goals

You Don’t Have as Many Hours in a Day as Beyonce

You’ve probably seen the meme. I’ll admit to re-posting it before myself. It’s simple words at once meant to uplift and inspire a little bit of guilt. “You could be doing more,” it seems to say. “You’re not living up to your full potential."

You have the same 24 hours in every day as Beyonce.

But the thing is, you don’t. And neither do I.

My lifestyle doesn’t look remotely similar to Beyonce’s (and trust me, I have all the love for Queen Bey…these are just the facts). Beyonce is a mega rich superstar and half of one of the world’s most affluent power couples. She has a busy and demanding career, no doubt. But she doesn’t ever have to worry about how she’s going to pay the bills or when she’s going to fit in mundane tasks like cooking her own meals or cleaning the laundry, unless she wants to. In terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, she’s got the bases covered. She’s free to commit everything she’s got to creating powerful creative work and becoming a self-actualized human being.

But the thing is, you don’t need the same 24 hours as Beyonce to achieve your dreams. The personal chef, the driver, & the masseuse might sound nice (of course they do!) but in your heart you know you can do the big things you were put on this earth to do without them.

So you might not have as many hours in a day as Beyonce. Hell, you might not even have as many hours in a day as I do! You might have kids, the confines of a 9-5 job, or other obligations that I don’t. Just like I have different commitments and priorities than you.

But that’s what freedom and lifestyle design are all about: taking intentional, inspired action within the confines of your personal situation. Exercising your power of choice. There are some things we have the power to change and others that we don’t, so it’s important to focus on the former and work within our sphere of influence, rather than banging our head against a brick wall we wish wasn’t there.

I like to tell my students in The Daydream Revolution a story about the power of lunch breaks. Those 30-60 minutes you get to yourself each and every work day (please, tell me you take a lunch break!) I use the example of writing your first book. So many people get hung up on the idea, believing that they need hours and hours locked away by themselves, banging away at their keyboard in order to achieve this. And between their full-time job and all of their other commitments, they rarely get one full day to themselves, let alone weeks on end.

Enter the lunch break.

Over the course of last year, I wrote over 50,000 words on my lunch breaks. I found that in the 30-45 minutes I had spare, I could consistently write 500-1000 words a day and boy oh boy did they ever add up! This is how I ended up writing my first courses and ebooks.

Say you can only average 250 words each and every lunch break. In a year (factoring in a couple of weeks off because surely you’ll need it at some point) you’ll have written 62,500 words – almost the length of an average manuscript.

But hey, this post is all about the fact that we don’t all have the same 24 hours in every day and maybe you don’t have a lunch break you can dedicate to your dream. That’s okay. I’m going to walk you through some simple steps for finding small pockets of time in your day that will add up exponentially over time. It’s all about becoming intentional with them, whether that’s working towards a specific project or choosing to infuse a little more magic into your day. It all adds up.

I don’t really like to think of it as “hacking” my day because that feels a bit too violent and impersonal for the kind of embodied, guided life I want to live. For me, it’s all about intentionally designing a life I love.

Here’s are the 4 steps I use for finding my dream hours:

Step 1. Track your time.

For most of us, our days look more or less the same week in and week out, so we aren't truly conscious of how we're spending our time since we're not very intentional about it. We probably assume that how we spend our time is exactly how it needs to be due to our commitments and obligations, and most of us feel like we just don't have any extra time. Period.

Tracking your time allows you to get super clear on how you’re spending your precious life minutes.

Just like creating a budget and tracking your expenses allows us to see exactly how we’re spending our money and where we can cut back, tracking your time will allow you to do the same.

Plus, monitoring is a proven strategy for sticking with a goal or forming a habit. So if you decide there are changes you want to make, this is going to help.

This exercise is simple but it’s not easy. The best way I’ve found to be successful with this is to check in with yourself once an hour (or even every 30 minutes) and make notes of how you spent that block of time. For some mindless tasks, like switching over to scroll through Facebook, you’re definitely going to have to estimate but using a tracking app can help you be more accurate. And remember: we tend to overestimate how long we spend on productive tasks and underestimate our attention on mindless ones. So if you’re horrified to find that you’re wasting a couple of hours a day on pointless social media stalking, you’re likely clocking even more than that .

There are apps that you can install to help you track and monitor how much time you are spending on various online tasks. Here are a few good options: 8aweekWakoopa, or Meetimer will all give you a clearer picture of how you’re spending your time online.

