Too Much to Do: Four Strategies for Guaranteed Productivity

In my recent teleclass, Kelly expressed her goal succinctly: “I want to spin less and get more done.” Can you relate?

Journalist Charles Duhigg is an expert on productivity. In his latest book, Smarter Better Faster, he concludes that the most productive people have trained themselves to be productive, and most importantly, experimenting is part of the process. By trial and error, we build habits and contemplative routines that yield increased productivity.

The same tools don’t work for everyone, so don’t be frustrated if you’ve tried and failed some techniques: The winning technique for you is still out there — waiting for you to give it a try.

Here are four ideas to inspire your experiments:

1. Set a Stretch Goal

Take a few minutes to reflect on what is most important to you and WHY it’s important. The key to being productive is motivation. Understanding your “why” will help you stay focused and overcome obstacles.

For example, while having a clean house may be the goal, it’s not the motivation. The motivation might be “I am happier when I can find things easily,” or “my allergies do better when it’s not dusty,” or “I love having guests, and I don’t do that when it’s messy.” Once your motivational goal is clear, then make your TO-DO list, outlining the tasks that will get you there.

2. Keep a Not-Doing-Now List

Your Not-Doing-Now list is a parking lot. When your mind strays or another task tempts you, put it on your list and return focus to the task you’re committed to. Don’t multitask: ask “is this intrusion helping with my current task or not?” If the answer is “no,” park it.

3. Do the Hardest Thing First

It’s typical to tackle the simplest item on list. We get to check something off quickly and enjoy a feeling of moving forward. It makes us feel productive – but it only keeps us spinning. However, when you nail the hardest thing first, it frees you up.

My clients who’ve tested this one consistently say they feel so much better not having that big task hanging over their head all day long. It gives a sense of freedom, creating more energy and space to get more things done, and the rest of the day goes a lot smoother and easier.

4. Make a Daily Top-Three Commitment List

Review your master to-do list and pick three things that you are absolutely, 100% committed to completing today. Don’t take on another until all three are completed. This strategy helps me say “no” (at least not now.) When something else tries to sneak on to my schedule, I know what my priorities are.

Experiment TODAY!

Duhigg says one thing productive people have in common is a willingness to experiment.

I challenge you to choose one of these strategies, and commit to it for a day, or seven, or 30. Keep experimenting and be willing to train yourself into new habits.

What’s your first experiment?



LinkedIn is THE place to make connections with colleagues, clients, prospects and more. It’s the biggest networking platform out there: it had 500 million users as of January 1, and 40% of them use LinkedIn daily. Isn’t that incredible?

Like any platform, it’s always changing, so I asked my colleague Judy Zimmer to share a few tips about recent changes with you. She’s a super-star LinkedIn expert, and you can learn more about her here:

Green Dot Indicates Active Status

The first new change Judy points out is the green dot in the messaging window, which indicates a member’s active status. It appears in two ways: a simple green dot means the person is on LinkedIn right now, and a green dot with a small white dot in the center means the person will receive a notification on their mobile phone when they receive a message. This allows LinkedIn messaging to function like an instant messenger. If you can catch them while they’re active, there’s a better chance of piquing their interest and getting a response. EXTRA TIP: Remember to personalize your message to increase the odds that they’ll accept you as a connection or reply to your message. Ask yourself: What were you excited about when you met them? That’s a great way to get personal.

Private Dashboard

Another significant new change is your personal, private dashboard in your profile. You’ll see some useful statistics: a set of three numbers telling you how many people have viewed your profile and your posts, and how many times you appeared in searches. Click on this bar to learn more about your searchers: where they work, what they do, and what keywords they used to find you.

EXTRA TIP: If the keywords you value aren’t in the list, make sure they occur repeatedly in your profile. In fact, your preferred term should be in your profile no less than five times: in headline, summary, experience, skills/endorsements and recommendations. Why is it so important? “Because the more clarity you have around keywords, the easier it is for people to come looking for you and the more people you can help,” says Judy.

Take Control of Skills and Endorsements

Lastly, scroll down below your Experience section to find Skills and Endorsements. This has been revised to make it easier for you to control which skills are featured at the top of your list. Click on the pencil to edit the list: by clicking on the thumbtack icons, you can select which three top skills you want to emphasize. By clicking on the four parallel horizontal lines, you can drag the skills to rearrange them. When people endorse you, they refer to this list, so make it easy for them to craft a useful endorsement for you.

It pays to be active on LinkedIn, and to get acquainted with the ins and outs. “There’s so much you can leverage, so many tools,” says Judy.

If you’d like some help with LinkedIn, reach out to me or to Judy, and polish up that profile!




