Archive for July, 2014

5 Ways to Slow Down Time This Summer

July 2, 2014

This post was first published on my website blog.

This past spring, I was invited to speak at a library on the topic of  “Time Management”.  I accepted the invitation with the caveat that what I would really be talking about is “self management” — i.e. managing ourselves within our time. There really is no such thing as ‘managing time’. We can, however, manage ourselves differently so that we experience time differently.

time_management (2)

Like most people, I get how fast time goes these days and I often wish I could get more of it. You know – more time to get more things done;  to do more of the things I enjoy; to have more time for less ‘doing’ and more thinking time…..and so on. Since I can’t get more time, I try to find ways to slow it down. Or rather,  to slow down my experience and perception of time fleeting so quickly.

Ahh yes, the speed of life.  Do you feel this way too?

With summer here when the ‘living is (supposed to be) easy’….I thought it would be fitting to offer a few ideas on how to ‘slow down’ time so you can get the most out of this lovely (albeit short) season. And to be authentic, I won’t proclaim to have mastered these strategies nor will I ever likely fully do so. The idea is to live in these strategies and do your best each day to be aware and to catch yourself in the moment. That’s working towards ‘mastery’. So here you go – try these out.

5 Ways to Slow Down Time This Summer (or any season):

1) Focus Time

Multitasking and distractions are big thieves of  time. And we let these thieves into our lives – daily.  We juggle  activities; answer emails at every ting; invite or allow distractions of all kinds to intrude. Not only do these habits make your valuable time less productive (yes, less), it also zaps your energy because multitasking spends way more brain energy then focused thinking.

Conversely focus brings the gift of fueling ourselves. Focus fuels our brain capacity and creativity; energizes us and keeps us sharp. And with the right kind of focus activity, it can put us in a state of flow — a delicious state that leads to more engagement, well-being and happiness and a feeling of time ‘well-spent’.  And while time in flow can fly by (we get lost in time) this is usually a good, energizing  ‘time-goes-’fast’ experience vs. a depleting fast.  And you can likely get more done. Those flow states usually involve using your top strengths. You can read more about strengths and flow in a past blog post here.

These days, there’s so much to juggle with the loads of work and life but there’s plenty of opportunity to rein in the gratuitous multitasking and distractions and ramp up a bit more of focus time in your day. Maybe it’s taking 20 minutes of uninterrupted time to write that report or think about a plan or start to flesh out a creative idea. Try it out this summer and see if you experience a shift in how you feel about time.  And you can read more about this in an excerpt from my book, Ease, here.

2) Get Present

While this idea is related to focus, it deserves its own mention. How often do we allow our minds to be someplace other than where we actually are and are meant to be. Perhaps you are at a meeting but thinking about something else (the work that beckons? or concern about another matter). Or away from work (family time, friends, etc) but your supposedly ‘off’ time gets robbed as you worry or think about something else. Did you miss your son’s winning pitch at the baseball game because you were on your smart phone dealing with work?

Reality can certainly pull us away at times but if you can catch yourself in a reactive (and unnecessary) moment of ‘inattention’ and shift to a state of attention you will overcome an insidious robber of our time. From tuned out to tuned in — you will likely be rewarded with more moments that you truly wouldn’t want to miss this summer.

3) Reality Test Your To Do List

I’m often guilty of putting too many things on my to-do list and when I do that I know this can trigger the perception of  ‘not enough time’  which is an energy drain to say the least.

Keep that ‘not enough time‘ gremlin at bay and take a harder look at your own expectations of what can get done in any given period of time. Learn to right-size your daily (and weekly, monthly) goals and to-do’s. This will also invite you to learn to say ‘no’ more often. More about this and more in my book, Ease.

4) Leave Margins

Using time wisely doesn’t imply you should pack in activities to the fullest of your day’s capacity. In fact, the opposite is what many of us need. Leave margins to ‘get there’, ‘do that’, or deal with contingencies (traffic, etc) — or just to think and recharge your batteries. This will give you more spaciousness and a feeling of enough time vs. not enough.  And paradoxically, you will probably get more done and do it better as a result.

To do this well, learn to master  your schedule better: deliberately leave some  ‘white space’ around the edges (and in other places) ; make space for breaks  to recharge (even tiny ones help) — even when it is ‘crazy busy’.

5) Choose Joy Over Angst

Well, nothing robs us of quality time more than negativity (worry, frustration, angst). A day in a funk is a day wasted. Sure, stuff concerns us, challenges us, gets us down – but focusing only on the negativity will guarantee to feed into the ‘scarcity of time’ experience.

Instead, learn to master the art of positivity – and make room for it especially during times of duress. This will not only broaden your capacity to deal with the tough issues and even boost your ability to generate more positive outcomes  — it will also give you back ownership of your time.  By having the choice of how you want to be at any given moment, you ‘own the moment’.

Own the Moment! Embrace it or waste it.


SO HOW DO YOU DO ALL THIS?  “Sos” for you….

Well, for starters, check out my book, Ease – Manage Overwhelm in Times of ‘Crazy Busy’. It is filled with concrete tips, ideas and tools to support you in these and other strategies to help you take charge of your time, your effectiveness, your mood and mojo.


I’ve been talking about these and other related themes in workshops, presentations and even the media and now I’m offering an opportunity for a deeper dive with you that will be really accessible; ‘ease-y’ to participate and filled with loads of practical tips, strategies and inspiration!

