Do more of what makes you happy…

Recently I went live over in one of my facebook groups on this very subject. I was prompted to do so because during a number of sessions with clients, I realised that so many of us do not prioritise the stuff in our diary that truly light us up, brings us joy, makes our heart sing.

Why is that?

During my live, I asked what are the things that make your heart sing – the list varied from person to person obviously, but some common trends seemed to be:-

‘Walking outside, the sound of the waves, watching a good film curled up on the sofa with my kids, walking on the sand, reading a great book, the sunshine on my face, being present with those I love, beautiful music, good company, being creative, walking the dogs, pampering time alone, walking in the woods, eating out’.

I wonder. What makes your heart sing? Really makes you go to bed knowing you have been present and had a really awesome day? I truly believe those moments of happiness are what life is about. Fulfilment in our work forms a huge part of this too. When we are happy, we can be a better parent, a better partner, a better friend, a better colleague and guess what, we grow in confidence, therefore our performance can increase too.

Yet, despite us knowing these things – too many of us don’t make our happiness a priority. This is not my assumption, this is what I am being told. Simply, by sharing my thoughts during the live, I had feedback that actually whilst they took the time to realise the things that make them happy, they also had a realisation that they are NOT doing them. How mad is that?

I include myself in this. I can, without discipline, forget that I am important. Forget that if my cup is empty that actually, I haven’t anything left to pour. Forget that if there isn’t fuel in the tank, I cannot continue with the drive I need to make progress. Worst of all, without the oxygen mask on me first, I haven’t any energy left to help those I care about the most.

I went through a major health challenge this time last year. I won’t get into this here as it is a whole topic of its own. Suffice to say it began with C and ended in R – you get my story. I am one of the lucky ones and you don’t go through this without getting a huge kick up the ass along the way.

It is for this reason that I am flying the flag for making YOU a priority. Without our health we do not have anything left to give. Trust me, I know. I truly believe that doing more of what makes our heart sing, combining this with the discipline to put ourselves first we can live a happier, less stressful life and go all in with the ambitions that then give us the fulfilment we also crave. It is NOT selfish to put your needs first to be able to give more to others. It IS selfish to neglect your wellbeing and try to sustain running on an empty tank though.

To conclude me on my soap box today, I wanted to share my 7 top tips for you to go DO MORE OF WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY:-

  1. Write a list. That is it, take the time to write down the things that make you smile, make you laugh, make you feel with complete and utter joy. Spread the love, why not do this exercise with your family too, see what things you love to do together as well as individually.
  2. Review this list. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being doing all the time), mark how often you do these things.
  3. Where you have low ratings 6 or less, review why this is? What is getting in your way? What stops you doing these things? What do you need to change in order to make them more of a priority?
  4. Review your diary. Do you plan it quarterly/monthly/weekly? Do you have meetings in here/appointments you need to attend/things you need to do? Cleanse this. Add in your ‘out of control time – work schedule for example’ then add in ‘your time’. Whether that be the gym, or a walk at lunchtime, or after work, in the middle of the day, whatever it is – schedule in the diary like you would a meeting. Then do not cancel it, treat it like you would a hot lead/new client or your boss. MAKE IT HAPPEN.
  5. Turn off your notifications when you are in those moments for you. BE PRESENT. It is myth that we are great if we can multitask. You can BE BETTER in any given moment if you are purely focused on that task. Equally, some discipline around your smart device in my opinion makes everyone’s heart a little happier. Taking our phones to bed means we neglect our downtime, our partner. Waking up to our phones as our alarms means we are more likely to lose ourselves in something on our screen than greet our family positively. These devices bring us closer together globally but can pull us further away from those closest to us. I try to have a non phone day completely on a Sunday and I avoid social media where possible on a Saturday. The break really does restore my sanity.
  6. Get outside. Look Up. Whether this is on your list or not. Fresh air, sunshine, looking up at the sky is scientifically proven to improve our mood and make us happier. Make sure that you schedule time away from your desk to do this – you may think you haven’t time, but I speak from experience when I say, you really haven’t time not to. It will make you a whole lot more productive when you return with a clearer head and a happier heart.
  7. Gratitudes. Whether you think people that practice them are mad or not, they really do work. My view – you cannot be grateful and sad/negative at the same time. CHOOSE your mood.

I hope that you have found this useful, do let me know your hacks on things you do to make sure your day is filled with as many happy moments as possible.