ACCOUNTABILITY: It isn’t sexy – but it works

It’s a pretty simple concept that will make or break your success, but it’s got a bad rap. Just saying the word out loud – ACCOUNTABILITY — I can feel my defensive hackles rising. And I know better!

According to the dictionary, it’s about accounting for one’s actions. In the business world, it’s used to define expected outcomes and performance goals according to a timeline.

Here’s what it’s not: nagging, judging, forcing. Guilt trips.

COACHING DEFINITION: Am I Doing What I Said I Want To Do?

Accountability is a critical, fundamental tool for empowering people to make real and lasting change. I use accountability every day in many different ways to keep clients motivated and moving towards what they want to accomplish. It’s so basic, it sometimes seems invisible!

The art of accountability in coaching pivots on reflecting an individual’s goals, learning styles and motivation points. An accountability program which fits the person is a powerful tool for success.

Why It Works

Accountability in coaching works because:

  • It creates an external stimulus for transitioning from idea to reality
  • It’s a measuring tool for action and progress
  • It incorporates learning

Ultimately, it’s a structure which empowers people to make meaningful and lasting change.

Three Key Ingredients for Effective Accountability

When you commit to practicing accountability, there are three vital elements: Identifying a metric, tracking, and reporting.

METRIC: What will you measure/observe?

Identify what specific action you can track that will help you achieve your goal. Is your goal to write a book? Writing for 10 minutes a day would be a good metric. Trying to get more exercise? A daily walk may be your metric. Want more clients? Your metric might be reaching out to 10 prospects each week. Don’t make your metric “getting five more clients each week,” because that’s not within your control.

For the best chance at success, start small. Remember last month’s blog? Starting small helps guarantee success because you bypass the part of your brain that goes into overwhelm with big changes.

TRACKING: How will you keep track of what you are measuring?

  • Write it on calendar
  • Create a tracking sheet
  • Daily email/hourly text with your accountability partner
  • Record in journal
  • Maintain an end-of-the-day accomplishment list

Pro tip: try to make it a game. You are more likely to follow through if you make it fun!

REPORTING: Who will you tell?

Pairing up with an accountability partner is the critical ingredient for effective accountability, as well as effective coaching. But you’ve got to have the right person for the job. What qualities make a great Personal Accountability Partner?

  • A relationship of mutual respect and trust
  • Both parties willing and able to give honest, direct feedback
  • No judgment
  • Mutual encouragement without attachment to the outcome

What do you report?

  • Actions taken AND not taken
  • What am I learning?
  • How do I want to apply that learning going forward?

Accountability to Reach Goals and Fulfill Potential

By providing an external structure for measuring action and evaluating your learning process, accountability is a powerful way to discern whether the actions you take are creating the new improved reality you seek.



Small Is the New Big: Take Small Steps to Achieve Big Change

Recently, I rediscovered a book that has been on my shelf for years, called One Small Step Can Change Your Life by Robert Maurer. I love it so much that I want to share it with you.

Dr. Maurer’s big, audacious, surprising notion is that we don’t need to take (and in fact aren’t served by taking) big, audacious, surprising steps. Instead, harness the power of small steps. It’s called the Kaizen Way, after a Japanese principle of manufacturing improvement.

Big Changes Tend to Backfire

The idea here is that those crazy big steps, promises and pivots encouraged by our “CAN DO” culture, are actually more likely to spark fear, overwhelm and cause frustration. When we make big promises, our subconscious puts up big resistance, and while we might start off with a bang, we’ll ultimately lose momentum and feel discouraged. By taking small steps, we avoid setting up that dynamic of internal resistance, finding a natural, graceful way to move securely toward our goals.

Playful, Creative Change Instead of Forcing It

Change – big or small – is scary. By practicing the strategies of the Kaizen Way, we work around our brain’s natural fear response. These strategies lay down new neural pathways that unleash our brain’s natural capacity for creatively and playfully creating change, instead of forcing it.

Instead of making big promises, figure out small steps. Here are three of the six small steps outlined by Robert Maurer!

Three Strategies of the Kaizen Way

Number 1: Ask Small Questions, Repeatedly

Our brains LOVE to play and questions help open the door to our natural creativity. Small, gentle, open-ended, positive questions allow us to tip-toe past the fear and playfully explore! Big questions may trigger our automatic fear response.

Here’s how it works: Instead of asking yourself “how can I lose 30 pounds?” try asking “how can I be physically active today?” Instead of wondering “how can I find my soul mate?” wonder “what would an ideal mate be like?”

Part of this strategy is repetition: ask yourself repeatedly over days or weeks. Post your questions in places where you see them regularly. Mull it over, don’t force it…But do noodle on all the possible answers to your questions. Try writing the answers down.