In terms of tracking, I like to use a colour coded system, breaking things up into categories like: work, dreams, self-care/health, connection, leisure and then using coloured highlighters to note in my planner what I spent each hour doing with a few annotated notes to get more specific. You could also apply this system to your Google Calendar. Or you can get even more high tech and use a free time tracking app like, Hours, Jiffy, or Rescue Time. The key is to pick a system you can stick with for at least a few days, preferably a week or more, to get a really clear picture of how you’re spending your time.

 

Step 2. Assess the results.

You might be surprised at the results of your time tracking or it might just tell you what you already know. Either way, be gentle with yourself.

Information is power so now it’s time to take a look at how you’re spending your time and ask yourself a few questions:

  • Are you happy with how you’re spending your time?
  • Are there any places you could cut back on certain activities in order to make room for things that are more important for you?
  • Are there any obvious pockets of time that you could use more mindfully and intentionally to support your dreams and the life you want?

Take note of your answers and any new intentions you have based on your findings.

 

Step 3. Identify your dream hours.

Your dream hours are those pockets of time you can recommit everyday or every week to slowly but surely making your dreams come true. Ideally they’ll be at least 30 minutes or more a time but work with what you’ve got. Write down exactly when and what days you’ve identified dream hours you can work with.

 

Step 4. Decide what you want to do with them.

This is the really fun part: you get to decide what to do with this time! 

Are you going to use them to work towards bringing your biggest dream to life? It’s important to know exactly how you’re going to use them.

Having a plan means that when you sit down to work, you don’t waste time figuring out what to do, you just do it. For some dreams, you’ll be sitting down to work on a similar task every day – like with the example of writing a book. For others, you’ll be completing different steps every day and perhaps working on new projects every week. 

But working towards a monumental goal might not be important to you right now. Perhaps you want to use this time to cultivate your core desired feelings. Or move your body. Or infuse your life with pleasure. Or have more stillness. This is completely up to you. Right now I’m practicing Qoya every day for 30 days so I found some dream hours to commit to my embodiment practice. The key is to be intentional so that you can truly commit and form a habit.

 

So you might not have as many hours in a day as Beyonce, or even as many as the woman who sits across from you at work, but you do have the power to be intentional with your time. And however you choose to spend it, that intention will add up to a life you love, designed mindfully by you

The 30-Minute Action Plan: How to Get Started on Your Dream When It Feels TOO Big

This week, I want to convince you that mindmapping is sexy. Yes, REALLY. Because sexy is anything that puts you in the flow, gets you feeling like your best self, and cultivates badass confidence that has you shouting, "Fuck yes I can do this!"

Feeling stuck is anything but sexy. It's constrictive and demotivating and leads you to say things like, "I can never make this happen," or "I have no idea where to even start."

Having a plan is empowering and mindmapping is the most effective way I've found to do this when I don't know where to begin. I do it every month for the goals I'm working towards. I do it on a small scale when I'm planning out an epic blog post or cultivating healthy new routines. And of course I mindmap the hell out of the big dreams that boggle my mind and scare the shit of me.

The thing is, research and planning can easily move into the realm of procrastination. We FEEL like we're doing something, and we are in a way, but we're also getting in our own way and preventing ourselves from taking action. The truth is, we only need a limited amount of information to get started: enough to take our first steps and create the framework for our action plan.

Have a quick comb through Google to pull out any essential information and leave the rest. You can add figuring out that stuff to your action plan and do it when you need to.

I've broken down exactly how to create an action plan for your big dream in just 30 minutes using my own example from when I decided to move to London. So grab a pen and paper, and let's get started!

Create Your Action Plan in 30 Minutes

List the Milestones
The overwhelming part of working towards a big dream is the enormity of it. The big picture is what will keep us motivated, but we need to see the path that leads to it. Because that's how we'll get there: one small step at a time.

Within any large goals, there are smaller milestones we have to reach in order to make it happen. Set a timer for five minutes and list the milestones that make up your big dream.

For example, when I moved to London my milestones looked like:

  • Move in with my mom to save money on rent
  • Make a budget
  • Save enough money for maintenance funds, application fees, and plane ticket
  • Learn about what life in London is like (ie. cost of living, how the process of renting a flat differs from Canada, social customs, etc.)
  • Apply for visa
  • Buy plane ticket
  • Find a job in the UK
  • Find somewhere to live
  • Make friends in London.

If you feel absolutely stuck on these milestones, start combing Google. It's likely that there are forums, blogs, or articles written by someone who has already achieved a similar goal. "How to____________," "steps to ___________," and "___________ blog" are good places to start.