Are you a Small Business Owner? For more tips and advice come on over to my facebook page – www.facebook/growwithleigh. I also will have a members area with a heap of talented leaders and business owners who will be sharing so much incredible information to help you grow your business. With a ridiculously low founder member rate for our first 100 members too. This will be going live in June, drop me an email if you want to know more at hello@https://leighhowes.com.

Are you a Female feeling frazzled wanting to get better at making YOU a priority and be amongst cheerleaders who force you to take YOU seriously? Why not join my facebook community leigh&friends for a safe place to avoid burn out and make you a priority.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/175279283202314/?multi_permalinks=205476876849221&notif_id=1525348668425809&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic&ref=notif

 

 

– WHO THE F**K IS LEIGH? –

Hell yeah. That got your attention didn’t it? Right now you are either wanting to know what is up with me today or you are tutting your head at me for having such a potty mouth and ready to press the block button.

See that’s the thing I’m learning. When we are talking to our audience, we have to grab the right peoples attention. It’s a noisy place out there right now, people fighting for attention everywhere you turn. So how do you stand out and who are you talking to?

I’m still figuring this out myself. Earlier this week I had a very honest conversation with the amazing Kimberley Banner about social media.

She did to me, what I do for others. She asked me lots of questions. Some I had the answers to, others I didn’t. When your heart is about serving others and making sure they have the tools they need to succeed, sometimes you don’t allocate the time to work on your own business, your message, your audience.

I can’t talk to everyone. Neither can you. For some, I am not right for them. My job is to ensure I know who I am talking to, know where they hang out, what problem I can help them to solve and get that message out to as many of those people as I can.

What I realised from the feedback I have received (thanks so much to all that gave me this by the way) is that my social media may conjure up an image of someone fluffy. Someone who helps you see things differently, who always sees the positives.

Let me clear. I do my best to do exactly that. I didn’t go through the shit bomb of last year and not learn a heap of stuff along the way. Perspective teaches you more than you’ll ever know unless you have yourself been through some form of adversity.

However. You speak to anyone that I’ve worked with. I’m pretty damn sure they will not describe me as fluffy. Optimist maybe. Looking for the good over the crap, mostly. Kind, most definitely.

However. Let me be clear.

I’m not a walk over. I will not agree with you if I don’t. I will speak my mind. I will, get to the root of what is stopping you achieving your potential. If I think you are in your own way, I’ll tell you. I will have your back 💯%. I will hook you up with whom I know can make your life/business/career a better place. I do not suffer fools. I know when you are taking advantage and you will not be in ‘I’ve got your back’ bank account. Cross me, I can promise you, you’ll wish you hadn’t.

So. Next time you see a positive quote, something I share that inspires you or makes you think differently. That delights me. I’m here on a mission to empower as many people as I can to realise their potential. If that sounds cliche, I’m unapologetic. You can be bloody awesome if you choose to be.

Remember though – if you are looking for fluffy, that I am not. My arm is around your shoulders, I’ve got the tissues out and I’ll be kind and i will listen and be there. However, once we are through the tears, we are getting to work in finding a solution to change what ever it is you need to work on. I’m your warrior. Together we can go far.👊🏻💓

Said all with love.
Leigh

Improving Focus

Taken from the Collins dictionary. Focus is defined as:

‘If you focus on a particular topic or if your attention is focused on it, you concentrate on it and think about it, discuss it, or deal with it, rather than dealing with other topics.’

Most of us know that if we want to get the best out of something we are doing, be it a work project, task or something we are completing at home – focusing purely on the job in hand, is the way forward.

Having said that, I recall when growing up that it was seen as a positive, particularly for the females amongst us, to be able to multi-task. A common myth that women are good at it.

So, what is true?

Me personally. I can multitask. I can do it pretty well. I think when you run a home, a family and work, it’s a given. However, that’s not to say that multitasking is realising my potential. I know that I produce my best work when I am all in. Completely and utterly concentrating and focusing on what it is I am looking to complete – this puts me in flow. When in flow, I know I get frustrated if I am interrupted or anything is attempting to distract me. This is when I know I am all in.

I also suffer from ‘monkey mind’. This sees me moving very quickly in my conscious and subconscious mind from one subject to the next. This can often continue if I wake up in the night – not conducive to productivity when you haven’t had the sleep that your body so needs.

The world has become so noisy.  All around us are constant interruptions, requests, notifications, an almost hourly expectation of instant gratification from our email.