Number 2: Think Small Thoughts

Dr. Maurer explores the technique of mind sculpture developed by Ian Robertson. With this strategy, you use your imagination/mind to develop new skills. Mind sculpture is more than guided imagery, visualization, or just thinking. It is a total imaginary immersion, engaging all the senses. When you practice mind sculpture, you use your mind to fully immerse yourself in the activity. Your brain believes that you are actually engaged in the activity. This way of practicing engages your mind and neutralizes fear at the same time.

Number 3: Take Small Actions

This is the heart of the Kaizen Way. No matter how much you entertain your brain with puzzles or questions or mental rehearsals, at some point you have to take action in order for change to unfold. These actions need to be so small and seemingly insignificant that they trick that brainy brain of yours! They might even seem small, trivial–even laughable. But they will comfortably, naturally, organically lead you to a second step, then a third, and so on until you have accomplished your goal!

Examples include marching in place for one minute (instead of pledging 45 minutes in the gym), going through one quick conversation in your French textbook (instead of vowing to do a whole chapter), or cutting down your portion size by one bite at each meal (instead of cutting out a meal).

Gentle, Playful, Compassionate Change

The Kaizen Way is a life-long practice that kindly and respectfully encourages you to move towards your goals. Don’t force these small steps: They only work if you allow them to work in a comfortable and easy manner.

All change takes time. Building these new habits requires compassion, trust, optimism and patience. Be kind to yourself, and open to the possibility that small can be huge.



Now that we’re a few weeks in to 2018, how’s your mojo?

The new year brings the excitement and magic of new beginnings. I love the fresh start, blank page, anything is possible feeling. It energizes me wondering What will this year bring?

You know what doesn’t inspire my mojo? Resolutions.

Invigorate Your New Year with a Theme

Instead of the dread of resolutions, I get my inspiration from a theme.

What themes have kept me revved up and committed to my best, most satisfying life?
Here are a few from the last few years:

“The answer is always there.”
“Yes! Bring on the best!”
“Now is the time for Wild Ass success.”
“Let’s Dance”

They’re dynamic, playful, full of energy: they reflect me. More importantly, my themes inspire me in all areas of my life, grounding me and keeping me focused throughout the year.

Craft Your Theme for 2018

Would you like to try creating a personal theme for your fresh new year?

Grab two pieces of paper and let’s get started. We’ll start with a look back at last year.

Yahoo / Boo-Hoo / Ah Ha!

This is a great year-end exercise. Think back over 2017 and write down…

Yahoos: What were your best moments? What did you accomplish or achieve? What are you proud of? What
delighted you?

Boo-Hoos: What were the tough spots? What didn’t you get to? What were failures or disappointments? Where were
the sad moments? What do you regret?

Ah Has: What did you learn?

Pause. Review. Say Thank You for the experiences of 2017. Really feel that sense of gratitude – from your heart.

NOW…say Farewell: fold up your paper and set it to the side. Better yet, tear it up and throw it away! ADIOS!

2018–What Is Next?
Take sheet number two, and write at the top: 2018–What is next? Reflect on these questions:

  • What do I want my life and career to feel like this year?
  • What do I want more of in my life?
  • What do I want less of? What can I let go of?
  • What fires me up? What will make me feel more alive?
  • What are the challenges?
  • Where can I be more courageous?
  • Where do I want focus?

An Exercise of the Heart, Not the Mind

Let the answers come – this is not something to figure out in your head. In fact – put your hand on your heart, and ask What Is Next? Jot down what comes to you.

Notice any consistent threads? Sometimes a theme pops right out. Other times it takes a while for the words, images, or ideas to emerge.

There is no right way to do this. Allow yourself time to percolate on the questions and answers. It takes time and attention to craft a theme that sparkles and excites you. When you arrive at your right theme, you’ll know–you’ll feel your creative juices surge.

That’s how I felt when I came up with my simple theme for 2018: “Let’s have fun!!” I invite you to find your own perfect theme for the new year, and let it feed your mojo!


Intuition: Your Most Overlooked Secret For Success




This is the guidance my intuition is offering me in these cold, dark December days.

I got my first formal education about intuition while training to be a coach. The more I learned about intuition, the more I realized that I’d been relying on it for a long time–and that we’re all using it constantly. That’s right – everyone uses their intuition – even you!

Cultivating intuition is a primary goal for me as a coach. Your intuition is a powerful tool for being confident and effective in work and life. Every successful person I know relies on intuition just as often as they use other trusted advisors like financial advisors, attorneys or medical professionals.

What Is Intuition?