This first offering of Ease Talks is a series of tele-based seminars that will will help you deal with ‘times of crazy busy’ with more resilience, success and even personal mojo! We’ll dive into the themes from my book, Ease, as well as learn a bunch of new stuff (beyond the book).  Whether you’ve read Ease or plan to – this will take you on a ‘deeper dive’ and you’ll find your time very well spent coming away with more ‘tools’ and inspiration for your personal and professional well-being.

Notably, I will definitely be including content on how to hone the Positivity Habit…one of my favorite areas! It’s worth noting that positivity is not just a ‘nice-to-have’ – it has been scientifically proven to bolster our chances for success and well-being on so many levels (mental, emotional and physical).

Scheduled to start late August (with the first call on me – complimentary) and more of the details coming soon. In the meantime,  you can read more about the program here.

Hope to ‘see’ you there!

For now, I’m wishing you a happy start to the summer. May your time be plentiful, well-spent and filled with joy, well-being and lots of ease along the way.

Tiny is the New Big

July 2, 2014

This article was first published on my website blog.


Tiny is now the new big — when it comes to goals. Are your goals small enough to make a big enough difference?

Recently, I’ve been talking a lot about goals — with friends, with my clients and in my own personal reflection.  Not surprising since the early part of the year is typical timing to reflect on goals and new beginnings.  But something has changed. Whereas I used to ask Are you thinking big enough? I’m now asking “Are your goals small enough?”

little dog and big dog

Huh? What? Yes, you heard me right.  Each day, I find I’m reminded of the HUGE value of setting TINY goals.  In fact, I’m now so BIG on TINY that I might even have to change my company name from Big Cheese Coaching to Tiny or Little Cheese Coaching.

Not really. But just saying so to make a point.

Quick story: one of my long-standing goals has been to clean my office. I mean really clean it out. Make the shelves and all the other spaces actually workable instead of storing old, irrelevant ‘stuff’. Embarrassing to say (and I won’t tell you how long-standing this goal has been), this is actually a BIG goal for me because I’ve let it go too long.  My clean-up now feels so daunting and every time I think about it – something far more important (or interesting) takes precedence. So the shelves get heavier with stuff that doesn’t need to be there and the desk – where’s my desk? Oh yes, under that pile.  This has been a great source of frustration and my procrastination has kept me stuck, stuck, stuck.

Until one day recently when I changed the goal.  Instead of saying “I have to clean my office,” I changed my goal to “I want to clean that tiny corner of my office today.”

Guess what happened?  I cleaned that tiny corner in my office! It was fairly effortless yet it made a MASSIVE difference to me. I felt a HUGE gust of relief (clean space can do that). I’m now ready to set my sights on my next TINY space.

Lesson learned? Right-size your goal. I’m not saying all goals need to be tiny. What I’m saying is that there is huge merit in including tiny goals in your life.  Sure – big goals have a place and can be energizing too – but even in those there may be nuggets of opportunities for tiny goals along the way.

Think about your own goals?  Do you have enough tiny goals in the mix? Are you focusing only on the big ones? Getting stuck? Bogged down by the ‘bigness’ of them? Can you break your big goal down into multiple smaller goals?

It’s time for TINY to step it up and take the spotlight.  

Here are 5 Reasons Tiny Goals Can Make a Big Impact:

1) Tiny goals are easier to start with. Setting tiny goals can help bust or mitigate the procrastination factor.Tackling a large project is easier to start if you focus on one small part of it. Similarly, getting started on working towards a goal like getting in shape is a heck of a lot easier if you set realistic, smaller goals to start with – and then build on from there.  So rather than going for “Ironman triathlon” before you’ve even donned your first pair of running shoes, how about something like building up towards your first 5k or 10K?

2) Tiny goals can be part of a larger goal. We’ve all heard of the expression ‘chunk it down’. By chunking down a large goal into smaller goals, the challenge becomes more attainable and it is easier to focus on one part (milestone) at a time.  Got any massive reports to write or projects to complete? Can you create smaller goals to map out the journey to completion?

3) Tiny goals give you the experience of success and “action momentum”. The adage “success generates success” isn’t just a nice saying, it really is true. When you successfully take steps and achieve some results you are more likely to feel motivated to take further steps and will experience “action momentum” which helps you to continue taking positive steps towards your goal

4) Tiny goals allow you to celebrate which bolsters positivity.  We now know that positivity has been scientifically proven to broaden your mind and increase your potential for success over time. People who practice positivity are more apt to reach and achieve bigger goals. Why not use tiny goals as positivity bolsters to help you spiral upwards towards greater success?

5)  Tiny goals can help you develop a habit of setting goals, achieving goals and celebrating goals – which can make you happier.  Pursuing goals is fundamental to experiencing a meaningful life. Often people don’t even realize when it’s time to refresh goals or create new ones  for where they are in their work and life. Learning to set meaningful goals regularly and to right-size them can contribute to a happier, healthier, more satisfying life.

Now isn’t that a worthy goal in itself?

Want to learn more strategies for experiencing more ease in reaching your work and life goals? Check out my new book, Ease – Manage Overwhelm in Times of “Crazy Busy”.  I include several tools related to the ideas outlined above such as chunking down goals; focusing on what you CAN do; as well as creating mindsets and organizing habits to help you succeed in times of ‘crazy busy’.  Snag a copy of Ease here or any online book store!