness and a game plan to get back on track if we want to consistently create meaningful productivity instead of mindless busywork.

Wishing you your version of success!

wasting time

P.S. Have you ever experienced this? Let me know in the comments below what you've noticed zaps your productivity and how you regain focus! 

Winning At The Game of Business
winning game of business
"Business is a game, played for fantastic stakes, and you're in competition with experts. If you want to win, you have to learn to be a master of the game." -Sidney Sheldon

I'm not sure if you knew this, but my guy is obsessed with board games.

I’m talking obscure games, not the Monopoly you and I grew up with. He’s got a collection of 200 plus games in our Manhattan-sized apartment, and I’ve slowly chipped away at playing a decent amount of them. I’m not half bad either!

The other day, we were playing a particularly challenging game, and I realized how many parallels there were to business and how much gaming strategy strengthens entrepreneurial thinking.

So, let's dig in and talk about leveling up and winning at the game of business!

The Rulebook Isn’t The Game

I like playing games, but I don’t particularly like learning games. The problem is, to play the games and have the fun, I have to learn the damn thing…and those rulebooks daunt me! 

And, oh my gosh, isn’t that the same with pretty much anything half-challenging or new?

But! The rulebook isn’t the game! It’s just the gatekeeper and first step needed to enjoy (and win) the game. 

There are so many “rulebook” equivalents in our businesses - the things we need to do to get to the stuff we really enjoy. The first steps required to get to the fun part. 

Don’t judge the game by the rulebook.

Have a Flexible Strategy

With every new game we play, I always want to get right to strategy and plan the whole game out before I’m finished with the first turn. Sometimes this works for me, but most of the time I can’t plan further than a few turns ahead because the game changes as we play.

When I’m locked into a strategy, I end up missing opportunities right in front of me. 

This was a lightbulb moment for me that translated to my work. Strategy is important, absolutely, but we want to adopt a flexible strategy that allows us to pivot when the game changes or doesn't go as planned. And when does it ever goes as planned?

It’s never all strategy or all luck; it’s a dance between the two.

Play The Hand You're Dealt

It's so tempting when you don't have the best hand to want wait around for better cards to become available or to mentally throw in the towel and stop trying. Ditto in our businesses.

How many of us are waiting for the next "turn" to get started? How often do we blame circumstances on the cards we've been dealt?

Playing the hand we have means working with the skills and knowledge we have now, not waiting until "then" when everything is lined up perfectly.

It also means playing the life we’re currently living and honoring the hand we have, instead of pretending or wishing it's different. 

This is why onesie-fit all approaches don’t work in business, they assume we’re all holding the same hand. 

By the way, you can win with any hand, it's all how you play the game.

Build An Engine That Works For You

Almost every game I’ve learned has a mechanic called an “engine.” This is a fancy sounding term for items or cards you collect during the game that enhance your abilities and allow you to optimize your actions more efficiently.

The stronger your engine gets, the more you can do in a single turn, and the more points you can collect.  

If you want to win, you HAVE to focus on building your engine at the start of the game. It’s really tempting, though, to go straight for anything that gives you points.

Engine building is rarely exciting and it delays your score, so it can feel counterintuitive. But, I've learned, if you don’t set yourself up for success at the beginning of a game, you usually end up losing by a landslide at the end.

This is everything. We have to strategically build an engine at the START of anything, so we can effectively "optimize our turns". This means having the long view instead of just rushing out for a quick point grab.

Don't Forget to Have Fun

This is an entire blog post on its own (along with the idea of gamifying our businesses), but it seems an important note to end on. Don't forget to have fun. In your business endeavors, in the passions you pursue, in life. 

I'd be lying if I said things never got heated and we didn't take playing games too seriously every once in a while. 

The competitiveness and self-induced pressure in game playing can suck the fun out of the room. Ditto in our entrepreneurial lives. It's great to think about "winning" but let's not forgot why we got into the game in the first place and remember to have fun. After all, isn't that the whole point?

Now it’s your turn (see what I did there?!). How can you apply game-think to your business so you level up and make it more fun? Let me know in the comments below!

Here’s to winning at the game of business and life! Wishing you your version of success!

entrepreneur game

P.S. Ready to level up your business? Join me for a FREE Masterclass: Identify and Book Your Dream Clients next Friday! Click here to grab your free seat! Let's get you some dream clients!

What Advice I'd Give Myself If I Was Starting My Business Over
ideal client myths
"Choose your customers, choose your future." - Seth Godin

Every once in a while I get a question that sounds something like, “If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself when you were starting your business?”