Intuition is a deep inner knowing. It’s a natural capacity we’re all born with like our sense of taste and smell or our capacity for language. We’re always unconsciously receiving data and allowing our conscious mind to interpret that data. Sometimes the information is subtle, sometime quite blatant. Unfortunately, we’ve been trained to disregard these messages. I invite you to cultivate your ability to perceive and process the information your intuition is giving you every day.

How Does Intuition Communicate With Us?

It’s different for everyone. We each have our unique personal style, and intuition reveals itself through a variety of channels. Here’s how Nancy Rosanoff in her book Intuition Workout describes it:

Intuition via the mental channel conveys images, symbols and words. You may experience it as persistent thoughts and hunches. You may be tempted to dismiss it as something you are making up. It may feel like past experiences or memories.

Intuition via the emotional channel manifests as feelings and emotions which you can’t explain. You like or don’t like something and you can’t articulate why. The feeling may be vague or specific, but they’re usually right.

Sometimes the information comes to us as physical sensations — the kinesthetic channel. Your signals may be tingling skin, goose bumps or agitation and restlessness.. You know the sensation is comfortable or uncomfortable and can’t explain it.

Intuition: A Priceless Tool

Your intuition sends you information through all of these channels every day.

Which channel is clearest for you?

How will you cultivate your intuition muscle?

What price do you pay for dismissing this powerful advisor?

When you develop and strengthen your ability to perceive the information your intuition sends, you cultivate a powerful and trusted advisor for success that dwells within you. It really isn’t a secret!


Play to Your Strengths

You can be anything you want, if you just work hard enough.

Hmmm, really? Ballet dancer, opera singer, nuclear physicist–are those pursuits really available to anyone and everyone?

Not many people buy that cultural myth anymore BUT underdog stories of triumph over adversity are still captivating. The research in the field of Strengths Psychology suggests that the real triumph comes to those who capitalize on their strengths. Instead of employing superhuman effort to correct deficiencies and overcome shortcomings, how about putting attention and energy towards making the very most of your strengths?

Why labor upstream when you can glide downstream?

Correcting weaknesses is like trying to swim upstream: The fight against the current will wear you out, and you simply can’t make good progress. Try playing to your strengths, and you’ll know you’re swimming downstream, your efforts boosted with ease by your natural gifts. There’s no stopping you!

When you play to your strengths, it’s naturally easier to accomplish more

In the workplace, statistics indicate that only 20% of folks use their strengths daily. That lucky 20% are more efficient, effective and productive. Most importantly, they’re happy. When you know and play to your strengths, life bursts with ease and satisfaction!

Cultivating strengths takes less effort and brings far greater results

We’re bombarded with a societal message to be balanced; to be well-rounded; to labor at transcending our shortcomings. Let go of that mandate and cultivate your strengths:

  • Stop agonizing over what you don’t have: Celebrate what you DO have.
  • Discover the role you were born to play and realize the ease and zest fulfilling it.
  • Don’t strive for balance–it’s an illusion anyway. Strive for fullness. Intentionally imbalance your life towards what makes you feel strong.
  • Always sweat the small stuff: Know and act on the specific details of what invigorates you.

How will you play to your strengths today?


International Coaching Week 2016: SPECIAL DEAL!

ExperienceCoachingWebBannerThe International Coach Federation (ICF) has designated May 16-22 as International Coaching Week. Professional coaching is a powerful experience that is shifting corporate culture from command and control to collaboration and creativity. Coaching is developing stronger leaders, better communicators, more productive employees and increasingly positive people.

Want to give coaching a try? During International Coaching Week, I am offering a 30-minute one-on-one coaching session for just $50. Regular price is $400! At such a reduced rate, spots will fill up fast. Starting May 16th, contact me to reserve your spot. Only a limited number are available. Prices go back up to regular rate on May 23rd.

What do you Cherish?

Remember this golden oldie?

That’s my theme for this February: CHERISH. I love the tender, sweet feeling that this word (and that melody) inspires. I am excited to notice what I lovingly adore, what I treasure, what is close to my heart.

How about you? What is it that you hold dear?

Cherishing my connection to you,

Cultivate a Practice of Gratitude

What a Fall it has been! Just when I thought my schedule was settling into a routine, something surprising would get added. Sometimes it was a happy event like a new, exciting work opportunity. Other times it was an unexpected tragedy such as the death of a dear family member. I am so grateful for all the reminders I have plugged in to my day-to-day life to remind me to BE HERE NOW. That focus keeps me in the vibrant reality of the moment — whether the moment is delightful or heart breaking. When I practice — BE HERE NOW — it gets easier and easier to relinquish my age-old habits of worrying, ruminating, or blaming when life doesn’t unfold as expected.

During the month of November, GRATITUDE is the experience I plan to cultivate. How about you? What are you focusing on this month?