Write your big dream in the middle of a piece of paper and off it, draw a line off of it for each one of your milestones.

Break Them Apart
Each of your milestones can be broken down even further into the individual action steps that need to be taken in order to achieve them.

For example, applying for my visa consisted of the following action steps:

  • Find out the cost of application fees
  • Find out what forms needed to be filled out
  • Have passport photos taken
  • Gather necessary supporting documents
  • Fill out application, pay fees, and submit online
  • Make biometrics appointment
  • Attend biometrics appointment
  • Surrender and wait

To start breaking apart your milestone, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What information do I need to achieve this?
  • Do I need any money or resources?
  • Are their qualifications or training that I need?
  • Do I need to make any appointments or bookings?
  • Do I need anyone's permission or assistance?

If your step can't be completed in an hour, or at least not more than an afternoon, try breaking it down even further. This will help with overwhelm because each step will feel manageable and when you get overcome with everything that needs doing, you can just focus on the next small piece in front of you.

Under each milestone on your mindmap, list out the action steps. Some of your action steps will actually be gathering pieces of information that you don't know yet. You'll continue filling in your mind map as you gather this information, so think of it as a fluid, evolving document.

Map it All Out
Right. So now, you've basically created a to-do list. But a to-do list is not nearly as powerful as a PLAN. A plan takes into account priority and time. A to-do list doesn't. So babe, it's time to make a plan!

Jot down next to each action step a rough estimate of how long each item will take and then number each item in the order it should be completed. If there isn't always a logical sequence to the steps, prioritize the ones that are most critical or that you'd enjoy doing least (always "eat that frog.")

The next step is to set deadlines for each of your tasks. I find the best way to do this is to work backwards. When do you want to achieve your goal? Go backwards through your timeline to schedule each step so that they fit within your time frame. Now make sure you go and put each of these steps in your calendar because, remember: what doesn't get scheduled doesn't get done. Set reminders in your phone so that you remember when each of your milestone deadlines is coming up.

Take a Step, Any Step
Hells yes, girl: you've got a plan! Now take a deeeeeeeeeep breath. With your eyes on the path ahead and each step you need to take coming in to view, are you starting to feel a bit more empowered to wrangle this dream and drag it to life?

Don't worry if you're still feeling overwhelmed. That's totally normal so we're going to take it one step further. As humans, we have the really terrible tendency of waiting for an elusive "right time" to start. This is a form of procrastination and self-sabotage. But so often we'll put off starting a new project or goal until Monday or the first day of the month or the new year and it continues to slip through our fingers. There is no right time other than right now. There's a Chinese proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Identify a step from your action plan that you can take RIGHT now. Even if you're reading this post right before bed, there's something you can do to get started. For example, if you're training for a marathon it could be setting out your work out clothes and putting your phone in another room so you're forced to get out of bed tomorrow morning (and then you'll be that much closer to actually going on that run!) Or it could be as simple as sending an important e-mail or Googling a key piece of information.

Every step we takes builds confidence and momentum, so now that you've got it, put that action plan to good use!

You've got this.

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How I Keep on Top of 15 Projects At Once (& You Can Too!)

I've gotten asked quite a few times is how I manage to "do it all." The short answer is: I don't.

But I know that's not what you're really asking. I do manage to juggle a lot. I have a full-time job, a blog, podcast, and business. I create new content every day and I'm always working on new projects and products. I'm also married, have an amazing group of friends, and prioritize making time for myself. I sleep 8 hours a night, have a nourishing daily practice, and cook almost all of my food from scratch. This isn't to brag (although that's good too!), but just to say that I get it if my schedule seems impossible. Sometimes it feels impossible.

But you can do it too.

This year I made a conscious decision that I was going to stop talking about what I wanted and actually do it. No excuses. I was going to intentionally design my days and go balls-to-the-wall after my big dreams. And I now get more done in a day than I used to achieve in a month when it comes to my passion projects and goals.

This isn't magic. It takes hard work, dedication, and determination. But these aren't qualities I always possessed. I learned them. And doing so has massively influenced not only my productivity but also my confidence. I feel so much better about myself being living in alignment with my values and intentions.

Today I'm outlining the strategies and tools I use to juggle 15 projects at once while still having fun, so that you can use them to get more of what you want. Plus I've created a checklist that breaks this all down into easy to follow steps. You can download it at the end of this post.

 

First Off, I Understand Myself

There are a million strategies and so much conflicting information out there when it comes to goal setting, productivity, and forming habits.

