Be like the Roomba®

For those who missed it, the Roomba® is a semi-magical device that automatically vacuums the floors in your house. It works by sensing walls and changing directions. It’s also known as a popular ride for cats.

For today’s productivity tip, I think we can learn a lot about emotion-proof decision making from the Roomba®. So often, when something doesn’t go our way, we get really upset. We run into the figurative wall and then we bang our heads against it. We pout, we point fingers, we blame ourselves. We sit there, angry and frustrated, with our heads leaning against the wall.

So how can we learn from the Roomba®?

The Roomba® doesn’t get upset when it runs into a wall. It is programmed to sense the wall and simply change direction. What would happen if you lived your life like that? Instead of feeling sorry for yourself or beating yourself up, what if you simply kept moving (in a slightly different direction)?

The only way to take emotions out of the equation is to give up some of the ego. When we have expectations (and base our future happiness on them) we set ourselves up to be disappointed. And when things don’t go as planned, we think it’s because we are flawed and we take it personally. But the wall doesn’t have to be proof that we suck. The wall can simply be a sign that it’s time to change course, even if just by a few degrees.

The Roomba® doesn’t take the wall personally, it just changes direction and keeps living it’s purpose, which, as far as I can tell, is to be an excellent cat ride and a mediocre vacuum.

Here’s Why You Don’t Have Enough Time

Nobody in the wedding industry seems to have enough time. Ask anybody how they’re doing and the answer is, “busy.” So why don’t you have enough time?

You’re trying to do too much.

Call me captain obvious, but the truth is that you’re lying to yourself about what’s realistic. You pretend that you can get eight (okay, five) hours of sleep, get the kids to soccer practice (and ballet and art and yoga), answer every sales email with a personal, customized response, take care of your current bridal clients, have dinner on the table and prep for the coming weekend all in less than 24 hours.

I call bullshit.

Even if you manage to get all of those things done, there’s no way you’re doing all of them well in a healthy, sustainable way. I’m not trying to make you feel bad. To the contrary, that’s my point. When you give yourself an impossibly long to-do list, you set yourself up for disappointment. You end up with the least useful, least productive feeling of all: guilt.

Here’s my suggestion: Do less. Pick something on your list that just “has to get done” and ask yourself, “what exactly will happen if I don’t do this?” My hunch is that most of the things on your to-do list are wants, not needs. Get ruthless about what you’re willing to do in one day. Commit to doing nothing for an hour or even two. This isn’t just about what you’re cutting out, it’s really about what you’re making time for: the good stuff.

What do you think will happen? The truth is that most of us waste at least an hour each day on things like Facebook, TV, blog surfing and worrying. What if you spent that time on something that left you feeling recharged? That made you at peace and inspired?

I dare you to pick something seemingly vital on your to-do list and not do it. I’m not asking you to screw over clients or miss deadlines. Re-evaluate your to do list. It’s time to get serious about what’s really essential and what isn’t.

What’s at stake? Your sanity, your business, and your life. Cut out some of the noise. Because if you don’t, it will overtake you, and 2013 will look dangerously similar to 2012.

What are you cutting out today to get your life back? And more importantly, how will you fill that space with something good?

Happy New Year, Hungover Vendors!

Happy New Year, peeps! I love the fresh smell of a new year. We’ve had a chance to reflect on the good, the bad and the awesome of last year and now we turn our full attention to the bright, shiny promise of a fresh set of 365.

I don’t want to talk about resolutions today. Instead, I want to talk about something I’ve personally been wrestling with lately: over-thinking about work at work.

It happens like this: I start thinking about all the things I want to get done. And instead of getting everything into a system and working through each of them without another thought, I dwell. I’m not talking about useful thinking (like planning, organizing or brainstorming). I’m talking about thinking instead of doing. And it usually happens when we’re stressed out or overwhelmed by the amount of things we have to do. Continue reading

Beating Holiday Stress: Part 5

Do what your uncle says and take ownership of your holidays.

Take Ownership of Your Holidays

I’ve had some frustrating experiences during the holidays. I’ve put my foot in my mouth. I’ve had to suffer through church programs I really didn’t want to attend and generally do things I wasn’t in the mood for. Then there is the completely demoralizing and exhausting exercise of trying to decide if the “adult kids” should give each other gifts or just draw names. If you don’t know what I’m talk about, just be grateful.

I don’t know what it is about the holidays. Maybe it’s because we often spend time with our parents. Maybe we’re just completely overloaded. For some reason, it always seems easier to feel like the victim or like we don’t have any say. We go along with what other people want to do, begrudgingly, of course. We put up with something, then complain for a day. After all, everyone else is out to ruin what could have been a perfect holiday for us.

Hey, it’s easier to blame everyone else. But it feels terrible. Instead, take ownership of your holidays. Want to do something different this year? Recruit a couple of people to do it with you. Really don’t like one of your traditions? Speak up. Maybe nobody else does either, they just thought you loved it. You might be surprised.

The bottom line is you always have a choice. The next time you start to feel like you “have to” do something, ask yourself, “what are my options?” They won’t always be great. And if your only alternative to going shopping is jumping out of a moving vehicle, I suggest you just go shopping. But it’s still a choice.

As you live more consciously this season, remember to be extra kind to those who are feeling like the holidays are happening to them. They’re not usually jerks. They’re just not usually this stressed out.

This is the final post in the “Beating Holiday Stress” series. In the holiday spirit of giving, Jeff is offering a free class on beating holiday stress at Skillshare.com. The class starts tonight, Dec. 3, 2012! Register Now.