So what can we do to improve our ability to focus?

Develop your focus through practice.  There are a number of ways you can do this.

Sit quietly inside or outside. Make sure you are comfortable. Either stare at a black dot on the wall or pick an item in the garden to look at.  In Robin Sharma’s book ‘the monk who sold his ferrari’ a task called ‘heart of the rose’ uses a flower as your point of focus.  Start doing this for 2 minutes, then gradually increase until you can comfortably zone out all around you and become all ‘in’ concentrating for 20 minutes or more. If you find your mind wandering, simply bring yourself back into the room.

Start yoga. In the balancing exercise that is within yoga, I’ve learnt that if I even wander in my mind for a second, my balance is lost completely. They advise you to focus on a spot / item that isn’t going to move. I promise you, it works!

Learn meditation. This has been massive for me. With my recent health challenge, I took lots of positive action to ensure that I take better care of myself mentally. This included 1:1 meditation sessions. I know monkey mind comes a bit too easily to me. I’m learning strategies to address this. I know that if I don’t control my mind, it will control me. I’m a massive advocate of mediation.

Effective diary planning – plan your activities that you need to focus on, just like you would a meeting. Batch activities together. For example, I’m writing this blog right now and I’m completely in flow. I could continue to write more blogs and I would be completely focused and not distracted. Batch working really works. Just remember, you probably focus for around 90 minutes. Ensure you take regular breaks, stay hydrated and eat healthy foods to keep your blood sugar level regular and your brain fed, avoiding sugar and caffeine as pick me ups as this just creates cravings and energy crashes.

Use a timer to keep you on track.  Don’t come away from the task. Stay on track until the timer goes off.

Improve your awareness of distraction. Work hard to avoid the ‘whilst I’m here’ approach. I am so guilty of this. This is when you start a task, then get distracted to another and start that, then repeat again and again. Until you have several tasks on the go and none are completed.  Learn the discipline to STOP yourself when you feel this happening. The timer can really help reign you in if you feel yourself doing this.

By applying some of these tips over a 28 day period consistently, you are working hard to change your daily habits. Those 86,400 seconds we have available to us every single day suddenly start to come to life when we focus and make the most of the most precious commodity we have – our time.

Lets to be better together.❤

Leigh

 

Planning your productivity

Today I spoke live in my Facebook business page continuing the theme of ‘managing your focus, not your time’ and spoke about productivity and planning.

I’m generally a pretty organised person. I like order, I am pretty tidy, I like a plan and a bit of routine. You could argue, these are some of the attributes required to be productive.

However, I’ve already mentioned that I am very easily distracted.  I am very much an ideas person, I’m the go to person if you have a problem that needs help solving – however this means that shiny new things excite me and take me away from that ‘thing’ that I should be working on.

I’m also sometimes thrown off balance in regards implementation.  If I’m suffering from overwhelm, I can just stop in my tracks and zero activity tends to take place, or it could be limiting self talk making me doubt myself.  This then feeds my fear mindset, then in pops procrastination.  All of which make me avoid completing the task I should be doing and distraction is fed.  Boom. My productivity goes out of the window.

Rather than let this hold me back – I’ve used many different tools and techniques over the years to assist me and those I work with.  Many I’ve not continued, some I have.  I shared some of my tips and tools today on my Facebook live.

I’ve included below some of the tools I shared.

Productivity planner – I’ve been using this for over 12 months now. It’s supplied by a company called Intelligent Change.

This planner gives great tips at the start and then encourages you to think of your week ahead and plan out what your 5 most important tasks are, your secondary tasks and then your additional tasks. You then are given pages to break down your weekly tasks from this list into 5 separate days.  Each day, you write out which is your most important task of the day, your 2 x secondary tasks and then 2 x additional tasks.  At the end of each week you have a notes page and a reflection page to help you get super smart with your planning and execution.

It is small enough to pop into your bag and it has really helped me stay on track with what is most important in my week or day.

Intelligent change also have a five minute journal which focuses you into the right mindset at the start and end of the day.  Starting your day with gratitude really does lift the mood and set you up for a better start. Equally doing the same before you go to bed is invaluable too. This tool really helps you record this and is gorgeous looking too.