The difficult truth is that there is no one-sized solution or this whole life thing would be a whole lot easier. We'd all know the formula to eat healthfully, work out daily, give up our vices, and make scads of money. But the fact is, what works for one person might not work for us.

That's why it's so important to know how you tick. Your personality will play a big role in terms of what works for you.

Gretchen Ruben has created a metric called The Four Tendencies that divides people into four categories based on our relationship to habits. Of course, none of us will ever fit perfectly into any box but I've found the information that this quiz provides to be extremely useful.

For example, I'm a questioner, which means that I'm working towards a goal or forming a new habit, I need to keep the reasons for doing it very clear in my mind. I need to understand why the strategies I'm using are useful in order to actually apply them.

There are many ways to get to know yourself a little bit better. I'm a big fan of journaling. Take The Four Tendencies quiz and then write about your results. What does this assessment mean for how you should tackle achieving your goals and creating new habits? Think back to a time when you were successful in achieving your goal. What factors helped lead to this success? What about a time when you were unsuccessful?

There are many other personality assessments that are useful for gaining information that will make us more productive and successful. I've included a list of my favourites in the resources list that's available at the end of this post.

 

I Schedule Everything

What doesn't get scheduled, doesn't get done. It's that simple.

I'm a big fan of lists. They're a great way for me to dump everything onto the page and see what needs to get done.

But lots of people skip the next step: figuring out how long each task will take and when they're going to complete them.

It might surprise you to learn that millionaires don't use to-do lists but this is precisely why. To-do lists don't account for time. They don't clearly distinguish between what's urgent and important. And they actually lead to stress because uncompleted task leads to intrusive, uncontrolled thoughts. A to-do list just becomes an ever-growing mountain of tasks without a clear plan of how to complete them.

This is why I LOVE my Passion Planner It gives me space to break down my goals into the tasks that need to be completed and then schedule them into my week so that I know when I'm going to get them done.

This also helps me stay on track. I do one short planning session per week and then I know what I need to do each day. I don't need to waste time figuring out what to do. I just get on with it.

 

I Bulk Tasks Together When Possible

Whenever we switch tasks, it takes (on average) 25 minutes for our brain to really get into it. That means that we're more productive when we batch tasks together and complete them in dedicated bursts, rather than repeating the same things each day.

For example, I spend 1-2 hours on Sunday prepping my breakfasts and lunches for the week. Getting this much cooking done in one go saves me time throughout the week and also means that I'm prepared with healthy foods in case things get busier than I expected.

I also use the same strategy for scheduling my social media. I used to piddle around every day looking for content to share and inevitably getting lost in a Twitter/blog hopping hole. By spending 30-60 minutes schedule posts for the entire week, I avoid this and can just spend short spurts of time on social media actually engaging with people every day. This process is made super simple using Buffer's Awesome Plan. I'ma big fan of their service. Similarly, there's Latergramme for editing and writing all of your Instagram posts, and then you'll get a reminder when it's time to click the button and send one out into the world.

This doesn't work for me for every task. For example, I need space to reflect and ruminate on writing projects. I tend to dedicate chunks of time to these every day but leave space in between to allow my ideas to percolate and to get some perspective on what I've written. But for the ones that it does, batching tasks saves a lot of time and is any easy way to be more efficient.

 

I Have Accountability Partners

Almost all personality types will benefit from having accountability systems in place to keep us on track.

For some of us, we need the external accountability because we struggle with meeting internal expectations.

For some of us, it's enough to set our own expectations but we need a strategy for keeping ourselves accountable, such as using the Seinfeld Method and marking an X on the calendar every day that you stick with it.

For others, it's helps to have someone to check in with, to bounce ideas off of, and to cheerlead us on daysthat we're struggling.

Whatever the reason, telling someone about your goals and asking them to check in with you about your progress is a proven way to help ensure your success.

I have accountability partners for both personal and business dreams. We check in with each other, often daily via email and Facebook, and we'll meet up regularly to discuss how things are going.

If you don't know anyone working on a similar dream as you, try looking in a Facebook group to it.. Or you can use an app like Pact, which will charge you a small fee every time you miss a work out you've scheduled for yourself.

Get the Checklist!

Click below to download  a checklist of my favourite productivity strategies.

I Educate Myself

For a long time, when it came to chasing my dreams, I was basically throwing spaghetti at the wall. I'd try anything I could in hopes that something would stick.

Of course this wasted a lot of time. I was investing myself in strategies that weren't working and I was spending a lot of time researching tactics.

The solution was to take courses that would show me the proven steps I could take that would actually work.