Beating Holiday Stress: Part 4

Setting a Powerful Intention

Does Christmas make you feel like the pug in the picture? Don’t feel like that pug. Instead, set a powerful intention to make this holiday season exactly what you want it to be. First, though, we’ve got to talk about expectations.

The holidays are stressful for a bunch of reasons, but the main one is that we have crazy-high expectations. We also take on the expectations of others (for example, what does your mother think you should be doing this year?). What are your expectations for Christmas this year? For yourself? Are they realistic? What are your expectations about? Food, friends, presents, emotions? How would you feel if things don’t turn out like you want them to?

As wedding entrepreneurs, you work weddings. You know that things never go (exactly) as planned. So how can you set yourself up to have a great month no matter what? Well, you can start by setting a powerful intention for yourself.

As a life coach, I help clients set powerful intentions and I know they can make a huge difference. Let’s set one now:

What is your intention for the holidays this year?

There’s no wrong or right answer, but it is important that you focus on something you can control. Unmet expectations make us sad. If we expect things to happen that we can’t control, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. But there is a ton we can control. For example, my intention this year is to embody the spirit of the holidays. To be generous, to laugh easily and to give off a warmth that draws others to me. That’s a lot. Your intention could be to have fun with family. *Note: Always set intentions in the positive (not negative). Psychological studies show that your brain has trouble telling the difference between “I don’t want to get fat” and “I want to get fat.”

Your thoughts largely control your reality. Do you know anyone who is negative all of the time and bad stuff just keeps on happening to her? Intentions work the same way. The point is that you already have intentions for the holidays (“I will not eat all the cookies”), you maybe just haven’t thought about them much. Take control, decide for yourself what your intentions will be.

Picking an intention isn’t enough. At least that never works for me. Write down your intention somewhere you’ll see it every day. Or write it again every day. Or record yourself saying it and listen to it before you go to bed each night. Or say it out loud when you wake up. It takes just seconds, but it’s the difference between living your intention and completely forgetting about it (and spending another December stressed out and exhausted).

How will you remind yourself of your intention every day?

This post is part four of a five part series called “Beating Holiday Stress.” In the holiday spirit of giving, Jeff is offering a free class on beating holiday stress at Skillshare.com. The class starts Dec. 3, 2012. Sign up here.

How to Beat Holiday Stress: Part 1


Know Your Button-Pushers

The holidays can be absolutely wonderful. Strangers showing kindness. Meals shared among family and friends. Drunk co-workers embarrassing themselves at the company holiday party.

But remember that lady that pepper-sprayed another Walmart customer on Black Friday in 2011? Yeah, that was crazy. Somebody pushed her buttons and she snapped. Here are some questions for you to consider so you don’t wind up in the slammer for assault-by-condiment:

Continue reading

Am I Planning or Just Worrying?

Regret lives in the past, worry lives in the future. You live in the present. Stay awhile.I spend a lot of time thinking about the future. I’m a business owner so it’s important that I make plans and projections and know where things are headed. Right? Most of the time, it’s helpful to think about the future. But sometimes it’s not helpful at all. When my planning starts turning into worry, I’m in trouble.

The reason worrying is so dangerous is that our thoughts have incredible power in our lives. Businesses have collapsed just because the owner kept thinking about the worst-case scenario. And I’ve seen my businesses blossom when I am focused on what I want (instead of what I don’t). But that’s not all. We have powerful imaginations. So even though there is only one actual future, we can worry about a hundred different outcomes at once. Scary, huh? Continue reading

3 Steps to Crush Information Overload

I love information. The internets have opened up the entire world to us. I’ll start out on Facebook, read some blogs and follow the links until I’m lost in the great interweb vortex. It’s more like drowning than surfing. As much as I love being connected, sometimes it’s too much. When I start to feel like a zombie, I know I’ve got to switch it up before I lose my mind completely.

 

Here’s how I beat information overload:

1. Shut it down, ladies. I literally turn off the computer, iPhone, whatever. When I’m totally maxed out, I’ve got to completely disconnect.

2. Get the heck out (or in). Continue reading

Don’t Get More Brides, Get Better Brides

photo credit: Team Twilight

Do you want to get more brides? Wedding entrepreneurs (especially with new businesses) spend a lot of time thinking about how to get more clients. Being really good at what you do is important, but it doesn’t matter if brides aren’t hiring you. All businesses need clients. The danger comes when we begin to think that getting more brides is all that matters.

What happens when all we want to do is “get more brides”?

We start working with poor-fit clients. They aren’t very fun to hang out with. They don’t get our jokes. And worst of all…

Brides don’t like our work. If the client isn’t a good fit, there’s a good chance they won’t be thrilled with our work, even if it’s amazing. And, lastly… Continue reading

Pug Road Trip: Our New (Temporary) Home

Jeff and the pugs

credit: emilypearl on Instagram

We made it! After our mild hazing at the Canadian border and a brief stint in Vancouver, we continued our drive up the 101, taking a couple of ferry rides, to reach our final destination. We didn’t know what to expect, but we love it. Our little four-room cabin would feel cramped if it were even one foot smaller. As it is, we have just enough space for the four of us to coexist peacefully (so far).

The pugs are in heaven. They are free to chase each other and dig for tiny, dead crabs (super gross), their new favorite pastime. What can I say? They love seafood. Roscoe and Relvis used to hate birds, but there are so many here that they leave them alone for the most part. Instead, they have taken a passionate stance on the small squirrels here that scamper along our porch railing every fifteen minutes, clutching empty peanut shells. There is no limit to the pugs’ burning hatred of these furry creatures. Continue reading