I personally use both of these and highly recommend. If you want to check them out or place an order, here is a quick link for you.  https://www.intelligentchange.com/?rfsn=208613.dcd58e

If you prefer to plan your tasks online and not on paper – there is an app I used for a while called THINGS.  It is showing in the apple App Store as things 3, priced at £9.99.  This is a great tool if you want to move away from paper. It allows you to list out what you need to do and allocate to specific days. You can plan well in advance too which I found super helpful. It carries over tasks that you have not ticked off, so you can ensure you prioritise those most important.

Two other apps mentioned to me recently which are collaboration tools for project managing are Trello and Asana. I’ve not researched them myself as yet but I’m hearing wonderful things about them from fellow business owners. If you work with a team, or outsource any of your work, this could be a great option.

If you want to hear what else I chatted about, pop on over to my Facebook live.  Here I talk about some of the strategies that have helped me with my productivity. There will be more content shared as the week progresses, all aimed at getting focus levels laser sharp and productivity higher.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=502524780098075&id=278338392516716

Let’s go be better.❤

 

Leigh

Manage your focus, not your time…….

A question for you:-

How many time management courses have you attended and/or how many times have you said, “I could really do with help managing my time?”

It’s one of the most common topics that comes up when working with individuals / business owners.  A desire to be more productive with the time we have available.

However, I’m here to throw a curveball. How about if I said to you, “it’s not your time you need to manage, but your focus?”  There are 86,400 seconds in a day. Yes, that is right 86,400! I wonder if we are honest with ourselves, how many of those seconds we are laser focused on what we are supposed to be doing?

If you are not buying this – I urge you to think of a time when you were under serious time pressure. Maybe you needed to get a project completed by a deadline, maybe you had someone dropping into your house and you were rushing about clearing up before they came, or maybe you needed to get to an appointment and were running late.

In those moments, how focused are you? Do you allow distractions in or are you completely present to get done, what needs to be done?  I wonder how much more productive you are in those moments of panic v’s other times in your day?

Back in 2015, I wrote and published an article on my LinkedIn page that discussed exactly this.

When looking for an image to accompany this article, I discovered the one below by Robin Sharma.  Robin is hugely successful in the field of personal mastery – so it was nice to see a legend already thinking the same as me.  😉 For those of you not familiar with Robin. He is a writer and leadership speaker, best know for his incredible book –  ‘The monk who sold his ferrari.’

Below is the majority of the original article I wrote:


As a serial magpie (every shiny thing distracts me from the task in hand!) I thought I would share a couple of top tips that really helps me manage my focus as opposed to managing my time.  Like many working parents in a job or running multiple businesses like I do, often we will have several hats on in one day and focusing is what makes the time I personally have more productive.

* Being clear what I need to achieve that month, that week, that day.  Write it down so I can visualise my plan and goals – what suits you? You can use a planner, paper or electronic. I love the things app, it really helps me keep on top of things I need to do and when;

* Blocking out time in your diary like you would a meeting for a specific task and stick to it;

* Avoid multitasking. Us women love it I know, but if I do this – the ‘whilst I’m here’ kicks in and the task I really needed to do gets neglected;

* Use an egg timer or other to keep you to the allocated time;

* Turn off distractions – mobile off, notifications off.  Email closed and social media closed.  Stay focused on the task in hand;

* Start with the most important (this is the one I have to do no matter what job!) this could be worst job, the one that is most scary, challenging, tedious or requires your complete attention.  The relief you feel when it’s done makes you feel great;

* Take scheduled breaks and eat and drink water regularly. A half hour walk or a stretch of your legs in the fresh air will make you so much more productive;

* Don’t feel you need to respond to an email or message instantly. It takes you away from what you are doing. If it is urgent, they will call you! Instead schedule blocked time to respond;

* Reward yourself.  If you set yourself to do something in the day/week/month – treat yourself if you achieve it!

* If like me, you get an idea in the day and feel the need to action it there and then – don’t!  Have an ideas pad, write it down and then schedule time to action / execute when your priority tasks are complete;

* Limit your time on social media. Great for business but can be hugely unproductive – newsfeeds are huge time-wasters.

It has been 2 years since I ŵrote this article and it is still very much a hot topic.

So, over the course of the next 5 days I am going to build on this subject and share with you my top tips for getting super smart at managing your focus and increasing your own productivity as a result.  This is based on my personal experience and will include amazing guidance I have picked up and tools I have used along the way.

Stay tuned in my Facebook group by liking and following and look out for my daily tips.

For now. Keep focused, stay tuned and let’s get productive!