When it comes to my business, the single best investment I've made was in Your First 1K. It laid out exactly what I needed to do in order to grow my audience and start making money from my business. It's taken a lot of work to actually implement all of the information but it told me exactly what I needed to do and in what order, so that I could stop guessing and start getting results.

The key is to find one educationaltool - whether it's a book, or course, or blog post. Fully absorb and implement that information before you move on to another one, otherwise you're still just throwing spaghetti at the wall.

 

I Say No When I Need (/Want!) To

Part of getting to know yourself requires that you are clear on what you want your life to look like and what your priorities are.

For example, my girl gang is incredibly important to me. They inspire me, push me forward, and fill me up. But I also know that when I have too many social commitments I feel frazzled. I prioritize seeing my girls once or twice a week but I don't usually take on more social commitments than that. I know that when I do, I feel pressed for time, dragged away from my passion projects, and I won't be the best company. I still check in with my friends on the daily, but I'm definitely not going out every night of the week.

Sometimes this means turning down really alluring invites but I make no excuses for it. I simply say, "I don't have time" or "It's really important for me to have some me time that day."

I know that striking this balance is key to my happiness and productivity.

On the other hand, I have some friends who are always out at the best events, trying new restaurants, and generally gallivanting around town. Our priorities are no better or worse than the other's; we're just designing different lives based on what makes us happy. Remember what I said at the beginning: you can't do it all, at least not all of the time.

So get really clear on what you want and what you need to do to attain it. Then prioritize your time accordingly and say no when you need to.

If saying "no" makes you really uncomfortable, Alex Franzen wrote a great article about how to say "no" to everything ever. You can totally do it with grace and kindness!

 

I Have Places for Ongoing Notes & Brainstorming

Your best ideas are not necessarily going to come up when you sit down to work on a project. They're likely to jump out at you in the shower, when you're taking a walk, during a delicious glass of wine, or when you're doing something completely unrelated. You need to be prepared to capture them.

I love Evernote for this. I have a "notebook" for each of my projects and within each I have lists of ideas, to-do-lists, drafts of articles, resources, research, and anything else I need to keep track of.

Being able to quickly jot down ideas quickly, but they're also fairly well organized when I need to use them for a project.

 

I Develop Routines & Habits

We are the things that we do consistently. That's why I have routines and habits that support all of my projects.

My morning routine includes exercise, meditation, healthy food, writing, and goal setting. First thing I'm dedicating my time to the things that are important to me. I'm in the routine of writing on my lunch break and prepping my meals every weekend.

My husband and I celebrate "Taco Tuesday" every week. It's a silly way to set aside time for each other and do something we love: try new foods. We're on a mission to experiment with every kind of taco fusion we can dream up and it's a fun part of our week.

Habits and routines remove the choice. Instead of deciding to exercise, write, or take some time for yourself, you just do it.

 

I Plan & Reflect

I credit my weekly planning and reflection ritual as one of the things that has been most powerful in allowing me to get more done and move forward so much this year.

I've written a full article about this, but put simply: I sit down every week to reflect on what I've done to move closer to my goal, assess what I could have done better, identify what steps I can take the next week that will move me forward the most, and schedule each of them into my calendar.

If you want to download the exact questions I use to reflect and plan my week, you can download them here.

And again, a Passion Planner is the perfect tool for creating this ritual. It leads you through a weekly planning session and there are reflection questions at the end of each month.

 

I Take Care of Myself

In the hustle and bustle of managing a busy schedule, taking care of ourselves is often the first thing to slip. But when we do this, our well will run dry and we'll find we have nothing left to give.

There are a few foundational habits that will make everything else easier and leave you with the energy and mental clarity you need to be a dream chasing machine. Exercise, a healthy diet, drinking enough water, and getting a good night's sleep are all habits that will set you up for success.

But it's also important to spend some dedicated time on self-care each week. Make sure you actually schedule that shit in and check in with yourself to figure out what you need. Your personal projects and the people around you will all benefit from this.

Phew! I know this sounds like a lot of information and it might make managing your projects seem more overwhelming instead of less. I've broken it all down to a checklist of easy steps and combined it with a list of my favourite tools and resources for getting more done. Just enter your email address below and you'll be able to download it right away.

As simple as it sounds, most of this comes down to getting really clear on your priorities and then acting on them. It's definitely possible to design a life where you get more done while still feeling good. It's about working smarter, not harder and these strategies will help you do just that.

Get the Checklist!

Click below to download  a checklist of my favourite productivity strategies.

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