It’s an awesome question.

The truth is, there’s no ONE thing I’d go back and tell myself. Business growth and sustainability are a combination of many things.

My approach to business and what I walk my clients through includes creating clarity, mindset, strategy, action, and feedback. We need it all to create our version of success.

That being said, there are a few things that resulted in huge shifts for me.

You probably think I’m going to say mindset, and that IS a big part of it and something I continue to focus on daily, but I’ve got a little something different for you today.

One of the things that made the biggest difference for me? Getting clear on my ideal client, understanding WHO they are as they relate to my work, and how I can help.

This is at the core of my business and pretty much everything I do.

Before I got clear on who my ideal clients were, I was floundering. Once I had clarity on who my people were and what they wanted everything changed.

Because at the end of the day, our businesses aren’t about us! They’re about our clients.

From our business identity to the content we create, it all goes back to our ideal clients. 

Figuring out who our people are isn't always the easiest thing, though. There’s a lot of confusing information out there. I didn’t know how to go about figuring out who they were, and for the longest time, I was winging it.

I distinctly remember hanging up the phone after a discovery call (that’s what I was calling my consultation calls at the time) with a prospective client. This particular call resulted in a ‘no’, and I wanted to figure out why. That’s when the light bulb went off. I had been marketing to anyone and everyone. While this was an awesome person on the other side, it was not my ideal client, and what I was offering really wasn’t what she wanted or needed.

After that call, it took me a hot second to dig into who my people are. I knew that it wasn’t the person I had been talking to, but who was it?

Turns out, there are two main detours we tend to take when identifying our ideal clients. 

Detour # 1 : We’re treating our ideal client discovery like a creative writing project.

So, I definitely did this. When I first learned about the whole ideal client thing, I printed off my worksheet and filled it in like a good little student.

The problem? Everything I was writing was completely made up! Then I wondered why my clients weren’t showing up.

We want to base our ideal client profile off of real humans.

Of course, at the start of our businesses, before we have clients, we have to make an educated guess to some degree. But, even there, we have an opportunity to look to real people and experiences we’ve had when we create our ideal client avatar.

This is a little like the exercise told to women around the world to find their Prince Charming; create a list of the “perfect” man to call him in (which DOES work, btw). There's a tendency to make up these descriptions that either aren’t real or have nothing to do with what would actually make us happy. 

Those lists work when they’re based on real qualities people have that align with what we want and who we are. Our ideal client avatars are the same. 

Let’s stop having the word ‘avatar’ turn into science-fiction!

Detour #2: We’re focusing on the wrong details

So, back to those client avatar worksheets. I filled out all these details like gender, age, and where they lived.

It had me come up with the hair color of my ideal client and give him/her a name. It suggested I get a photo to represent this person.

Fast forward a few years and a whole lot of clients later, and I’m working with dream clients. Clients I LOVE.

Want to know something? None of them have the same hair color or live in the same place. Knowing these made-up details had nothing to do with us connecting and working together!

I’m going to just come out and say it, those details don’t matter. Not when we’re talking about connecting with potential clients!

Our dream clients are people we want to build relationships with. Think about your IRL relationships...do you go around looking for friends who only have a specific hair color? Or who only eat one kind of food? Or who only hang out at one place?

No way! That would be absurd. 

So, why, when it comes to business do we suddenly think the rules of relationships are different? Why do we try to fit our ideal clients into superficial boxes?

If you want to not only identify your DREAM clients but also connect with them and work with them, you need to go deeper.

I’m clearly pretty fired up about this, so I decided to host a free Masterclass, and I’d love for you to join me!

We'll dig into why your client avatar isn’t cutting it, what you need to know to turn your dream clients into paying clients, and how you might be blocking yourself from your dream clients and what you need to shift!

You’ll want to bring a notebook, pen, and your favorite beverage :)

This is going down June 15th at 12 pm EST.  {That's 9 AM PST, and 6 PM Central Europe Time}  You'll need to RSVP!

Click Here to Register and Get Your FREE Seat!

I’ll check in and send you a link to our secret workshop location.

Hope to see you there and wishing you your version of success!

ideal client avatar myths

P.S. Ready to Identify and Book Your Dream Clients? Join me for a FREE MASTERCLASS on June 15th at 12 PM EST! Click here to register and grab your free seat! I can't wait to dig into this with you!!

Creative Block? Don't Quit Your Day Job!
writer's block
"Constraint forces creativity." -Jonathan Fields

Did I ever tell you about the time I decided I was going to become a writer?

It was during the period when I was transitioning out of my acting life and trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I “grew up.”

I’m what Marie Forleo calls a "multi-passionate", and my many passions,  at the time didn’t feel like they added up to a “real job”. So I made one of those lists, you know with all the things I was good at and like to do, and realized I LOVE to write.

Naturally, this meant I was going to be a writer. 

At the time, my pay-the-bills job was working at a bar a few nights a week. I decided, if I was going to be a serious writer, I needed the space and time to write. I quit my bar job to focus on writing.

I’m cringing as I share this now, but there you have it. 

I put in my notice and had grand plans of waking up early and writing all day, every day. It was going to be glorious. I was going to write and write and create.

Fast forward about a month into my new "career", and my actual days didn’t look anything like my daydream. 

I was sleeping late…and my writing? Well, I had outlined a few half-assed plot lines and written a few pages. TOTAL. 

Another month in? I was going stir crazy and burning through cash. I asked for my serving job back.

Years later, when I started my business, I remembered this experience and vowed to do things differently. This time, I kept my full-time day job. And, you know what? I wrote exponentially more with a full-time job and “no time” than I ever did when I was idle and free.

Because constraints make us creative. 

Deadlines and boxes make us focus and prioritize. And a little time crunch here and there, as much as our freedom-lusting minds hate to admit it, gets us thinking on our feet and coming up with answers.

Back when I was a “full-time writer”,  I’d stare at a blank screen and have nothing. But, the page filled up magically when I had to find cracks of time to write with a 9-5.

You know what time constraints do? They shackle down perfectionism. The same perfectionism that had me rewriting the same outline and sentences over and over again was squashed when I was pressed for time and had to write a weekly blog post. 

Have you ever experienced this?

It's like that saying we've all heard, “Want to get something done? Ask a busy person.” 

This is known as Parkinson's law. It’s the idea that work takes as much time to finish as we have for it. 

Meaning, if you quit your job and have an open schedule with no real sense of urgency, it will take a month to complete three pages of writing. On the other hand, if you’re juggling a nine to five with a creative project, this same principle means that you can crank out those three pages in the hours before and after work. 

Creativity also thrives with a few limitations. Counterintuitive, yes. Backed by research, also a yes.

A study of award-winning work found people who create are often inspired by constraints. Yup, you read that right.

While a lack of mental white space and time to think can kill ideation, a few limitations and constraints can work in our favor. 

It makes sense. Creativity is problem-solving. It’s looking at things in new and fresh ways. Limited options and urgency make it easier to come up with solutions because we aren’t crushed with decision fatigue and the neverending spirals of what-ifs.

It’s why having a side gig while we build our businesses or even a full-time job might not be as much of a hindrance as we want to think it is.

It gets confusing because we also hear about the importance of self-care, play, and avoiding burn out, and then we hear something like this.

My take? As entrepreneurs and creatives, we need all of it. Creating space for ideas and taking care of ourselves can co-exist with deadlines and limitations. 

We do need space and play for creativity to flourish. Our minds also need time for rest. Yet, even there, it turns out our brain is more creative when we’re tired.

The ex-actress in me can tell you that many of my “flow” moments happened when I was exhausted, running out of time, or sick. True story. 

What can we take from all of this? How can we use this knowledge about how our minds work and still strike that balance where we’re taking care of ourselves?

It amounts to creating a sense of urgency and getting out of our own way.

While I loved the idea of being a writer during my brief stint as a “novelist”, I had zero sense of urgency. My later blog productivity was the result of limited time and necessity.

We can take these principles and create self-imposed necessity and deadlines.

The other piece to the creative puzzle is getting out of our own damn way. When we have constraints and limitations, we don’t have the time to make up excuses or think up reasons for why our ideas won’t work; we don’t spin out about why we aren’t good enough; we don’t second-guess ideas; we just create solutions because we don’t have the time or energy not to.

While self-care and creative space are paramount, let’s not lean into them to the point of sapping creative drive and output. Let’s stop looking to our lack of time as an excuse.

I’m also going to gently remind you that some of the reasons you think you can't create may be the very reasons you can...if you allow yourself.  

Wishing you your version of success!

creative constraints

P.S. I was stumped on this blog, and wouldn’t you know it, it came together after a productive procrastination break when I was tired and under deadline. Walking my talk and showing you this all works.